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Showing posts from March, 2007

God's Joy

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)

This is one of the great verses of God’s character expressed towards us. Most of us know that He is with us, that He saves us, and that He loves us. But there are two additional expressions that cause me to wonder:

He will take great delight in you.

That ought to help any Christian with a “poor self-image.” God delights in me greatly!

He will rejoice over you with singing.

Most of us love to sing praises to Him with joy. Here it tells us that He also sings with joy over us.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Describe Yourself

Time or Newsweek might describe people according to physical terms¾tall, short, blue eyed, olive skinned, etc. Here are a few other ways of describing people.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath… (Ephesians 2:1-3 NIV)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV)

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the l…

Impatience

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1, 2 NIV)

Living a life of love would mean knowing what love is and knowing how Jesus expressed that love. Let me point to one aspect of this love. It is a small but important part of love.

Love is patient… (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV)

Patience is the first mentioned characteristic of love. We are told to be imitators of God. Then Jesus must be an example of patience, for we imitate examples.

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:16 NIV)

Love is kind… (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV)
Kindness is the second characteristic of love.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things…

Doing Good

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:15 NIV)

There are three similar teachings in Titus 2. These teachings are addressed to older women, younger women, young men and slaves. Here is how they conclude:
…so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2:5 NIV)

so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:8 NIV)

so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. (Titus 2:10 NIV)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if…
¨ …foolish men are silent;
¨ …no one will malign the word of God;
¨ …they will have nothing bad to say;
¨ …and the teaching about Jesus will be attractive?

Check out the conditions in Titus 2.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Positive Obedience

Having learned how to refrain from disobedience and how to walk in the light, we are now ready for active, positive obedience. We start out by learning how to recognize positive commandments in the Scriptures. They are almost always expressed in superlatives. For example:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 NIV)

A positive command is not a suggestion. It is a requirement. Because these commands are so complete and all-encompassing, it is easy for the Christian to think of them as “ideals” and not realistic requirements. Before we can consider the how of positive obedience, we have to know and accept the commands as they are. The Scriptures do not qualify these imperatives, and we do not have the freedom to qualify them either.

There are several wonderful means of obedience to these commands. All of them are effortless on our part. The first is the death of Christ. We all know that Jesus died so that we could be forgiven. Few of us real…

A Purpose of Heart

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. (Daniel 1:8 NKJV)

When he [Barnabas] came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. (Acts 11:23 NKJV)

Daniel’s decision and Barnabas’ exhortation to the new believers at Antioch had one thing in common: each one shows a purpose in the heart. Daniel made one decision that would cover the next three years of eating and drinking. He purposed in his heart on principle. The principle was that “he would not defile himself.” He did not wait until breakfast was at hand and then make a subjective decision not to eat when breakfast was set before him and he was hungry. He did not wait again for lunch and then make his decision about that particular lunch. He would have comprom…

On War

I suppose from God’s viewpoint, the whole question would be simply answered. We do not have that answer laid out for us in the Bible in any one place. Consequently, our different systematic theologies on war are not simple; they are either complicated or simplistic. The following, I am fairly sure, is not God’s simple answer, but if I thought it was far off, I would not write this.

“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven” (Revelation 12:7, 8). Here was a war between absolute good and absolute evil. I am going to make a deduction. It may seem obvious, but it is still deduced. Evil is a required participant in order to have war. Michael would not fight against Gabriel. Good would not war against Good, nor will Evil fight against Evil: “and if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?” (Jesus in…

The Constitution of the United States of America Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Read it again! Notice Congress is the only one that can violate this amendment. It can violate it by making laws. The amendment tells us which laws it may not make.

There is no way an individual citizen can violate the first amendment unless he is a member of congress.

All of the new states of the United States except three had state religions. They had had them for over a hundred years and continued to have them for many more years.

The three States were Rhode Island, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

The Courts have since ruled that any government, however small, State, County, City, School board or any one in authority may not legislate either to establish or prohibit.

In any case an individual citizen cannot violate the firs…

Singularity

Scientists have many different, invented words to explain what they do not know and cannot find out. One of them is singularity.

Singularity: a point at which space and time are infinitely distorted by gravitational forces and which is held to be the final state of matter falling into a black hole.

As I understand this word it also describes the situation before the “big bang”.

If there is such a thing as a black hole and if there was a “big bang”, singularity is the atheist’s word for God.

Ground Troops

This is a comment on the United States’ decision to put more ground troops in Iraq. Actually, it is a comment on the objectives to the decision especially those who have lost sons, daughters, husbands or wives in the combat.

Our armed forces are made up of volunteers only. We have no military draft as we had in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam.

During the 1 ½ years of World War I we lost 116,516.
During the 3 ½ years of World War II we lost 405,399.
During the 3 years of Korea we lost 54,246.
During the first 6 years of Viet Nam we lost 51,000 men, 43,000 in combat.
During the 4 years of Iraq we lost 3,200.

My wife Bessie lost two brothers in WWII.

I spent eleven years in the Navy, three of them in the Korean War. My first ship hit a mine; we lost 16 men and 40 wounded. Five of those killed were in my battle station. My second ship we lost one man to gunfire and seven wounded.

My class from the Naval Academy, 1950, served in Korea, Viet Nam, the Cold War and some of us in WWII and we are now older tha…

Grace and Faith I

Grace is quality but it is given in great quantities. Faith is only quality and is neither needed nor available in quantity. It can be strong or weak. Didn’t Jesus use quantitative terms when speaking of faith? Yes, a few times, but notice how he used them:

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31 NIV)

One term He used is “little.” Another term He used is “doubt.”

