Tag Archive | bible

Ancient brick making in Palestine: Photo

So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters over the people and their foremen, saying, “You are no longer to give the people straw to make brick as previously; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the quota of bricks which they were making previously, you shall impose on them; you are not to reduce any of it. Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it so that they will pay no attention to false words.” (Exodus 5:6-9)

Photos from Palestine from the late 1800s an early 1900s are a joy to view, because the methods of the people, dress, and vistas were largely unchanged from the days Jesus walked. It was only in the 1930s and 40s that development began in earnest and especially after Israel became a nation again in 1948 that things began to modernize and the old ways were vanishing.

In the 1800s, as travel became easier with trains and modern steam ships, many upper class men and women in Britain or America took a Grand Tour of Europe. Interest grew and soon many expeditions to Palestine took place. The Ottoman lands were such a curiosity that a plethora of Travelogues to the Middle East burgeoned in the 1700s to early 1900s.

Travelogues of Palestine are the more than 3,000 books and other materials detailing accounts of the journeys of primarily European and North American travelers to Ottoman Palestine. An in depth survey of Palestine topography, and demographics was done by the Cartographer, Geographer, Philologist. The number of published travelogues proliferated during the 19th century, and these travelers’ impressions of 19th-century Palestine have been often quoted in the history and historiography of the region…

One such travelogue book in my Logos Software is Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee, and another is the one I’ve quoted below, Egypt Through the Stereoscope. The stereoscope is “a device for viewing a stereoscopic pair of separate images, depicting left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene, as a single three-dimensional image.” That’s why the image below is a double image.

I’m going through Dr Abner Chou of The Master’s Seminary lectures on Exodus. (Note- that link will expire on July 31, 2018, as Wikispaces is closing and hosted lectures will go away unless you download them prior). I find it interesting to see what the brick making operation might have looked like and enjoyed this view from a hill above an Egyptian brick-making operation taken from a Travelogue Expedition in the early 1900s written by Dr James Breasted. The book is available today and is considered culturally important.

Anyway, enjoy this long-ago view of making bricks in Egypt, and imagine thousands of years ago the cries of the Hebrews as they toiled under the merciless overseers and merciless baking sun. Then the Lord raised up Moses…

brick making

Caption-

‎Just north of the chief ancient city of the Fayum, we stand looking nearly eastward over the ruins of Crocodilopolis. Behind us stretches the Fayum, rising at last to the vast waste of the Sahara, spreading out to the far Atlantic. Beyond the trees that mark the sky-line before us the Nile is twenty-five miles away.

‎Deep down under these ancient crumbling walls lie the scanty remains of a town at least as old as the twelfth dynasty kings, who 2,000 years before Christ recovered this district from the waters of the lake. They built a temple here sacred to the crocodile god Sebek, after whom the city was called by the Greeks, Crocodilopolis.… When the Greek kings, the Ptolemies, came into power, they used the rich fields of the Fayum as gift lands with which to reward their soldiers.… Some of the greatest products of Greek thought have turned up among the house ruins, such as the Constitution of Aristotle, poems of Sappho and innumerable fragments of Homer.…

‎We see here modern natives engaged in brick-making by the same methods that were employed five thousand years ago. The soft mud is being fixed under the feet of a fellah, while another at a table molds it into bricks. These are taken while still in the molds and carried to the yard by a third native who gently detaches them from the molds and leaves them to dry in long rows.… In spite of the lack of firing they make a very desirable wall; in a practically rainless climate they stand well.

‎From Egypt Through the Stereoscope, by James H. Breasted, Ph.D., with twenty patent maps and plans, 1905

Love week essay #2: What did Apostle John mean when he wrote ‘God is love’?

Christians know Jesus and thus, they know His love. But many people don’t understand His love, biblically.

Others who aren’t saved, if they know nothing else in the Bible, they know the verse “God is love” from 1 John 4:8…which they use to reject any discussion of sin, wrath, or judgment, half the Gospel. But unsaved people can’t love (in a Christ-like, God-honoring way). (1 John 4:8)

So what does Apostle John mean when he writes ‘God is love’?

Here is a reposted essay from the blog at Grace To You explaining the verse.

The Nature of God’s Love: John MacArthur on God’s Love Defined Biblically

“God is love” (1 John 4:8).

That’s a transcendent thought that finds its ultimate expression in the cross of Christ. The most famous verse in the Bible confirms that God’s love was the motive for sending Christ: “For God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16).

But God’s love didn’t first appear two thousand years ago—that’s where it climaxed. The truth is that all of history bears the undeniable marks of God’s loving nature. From Genesis to Revelation, His great love is displayed on multiple levels and in countless glorious ways. In fact, His unchanging love is older than time itself.

