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Taking the Long View

"They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor" (Habakkuk 1:7).

This is speaking of the Babylonians. In the previous verse, God said that He was “raising up the Babylonians.” This was in answer to Habakkuk’s complaint that God did not listen and tolerated wrong (vv. 2-3). God was going to punish evil nations with an evil nation.

Habakkuk further complains: "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?" (Habakkuk 1:13).

God gave several answers to these questions in Habakkuk 2:2-12, but in verse 13 He gives a comprehensive answer: "Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the se…
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Bessie's Favorite Chapter

This was my wife Bessie's favorite chapter in the Old Testament, and close to being my favorite.

Isaiah 58

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for…

The Church Needs Solid Food - Are You Drinking Your Milk?

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3: 1-4).

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:1-3).

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an …

Seeing Things As God Sees

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. (Acts 17:16)

When Paul arrived in Athens, his reaction was not awe at the beauty of the Parthenon; it was distress over the people’s idolatry.

You may have been to parts of the world where there are magnificent minarets, Shinto gates and shrines, and beautifully carved statues housed in ornate temples. Do we think like the Apostle Paul when we see these things? If not, is it because he saw them as God sees them and we see them like the rest of mankind? May God help us to be distressed over the worship of false gods.

In vain with lavish kindness
the gifts of God are strown
The heathen in his blindness
bows down to wood and stone.

—Reginald Heber, 1783-1826

Psalm 96

The 96th Psalm is one of my favorite Psalms. It is God-centered, joyous, worshipful for the right reasons, and all nations, nature, and the heavens enter into that worship.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peo…

Bad Theology Corrupts Good Character

You have probably heard this saying: "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character'" (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Perhaps you also know the truth taught in Romans 1:18-32, which is basically, “Bad theology corrupts good character.” Even though we know both of these truths, we can still wonder when some Christians end up in immoral situations. The wonder is increased when the Christian involved has emphasized “good company” (nearly to the point of legalism) and “sound doctrine” (to the point of arguing with all who differ).

I spend a good portion of my time with Christians who have fallen into major sin. Some of them turned out not to be Christians; that is a topic for another time. However, some of them were Christians. I have spent many hours listening to them. As they recounted the details of the sins they fell into, I could see that they had not kept bad company and that their theology appeared to be sound. Yet how could I account for their sin? After more que…

Seeing God

When the Ten Commandments were first given, they were not given in pageantry. They were given in terrifying, first-person reality, three months after the Israelites left Egypt (Exodus 19). Thirty-nine years later, Moses recalled the events surrounding their declaration:

Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. (Deuteronomy 4:12)

You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully… (Deuteronomy 4:15)

You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:35)

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:39)
There are two reasons we are not to make images of God:

• He is not like any of His physical creation, so no creation can physically be like Him.
• He is not like any other god, because the…

A Little Simplicity

“Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:1-3).

St. Paul was concerned about people deceiving other people away from the simplicity that is in Christ. All (or at least most) denominations of the Christian church have made salvation in Christ a little more complicated.

Rather than draw attention to all of these complications, I thought I would go through the Gospel with simple, biblical words.

God is.
God is love.
God so loved the world.
The world was the object of His love.
The expression of His love is giving.
What He gave was His only-begotten Son.
He gave what was most valuable to Him.
Sin came into the world through man.
All men have sinned.