Big Words of the Christian Life: Omniscience (Part 1)

October 5, 2017 at 9:30 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 20 Comments
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Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.

Psalm 86:8

God is holy – not only in the sense of His sinlessness (righteousness), but in the sense of His uniqueness. He is the only Being of His kind. Because He is so fundamentally different from us, it is difficult for us to accurately and truly describe Him. We are limited to talking about His characteristics – to “attributing” qualities to Him that we can grasp, which is why they are called His “attributes.”

One characteristic of personhood is that a person who can think, can know things. He can possess information. Some people think they know something about everything. We call them know-it-alls, but God not only knows something about everything – He knows EVERYTHING about everything. We call this attribute “omniscience:” omni = all; science = knowledge.

Our knowledge can only be partial at best, but God’s knowledge is comprehensive.

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

Psalm 147:5

He is not like us, only smarter. He is not really like us at all in this regard. His knowledge is exhaustive. God can do anything, but He is still a God of logic, so we might say that there are some things that logic does not permit us to say about Him. This means that, while, in His power, there is nothing too difficult for God, there are some things that God “can not” do. He can not get better. He can not improve. He can not sin. He can not learn anything new, or “learn” anything at all. He can not gain any new information, because all information there is originates IN HIM. His omniscience means that His knowledge is comprehensive and that He can never be surprised or caught off-guard. He can’t be confounded or confused or stumped or fooled.

God’s knowledge is comprehensive and it is continuous. It is a constant knowledge.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

Proverbs 15:3

You and I can run certain rudimentary brain functions on different levels at the same time (such as singing a song and driving a car), but what we are really doing is shifting our attention back and forth very quickly, and we often find it impossible to control the focus of our thinking. Sit there for a few seconds and try your hardest NOT to think about a purple elephant…

… or try to suddenly switch off your thoughts at the end of a stressful day, and simply go to sleep. Not so easy, is it? However, God not only knows everything, but He knows everything ABOUT everything – all at once – all the time. He doesn’t have to take His mind off North Korea for a second to consider your prayer about healing for your ingrown toenail.

Next time we will consider some more of the ramifications of God’s omniscience.

When and How to Speak Up

October 20, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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Knowing when to be quiet is an underappreciated Christian virtue. Teaching, preaching, counseling, audible prayer, even verbal praise – and especially evangelism – are the topics of frequent and numerous exhortations from the pulpit and from the Scriptures. However, the art of being quiet – perhaps even dividing our speech by as much as 50% from our accustomed habit – or at least making sure that our ears are working twice as hard as our tongue – is something that probably needs to be stressed more.

Still, this does does not mean that appropriate speaking is not also vitally important. So, in this lesson, I would like to identify some Bible principles that will help us know when – and how – to speak up.

And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Acts 8:34-35

Philip, not expecting this encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch, could have been too surprised to speak. He could have held his peace and just assumed that, since the Holy Spirit had worked it out so that the Ethiopian was reading a scroll of Isaiah already, he would figure it out on his own. But he didn’t. He opened his mouth. He opened his mouth and preached. He opened his mouth and preached JESUS.

This leads us to the first principle about identifying the right time and way to speak up:

WHEN: When there is an opportunity
HOW: Christologically (about Jesus)

Isaiah Chapter 53 is about penal substitutionary atonement. You don’t need to know the words “penal substitionary atonement” to speak about the concept, but you definitely need to know the truths for which they stand. Speak up for Jesus. Speak up about Jesus. Speak up on the Person and work of Jesus.

Here is another occasion to speak up:

WHEN: When grace is needed
HOW: Seasoned with salt

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

Grace is needed wherever sin, failure, fault, pain, frustration, or hopelessness abound, because where sin abounds, grace does much more abound (Romans 5:20). However, for grace to be heard as grace (because it is being heard in a place of sin, frustration, hopelessness, or pain), it must first be seasoned, and it must be seasoned with salt.

Salt stings, but it cleanses. Salt flavors and it preserves. Salt creates thirst. Too little salt and your attempt at grace will be bland. Too much salt and your attempt at grace will taste terrible.

