Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Truth and Facts

Truth is that which is.  Truth agrees with facts, and facts prove truth.  There is no conflict between truth and facts, even though Joe Biden said "We choose truth over facts."

Maybe Joe was reflecting on the liberal perspective of truth, which promotes the concepts agreed to be politically correct. Those things which the elite thinkers believe are important, and should be reinforced by constant propaganda. 

So there is my truth and your truth, and we should not assume our truth is superior to other truth. We must be respectful of the "other", even if the other is calling for the end to my existence. 

We must define what we mean by words we use.  When I see truth, I see what is.  Truth is that which is real, that which exists. Many things are temporary, and do not establish truth.  That which exists forever is most definitive of truth.  Truth lasts, does not pass away.  

But that which is may often be confused with that which claims to be.  Claim to be is not truth, unless facts can be summoned to prove the claim.  

For example, Jesus has been credited with the horrible things done by people who called themselves "Christians" during the past one thousand years. People who called themselves Christians fought each other for thirty years in Europe.

Do the facts prove that Christians murdered each other?  Do the facts support that the murderers were truly Christians?

To answer that question, we must establish the fact of who is a Christian in reality.  Truly only those who Jesus claims as His own are really followers of Jesus. 

Jesus in His teaching established the facts of who is His disciple, who is really following him, whom can we really recognize as a believer in Jesus.

Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born again to enter the kingdom, to belong to Jesus.  

John 3 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Jesus and Nicodemus

3 There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could perform these signs you do unless God were with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again,[a] he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 “How can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

5 Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9 “How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus.

10 “Are you a teacher[b] of Israel and don’t know these things?” Jesus replied. 11 “Truly I tell you, we speak what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven —the Son of Man.[c]

14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may[d] have eternal life. 16 For God loved the world in this way:[e] He gave[f] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 19 This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it,[g] so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by[h] the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”

Jesus also said that not all who claim Him are recognized as actually having a real relationship with Him.

Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’[b][c]

So our being known by Jesus is essential to our being real followers of Jesus.  Those who are of the truth listen to Jesus.

John 18:33 Then Pilate went back into the headquarters, summoned Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

34 Jesus answered, “Are you asking this on your own, or have others told you about me?”

35 “I’m not a Jew, am I?” Pilate replied. “Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”

36 “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is,[e] my kingdom is not from here.”

37 “You are a king then?” Pilate asked.

“You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Of the truth!  Belonging to the truth.  We listen to His voice when we belong to Him.  He is the truth.  He is the way. He is the light.

So those who claim to follow him while refusing to listen to His voice can not establish that they are actually following Him.  What pretenders do in their claims to relationship have no validity toward truth. People who hated and murdered each other through the ages, while claiming to be Protestant or Roman Catholic, can not establish an actual connection to Jesus.  They were not following the one who said, John 13:35 "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

So condemning followers of Jesus for what non-followers did is not based upon respect for truth or facts. Condemning Christianity for what pretenders did shows a great disregard for reality. Christianity needs to be defined as those who truly love and follow Jesus.  All other that is called Christianity has no claim to being real.  Facts establish who is truly a Christian. 

And yes, it is right to condemn those who are pretenders and destroyers.  We need to see the facts.  The King of England was never the head of followers of Jesus, and the Pope in Rome was never head of the followers of Jesus.  They were usurpers and pretenders. 

In fact, freedom of conscious that permits people to establish their own faith in what is by examining the facts is essential to the well being of humankind.  No group of believers that depends upon the approval of the state for their existence has ever been truly followers of Jesus.  Take a look at those who were killed by various "Christian" states for being steadfast in their personal faith, and you will find many true followers of Jesus.  It is these martyrs who died in support of truth established by facts who are the real Christians.

And all the nefarious acts done by false "Christians" have nothing to say against Jesus, as those false actors were following Satan.  Satan is the father of liars and murderers.  

But what about those who deny Him, those who insist their way is just as good as any way?  Those who live by their feelings, thinking that their way is ok?  They have believed lies. 

