Remembering the Laws

December 27, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Q&A | 2 Comments
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Question: The laws that were given to Moses by God in Exodus 21 and 22 were given orally. How could so many laws be remembered by Moses and then transmitted to the people without writing them down?

Answer: Later on (probably during the wilderness wanderings) Moses did write them down, and, since he was inspired by the Holy Spirit at that time, there was no possibility of him making a mistake in remembering them. However, before they were written down, they were given with certain literary and mnemonic devices built into them to help with their memorization. One of these is the device of chiasmus. Also, faithful Hebrew fathers were supposed to rehearse the laws with their children frequently and regularly, so that they could be remembered and passed down from generation to generation. See Deuteronomy 6:1-9.

The Joy of Service, Salvation, and Sovereignty

December 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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Christians are ambassadors for Christ. We represent Him. This is a great privilege, but it also is a dangerous calling.

Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

Luke 10:3

Some of the reasons for going forth with a partner, or as part of a team, as ambassadors for Christ are accountability, encouragement, guarding reputation, practicality, the possibility of meeting someone with a special ministry need, and safety or protection. That last one applies not just to physical danger, but to spiritual danger as well. We are lambs among wolves. Wolves do not charge into the middle of the flock and try to take down the ram right next to the Shepherd. They are looking for lone lambs out on the fringe, people out of church, out of Christian fellowship, maybe only tangentially related to the Body of Christ anymore.

One form of ambassadorship in the local churches of which I’ve been a part is called “visitation.” “Visitation” is not really about “just visiting.” We have a mission to accomplish and a message to deliver. We are laborers , not spectators. We are not like the internet-surfers, TV-watchers, or window-shoppers – activities which primarily involve “just looking.”

When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.

Deuteronomy 20:10-14

As ambassadors we declare “peace,” but if peace is rejected we announce judgment. Now, this sounds like heavy lifting, and being an ambassador is hard work. Does it sound like drudgery? Well, it’s not. It’s joyous work.

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

Luke 10:17

1. There is joy in service.

Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Luke 10:20

2. There is joy in salvation.

Every time I tell someone else how they can go to Heaven I am reminded that I am going there myself. Every time I talk to someone about Jesus I am reminded how marvelous He is. Jesus is not our “product;” He is the Rescuer of our souls and the Changer of our lives. Most people speak with respect about their company or their product or their boss, but they speak with JOY about their loved ones. How much more do we express joy over the One Who loved us enough to save us!

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Luke 10:21-24

3. There is joy in the sovereignty of God.

The idea that God is in charge of salvation – of revealing Truth and of Holy Spirit-conviction – is ENcouraging rather than DIScouraging.

Life and Light

December 17, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Posted in John | 4 Comments
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The Gospel of John is not included in the “synoptic Gospels” (Matthew, Mark, Luke), because the first three Gospels offer similar views of the life of Jesus, syn meaning same, and optic meaning view. The synoptic Gospels offer similar views of the life of Jesus with slightly varying looks at His birth and different emphases, but much of the same material on the earthly ministry which took place during the last three and a half years of His earthly life. The first three Gospels emphasize EVENTS; John emphasizes MEANING.

Most scholars believe the main theme of the Book of John is:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

John 20:31

The Gospel of John was written by the Holy Spirit through the human agency of the Disciple John, who is commonly referred to as “the Disciple that Jesus loved”or “the beloved Disciple”(John 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20). Neither its design, nor its intent, is hidden. John wanted to convince or persuade people – both Jews and gentiles – that Jesus was the eternal Son of God Who came in a body of flesh to accomplish salvation for human sinners. In order to do this he bypassed the details of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, His childhood in Nazareth, and His earthly genealogy. He introduces Jesus with the Divine title of “the Word” (the Logos).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

The “Word” to Greek philosophers would have meant the underlying principle of creation, existence, and the holding-together of the universe. John specified that this Word is both WITH God and, in fact, IS God at the same time. This is a uniquely Christian, Biblical concept: one God – in multiple persons; one essence, but different persons with different eternal functions; distinct but inseparable.

The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:2-3

The Word is the basis of all life and the illumination of all knowledge.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1:4-5

Compare the creation narrative in Genesis 1.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Genesis 1:1-5

The parallelism in John 1 and the identification of “the Word” combined with “God said” lets us know that Jesus was there at the beginning, creating the world, light, and life. The Incarnation of the Son of God is the “second act” of God’s creation of life out of His own nature and light out of darkness. Physical darkness can not coexist with physical light in the same location. Spiritual darkness can not “comprehend” spiritual light. It lacks the ability to create light or to continue in its own condition while light shines into it. Light changes darkness.

