Great men

Great men will never be the less respected for their humility, but the more.

– Matthew Henry’s complete commentary speaking of David’s humility in 2 Samuel 24


Note, Those know not what religion is whose chief care it is to make it cheap and easy to themselves, and who are best pleased with that which costs them least pains or money. What have we our substance for but to honour God with it? and how can it be better bestowed?

-more from the same commentary

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The Message of “Contemporary Christianity”

Tonight while on a post-work run, I had an enjoyable conversation with an Orthodox Jewish family, then proceeded onward with the run. It seemed the Lord had been prompting me to speak with them in regards to their Messiah, my Lord Jesus. I did not, however, and continued running. After continuing another mile or two, the promptings grew, so I turned around and went [away from my car…] to find them. Sadly, I never did see them again, however, on the way, I met a band director for a suburban intercity school. After a short discussion during which she explained that she was saved, we came onto the to the topic of music in the church.

She believed that God can work His will through any situation, and that therefore, He could use any music as part of leading people to Him. After a relatively pleasant discussion, we parted. On the way home, thinking more on our conversation, it crossed my mind that the major problem with “contemporary Christian music” is the same as that of contemporary or modern Christianity itself. It is the mega church philosophy, perhaps a motto of the Laodicean church age. This motto being, “come into the church and enjoy the world with a good conscience.”

For me to obey what I believed God was directing in speaking to the Jewish family, I had to physically turn around 180 degrees from my path and go the other direction. Again and again throughout scripture, the message is clear, following God – whether under the old or new covenants – requires leaving the ways of the world behind. While I believe God may use any situation for His purposes, He allows us a free will and we know that He reveals Himself to those who diligently seek Him.

Probably the greatest problem with the contemporary church and contemporary Christian music is that it inherently holds the message that you can be saved from hell, but live for the world. This premise is unbiblical in all points, as God commands His people to repent from the ways of the world [see Acts 17:30, Rev. 3:19]. “What fellowship hath light with darkness?” We are called to live holy lives and as such must expect that we will probably look different from the world in our dress, sound different in our music, act differently in our lives, speak differently with our words, have some different hobbies, plan differently [have a more eternal mindset], and work differently. All should be done unto the Lord rather than primarily for our own enjoyment… but that doesn’t mean we don’t have fun. Rather we find joy in the ways of the Lord. One of the fruits of the Spirit is a joy which is impossible to have without the Holy Spirit.

I’m a bit off the premise in this meandering article, but the point being, consider the message of what you do, and what is around you. To whatever degree we claim that we can live like the world, or have the world’s music by changing only the words, we deceive our selves pretending that we can live a Christian live without the godliness or repentance. This is a message from the great deceiver who would have all join him in his eternal damnation. 2 Cor 11:13-15

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A Light

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Psalm 119. Many people find it of interest because it is the longest chapter in the Bible. Interestingly, it focuses on the importance of God’s word with an 8 verse section for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet [or Aleph Beit if you want to be literal…].

Tonight after work while relaxing [meaning finishing taking down a tree, cleaning up and burning the branches, splitting and stacking… before a second-to-none dinner prepared by my sister] some of these verses came to mind, along with the below song:

The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin;
The light of the world is Jesus;
Like sunshine at noonday His glory shone in,
The light of the world is Jesus.

Chorus: Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee;
Sweetly the light has dawned upon me;
Once I was blind, but now I can see;
The light of the world is Jesus.

No darkness have we who in Jesus abide,
The light of the world is Jesus;
We walk in the light when we follow our Guide,
The light of the world is Jesus.

Ye dwellers in darkness with sin-blinded eyes,
The light of the world is Jesus;
Go, wash, at His bidding, and light will arise;
The light of the world is Jesus.
[https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/1018]

NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. – Psalm 119:105 KJV

While the song is referring to how Jesus is our light, and the verse to God’s word, these two are distinct, yet to a degree inseparable [see John 1]. I’m not going to write a long essay here, but instead merely mention what I was thinking of. If the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord [Prov. 1:7], God’s word is a light [above], Jesus is the light of the world [1 Jn 1:6, Jn 8:12], then not knowing God, His word, and His Son Jesus Christ, co-equal God, is to be walking in darkness.

The key question here is, how much light do you have? How much do you want? If you don’t want to trip, then knowing the light ought to be important to you and you ought to be reading and studying God’s word – with the same consistency and urgency as you turn on a light in a dark room. I know few people who will walk through an unknown room in darkness such that they cannot see. If you are reading this, likely you already have some light. Probably the majority of people who read this know and have experienced what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus “ye must be born again,” yet despite that, the majority of us fail to read and study God’s word as the light it is. Because of this, we will stumble through life, fail to produce fruit, be afraid of people bringing up scripture we can’t explain, and have limited confidence either in the word of God, in our ability to understand it.