Peter told us how to become real Christians on the Day of Pentecost.  

Peter’s Sermon

Acts 2:14 Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: “Fellow Jews and all you residents of Jerusalem, let me explain this to you and pay attention to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning.[c] 16 On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 And it will be in the last days, says God,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all people;
then your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 I will even pour out my Spirit
on my servants in those days, both men and women
and they will prophesy.
19 I will display wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below:
blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes.
21 Then everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.[d]

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to these words: This Jesus of Nazareth was a man attested to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through him, just as you yourselves know. 23 Though he was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used[e] lawless people to nail him to a cross and kill him. 24 God raised him up, ending the pains of death,because it was not possible for him to be held by death. 25 For David says of him:

I saw the Lord ever before me;
because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad
and my tongue rejoices.
Moreover, my flesh will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me in Hades
or allow your holy one to see decay.
28 You have revealed the paths of life to me;
you will fill me with gladness
in your presence.[f]

29 “Brothers and sisters, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants[g] on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He[h] was not abandoned in Hades, and his flesh did not experience decay.[i]

32 “God has raised this Jesus; we are all witnesses of this. 33 Therefore, since he has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, he has poured out what you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says:

The Lord declared to my Lord,
‘Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’[j]

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Call to Repentance

37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt[k] generation!” 41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added to them.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Pursuit of Happiness??

Image result for world upside down
World Upside Down

Paul was in Thessaloniki teaching about Jesus in the Synagogue, and many Jews and also some God fearing Greeks believed his message.  But some of the leaders who did not believe became jealous of Paul's following, and started a riot.  They spoke of believers in Jesus as being those who have turned the world upside down.  Previously, idolatry and human wisdom had reigned, but followers of Jesus see things differently.

Riot in the City

Acts 17:5 But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, 7 and Jason has welcomed them. They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus.” 8 The crowd and city officials who heard these things were upset. 9 After taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.

From there Paul made his way to Athens.  The people of Greece enjoyed philosophical debate.  Plato and Aristotle had developed methods of discussion of how things are.  Things are what they are, and what we perceive them to be may be flawed. The writings of Plato have survived until this day, and Aristolean logic has provided the platform for many religious arguments. Augustine used logical platforms to develop his ideas about faith alone (Sola Fide).

But the people of Athens did not know or understand the God who created all things. They even had a temple dedicated to the Unknown God.  

Paul reveals to them that Jesus the Jewish Messiah is the unknown God they worshiped in ignorance.  And this God is different. Instead of satisfying human desires by supplying the things needed for happiness, Jesus calls us to sacrifice. He turns the world upside down.

Take Up Your Cross

Mark 8:34 Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it. 36 For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? 37 What can anyone give in exchange for his life? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Yes, to save our life we must first lose it. We must give up selfishness and become servants.  Jesus said "It is more blessed to give than to receive."  It is by giving and service that we find joy and contentment.  Doing good makes us feel good.  Help someone and enjoy the blessing.  But do not give the gift in order to receive a blessing , but give because it is God's will.  But submitting to God's will involves first knowing Him.  You must learn about Jesus from those who serve Him, and from the Bible, which is a message about Him.

But coming to Jesus in search of happiness and the good life is a wrong motive. The prosperity gospel is a big lie.  We do not come to Jesus to please ourselves, but we must come to Him at the cross. We must come to Him at a place of sorrow and pain, realizing that we are not to live life to please ourselves.  We must die with Christ in order to live with Him.  Rom 6:1-4.

False Doctrine and Human Greed

1Tim 6:2 Teach and encourage these things. 3 If anyone teaches false doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.[c] 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and[d] we can take nothing out. 8 If we have food and clothing,[e] we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root[f] of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Fight the Good Fight

11 But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all, and of Christ Jesus, who gave a good confession before Pontius Pilate, I charge you 14 to keep this command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 God will bring this about in his own time. He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see, to him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

The pursuit of happiness by what we can get is a miss direction.  Money does not produce happiness, unless we use it for righteous deeds, for helping others.  "pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith."

