Where to Find Courage

August 28, 2019 at 11:28 am | Posted in Joshua, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

Joshua 1:1-4

Moses had been used by God to lead God’s people out of bondage in Egypt. He had led them through the Red Sea. When their disobedience had caused God send them wandering into the wilderness rather than entering into the promised land, Moses had led them in the wilderness – always subject to God’s guidance, protection, and provision. All of the Israelites who had come out of Egypt and gone into the wilderness for 40 years had died – except for three: Moses himself, Joshua, and Caleb.

Joshua had been Moses’s chief military general, his close friend, and a loyal helper. When loyalty among the people had been in short supply, Joshua was the exception. He loved Moses, and, although Joshua was no longer the young man he had been when the people left Egypt, he still looked up to, and admired, Moses. Perhaps you have or have had a spiritual mentor or even sort of a hero like this in your life.

Now Moses died, too, leaving Joshua to lead in his place. How this must have devastated Joshua! Of course, God’s plans are not dependent upon even the greatest of human beings, and Joshua, although I’m sure he FELT alone, was far from BEING alone. God gave Joshua a tremendous promise.

I hope as you read this that you have been born again. If you have, then this is a promise for you, too, and it is a promise that we all desperately need, whether we realize it or not:

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Joshua 1:5 (emphasis added)

This promise alone would enable Joshua to do what the Lord was about to command him to do. The land across the Jordan River was not uninhabited. Spies had previously gone there to scout the terrain, and they brought back reports. Tribes and nations of warlike people lived there: Hittites and Hivites and Jebusites and Cannanites and parasites and mosquito bites and tighty whites and all sorts of less-than-friendly people. Some of them were huge warriors, giant in stature, living in walled and fortified cities designed to defeat and annihilate anyone who would challenge them. Joshua would need the promise God gave him in Verse 5 in order to do what God commanded him to do in Verse 6:

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

Joshua 1:6

Courage is often misunderstood. We contrast courage with fear and we believe they are opposites, but they are not. Courage does not cancel out fear, nor vice versa. Fear must be present for courage to exist. Fear is the sine qua non of courage. The Bible does not condemn the existence of reasonable feelings of fear, but it does exhort us to find the courage to OVERCOME fear. The Bible does not promise us the absence of fearful circumstances, but it does encourage us to act in faith despite our fear, rather than responding with paralysis or retreat.

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

Joshua 1:6 (emphasis added)

1. The first place to find courage is in the promises of God.

What God has decreed will come to pass. He is not only faithful in character – which makes it impossible to for Him to lie and break His Word – but He has the omnipotent power to perform what He has promised.

There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

Joshua 21:45

And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

Joshua 23:14

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

I Thessalonians 5:24

Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

Jeremiah 1:12

The Lord stands outside of time at the place of promise and at the place of fulfillment. He comprehensively and minutely supervises His promises so that they come to pass perfectly in His impeccable timing and through His brilliantly organized, ordered, and executed circumstances. By remembering and believing in the demonstrated trustworthiness of God, you will find courage to overcome fear.

2. The second place to find courage is in obedience to the Lord’s commands.

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Joshua 1:7-8 (emphasis added)

We tend to think of God’s commands of righteousness as burdensome and fearful things – as though they are given to us as a trap, so that, when we inevitably stumble into disobedience, God can rejoice in shaming or punishing us. This is not accurate, though. God’s commands are given to us for our safety and comfort. They are the commands of a loving Father, not a cruel and sadistic taskmaster.

But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Joshua 22:5 (emphasis added)

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

Psalm 119:97-98

God’s love and care for us are not at odds with His desire for our obedience and submission to Him. Our obedience and submission glorify Him, yes, but they are objectively the best things for us, too. We were expressly created to glorify Him, and, in doing so, we find our greatest fulfillment and freedom. Obedience to the commands given by God to you in the Bible will assure you that God loves you, and will give you the courage to overcome the fear that the world tries to use against you when it tells you that sometimes you just HAVE to cheat and disobey God to escape trouble or to prosper.

3. The third place to find courage is in the presence of the Lord even in our trials.

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Joshua 1:9 (emphasis added)

Joshua had lost Moses. Moses would not – could not – be with him any longer “withsoever he would goest.” No human being can give you the assurance of constant loyalty, consistency, or steadfastness, but God can – and He does. The promise of Jesus that so many of us like to claim (Hebrews 13:5) does not mean that He will start out with us, then forget about us for a while, and then come rushing back just in the nick of time (although it may seem that way from our sinful, lack-of-faith perspective). No, this is a promise to attach us to Himself permanently and to be there in the midst of our worst trials and troubles.

