Being Watched

This may come as a surprise to you, but Christians are being watched. We’re being watched very carefully all the time, especially by nonbelievers.

And they’re not exactly rooting for us. They kind of like it when we mess up because then they can say, “You see? That’s why I’m not a Christian.”

Yet when a believer goes through difficulty and gives glory to God, it’s a powerful witness to a watching world.

Not only do nonbelievers watch Christians, but younger Christians watch older Christians. They’re wondering, “How does an older believer deal with the onslaught of age or illness or the loss of a spouse? How does an older believer deal with uncertainty and unrest in our culture?”

They look to older believers for inspiration and an example. As they should.

One day those younger believers will be the older believers, and they’ll model the same thing for the next generation.

Do you think Job knew that one day we would study his life? I think he just experienced it all in real time and was honest in the way he reacted, yet here we are still talking about him today.

Therefore, would it you give you a measure of comfort to know that by the way you face your hardships, challenges, and trials, you’re giving hope to others? God uses these things in our lives for His purposes.

Freedom

We call it the Declaration of Independence. Among other things it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The framers acknowledged that all people, from all backgrounds, have dignity before their Creator.

Our forefathers believed there is a God who guides the affairs of mankind. And they clearly founded our nation on the teachings of one book. That book is the Bible.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty.”

And Abraham Lincoln said of the Bible in 1864, “All the good the Saviour [sic] gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.”

However, in our pursuit of freedom I think we’ve lost sight of the Creator who gave us clear parameters to live by. We need to turn back to God.

Although we have forgotten Him, He has not forgotten us.

Consequences

Much like what happens with individuals, a country that ignores or rejects God suffers the consequences of that choice.

If a nation has drifted from the Lord, then even when leaders consider themselves advanced and intellectual, their thinking nevertheless becomes darkened. Soon sin is commonplace and considered acceptable among the people. As occurred among the Israelites, man’s baser nature emerges in the form of immorality, greed, and violence. Injustice reaches its peak when laws permit the oppression of those who are helpless and innocent.

The church must awaken to its responsibility: Believers are to be salt and light in this world. Each generation is called to be alert and active during its appointed time on this earth. Though nations fall away from God, today’s reading assures us that He is our ultimate hope.

After all, the passage begins with “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. God is our coming King, who will reign on earth with righteousness and justice.

Government

As important as rulers are in determining a nation’s future, its citizens also play a vital role, especially in democracies where leaders arise from within the populace. Christians who share their faith and raise children in God’s ways can influence their nation’s values and choice of rulers. When both leaders and citizens align their views with God’s, the helpless are protected, the guilty are punished, and the innocent are vindicated. 

Looking at our nation today, you might feel discouraged. But you can make a difference in your circle of influence by living compassionately and sharing the good news of Christ. The more the love and freedom of Jesus is understood, the more our nation can be blessed by its citizens.

Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis (1942)!

The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis (1942)!

“And how did you manage to bring so many souls to hell at that time? -Because of fear. -Ah, yes. Excellent strategy; old and always current. But what were they afraid of? Fear of being tortured? Fear of war? Fear of hunger? -No. -Fear of getting sick. -But then, no one else got sick at that time? -No. -Yes, they were sick. -I’m sorry. -Nobody else was dying? -Yes, they died. -But there was no cure for the disease? -There was. -Then I don’t understand. – Since no one else believed and taught about eternal life and eternal death, they thought they had only that life, and they clung to it with all their strength, even if it cost them their affection (they did not hug or greet each other, they had no human contact for days and days); their money (they lost their jobs, spent all their savings, and still thought themselves lucky to be prevented from earning their bread); their intelligence (one day the press said one thing and the next day it contradicted itself, and still they believed it all); their freedom (they did not leave their house, did not walk, did not visit their relatives. …it was a big concentration camp for voluntary prisoners! They accepted everything, everything, as long as they could overcome their miserable lives one more day. They no longer had the slightest idea that He, and only He, is the one who gives life and ends it. It was like that, as easy as it had ever been.”

Promises

Though I have walked with God for several decades, I must confess I still find much about Him incomprehensible and mysterious. But this much I know: He delights in surprising us. He dots our pilgrimage from earth to heaven with amazing serendipities.

Isaiah’s words make me smile every time I read them because I have seen their truth come to pass time and again. God still stands behind this promise:

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isa. 43:19 NIV)

Your situation may be as hot and barren as a desert or as forlorn and meaningless as a wasteland. You may be tempted to think, “There’s no way!” when someone suggests things could change. All I ask is that you read that verse one more time and be on the lookout. God may very well be planning a serendipity in your life.

God has been doing “a new thing” in drab deserts and wintry wastelands for centuries.

Creation

It’s no surprise that the creation account has always been in the crosshairs of the enemy. Since the Garden of Eden, God’s Word has suffered and withstood many aggressive attacks, all driven by one scandalous purpose—to cast doubt upon God and the integrity of His Word.

