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Showing posts from June, 2008

For Muslims during Ramadan

I thought I would bring to your attention the teaching on fasting from the prophets and from the Injil. Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house 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 a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a ree

Forgiving Oneself!

Many times in recent years I have heard statements like the following, “yes, I know that God has forgiven me, but I cannot forgive myself.” The awful part of this statement is the person who says it, says it as if it were a virtue. Here are a few thoughts for consideration. 1. The Bible does not address the problem. If it were real, the Bible would speak to it. 2. The Bible speaks about being forgiven and forgiving others. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14 (NIV) This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. Matthew 18:35 (NIV) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 3. The Bible speaks of two kinds of sorrow, Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NI

Confession of Sin Leads to Unity

In reading different histories of World War II, we can read how the British won the war, the Americans won the war, then on to tanks, submarines, destroyers, airborne, bombers etc., how each won the war. We were all on the same team. However, it was not always evident. Unity is comprised of two components: 1. The greatest loyalty is to the supreme commander of all units; and 2. Great love for all those who are under the supreme commander. Let me illustrate with an isosceles triangle. The two points at the ends of the base of the triangle represent two units, tanks and infantry. The apex represents the supreme commander. If these two units get farther removed from the supreme commander, the distance between the units gets greater. The closer they are to the supreme commander, the closer they are to each other. Jesus’ prayer for His army in John 17:20, 21: My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one

No Competition in the Kingdom

There were many tragedies of incompetence on all sides in the Crimean War. However, the greatest tragedy was having two cavalry generals, who hated each other, in the same division. They were competitive for glory. The result was the charges of the Light and Heavy Brigades at Balaclava. Neither of the generals had ever been in a war, nor had they studied war. They were parade ground generals. In the Second World War, competitiveness showed up in Montgomery and Patton, both of whom wanted the same fuel for their own tanks. In the Korean War, I Corps and Eighth Army raced to see who would reach the Yalu River first. This ended in tragedy. In the units that are fighting in the spiritual war today, there are similar tragedies caused by parade ground generals who are competitive for money and for glory. The casualties are many in the body of Christ. We see this competition in Philippians 1:17: “The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can sti

Sword of the Spirit

The word of God is described as an offensive weapon in Ephesians 6:17. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (NIV) And again in Hebrews 4:12. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (NIV) In modern parlance, we would call this conviction of sin, one of the states of unregenerate man that precedes repentance. The other great result of preaching the word of God is faith. Faith is caused by the preaching of Christ. Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 (NIV) A command to use the sword of the Spirit is in 2 Timothy 4:2. PREACH THE WORD; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. (NIV) F.W.H. Meyer in his narrative poem St. Pau

Heaven and the Bride of Christ

When we think of Heaven, it might be a beautiful meadow with wild flowers in the sunshine or some other pleasant place. However, one of the descriptions we have in the Bible is one of the throne and the Lamb and the 24 elders and the cherubim and seraphim. It is a place of glory and continuous praise. Another is of a city. However this city is identified as the church, the bride of Christ. If the city were a literal, physical, city as described in Revelation here it is, the description and dimensions. 1. It descends to earth. 2. It is a mega city. It is 1400 miles wide (Seattle to Omaha) 1400 miles long (Omaha to Mexico City) and 1400 miles high. If we cubed these numbers, it would be over 27 million cubic miles. It is a walled city with walls over 200 ft. thick. The city is square and made of pure gold that is transparent as glass. In this city there is no moon, no sun, no night, and no sea. There is a river that is a fruitful river. There are twelve gates, each made of a single p

Idolatry should not be Tolerated

Statues are not idols. Statues are symbols of men of renown; Washington, Grant and ideas like Liberty and Justice. I am not sure these should be made according to the 2nd commandment. However, having been made, no one to my knowledge has bowed down to them. There are millions and millions of people who make idols to bow down to them. God was not and is not tolerant of the people or the idols. With the idolatry, which is a great evil, there are many attendant immoralities. The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. Revelation 9:20, 21 (NIV) Idolatrous religions (Buddhism, Hinduism) are not innocent ‘other religions’ of which we should be tolerant. These people are lost. Be merciful to those who dou

Sin in Histories

In addition to reading novels and biographies I also read history. In history we get sin in big pieces, sin in mass. In none of these books is pride, envy, greed, murder, rape, stealing and lying called sin . It might be called crime or unwise or stupid, but it is not called a violation of the holiness of God. It is not called sin.

Sin in Biographies

Great men in history have had many biographies written about them; Lincoln, Napoleon, Washington, and John Adams. Even though many of them have been written to make the subject a hero, they do not succeed without withholding information or changing it. After several generations have gone by, new biographies are written and we find out their heroes were human and as humans, they sinned. Again, the sins are written as fact. If the man had received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that would be left out. There are other biographies where sin is mentioned and the solution is in the man’s life. He received Jesus Christ sometime in his life and then spent the rest of his life living and proclaiming Jesus. Here are a few such people of which I have read and re-read over the last sixty years; Corrie Ten Boom, Amy Carmichael, Irene Webster-Smith, George Mueller, James Fraser, Hudson Taylor, John Sung, Pastor Hsi, Charles Simeon, The Cambridge Seven, and Oswald Chambers.