You will experience no greater pain or shame than what He experienced in the Cross, and He is able to comfort you and fortify you so that you can continue to trust Him through absolutely anything.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:34-39

When you feel fear, don’t try to deny it. Don’t opt for some distraction. Don’t give up and retreat. And don’t let the devil intimidate you into paralysis and inaction. Be courageous and strong by:

1. Remembering the strength of God’s promises;
2. Remembering that God has given you an assignment that is worthy of obedience;
3. Remembering that God is with you and will not forsake you.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Illumination (Part 2)

July 19, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In a previous post I showed that, Biblically:

I. Illumination Indicts Iniquity
II. Illumination Initiates Interest
III. Illumination Implements Instruction

Now we will see that:

IV. Illumination Imparts Insight

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

Psalm 36:9-10

The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible and He teaches the principles and the precepts of the Bible to whose whom He indwells.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

Psalm 119:130

The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He leads us out of error. He teaches and reinforces correct doctrine.

V. Illumination Inspires Intimacy

O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.

Psalm 43:3-4

We draw close to God and get to know Him better by various means, but the main way we get to know – not just things about Him – but actually intimately know Him – is through the illumination of the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Colossians 1:12-13

We experience intimate fellowship, through the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination, not only with God, but with other believers.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

I John 1:7

Now that I have discussed what Biblical illumination IS, I want to point out:

VI. What Illumination Is Not

A. Illumination is not inspiration.

Illumination does not give us private revelation apart from Scripture – and especially not contrary to Scripture. It is not a synonym for imagination: Beware of these commonly espoused idioms: “God told me;” “God spoke to my heart;” “God wouldn’t let me do what I had been preparing to do.” Let’s be careful about our language. There is a great danger in saying “thus saith the Lord” when He hasn’t really saith anything of the sort.

B. Illumination is not inner enlightenment.

Illumination is not transcendental meditation. It is not the emptying out of your mind. It is not the achievement of knowing the self or emotional peace. It is not mysticism – or chanting or channeling or tantric yoga. It is not “blind” (dark) faith; it cooperates with rational, intelligent, logical learning, application, and wisdom.

C. Illumination is not immense intelligence.

Jesus and the Apostles were accused of ignorance or illiteracy, or lack of education or formal learning.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 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 1:26-27

Paul acknowledged the simplicity of human wisdom and how the true wisdom of God was counted as foolishness in the world.

Illumination in not merely academic. It is a supernatural impartation of understanding specifically related to Bible study. Plenty of classically trained and tremendously educated scholars have made a lifelong study of certain Biblical subjects without ever being converted, and therefore without ever having experienced true illumination.

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

June 20, 2019 at 9:32 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Psalm 119:18

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 (emphasis added)

Every person comes into this world (which is a dark world, spiritually speaking) in a state of spiritual darkness himself. God’s truth is present in the world and it is the only source of light. Jesus is the Light of the World, but the existence of light – alone – does not bring about spiritual vision or the comprehension of truth. In order for light to be effective, there has to be the ability to see. Blind eyes have to be healed and spiritual blindfolds have to be removed. This can not be done by physical force, nor by debate, nor by fleshly enticement. It is part of the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration when it happens – when an unbeliever becomes a believer. When a lost person gets saved – when someone who has been born only once (physically) gets born again (spiritually) – the Holy Spirit opens His eyes to the Truth.

That part of illumination is purely a gift of the Spirit. We do not cooperate with it, any more than a thief who is sneaking around a dark house hiding from the cops cooperates with being exposed once they shine a spotlight right in his face, but there is an aspect of the doctrine of illumination which does involve our cooperation – after we are saved.

Illumination is the Holy Spirit’s work in giving spiritual sight to unbelievers, and thereafter teaching believers the Scriptures, helping us to understand them, and empowering us to apply them to our lives.

I. Illumination Indicts Iniquity

It exposes, and makes us aware of, our own sin.

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

Psalm 90:8

We often have trouble seeing our own sin, or understanding the pervasiveness of it. We are like fish who do not understand they are wet because “wetness” is all they have ever known. We are very accustomed to darkness – until we become of aware of how God sees our sin. Nothing is done in secret from His point of view. Once His spirit illuminates our self-awareness, we recognize our guilt and our terrifying position before a righteous Judge.