The Apostle Peter, who made the good confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, calls believers to Holy Living.  Sexual immorality, hatefulness, slander, lying, and disrespect of government officials has no place in the life of believers.  Romans 13:1-7.

A Call to Holy Living

1 Pet 1:13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.[d] 17 If you appeal to the Father who judges impartially according to each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in reverence during your time living as strangers. 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was revealed in these last times for you. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 Since you have purified yourselves by your obedience to the truth,[e]so that you show sincere brotherly love for each other, from a pure[f]heart love one another constantly,[g] 23 because you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For

All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like a flower of the grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.[h]

And this word is the gospel that was proclaimed to you.

Love one another.  Love tells the truth.  Love points to Jesus.  Life is not so much about the pursuit of happiness, but about pursuit of righteousness in Jesus Christ, by Whom we gain eternal peace and happiness. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Back to Babel

Tower of Babel
After the flood, God told Noah and his sons to "be fruitful and multiply; spread out over the earth and multiply on it."

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

God’s Covenant with Noah

Gen 9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear and terror of you will be in every living creature on the earth, every bird of the sky, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are placed under your authority.[a] 3 Every creature that lives and moves will be food for you; as I gave the green plants, I have given you everything. 4 However, you must not eat meat with its lifeblood in it. 5 And I will require a penalty for your lifeblood;[b] I will require it from any animal and from any human; if someone murders a fellow human, I will require that person’s life.[c]

6 Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans his blood will be shed,
for God made humans in his image.

7 But you, be fruitful and multiply; spread out over the earth and multiply on it.”

The instructions were clear enough. God had just recently destroyed most of the people on earth, all but eight, with the flood, because of wickedness. We might think that the survivors of the flood would have a better memory than to disregard the direct command of God to Noah and his sons.

But instead of spreading out over the earth as commanded, they decided to build a tower into the sky to make a name for themselves, and to keep everyone together. 

Genesis 11 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
The Tower of Babylon

11:1 The whole earth had the same language and vocabulary.[a] 2 As people[b]migrated from the east,[c] they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let us make oven-fired bricks.” (They used brick for stone and asphalt for mortar.) 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered throughout the earth.”

5 Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the humans[d]were building. 6 The Lord said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let’s go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore it is called Babylon,[e][f] for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth.

The problem was not that everyone was together, and speaking the same language.   The problem was that they had decided to do the opposite of what God had commanded.  He commanded multiply and fill the earth, and their desire was to concentrate in one place and do something big to make a name for themselves.  

4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered throughout the earth.”

Human will directly opposed to God's will!  Do we see anything like that today?  Maybe we are seeing a return to Sodom and Gomorrah as well as a return to Babel.  These Old Testament stories were written for our instruction, and able to make us wise about the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. 

2 Timothy 3 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Difficult Times Ahead

3:1 But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people.

6 For among them are those who worm their way into households and deceive gullible women overwhelmed by sins and led astray by a variety of passions, 7 always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so these also resist the truth. They are men who are corrupt in mind and worthless in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be clear to all, as was the foolishness of Jannes and Jambres.
Struggles in the Christian Life

10 But you have followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance, 11 along with the persecutions and sufferings that came to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured—and yet the Lord rescued me from them all. 12 In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

But many who profess faith in Jesus Christ have rejected the message He approved.  Recently the United Methodist Conference rejected the traditional and biblical message about sexual relations between members of the same sex. 

Rejection of the traditional message is not about changed understanding of what the Bible actually teaches, but is about exchanging human feelings and claims of empathy for Biblical teaching.  How we feel becomes more important than what God commanded.  Return to Babel.  Return to Sodom and Gomorrah.  

But He said, "Come out from among them and be separate".  

