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Showing posts from December, 2017

Woe to Those

In the book of Isaiah, several chapters stand out in my memory. One of them is chapter five. Here are a few verses from it. It is God’s rebuke to Israel, 700 years before Jesus’ time on earth. Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes, to those who say, "Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy one of Israel come, so we may know it." 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. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. (Isa. 5:18-23) These verses apply, I think, to the United States today. Verses 24 and 25 describe the judgment of Israel because of their sins.

Merry Christmas!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 9-14) This is the Christmas story according to


Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Tim. 6:17-19) Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, "Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.&q

Obeying By Imitating

Example and imitation are not just the best means of teaching and learning: they are commanded in Scripture. Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Pet. 5:2-3) Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Cor. 4:16-17) Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 10:32-11:1) Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young

Church Discipline & Restoration

The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Cor. 2:6-8) This may be the man spoken of in 1 Corinthians 5. If not, he is still a man who has been under church discipline. This discipline has worked, and the man is repentant. What is the instruction to the church? 1. Forgive him. 2. Comfort him. 3. Reaffirm your love for him. Why? So that he will not be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow. We do not see much church discipline today. When we do, we do not see the restoration of the repentant man as described above. Not to do this is sin on the church’s part. The church is made up of individual Christians who do the forgiving, comforting, and loving.

The Reason for Christmas

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. (Gal. 1:3-5) 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. (Gal. 4:4-5) These two verses give us the reason for Christmas:  to rescue us from this present evil age  to redeem those under the law so that we might receive the full rights of sons Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)

The Christmas Story

Merry Christmas! Many of us know the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. However, you might know it only from Christmas pageants, carols, and Christmas cards. (Most of them are only partly true.) This Christmas season, read the Christmas story to your children from the Bible. You will find the story of the Wise Men and the Star in Matthew 1:18-2:23 and the story of the shepherds and the angel in Luke 2:1-39. There are also several other short accounts of this event in Colossians 1:13-20, Hebrews 1:1-4, Galatians 4:4-5, and Philippians 2:5-11. Here is another account: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recogni

Writing Your Testimony

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the Enemy. (Psalm 107:2) 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 Tim. 2:24-26) When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Rom. 6:20-22) 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, th

Isaiah & Micah

Isaiah was an intellectual prophet with a big vocabulary. He prophesied at the court in Jerusalem. As a prophet, he wore sackcloth from his waist down and sandals until God spoke to him, recorded in Isaiah 20:2-4: “At that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, ‘Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.’ And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. Then the Lord said, ‘Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame.’” Micah, who prophesied at the same time, was in Samaria when he also had to go barefoot and naked. Micah 1:8-9: “Because of this I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl. For Samaria’s plague is incurable; it has spread to Juda

The God of All Comfort

Did you know that God the Father is described as the God of hope, the God of all comfort, the God of peace, and the God of love? Here are some of the texts. May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction. (2 Cor. 1:3-4) The God of peace be with you all. (Rom. 15:3) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:23) Now the God of peace who brought you up from the dead, that Good Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good… (Heb. 13:20) The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with

Demons in Recent History

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. (Deut. 18:9-13) Here are a few accounts of demon possession in the Bible. They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you co

Antidepressants, Anxiety, and Depression

Time magazine recently had a cover story on antidepressants. The article says there are 16 million depressed people, one third of whom do not respond to treatment with antidepressants. Another 6 million are anxious. I will not dispute whether these facts are correct. I suspect that some of these depressed people, maybe many of them, are Christians. The Thessalonian Christians were told to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this was the will of God concerning them. Notice the three superlatives: always, without ceasing, in everything. These are not suggestions. They are commands. We see the same thing said to the Christians in Philippi. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will g

Floating Down the River or Praying in Jesus' Name?

Over the years, I have heard people say, “I don’t believe in Jesus. I just pray directly to God.” The awful part of their statement is they think it is a virtue or righter than the Christian belief. Here is what God says: “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23). Others say they are Buddhist or Zen or just “spiritual.” Buddhists pray to idols; if they are well-informed, they know that Buddha is not listening, because Buddhism says that all consciousness is evil—Nirvana is like floating down an endless river in a fog. Zen is meditation to yourself, inward. There is no consciousness or praying to someone else. Get your theology from reading the Word. Quit absorbing it from the world.

Are You a Disciple of Jesus?

Are you a disciple of the Lord Jesus? Here are a few things to look at. These are evidence of discipleship. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:22-24) Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God…. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Col. 3:1-3, 5) But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practi

Your Word

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.... Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.... Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:11, 97, 105). This month I will finish my year’s reading of the Bible, once through the Old Testament, and twice through the New Testament and Psalms. It has been such a great blessing. Every day I want to teach what I have learned that day.

Are You Only Listening?

“It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to a song of fools” (Eccl. 7:5). It may have been always so, but at present we seem to have plenty of songs from many fools. We also seem to be short on wise men. The greatest shortage, however, is in heeders. A heeder is one who listens (pays attention) and obeys what he has heard. James said it this way: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). In my early Christian life, I memorized many verses of Scripture. I succeeded in deceiving myself. I was not obeying the Scripture at all; I was not heeding. I thought I was spiritual because I knew the verses. It is a dangerous to be a listener. There are many good teachers of the Word. There are many more listeners. They flock to good teachers. The teacher should not be pleased that he has many listeners, unless he is going to teach them how to be heeders . This is one of the clear requirements in the great commission: “teaching t

What Pleases the Lord

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Eph. 5:8-10) This verse tells us what you were and what you are, and from this we have two assignments: Live like what you are (goodness, righteousness, and truth). Find out what pleases the Lord. How do we live like children of the light? By grace! We are saved by grace. We live by grace. We are forgiven by grace. We obey by grace. How do we find out what pleases the Lord? First, want to know what pleases the Lord. Second, read the Bible looking for truths to obey by grace. Third, pray for spiritual acumen when you are reading the Bible. We are anticipating the new year. We are waiting with patience the Lord’s return, not necessarily in that order. I get letters daily from prisoners requesting Bibles and other help. I also receive letters from prisoners requesting copies of Ho

Opening Eyes

Here is a question that some of you might have. “I am increasingly being faced by family, friends, and acquaintances who state that all religions lead to God and there is no one source of written revelation from God. This attitude immediately dismisses anything I might share with them from the Word of God. What is a good approach with these people, an approach that will invite them to evaluate their false belief and leave the door open to more conversation?” First, what the unbeliever wants to hear or not hear should not determine what the believer says. The unbeliever does not believe the Word of God. Of course he doesn’t! He has not heard it. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Before he can believe, he must hear the Word. It is the only source of faith. We get our orders from God, not from unbelievers. However, that does not mean that we should force the word, for “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light o