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

Proverbs 6:23

God’s Word shows us our true condition, and the condition of the world around us. We should be convicted when we read the Bible, but not merely convicted. We should also find hope: reproofs and instruction.

Light helps us see what’s around us, but it also shows us safe paths to take and ways of escape from trouble.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

John 3:19-20

We need the Holy Spirit’s help to come to the light. It hurts our eyes. It shocks us. It throws us into a state of shame or embarrassment. BUT… if we will come to it instead of running away from it, then illumination will expose, and make us aware of, our own sin. It will give us insight into our spiritual nature. It will allow us to discern the sins of others and sin in the world.

II. Illumination Initiates Interest

Evil needs a covering, or an excuse, or a rationalization. People don’t want their deeds exposed along with their motives.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:21

Those who have been illuminated by God, and who come to the light, want their deeds to be manifested – to be made known – but isn’t this a form of pride, of bragging, of showing off? No, it’s a way of glorifying God – because only His light has made it possible to do these types of deeds and it is obvious they are wrought in God. They are His good works, really, merely done THROUGH us. We are not light sources; we are light reflectors. We’re not the electricity running through the wires; we’re the bulbs: the diffusers of God’s glorious light.

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 1:79

God’s light gets us moving – it “motivates” us to make peace, to try to help reconcile people to God. Most people, whether they admit it or not, have a nagging sense that they live under the shadow of death – the awareness that life will end relatively soon and judgment awaits. God’s light puts death in the shadow of God’s glory instead of vice versa.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

II Corinthians 4:4

A physical blindfold can be removed by force, but mental and spiritual blindness, like physical blindness, requires supernatural intervention.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

II Corinthians 4:5-6

God, in Christ, has illuminated our hearts and minds, but not just for our “enlightenment.” (I prefer the term “illumination” over “enlightenment” because of the baggage and selfishness associated with Eastern mysticism, and to avoid connecting it to the historical period known as the “Age of Enlightenment.”) He has given us His light and placed it in our formerly darkened hearts so that we can shine it into other blind hearts and minds.

Illumination creates in us a desire to read and study God’s Word. Illumination attracts us to God’s Truth.

III. Illumination Implements Instruction

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination does not stop when a believer receives the gift of salvation.

Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

Psalm 112:4

Those who are “upright” – who stand before God in Jesus’s imputed righteousness – are given light to know God more and more, in ever-increasing measures. I mentioned earlier that believers participate in it, but it is still a gift of God’s grace and compassion, and it is for the purpose of directing us toward righteousness.

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Isaiah 8:20

Illumination is about understanding and applying the Word of God. It is not about feelings, fantasies, or fables. It is not about private personal promptings. The Holy Spirit inspired the same Scripture for everybody to read, and He illuminates it for each person to study on his/her own with a goal of reaching a common, mutual, and CORRECT comprehension of it. The Holy Spirit gives greater understanding to those who obey what they have already been shown.

Next time we will see that illumination imparts insight.

A One-Question Quiz for Boys

April 28, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalm 119:9

It’s one of the greatest Q-and-A’s of all time, packed into one clear and vital verse.

Q. How will a young man clean up his act and live right?
A. By purposefully and vigilantly moving through life with the Bible as his guide.

The psalmist asks and then answers his own question without hesitation, but are you and I convinced of this solution? I hope we are, because a wrong response has dire consequences: Psalm 34:16; Ephesians 5:3-6.

We sometimes use the colloquialism, “young men,” when we refer to boys – even those who are fairly far from the age (or maturity) of true manhood, and the Bible does the same thing here, translating it from the Hebrew na’ar. Boys do not come into this world with clean hearts, and they do not start their journeys through life on clean paths. No, they start off with dirty, sinful, corrupt, and foolish hearts, bent toward heeding the world’s beckoning call to travel down its own dark, dangerous, deceitful, and disobedient alleys. Thus, the question in the first part of the verse presupposes that a young man’s “way” has need of purification (cleansing).

Thankfully, the Lord God Who reigns over this sin-sick world has provided a ready-made and easily-obtainable means for such cleansing. This antidote is not, however, a one-time vaccination or smoothly coated pill, quickly ingested and then forgotten. No, it is a remedy that requires young men to “take heed” – to look and listen carefully.

