Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Biological evidence, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

The divine dealings of God

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Joseph wended his way from his people to a pit (Genesis 37:1-3; Genesis 37:23-24), from a pit to a purchase (Genesis 37:28), from a purchase to Potiphar’s house (Genesis 37:36), from Potiphar’s house to a prison (Genesis 39:7-20), and from prison to Pharoah’s palace (Genesis 41:37-45) – all the while traveling on the journey sent by God, meant for good (Genesis 45:5; Genesis 50:20).

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

All bets are off, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A hope and a future

When our children were graduating High School, Jeremiah 29:11 was a popular verse used with graduation cards, gifts and so forth. It may still be popular. The text, probably quoted from the New International Version of the Bible, reminds graduates that God has “plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
While this Scripture is true and still speaks to us today (Romans 15:4), the contextless verse often “says” to the reader “God has a great future for me” (with “great” meaning “what I want and expect”). The context straightens the meaning out for us, which is deeper and fuller than the “verse on a card” or “verse on a cup” approach. Here also is the reading from the King James Version of the Bible:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,[i] saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
The words of verse 11 are part of the prophecy of Jeremiah “to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon” (Jeremiah 29:1).  Prophets rose up in Babylon to speak falsely in Jehovah’s name (Jeremiah 29:21). Among those who remained in Jerusalem, Hananiah said that within two years God would break the yoke of the king of Babylon, bring back those who had already gone into captivity, and restore the vessels of the Lord’s house to the temple (Jeremiah 28:2-4). Into this lie Jeremiah must speak the truth. Not only will this not happen, but those who are still at Jerusalem will also go into captivity! The yoke will not be broken in two years, but Israelites will remain captives in a strange land for seventy years.[ii] Do not spend the next two years expecting to come home, but settle down for the long term in the land where you are – “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” (Jer. 29:7). This is the context and meaning in its context – God knows the thoughts and plans he has for Israel (Cf. Isaiah 55:9). Those to whom he has not revealed those thought are liars (Romans 3:4). The Lord has thoughts of peace and prosperity in their future. Even their captivity, though a judgment, is for their good (Jeremiah 24:5). Their history is not concluded – it has a future – and there will be an ending in fulfillment of their expectations.[iii] God knows – he does not forget what he purposes to do.

To us this speaks today, within the context of Jeremiah and the general principles taught in the Bible. We look not for the fulfilling of all our desires. We know not all the thoughts God has, but we know that even in the midst of that which is disappointing, depressing, and distressing, God is working all things for good to them that love him, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).  

[i] “I alone” – not the false prophets who pretend to speak for me.
[ii] This had already been expressed by Jeremiah, as recorded in Jeremiah 25:11-12.
[iii] The “expected end” must be understood in the context of God’s work among his people Israel more than applied to individuals. The current generation – “the elders which were carried away captives” – would never return to their homeland, but their hopes could be fulfilled in their children and grandchildren (Cf. 1 Chronicles 22:7; 1 Chronicles 28:6).

War a good warfare

1 Timothy 1:18-19
“This ‘good warfare’ is carried on against three principal enemies—the flesh, the world, and the devil; and each of these enemies so closely allied to ourselves, and each so powerful and so hostile, that they must surely overcome us, unless we are ‘strengthened with might in the inner man’.” – J. C. Philpot

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Blessed Jesus, at Thy word

1. Bless├Ęd Jesus, at Thy word
We are gathered all to hear Thee;
Let our hearts and souls be stirred
Now to seek and love and fear Thee.
By Thy teachings sweet and holy,
Drawn from earth to love Thee solely.

2. All our knowledge, sense, and sight
Lie in deepest darkness shrouded,
Till Thy Spirit breaks our night
With the beams of truth unclouded.
Thou alone to God canst win us;
Thou must work all good within us.

3. Glorious Lord, Thyself impart!
Light of light, from God proceeding,
Open Thou our ears and heart;
Help us by Thy Spirit’s pleading.
Hear the cry Thy people raises;
Hear and bless our prayers and praises.

4. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Praise to Thee and adoration!
Grant that we Thy Word may trust
And obtain true consolation.
While we here below must wander,
Till we sing Thy praises yonder.

Stanzas 1-3, Tobias Clausnitzer (1619-1684), Stanza 4, Anonymous; Translated by  Catherine Winkworth

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Holy Father

John 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

Last week I heard a preacher on the radio speak of the words “Holy Father.” He noticed that these two words suggest our distance from and proximity to God. Our distance from = He is holy. Our proximity to = He is our Father.

