Friday, May 31, 2013

Truth

Genesis 32:10 KJV
I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

Jacob is in a moment of unbelievable stress and fear. The last time he had heard from his brother he fled for his life as Esau sought to kill him. He has just received word that Esau is on his way and with four hundred men. In this moment of fear Jacob turns to the Lord in prayer.

He is honest in that he was not worthy of the least of God's mercies. There was no reason God had to answer his prayer. But then he added "and of all the truth" God had shown him.

The commentaries say that the word “truth” refers to God's faithfulness in keeping his promises to Jacob
  • Promises to protect him in a strange land
  • Promises to return him to his home land
  • Promises to continue His promises to Abraham and Isaac through him
God's promises are faithful. More, they are truth.

And so is the Bible.
  • It is truth.
  • It is faithful
  • It is a promise

that, though we are not deserving, God has given us. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stolen Baggage

Genesis 31:17-20 KJV
Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;
And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.
And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's.
And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled.

Since God was obviously directing his return home, Jacob had no need to steel “away unawares to Laban.” This move was a part of his old deceptive nature and only led to more trouble. Leaving so hastily meant leaving with some baggage; Rachel stole her father's idols.

It is the nature of man that,
  • When we leave things in a hurry
  • When we leave places the wrong way
  • When we leave to avoid some unpleasantness
we always take baggage we would have been best to leave behind.

Life is always in a growing state. Growth means transition. Transition means change. Change of place can be a part of that transition. But when the change happens improperly things on the outside change but nothing changes on the inside. Only when we confront what is going on can we ever really deal with basic issues and see real, internal life change.


Running from problems will always mean carrying baggage we just don't need. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Time Escapes Us

Genesis 29:20 KJV
And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

The Bible summarizes seven years of Jacob's life in one short verse. The passage is meant to convey the power of love. Jacob happily served these seven years for Rachel.

But the passage also serves to remind us of how quickly times, and with it, life, passes. Those seven years:
  • His father missed him
  • His brother became more passive and
  • His mother died
Those years went by so quickly but those years were packed with changes in the human condition.


Time escapes us. Too much of it is frittered away with activities that have no value. While we let life slip by countless souls pass into Christ-less hell. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Silence

Revelation 8:1 KJV
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Times of silence may be solemn,
as in a moment of silence to remember the dead.

Times of silence may be peaceful,
as in when happy, playful children have gone to bed.

Times of silence may be frightening,
as when a teacher, in order to maintain discipline in the classroom, glares in silence at the offender.

Perhaps each of these is implied in these approximately thirty minutes of heavenly silence.
  • Solemn in recognition of the consequence of sin on the earth
  • Peaceful because the judgment is finished
  • Frightening because, though the Tribulation is coming to an end, Christ is here coming to the battle of Armageddon
I cannot see this pause, as some of the commentaries do, as referring to a time of peace on earth after Constantine founded His Catholic church. This must refer to things beyond that time and must be speaking of heavenly things.


The depth of the Word of God is measureless, marvelous and magnificent to behold! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Four Corners

Revelation 7:1 KJV
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

A very dear friend of mine and preacher of fifty years experience recently told me that, based upon verses such as this one, he believed the land mass if the earth, prior to the flood, was square.

Evolutionary scientists believe, just as Christians do, that at one time all of the land was one giant continent. We differ on when and how the continental drift took place but we agree that it did happen. Christians believe it was much more recent than evolutionists and that it was a result of the devastation of the Flood.

The event described in the Bible was much more than a terrible rain storm. The firmament of the heavens broke and poured down rain but so did the ground break open and the waters under the earth burst out upon the ground. Such a cataclysm certainly had the force to break the earth open and tear the continent apart.


A precursory look at a map makes it obvious that the continents, with some pieces lost under the oceans, fit together as a solid, single unit. There is no reason not to think that unit may have been square and that there were literally four corners of the earth at one time. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Any Man May Turn from Sin

Genesis 27:12-13 KJV
My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.
And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.

The account of Jacob's deception of his father, followed by God's promise to him in the next chapter brings cause to marvel at the grace of God. He truly is in the business of restoration and not judgment. The wrath of God is real and awful. Any man would be wise to turn from his sins and away from such terrible judgment, but the blessing of the Bible is that any man MAY turn away from that judgment.