Apostle Paul referenced Leviticus when writing to the Corinthian believers about living lives dedicated to God. 

Separation to God

2 Cor 6:14 Don’t become partners with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Belial?[c] Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we[d] are the temple of the living God, as God said:

I will dwell
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.[e]
17 Therefore, come out from among them
and be separate, says the Lord;
do not touch any unclean thing,
and I will welcome you.[f]
18 And I will be a Father to you,
and you will be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.[g]

Just as physical separation from unbelievers was a requirement under the Law, spiritual separation is a necessity for believers today.  Joining ourselves to every popular spiritual fad (encouraging paganism, atheism, Islam, sexual immorality, etc.) is not how believers are taught by the Holy Spirit through the scriptures to live successful lives. Love speaks the truth.

The flood, the Tower of Babel, and the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians and later by the Romans, teach us that there is a price to pay for disregard of what God says.  

Claiming love while teaching lies is a corruption of the very idea of what love is.  Love tells the truth.  Love died on a cross to show how terrible sin is, and to make a way for righteousness for all who will choose to have faith in Him. 

Love does not enable lawlessness  nor encourage disregard for righteousness.  Love respects law.  Love learns from Babel.

God wants each of us to be together in His Family.  But we must get there by meeting Jesus at the Cross.  

Saturday, June 22, 2019



Weeping Willow Tree

A weeping willow grew in the front yard of the cabin in Bass Hollow where I grew up for sixteen years. My mother loved us six siblings, she was well educated, and familiar with Dr. Spock's teaching on permissive child care.  But she is an ardent believer in Jesus, and she believed in discipline. The keen willow branch on bare legs was effective, I can attest.  She also washed out my mouth with soap for saying vulgar words like sh*t.

She was a great Bible student and teacher, and understood that discipline was connected with love.  I hope that more believers today can come to understand that letting people do as they please is not a demonstration of love.

It is true that God demonstrated punishment for sin, visiting the sins of people upon their offspring to the third and fourth generations.  The wages of sin is death. The Bible is filled with stories about how people were punished for sins. And one great story is how He punished His own people, Israel, for their sins, eventually leading to their being scattered into remote nations for more than 1800 years, from 135 ad to 1948.  Read Deut 28:15-68. 

The writer of Hebrews calls believers to respect discipline.

The Call to Endurance

12:1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus,[a] the source and perfecter[b] of our faith. For the joy that lay before him,[c] he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Fatherly Discipline

3 For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. 4 In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:

My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or lose heart when you are reproved by him,
6 for the Lord disciplines the one he loves
and punishes every son he receives.[d]

7 Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline—which all receive[e]—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated[f] but healed instead.
Warning against Rejecting God’s Grace

14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord.15 Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many. 16 And make sure that there isn’t any immoral[g] or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal. 17 For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, even though he sought it with tears, because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance.

18 For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm, 19 to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words. Those who heard it begged that not another word be spoken to them, 20 for they could not bear what was commanded: If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.[h] 21 The appearance was so terrifying that Moses said, I am trembling with fear.[i] 22 Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering,23 to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written[j] in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.

25 See to it that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven. 26 His voice shook the earth at that time, but now he has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.[k] 27 This expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what is not shaken might remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

This language does not sound permissive. We are to serve Him with reverence and awe.  Do not fear the one who can destroy our physical life, but reverence God, Who will punish the wicked.

And Bernie Sanders gets zero support from Apostle Paul, as the Apostle instructed the believers at Thessaloniki to work with their own hands to provide their needs and the needs of the helpless. 

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

Pray for Us2 Thessalonians 3:1 In addition, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not all have faith.[a] 3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen and guard you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.

Warning against Irresponsible Behavior

6 Now we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother or sister who is idle and does not live according to the tradition received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you should imitate us: We were not idle among you; 8 we did not eat anyone’s food free of charge; instead, we labored and toiled,working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 It is not that we don’t have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves an example to you so that you would imitate us. 10 In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 11 For we hear that there are some among you who are idle. They are not busy but busybodies. 12 Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and provide for themselves.[b] 13 But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.

