Posted in bible, God, god's word

Where is wisdom?

EPrata photo

Some look for wisdom in philosophy. But God’s word says philosophy is empty.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Some look for wisdom in psychology. But God’s word says psychology is empty. Solomon said the wise dies just like the fool! (Ecclesiastes 2:16b). Man’s wisdom is vanity. God’s word is sufficient.

Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Some look for wisdom in the heart. But the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Some look for wisdom in the world. But God says the world is in the hand of the evil one.
We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)

It is only God’s word where we can find the knowledge we need for living in a way that pleases Him. David was declared by God to be a man after His own heart. One reason is that David relied on His word, reveled in His word, and walked in His word. See all the ways David describes God’s word:

Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me! (Psalm 119:1-8)

The Hebrew meaning of each of these different ways David described his delight in God’s word:

way: road, distance, journey, (bespeaks a journey from justification to glorification, not just one instance of obedience)
testimonies: spoken word (bespeaks the legal aspect of the LORD’s commands for His people)
precepts: A mandate of God; collectively when plural, for the Law, commandment (bespeaks His authority and our obedience)
statutes: something prescribed or owed, a statute, limit or boundary (bespeaks do not go beyond but stay within)
commandments: obligation, terms. (commandments are not suggestions)
rules: ordinance promulgated by, law of Kings (bespeaks the origin of the Law)

Do you read your Bible every day? Are you a woman after God’s heart? A man after God’s heart?

Where is wisdom? In God and His word.

Posted in comfort, encouragement, god's word, holy spirit, providence, providential care

Jesus’ amazing provision part 1 & 2

Robe of Righteousness, by Lars Justinen

This is a story of how Jesus and God and the Spirit worked in my life this week. I attend a Wednesday night prayer meeting/bible study. We read through a book of the bible a verse at a time. There is no curriculum except for the bible. We have a good teacher. Our teacher allows discussion and comment after he introduces us to the verses and explains.

Last week we looked at Romans 12:9-

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good

This week we looked at Romans 12:14-

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

I find both of those verses very difficult to adhere to the way I should.

About three years ago I started praying for the Spirit to ramp up my sanctification and for Him to grow me in spiritual fruit (Gal 5:22-23), especially love. I had no clue how hard it would be. This is because of my own flesh.

My prayer was more like,

“I think I got this, but just in case I don’t, and I’m only hedging my bets here because really, I’m OK, would you just drip a little note in my heart to help me inch along? Thanks so much.”

And if I was an Old Testament prophet and could hear God reply, it would be like this:

“I will do what you ask. You are not OK. As a matter of fact, you’re a lot worse than you think. Come, I’ll show you. Repeatedly. For three years. You’re welcome.”

And so every morning I’d pray to the Holy Spirit to give me strength to love the way the verse says we should love our enemies. And every day I’d fail. Some days I’d compound my sinful failure with grumbling and hatred in my heart.

And every day I’d come home in tears and sit at my table and repent.

Rinse. Repeat. I felt like my own nation of Israel with all the rebellion, repentance disobedience, and repentance cycles. I learned a lot though.

The bad:

–I really AM worse than I think. Depravity goes so deep I can’t see the bottom of it,
–I disobey God all the time.

The good:

–Every time I repented sincerely, and I did, I felt terrible over my sin, He forgave 70 X 70 times,
–He grew me in all the ways I needed it,
–His grace is one of the most magnificent gifts humankind ever received, therefore my gratitude grew.

So now I have a new opportunity to learn to love the way the bible says to love our enemies. With this new opportunity, maybe I’m a little wiser this time than the last time. Maybe I can love more genuinely and better than I loved before. Since sanctification is ever in-process and won’t be complete until I die, there’s no coasting. This new opportunity began one month after the other situation resolved itself. And so it goes.