It matters not what is our past, what is the sin of our heritage, what we have done in our background or even what we are prone to today. What matters is that God is gracious to those who will seek Him. While on this earth we are all works in progress. Like Jacob we will have moments, maybe long ones, when the likeness of the Lord will be little noticed in us. But like Jacob, the Lord is the holder of the promise and He will finish what He has begun in us.


I must never write a man off as outside of God's reach. Equally important, I must never judge myself as having sinned so much as to be outside the grace of God. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The First Fact of Eternity

Genesis 25:5-8 KJV
And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.
But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.
And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.
Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.

Abraham died thirty eight years after Sarah and thirty five years after Isaac was married. He left full of years and, as Albert Barnes puts it, "ready and willing to depart." In the prime if life, when the prospect of death is such a frightening thing, it is a relief to know that, for most people anyway, when the time of death comes they are "ready and willing to depart." My experience has been that this is equally true of both believer and unbeliever. It seems also to be true at various ages, depending on circumstances. It appears that combat soldiers reach a state much similar to this. The prospect of death becomes so real that some inner, mechanism, I think a gift from God, allows them to make peace with dying.

But Abraham's story does not end here, and this is what every soul ought to pay attention to, Abraham, the Bible says, was gathered unto his people. Barnes once again writes, "... This, and the like expression in the passage quoted, (Genesis 15:15) give the first fact in the history of the soul after death, as the burial is the first step in that of the body."

See the term, "first fact." Here is the first reference to life after death. Abraham was not gathered to his people in merely the sense of being buried in a common cemetery, but gathered to his people in the sense that they are still alive in another place. Once again Barnes, "... the departed families, from whom he is descended, are still in being in another not less real world."  The soul goes on consciously forever somewhere.


It behooves us to make sure the where. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Grieving Prototype

Genesis 23:1-4 KJV
And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.
And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,
I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

In what is one of the most touching scenes of the Old Testament we have here the means of Abraham's caring for Sarah after her death. Their years of marriage had been many and marked by life building experiences:
  • They had left their homeland and were alone in a new land
  • They had left the religion of their nativity and had worshipped God in spirit and in truth
  • They had endured the grief of years without a child
  • They had experienced difficult tests of their relationship
And now Sarah is dead and Abraham is left, alone in a strange land. His actions form a prototype and serve as Biblical instruction to all of faith in the loss of a loved one.

Abraham "buried her out of his sight."
In other words, he did not cling to his grief. That he did not purchase the field immediately signals that a time of grief passed, but Abraham did not dwell in the loss of his wife.

Abraham purchased a place in which to bury her.
The field became a family burial and served as a place of memorial for generations after. He did not dwell in his loss but neither did he or his heritage forget their roots.
One of the errors of modern America is looseness with regards to parents, grandparents and our family. The disintegration of the immediate family may be traceable to the disintegration of the respect for our family history.

Abraham insisted he purchase the field.
I do not mean to suggest that people should break their banks when burying their dead but I would caution against trying to get a "freebie." The value of the funeral is not for the one who has passed but the one who remains. Doing our responsibility is a way of resolving the grieving process.

Abraham pursued a wife for Isaac

This is said to be directly related to Sarah's death. It was time for the promises of God to move forward. Neither Abraham nor Isaac allowed themselves to get stuck in their loss but affirmed that what God had promised to Abraham was also promised to Isaac. They were comforted in Sarah's death by refocusing on God's future promises. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A week without blogging....

With the approach of summer I find my days becoming increasingly filled with activities leading me outside of my office and away from the internet. It is for that reason I have not posted for almost a week.
I have made a firm commitment to not let a day pass without spending the first part of it in fellowship with the Lord. I have kept my commitment to the Lord but am not able to be as consistent in posting the results of those "daily visits" whenever I am away.
I will bring the blog up to date whenever it is possible for me to do so.

Every Need and Want

Revelation 4:4 KJV
And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

Twenty four seats for twenty four elders.

I am reminded of the musical chairs game where there is always just one chair less than there are people. When the music stops playing and everyone has to sit, someone is always left out; the loser of that round.

Not so in heaven. There are enough seats to go around. Not too many or else someone might think they should have more,  but just the right number that everyone is cared for and may therefore be content.


I imagine all of heaven is this way; not only with seats but with every need and want. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lot's One Wise Move

Genesis 19:3 KJV
And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

That Lot was a spiritual mess there can be no argument. His digression cost the lives of his married daughters and of his wife.
  • He had moved himself away from Abraham by not submitting his herds and herdsmen to Abraham
  • He had moved himself from the tent in the plains to a house in the city
  • He had occupied himself in the affairs of the city rather than in the growth of spiritual things
Lot is a mess. But he makes a move right here that saved his life and that of his unmarried daughters, he not only invites but insists on hosting the angels who had come to the city.