God’s Love Before Time

John MacArthur points out that right from the beginning—in fact, before the beginning—God’s love was the driving force that set the scene for His creation:

In eternity past, within the perfect fellowship of the Trinity, God the Father purposed, as a love gift to His Son, to redeem a people who would honor and glorify the Son (cf. John 6:39; 17:9–15). Thus, though God existed in perfect Trinitarian solitude, He created a race of beings out of which He would love and redeem those who would in turn love Him forever. [1]

It’s overwhelming to consider that God’s plan of redemption originated in eternity past and that His predestined strategy is fueled by His great love (Ephesians 1:4–5).

God’s Love in Creation

God’s love is also on display in the perfect world He created for us. The creation account repeatedly features the phrase, “and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 18, 21, 25; cf. 1:4, 31). And in His immense love, He created mankind as the capstone of His very good creation (Genesis 1:27–28). That theme continues throughout Scripture. The earth is full of God’s lovingkindness (Psalm 119:64). “The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9). “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17).

But there was a greater purpose behind God’s creative work. He did not create the world as the main attraction, but as the theater where His redemptive plan would take place and His love would be put on display. Even the corrupting blight of sin on God’s creation is integral to the display of His love: His redeeming love would forever remain hidden without sinners to redeem.

God’s Love in Humanity 

Furthermore, God’s love is also evident in the fact that He created people rather than robots. God is all powerful, all knowing, and perfectly capable of creating a race of creatures to do His bidding. But He is also relational and created man to reciprocate His love.

He designed sinners to know and love Him by an act of their wills (cf. John 7:17–18), though not apart from the work of His Spirit (cf. John 1:12–13; Ephesians 2:5; Titus 3:5). God’s greatest commandment is that people love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29–30). [2]

What a privilege it is that we, as sinners, can actually enter into and enjoy a loving relationship with our Creator as His responsive creatures. God is under no obligation to reconcile with His rebellious subjects, but He is “rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4). His love is the means by which we can willfully love Him—“We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Is God’s Love Inconsistent?

But what about those who don’t love God? Is His love exclusive to Christians? Or does God love everyone equally? For many, those questions are vexing, as they wrestle with the theological implications of God’s love.

We recently brought those questions to John MacArthur. You can see what he had to say in the following video:

There is a universal aspect to God’s love. This general love of God for all people is most evident in the fact that He delays His wrath upon unrepentant sinners (Genesis 15:16; Acts 17:30–31; Romans 3:25). And while God’s saving love is exclusively bestowed on His elect, He powerfully displays His love for the whole world by offering the gospel to all people (Matthew 28:19).

But that general love of God is temporary—it extends no further than the Day of Judgment. By contrast, God’s saving love is exclusively and eternally lavished on those who believe. It is a love so glorious that the apostle Paul could scarcely contain his superlatives when describing it:

God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4–7)

God is love. But His love is manifest in different ways over time, and bestowed according to His redemptive purposes. It’s a blessing to all men, but a comfort for only His elect.

love week #2 photo

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This Grace to You article originally appeared here. Copyright 2007, Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

The beauty of doctrine

love doctrine

Doctrine is wonderful. I love doctrine. Doctrine just means “teaching.” But it’s so much more than that also. Doctrine saves, we are delivered by doctrine!

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, (Romans 6:17).

You see the words ‘that standard of teaching’. The KJV uses the word doctrine. You were delivered by doctrine. God’s teaching saved you. Its usefulness and importance continues after salvation, for it edifies you, strengthens you, grows you, protects you, and more. (2 Tim. 2:24–26; Titus 1:9-11, John 17:17, &etc.).

Here is Scott Swain at Ligonier Ministries to explain:

What is doctrine? In its basic sense, doctrine is any sort of teaching. The Bible, for example, talks about the teachings of men (Mark 7:7–8), the teachings of demons (1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:24), and the teachings of God (John 6:45; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 2:27). Here, we are concerned with divine teaching, the teaching of God. According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. This definition provides a helpful anatomy of sound doctrine, identifying doctrine’s source, object, and ultimate end. We will consider these elements of sound doctrine.

We are obedient to the Person of Jesus of course, but we are also delivered by doctrine and we are obedient to the teaching of Jesus.

True doctrine becomes your protection. Doctrine, understood, begins to build your convictions. Convictions become your protection. If you have few convictions, you are very vulnerable. The more sound doctrine you know, the more you move from being a spiritual child to a young man.” John MacArthur, The Master’s University sermon, Delivered by Doctrine.