Sin in Novels

I am an eclectic novel reader. Over the years I have read Russian (Dostoevsky, Turgenyev), English/Scots (Dickens, Austen, Scott, Stevenson, Sayers, Perry, Wentworth, Christie, Wodehouse, Chesterton, Lewis, Tolkien, Stuart, McInnis, Thirkell, Douglas, Carrol, Grey, McDonald, Buchanon, Shakespeare, etc), American (Montgomery, Hawthorne, Twain, Heinlein, McManus, London, Cooper, Gray, Brand, Aldrich, Alcott, and L’Anour). That is a sample. My reflection in the last few days on all of these novelists, whether it was romance, mystery, humor, fantasy, or adventure, the subject was always sin . You may have noticed I did not mention the writers who describe sin in great lucid detail. I have not read them. However, sin is the basis in each of the books. Without sin, there would be nothing to write about. Novels are about people and people are sinners. In most of these books, relative good comes out in the end. There are a very few authors who write with the Cross as a solution to the sin pr

Moral Autonomy

The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5 (NIV) This is a description of man before the flood. You are not to do as we do here today, everyone as he sees fit. Deuteronomy 12:8 (NIV) This is a command given to Israel before the occupation of Canaan. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. Judges 21:25 (NIV) This is a polite way of saying there was anarchy. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 (NIV) Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Isaiah 5:20, 21 (NIV) All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the

Kindness is a Weapon

KINDNESS is one of the GREATEST weapons in kingdom warfare. It is the major weapon of God in leading people to repentance. “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, NOT REALIZING THAT GOD’S KINDNESS LEADS YOU TOWARD REPENTANCE?” Romans 2:4 (NIV) In witnessing, God, through Paul, gives Timothy negative and positive instruction, how not to witness and how to witness. “Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NIV) On the whole, people do not associate the words kindness and repentance together. Rep

Refusing to Rejoice

We all know people who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who do not live in the joy of the forgiveness of their sins. There are several reasons for this. 1. They are not Christians. They are Christians in name only. 2. They are Christians, but have accumulated unconfessed, unforgiven sins in their life. They are being chastened by God. 3. They are Christians. They have confessed their sins in detail, but refuse to accept God’s forgiveness. They think they do not deserve forgiveness. That is true, but that has nothing to do with forgiveness. Forgiveness is by love and grace. This refusal is a greater sin than the sins they have been confessing. It needs to be repented of. Here is why. 1. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 These are commands. 2. “If we confess our sins, he is faithf

Victory is Ours

“THEY overcame HIM by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11 (NIV) In context, the antecedent of “they” is “our brothers.” The antecedent of “Him” is “Satan.” The spiritual weapon is the “blood of the Lamb.” The Lamb is the Lord Jesus Christ. Rephrasing the sentence by substituting nouns for pronouns, we have: Our brothers overcame Satan by the BLOOD of the Lord Jesus Christ. First, we see the BLOOD of Christ in our salvation, our forgiveness, liberation from sins, redemption, and continual cleansing. “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his BLOOD, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5, 6 (NIV) “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,

Love for Everyone Else: Neighbors and Enemies

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else , just as ours does for you.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12 “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15 “And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:39 “You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies ,

The book, Leadership & Self Deception

I mentioned in a previous Roots that this book describes sin very well. However, this description assumes there is a good person who betrays himself . The description is good but the definition is flawed. My comments will attempt to describe the situation in the book in two different ways. 1. The people are natural men. 2. They are spiritual men. The natural man has these characteristics. 1. “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” Romans 6:17 2. “I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:19 3. “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexu

Weapons of War

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV) First, “We do not wage war as the world does.” How does the world wage war? It wages war with weapons that kill and destroy, whether it be clubs, arrows, swords, rifles, bombs, missiles, starvation, chemical, biological, or atomic weapons. In the history of war there has been pillaging, looting, raping, torture, murder, and prostitution. Motives in secular war include envy, covetousness, pride, glory, fear, vengeance, patriotism, anger, hatred, and defense of our home country. There may be legitimate objectives, but much of the practice of war is as just mentioned, carnal. Second, “The weapons we fight wit


“Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” Deuteronomy 5:29 “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 “He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:9 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:35 Obedience, speech, and forgiveness come from the heart. This is talking about real obedience, real forgiveness, and edifying speech from a purified heart filled with good things. There are acts that look like obedience, and words that sound like forgiveness. We want the appearance of purity more than we want purity.

Love and Faith Require Obedience

The common denominator of “faith” and “love” is obedience, or action that expresses the love and that validates the faith. Without the obedience, “love” is not a big word; it is a cheap word. It is just a word and not a very good word at that. The more we use the word, the less it means. It has less and less value. It is a prime example of word infatuation. The more we love as Christ loved the more it means. Loving increases the value of love. Saying “I love you” often decreases its value. It’s the same with faith. “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” James 2:14 Saying the word “faith” is no evidence of faith. In fact, it may be less than faith or a substitute for faith. Recently, I was talking with a young man who said that he loved God with all his heart. He also talked of his strong faith: When we talked about the reading of the Word of God and obeying God he seemed to be absent. He told me that he loved God an