I’d mentioned in yesterday’s blog post that some of the younger people were seeking answers to the mayhem that is everywhere today. They want to sort out what is happening. Their consciences are tender and their heart moves easily. So I’d compiled a list of theologically solid podcasts so that anyone seeking answers would hopefully be steered to good resources.
Yesterday I was contacted by one of the younger sisters in my church asking for a review of a post she intended to publish. She wanted it looked over to see if it contributed to the discussion, was absent any virtue signaling, and was faithful to scripture. She’d also listened to the recommended Just Thinking podcast. My heart immediately soared. There are still young people who care deeply about being a dew drop of grace in His name, and not a clamoring, shouting secular rioter, and who proceed with caution before speaking. Continue reading “Guest post from younger sister: The Amazing Exchange”→
We live in scary times. This isn’t anything new…the ’60s were scary, a civil & societal revolution took place between generations. Plus, there was the Viet Nam war. The 40’s were scary, WWII. The Great Depression and the Great Migration in the decade before that. And before that, the Great Influenza. And so on. Any times we have of peace and prosperity are illusions that exist between the turbulence. It’s the turbulence that’s normal. Continue reading “Seeking His face as the solace for turbulent times”→
The other evening I was standing at the edge of the hayfield, and the blue cornflowers gave a wonderful tinge that mirrored the sky, and the burnt sienna hay tips rustled in the breeze, showing where the wind had been. The birds swooped over the field looking for insects and I thought, how peaceful, how peaceful. This is my life, and it is wonderful.
These days are certainly strange. Mandated home sheltering, no going out except for minimal and pressing reasons, economy shuttered, the world staggering from a virus that sweeps through a population like wildfire.
For many people, it’s strange to be at home for these lengthy times. No school, no work, being apart from extended family, uncertain financial future.
You may have heard this phrase attributed to the Chinese as an ancient blessing. It’s actually a curse, that living in UNinteresting times is more of a blessing than so-called interesting ones, which usually involve war, famine, or other disruption of some kind.
In Acts 16, Paul was followed by a slave girl who made much money for her owner by telling fortunes. She kept hollering after Paul and his group, and vexed Paul very much. Finally he cast the demon out of her, and that was that.
When people say, “There is peace and security,” destruction will strike them as suddenly as labor pains come to a pregnant woman, and they will not be able to escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
The world will always be seeking the increasingly elusive quality of peace and security. The word security is from the Greek compound word, meaning not and totter. The notion behind the word is they will be looking for a ‘firmness that equates to security.’ There is nothing on the earth that offers a foundational firmness that equates to security. There is no treaty, no house, no nation, no leader, no idea, no government that will offer the security that God does. The only security there is, is God. That is why the drive to find peace and security ratchets up at a frenzied pace as time marches on, because as the world crumbles into not-peace (war) and not-safety (chaos), they look toward something, anything, that will provide security.
We know war does come. There is no peace. The Tribulation opens with a horseman riding on the waves of war, unleashing it upon the world. (Revelation 6:3-4). Damascus is destroyed, (Isaiah 17), The Middle East goes to war (Psalm 83), Iran attacks Israel (Ezekiel 38-39), and the rest of the world is drawn into war after war (Matthew 24:6).
Jeremiah 8:10b-12 speaks of conditions that mirror ours today,
“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the Lord.”
The Old Testament priests and prophets spoke of superficial things, not getting to the heart of the matter, which was their sin and their failure to repent. We have that today, preachers refusing to speak of sin but instead treating the people with a bandage when what they need is a tourniquet. They dress the wound as if the people are not dying. They focus on stamping our social ills, proclaiming a ‘woke theology’ which is no theology, refraining from speaking true Gospel words such as sin and repent.
The false prophets speak of peace (“God loves you”) but there is no peace, none inside themselves with God and none outside themselves with each other. They are so seared with sin that they don’t even blush anymore. They have no shame at their deeds, and they will be brought down and punished. As it was then, it will be again.
Jesus is the author of time, the conductor of events, the creator of all the universe. He knows what will happen because He created the plan for it happening, and He told us about it. We can trust it because He cannot lie. The stunning thing is that He shares His intentions with us at all! He did so in the Bible, and if you own one, read it. It will make you love our Savior all the more.
If you are not saved, then the Bible will never make sense to you but you can turn on the linguistic translator almost instantly, by repenting and submitting to Jesus as Forgiver of your sins. He will send the Holy Spirit to you to indwell you and reveal the truths of His word. Then you will understand it.
