Friday, July 31, 2015

True Wealth - July 31, 2015



Luke 12:15-21 (New International Reader's Version)15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against wanting to have more and more things. Life is not made up of how much a person has."

16 Then Jesus told them a story. He said, "A certain rich man's land produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, 'What should I do? I don't have any place to store my crops.' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my storerooms and build bigger ones. I will store all my grain and my other things in them. 19 I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things stored away for many years. Take life easy. Eat, drink and have a good time." ' 20 "But God said to him, 'You foolish man! This very night I will take your life away from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

21 "That is how it will be for anyone who stores things away for himself but is not rich in God's eyes."

One of the biggest problems in today's society is the proper focus concerning money and the accumulation of wealth. We all get caught up in the pursuit of more and more money. What is your focus in regards to money and what you have been blessed with? Is it to save what you receive only for material possessions and retirement?

In the Book of Luke's version of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was asked to resolve a dispute a man had with his brother, concerning the fair division of their inheritance. Questioning the man as to why he was asking Jesus to be the judge and arbitrator, he related the parable noted above. Note that we are told that the man was rich, and that his lands produced a good crop.

Obviously he had been very blessed, and since "all good things come from above", the right focus would have been to acknowledge God for His blessings, and to seek God as to how he should distribute what he had been given. Instead, the man was focused only on himself, and on top of hoarding what he had for himself, he desired to store away even more. Because of the man's foolish focus on only himself, God takes it all away, even the man's life.

Jesus's teaching is very clear here, and it gives us great food for thought as we consider what true wealth is all about. God provides us with everything we have; our money and possessions; our very lives. He expects us to have proper focus in regards to the blessings He gives us. The message to the man and audience as well is that his concern is wrongly placed in God's mind.

First, we need to always acknowledge that God is our provider, and second, we need to seek Him when it comes to how we use what we have been given. Third, we need to share the blessings that come to us, be it money or financial, or be it talent or ability. In God's economy it does not matter the amount of money and wealth you have, but the heart in which it is received and how it is ultimately utilized. As you increase your understanding about true wealth, seek the riches God offers in your investment in the eternal.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Don't Give Up - July 30, 2015


Galatians 6:9(New King James Version)
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9(New Century Version)
9 We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up.

There are times in this life when we feel like quitting; times when the burdens and difficulties become so large that we don't think we have it in us anymore to survive. We thought that as Christians that somehow this would all be easier, that we would be insulated from the "bad" things.

But we were never promised that life would be nothing but "smooth sailing", and Jesus warned us that by following Him, we would even have more trouble. Many in this world face constant persecution and some even death, because of their love and service for Jesus.

Everyone goes through times of trouble, and if you aren't going through it now, you will very soon in the future. The great thing about following Jesus Christ is that in the trouble, He promises to be with us. God's plan is not that we won't have trouble, but that we will be refined and stronger for it, and that in facing our difficulties, we will be better prepared when future difficulties come. And if our trouble is because of service to Him, then He will have a place for us in eternity.

Whatever you are going through right now, don't give up. God has a plan for your life, and He will help you as you go through it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Salvation: the Cliff Notes - July 29, 2015

 
Ephesians 2:1-10(New Living Translation)
1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Okay, here it is. No mumbo jumbo, no colorful rhetoric, just the facts. Here in a few verses is the entirety of salvation; the "Cliff Notes" of what happened that saved you from eternal damnation. It is a truth that is so simple that even the illustration of it is simple. The fact is that there is nothing that mankind can do to be saved; only God could have done it for us. Then why is it so hard for people to believe?

Here we are living in a world, that would rather deny the truth of Jesus Christ than to accept a simple message and simple path to being saved from our sinful selves. Why is it easier for us to hide or deny our sin than it is to accept God's message? There are even faiths that call themselves "Christian" that still cannot accept the truth of the message above? They would rather teach that you can be accepted by God for stuff you do, than to accept the truth that He did it for us.

I know that there are those who read my postings that feel that I have "gone off the deep-end" sometimes, but above my post is a "Once Upon a Time..." story with a happy ending. Isn't it time you believed the message that God is trying to give you as a free gift?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Praising Non-Conformity - July 28, 2015


Romans 12:2 (New Living Translation)
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.


All of our lives we strive to be like other people and to be liked by other people. Especially as teens, we were very sensitive to being like everybody else. We would copy people's clothes and the hair, the way they did things or how they acted. We did everything we could to be acceptable to those around us. As we become adults, nothing much changes, because we want to be accepted by the world!