Genesis in particular, has been a favorite target. Many are saying . . . Adam was not a real person, Eden was not a real place, and the talking serpent was not a real tempter. In fact, they start with the word, “day” in Genesis 1. According to the “framework hypothesis,” day doesn’t mean a real 24-hour period of time. John MacArthur goes on to explain . . .

One popular view of creation held by many old-earth advocates is known as the “framework hypothesis.” This is the belief that the “days” of creation are not even distinct eras, but overlapping stages of a long evolutionary process. According to this view, the six days described in Genesis 1 do not set forth a chronology of any kind, but rather a metaphorical “framework” by which the creative process is described for our finite human minds.

This view was apparently first set forth by liberal German theologians in the nineteenth century, and was later adopted and propagated by some leading evangelicals, most notably the late Dr. Meredith G. Kline, an Old Testament scholar who taught at Westminster theological seminary.

The framework hypothesis starts with the view that the “days” of creation in Genesis 1 are symbolic expressions that have nothing to do with time. Framework advocates note the obvious parallelism between days one and four (the creation of light and the placing of lights in the firmament), days two and five (the separation of air and water and the creation of fish and birds to inhabit air and water), and days three and six (the emergence of the dry land and the creation of land animals)—and they suggest that such parallelism is a clue that the structure of the chapter is merely poetic. Thus, according to this theory, the sequence of creation may essentially be disregarded, as if some literary form in the passage nullified its literal meaning.

Naturally, advocates of this view accept the modern scientific theory that the formation of the earth required several billion years. They claim the biblical account is nothing more than a metaphorical framework that should overlay our scientific understanding of creation. The language and details of Genesis 1 are unimportant, they say; the only truth this passage aims to teach us is that the hand of divine Providence guided the evolutionary process. The Genesis creation account is thus reduced to a literary device—an extended metaphor that is not to be accepted at face value.

But if the Lord wanted to teach us that creation took place in six literal days, how could He have stated it more plainly than Genesis does? The length of the days is defined by periods of day and night that are governed after day four by the sun and moon. The week itself defines the pattern of human labor and rest. The days are marked by the passage of morning and evening. How could these not signify the chronological progression of God’s creative work?

The problem with the framework hypothesis is that it employs a destructive method of interpretation. If the plain meaning of Genesis 1 may be written off and the language treated as nothing more than a literary device, why not do the same with Genesis 3? Indeed, most theological liberals do insist that the talking serpent in chapter 3 signals a fable or a metaphor, and therefore they reject that passage as a literal and historical record of how humanity fell into sin. Where does metaphor ultimately end and history begin? After the flood? After the tower of Babel? And why there? Why not regard all the biblical miracles as literary devices? Why could not the resurrection itself be dismissed as a mere allegory? In the words of E. J. Young, “If the ‘framework’ hypothesis were applied to the narratives of the virgin birth or the resurrection or Romans 5:12, it could as effectively serve to minimize the importance of the content of those passages as it now does the content of the first chapter of Genesis.”

In his book, Studies in Genesis One, Young points out the fallacy of the “framework” hypothesis:

OIP (8)

The question must be raised, “If a nonchronological view of the days be admitted, what is the purpose of mentioning six days?” For, once we reject the chronological sequence which Genesis gives, we are brought to the point where we can really say very little about the content of Genesis one. It is impossible to hold that there are two trios of days, each paralleling the other. Day four . . . speaks of God’s placing the light-bearers in the firmament. The firmament, however, had been made on the second day. If the fourth and the first days are two aspects of the same thing, then the second day also (which speaks of the firmament) must precede days one and four. If this procedure be allowed, with its wholesale disregard of grammar, why may we not be consistent and equate all four of these days with the first verse of Genesis? There is no defense against such a procedure, once we abandon the clear language of the text. In all seriousness it must be asked, Can we believe that the first chapter of Genesis intends to teach that day two preceded days one and four? To ask that question is to answer it.

The simple, rather obvious, fact is that no one would ever think the time-frame for creation was anything other than a normal week of seven days from reading the Bible and allowing it to interpret itself. The Fourth Commandment makes no sense whatsoever apart from an understanding that the days of God’s creative work parallel a normal human work week.

The framework hypothesis is the direct result of making modern scientific theory a hermeneutical guideline by which to interpret Scripture. The basic presupposition behind the framework hypothesis is the notion that science speaks with more authority about origins and the age of the earth than Scripture does. Those who embrace such a view have in effect made science an authority over Scripture. They are permitting scientific hypotheses—mere human opinions that have no divine authority whatsoever—to be the hermeneutical rule by which Scripture is interpreted.

There is no warrant for that. Modern scientific opinion is not a valid hermeneutic for interpreting Genesis (or any other portion of Scripture, for that matter). Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 2:16)—inspired truth from God. “[Scripture] never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Jesus summed the point up perfectly when He said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17, KJV). The Bible is supreme truth, and therefore it is the standard by which scientific theory should be evaluated, not vice versa.