And what of us, still here, still walking in His light on this side of the veil? Well, we continue to do what we do. We raise our children, we love our families, we share His name and His truths where He has planted us. Until He uproots us through death or catches us up through rapture, we persevere, fighting the good fight. These are exciting times, because His word is vibrantly flowing from His book to life and beyond. The true prophets (in this ea, pastors and teachers) are going aobut their business and fulfilling their ministry.
Praise Him that we have His word, can read it, cling to it, and through it, look toward the most important person of the Universe: Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected. And soon to return.
On Sundays I usually post a theological word with its definition, then an explanation, and use it in a verse. I also use a picture to represent the concept. This is my effort to maintain a theological literacy among the brethren and between generations, something I believe is critical. We have to know what we believe, why, and know the words to express it. Words like Justification, Immanence, and Perspicuity have all been a Sunday Word of the Week.
Similarly, when we discuss other words representing the fruit of the Spirit, such as love, peace, and joy, we think we know what they mean, but often times these culturally embedded words have a totally different flavor when used from a biblical context. It is true of the words pertaining to the Fruit of the Spirit. Even these ‘simpler’ biblical words are misunderstood.
Therefore, over the next few weeks the Word of the Week will be one of the Fruit of the Spirit. Previously I published short essays about Love, and Joy. This week it’s Peace.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
What does ‘peace’ mean? I hear people saying in their decision-making, “I have a peace about it.” Is Galatians talking about that kind of peace? Or, is it the peace that comes after a war or a struggle with someone?
The Greek word as it’s used in the verse is (they think) from eiro. It means in this verse, a harmony and an accord.
Once we possess the Spirit, we are no longer at enmity against the Lord. (Ephesians 2:16). We have peace with Him since we are no longer rebelling against Him. We have relational peace. Strong’s defines it partly as:
According to a conception distinctly peculiar to Christianity, “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoerer sort that is”: Romans 8:6; namely, is used of those who, assured of salvation, tranquilly await the return of Christ and the transformation of all things which will accompany that event,
John Gill Comments on the two kinds of peace, peace with God and peace with each other, on the Gal 5:22 verse,
which is another fruit of the Spirit: and designs peace with God in a man’s own conscience, produced there by the Spirit of God, in consequence of peace being made by the blood of Christ; and that through the application of the blood of Christ for pardon, and of his righteousness for justification to the soul of a sensible sinner by the blessed Spirit, the effect of which is peace, quietness, and tranquillity of mind; also peace with men, with the saints, and with all others; for such who are under a work of the Spirit of God, and are influenced and led by him, seek after the things which make for peace and edification among the brethren, and are desirous if possible to live peaceably with all men: hence appears another grace in them,
But beyond that, as the verse in John 13:34-35 says,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
We cannot have peace with one another if we are feeling less than loving.
What was “new” about this commandment? Love wasn’t new, it is in the Ten Commandments. What was new was the depth and the extent of the love Jesus commanded His people to do. Jesus loved His own to the end, fully and consistently and completely. He gave the sop to Judas. Giving the morsel to someone at a dinner was a manner and custom in Israelite banquets. The host showed utmost respect and love to a person, by personally handing him a morsel, sometimes even placing it in the recipient’s mouth himself. Judas was to betray Jesus in mere hours, but Jesus still loved Judas to the end. He gave him the sop. THAT is the new kind of love.
The fruit of the Spirit is all one fruit. It isn’t that we work on peace one week and then patience the next… The first fruit mentioned is love. ALL other fruit stem from this one fruit. If we are loving we will be patient, we will be joyful, we will be gentle, we will employ self-control, and so on. Jesus was at peace relationally with Judas the Betrayer and demonstrated that peace through His loving act of giving the morsel.
Peace with one another is to be sought because we love.
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and setting in motion a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely contested Holy City.
“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Mr. Trump said from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.
This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
The president cast his decision as a break with decades of failed policy on Jerusalem, which the United States, along with virtually every other nation in the world, has declined to recognize as the capital since Israel’s founding in 1948. That policy, he said, brought us “no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Jerusalem is an ancient city, first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 14 when Abraham gave a tenth of all that he had to the mysterious Melchizedek, king of ‘Salem’ (Jerusalem) and a Priest of the God Most High. Jerusalem was not always the capital of Israel. Earlier in Israel’s history, the ark was located at Shiloh, in the tabernacle, for 400 years.
Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel. (Jeremiah 7:12).
my place … in Shiloh—God caused His tabernacle to be set up in Shiloh in Joshua’s days (Jos 18:1; Jdg 18:31). In Eli’s time God gave the ark, which had been at Shiloh, into the hands of the Philistines (Je 26:6; 1 Sa 4:10, 11; Ps 78:56–61). Shiloh was situated between Beth-el and Shechem in Ephraim.
Eventually, the LORD Placed His name at Jerusalem.
but I have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel. (2 Chronicles 6:6)
Solomon’s proclamation to the worshipers (6:3–11) links two great themes together as facets of the Davidic covenant: the holy city of Jerusalem and the holy temple building. Solomon acknowledges that God has finally chosen a permanent dwelling place for his Name. From the beginnings of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence has been portable. As one of the consequences of building a permanent dwelling for God’s Name, the location of that building, Jerusalem, is now a holy city. Three great themes are united in this great effort prescribed by the Davidic covenant: the sacred dynasty, the sacred temple building, and the sacred city of Jerusalem. Bowling, A. C. (1995). 1-2 Chronicles. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible
The future looks bright for Jerusalem.
The LORD will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem. (Zechariah 2:12).
I’m very glad that Jerusalem is recognized by the US as Israel’s capital city. I pray for peace there, now and forever.
And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)
Today I want to look at the kind of death Christians are afforded, as opposed to the unsaved. Tomorrow I’ll look at what Stephen cried out, the mater of pleading to the Judge for a reduced charge.
Death is the final frontier for unsaved people. That is the very edge of the precipice of knowledge which the unsaved person can tread. Beyond death, they do not know. And in the not knowing, they fear. What happens after death? Is there life? Do we blink out of existence? Death is the final frontier, and to the unsaved, ti’s one from which no one ever returns. There is no hope.
William Shakespeare’s character Hamlet said,
Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
To grunt and sweat under a weary life;
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
It surely puzzles the will. The world has spit up millions of poems, stories, essays, and books musing on the undiscovered country, and all are in vain, they’re only wind.
Yet that undiscovered country is one the born-again person knows well, from His word and through prayer, we are familiar with the other side. When, as Hamlet opined, ‘we shuffle off this mortal coil’ we know that we know that we know what lies ahead: glory, peace, perfection, and Light.
Some were blessed with glimpses of it on this side of the mortal coil. Stephen, when in the throes of preaching God’s word to the Pharisees, was seen to have the countenance of an angel, because he saw the Lord standing beside the father. Paul said he had been afforded a glimpse of glory so inexpressible and beautiful he had no words to describe it. Moses, upon having been with God atop Mt. Zion, still permeated with His glory when he descended the mountain, his face shining so brightly the people were afraid.
When the unsaved attempt to gaze into the beyond they only see darkness, question marks, and unwelcoming shadows and gloomy fear, behind which their perception stalls.
The saved person has had their heart regenerated, eyes opened, and mind illuminated to the scriptures, knows what comes after death. Life! The peace one feels now that one is no longer at enmity with the Savior permeates all of a born-again person’s life, even into and through death. Barnes’ Notes says of the Acts scripture above:
how peaceful and calm is a death like that of Stephen, when compared with the alarms and anguish of a sinner! One moment of such peace in that trying time is better than all the pleasures and honors which the world can bestow;and to obtain such peace then, the dying sinner would be willing to give all the wealth of the Indies, and all the crowns of the earth. So may I die and so may all my readers – enabled, like this dying martyr, to commit my departing spirit to the sure keeping of the great Redeemer! When we take a parting view of the world; when our eyes shall be turned for the last time to take a look of friends and relatives; when the darkness of death shall begin to come around us, then may we be enabled to cast the eye of faith to the heavens, and say, “Lord Jesus, receive our spirits.” Thus, may we fall asleep, peaceful in death, in the hope of the resurrection of the just.
What a blessing the Lord has given us, His imparted knowledge of what comes next. Even better, we have the assurance of His presence and love throughout eternity. No cold darkness for us! No gate of hell with sign affixed, as Dante mused,
“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate”, or “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
Instead we may hear, as the servant in the parable heard,
‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:23).
Hamlet soliloquized upon contemplation of his suicide, ‘ to sleep, perchance to dream.’ No, friend, we have the assurance of life beyond life, love, light, activity, and a reality so real this present mortal coil will become the dream instead.
Beyond this mortal coil, we will live where righteousness dwells. Pray to thank the Lord for His many manifold blessings.