In God's economy, what drives His opinion of us is what we do with what unique gifts and talents He has given us. He doesn't want us to copy everybody else; He wants us to take what He has given us and do something in service to Him, which is going and making disciples. What we need to do is to understand and know our gifts and talents, then seek God in finding His purpose for what He has given us.

As long as we reflect the world's purposes, our image of what God wants is blurred and we can't distinguish what is what. When we begin to reflect God in our lives, by being obedient to what He tells us to do in His word, then it is much easier to see His direction for our lives. He begins to open up opportunities in the very thing He has made us to do. Then it is our obligation to go out and do it.

Bottom line is this: Don't try and copy what the world places in front of us(don't get trapped into seeking to be like those in the world). Instead follow what we are told in the Bible pleases God, and seek to use our God given abilities to be more like His example for us, Jesus Christ. In doing so, we will know and do His will for our lives.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Found Out - July 27, 2015


1 Timothy 5:24-25(New Living Translation)
24 Remember, the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later. 25 In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious. And the good deeds done in secret will someday come to light.


There is a natural law that exists in life, and that is that when you do wrong, whether blatant or in secret, it will always be found out. The best example of this was when our kids are young. No matter what they did wrong, and especially if they tried to hide it, we as parents always found out. After awhile, they soon learned that it was better to behave, or quickly confess when they did something wrong, rather than to be discovered later.

Unfortunately the lessons don't always carry over to adulthood, and yet the consequences are much more severe. It's easy to see when people are doing wrong, but even though others may do their wrongdoing in secret, they will eventually be found out. That is just the way it is in this life that God has given us; our sins will always be found out, and they will always require justice.

There is a contrast to that when many who do good things out in the open get recognized for their good efforts, but even those good things we do for others in secret, God will eventually reward us. Just as the sinful receive justice, the good works done for God will receive reward.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Praise! - July 26, 2015

Psalm 146 (New International Version, ©2010)
1 Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, my soul.

2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.

6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

What Do You Believe? Now What? - July 25, 2015


Colossians 2:6-15(New Living Translation)
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

We have explored several proofs for your belief in Jesus Christ, and you have accepted Him as your personal Lord and Savior. Now what should you do? How can you take your new found faith and make it work for you? And, if you have been a believer in Jesus for a long time, but you have just now had your faith "clarified" and you now understand the full extent of your relationship; now what?

Paul in writing to believers in Colossi gave wise counsel to help answer those very questions. In the verses above, he made it clear to them what they had experienced, and he warned them about what the world and people of other faiths would throw at them. He also gave them sound instruction of what salvation had done for them, so that they would not be easily swayed by what others would tell them.

God has given us a tremendous gift! He has done what no other faith or religion or human philosophy could do; He has given you new life in Jesus Christ. He has taken your old sinful self, and taken away the just penalty for your sin. Jesus Christ has personally paid the price so that you wouldn't have to, and now you can be free from the burden you once had to carry on your own.

Now that you believe and have been given such a gift, you need to build your life on that truth. Stand up for Jesus and make sure that you help others to stand with you.

Friday, July 24, 2015

What Do You Believe? Are You Ready to Defend It? - July 24, 2015


1 Peter 3:13-17(New International Version)
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”[Isaiah 8:12]

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

For centuries the Christian faith has withstood scrutiny, criticism, heresy, slander and every attempt to destory it. Other faiths and religions have tried to fill the vacuum that is in people's hearts, but no other can measure up as the faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. No other belief can stand up to the fact that God the Son has done the work necessary for us to be reconciled to Him for eternity.

The other belief systems are weak humanistic attempts to have us earn our way to God, or they choose to ignore Him and replace God with fantastic tales and other gods. Even people's feeble attempt to replace God with the material trappings of this fallen world, fail to bring ultimate peace to all those who seek after it. Only belief in the salvation of mankind through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ can free the human heart from the weight, guilt and shame of sin fill the heartfelt vacuum and bring true lasting peace.

As you consider what you believe, I would pray that your belief would be in the God that has reached down in His love to those He has made. I would pray that you would surrender yourself to Jesus Christ and commit to following Him in humility and obedience. And when you do, you need to be ready to defend your belief in Him, by doing the study necessary to know what is real and what is a counterfeit.