A third opportunity to properly speak up is:

WHEN: When it’s time to grow up
HOW: In love

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Ephesians 4:14

We have an obligation as part of a family of faith to help each other to grow spiritually. Only truth will help true growth. When my oldest daughter was about to enter junior high school, she decided that she wanted to be a cheerleader. We had enrolled her in gymnastics as a toddler, but, because she spent most of the classes practicing her speed-talking rather than her cartwheels, we decided the money could be better spent elsewhere. I love her dearly, but as she progressed through childhood, it became clear that physical agility and athleticism were not her strong points. To put it kindly, when she attempted any sort of athletic or rhythmic movement, she had the dexterity of a drunken hobo trying to serve tea in a rocking rowboat. So, as her parents, her mother and I had to speak the truth to her about her prospects of making the cheerleading team (not to mention the probability of embarrassment and injury). Hopefully, though, we did it in love.

As Christians, when it’s time to speak up in disagreement, we need to learn to disagree without being disagreeABLE. Love – true Christian love – must be without dissimulation, anyway (Romans 12:9).

Another time to speak up:

WHEN: When anger is warranted
HOW: Softly, after listening carefully

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

“Be slow to speak” is not the same as not speaking. Unrighteous anger can not always be ignored. At times it must be confronted, but fighting fire with fire only creates a bigger fire. When we have to confront anger with our speech, we need to try to defuse the bomb, not set it off.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

Be quick to listen, and, when responding, use temperance: control your own temper.

Another instance of speaking up correctly:

WHEN: When people ask what you believe about God (and when people don’t ask)
HOW: With joy, enthusiasm, meekness, and fear

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

Psalm 107:2

Before you became a Christian, you were a prisoner. You were in bondage to sin, Satan, and death, and you had no hope of escape in or of yourself. Created by God to be His servant, you had been taken captive. However, there was a way that you could be set free – “redeemed” – bought back. You may have heard of the practice of “prisoner exchange.” One king or government will sometimes release many prisoners (or one very important prisoner) for the exchange of another king’s or government’s captive citizens. How many servants were you worth? Normally, if the king himself is taken captive, he is ransomed for a great price. But in your case the King Himself ransomed the unworthy servant, and He redeemed you with His own blood! He became your ransom! “He gave Himself a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). How can we NOT speak about this?

There is really never a wrong time to declare your redemption, but it is an especially good time when someone makes an inquiry.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

I Peter 3:15

Then you do it with joy and enthusiasm (because you can’t help it), and you do it with meekness and fear (beause it is not really “your” message). Remember, when someone asks you why you believe what you believe about Jesus, you are trying to win that person, not win an argument.

WHEN: When teaching or admonishment is needed
HOW: Wisely, spiritually, and with the Word of God

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16

The “Word of Christ” is more than just the red letters in your Bible. It is all of Scripture. We are supposed to allow it to “dwell” in us. Not just visit with us occasionally, but remain constantly. It needs to take up residence in our souls. It is impossible to have a high view of the supremacy of Christ and a low view of Scripture at the same time.

The Word of Christ is supposed to dwell in us richly, the way that rich food – filling food – nourishes us and satisfies us, but also “richly” in the sense of us mining the depths of the riches found in Scripture. We are to seek out the deepest meanings and principles in the Bible, and not be content with a “verse of the day” calendar entry.

Then we are to teach and admonish one another. Teaching is instruction and admonishing is correction when wrongdoing occurs. Because the family of God is diverse, we have different experiences and backgrounds from which we can learn from one another. Because the family of God is unified, we have a shared set of precepts and principles from which we can correct each other in love.

WHEN: When you want to do God’s will
HOW: Thankfully and submissively

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:17-21

We want to know and to do God’s will in the general structure of our lives, and in dealing with specific questions concerning what God would have us to do when faced with problems or decisions. His Spirit does not lead us to act drunk. Drunks are loud, arrogant, and foolish. Spirit-led Christians are controlled, wise, and temperate.