As John MacArthur wrote, proponents of the “framework hypothesis” argue the language and details of Genesis 1 are unimportant; they are only meant to show that divine Providence guided the evolutionary process.

But, if that’s really what God intended for us to take away from the first few chapters of Genesis—Providence guided evolution—then why did God provide such exact details with precise language?

The Crisis In Our Lives

Hi Kim,

A crisis hits fast, it hits hard, and it takes no prisoners. It can alter the course of your life dramatically. Pain knocks on your front door, moves in without your permission, and refuses to leave. In fact, you wouldn’t even wish it on your worst enemy, yet it’s happening to people everyday.

I do not know of many Christians who have not at some time had a crisis point in their walk with God. How we respond to such a crisis in many ways determines our future maturity as a Christ follower. The reality is there are some who once knew Jesus and walked away from their relationship with Him. This can be directly related to not properly responding to a crisis of their faith in God. If all those who have walked away were to come back to the Lord there may not be an empty seat in our churches.

This issue of responding properly to a crisis of faith becomes a paramount one for the Church. There are many outside the Church today because of it and there are many within the Church who has stunted their personal growth with God over of it. They have lost the kind of joy and zeal they once had for serving God and cannot seem to pinpoint when that happened. For many it can be traced back to a crisis time in their walk with God. When they reached a place of desperation and felt God was not there or did not provide, so they hold that against Him – even unknowingly.

What constitutes a crisis of faith? It is when we come to a pivotal point in our Christian life where events cause us to believe that we cannot go on serving God. The surface causes for such a crisis are as varied as individual experience; it could be the loss of a loved one, a financial disaster, a relationship break-up, or a job loss. But the root issues comprise several main causes. This is important to identify for it helps us to realize that we are not different from other Christians. It also helps us to weed through the particulars of our situation and see the underlying issues that have brought us to such a crisis point.

The Church

Some people don’t know how to pay compliments to others. They’re always critical, always critiquing this or that. And when they do pay a compliment, it’s more of the backhanded variety. For instance, they’ll say, “Hey! You’re on time!” or “You look great for your age!” or “You’re so pretty. Why are you still single?

image

”While there is no spiritual gift of criticism, there is the spiritual gift of exhortation, or encouraging others. The Bible says, “If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging” (Romans 12:8 NLT).
The word exhort relating to the spiritual gift of exhortation means to motivate, to stimulate, to excite, and when necessary, too correct. It’s urging someone on.Someone with the gift of teaching will tell you how to do something, but someone with the gift of exhortation motivates you to want to do it.Some people are great with the details of Greek and Hebrew, historical background, and so forth. It’s fantastic. Then others give messages that make you want to go and change the world.

The church needs both gifts today. I think Jesus gives us the model of how to properly exhort in His message to the seven churches of Revelation, and specifically to the church of Ephesus. Loosely paraphrased, here’s what Jesus said to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2: I know you guys work hard, and I know you’re discerning. I know all that you do for me, and I appreciate that. But I have this issue with you. You have left your first love. So, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works quickly.img_0159

Jesus started with compliments and affirmation, followed by a word of criticism, and then the solution.The church needs teachers, but we also need people with the gift of exhortation.

If you agree please let me know. I find I need to follow in this area a whole lot better than I do.img_0165

A PARENT’S POSITIVE INFLUENCE

Just thinking, if people would follow these ideas just maybe there kids would not be destroying our country. Just saying

Relationships—Kids are more likely to avoid the wrong crowd when they see Mom and Dad carefully choosing their own friends and then treating those people with grace and love.

Money—Before our children can use money well, they need to know that everything they earn is actually a gift from God. Wise parents both teach and model that money’s true value lies in its being a means of meeting needs and blessing others.

Vocation—Boys and girls should grow up knowing God has a plan and will for their life. And if parents always strive for excellence because they’re serving God, kids will grow up knowing everything is to be done for the Lord, regardless of who the human boss is.

Despite what the world thinks, true success is not about having the most money, the best job, or the best-looking spouse. Success means keeping a God-centered attitude and letting that spill over into all areas of life.

In Whose Hand Is The Soul

Dee Keith

Job 12:10

 

Job was battling for his life. He was battling the doubts and denunciations of his friends. He was battling the disease of his flesh. Death was imminent in his opinion. Job was engaged in a war that would never end in a truce, or know of a triumph in his days. His battle with these men called friends was over his personal honor and righteousness and that he was on the receiving end of his own just deserts for personal sin in his life. His battle was a spiritual warfare fomented by ignorance of the knowledge of God.

 

Historical Christianity is under a spiritual attack by the same hostile environments from which Job’s friends came with the same antagonistic spirit that assaults the core beliefs and teachings of Scripture. It is two fronted assault: the issue of life; that is, does life begin at conception? And, secondly, is the termination of life. 