Saturday at a graduation party, an acquaintance told me that our nation is in the mess it is in today [and whether you consider yourself conservative or progressive, you probably agree that it is a mess] because 90% of people are stupid.

I disagree.

The problem is that we don’t have wisdom. Our nation is devoid of wisdom because they have no fear of God, no respect for His word, His coming judgment, and are apathetic about what they do know. We would rather come home and do nothing, perhaps for some, watch TV, YouTube, get on social media and see what people that are doing something are doing [or else what those who are doing and thinking nothing are typing], or are simply too busy with life to notice what matters.

Turn on the light.

Get into the Bible, work hard, study it, get the light, and you will begin to be a positive influence where you are. If you don’t have light, you can’t lead others through the dark. To see any part of this world improve, we must have light.

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Some Photos…

One God and mediator

One God and mediator, Smith County, TN 2016

For what it’s worth, here are two simple photos I added verses to. The one with a sign wouldn’t be one I’d probably normally do, but it was for a friend who is familiar with the location. It’s neat how some pictures just seem to bring familiar verses to mind.

When I Consider, Lake Superior, 2007

When I Consider, Lake Superior MI, 2007

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Rightful Wrath

Tonight seemed like a good time for “candy.” By that I mean, a favorite passage in scripture. Turning to the book of Job to see again what a great and amazing God we serve,[these words ‘great’ and ‘amazing’ seem trite and empty in light of modern usage, but consider again what words can better describe our God!!] I looked at Elihu’s message.

Elihu was a proper young man. He waited for days to speak and those who had much more age than himself to give their opinions. He gave ear to the reasons given by some “very old” men who were renowned for their wisdom, and listened while they tried in vain to convince Job of the sin which had caused his trial. Further, he listened as Job, again in vain, tried to convince them that he had done nothing wrong.

After all this waiting, through 29 recorded chapters of speeches, Elihu opens his mouth and speaks for the next 5 chapters [33 – 38]. The other men had by this time ceased to answer Job because “he was righteous in his own eyes,” so finally Elihu had a turn.

Elihu’s passage opens with the Holy Spirit’s commentary on Elihu’s anger, explaining in no uncertain terms that Elihu was angry… with everyone. With Job because he justified himself rather than God, and with his friends because they condemned Job even though they found no answer.

This is where I paused, went back, and read again. Elihu was not reproved by the Lord at the end of the book, in fact, it was directly after Elihu spoke that God answered. Elihu was justly wrathful because of the wrong focus everyone had. Elihu accurately diagnosed Job’s malady. He was trying to justify himself rather than God.

Job was busy throughout his life living for God as an Old Testament saint would through good works, yet when one day his life fell apart, he stopped, looked inward, and tried to find what was wrong with him. He was righteous enough to not doubt God, yet he could see no reason why God would be ‘punishing’ him. His friends came and, knowing the knowledge of the time as they did, proposed that Job sinned. Again and again they argued that Job sinned, and he tried to show that he had not any more than others.

In all this, Job and his 3 friends were missing the forest for the trees. They were looking at what Job had done wrong, or not done wrong, but Elihu put the focus in the right place. He was angry with Job because he was trying take the blame finger away from himself when he should have been trying to bring glory to God. Have you ever done this? I find it quite easy to do. When life doesn’t go as we expect, we stop and take stock of the situation, often looking inward to see what we might have done wrong. This is what Job did. What he should have done instead was to look to see how he could continue to live in a way that would bring glory to God. It appears from other passages in the book that Job felt to a certain degree that his time of usefulness for God was over since his prosperity was gone. While this idea was common then, and continues to flow from the mouths of wealthy prosperity gospel teachers today, it is far from the truth. God allowed this trial in Job’s life in order to more fully achieve the purpose for which he was created – bringing glory to God and fellowshipping with Him.

With the first reason for Elihu’s anger, I find myself condemned with Job. His second reason for being angry was that Job’s 3 friends condemned Job, even though they did not find an answer. It seems that they saw a problem, and applied their experience to it with a kind of herd mentality. They had all lived a long time and all repeatedly saw that God judges the wicked. Therefore, when they saw what appeared to be supernatural intervention in a negative way, the immediate assumption was that Job was being judged for wickedness. This answer did not fit in this situation, yet they continued to try to make square Job fit in their round hole. It is a caution to us to not immediately assume causality from probability. In all probability they were right, but they had not thoroughly considered all the options and so ended up wrong. It is easy for us to see people who live in different ways and immediately peg them as a certain kind of person.