Yes I’m a lot worse than I think. But now I know God is a lot better than I think, too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wrote the above to my teacher after the class. I usually keep thinking about what was taught all night and all the next day and all week. I do try to take the lessons to heart and to participate with the Spirit in sanctification, meditating on His word as Psalm 1:2 says to do. Sometimes I share these follow-up thoughts with my teacher so he can guide me.

As I went on from composing and sending it, I got a bit despondent over my failures. It’s heartbreaking to sin and I abhor it and earnestly strive to please my Savior. Sighing and flipping to the next open tab on my browser, I saw this on Twitter.

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A Christian’s life may be attended with many and exceedingly great imperfections, and yet be a holy life.” ~Jonathan Edwards

“Hey!” I thought, “that is a exactly what I’ve been worrying about! Let me follow up on that to find what book or sermon it’s taken from.”

The things tweeted online and attributed to a particular person are often wrongly attributed. Validation is the first order. Context is the second.

I found that it was indeed a quote from Edwards and it was taken from a series of 16 sermons preached to his Northhampton congregation titled “Christian Love, As Manifested in the Heart and Life

Wow. Very applicable to our discussion in bible study night and my continuing thoughts today. I downloaded the book. LOL his 16 sermons wound up being 505 pages.

The larger context surrounding the tweeted quote is this from Edwards’ sermon:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Christian, the meaning is not, that the life is a perfect and sinless life. On the contrary, a Christian’s life may be attended with many and exceeding great imperfections, and yet be a holy life, or a truly Christian life. It may be such a life as to clearly, and even necessarily show, that the grace which the individual has, is of the kind which has a tendency to holy practice. His fruits may be such as to be good evidence of the good nature of the tree, and his works such as to show his faith.

And if you ask for still further light, then I would say, whatever your imperfections and failings may be, examine yourself whether you find the following evidences of your grace being of that kind which tends to holy practice.

First: Has your supposed grace such influence, as to render those things in which you have failed of holy practice loathsome grievous and humbling to you? Has it such influence in your mind as to render your past sinful practices hateful in your eyes, and has it led you to mourn before God for them? And does it render those things in your conduct that since your supposed conversion have been contrary to Christian practice, odious in your eyes? And is it the great burden of your life, that your practice is no better? Is it really grievous to you, that you have fallen, or do fall into sin; and are you ready, after the example of holy Job, to abhor yourself for it, and repent in dust and ashes, and like Paul to lament your wretchedness, and pray to be delivered from sin, as you would from a body of death?

Second: Do you carry about with you habitually a dread of sin? Do you not only mourn, and humble yourself for sins that are past, but have you a dread of sin for the future? And do you dread it because in itself it is evil, and so hurtful to your own soul, and offensive to God? Do you dread it as a terrible enemy that you have often suffered by, and feel that it has been a grievous thing to you heretofore? And do you dread it as something that has hurt, and wounded, and stung you, so that you would see it no more? Do you stand on your watch against it, as a man would keep watch against something that he dreads, with such a dread as led Joseph to cry “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis xxxix. 9.

Third: Are you sensible of the beauty and pleasantness of the ways of holy practice? Do you see the beauty of holiness, and the loveliness of the ways of God and Christ?

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Genesis 3:15

His comfort and His manifold grace is beyond what words can express. I will never be sinless in practice. Yet by His grace I will have a tendency toward higher holy living, and will have an ever growing hatred of sin. What just happened this morning was a moment of real comfort- a manifestation of this verse

2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Is there any doubt Jesus is an ever-present friend in our lives? That the Spirit is daily growing us and comforting us because He knows us better than we do ourselves? And that the Word is living and active?

Why do people seek superficial miracles when the miracle of how VERY PRESENT He is in our lives is so lastingly precious? How can I not love this Jesus with all my strength and soul and mind, and not seek to follow His ways?

Brother or sister, take comfort in knowing beyond knowing that Jesus is with you every step of the way. His grace IS sufficient.

Above: Depiction of the Holy Spirit dove (ceiling fresco in St. Charles’s Church, Vienna, 1700’s). Public Domain
Posted in bereans, faith, god's word, josiah

What is slipping away? What is creeping in?

