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Showing posts from December, 2007

The Fourth Commandment

The Fourth Commandment Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15 NIV) The key to this command is its purpose: “… so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do .” Everybody rests! Jesus confirmed this purpose when he answered criticism of violating the Sabbath by picking heads of grain (harvesting, working). “The Sabbath was made for man, not m

More on Fellowship

Christian fellowship is not possible without all or both parties being in fellowship with the Father and the Son. This begins to happen when a person has his sins forgiven by coming to the Father through the Son. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 This fellowship continues to take place when he walks in the light. He has fellowship with other people who have come to the light and who are walking in the light. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that wha

The Second Commandment--part 2

The second commandment--part 2. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:4-6 (NIV) God is jealous. There is one right kind of jealousy. When can you be jealous and not be in sin? When the person belongs to you and is unfaithful to you. This is God's kind of jealousy. People who belong to him but have given homage to false gods receive his judgment. There are two wrong kinds of jealousy. The first is when the person belongs to you and you imagine unfaithfulness. The second is when the person does not belong to you. The right kind of jealousy, God's, does not allow unfaithful

The Second Commandment

The second commandment: You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6 (NIV) This should be clear, but it is not clear to many people. The command has several parts. 1. You shall not make 2. You shall not bow 3. God is jealous and punishes four generations 4. God is jealous and shows love to a thousand generations Does the command not to “make for yourself an idol” (icon, image) include art forms like Michaelangelo’s David? No! But it does include statues of Zeus, Buddha, Hindu deities, Diana, Athena, fetishes, amulets, charms, etc. Does it include pictures of Jesus, crosses, and crucifixes? Yes, in many instances. When would

The Greatest Expression of Love

The greatest expression of love in the history of the world was the voluntary death of Jesus Christ. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14, 15 (NIV) In some way you may think mystical, God took care of sin, death and the devil all in the death of Jesus Christ on a cross near a Middle Eastern city close to 2,000 years ago. If that is so and has been so for the

Big Bang

Several years ago, two different well-known magazines had something about the creation. The first I noticed was a contest in Sky and Telescope . The competition was for a new name for the “Big Bang” theory. Apparently, “Big Bang” does not sound scientific nor does it sound astronomical. It certainly does not sound religious. I guess it must sound childish. Certainly, if it did happen, “big bang” is an understatement. The second was Big Bang Comix in the New Yorker . The strip had six frames; the first four were empty except for the captions, “A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING…,” “THE BIG EMPTY…,” and “STILL ZILCHVILLE….” The fifth was a big frame with “KER-BLOOEY!” and the last was captioned “AT LONG LAST—STUFF!” with stars, suns and planets. I thought of sending in “Ker-blooey!” for my entry in the contest, but that would have been plagiarism. This made me think of God’s possible entries. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth…

God's Laws and Man's Laws

This might not be understood by some of you, but here goes anyway. People are subject to two kinds of laws: God’s laws and man’s laws. We are to obey them or be punished by them. There is a way we can get out from under man’s laws—die! And there is a way to get out from under God’s laws—die! However, there is a difference in the way we die. In the first case when we die physically , the 55mph speed limit has no authority over us. In the second case we can die to the law and remain alive physically. “Likewise, my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.” Romans 7:4 (NIV) God’s moral law is good in content, but it has another, different effect upon sinful man. The command “You shall not commit adultery” has no more power to keep people from committing adultery than the 55 mph speed limit has the power to make people drive less than 55.

Continuous Fellowship

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 This “walking in the light” guarantees two things. 1. Continuous fellowship 2. Continuous cleansing

Fake Fellowship...Based on a Lie

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” 1 John 1:6 It is not possible to be in fellowship if we are walking in darkness and not living by the truth. Walking and living are not the same as singing and reciting. We can sing, “Walking in the Light.” That is not the same as walking in the light. We can recite truth, the Apostle’s Creed. That is not the same as living by the truth. We can claim to have fellowship with Him and be lying while we are claiming.


“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John 1:3-4 We find several wonderful things in these two verses. 1. The proclamation of the Gospel 2. Fellowship with us 3. Our fellowship is with the Father and the son 4. Complete joy In local assemblies, fellowship is based upon cultural activities. Some of these are singing, eating, fun, games, and talking with each other. They take place in a separate room in the church building called the Fellowship Hall. This is not what the text is saying. It is saying that there is no fellowship outside of the Lord Jesus. It is also saying there is complete joy in this fellowship and this fellowship is with the Father and the Son.