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6 NIV)

But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23 NIV)

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was s…

More on Poetry

There is a form of poetry that uses alliteration. I like alliteration. I think most people do. It shows up all of the time as in “Pain at the Pump” and “Purple Pill.”

I like the alliteration “Big Bang”. There is another reason I like it besides the short words and the “b’s”. It is the greatest understatement in the history of language and it is done in two short words. It is also an unscientific lie, but a big one.

Here is a statement I like much better.

“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” Psalm 33:6-9

I am not a literalist in that God does not have breath or a mouth nor does He speak as we speak. Nevertheless…

“For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” Psalm 33:9

Murder, Suicide, Genocide

Murder: The crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought.

Suicide: The act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally.

Genocide: The deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group.

I’m writing on this subject because of the different emotional responses we have when we hear these words.

Our greatest response is to an individual murder. We see a picture of the murdered little girl when she was happy and innocent. We do not think of the awful violation of the holiness of God. Nevertheless, we are appalled.

We are not as appalled with a suicide unless it is a murder-suicide and it is within a family.

Genocide is normally on the other side of the world, Bosnia, Ruanda, or Darfur. The numbers are big and all of the people are faceless and anonymous both the murdered and the murderers.

In Iraq we call them suicide bombers. We do not call them mass murderers. We do not circulate pictures of the deceased when they…

Stay Away From Mobs

Over seventy years ago our father told us a story. My telling of it will not be accurate. This is how I remember it. I was probably seven-years-old. There was a black man who was arrested and in the Douglas County Jail in Omaha. A lynching mob stormed the jail. The sheriff stood in front of the jail and told the mob that they could not have the man. They would have to lynch him too. That seemed ok with the crowd. They took the sheriff and the prisoner and were hanging them from a lamp post with the crowd in an uproar. Then an open touring car came through the crowd under the lamp post and cut down the sheriff and the prisoner and then sped off. The moral my father taught us was this: “Never join a crowd as a spectator. The spectators in number give authority to the bad guys who would not dare do things if they did not have a crowd behind them.”

In my reading this morning I came across this short sentence in Exodus 23:2, “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”

Almost daily on televisio…

Some Thoughts On Correcting Others

1. I will walk in the light as he is in the light. (1 John 1:7)

2. I will forgive others as in Christ God has forgiven me. (Ephesians 4:32)

3. In judging others I will do so only if I have taken the splinter out of my own eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

4. In correcting another it will be with the intention of restoring the other person to close fellowship with God. I will do it in a biblical manner. (Matthew 18:15 and 18:35)

5. I recognize there is a difference between those who are forgiven and those who are qualified to be teachers.

6. I will not spread rumors about the life of a fellow believer unless his life is a positive testimony to God’s saving grace. If the rumor is negative I will check with the person himself.

7. If a believer is a public figure and there is a rumor of moral impropriety about his life, that rumor should be brought to his attention. He should be encouraged to straighten out the story if it is untrue. If it is true and he has repented he should be encouraged to make that kno…

Commands--Lies or Truth

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Deuteronomy 5:20

“A heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” Proverbs 6:18, 19

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” Revelation 22:14, 15

Notice the other sins in company with lying. In the early books we have the command in the Ten Commandments.

In Proverbs we have this poetic sentence, “six the LORD hates”, “seven are detestable t…

Assurance of Salvation--Part 5

“Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:14

Have you been led by the Spirit? That is supernatural guidance.

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” Galatians 5:18

If you have not been led by the Spirit or if you have and do not recognize it, you had better wonder if you are saved.

Word Power

For those of you who wish to increase your word power, the following sentences are sent to you for interest.

Surgical Pathology Report
Skin, left ear, punch biopsy: Capillary telangeotasia. Actinic change.
Microscopic Description

Sections of the skin biopsy from the left ear demonstrated a hyperkeratotic squamous epithelium which matures normally. The superficial dermis contains prominence of vascular structures with somewhat reactive endothelial cells. Minor perivascular neatrophilic inflammation is apparent. Actinic damage to the superficial dermal collagen is recognized. There is no evidence of malignancy.

Assurance of Salvation--#4

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit , who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

The Holy Spirit is the present guarantee of our final salvation, the resurrection of our bodies.

“Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:5

Here is a positive and negative statement.

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Romans 8:9

We either have the Spirit or we do not have the Spirit. Whoever does not have the Spirit does not belong to Christ. He is not a Christian. He is not saved.

Imitation

There is still another way to have a normal and natural heart obedience. In a father-son relationship there are three causes of the son being like his father. The first, is genetic inheritance. He looks like his father. The second, is a command/obedience relationship. The third is imitation. It is this one that is another way. The Bible makes reference to it several times. Here are few of those instances.

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:44 & 48 (NIV)

Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 1 Corinthians 4:15 & 16 (NIV)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himse…

On Poetry

“The time has come…the walrus said to speak of many things, of ships, and shoes, and ceiling wax and whether pigs have wings.” I have no mustache, so I cannot be a walrus. Pretty good reasoning, eh? Also my knowledge is limited to a limited number of ships. I had better start over.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khana stately pleasure dome decree” pretty, but nonsense. “There are strange things done in the midnight sun…” there are strange things done everywhere. “I met a traveler from an antique land by the men who moil for gold.” I meet one at least once a week.

I have always loved poetry from Ogden Nash to Tennyson, even when the poetry doesn’t say anything of substance. Here is a stanza from the “Love of God” by Frederick Lehman. It was sung at our wedding fifty-five years ago.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contai…