The wonderful thing is that when you do commit your life to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God takes up residence in your heart to  reveal the truth and confirm your belief. In doing so, God's love comes full circle in drawing you to Him, revealing Himself, and helping you to understand the nature of His love. Only then can you be ready to take a stand for your belief in Jesus no matter the outcome for doing so.

The Apostle Pauls Trial by Bodarevsky , Nikolai Kornilovich ( 1850 1921 ) , Russia , . Regional Art Museum , Uzhgorod , oil on canvas

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What Do You Believe? God Speaks for Himself - July 23, 2015



Isaiah 44 (Amplified Bible)A Revelation to the Prophet Isaiah from God, 2700 years ago.

1YET NOW hear, O Jacob, My servant and Israel, whom I have chosen.2Thus says the Lord, Who made you and formed you from the womb, Who will help you: Fear not, O Jacob, My servant, and you Jeshurun [the upright one--applied to Israel as a type of the Messiah], whom I have chosen.

3For I will pour water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit upon your offspring, and My blessing upon your descendants.(John 7:37-39 NIV)

4And they shall spring up among the grass like willows or poplars by the watercourses.

5One will say, I am the Lord's; and another will call himself by the name of Jacob; and another will write [even brand or tattoo] upon his hand, I am the Lord's, and surname himself by the [honorable] name of Israel.

6Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the First and I am the Last besides Me there is no God.(Revelation 22:13 NIV)
Do you realize that this is Jesus speaking through an Old Testament prophet?


When you are determining what you believe, it is important to listen to what God has to say about Himself. Each and everyday I have tried to pass on the things that His Spirit places upon my heart, and sometimes I may not say it exactly as He would want me to. So, I am letting God let you know what He thinks. We are indeed living in exceptional times. No one can say that they have ever experienced times like these before. I really feel that we need to listen to God's word for explanations and answers for how we should handle what we are going through as a Nation and as individuals.

The verse by verse dissection and interpolation is from the Amplified Bible. They do a great job of helping us understand the meaning behind the text. I would encourage you to take a few minutes in a quite place, pray for understanding, and read and reflect on what God is saying. You will be amazed how clearly you hear His message to us today. I will take the liberty of adding my thoughts in a few places. Oh by the way, be sure to follow the bible reference links I have added and read the accompanying passages as well. This blog is a bit long, but the exercise and reading will be worth it.

7Who is like Me? Let him [stand and] proclaim it, declare it, and set [his proofs] in order before Me, since I made and established the people of antiquity. [Who has announced from of old] the things that are coming? Then let them declare yet future things.

8Fear not, nor be afraid [in the coming violent upheavals]; have I not told it to you from of old and declared it? And you are My witnesses! Is there a God besides Me? There is no [other] Rock(Matthew 16:13-20 NIRV); I know not any.


God speaks with His own authority; He alone determines and knows all things!

9All who make graven idols are confusion, chaos, and worthlessness. Their objects (idols) in which they delight do not profit them, and their own witnesses (worshipers) do not see or know, so that they are put to shame.

10Who is [such a fool as] to fashion a god or cast a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

11Behold, all his fellows shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen, [how can they make a god?] they are but men. Let them all be gathered together, let them stand forth; they shall be terrified, they shall be put to shame together.

God now is describing those today who run after the "idols" in their lives and do not seek Him.

12The ironsmith sharpens and uses a chisel and works it over the coals; he shapes [the core of the idol] with hammers and forges it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint.

13The carpenter stretches out a line, he marks it out with a pencil or red ocher; he fashions [an idol] with planes and marks it out with the compasses; and he shapes it to have the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, that it may dwell in a house.

14He hews for himself cedars, and takes the holm tree and the oak and lets them grow strong for himself among the trees of the forest; he plants a fir tree or an ash, and the rain nourishes it.

15Then it becomes fuel for a man to burn; a part of it he takes and warms himself, yes, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. [Then out of the remainder, the leavings] he also makes a god and worships it! He [with his own hands] makes it into a graven image and falls down and worships it!

16He burns part of the wood in the fire; with part of it he [cooks and] eats flesh, he roasts meat and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire!

17And from what is left [of the log] he makes a god, his graven idol. He falls down to it, he worships it and prays to it and says, Deliver me, for you are my god!

That is just like us human beings! We fashion "idols" for ourselves of a job, or possessions, or money, or relationships, etc., without realizing that all we are and all we receive is only because of God. He has made all things and He alone determines our path.