The Dirty Girdle

December 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Jeremiah, parables | 1 Comment
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Jeremiah 13 contains two illustrated sermons – or parables – which God had Jeremiah act out. This was unusual behavior compared to the simple preaching and prophesying done by prophets most of the time in the Old Testament, but it was not unusual in the sense of being novel for both minor and major prophets. Ezekiel was especially known for his “action” sermons, doing things like shaving his beard and dividing the whiskers into thirds, building a little fort and tearing it down, and once lying on the ground, and moaning and groaning in pretend agony. Other examples include Isaiah preaching without his clothes and Hosea marrying a prostitute. So, what Jeremiah does here is strange, but not at all without precedent for an Old Testament prophet

Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.

Jeremiah 13:1

This was a private revelation given to Jeremiah. He was not told by God to share this message with the people. The “girdle” was probably not what comes to mind when we think of a girdle today. It’s not as if Jeremiah put on a pair of “man-Spanx” or anything like that. This would have been more like what we think of as a waist apron. Jeremiah, once on a career path to being a priest before his prophetic call, knew the significance of the “girdle” being linen. Many Jewish men wore aprons for wiping their hands on, etc., and probably to aid in girding up their loins for work or fast travel, but the linen was an unmistakable reference to the Levitical priesthood.

So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.

Jeremiah 13:2

Notice what’s missing between Verses 1 and 2: any mention of Jeremiah asking the Lord why he needed to do this, or of the Lord giving any explanation. If only we could all learn to obey the Word of the Lord that way – even when we have no idea “why.”

The most unusual thing about the girdle was that it could not touch water; it could not be washed. The nation of Judah was God’s priestly apron, in a sense. He “wore” it for His own glory, the way a priest would wear a linen girdle to be recognized as a priest, consecrated to God. The priests were also supposed to “serve” Him – to be used by Him to do His “work” in the world. God’s people, although they had been delivered “through” the Red Sea, had not gotten wet. Tragically, though, they had not been “spiritually washed,” either. They came out of Egypt dirty, and when God offered them clean garments of righteousness, their defiled hearts quickly made these dirty, too.

And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.

Jeremiah 13:3-4

This was a 250-350 mile trip each way, so possibly 700 miles round trip, to the Euphrates, not coincidentally the river associated with Babylon – the place where the enemy of Judah would come from and claim a victory over them because they had forsaken their God, their Cleanser and Protector.

So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me. And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.

Jeremiah 13:5-6

Jeremiah was required to repeat the long trip to retrieve this girdle that had been lying buried in the muck and moldly earth near the river, now completely useless for its originally-intended purpose.

Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.

Jeremiah 13:7

Rather than allowing God to carry their sins away and exchange them for His gift of cleansing righteousness, they had buried their identification with God far from Him, among filthy pagans who worshiped filthy false gods which had no power to cleanse, protect, or restore. Why had they done this?

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 13:8-9

They had done this because of pride. I know of nothing in the Bible which God opposes more than pride.

This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.

Jeremiah 13:10-11

God calls you to cleave to Him – to STAY close – as close as underwear to the body, but, unlike underwear, to receive honor that will redound to HIS (not our) glory.

Glory, Glory, What’s It to You?

December 10, 2018 at 11:58 am | Posted in I Peter | Leave a comment
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The word “glory” is found 12 times in the book of I Peter. We tend to think of glory as a state of exaltation or celebration, as though this world’s version of glory, often seen in connection with fame, wealth, luxury, and ease, was its truest representation. However, when Christian believers think of the glory of God reflected in our lives, we must remember that, in the Bible, real glory is often connected to suffering, trials, tribulation, and reproach. This is because such difficulties culminate in eternal, not temporal, glory for those who are called by God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

Here are links to the posts in the category I Peter:

1. The Hope of Glory (I Peter 1)
2. Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date (I Peter 1:5)
3. Holy (I Peter 1:15)
4. Practical Holiness (I Peter 1:13-17)
5. Growing and Living Stones (I Peter 2)
6. Battling for Glory (I Peter 1-2)
7. Submission and Sin (I Peter 2:13)
8. The Degrees of Estimation (I Peter 2:17)
9. God’s Specific Will for You (I Peter 2:13-14; 3:17; 5:10)
10. Submission and Honor in Marriage (I Peter 3:1-7)
11. A Not-So-Amazing Marriage (I Peter 3:1-7)
12. Inhabiting and Investigating Your Marriage (I Peter 3:1-7)
13. Influence, Intercession, and Inheritance in Marriage (I Peter 2:25-3:7) *
14. How to Fight Evil (I Peter 3:8-16)
15. The Just Suffering for the Unjust (I Peter 3:17-21)
16. The Most Obvious Difference between Jesus and Us (I Peter 3:18)
17. Suffering, Sin, and Sobriety (I Peter 4:1-7)
18. Sobering Up, Sobering Down, Sobering All Around (I Peter 4:7-11)
19. Suffering for Glory (I Peter 4:11-5:1)
20. Oversight / Obedience (I Peter 5:1-6)
21. Beware of Fresh-Faced Frowardness (I Peter 5:5)
22. Overseeing the Sheep (I Peter 5:8-9)

* most-viewed post in category

Overseeing the Sheep

December 7, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Posted in I Peter | 2 Comments
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In the last part of I Peter Chapter 4, and into Chapter 5, we move from preparing for glory through “regular” persecution and suffering to preparing for glory through “official” persecution – intense suffering. When the intense suffering comes, it will be important to have properly prepared overseers (church leaders who recognize that they are under the authority of the true Shepherd and in authority over the sheep). This applies to the heads of families (fathers and husbands primarily) as well as church leaders.