Case in point, I’ve been enjoying some studies on basic Bible interpretation recently, yet sadly, much of it is new to me. Based on that statement, you could assume that I am not [or have not] been much interested in Bible study in the past, however, that would be an untrue assumption. Rather, I’ve been to a certain degree lazy, and to another degree missing certain truths either through a lack of teachers teaching on these subjects, or else to a sad lack of understanding among a great many of our current teachers in some relatively elementary Biblical principles.

Job’s friends could not see how his situation was not judgment from the Lord, and he could not see the Lord for himself. Both are easy pits to fall into, but if fallen into, relatively easy to recover from. Elihu and God both seem to have prescribed the same solution. Look to God, study His creation, Who He is, and the history of His dealings with mankind. Elihu was justly wrathful. Job and his friends had their focus wrong. Would he have equal reason to be wroth with us today?

 

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Handling God’s word

And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying take thee a roll of a book and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day…. Then Jeremiah called Baruch… and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord… Jeremiah3:1-2,4

God commanded Jeremiah time and again to go before kings and people to deliver to them His word. Each time, we see Jeremiah obeying in every way. He took the word of God, listened, and obeyed. After writing these words, Baruch obeyed God’s instruction through Jeremiah and went to read it in the temple. Here some heard who told the princes about Baruch’s roll. They listened to the word and were afraid because they saw the judgment pronounced against Judah for its sin. These heard and believed. They told the king about the roll, and then read it in his presence, but warned Jeremiah and Baruch to hide. The king listened to the roll, but burnt it every 3-4 pages as he listened. He heard the word of the Lord and thought himself above it. He saw it as no more than a book it seems and therefore sought to destroy it and its source since it proclaimed judgment on him.

In the end then, we see that Jeremiah heard and obeyed the word of the Lord, Baruch obeyed God’s prophet and aligned himself with him to the hazarding of his safety, the princes heard God’s word, feared, and shared it with others, and the king, as most rulers of the earth, thought himself above God’s word and sought to destroy it because it pronounced judgment on him.

What is your response to God’s word? Do you read it, value it, and live by it, or else esteem it to be merely the words of man? God’s word came to pass as it was spoken by His prophets. The king was judged. The Lord will always perform His word, let us be wise and live by it.

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The Pursuit of Truth

In the pursuit of truth, people travel different paths.

  • The lazy man does not pursue, it is too much work. It may eat him up to know the answer to a question, but he will never work hard to find it.
  • The diligent man will do all in his power to arrive at an answer to a question that pertains to him.
  • The scientist approaches truth with the understanding that repeated experience leads to the most certain of any truth, but yet that may be proved false through contradictory experience.
  • The scholar looks to the works of other men to determine truth.
  • The philosopher looks inwardly and considers a logical path of ideas against which none can bring superior argument to be supreme.
  • The godly man looks to the word of God for truth, certain of the fact that the Creator of all laws of nature, all living things, time, and our senses whereby other things may be discerned has revealed to us truth through His preserved written word. This man bases his logic and experience on the revealed truth and finds that from this perspective, all else is more easily understood.
  • The lazy man will never come to truth because he will not work
  • The foolish man will not apply truth if he finds it for it is often uncomfortable
  • The wicked man will not accept it because it disagrees with his actions
  • The wise man will begin with the fear of the Lord, diligent study of His word, and upon this build logic, experience, and study of other mens’ works. The wise man will not stop there, for he by manner of wisdom, is diligent and looks to apply whatever degree of truth he comes to see.

Perhaps this explains why many scientific discoveries were made around times of great spiritual awakening. Perhaps it also explains why we have yet to gain useful discoveries from a presupposition of disorderly chance causing the present highly ordered, carefully designed, and intricately symbiotic universe we live in.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”
– Ps 111:10
…”Behold, the bear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding”
– Job 28:28

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A Tale of Two Men, Prov. 12:27

The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.
– Prov. 12:27

Notice here, there are 2 men with substance, a slothful man, and a diligent man. The slothful man goes out hunting, perhaps for sport, or perhaps for need. What the Bible tells us about him is that he does not make use of what he has, but rather allows it, or at the least, part of it, to go to waste. Some men hunt for sport, but take only parts of the animal for a trophy. Some hunt casually for food and take most of it for meat. Interestingly, many Native American Indian tribes made use of almost every part. They used the skin for clothing, meat for food, brains for tanning the skin, bones for needles and many other objects, and sinews for thread, bowstrings, etc.