Very often, when a person is out of fellowship with the Lord, he tends to shy away from spiritual things; those things that remind him and convict him of his wayward position. He always does this to his hurt. In Lot's case, rather than shying away from the angels, he pressed them to enter into his home. And in the doing of that he was spared. True enough it is that his sons in law mocked him. But he and his daughters none the less were saved.

A wise Christian will insist that God and the things of God flood his home. He will press them in despite the objections and the obstacles to letting them in. Once inside, it is God and the things of God that become our salvation. We do not protect them. They preserve and protect us.

Lot was a mess. But in this he made a wise choice. 

Be Thou Perfect


Genesis 17:1 KJV
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

The command God places upon Abraham is shocking. To walk before God is difficult enough, but the Lord adds to it, “and be thou perfect." This is a seemingly impossible assignment. No one has done it previously, Abraham has not done it to this point in his relationship with God and we know that no one but Christ will ever do it. Is God asking Abraham to do something he knows he can't do?

This command is made after Abraham's covenant of faith.
If we were to put it in New Testament terms, after his salvation.

This command comes laid upon the foundation of the power of God
Abraham will not be required to accomplish this assignment in his own power.

Read the command as if it were a destination.
This is the direction Abraham wants to point his life. He won't get there quickly. But it is the port where he will eventually, by the grace of God, arrive.

Gill
“…which though...  not attainable in this life, is desirable, and is to be had in Christ...
The Christian may press toward this mark, confident of attaining the prize of perfection through the perfect One, Jesus Christ.”

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Process of Scripture


Revelation 1:1 KJV
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

The process of Scripture found in this one verse is insightful as to how God gives His Word to us:
  • The Revelation belonged to God
  • God gave it to Jesus Christ to shew His servants
  • Jesus gave it to Apostle John
At that point then, John turns his attention to his audience and addresses us with what Jesus had shown him.

This same process is apparent throughout the Bible. Though each book if the Bible has the appearance of a communication from a prophet or Apostle to the reader, the prophet or Apostle is in truth only a distributor. His message
  • Originates with God
  • Is passed to the prophet through the Holy Spirit and then
  • Communicated to us through the medium of that prophet or Apostle
The message never did belong to the penman. Hus only function was as a distributor. He had no authority over his work. His only duty was to take what God possessed and make it available to the people. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How to Contend for the Faith


Jude 1:5 KJV
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

Jude saw even in His day certain men creeping in and destroying (or attempting to destroy) the ministry of God. His conclusion was that we must contend for the faith and he did so:
By reminding them of the judgment of God
Jude lists those who had experienced that judgment in the past.

By reminding them of the warning of God
That there would be those false prophets and mockers of what is godly that should come.

By urging them to be built up in the faith
This one thing is so necessary and yet so lacking in the Christian world today. We have heard the warning yet, just like Peter, we are asleep when we should be praying. We are careless about spiritual things when we should be the most concerned about those things.

He appealed to the Lord
Who is the One who is able to keep us from falling.

To Him alone we look. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

No Sorrow With It

Genesis 16:2 KJV
And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.

Someone has said that the more things change the more they remain the same.

Sarai does what is the typical thing for a human; she credits God with keeping from her what she wants and devises a plan to get it without God. One would think that if she was aware it was God who had restrained her she would submit to God for either His will or His future blessing. Knowing it was God who had kept her from having this child, should have been sufficient to convince her to trust God to keep His promises in other ways.

Contriving plans to get what we want against the plan of God has never led to any good thing.

God can restrain but Abraham and Sarah will learn soon, He is as capable of giving as He is of restraining.

And when God gives He adds no sorrow with it. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Excess Baggage

Genesis 13:2 KJV
And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

It struck me today that being rich in silver and gold was not that great of advantage for a nomadic man such as was Abraham. In fact, it seems to me that one could almost give this chapter in his life the title, "excess baggage".

Wealth was not the great friend of Abraham and it certainly contributed little to God's plan for his life.
·         Silver and gold had to be carried from place to place
·         Cattle required huge amounts of grazing lands, creating conflict with himself and other herdsmen, indeed, even
·         Lot was a load of excess baggage the Bible clearly indicates he should not have carried along

How much treasure we place in our hearts for treasure! The only value wealth has ever possessed is that value we have personally assigned it. How much better off we would all be if we learned to treasure instead just doing that which is God's will.