14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take note of that person; don’t associate with him, so that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet don’t consider him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Permissiveness finds no support in the Bible.  We are encouraged to live lives of disciplined goodness, so that Jesus is exalted. 

The rule of law in society is given by God so that we can live orderly and productive lives.  The modern madness that rejects Biblical moral values and fights against them is from Satan.  He is the enemy of all that is good.  Some of you need to wake up and decide what side you are on.  Permissiveness is not love.  My mother did much better than Benjamin Spock. 

Thank God for the willow branch on my bare legs.  And thank God for mother's hug that always followed my tears.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Big Lie

20 Isaiah 5: 20  Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who substitute darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who substitute bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
21 21 Woe to those who consider themselves wise
and judge themselves clever.[i]

Satan encouraged Eve to believe the big lie. God's word is not important, you can do your own thing. If it looks good, tastes good, and makes you proud, then do it. This is the foundation of existentialism. The big lie that God has not spoken, and so mankind is free to run things by human will and deceit.

Satan knew he was lying. He is the father of liars. And he seems to understand our weakness, that we want to do as we please.

The Temptation and the Fall

Gen 3:1  Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’”

4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when[a] you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God,[b] knowing good and evil.” 6 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Disregard for God's instruction led to shame.  Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, and Pandora's box was opened.  They hid from God, attempted to clothe themselves with leaves.  But their own work was not sufficient.  God made them some suitable clothing, picturing the provision for salvation He would accomplish through His Son.

A great challenge of our time is the often virulent conversation regards our government.  Good people on both sides feel that they are right in their affirmations of what is best for our nation. But sadly, many have neglected the clear teaching of the Bible.  

Romans 13 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
A Christian’s Duties to the State

13 Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. 2 So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. 4 For it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. 5 Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath but also because of your conscience. 6 And for this reason you pay taxes, since the authorities are God’s servants, continually attending to these tasks.[a] 7 Pay your obligations to everyone: taxes to those you owe taxes, tolls to those you owe tolls, respect to those you owe respect, and honor to those you owe honor.

The attempts to overturn the election of Donald Trump as president of USA seems founded in human frustration. Many have decided that President Trump is morally unqualified to serve as President, and have employed dishonorable tactics in support of their perhaps well meant intentions. Many of my friends and relatives have been a part of the clamor demanding that Trump be removed.  And many have cast aspersions upon those who support Trump, implying that we are unchristian because we continue to support our President despite his imperfections. 

Sometimes I wonder at the shallowness of such thinking.  If past mistakes disqualify one from serving as President, then who can be qualified?  Certainly neither Solomon nor David could meet the test.  And there is no way that Samson belongs in the faith hall of fame, Hebrews chapter 11.

Yes, God has often used imperfect men to accomplish good things.  In fact, imperfect is the only humankind available since Eve and the garden of Eden.  But Apostle Paul admonishes believers to honor the Roman rulers, who were Pagans, and who demanded the worship of the Roman Emperor.  Their role in maintaining the rule of law and social order was a blessing to mankind, as it enabled the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to England, and to India, and to places in between.

Yes, government authority has a purpose of maintaining order and the rule of law.  Rebellion against that order even for the purpose of maintaining personal preferences is a dangerous thing.  

The popularity of secular humanist globalism and celebration of mankind's responsibility to save the universe from ourselves by eating only vegetables and refraining from use of carbon fuels with the Green New Deal seem a bit fantastic to some of us. I have witnessed the burning of the grass in Africa every winter, where the smoke hides the sun for days as last year's grass is burned away to make room for new grass. And I am still burning wood for heat. Primitive cultures are not ready for the Green New Deal.