Based on the verse, we see a comparison between the admirable and the dishonorable. The diligent man finds his substance to be precious. The slothful man “is brother to him that is a great waster.” It is a dishonorable thing to waste resources which have been given to us, and according to the book of James, there is nothing which we have which we have not been given. If someone were to give me a $100 bill and I either shredded it, or else used it to buy $100 worth of Twinkies to eat at my desk, I would be wasting my substance which was gifted to me.

God has given to us all that we have, to waste what He has given to us is not only dishonorable, it is ungrateful. To this end, we look at the diligent man. Based on the structure of the verse, we see that he is unlike the slothful man, he therefore does roast what he takes in hunting. He finds the things he has to be precious. I was pondering on this verse last night while making car repairs and then afterward taking rust off my tools that had built up during a very busy month of house projects. Some of my tools have been through many projects, some salvaged from states of heavy rust when they first entered my possession, but all need to be kept clean in order to preserve their useful like. A diligent man will consider his resources and make the best use possible of them.

To put into more practical usage, a diligent man will not leave his things in the walk way even if he is busy – they will be broken through tripping on them, if he is not even himself injured. A diligent man will not long leave paint chips on his car because they will destroy the usefulness of his property. A godly diligent man will not leave his Bible unread because to do so would be to limit the usefulness of his life.

Not only does he view his substance as precious, but he must determine what is most precious in order to best use his resources. There may come a time where the diligent man is unable to clean his tools – because instead he is building his house, or preserving his health through maintaining some degree of a balanced schedule. These decisions must be made carefully, but the diligent man WILL NOT be found wasting his time, or often doing something of little importance when he has such things left undone.

Today, if both men visited your house, who would be more at home? Would the slothful man find your house like his, or would the diligent man appreciate your choices to work at the appropriate times and to not waste? The slothful man will probably enjoy the diligent man’s house, unless asked to work. He often appreciates the bounty, order, skill, and resources to be found in the diligent man’s house, but is not willing to work to gain the same himself. Are you the person who works when there is work to be done, finding appropriate balance with times of rest, or else are you the man who wastes that which he has been blessed to have? Let us by God’s grace be diligent people.

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Others

This poem came to mind this morning while I was starting work. I printed it and taped it to my computer for a good reminder, maybe it will encourage you as well.

 

“Others”
By Charles D. Meigs (written sometime between 1890 and 1902)

Lord help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for – Others.

Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And know that all I do for you
Must needs be done for – Others.

Let “Self” be crucified and slain
And buried deep; and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again
Unless to live for – Others.

And when my work on earth is done
And my new work in heaven’s begun
May I forget the crown I’ve won
While thinking still of – Others.

Others, Lord, yes others
Let this my motto be
Help me to live for others
That I may live like Thee.

 

Copied from http://blindbeggar.org/?p=1088

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Psalm 106:38 – Consequences of Idolatry

And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Caanan: and the land was polluted with blood.
Ps. 106:38

I’m short on time today, and so won’t say much, but came across this verse I’d previously marked in my Bible today. Our nation is incredibly guilty of this, and sadly, many Christians as well. We have continued to fund this mass killing of unborn children as part of our American idol worship. We today still worship idols of silver and gold, paper and banks, convenience and reputation. We raise young people to make their own decisions rather than to be led by the Lord, to determine their gender based on sensual attraction rather than straightforward science, to do whatever feels good. So we have a great many children conceived out of wedlock, or even within it, but found to be inconvenient.

And so we kill them.

Millions upon millions of innocent children have now been killed upon the alter of the “American dream” as they are found to be a hindrance to our selfish goals. If you, dear reader, have been a part of this sacrifice to our modern day idols, the path for you is repentance, recognizing the wrong and confessing it to God for His forgiveness. Christ’s blood will wash away every sin. Then live in victory, move on in faith trusting in God’s promise to remove your sin as far as the east is from the west. The rest of us have no shortage of wickedness as well, even if we have not directly participated in this sacrifice. We are likely guilty of a worse crime – failure to warn others to flee the wrath to come. Hell far worse than anything we can or have experienced on earth, yet we don’t warn others about it nearly as often as we ought. We to sacrifice souls upon the alter of convenience or worldly reputation.

Let us leave behind our idols and seek God’s kingdom first – and only!

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