18They do not know or understand, for their eyes God has let become besmeared so that they cannot see, and their minds as well so that they cannot understand.

19And no one considers in his mind, nor has he knowledge and understanding [enough] to say [to himself], I have burned part of this log in the fire, and also I have baked bread on its coals and have roasted meat and eaten it. And shall I make the remainder of it into an abomination [the very essence of what is disgusting, detestable, and shamefully vile in the eyes of a jealous God]? Shall I fall down and worship the stock of a tree [a block of wood without consciousness or life]?

20That kind of man feeds on ashes [and finds his satisfaction in ashes]! A deluded mind has led him astray, so that he cannot release and save himself, or ask, Is not [this thing I am holding] in my right hand a lie?

Because we fail to recognize that God has given all to us, we unwittingly take credit and assume that what we have and do is because of our own efforts, and we rely on ourselves at our own peril.

21Remember these things [earnestly], O Jacob, O Israel, for you are My servant! I formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you shall not be forgotten by Me.

22I have blotted out like a thick cloud your transgressions, and like a cloud your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

The New Living Translation says it this way, "I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” Do you realize what you are reading here? Here is a prophecy about what Jesus would come to earth and do for us 700 years in the future from this writing. This is amazing stuff!

23Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, you depths of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and He glorifies Himself in Israel.

24Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and He Who formed you from the womb: I am the Lord, Who made all things, Who alone stretched out the heavens, Who spread out the earth by Myself [who was with Me]?--

25[I am the Lord] Who frustrates the signs and confounds the omens [upon which the false prophets' forecasts of the future are based] of the [boasting] liars and makes fools of diviners, Who turns the wise backward and makes their knowledge foolishness,(1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV)

26[The Lord] Who confirms the word of His servant and performs the counsel of His messengers, Who says of Jerusalem, She shall [again] be inhabited, and of the cities of Judah, They shall [again] be built, and I will raise up their ruins,

27Who says to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up your rivers,

28Who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd (ruler), and he shall perform all My pleasure and fulfill all My purpose--even saying of Jerusalem, She shall [again] be built, and of the temple, Your foundation shall [again] be laid.

This is another prophecy of the Jews returning to Jerusalem at some future time, and the rebuilding of the Temple. ...The words are God's closing salutation and His statement that He alone is in charge of the affairs of mankind and He will determine all things.

Photo by Gautam Basu, Idol maker, Kumartuli, within Kolkata,India, is the main center for idol making and thousands of idol making artists throughout the year, particularly in the season of "DurgaPuja", the biggest festive and religious occasion of Bengalees. Here one of such artists is seen busy at work.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What Do You Believe? The Living Water - July 22, 2015


John 4:7-14 (New International Reader's Version)
7 A woman from Samaria came to get some water. Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" She said this because Jews don't have anything to do with Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered her, "You do not know what God's gift is. And you do not know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would have asked him. He would have given you living water."

11 "Sir," the woman said, "you don't have anything to get water with. The well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

12 "Our father Jacob gave us the well. He drank from it himself. So did his sons and his flocks and herds. Are you more important than he is?"

13 Jesus answered, "All who drink this water will be thirsty again. 14 But anyone who drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty. In fact, the water I give him will become a spring of water in him. It will flow up into eternal life."

John 7:37-39 (New International Version)
37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the [Holy]Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the [Holy]Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

According to sources at About.com, "Your body is estimated to be about 60 to 70 percent water. Blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs, and brain all contain a lot of water. Your body needs water to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to all your organs. Water also transports oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs."

Since water is so essential for healthy operation of the human body, we have built in mechanisms to regulate and insure that we take in enough water. All of us have experienced the primary symptom from lack of water, thirst. Once we become thirsty, we focus on nothing else but getting something to drink. Nothing is more refreshing than a glass of cold water when you are thirsty, and because we are always active and our bodies are always using up the water that we are taking in, we seemingly have an unquenchable thirst that is never satisfied.

Jesus was used this the example of our unquenchable thirst for his illustration of the spiritual condition. We are born with a thirst in need of satisfaction. This thirst is described in these verses from Solomon:Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 (Amplified Bible)10I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. 11He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

We are constantly looking for fulfillment in our lives, and to quench this "thirst" for something more. Many of us spend years lost in a pursuit of our own desires, only to find that the things of this world cannot satisfy. The more we pursue these things of the world, the deeper we fall into our sins, and the more desperate we are for relief. It is when we arrive at our time of deepest despair and greatest "thirst" that we realize that we cannot be satisfied on our own. We have a need for something more and our true desire is to be ultimately loved by God.