Doctrine as a word and a spiritual discipline has become tarnished of late. This essay is to try and bring the beauty of doctrine to its rightful place in the Christian life and mind. Here are a few more resources for you, in addition to the links already shared in this essay.

What is doctrine? – Got Questions

What is essential Christian doctrine? – Christian Research Institute

Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith – Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

Prata Potpourri: Hate watching, Loving our neighbor, Four reasons why, Bible books in 1 word, more

He said He will come, He said to look up when we see these things come to pass, and He IS coming soon. When the rapture happens, the unbelieving world will be left confused, injured, unhinged, and devastated. Now is the time to urge those who do not believe to seek truth. Truth resides in Jesus and in Him alone. And aren’t we who know Him blessed with the most wonderful relationship of which we can possibly conceive? Even if we do not have opportunity to witness in a particular moment, let us reflect Him in our demeanor and smile. We are rejoicing always!

I always want to remind myself and others that we are temporarily living on this earth as it is. Our lives may seem long, but they are short, but a passing breath. So I always remind us that Jesus may return immediately, in the next few moments of time. Alternately, the breath may leave our nostrils at any moment, our days are numbered.

Therefore, we pray, Lord, Thy kingdom come…but until that moment, Your will be done.

Here are a few reading resources for you. Enjoy!

Musician Dallas Holm muses about God’s Will in the hard as well as the easy.

Shane Pruitt at Already Am wonders if the statement ‘believe in yourself’ does more harm than good.

Jen Oshman discusses parenting when there are so many disasters and fear in the world in her article Fear, My News Feed, and Psalm 46

Samuel James has some thoughts on hate watching the Emmys…

Julia at Steak & A Bible has some suggestions about reading the rest of Romans 6

Nick at Reformation 21 shares deep truths about loving your neighbor as yourself with a reminder that it is the second greatest commandment.

From Zachary Bartels, “I’ve previously shared with you the best advice I ever got about preaching: my homiletics professor told us, “Gentlemen, when you’ve finished your sermon and think it’s just about ready to preach, read it over and ask yourself this . . . Could this message still be true and make sense if Jesus had not died and risen again for our salvation? If the answer is yes, then throw it out and start over, because it’s not a Christian sermon. It’s self-help or life-coaching or tips for family dynamics, but it’s not a cross-centered message, which is what we are called to proclaim.” Read on for the context and the point in The Jets, the Sharks, and Jesus

Housewife Theologian Aimee Byrd explores Four Reasons Why Every Christian Should Study Psalm 110

Garrett Kell at All Things for Good lists Every Book of the Bible in One Word

World Magazine reviews the documentary Fallen
A dangerous duty: Fallen spotlights the risks police officers face—and the sacrifices they make

Enjoy the day! Let’s remember this simple, profound, timeless, wonderful truth:

painting john 316 verse

EPrata painting

The worst example of fake news

There is a concern with #fakenews these days. It’s news that is written to be deliberately misleading, biased, or circulated knowingly with purposes to outrage or confuse. This isn’t new. The old Soviet Union Communists of the 1950s were great at propaganda, which is what fake news used to be called. They were masters at spreading disinformation.

The Yellow Journalism age of the US in the late 1800s was another era of patently fake news, sensationalized simply to sell more papers, protect reputations, or to build reputations. (“Puff Graham“)

Fake news has been with us a long time. I can point to a very early example. Certainly the worst:

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. (Matthew 28:11-15).

Fake news has been with us since forever. It has certainly been useful to the lost, greedy, and craven. Isn’t it wonderful to know that there is one source to which you can go that will always be reporting the truth?

bible with glasses 2

The Bible is so amazing

In my Bible reading there are some verses that have ‘jumped out’ at me lately:

do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. (Romans 11:18).

He supports me. Isn’t that a lovely thought? I do not want to be arrogant and take HIS glory away.

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Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16).

As a writer, I admire the beauty among this economy of words. Only the Spirit could inspire such gorgeous writing that proclaims such truth!

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For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face
. (Psalm 11:7).

To behold such glorious righteousness is a thought that both encourages me and makes me tremble. What a day that will be!

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Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death
. (Proverbs 11:4).

I praise the Lord I do not have a lust for riches. I know people who do (did). Some spend their entire life accumulating, lusting for expensive things, hoarding wealth. Unless there was a miraculous deathbed conversion, they are languishing in a place where their riches do not profit them. Thank You Lord for Your righteousness that is indeed riches beyond measure.

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Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away
. (Matthew 24:35).

How amazing that we will personally hear Him speak these words someday!