1. The overseers will need to be personally involved with the Shepherd, and willing to share what He’s given them.

2. They will need to have a deep and abiding love for the sheep.

3. But they will have to have a desire to please the Shepherd, not the sheep.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

I Peter 5:8-9

Resist Satan with Scripture. Don’t discuss things with him.

Merry Reality

December 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Salvation | Leave a comment
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Truth Over Tradition

“Watch out;” “don’t pout;” “don’t cry.” Apparently, Santa is big on works-righteousness. He’s all about “don’t, don’t, don’t.”

Jesus is all about “done, done, done” (John 19:30). He did all the good works we failed to do (Matthew 3:15), cancelled out our naughty list on His Cross (Colossians 2:14), and will one day personally wipe away all our tears (Revelation 21:3-4). He doesn’t save us on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His mercy (Titus 3:5).

Majesty Over Magic

Santa supposedly sees you when you’re sleeping and he knows when you’re awake. But the best he can do is watch.

Jesus is omniscient and omnipresent (II Chronicles 16:9; Jeremiah 23:23-24). He knows what you are thinking and what’s on your heart (I Samuel 16:7). Plus He can protect you from harm (Psalm 23:4).

Faith Over Fantasy

Santa supposedly wants you to be good for goodness’s sake.

Jesus knows that you are incapable of being good (Isaiah 64:6) without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and that “goodness” isn’t an entity which holds you accountable. He wants to help you to do good for the glory of God, your Maker and Redeemer (I Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 5:16).

Promise Over Pretense

Santa knows if you’ve bad or good, and apparently he is intending to reward you accordingly.

Jesus knows you haven’t been good enough to deserve any presents (Romans 3:10-11), but He loves you anyway, and He will give you good and perfect gifts according to His grace (Philippians 4:19; John 1:16).

Eternity Over Error

Santa can supposedly bring you a bunch of candy, a new skateboard, or a Red Ryder BB gun.

Jesus gives you the gift of eternal life (John 3:15; Romans 6:23; I John 2:25). Nobody ever got a tummy ache, a skinned knee, or shot his eye out with eternal life.

Red ryder BB gunshoot your eye out

Marriage Should Not be Sterile

December 3, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In previous lessons in this series on Isaiah 62:1-4, I said that marriage should not be secret, static, spurious, or somber. Now will see that marriage should not be sterile.

Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.

Isaiah 62:4

For God’s people, desolation would become “Beulah.” Fruitlessness can become fruitful marriage – often (but not necessarily) with children and grandchildren, but, even more so, with the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit brings happiness to the bearers and the consumers, and joy when shared. Joy and God’s glory should be the “product” – like the fruit in the “produce” section of a supermarket – of our marriages.

It is certain that a major part of the original dominion mandate – God’s pronouncement about marriage in the first marriage – was that child-bearing (fruitfulness, the fruit of the womb, not the Fruit of the Loom, that’s a different lesson, just “kidding,” no pun intended) was the responsibility of spouses who want to honor God. Does this mean that married couples who cannot conceive children, or who are past the age of child-bearing, or who have made the decision (often with the assistance of some type of pre-conception surgical intervention) not to have any more children are failing God by living on the “desolate” rather than the “Beulah” side of His favor? No! Certainly your life as a married person – and as a married couple – can still be very fruitful. Make your marriage about producing SPIRITUAL fruit to the glory of God. Win souls. Make disciples. Plant seeds in the lives of unbelievers. Pull out weeds of sin and and distraction. Water the soil with tears of compassion in your prayers. Consider adoption. Consider investing in the lives of your grandchildren or other people’s children. Encourage other married couples in the Lord. Be a blessing in the name of Jesus wherever you go and whatever you do.

God proclaims fruitfulness in general as a blessing.

Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.

Deuteronomy 7:14

He proclaims fruitfulness as a source of joy in the HOME.

He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 113:9

He proclaims fruitfulness as fulfillment and strength.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:4-5

The world says a happy marriage is insular – that’s it’s peaceful and that no internal problems or conflict between the spouses disturb it. That’s nice when it happens, but God wants the happiness to spread out and multiply – to ENGAGE the world and to ADVANCE God’s Kingdom in it.


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