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Monday, October 26, 2015, 12:46 PM
I have posted in the past that everyone will face a judgment. For one, the sheep will be separated from the goats (code for the saved from the unsaved). Also, the works of the saved will be judged. Every work done, every word spoken, will be answered for in that judgment. It is important for Christians to examine not only what they do, but their motives- deep in their hearts.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."
2nd Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Aside from individual judgments, the Scriptures are clear that nations as a whole have been and will be judged. The Canaanites were judged for their wickedness and the Lord told the Israelites to go in and conquer the land. They have never since been told to go into any other nation for any sort of military action. The LORD had told the Israelites in the Torah that they were to see Him (Yahweh) as their King, but He also told them that they would seek their own, He would allow it, and He would choose that king, and that king was to follow His Torah instructions. The Israelites failed in their nation, and they were judged and carried into captivity. The LORD allows human government because ‘people want to have kings (ruling people- governments) like all the nations’. Other nations have been judged and all nations will ultimately be judged. Ultimately, the government of every human nation will be found guilty, because of man’s inclination to allow Satan to rule this world.
2nd Timothy 2:3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Both verses 2: 3 and 2: 4 refer to Christians as ‘soldiers’ for Christ. Verse 2: 3 mentions the ‘suffering’ and 3: 12 talks about being ‘persecuted’ for being a soldier (in that desire to live a godly life). Do you desire to live a godly life? Have you been persecuted for doing so?
But in more keeping with the topic of governments answering to God’s judgment, I was studying the English Standard Version’s reference that a soldier (i.e. for Christ) does not get entangled in ‘civilian pursuits’ (2: 4 above). (KJV: No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.) Where the KJV uses ‘man that warreth (Middle English for one who wars)’ instead of the ESV ‘soldier’ is not an issue. (Some people really get argumentative about words that do not make a difference.) The Greek word would more likely be translated as ‘man who engages in military campaigns’ but is in many versions translated as ‘soldier’. This explanation was primarily for those who get too (overly) specific about ‘versions’, ‘translations’, and ‘specific meanings of words’. Some people wish to argue about things that in the final analysis don’t really change the meaning of the verse.
Now to the main topic, the soldier doesn’t get entangled with ‘civilian pursuits’ (ESV and a number of other versions). ‘Affairs of this life’ (KJV, and many other versions) is fine, but ‘civilian’, fits better to my thinking as it goes on to refer to the soldiers service to the one who enlisted (chose/appointed) him. Essentially, Christians are to concern themselves with living the life of good works that our Creator has called us to, which involves living a life doing the good things and sharing our Creator’s message for mankind. The Christian is not called to concern themselves with the affairs of this world (the civil affairs) as this world is ruled by Satan. If a person lives where he has the opportunity to vote for the affairs of this world, then there should be nothing wrong with understanding something of a politician’s position. But we need to remember that a politician’s ‘stated position’ is often either a lie, or based on ideals that may be beyond his reach.
Yet some people seem to get really caught up in political ‘worship’. They get so involved in playing the blame game and seeking to condemn politicians they hold responsible for this or that. They tend to forget that we are not to “wrestle against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6: 12). They tend to forget that God has established governments, though He told us that we are not to look to this world’s rulers, but to Him as our Ruler. They tend to forget that Satan is the ruler of this world, so what are we to expect from this world’s rulers? Yet, they also tend to forget that God will veto Satan with regards to matters that affect His children. So does our Creator not allow more worldly rulers for nations that are more concerned for worldly things and godly rulers for nations that devote themselves to Him. So instead of playing the ‘blame game’ with politicians, why aren’t God’s people more concerned with the condition of the people in their nation? If your nation’s leaders aren’t so godly, then how godly are the people in your nation? Have you concerned yourself with following God’s Word and praying for your leaders and praying for the state of the people in your nation? Have you concerned yourself with spreading God’s Word and praying for the people in your nation to become more godly? Or do you prefer to ignore God’s Word that teaches (2nd Timothy 2: 3- 4 above) that we are not to become entangled in ‘this world’s affairs’ (civilian affairs)? Do you prefer to continue in playing the blame game and roasting politicians that you dislike and praising politicians that you think will do a better job of running this world’s affairs, rather than leaving that in God’s hands and seeking to pray for rulers and spreading God’s Word?