Rescue, Redeem, Save, and Set Free

Here are a few verses about the birth of Jesus that are not normally recited at Christmas time. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Galatians 1:3-5 NIV) But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Galatians 4:4, 5 NIV) She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21 NIV) Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14, 15 NIV) We see the purpose of God in the birth of Jesus: “who

Good, but Not Good Enough

The Old Testament is a history of bad people with bad actions and good people with bad actions. In other words, it is a history of sin. The bad news precedes the good news. The New Testament has a detailed history of the good news as a solution for the bad news, which came first. What about the good people with good actions? Well, there are not very many, according to the Bible. In fact, the Bible says there are none. However, we will choose one who, by man’s standards, might fit. His name is Cornelius, and he shows up in the Book of Acts, chapter 10. He is not a Jew; nor is he a Christian, nor a Buddhist, nor a Muslim. He and all his family were devout and God fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. (Acts 10:2) He was good, but not good enough. He needed help, and God sent it by an angel, by the Holy Spirit, and by Peter. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a remembrance before God. Now send men to J


My memory is very sharp when it comes to the lies I have told. I still remember them, but they do not bother me as they once did. It is not the passage of time, but the forgiveness in Jesus Christ that eased my conscience yet kept my memory. Today is a reminder of bad news. It is what God thinks of liars and His judgment upon them. We will start with Proverbs 6:16-19. There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 1. Haughty eyes, 2. A lying tongue, 3. Hands that shed innocent blood, 4. A heart that devises wicked schemes, 5. Feet that are quick to rush into evil, 6. A false witness that pours out lies, 7. And a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. Why “six,” and “seven”? Because lying is in the list twice. Notice also that pride or arrogance is #1, lying is #2 and #6, and murder is #3. God does not have a light view of lying. Jesus said of the devil, He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with truth

Christmas Time Brings to Mind the Father and Son

At Christmas time I think of the Father. “God is love” 1 John 4 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 He is love and He loved us. At Christmas time I think of the Son. “I am gentle and humble in heart” Matthew 11:29 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 In the Incarnation two great qualities of God were expressed, infinite love from the Father and infinite humility from the Son.

Deliverance from Evil and Terror

Occasionally I still hear people make comments about the innocent people in Central Africa or Papua New Guinea or Amazonia. “These are people who are living in pristine Edens and should not be tampered with by White men who will bring evil into their lovely, innocent gardens.” I remember one University of Maryland student who said to me, “What do you mean putting clothes on those innocent people?” I then showed her the last picture in The Savage My Kinsman by Elisabeth Elliot. It was a photograph of an Auca Indian with no clothes on walking hand in hand with a little white girl, also with no clothes on. I then said to her, “It looks like the Indians are taking the clothes off the missionaries.” Here is an excerpt from Spokane author Neil Anderson’s book In Search of the Source . Neil Anderson and his family spent the last 20 years in Papua New Guinea translating the New Testament into the Folopa language. Soon others joined in with a cascade of graphic descriptions of the worst

Talking, but not Walking

We are all aware of people who talk Christianity but do not walk it. In other words, their lives do not reflect what they say. Jesus said it this way: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. (Matthew 23:25, 26) Probably, the greatest criticism of Christianity today is the hypocrisy of the “Christians.” It is amazing how easy it is to recognize hypocrisy in others and not recognize it in ourselves. I do not know if George Gallup has conducted a poll on hypocrites. If so, I do not have access to his figures. So I will guess the results. These are imaginary figures. Since I am imagining, I will take a sample of 100% of the population. Q: What percentage of people are hypocrites? A: 70% (Average answer.) Q: Are you a hypocrite? A: No! (Average ans

Lack of Joy May be the Result of Unconfessed Sin

Today I would like to write to those of you who have passed from death to life and know it, but your life now is not made up of the same joy and peace that you had when you first crossed over. You would like to have that love and joy and peace in abundance again. It is easy to connect your present state with your present circumstances. Your environment and circumstances did not determine your peace then, and they do not determine it now. When you received Christ you were born from above. At that event all of your sins were washed away. You were clean on the inside. You received the fruit of the Spirit, which included a peace that passed your understanding. That peace was the result of two things—your sins were forgiven, and you were indwelt with the Holy Spirit. This peace, joy, and love were God’s peace, joy, and love given to you. Here is how to remain in the peace, joy, and love you had when you first became a Christian. This is the message we have heard from him and

Do You Want the Good News First or the Bad News?

You may be thinking, “How about some good news without the bad news first?” It is difficult, maybe impossible to do and still be honest. The reason for this is the very nature of the words “salvation,” “saved,” “redemption,” and “justification.” They all have a meaning in them that implies something to be saved from, redeemed (bought back) from, and to make just that which is unjust . Here are two examples: 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. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Heterosexual Immorality

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor the idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Today my emphasis is on heterosexual immorality. There are two expressions used here: sexually immoral and adulterers . The sexually immoral would be people who have practiced fornication before marriage or after a divorce. An adulterer is one who commits fornication with someone who is not his or her spouse. Then the marriage vow is violated. These people are wicked people, and unless they are forgiven through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ they will not inherit the kingdom