All Christians should want to do God’s will. God’s will is worked in us in a general way as we teach and admonish one another. God’s specific will is worked in us as we experience the filling of the Holy Spirit, so we speak to one another when we see needs or opportunities for teaching or admonishing each other, but we speak to ourselves continually to make sure we are remembering to give thanks to the Lord and to submit to the Lord. In other words, we need to be speaking – really, preaching – the Gospel to our own souls. Our fear of the Lord is a natural reminder to submit ourselves to Him, and to keep ourselves submitted. Gratitude is naturally humbling and humility is naturally submissive. Talking to yourself is a sign of mental illness for the person who is not saved, but, for the Christian, speaking to yourself is communicating with the Holy Spirit Who fills us.

One more:

WHEN: As a regular part of everyday life
HOW: Diligently

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6:7

Communicating the truth of the Word of God from generation to generation requires both regularity and intentionality. Don’t compartmentalize your Christianity. There is no sacred/secular distinction in the Kingdom of God

In conclusion, there is life and death in the power of the tongue. We should use our tongue sparingly and judiciously, but there are times when, if we are to be faithful to Him Who called us, then use it we must.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Proverbs 18:21

betrayal through silence

The Trouble with Treasure

June 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There is a sense in which great wealth is thought to bring a certain amount of worldly freedom. The rich man, not saddled down with the need to work, can travel. If he finds himself inconvenienced, he can purchase some modern contraption to make things easier. He may not feel the stress of wondering whether he will be able to eat or whether he will have a place to live. Or so goes the “common sense” wisdom of our age.

The Bible has a different view:

Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

Proverbs 15:16

“Better” can be a subjective description, but, when we see it in the Bible, we understand that what is being revealed is an objective, absolute, literal “better.” A person who has a righteous and blessed fear of the Lord will find His contentment, peace, and fulfillment in the Lord Himself, and not in earthly treasure, which, although it promises freedom, can in reality only provide a “limited freedom” (an oxymoron). Since the Lord Himself is of unlimited value and worth, we might say that “a little of the Lord” is far better than the “great” trouble that can accompany great treasure.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

A C.A.L.M. and Courteous Marriage

July 25, 2012 at 6:47 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 11 Comments
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Ideally, married couples should have a relationship that is both passionate and peaceful. No one wants to live in war zone – and that includes a “cold war” zone. So it is important that our marriages be C.A.L.M.

Christian love in marriage…

[d]oth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

I Corinthians 13:5 (emphasis added)

“Doth not behave itself unseemly” means that it is not rude. The opposite of being unseemly or rude is being polite or…

C.ourteous

Being courteous does not have to do with how you “feel.” Note that the verse says that Christian love does not “behave” itself unseemly. In public, most of us are conditioned to thinking one thing and doing another, at least much of the time. At home we tend to let our guard down. This results in the tragic consequence that we are often more polite to strangers than to our own spouses. You may have heard the joke about the wife who came back from her honeymoon and called her mother on the phone in a state of great distress. “Mom!” she wailed, “You won’t believe the way Bill has been talking to me ever since we came back home. He was as sweet as could be while we were traveling and relaxing, but now he has started using all these four-letter words!”

Her mother was shocked. “Honey,” she said, “that doesn’t sound like Bill at all! I don’t want to embarrass you, but can you give me some idea of the types of four-letter words he is using?”

“Okay, Mom,” said the new wife, “here goes, but brace yourself … He’s saying things like ‘cook’ and ‘dust’ and ‘iron’ and ‘wash.'”

That’s a silly joke, but the truth is there are serious and potentially controversial things that have to be discussed and worked out in a marriage. They are more serious than asking your waiter for the check “please.” But there is nothing so serious that it can’t be discussed with courtesy.

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

I Corinthians 15:33-34

“Good manners” might sound like the kind of thing that is not super-spiritual, but apparently “good manners” are extremely important to God since they are directly contrasted with the type of communication that God calls “evil.” The Bible tells us to “awake” to righteousness, so we really have to shake ourselves if we are going to remember to be courteous to the people with whom we are the most familiar (the most obvious of whom is your spouse). They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and familiarity breeds contempt, and there is an element of truth to these proverbs, but, as Christians, we are to be yielded to the Holy Spirit, not to the “common sense wisdom” of the world around us. Courtesy is the first step in having a “calm” marriage, and, if you ask anyone who has had a tension-filled, drama-filled, or contention-filled marriage, they will tell you that you are definitely better off with a calm, peaceful marriage. We want passion in marriage, but we want it to be a loving mutual passion. If I could be a little blunt for moment, what we want is passion in the heart and passion in the loins – not passion upside the head.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