I would suggest that in regard to political matters, pray for rulers, pray for people in this nation to seek God’s will, and pray for the Lord to lay on your heart what He would have you to do in regards to your own vote, but not to get ‘entangled’ in all the ‘praise for one/blame for the other’ game.
Sunday, October 25, 2015, 5:09 PM
Halloween started early in church history, even long before the reformation and before the Christian faith had any knowledge of the folk lore’s of the Northern Celtic traditions about Samhain, which some people seem to think of as the origin of Halloween. Many Christians died as martyrs in the very early church. People wanted a day to commemorate those martyrs. Though we can’t be sure about how the date for that commemoration was decided on, it seems to be that many people made pilgrimages after the fall harvest, and because of the harvest, more food was available to feed people on pilgrimage. This happened to be around the same time (according to folklore) that the North Celtics celebrated Samhain.
The term Halloween comes to us from the Old English vocabulary. “Hallow” means “holy” and evenings in Old English was shortened to ‘evens’- ‘e’ens’ and ‘eens’. The evening before a specified date or before a special event were called ‘the eve of ‘whatever day or event’. So Halloween would mean the evening before that special day (that holy day or holiday- the original meaning of ‘holiday’ was ‘holy day’). Hence, Christmas eve is the evening of December 24th, the day before Christmas day. Hence, by definition, the evening of December 24th could be called ‘halloween’ as it is the ‘even’ (or ‘een’) before the ‘hallow’ day (holy day or holiday). But Halloween as it is celebrated today was originally for Christians to memorialize ‘saints’. Scripturally, ‘saints’ is used to refer to all the ‘saved’ or ‘Christians’, but in time it came to be used primarily for martyrs, and in time for other heroes of the faith.
According to lore, in England, poor people used to use this day to go to their Christian neighbors to ask for food (those with more food to have pity on the poor with little food). It was said that if one shared their food they would be blessed (the ‘treat’), but if one did not share with the needy, they would come under a curse (the ‘trick’).
Somehow in time, children were told stories about the curses or blessings (tricks or treats- probably for the purpose of teaching Christian charity). It would be impossible to separate ‘lore’ or ‘legend’ from actual historical ‘facts’ about how everything else developed around the practice of kids dressing up and going to ask for candy with the idea of ‘curses for those who didn’t give’ and ‘blessings for those who did’ (trick or treat). What is known of the pagan holiday of Samhain is purely based on ‘lore’ and ‘legend’. Yes, there is literature from that period that discusses it, however, much of the literature was based on ‘lore’ and ‘legend’ that was handed down from earlier Northern Celtic history, so it is difficult to say how precise or accurate that literature is.
In short, while there are many churches who are denouncing the practice of Halloween as a pagan holiday, well, there is some connection to the pagan holiday, but not so much as some may have you believe. I remember dressing up as a kid and going trick-or-treating and it was fun. We were still taught the Bible, and whatever other signification Halloween may have, we learned the difference between right and wrong, and did not become Satanists or pagans because we went trick-or-treating. I believe it is good for the kids to get to ‘dress up in costume’ and go have fun. However, in today’s world, we must pay much extra attention to being careful and safe than we did in my days (what was that, about 20 or so years agos?- heehee- more like 50 years ago).
Saturday, October 24, 2015, 4:11 AM
I remember as a child enjoying the decorating, looking at, and the presents under the Christmas tree. As nice as it is to enjoy great family times, we were always reminded that Christmas was to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We were taught that no one could say for sure the exact date that Jesus was born, but that this was a day that was chosen to celebrate it. The tree was nice, and the presents were nice, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. But we must never forget that Jesus is the reason for the season. I think to some extent, some people see the splendor of the Christmas tree and set the tree up as an idol in their hearts. Some people may worship the tree, and that is not the reason for the season. Many worship the presents and even fight in stores to get what they want.
Corporate America sees Christmas as a money making season, and there are many who worship the money. Privately owned business was the intention of capitalism, so that people could venture out into life with some hope for a business to support their families, and even prosper. But corporations turned all that into conglomerate enterprises that sought more ways to make money than just to care for families. They seek ways to reduce their work forces and trim their employees pay and benefits to the bare minimum, so that many employees just barely get by, but corporate rakes in much profit, not to benefit human existence, but to benefit corporate.