 

Job was instructing Zophar in his rebuttal that life is divinely planned. Job was reminding this friend to look at nature, the birds, the animals, the fish of the sea, and understand that inexplicable calamities occur in the creature world. And, when they do, what do we say? It was an act of nature. It is God who gives life, however, and the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind is in His hands. It is only God that can take away the soul and breath from the living. Life is the gift of God that He alone disposes. “In Him was life,” John said, “and the life was the light of men” (Jn. 1:4). Jesus said of Himself, “I am the resurrection, and the life,” (Jn. 11:25), and “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). The Apostle Paul proclaimed a similar truth in his sermon on Mars Hill, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

A husband and wife come to together with the hope and dream of beginning a family. Then to their dismay, the wife cannot conceive for some reason, or the husband has a medical issue. We have a niece that desires so much to mother a baby and cannot. She has spent thousands of dollars for medical help to conceive but to no avail. On the opposite side are those women who have no medical issues and conceives but does not want the children they bear. Some go to the extreme of aborting a life that has been divinely planned of God. This brings in to consideration many other issues that can’t be dealt with now, but my point is that of Job, it is God that divinely plans life.

 

Why was Job battling for his life? Why was Job under such severe attack by those men that had known him and his beliefs on life for so long? If Job teaches us anything it is that the value of life is decidedly prized. Job’s wife was so grieved over his condition that she preferred to see him dead rather than suffer. “Curse God and die,” she begged her husband. His three friends were convinced that there was no hope for Job. They had witnessed death many times, and Job’s condition suggested that death was imminent. Job thought the same. There was, however, a spirit of fight left in this man of God. He treasured life. It was a gift of God, and he wasn’t ready just yet to give up the ghost. He would fight the disease. He would trust in the Lord. He would battle misunderstanding. Job prized life.

 

Job reminded these men that life is divinely preserved: “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” This was an acknowledgement and an expression of faith that his life (and all life) is the divine protection of God. Job queried his friends earlier, “Is there not an appointed time to man upon the earth” (7:1)? He would later proclaim the same truth, “If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of mine appointed time will I wait, till my change come” (14:14).

It has been the firm belief that the days of man are appointed, or that we have a determined number of days. Our birth and death is in the hands of an all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving God. The birth of a baby in according to the will of God, and the taking of the breath of life from the living is also according to the same Divine Will. There are unexplained mysteries about early death, premature death, unexplained death, that is true. But the Biblical truth is that the Lord gives and takes life. This we are reminded of in Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die.” Before that unwanted death, however, is life; the gift of life, that only the great God of heaven and earth gives and preserves for us. May we decidedly prize, cherish, and treasure the life the Lord has given to us.

The Bible

The Bible’s first book never explains God; it simply assumes His existence: “In the beginning, God…” (1:1). Chapters 1 and 2 describe how God created the universe and everything in it simply by speaking: “God said…and it was so” (1:6–7, 9, 11, 14–15). Humans, however, received special handling, as “God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (2:7), and woman was crafted from a rib of man.

Those first two people, Adam and Eve, live in perfection but ruined paradise by disobeying God at the urging of a “subtil” (crafty, 3:1) serpent. Sin throws humans into a moral freefall as the world’s first child—Cain—murders his brother Abel. People become so bad that God decides to flood the entire planet, saving only the righteous Noah, his family, and an ark (boat) full of animals. After the earth repopulates, God chooses a man named Abram as patriarch of a specially blessed people, later called “Israel” after an alternative name of Abram’s grandson Jacob.

Genesis ends with Jacob’s son Joseph, by a miraculous chain of events, ruling in Egypt—setting up the events of the following book of Exodus. QUOTABLE God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (1:3) The LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? (4:9) Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (6:8) He [Abram] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (15:6) UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL Genesis quickly introduces the concept of one God in multiple persons, a concept later called the Trinity: “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (1:26, emphasis added).

Also early on, God gives a hint of Jesus’ future suffering and victory when He curses the serpent for deceiving Eve: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (3:15). SO WHAT? Genesis answers the great question “Where did I come from?” Knowing the answer can give us meaning in a world that’s otherwise hard to figure out.

You and Sin

If you can’t be happy in your sin, that’s a good sign. True believers are never happy when they’re out of fellowship with God.

And if you’re out of fellowship with God, if you’ve sinned against the Lord, then you’ll be an unhappy person.

When the Devil looks for a Christian to take down, he looks for the one who’s following at a distance. He looks for the person who says, “Do we have to go to church again? Didn’t we do that last week? Read the Bible? Really? Again?”

Children of God hunger for these things. Compromisers on the other hand, only do them out of duty. And if no one is encouraging them to do these things, then they don’t do them.

If you’re following the Lord at a distance, you will end up in the miserable no-man’s-land of compromise. And in that dismal place you will have too much of the Lord to be happy in the world, and too much of the world to be happy in the Lord.