C.ourteous
A.ccommodating
L.ongsuffering
M.erciful

More Strange Weapons: A Bone (Simple, Silly, Serious, and Successful)

July 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Strange Weapons | 5 Comments
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The jawbone of the donkey that Samson used to slay 1000 Philistines was not only a strange weapon – as we saw in the last lesson:

1. It was a singular weapon.
2. It was a surprising weapon.

Now we will see that:

3. It was a simple weapon.

In other words, it was an unsophisticated weapon. I for one am glad that the weapons of our spiritual warfare in New Testament Christianity are not overly complex or difficult to use. In fact, God sometimes blesses the crudest means when there is both faith and zeal in the one who wields the weapon. Samson had many faults and flaws, but he had two big advantages when it came to fighting: faith and zeal. The jawbone that he picked up must have looked pretty weak to the Philistines who were ready to attack him, and to the men of Judah who were standing by watching. But in our moments of simplicity and seeming-weakness God often shows Himself strong.

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

II Corinthians 1:12 (emphasis added)

Samson’s “conversation” on that day was very simple. In fact, he didn’t have to say a word. He let his weapon “speak” for him, and his weapon said, “This is not of the world – this is of God and by His Spirit.”

I find it humorous and fitting that God arranged it so that Samson used the jawbone of an ass. The jawbone is an instrument of speaking, and previously in the Bible (in the case of Balaam), God had spoken through a living donkey. Here, he “speaks” through a dead donkey! God is certainly not limited in His ability to use the simple to confound the wise.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

II Corinthians 11:3 (emphasis added)

There are times in spiritual warfare when the simplest weapon is the best. What could be simpler than a soft word to turn away wrath? What could be simpler than asking a hard-hearted lost person, “What are you going to do about your sin?

In spiritual warfare some of our weapons are strong in the sense that they are built to last. But sometimes God wants us to use a weak weapon because we are more inclined to use it trustfully and obediently. Many of our specific, situational weapons just are what they are. They don’t need to be adorned to be effective. Your physical appearance is a gift from God to be used in spiritual warfare. He designed you to look the way you look partly in order to help you connect with and influence others. Don’t be too quick to change your appearance in order to make yourself more “attractive” according to worldly standards. God has blessed each of us with certain natural talents. Some are better at teaching publicly; some are better at ministering privately. Some have a great memory. Some have the gift of not being easily offended. Natural talents are some of the simplest, and yet most potent, weapons that God has given us.

4. It was both a silly and a serious weapon.

When I say silly, I mean downright absurd when you think about it! Killing 1000 men with a donkey’s jawbone??? Samson must have looked at least a little ridiculous using the mandible of an ass as though it were a sword or a club! He didn’t look silly for long, though – at least not to the Philistines. What seems silly to us was deadly serious to them.

https://i1.wp.com/www.jentronics.com/bible/Plate_096close.jpg

In spiritual warfare our “silliest” weapon may also be our most serious.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18 (emphasis added)

The Gospel message is life and death to those of us who have been regenerated and are willing to wield it for the glory of Christ. But it is foolishness to those who are unregenerate, and who will not receive it – all the way up to the point where they will be slain by their rejection of it. I wonder if our enemy, the devil, can even comprehend how he is defeated over and over again by the simple preaching of the Truth.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:27 (emphasis added)

When the Apostles were thrown into prison for preaching the Gospel, did it seem foolish that they would sing songs of praise in their cells? Do your lost friends think it’s idiotic that memorizing verses from an ancient Book could drive away something as mighty as a massive wave of depression? Don’t be afraid of looking silly for the cause of Christ. Humility itself can be a weapon in spiritual warfare. Humility is revealed in circumstances. An embarrassed person is not necessarily a humble person. We can be in a humbling situation, but still think about ourselves. Humility is not deciding to think too little about yourself in contrast to thinking too much about yourself. True humility is not thinking about yourself at all.