Distance, God is holy.

God is holy. The Hebrew word for holy is “qodesh” and the Greek word for holy is “hagios.” Most likely we immediately think of sacred or pure. The most distinctive thing about the word in relation to God is “apartness” or “otherness.” God is before, above, and apart from all his creation and his creatures. He is the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 89:18). Holy and reverend is his name (Psalm 111:9). On his throne he is thrice-holy before all in his glory and his eternity (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8).

At a distance, man is unholy. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God; all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6). Our iniquities separate us from God, and there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not (Isaiah 59:2; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 2 Timothy 3:2).

Proximity, God our Father.

Those who are born of God have God to their Father (John 1:12-13). He is our Father (Philippians 1:2) and the one who prayed “Holy Father” in his prayer taught us to pray “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). By the Spirit within us we cry out to our dear Daddy (Romans 8:15) and have dear fellowship is with the Father (1 John 1:3).

Not very far.

God from heaven reaches down to our broken separate distant condition and brings together both “Holy” and “Father” – brings us to him, remaining just as the justifier of sinners (Romans 3:26). We may be holy, for he is holy (1 Peter 1:16); and are holy in the first resurrection that escapes the second death (Revelation 20:6).

Friday, December 08, 2017

I always wanted to be, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

"I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific." -- Lily Tomlin

"Faith is not jumping to conclusions; it is concluding to jump." -- Westlake T. Purkiser

"Unless you are simple in your sermons, you will never be understood, and unless you are understood you cannot do good to those who hear you." -- J. C. Ryle

"What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are." -- C. S. Lewis

"Forgiving is leaving justice to Jesus." -- Deborah Pegues

"The measure of a pulpit ministry isn’t its width, but its depth." -- Jaime Owens

"Marriage is a Grace is grace at work and grace in constant motion." -- LeRoy Wagner

"In 1859, Southern ports paid 75 percent of federal tariff revenue. However, the majority of the tariff revenue generated was spent on projects that benefited the North. Tariffs being a contributing cause of the Civil War is hardly ever mentioned. Using the abolition of slavery as an excuse for a war that took the lives of 620,000 Americans confers greater moral standing for the Union." -- Walter E. Williams

"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

"In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends." -- John Churton Collins

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Jesus is all we need

Jesus is all we need. Whatever our predicament, Jesus is the escape. Whatever the question, Jesus is the answer.

Are you hungry? He is the Bread of Life, John 6:35.  Thirsty? He is the Living Water, John 4: 10.  Doubting, distrusting? He is Faithful and True, Revelation 19:11.  Fearful? He is our Peace, Ephesians 2:14.  Abandoned? He is the Good Shepherd, seeking (and keeping) his sheep, John 10:11.  Accused? He is the Great High Priest, the Advocate with the Father, Hebrews 4:14; 1 John 2:1.  Unsuccessful? He is the Author and Finisher of our Faith, Hebrews 12:2.  Treated unfairly? He is the Judge of all, Acts 10:42.  Detached? He is the True Vine, John 15:1.  Lowly, unworthy? He is the King of Kings, Revelation 17:14.  Victimized? He is the Lamb of God, John 1:29.  Insecure? He is the Rock, the sure Foundation, 1 Corinthians 10:4; 3:11.  In danger? He is the Saviour, Luke 2:11.  Shut out? He is the Door, John 10:9.  Overlooked? He is the Word, the Alpha and Omega. John 1:1; Revelation 1:8.  Deceived? He is the Truth. John 8:32.  Lost? He is the Way, John 14:6.  Sick? He is the Great Physician, Luke 5:31-32.  Blind? He is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, John 8:12.  Dead? He is the Resurrection and the Life, John 11:25.  Isolated, defeated? He is Emmanuel, God with us! Matthew 1:23. 

Jesus is all we need – at every moment, in every manner, for every matter.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Sandy Valley -- It’s lightning that kills

We haven’t visited Sandy Valley lately, but they’re still there plugging along.

Sandy Valley just called Elder Rube Askew to help them in a week’s meeting. He came and he livened things up with his preaching – which was much more “old school” than that of the pridefully prepared Reverend Peacock. Askew seemed to get louder and louder as the week grew on. Perhaps he was heard for miles around. He hammered home his timeless theme – the sovereignty of God and the sinfulness of man. By the end of the week he was positively thundering! At the close of the meeting the grateful congregation gave Elder Askew the parting hand. On this occasion Deacon Goodnews embraced him, pulled him close, and whispered in his ear, “You know, it’s lightnin’ kills and not thunder.”