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The Bible is so rich, so beautiful. The many verses and passages and stories convict, inspire, point to the glory of the Lord…it’s staggering that this Book contains so much and is so everlasting.

bible bunyan

Being busy is not the problem

I understand how life can get busy as different obligations creep in. I know there are seasons of busy-ness and that’s OK. But here is something to think about.

People who say they are busy say sometimes that if they were less busy, they would have time to read the Bible. If they just weren’t so busy, they’d have time for serving. If they didn’t have such a crowded day, they’d have time for ministry. Being busy is sometimes the reason they do not meet with God or serve the kingdom.

I’ll look at the issue in two ways, first, here is John MacArthur talking about giving. He isn’t talking about being busy, but the concept is the same. If you had more money, you’d give more. If you had more time, you’re do more. Here is JMac:

Some people say, “Well, if I just had more I’d give more.” No, I’ve heard that. You always hear them say, “If I had $1 million I’d give it over here and I’d give…if I could just win the lottery. Oh man, if I could just win the lottery.” The question is not what would you do with $1 million. The question is what are you doing with this $4.00 you’ve got in your pocket. What are you doing with the $10.00?  What are you doing with the $20.00 or the $60.00? That’s the issue, because Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 says, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money. When good things increase, those who consume them increase.”

Another way to say that is, the only advantage to money is to watch it slip through your fingers. The more you get, the more that goes. So it isn’t a question of if you had more you’d give more. No, that’s not the issue. Jesus said it this way, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much, and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” Sermon, The Biblical View of Money

It isn’t a question of if you had more you’d give more. I can attest to that. Confession time: sometimes I’m not busy at all and that’s when I do the least for Jesus.

I work in education, which means I have extended time off during the summer break. This year our break is about 8 1/2 weeks. I work hard during the school year. Most school years I also work a second job in the After School Program, as I will be doing this year again. When I arrive home between 5:30-6:00pm, I begin my second shift of reading the Bible, writing, praying etc. Thursday nights are devoted to Bible Discussion Group, and of course, Sundays are for worship service with either Bible group or fellowship time afterward. Add the occasional social time with friends, school meetings, and must-do tasks (car oil change, doctor appointment,) and you have a pretty full schedule. I’m not crazy busy, but the school year has structured time that mostly fills my day from bedtime-to-bedtime.

All I can think about during the school year is how happy I will be during Summer when I have all this time to myself. “I’ll read the Bible more…write more…research different topics…read theological books…” And I do. At the beginning. I get up early, do my spiritual tasks, spend the rest of the day productively for the Kingdom.

As summertime slides on, though, so does my schedule. I get up later, watch more movies, snuggle with the cats longer, take more naps. I spend less time doing things for the kingdom and more time just being comfortable for myself. There have been a few days when I sit here, the Bible within reach, and never have opened it once during the day once.

If I had more time I’d do more? Not hardly. Sloth and laziness are built into us I think, and I soon fall victim to it. I have to work diligently during summer to ensure that I maintain my prayers, do my Bible readings, and complete my spiritual kingdom work when what I really want to do is watch Youtube videos of Kids Escaping Cribs or Funny Cats.

So I can attest that having more time does not mean that I’d do more. In fact, for me it’s the opposite. When school starts in ten days I’ll be grateful for the structure again. My work schedule really helps me keep track of my spiritual self.

Don’t delude yourself into thinking it is because you’re so crazy busy you have no time to read your Bible, pray, or serve. As John MacArthur said on the subject of giving, it’s not about not having millions of dollars, it is about what are you doing with $4 in your pocket. Whether you have 24 hours to yourself or 20 minutes to spare, what are you doing with the time? If the issue regarding money isn’t “Oh man, if I could just win the lottery”, it’s the same for time. It isn’t about “Oh man, if I could just have all day to myself.”

Here are a few resources on balancing work-busy with (summer)-lazy.

What does the Bible say about being too busy?

In our supersonic postmodern society, known for its busyness and its increasing ability to deliver instantaneously, we find ourselves hurried more than our ancestors ever could have imagined. We have come a long way from the horse-and-buggy days, and because of that, our twenty-four hours a day seem more and more restrictive. We never feel like we have enough time to accomplish everything we want or need to do, and the clock keeps ticking

Parents, don’t waste your lazy summer days

But is it really such a bad thing to have wide open spaces in our planners? Might this be the very thing we need in order to refocus our priorities and make the most of the short season of time we’re given with our children?

Tim Challies’ book and course with a practical guide to productivity
Do More Better

I wrote this short, fast-paced, practical guide to productivity to share what I have learned about getting things done in today’s digital world. It will help you learn to structure your life to do the most good to the glory of God.

Challies’ book is also a course with the same title at Ligonier Connect.