But let’s get back to the tree. Many people see many things in Christmas, and much of it is centered on a splendidly decorated tree. Does the Bible say anything about such trees?
Jeremiah 10:2 Thus says the LORD: "Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, 3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. 5 Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good."
6 There is none like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is great in might. 7 Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you. 8 They are both stupid and foolish; the instruction of idols is but wood!
Again, the tree itself is neither good nor evil. I still don’t see anything wrong with the tree as a place for personal gifts and as something akin to a centerpiece on a table to add an attractiveness. But be very careful that your heart is not lifted up so much at the sight of the tree that you forget to humble your spirit to the Real Reason for the Season. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Friday, October 23, 2015, 7:23 AM
King David’s son, Absalom, was in exile for avenging his sister’s disgrace by killing the brother, Amnon, who had caused that disgrace. Joab, David’s chief general, knew that David’s heart pined for his son, and sent a woman with a hypothetical situation to demonstrate to David that he should have Absalom returned. The verse below is a part of the plea from the woman who presented the case before David.
2nd Samuel 14:14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.
We would all be banished from God’s presence eternally, except that our Heavenly Father devised a means to bring about our return (repentance) to Him. He did this by sending His Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Messiah, to teach us His desires for us and His plan for our return to Him, and to die for our sins.
Ezekiel 34:11 "For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
Much of what the prophets said to Israel and Judah has a two-fold purpose. One, they would speak of things that were to soon take place (the fall of Israel in the north and then the fall of Judah in the south); but secondarily, many of the prophecies were also a picture of things that were to happen later in world history, whether that was the birth of the promised Messiah (Jesus) or things pertaining to the end of time (eschatology). Here, Yahweh tells Ezekiel that He will seek out the sheep of His flock from all the places where they have been scattered. First, His sheep, the Israelites had been scattered during the captivities of the North and the South. We do not know what percentage of the Israelites actually returned from the exile in Babylon or how many of the twelve tribes were represented, but from Isaiah 9: 2, 3 we see that at least aside from the priests and Levites who served in the temple there were some from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. However, they were more fully scattered throughout the world when the Romans took control in 70 AD. I believe the twelve tribes are being more fully restored at this time. I believe it also speaks of the time when Jesus as Messiah would seek for the sheep from the world to come to Him.
John 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
Though Jesus had come to save all who would come to Him, in His earthly ministry He had stressed that His first mission was to the natural descendants of Abraham. Of all his healings and miracles, before His resurrection, I am only aware of two who were considered Gentiles (not Israelites). When He spoke of sheep that were “not of this fold”, it would seem evident to me that He spoke of those Israelites as being one fold, and then the Gentiles would be those of the other fold.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Thursday, October 22, 2015, 5:04 AM
The New Testament teaches that people with itchy ears would find teachers that tell them what they want to hear (2nd Timothy 4: 3). These are those that teach, preach, or prophesy things that people love to hear, but not what is in keeping with God’s Word. This is why people are not to rely on their own inclinations, but seek wisdom from the Lord (Proverbs 3: 5). We cannot get this from thinking or meditating on our own thoughts about Who God is or what He thinks, but from reading, studying, and meditating on His Word. We cannot do this by picking out our ‘favorite verses’ and thinking this contains all the information we need. We need to search all the Scriptures to get the full story. We cannot do this by saying that we have a God for today who is not like the God of old, because God is unchanging- the same from since before Genesis 1: 1 through beyond today.
Jeremiah 5: 30 An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: 31 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?
This is something to seriously consider when thinking about false teachers- it may sound good for now, but what will you do when the end comes? This forebodes the people that Jeremiah was told not to pray for. They wanted their own teachers, but rejected the Word that came from Yahweh.
Jeremiah 14:11 The LORD said to me: "Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence."
13 Then I said: "Ah, Lord GOD, behold, the prophets say to them, 'You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.'" 14 And the LORD said to me: "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.
15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, 'Sword and famine shall not come upon this land': By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them.
17 "You shall say to them this word: 'Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter of my people is shattered with a great wound, with a very grievous blow. 18 If I go out into the field, behold, those pierced by the sword! And if I enter the city, behold, the diseases of famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade through the land and have no knowledge.'"
Jeremiah 23:16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, 'It shall be well with you'; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, 'No disaster shall come upon you.'" 18 For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened?
29 Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
People really need to seriously consider their Bible study and seeing the signs of the times.