Don’t be that person.

Praying

Not praying when we need to can actually be a sin. It’s the sin of omission. A sin of omission is not doing what you should do, while a sin of commission is doing what you should not do. The Bible says, Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

And neglecting to pray is a direct result of the sin of self-confidence. And instead of praying, we usually worry (as though that will help).

So, we don’t say, “I can handle this, God,” or “I’ll fix that, Lord.” Instead, we need to pray about it. We need to say, “Lord, I need your help right now. I’m at the point where I’m tired of trusting in myself, and I’m calling out to you, Lord.

A destructive sin

Selfishness is a consuming and destructive sin. The first and inevitable casualty is the person who manifests it, even if no one else is harmed. Because this sin, like every other, begins in a sinful heart, anyone can commit it—regardless of whether there is an opportunity for it to be outwardly expressed. Even when not outwardly manifested, selfishness breeds anger, resentment, and jealousy. . . .

It is an immeasurable tragedy that modern culture (including much of the church) has, largely through the influence of secular psychology, rejected the divinely commanded principles of humility and selflessness. When the supreme virtue is self-love and the supreme purpose in life is self-fulfillment, mutual respect is replaced by disrespect, mutual service by apathy and indifference, and mutual love by enmity and hatred. [1]

Christians must not succumb to such a selfish lifestyle, and the other sinful attitudes it breeds. That’s why the apostle Paul points our focus away from ourselves.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Satisfaction

The things that bring us joy and satisfaction in our everyday lives are gifts from the Lord, given to enjoy, of course, but also to serve as important reminders of the satisfaction He promises.

In His love and mercy, God promises much: to faithfully stay with us , give us wisdom, fulfill every need we have, meet us where we are, and reveal what we’re to say in hard situations to name a few. We can look to these promises as we wait for His return, knowing that each earthly joy is but a glimpse of what is to come.

Think of something you genuinely enjoy or find satisfying. Is it easy to see this as a reminder of the joy God offers?

When Christ’s promises are realized, our souls will be satisfied. How does reflecting on His promises help you in your pursuit of righteousness and, ultimately, eternal satisfaction?

God’s Favor

God delights in granting special grace and favor to those whose hearts are set on pleasing Him. For example, “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” and was spared the ravages of the Flood (Gen. 6:8). Joseph found favor in His sight and was elevated to prominence in Egypt (Gen. 39—41). God granted Moses and the children of Israel favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and they were able to plunder Egypt in the Exodus.

Today God’s favor is the special grace He grants His children in times of need. It is especially evident when their obedience brings persecution. The apostle Peter wrote, This finds favor [grace], if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. . . . If when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor [grace] with God.

Have you suffered lately because you took a stand for Christ.

Are we doomed and helpless

Unbelievers are doomed to live their lives with a sense of helplessness surrounded by anarchy. Desires for true peace, safety, and lasting prosperity are unattainable, particularly for those who subscribe to atheistic and evolutionary belief systems.

Those worldviews teach us that events are random, our origins accidental, our lives meaningless, and tragedy inevitable. Those who close their eyes to the one true God remain blind to His divine plans and purposes. As John MacArthur argues, contentment can only be found through trust in God’s providence:

So I say to you

Until we truly learn that God is sovereign, ordering everything for His own holy purposes and the ultimate good of those who love Him, we can’t help but be discontent. That’s because in taking on the responsibility of ordering our lives, we will be frustrated in repeatedly discovering that we can’t control everything. Everything already is under control, however, by Someone far greater than you or I.

A synonym for God’s providence is divine provision, but that’s a skimpy label for a complex theological reality. Providence is how God orchestrates everything to accomplish His purposes. Let me show you what that means by contrast.

There are two ways God can act in the world: by miracle and by providence. A miracle has no natural explanation. In the flow of normal life, God suddenly stems the tide and injects a miracle. Then He sets the flow back in motion, just like parting the Red Sea until His people could walk across and closing it up again. Do you think it would be easier to do that—to say, “Hold it, I want to do this miracle” and do it—or to say, “Let’s see, I’ve got 50 billion circumstances to orchestrate to accomplish this one thing”? The latter is providence. Think, for example, of how God providentially ordered the lives of Joseph, Ruth, and Esther. Today He does the same for us.

Sharing Jesus

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

The Bible clearly tells believers to proclaim the gospel to all people. Yet, while we certainly want others to know Jesus, many of us become paralyzed at the thought of engaging in spiritual conversations. If that describes you, take heart—you’re in good company. 

Many believers have fears about sharing the gospel, but Jesus calls us to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). So lean on the Spirit, who gives us the mind of Christ. Then, no matter the obstacles, you will be able to proclaim the Savior’s love.

While sharing our faith, many of us have been asked questions we didn’t feel prepared to answer. The awkwardness of such moments can make us hesitant to share, but that’s why it’s important to remember we’re not on our own. 