5. It was a successful weapon.

Samson’s victory with the jawbone was not his last exploit, nor his greatest. In fact, he wound up killing more Philistines in his death than he did in his life. When Christians today talk about “flowing in the Spirit” it conjures up images of a sort of effeminate passivity where church people are just “letting go and letting God,” focusing on their personal worship experiences and hoping that the Holy Spirit will supernaturally bless them without any effort of their own. We would do well to take a lesson from Samson. He certainly isn’t the ideal Old Testament saint to emulate when it comes to victorious Christ-like living, but you have to give him one thing: In the days in which he judged Israel, nobody flowed in the Spirit like Samson! Samson’s problem wasn’t the ability to receive God’s Spirit. His problem was that he could not be consistent – he could not get his life organized. He could not get himself organized and he had little interest in getting the people he was supposed to be leading organized. The jawbone that he wielded so effectively was what the British call a “one-off.” It is a picture of the type of unpredictable, unexpected, spur-of-the-moment weapon we encounter in our spiritual warfare all the time. We pick them up, and we throw them away, forgetting that they were successful weapons. If you have been a Christian for several years, take a moment to look back over your life at some of your spiritual victories. Was there some type of strange weapon that worked then which might work again now? Occasional, circumstances-specific weapons may seem strange and impractical, but it is God’s power, not the weapon itself, which makes a weapon successful. One time a great preacher told me that when you talk to children, you should get down on one knee and look them in the eye instead of towering over them: that has turned out to be a great spiritual weapon for me over the years. A note or a greeting card sent to someone who is hurting or discouraged can be a weapon. A bouquet of flowers delivered to a hospital room can be a weapon. One of the deadliest weapons in my wife’s arsenal is her smile. Many a time I have seen her turn a friendly smile and an unexpectedly kind word on the scowlingest, most negative person you would ever want to meet, and just absolutely route whatever demon was making that person so mean! A telephone can be a weapon when it is used to call up someone and invite him to Sunday School, or to tell someone you are praying for her.

After Samson killed all those Philistines he made up a song about piling their bodies in heaps upon heaps. When you get discouraged in spiritual warfare, and you think God is not coming through for you, take heart! Are there not heaps and heaps of slain sins in your past? Are there not heaps and heaps of slain temptations? Heaps and heaps of slain doubts? Heaps and heaps of slain fears? Sure, we’ve lost our share of battles, but the battleground is strewn with our enemies and we’re still standing. If no weapon formed against us can prosper, then it stands to reason that any weapon formed for us – to God’s glory – must prosper against our enemies.

Samson ultimately surrendered to the Philistines, and God made him the victor only in his death. God is not asking us to surrender to our enemies – He’s asking us to surrender to our King and Father. One day Jesus is coming back to vanquish all His enemies once and for all. Have you made sure that you will be on the right side when Jesus starts conquering HIS enemies?

Discipleship Lesson 8: The World

April 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 47 Comments
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I. Why does the world oppose Christians?

A. The world opposes Christians because the world opposed Christ.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

John 15:18-19

B. The world opposes Christians because Christians are supposed to live for Christ.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

II Timothy 3:12

C. The world opposes Christians because there are two spiritual families that are at war with each other.

But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

Galatians 4:29

D. The world opposes Christians because the world’s system is opposed to Christ.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

II. How does the world oppose Christians?

A. By using those closest to Christians.

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

Matthew 10:35-36

B. By cooperating with Satan in using unredeemed sinners against Christians.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:2

III. How can a Christian get the victory over the world?

A. By showing love, kindness, meekness, and gentleness to others.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:18

B. By pleasing the Lord.

When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Proverbs 16:7

C. By faith in God.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:4-5

D. By returning good for evil.

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:44

E. By choosing our friends wisely.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 13:20

F. By renewing our minds every day in the Word of God.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

IV. How should the world view Christians?

A. As sincere, by our actions even more than our words.

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

B. As set apart and different.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Corinthians 6:14-18

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

I Peter 2:9

B. As open and honest.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Romans 12:17

Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

II Corinthians 8:21

C. As people who love unbelievers, but know what we ourselves believe.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

I Timothy 3:7

V. How should Christians view the world?

A. The way a pilgrim views a strange land.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

I Peter 2:11

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Hebrews 11:13

B. From the viewpoint of a citizen of Heaven.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Philippians 3:20

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Ephesians 2:6

C. As a mission field.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

VI. Questions

A. What three institutions has God ordained for man in this world?

The family, the government, the church.