Obedience to God and allowing Him to then provide our necessities as He pleases would dispense with the need for
·         Stress reducers
·         High blood pressure medications and
·         A multitude of other expensive measures that are all man made
- the consequence of carrying "excess baggage."


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Overcomers Not Overthrowers

1 John 5:4-5 KJV
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?

If there is anything a serious Christian understands it is that he is at odds with the world.
  • It killed our Saviour
  • It persecuted to death our forefathers
  • It is becoming more hostile to us daily

But it is the world that is after us and not the reverse.
  • Our position is that of love for every individual
  • Our weapons are not carnal and
We do not wrestle against flesh and blood.

The victory we seek is a spiritual one, and an eternal one. To overcome is not to overthrow. We desire merely to live in peace and to give an account of our faith.

We overcome not by picketing, not by voting, not even by revolution.[1] We overcome the world
  • By being born again
  • By our faith and  especially
  • By believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God



[1] The latter term ought not be found in the language of a Christian, certainly not in a Baptist.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Trying Spirits

1 John 4:1 KJV
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

I wonder how often we "try the spirits" any more? Is it possible that we have come to the place where we feel like the spirits have already been tries and divvied up into their respective camps
  • The Jehovah’s Witness spirits
  • The Mormon spirits
  • The liberal theology spirits
  • The charismatic spirits
  • The progressive spirits
And, of course
  • The Independent Fundamental Baptist spirits
Is it possible that we have come to trust that if it has the label we approve (in my case that would be IFB) that we assume it is a good spirit and accept it without question?

I have noticed a ton of difference among the various types of "spirits" in the IFB churches
  • Confidence/cocky
  • Compassionate/compromising Humble/self deprecating
  • Angry/attacking
  • Selfish/prideful

  • Honest
  • Spiritual
  • Social
  • Private

Perhaps it is time we once again try the spirits; those in our churches and those we find within ourselves. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Church as Worldly as the World


1 John 3:13 KJV
Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

Sincere Christians are taught not to marvel or to wonder if the world hates us. The world is as opposed to acts of righteousness as they pretend to be of acts of immorality. As time passes, worldly people have become more and more bold in their immorality and more vocal in their hatred of those who serve as salt and light, attempting to restrain the growth of immorality and sin. Though the United States has offered a haven for Christians, that haven is disappearing. We should not wonder if the world hates us.

But while we are not surprised at the hatred, neither do we enjoy it. Surely we would much prefer
  • Acceptance
  • Community and
  • Love
This serves as a segue into this chapter's next thought; we ought to love our brethren.

Though hated in the world, we still have
  • A haven,
  • A place of belonging,
  • A place where we are loved
That place is our place of worship, among the members of that church to which we belong.

Worldliness among Christians has spoiled that in many ways.
First, too many Christians are quite welcomed in the world
They suppose they have found a way to be free of the bondage of Egypt while still enjoying the leeks and onions and garlics there.

Second, those very same Christians enter into churches and bring the despite of the world into that church
They have compromised with the world and they don't want to hear from those Christians who have refused such compromise.

The conflict between Cain and Abel has entered into the walls of local churches as compromising Christians, who are accepted in the church as brothers and sisters, but whose need for belonging is more than met in the world, now attack separated and sincere Christians in the very house of God.

The answer, as I see it, is a threefold process
  • First, do as John does and urge Christians to love one another
  • Second, do as John does and rebuke those Christians who love the world, calling them to separate
  • Thirdly, in the case of those who refuse to separate and to express love and support for brethren, separate then from them

Monday, May 13, 2013

Liar!


1 John 2:4 KJV
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

The word liar is an offensive one. It is no joke to call a man a liar. And no wonder;
  • The devil is a liar and the father of them
  • No liar has a part of eternal life
Yet the Bible (especially the Johannine epistles) uses the word often, if not liberally.

Here then is an offensive verse. People would be quick to say that another has no right to judge whether they know the Lord or not.
  • They will insist that we could never know their heart
  • They would insist that if they say they know the Lord that is between them and the Lord
  • They would tell us it is a sin for us to judge them for not obeying the commandments of the Lord
But John said that if a man says he knows the Lord but doesn't keep His commandments, that man is a liar.
  • Associated with the devil, the father of lies.
  • Implying that he has no part in eternal life

Offensive? Yes
Shocking? Extremely

But truth according to the Holy Word of God.