The Word of God is to be kept ever before their eyes. It is to be ingested through reading, and through attendance on teaching and preaching by trained and ordained men of God. Its principles and precepts are to be applied thoughtfully and rigorously as sign posts, warning lights, fuel for the journey, and dutiful directions at every twist and turn, every high-speed straightaway, and every providential detour along life’s course.

A Child’s View of God’s Supremacy

December 16, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Uncategorized | 9 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As Christian parents we should want the children that God has entrusted into our care to be utterly convinced of the absolute supremacy of God. And, although it may be hard for us to accept, the lesson that God is absolutely supreme may have to be learned in times of trial, struggle, darkness, and even affliction. Remember, we are raising these kids for Him, and, having entrusted them to us, He wants US to trust Him with them.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

Psalm 119:71

We must bring the Scriptures to bear in our parenting, and we must confront our children with the Scriptures in times of suffering and despair. Learning God’s “statutes” (principles and precepts) will assist us in teaching them to find comfort in Him. They are just as important as a rod of correction in discipline, and more so in times of affliction that already involve pain, because we do not wish to inflict additional pain where pain has already been inflicted from above or allowed by God through circumstances.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:7-10

Let us not, as parents, exhaust all our prayers on deliverance. Let us reserve some for the recognition – and acceptance – of humbling thorns in the flesh. And let us teach our children to pray through them, and recognize God’s strength supplanting their own perceived strength.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

I Corinthians 10:31

We should think of this well-known verse as a reminder to try to utterly convince our children of the absolute supremacy of God, but, in its context, it is not so much a verse of victory as it is a statement of defiance by the Apostle in the midst of persecution. People were speaking evil of him and his teaching, and, rather than worrying about safeguarding or defending his reputation, he was concerned with God’s glory. For our children, the “whatsoever ye do” would include getting picked on and made fun of, as much as it would include a scraped knee, a lost purse, or the disappointment of not being invited to a best friend’s birthday party. There is no conviction of God’s absolute supremacy when we see Him only as supremely in charge of granting our favorite blessings.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

Psalm 73:25

This is a general and true statement. No created being will make a good “God.” But it is also a desperate realization. Our children must learn to think Biblically. They must not see God as all they need (although He is), or even as all they want (although that would be great). They must see Him as all that they have. In a world of vanity, deceit, hypocrisy, anarchy, uncertainty, and unpredictability, God is the God of Heaven (eternity, the sweet by and by), but He is also God of all the Earth (the nasty now and now). He’s the God of our church, our home, our car, our refrigerator, our little league team, our vacation, and our toy box. I’m no longer talking about just looking for illustrations or spiritual lessons; I’m talking about seeing God as supreme – both better than anything AND above anything AND truly our All-in-All.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

God is so holy that no man can see Him and live. However, if we are doing our job as parents, our children should have a burning desire to see God – to “behold His beauty” – to “enquire” of Him and ask Him otherwise unanswerable questions. In teaching and preaching the Gospel to your children, tell them that God DOES want them to see Him – and look what great lengths He has gone to, to make it happen!

Get the L out of There!

March 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The “world” is often the Bible’s word for the ungodly system of this world, which opposes Christ and His Kingdom.

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

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. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

I John 2:15-17

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

I John 4:4-5

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:5

When we are trying to make disciples of Christ, we should, as quickly as possible, try to get those who are showing an interest in the Gospel message out of the “world” and into the Word.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Matthew 13:22

Worldly cares and concerns can crowd the truth of the Bible out of a person’s mind.

And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Mark 4:19

However, we must not let the animosity that exists toward the Word in this world keep us from diligently getting out into the world as evangelists and witnesses and missionaries.

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

John 17:6

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 17:14

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

II Corinthians 5:19

Christ Himself is the Living Word of God, and His mission to reconcile lost and otherwise hopeless sinners to the holy God was and is accomplished by the power of His Word.

Finally, we need to make sure that we keep the “world” out of the Word. The canon of Holy Scripture is closed, and our complete Bible in 66 books is sufficient to show us everything that God wants us to know about Godly living and the plan of redemption in this life. We must not let the transmission of God’s Word in our day be corrupted by faulty modern translations, by extra-Biblical false prophecies such as the Book of Mormon or the NWT Bible used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor by the influence of referential texts of false religions such as the Koran.

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalm 12:6

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 4:2

LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Psalm 119:89

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19

Only one little letter makes the difference between “world” and “Word,” but that letter could have an eternal impact. We need to:
1. Get out of the world and get into the Word.
2. Get the Word out into the world.
3. Get the world out of the Word.