Knowing we would need encouragement in such situations, Jesus told His followers, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26). Don’t forget that the omniscient Spirit of God lives within every Christian, and He knows the best way to respond to any comment or question. But for Him to “bring to … remembrance” the truths of Scripture, we have responsibility to spend time in the Bible regularly. Then the word of Christ can “richly dwell within” us (Col. 3:16). 

When we run into questions for which we don’t have the answer, it’s fine to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll look into it.” And there may be times that others approach spiritual topics with hostility. Then, remember Paul’s wisdom: “Let your speech always be with grace … so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Col. 4:6). Gracious words and a winsome attitude reflect Christlikeness, even in those moments when you might not have an answer on the tip of your tongue.

Blind no more

John 9:25 New International Version (NIV)

If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, here’s what I know about you without even knowing you: Once you were blind, but now you see.

That’s a common phrase we use today, but it came from a New Testament story about a blind man. Jesus saw this man and healed him in an unorthodox way. He spit on the ground, stirred it around in some dirt, and then put it on the man’s eyes. Then Jesus told him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.

That is the power of a changed life.

I think people are often surprised that we weren’t always the way we are now. I don’t know where they think Christians come from, but they seem to put us all in one giant category. Then we mess with their narrative when we say, “Hold on. I didn’t always believe this. I used to believe this way” or “I used to live another way.”

Everyone has a story to tell. So, let’s look for opportunities to start evangelistic conversations.

Is America Doomed

I seen a lot of things in my long life but nothing compares to what is going on right now in this country. I can’t put it into the right words as this young man can. He hit’s it all on the head like a hammer on a nail. Take a few minutes of your time and listen to what’s going to happen in this country if things and people don’t wake up. Some people I know won’t except the facts, and some are scared to death of what is going on right now in America.

Here is the next part if you aren’t to afraid to listen.

Serving God

One of the characteristics of a fallen human nature is the rejection of what’s best.

This began all the way back in the garden of Eden, when Satan tempted Eve to rebel against God and exert her tight to determine her own course. Ever since, people have been pursuing their desires base on self-interest. It’s understandable that this is the world’s mindset, sadly, though it is also the attitude of many Christians, who attend church but consider serving an encroachment on their time.

            Such self-centered reasoning is grounded in three misconceptions.

  1. We don’t understand who God is. He’s the divine Creator of the universe and the sovereign Ruler over heaven and earth. He redeemed us from sin with the precious blood of His Son. He purchased us from slavery to sin. In that way we become His Slaves, who serve Him out of Love and Gratitude.
  2. We don’t understand why we are here. We were created to worship and serve God. This is our destiny and the way we glorify Him.
  3. We don’t understand the Lord’s great purpose in the world. He is building His Kingdom, and we have been commissioned to be involved in this process by ministering to one another and proclaiming the gospel near and far.

God intended Christian service to be a divine privilege, a fulfilling opportunity, and an avenue of blessing. To say we can’t fit it into our schedule is a rejection of what God has commanded and ordained as best. But the truth is, what we forfeit by not serving is far greater than anything we could gain by selfishly pursuing our own way.

Walk properly

Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy” (Romans 13:13 NKJV).

Let me put that into the modern vernacular: Don’t party and drink. Have you ever been in a place where a group of people are drinking, and they get louder and louder? Pretty soon no one even knows what they’re laughing at.

The Christian should be under the control of the Holy Spirit not alcohol or drugs. Ephesians 5:18 tells us, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (NLT).

Then there is the word: lewdness, which comes from a Greek term that simply means “bed.” It holds the same connotation as two people going to bed together. We understand that doesn’t mean taking a nap.

The word lust in this verse doesn’t merely describe a person given over to immorality. It describes someone who is living immorally but is incapable of feeling shame. It’s shameless excess and the complete absence of restraint.

In other words, this is a person who not only lives immorally, but they proclaim it. They flaunt it. They’re proud of it.

It frightens me when I hear of Christians engaging in sexual activity outside of God’s constraints, having affairs, extramarital sex, and premarital sex.

The Bible is saying that should not be true of us. So, don’t live that way.

Strong Faith

The key to rock-solid faith is an intimate relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Upon salvation, we are grafted into the vine of Christ, which means that His Spirit lives and works in us and provides a constant connection between Father and child. Abiding in God gets us through hard times.

However, we have to choose to tap into that power. Trying to keep things from God’s control could interfere with His plans and cause our relationship with Him to grow distant. But when we commit to knowing God through prayer, meditation, and obedience, His power flows through us, like sap through a branch, bringing new growth. 

Intimacy helps us trust the Lord when life gets difficult. And the more we abide—especially during hard times—the more we grow into unshakeable “oaks of righteousness” (Isa. 61:3).

The Church

For the church, the most difficult criticism has arisen from within, from false professors who once claimed to support it and its leaders. Paul came to know the disappointment and distress of being torn down when his detractors at Philippi assailed him even while he sat in prison. But he is a model of how one can rise above such pain and discouragement.