In 2 Kings 22, King Josiah of Judah ‘s temple workmen found the Book of the Law abandoned and dusty in a temple wardrobe. Judah’s apostasy had gone on so long, the people had not only abandoned the practices of the Law but had forgotten there was a Law, a real one, on paper.

Josiah instituted reforms right away. He read the Law to the people first. He and the people joined in the covenant. (2 Kings 23:2-3).

Then Josiah removed everything that was an abomination in the sight of the LORD. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does satan. (Matthew 12:43-45). Abandoning the Law had created a vacuum into which satan had come in a flood. Josiah “the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven.” (2 Kings 23:4)

Imagine, inside God’s holy temple were implements to worship other gods! Even worse, there were male shrine prostitutes in the temple too. (2 Kings 23:7). Josiah ordered them gone, as well as any priest from another religion, the Asherah poles, the mini-temples on the high places, all tokens dedicated to to other gods left at the gates to Jerusalem, all fires for Molech, the horses and chariots offered to the Sun, anything profane in Ahaz’s upper chamber. Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem… (2 Kings 23:24) and all idolatry in Judah. Matthew Henry wrote of Josiah’s effort,

What abundance of wickedness in Judah and Jerusalem! One would not have believed it possible, that in Judah, where God was known, in Israel, where his name was great, in Salem, in Zion, where his dwelling-place was, such abominations should be found.

When you abandon God’s Holy Word you abandon everything. See what else Judah had abandoned:

And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah. (2 Kings 23:21-22)

For if, after they [false teachers] have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 2 Peter 2:20-22We look at the Israelites and the Judeans’ apostasy and we say, “Wow, they were crazy.” But they were sinful humans just like we are sinful humans, and human behavior doesn’t change one bit. We do the same thing as the Judeans. No, we don’t have Asherah poles in the temple or fiery statues of Molech to put our babies in, or sun chariots dedicated to a false god, but we have celebrity pastors who are worshiped instead of Jesus, and abortion and idols like the shiny and too-expensive SUV in the driveway and the too-large house we can’t afford. Monuments to the idol of self and greed and covetousness. We don’t have male temple prostitutes but we have active unrepentant homosexuals in church or even as clergy in church. How does it happen that an ‘abundance of wickedness’ comes in?

In the New Testament we read, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Heb 2:1).

Inattention. Faith is a thing to be grasped, it is living and active. (2 Thessalonians 2:15). It is something that is meant to be lived. The close attention that is commanded in Hebrews is paralleled in Jesus’s admonition that we must pick up our cross every day. (Luke 9:23). Part of that verse we often neglect is that we must deny ourselves. All false religion and idolatry at root is a worship of self. Jesus calls for us to do the opposite, deny self.

If we are denying self every day and picking up our cross every day, that is pretty close attention. Close attention also means a vibrant prayer life. In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray. In the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ we read that we should ask for our daily bread. If we are asking for provision every day in prayer that means we are praying to Jesus every day. That’s pretty close attention.

Apostasy is a process. Sometimes it happens fast, like with Demas who accompanied Paul and then abandoned Paul for the world (approx 60-66AD at most) or apostasy can take a long time to surface, like with Billy Graham (1953-1997). Of course those who apostatize were never saved to begin with (1 John 2:19), but suffice to say, the call for Christians to pay close attention is nevertheless one that should be adhered to. Though we can’t be lost, we can make a shipwreck of our lives, and cast mud onto the name of Jesus in the process.

When we persevere, what a glorious reward we receive! The Bereans persevered, they examined the scriptures daily to see if what they had been taught was so. (Acts 17:11). Acts 2:42 says the disciples “devoted themselves” to “apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Paul & Company ‘thanked God constantly’ for their congregations’ eagerness to hear the word and live it (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

In our faith, perseverance is a virtue. Cling to Jesus, the Chief Shepherd!