B. Where is a Christian’s home?

In Heaven.

C. What is the principle of “separation” for a Christian?

To be in the world, but not of the world. Not to touch the unclean thing.

VII. Memory Verses

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

II Timothy 3:12

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:15-16

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

Getting Your Goat

May 14, 2010 at 10:40 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 4 Comments
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You have probably heard the common expression, “So-and-so really gets my goat!” We use it when we talk about someone who has a way of provoking us.

I don’t think anyone knows for sure where the phrase originated. It might have come from the idea of someone getting your “goad.” A goad is a sort of prod or instrument used to irritate recalcitrant farm animals into moving forward. It might have come from an old expression whereby people said that an annoying person would “get your gut,” as in bringing out a “gut reaction.”

There was a time when farmers would use goats to calm down dairy cows. They have also been used at times to calm down race horses.

There are a few interesting references to goats in the Bible.

And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

Daniel 8:5

This goat represents Alexander the Great, who led the armies of Greece.

And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power.

Daniel 8:6

The ram is Cyrus, king of Persia. The goat is powerful and angry, and he not only defeats the ram, he also stamps on him.

And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand.

Daniel 8:7

Then he felt strong.

Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.

Daniel 8:8

When someone “gets my goat,” they call out the “goat” in me, and then I become angry and full of pride. And that’s a problem. Because God does what to the proud? Resists. And He gives what to the humble? Grace (James 4:6).

Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.

Zechariah 10:3

Zechariah gave a prophecy of the Messiah, and referred to the time referenced in Ezekiel 34.

Zechariah said that when the people begin to follow the evil shepherds, and are led astray by them, then God will turn the flock – the goats and the sheep – into war-horses, and He will defeat the evil shepherds. This reminds us to be careful not to be the ones trying to get someone else’s goat. If we begin to harass, and rebel against, and lead astray with false teaching, God’s flock, then we’re in a sense trying to get God’s goat. And we might find we’re getting hold of a goat we can’t handle.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Matthew 25:31-46

We have a mental image of goats as funny-looking animals with little beards who eat cans or shirttails, or who’ll butt you if you’re not looking. But God uses goats and sheep to illustrate something very serious. One day He will say, “Sheep on My right hand, goats on My left!” The significance of God’s right hand is that those on the right are favored and those on the left are disfavored.

Ask a farmer with a great deal of experience, and he will tell you that goats are never happy with what they have. They are always sticking their head through the fence. They
can’t stand to be confined. They are rebellious and stubborn. They are not good followers. Sheep will usually stay together, but goats wander off on their own. A “Judas Goat” is a goat that is used to lead – but it leads to the slaughter. Goats like to get higher up than the other animals.

We all have some goat-like characteristics in us. We want to stand out. We’re tired of following. We’re not happy with what we have. We like to eat things that sheep wouldn’t eat, even if these things have no value and will make us sick.

Don’t hold on to the “goat” in you. If someone wants to “get your goat,” let him have it. You don’t want it anyway.

What turns away wrath?

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Those on the right hand of the Lord, the sheep, have the characteristics of those who will be favored by the Lord. Those on the left hand, the goats, have the characteristics of those who will be told to depart. So, if someone is harassing you, say, “Look, I know you’re just trying to get my goat, so I’m going to let you have it, but you are not going to be happy with it. I’m one of God’s sheep. He calls and I know His voice. Let’s leave that old goat to wander out in the wilderness like the scapegoat, and I can introduce you to my Shepherd. We can be in the flock today, and we’ll be like victorious war-horses one day.”

The Know-It-Alls that Don’t Know Much

September 1, 2009 at 7:22 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 16 Comments
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The Book of Proverbs is a good place to find wisdom in all areas of life, including the area of child-rearing. When parents want to know what the Bible says children should grow up to be, they should start by finding out what the Bible says children already are.