Paul’s main detractors were his fellow preachers who proclaimed the same gospel as he did. They were not at odds with him over doctrine but over personal matters. Paul’s detractors were envious of his ministry gifts and the way God had blessed his efforts with many converts and numerous churches.

Contending with the detractors at Philippi was not a completely new trial for Paul. He had previously learned patience in dealing with the letdowns caused by other supposed supporters. Now his opponents were testing his patience to the extreme as they sought to destroy his credibility with his supporters.

The detractors’ tactics might have unsettled the faith of some in the churches, but not Paul’s confidence. He stood up to all the unpleasantness with joy because, as our verse indicates, he knew the cause of Christ was still being advanced.

Paul’s exemplary behavior under fire provides an obvious lesson for us: no amount of false and unfair criticism should steal our joy in Christ and His gospel. And we can keep rejoicing if we, like Paul, stay devoted to our top priority, proclaiming and glorifying the name of Christ.

Our Country

Now consider our country. We, too, are a nation that largely disregards the Lord, one that has turned away from Him and embraced idols. Maybe ours aren’t statues of stone, but we worship money, athletic ability, fame, politics, and reputation. Over time, we’ve removed the Lord from many aspects of public life. What was once a nation founded on godly principles has become a country that tolerates a variety of sins.

When Israel turned its back on the Lord, God’s wrath was inevitable unless the people repented and made Him Lord once again. As believers, we have responsibility to pray that God will draw our heart, and the heart of our country, back to Himself, and that He will help the gospel and truth spread through our land.

The Lord of the Sabbath

Brother Dee Keith


Matthew 12:15

It was the Sabbath day. The day began not unlike most other Sabbath days for Jesus and the disciples who were traveling somewhere through Galilee in the vicinity of Capernaum. But this day would turn eventful and ultimately lead to an event that would help change the course of history for both the Jewish people and the Gentiles. As they walked, the twelve passed through a cornfield and hunger overcame them. The disciples did what most hungry people would do, they plucked ears of corn, shucked them, and ate. This was allowable according to the Mosaic Law. The problem was, today was not just another day; it was the Sabbath. But, according to the strict interpretation of the Pharisees, Jesus and His men were in violation of the law. And because they were sticklers of the law, they quickly brought this error to the attention of the popular Rabbi.

This wasn’t the first run-in between Jesus and the Pharisees. It would be, however, one key event of many that would eventually have the Pharisees collaborate with the Sadducees and Herodians to have Jesus murdered. They feared Him. They feared His popularity among the people. They feared His implausible and inexplicable power to heal the sick, to free the demonized, and to raise the dead. They couldn’t refute His power. He had done it all and a number of the Pharisees had witnessed them. So amazing were these feats that some of their own rank had broken rank and become believers and followers of Him.
They feared Him. They hated Him. This wouldn’t be the last of the run-ins either. Other run-ins would be even stronger and more contentious. Jesus of Nazareth was one of those people that you either loved or hated. If you knew anything about Him, you either loved Him or hated Him, worshiped Him or loathed Him.


There was no neutrality, no middle ground of feelings, no straddling the fence. Sometimes it seemed as if Jesus picked a fight with the Pharisees; but He didn’t. He used occasions like this Sabbath day to expose the errors of Pharisaism, their traditions and rituals, to teach and explain the true spiritual intent of the law and the prophets and God’s given truth. In this instance, it was about the Sabbath day and on it.

In recounting this event, Matthew first showed the great misunderstanding that focused on Him. Some Pharisees were traveling alongside of the Lord and His disciples when they passed through the cornfield and the disciples became hungry and, being hungry, they plucked some ears of corn, pulled off the husks and began to eat. The Pharisees immediately took exception to their action and said to Jesus, “Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day” (2). The misunderstanding wasn’t on the part of the disciples and Jesus, but by the Pharisees who believed they knew the law but did not. The Law of Moses said, “When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor’s standing corn” (Dt. 23:25).


H. A. Ironside wrote in his commentary, “There was absolutely no prohibition in the law of Moses in regard to this, but in the traditions of the elders there were many added laws and regulations that made it at times almost impossible for the ordinary man to know whether he was violating one of them or not. Among these rules was the prohibition to gather fruit or grain of any kind upon the Sabbath day, and even to rub it out in the hand as the disciples were doing seemed to these Pharisees a violation of that which they regarded as sacred.” To demonstrate the flawed teaching and tradition of the Pharisees regarding their interpretation of the Sabbath and the law, the Lord cited an incident from the life of David when he and his men entered the house of God and ate the “shewbread that was not lawful to eat” except for the priests (1 Sa. 21:5-6). David ate even though it was ‘unlawful’ for him to do so, yet the Old Testament did not condemn him for his act.