Constant overstatement of the threat of global warming and sea level rise grate on my nerves.  Yes, the sea level is rising about 1/8th inch each year, mostly from the warmer sea temperature.  Warmer sea produces more evaporation and more rain, and more snow in the the polar regions.  Increased snow volume offsets the increased melt from warmer temperatures, and the ice levels in some of the world's glaciers has actually increased, in spite of the higher melting rate. 

The big problem is that some of y'all have forgotten, or never knew, Who is in charge.  Mankind has been given dominion over the earth, but our power is very limited.  One huge volcanic eruption can emit more pollution in one day than all our USA automobiles in one year.  Several volcanic eruptions can emit enough particulates into the upper atmosphere to lower global temperatures dramatically.

God, who created the heavens and the earth, is ultimately in charge.  And we will be blessed if we work to please Him by being good stewards of the earth, and by having genuine concern for each other.  However, we need to remember Who is really in control.  And going against His instructions is a sure way to destruction.  Gender is derived from how we are born, and is not to be decided by feelings. Men may have made a great mess of things, but who knows what things would be like if women like some recently elected Democrats had been in charge?

It was Eve who messed up in the beginning, so y'all women deserve us men. 

So, what is the conclusion of the whole matter?  

Ecc 12:13 When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all[e] humanity. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Knowing Truth

Prov 12:17 Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right,
but a false witness speaks deceit.

Truth and Freedom

John 8:30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word,[c] you really are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is,[e] my kingdom is not from here.”
37 “You are a king then?” Pilate asked.
“You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
38 “What is truth?” said Pilate.

Mankind has struggled with this question, "What is truth"?

The modern answer is that there is no truth, but only supposition.  Everyone has their own "truth" that they believe, and we should not be critical of each other's ideas.

In a world without "Truth", one religion is just as good or bad as another, and no one is allowed to propose that there is such a thing as true religion.  Mohammad, Moses, and Jesus demand equal respect, and so do Buddha and Zarathustra, not to mention Confucius and Karl Marx.

That is the crazy world we have inherited from the secular humanists, those "intellectuals" who have taken over our educational institutions, who say there is no God. 

They also say there is no truth, and prove their lack of understanding by constantly changing their minds about how things are. The multiplied theories of evolution as a source of life prove that the general theory of evolution is not based upon observed facts.  Facts speak of how things are in reality, and they do not change.  We may discover more facts over time, but new facts will support old facts, and truth does not change.

Of course our understanding of how things are changes often, as we grow and learn. And humans do not know all reality, and we are not authority on truth. 

But one man was there in the beginning, present as the Logos during the creation.. All things were created by Him. 

John 1 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life,[a] and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome[b] it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him.[c] 8 He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.[d]

10 He was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be[e] children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13 who were born, not of natural descent,[f] or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man,[g] but of God.

14 The Word became flesh and dwelt[h] among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son[i] from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning him and exclaimed, “This was the one of whom I said, ‘The one coming after me ranks ahead of me, because he existed before me.’”) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace upon[j] grace from his fullness, 17 for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side[k]— he has revealed him.

But how can you and I know that Jesus is himself God?  We must look at the evidence.  The blood of believers shed in the first century reveals the reality of the resurrection..  Those who knew Jesus, and who saw Him following His resurrection, and who gave their lives in testimony to this truth, have passed down to us their testimony in the pages of inspired writings of the Apostles. 

Thomas Sees and Believes

John 20:24 But Thomas (called “Twin”[d]), one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples were telling him, “We’ve seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe.”
28 Thomas responded to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed.[e]Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

The Purpose of This Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,[f] and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Yes, Thomas is a great example of someone who saw and believed.  A friend of mine gives a handed down story from his ancestors in India about Thomas's visit to India.

And we can know truth by knowing Jesus.  He is truth personified. He is the real thing. As we follow him, we experience truth and reality.   His word is truth, and we should study and learn, not trusting our opinions as truth, but laying the revelations side by side, and becoming immersed in the story.  As we walk with Him, encouraged by the Holy Spirit He gives to all who are born again into the kingdom of God, we know Jesus, and so we know the truth.