“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:4).

His crown, His glory. He deigns to share it with us, His sheep, His children, His friends. He is so worthy to cling to. How gross and mean the Asherah poles, sun chariots and male temple prostitutes seem to us now when we compare them against eh holiness and perfection of Jesus. How useless the SUVs, the fancy houses, the celebrity and fame seems to us. May it always stay that way!  Vibrant and loving faith, centered on Jesus, the only worthy one in all the universe. Ahh, comfort.

If it has been a while since you’ve read the bible, prayers, thanked Him, clung to Him, then all it takes is one step in repentance and humility, o prodigal, toward the Father and He will run to you! He is a great and merciful and loving Jesus.

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Further reading

What is an Asherah pole?

Signs of Apostasy in the Church

Article: Perseverance of the Saints

Posted in bible, god's word, kimyal, Yali

The joy of possessing His word!

In 1968 missionary Phil Masters and missionary Stan Dale hiked into the Seng Vally in an attempt to get the Gospel to the Yali people who lived in the valley (cannibals) and to the Kimyals who lived on the other side. The Yali shot the pair with over 200 arrows before they got to the other side. They decapitated the men, and chopped up their bodies, bringing some parts home to steam in banana leaves and eat. They never made it to the Kimyal tribe.

By 2010 the Lord had graciously planted His word in the Kimyal and Yali people’s hearts. The printed word of God in the Kimyal language was completed in translation in 2010, and a ceremony was held to receive these New Testament bibles. Phyliss Masters, Phil’s widow who remained on mission for 40 years after Phil’s death, would attend. Though she lost her husband on this earth, his name is written in the Lamb’s book, alongside many of the Kimyal and Yali people who Phil had come to share the Good News with. The sweetness of Jesus’s  harvest is sweet indeed.

Do you feel this much joy when you open your bible?

Do you read your bible this eagerly? This reverently?

Praise God for missionaries! For the Gideons! And, read your bible!

Posted in bible, god's word

"Oh, but the bible is so outdated…"

I am sure you hear people saying that we can’t follow ALL that is in the bible because it is culturally irrelevant, outdated, dry and dusty. It isn’t fresh and relevant to this new millennium, or our advanced culture, you know.

Really?

Well think on this: when Paul preached and quoted the Old Testament at least 183 times, and referred to people or places or events dozens more, much of the Old Testament was as old to the first century Christians as the New Testament is to us now.

The New Testament writers overall included approximately 250 express Old Testament quotations, and if including indirect or partial quotations, the number jumps to more than 1,000.

Did Paul say, “The Prophets were good men, but we don’t need to follow their example now, because our society can’t relate to theirs. That was 1400 years ago. It’s a different time now.” Or did he say,

“all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)

The bible is just as relevant today as it was when Job was written, the book scholars believe is the earliest in chronology. When I read stuff like this:

“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?” (Jeremiah 5:31-32)

Which by the way is happening now in our faith with so many false prophets and teachers, I see the bible as prescient and relevant.

Or this:

“For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely” (Jeremiah 6:13)

Also happening. It is a fresh word because though penned by men, it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit lives outside of time.

Or this-

“They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones. They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”

Which is a current headline, “We could wipe out Israel, says Iranian military chief”, I stand amazed.

The Bible is not obsolete nor irrelevant. The author of the book The Shack wrote insultingly of God’s word, saying at one point, “God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellect” (pp 65-66). He also write disparagingly of devotionals with a bible, “Images of family devotions from his childhood came spilling into his mind, not exactly good memories…He half expected Jesus to pull out a huge old King James Bible.” (p. 107). There are lots of ways to denigrate His Word, either outright rejection or a sly chipping away like William P Young did of The Shack. Don’t fall for it.

It is vibrant and as fresh as the day the Spirit inspired it and the 40 men wrote it. It is the most relevant book on earth, ever. The non-Christian cannot understand it, but for the Christian, it reveals all truth. Please take the time to read it daily.