Therefore, the Pharisees should not condemn Jesus’ disciples for doing something Scripture did not condemn David’s men for doing. Jesus was arguing that His authority should override the Law more than their view of the Sabbath should. Furthermore, if they wanted to be strict interpreters of the law, technically, the priests broke the Sabbath law every week when changing the consecrated bread and offering the burnt offerings the Law specified for the week (5). Were they violating their law? They were not. The Law considered the priests guiltless (innocent) for doing this ‘work’ on the Sabbath. The point in these two illustrations is that “even a divine prohibition, if it relates to mere ceremonial matter, melts, like wax, before even bodily necessities” (Alexander MacLaren). Mark summed up this point with the words of the Lord Jesus, when He said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mk. 2:27-28).

Apparently on the same Sabbath day, maybe just a few hours after the first incident, Jesus and the disciples entered the synagogue where the next confrontation occurred. The Pharisees were waiting and a man with a withered hand was in attendance. It’s within the realm of possibility that this was a staged event by the Pharisees who planted the man and hoped to entrap the Master. Jesus had just declared to these infidels that he was the Lord of the Sabbath, now He would demonstrate it to them in the great mercy that flowed from Him. The Pharisees asked, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him” (10). Answering them, Jesus said, “What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep?


Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days” (11-12). The malice of the Pharisees was countered with the mercy of the Physician, and Jesus said, “Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.” To these legalists, ritualism was more important than restoration. Ceremony was more important than compassion. Their cause (the law) was of greater importance than a cured man. Their darkened heart revealed their deep hatred of Christ as “the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him” (14). Spiros Zodhiates said on this, “They actually thought that preserving the law of the Sabbath and even killing someone for breaking it was more important than showing mercy to a suffering person. In contrast, Jesus did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it (Mt 5:17).” In seeking to destroy Jesus, however, they damned their own soul.

Knowing the thoughts and intents of the Pharisees, Jesus withdrew Himself and left. When He departed from there, so did many others. Matthew was impressed with the great multitude that followed Him for he said, “great multitudes followed him”. This isn’t just an incidental (secondary) note, nor is it insignificant. The unnumbered many were watched everything Jesus did and listened intently to the exchange that took place between the Pharisees and Him. The significance of this truth is formed in the verb followed. Where His works and words were rejected by Israel’s spiritual leaders, they were received by the ordinary man and woman. Some who followed Him were insincere and uncommitted at this point. Many, many others, however, were now inquisitive and sincere followers. One writer has commented that followed can be interpreted to mean that they had become believers and were now His disciples.

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. The question really is, is He the Lord of you?

The Bible

I ran across this and thought I would share it. It made me think for a long time. Among other things, the Bible is a very honest book. It tells us when our heroes mess up.

The Bible tells us, for example, that after Noah filled an ark with a bunch of stinky animals, bobbed around in the ocean, and came to the new place God created for him, he went out and got drunk.

The Bible also tells us that Abraham, the father of faith, lied on multiple occasions.

David, the man after God’s own heart, committed adultery and then effectively committed murder to hide his adultery.

The mighty Samson, who could do supernatural feats of strength with the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, made many bad decisions and reaped the consequences.

When we come to the New Testament, we read of Simon Peter’s sins and lapses.

Now, if it were up to me, I would have left all those unfavorable details out. But the Bible includes them because they happened.

On the other hand, we read of other men and women of the Bible and don’t find any accounts of them compromising or struggling with any sin. It is not that they didn’t, but the Bible doesn’t mention it.

We don’t know of any sin that Joseph committed, except maybe bragging to his family about his dreams and being a little too proud of his cool coat.

Also, we don’t read of any sin that Daniel or his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego committed.

So, we see that some believers struggled more than others. Here’s what it comes down to: we choose what kind of Christian life we want to live.

If you want to live in constant struggle with sin, you can live that way. Or, you can live in newness of life by the power of the Holy Spirit, which has been provided for you by Jesus Christ through the cross.

Holy Spirit

We ask our Father to fill us with His Holy Spirit. Then we ask Him to reveal to us what our gifts are. This is still a problem today. There’s a lot of ignorance about spiritual gifts.

Whether this is because we neglect our spiritual gifts or don’t understand them, we miss out on them. Maybe one reason is that we’ve seen excess in this area, causing us to recoil.

People sometimes do rather strange things in the name of the Holy Spirit. So we say, “Well, I don’t want that in my life.”

Yet, every believer has been given gifts of the Spirit if he or she is filled with the Spirit.

Jesus said, If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! (Luke 11:13 )

God goes out of His way to find the most unexpected instruments to use for His glory. That includes you. He has given you spiritual gifts. Maybe you’ve never discovered them, so you need to start praying about what they are.

Make an effort, and see what you can do for God’s glory. Because the church needs you, and you need the church. We’re a family, though not a perfect one.

So, find your place, and when you do you’ll find that church will change radically for you.

Christian's Commentary

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