How to Read the Bible (and Get Something out of It): Part 3

May 7, 2014 at 9:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Previously I discussed some of the exciting things about reading the Bible. Be patient with the Bible. Some sections are like a torrid novel (there are even some scandalous passages!), but some parts are more like the terse outline in a study guide for a history exam. Other sections are beautiful poetry. Take some time to figure out what genre you are reading. The Bible has an unlimited depth. The more you learn, the more you will want to know. And the more you want to know, the more fascinated you will be. Here are some practical tips for getting more out of your Bible-reading:

1. Remember the truthfulness of it.

Thy word [is] true [from] the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments [endureth] for ever.

Psalm 119:160

The Bible is unique in this respect. It is absolutely true in every circumstance and situation. It is the Word of God, and God cannot lie, and He cannot change. Therefore, His Word cannot be wrong, and it does not become outdated. Everything else you hear is susceptible to being (and often is) a lie. The Bible is the “verily verily” of God – the “true truth.” You can depend on it and rely on it, even when everything around you and “common sense” seem to indicate otherwise.

… yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Romans 3:4

2. Reacquaint yourself with God in it.

Some people only have a second-hand knowledge of God. You know Him through your parents. You know Him through sermons. Your main experience of Him is through praise and worship. It’s time you get to know Him better – in the Bible.

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

II Peter 1:3

We know that God is loving, just, merciful, gracious, wise, and powerful, because He tells us these things about Himself, and He has recorded Himself demonstrating these things in the Bible. Can you imagine your spouse, child, or favorite person in the world giving you a letter telling you their most important thoughts, and telling you what they are truly like, and you don’t bother to read it? God has demonstrated His love and His care for us in the highest way conceivable. How can we not want to find out as much as we can about Him?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11

3. Recognize yourself in it.

The seeker-sensitive cliche’ “it’s not about you” is true, in a sense. But in another sense, it is about you. The Bible is where we learn how we got here and what our reason for existing is. A good hermeneutic principle to follow is to picture yourself as the sinner in every Bible story you read.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:11-15 (emphasis added)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 (emphasis added)

You are in the Bible in one of those two verses. If you are truly a Christian, then you are a “whosoever” in John 3:16. If you have never trusted Christ as your Savior, then you remain one of the “whosoevers” in Revelation 20:15, and I plead with you to ask the Lord to change your status today.

Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Revelatory)

April 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Exodus, John | 15 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Lord, I say with the psalmist, I love Your law. We should meditate upon it every day and every night. We know that it is better than our own thoughts. We know that it is absolute truth. We know that those who love Your law will have great peace. Help us to see the correct uses for Your law, and especially Your Ten Commandments. In the name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.

The Ten Commandments are a part of the “Law of God” – specifically, the Old Testament Law. They are normally thought of as something that children need to learn, or that we need to teach them to help them behave better, or that need to be posted in public, so people can see what Christians think of as “right and wrong.”

Do you believe in the Commandments of God? Most Christians would say yes. Do you know the Commandments of God? Some Christians would say yes. Do you teach the Commandments of God? Most Christians would say a hearty “yes” (or at least agree that they should be taught). But this is a different question: Do you love the commandments of God?

Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.

Psalm 119:127

The Old Testament believers were supposed to love the commandments of God – to “love His law” – but in the New Testament we are “under grace” not “law.” So should we love the Commandments?

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

God’s commandments are not cosmic laws that God discovered and decided to adopt to keep order in His universe. They are not rules He made up to keep Himself entertained as He watched over His creation. They are simply an expression of Who God is – which leads us to the first of three purposes which are revealed in Scripture to tell us some of the reasons for God giving us the Ten Commandments and His moral law. (These are not the only three reasons. There are more, but these are three big ones.)

1. The Revelatory Purpose of the Ten Commandments

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:21

“Revelatory” just means something that “reveals” something – something that lets us know what something else is like. If you love God, you must love what God loves. The Ten Commandments reveal to us what sort of being God is. We know that He is the only true God, because the 1st Commandment tells us that there are no other gods before Him. We know that He is holy and is righteously jealous, because the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Commandments tell us that we are not to make anything that is supposed to look like Him, we are not to mess with His Name, and that we are to have special days set aside just for worshiping Him. We know that He is a God that ordains authority and submission and obedience because of the 5th Commandment, and that obedience and submission are how He prefers love to be expressed. We know that He loves life, because He condemns murder. We know that He loves and promotes marriage, because he condemns adultery. We know that He loves truth, because He condemns lying and stealing. We know that He is omniscient – that He knows everything – including what’s best in every circumstance, because He condemns covetousness, which is dissatisfaction with what He’s given us.