Children are simple (Proverbs 7:7), in the sense of being unwise, and – not to put too fine a point on it – simply foolish (Proverbs 8:5). The simple, foolish, and unwise are marked by a list of very fundamental things about which they are ignorant, or, in other words, things about which they do not know.

Children do not know about danger.

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Proverbs 27:12

Children do not know about discernment.

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

Proverbs 15:17

Children do not know what is truly to be desired.

The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.

Proverbs 21:25

Children do not know what is truly to be despised.

A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.

Proverbs 15:5

Children do not know what is truly to be denied.

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Proverbs 30:7-9

Children do not know what is truly to be devised.

He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.

Proverbs 24:8

Children do not know what is truly to be destroyed.

For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

Proverbs 1:32

Children do not know what truly brings disgrace.

He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach.

Proverbs 19:26

Children do not know what truly brings despair.

A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.

Proverbs 17:25

Children do not know what causes true disrepair.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

Proverbs 25:28

Children do not know what is truly disgusting.

A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.

Proverbs 13:5

Children do not know what is truly deadly.

Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.

Proverbs 15:10

Children do not know where to find direction.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:6

Children do not know from what to depart.

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

Proverbs 3:7

Foolishness comes naturally to children. It is bound up in their hearts. Parents face a tough task in trying to extricate, from the hearts of the little ones they love so much, ignorance of all these things: danger, discernment, desire, despicability, denial, devices, destruction, disgrace, despair, disrepair, disgust, death, direction, and departing. Thankfully, the Lord has given us clear instruction on one other thing that children do not know, but that will drive the foolishness from their hearts: discipline.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 22:15

Professing Atheists Despise the Idea of Answering to Their Creator

May 7, 2009 at 11:00 am | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 9 Comments
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Professing Atheist: Super – the furher gets to make his own rules – why am I not surprised? There goes objective morality.

God is perfect and yet I can be better than him (look, I’m saving kids from burning to death… and God appears to be doing, er nothing?)

Christian: If the fuhrer had God’s power, that WOULD be horrifying, but you are having difficulty because you are too limited in your thinking. There is no danger of God being unjust like the fuhrer. I John 1:5: “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

Professing atheists have such a hard time facing reality. When God, in His absolute sovereignty, uses a human instrument or divine providence to save a child from burning to death, they complain because they believe He didn’t save them all. Once again, proving the point: Professed atheism = Willful hatred of God because He can’t be fully explained by the finite mind.

Professing Atheist: Design argument. God did it isn’t an answer, dude – it merely begs the question. It is a bit like saying “the tea pot did it.” How? “It is a magic tea pot.”

Christian: The professing atheist hates God partly because he/she wants to be a little god himself/herself. He/she says, “I’m a little teapot, short (short-sighted – Mark 8:36), and stout (stiffnecked – Acts 7:51), here is my handle (the idol of false intellect which has hands but handles not – Psalm 115:4-7), here is my spout (spouting off uselessly in unbelief – Matthew 6:7), tip me over, and pour me out (his mouth pouring out foolishness – Proverbs 15:2 – and, ultimately, unless he/she receives the gift of God’s salvation by faith, being poured upon – Revelation 16:1).

Professing Atheist: In today’s radio broadcast Big Brother assured the nation that he was indeed a paragon of goodness. He assured his audience that there was no evidence to the contrary, and that if they found any their senses were deceiving them.

Remember – have faith in the party, faith in the cause, faith in the people, and above all faith in Big Brother.

Christian: One day, Jesus of Nazareth stood up in a busy corner of the marketplaces of Capernaum. People were rushing to and fro, not in an imaginary totalitarian society, but in a real time and place where they could be put to death for speaking out against Rome.

This Jesus began to speak openly, and He said a remarkable thing. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Well over one thousand nine hundred eighty-four years later, those words still ring true.

Professing atheists would like to portray themselves as people who are being oppressed by Christians, but, in reality, they live in such freedom from persecution, that they have to actually seek out Christians who will “force” the truth of Scripture upon them.

Only the Lord knows what was truly on George Orwell’s heart when he died, but history records that his two main concerns were that he be buried near a church and that his body not be cremated. One wonders if he would have had such misplaced anxiety if he had accepted the invitation which followed Jesus’s pronouncement: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29


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