Some people call the “revelatory” use of the law the “teaching” use, so this purpose for the Commandments is also known as the “didactic” purpose. The Holy Spirit uses the law of God to teach us how to live in a way that’s pleasing to our God after we have trusted Christ unto salvation.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

I John 5:3

Do you see again the connection between loving God and loving His commandments? The lie of Satan and the lie of this world and the lie of our flesh is that rules and laws and commandments restrict our freedom – that they are “grievous” – that they are given to be a burden to us. But God says that this philosophy has it backwards. The worst type of slavery – the worst type of imprisonment – is “freedom” from God’s commandments. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you “get free” from God. Like a stray dog – a person who is “free” from God has himself for a master – and a man with himself for a master has a terrible master. Stray dogs get run over, they get sent to the pound, they get shot, they get killed by bigger and meaner dogs, they get rabies, they die alone and scared and miserable. Dogs are meant to be dominated by a master, and you and I are meant to be dominated by our loving Heavenly Father.

When you love God’s commandments and keep God’s commandments, that’s when you find true freedom. That’s when you become what God originally intended for you and I to be: His image-bearers – His good and obedient and loved and blessed children. That’s real freedom.

Next time, we’ll take a look at a second reason for the Ten Commandments.

Hard-Headed

February 28, 2014 at 11:06 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My wife’s mother, who has been married to the same man for almost fifty years, gives this marriage advice: “If you want your marriage to work, you must be hard-headed about the right things.” Generally speaking, the expression “hard-headed” means stubborn. I think what she means, though, is that when times get tough in your marriage, you need to be downright stubborn about keeping the vows you made before God, and committing to stay together and work through the difficulties, no matter what.

I could not find the expression “hard-headed” in the Bible, but I did find a reference to hardening of the face.

A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.

Proverbs 21:29

This kind of hardening is not good. It refers to stubbornness that ignores wisdom. It is the outward result of the inner hardening of the heart.

The hardening of the heart is a process, and a head is hardened by repeated stubbornness. The hardening of the heart involves both our own wills and God’s will, and a hard head is the result of God finally reinforcing what we want to think, anyway. The hardening of a man’s heart occurs when God gives him over to his own way. A hard-headed man can’t “change his ways,” because they’re his ways, not God’s ways. The hardening of a person’s heart negates that person’s warning system. It keeps him from seeing the danger in the direction he’s “heading” (no pun intended). A hard-headed person is sometimes called a dullard. He’s sleepy and lulled into a false sense of security. When someone is hard-headed, he is unable to see the danger which is abundantly clear to others. Don’t be hard-headed when it comes to sin and disobedience. The only thing hard about a believer’s head when it comes to sin should be his helmet.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:17

O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Psalm 119:5

Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

Ecclesiastes 8:1

Preparing to Hear from God: Ready

January 13, 2014 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

If you work in a Christian environment, or attend a Christian school, or live in a Christian home, I would assume that you are presented with multiple opportunities throughout the week – sometimes throughout the day – to hear from God. This is a great privilege, but we often take it for granted. God had no obligation whatsoever to speak to you. He is not lonely, bored, or depressed. When God decided to speak to you and me, we call this “condescension.” It’s when someone bigger and smarter and more important than you takes an interest in you even though you don’t necessarily want anything to do with Him. It’s a stooping down to our level. If God – the greatest, most magnificent, most majestic Being in all of existence – would condescend to speak to you, wouldn’t you want to hear what He has to say? To pay attention?

These lessons are about three “R”s, but not “readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic.” These are a different three R’s. They stand for how you and I should approach the idea of the Lord speaking to us:

R.eady

We know a great deal about getting ready. Students do it before school in the morning (hopefully). They do it before a test (hopefully). People get serious about it before a big a social event. But when we know that we are going to have a chance to hear from God – whether we are coming to a church service or getting ready to read our Bibles – we need to really prepare to hear from God in two specific ways:

1. Prayerfully

Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.

Psalm 119:18

2. Purposefully

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

Psalm 78:1

Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.

Proverbs 23:12

Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

Job 38:3

Hearing from God is not a time to be silly. It’s serious, because He is holding you and me accountable for what He says.

Next time, we will think about being receptive in our preparation to hear from God.

Next Page »


Entries and comments feeds.