Jesus offer us the "living water", the "living water" of the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our lost condition, and brings us ultimate satisfaction by revealing to us that God loves us. It is the spring of "living water" that constantly guides us through this life, showing us God's will and purpose. It leads us into a new and eternal life with God, and quenches our thirst for fulfillment and satisfaction.

But we cannot take the cup and drink from the "living water" until we first accept God's provision for our fallen spiritual condition. Jesus came to take away our sins by dying on the cross, and he rose again to prepare a place for us in eternity. Come and drink from the "living water" and satisfy the thirst in your soul.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What Do You Believe? Jesus Is Lord - July 21, 2015


Psalm 110 (New International Version)

1 The LORD says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet."

2 The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.

3 Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.

4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.

6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.

7 He will drink from a brook beside the way ;
therefore he will lift up his head.


Over 1000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, David, inspired through the Holy Spirit, wrote this prophetic psalm about Jesus. Here you can see the relationship between the God the Father (YHWH) and God the Son (Adonai). Even before the time of Jesus, this was thought of as a Messianic psalm by the Jews. It is generally thought that in this psalm David speaks prophetically about the coming Son. It is a coronation psalm for the coming King-Priest, and the later judgments to come as you can read in this passage from the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 19:11-18 (New International Version)

The Rider on the White Horse
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

17And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."

Although difficult to imagine, someday Jesus will be revealed to everyone, those who believed in Him and those who did not. Whose side do you want to be on when he does?

Monday, July 20, 2015

What Do You Believe? What Jesus Claimed - July 20, 2015


John 10:22-33 (New International Version)
22Then came the Feast of Dedication(Hanukkah) at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. 24The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."

25Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."

31Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"

33"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

Now I could probably site all kinds of research that has been done into Jesus' claim to be God. Any search engine can find plenty of information, both for and against the fact that Jesus is God, a distinct person of the Godhead. How can God consist as three persons? I do not have the understanding or wisdom needed to explain it. All I know is that the Bible that I believe is the indisputable, infallible and inerrant word of God tells me so, and I believe that if God can create the Universe, He can do something fairly easy, like keep His word straight.

People have sliced and diced the Bible for centuries and yet no one has really been able to disprove what it claims. Not that people haven't tried to twist the words through translation, in fact many of the religions that claim to be Christian and yet deny that Jesus is God, rely on their translation and changes rather than authoritative translations. Others have claimed that the Scriptures were corrupted in the 1st Century and subsequent translations have carried forward errors to this time. You might ask then, how can we rely on the translations that we have? The answer is that authoritative translations have been scrutinized and validated over time, and have been heavily supported by manuscript and other evidence(see my post from April 11, 2010).

If you have problems with what Jesus claimed as the Jews did in the verse noted above, that he was "mere man, yet claimed to be God", I would challenge you to do your own research with an open mind. I would go further and challenge you to research not only the positive but the negative claims. I can confidently say without a doubt that if you will honestly research the validity of the Bible and the claims therein, you would come to belief in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

I like the way C.S. Lewis, the author of the well-known children's book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, said it in his book Mere Christianity. In Mere Christianity, Lewis makes this profound and logical argument:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse."

"You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.":

Painting Jesus Teaching in the Temple, by James Tissot

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What Do You Believe? Who Is Jesus? - July 19, 2015


John 1:1-5,14,17-18 (New International Reader's Version)
1 In the beginning, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.


3 All things were made through him. Nothing that has been made was made without him. 4 Life was in him, and that life was the light for all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness. But the darkness has not understood it.
...
14 The Word became a human being. He made his home with us. We have seen his glory. It is the glory of the one and only Son. He came from the Father. And he was full of grace and truth.
...
17 Moses gave us the law. Jesus Christ has given us grace and truth.18 No one has ever seen God. But God, the one and only Son, is at the Father's side. He has shown us what God is like.

Philippians 2:6-8 (New International Reader's Version)
6 In his very nature he was God. But he did not think that being equal with God was something he should hold on to.

7 Instead, he made himself nothing. He took on the very nature of a servant. He was made in human form.

8 He appeared as a man. He came down to the lowest level. He obeyed God completely, even though it led to his death. In fact, he died on a cross.


The single most divisive issue that has always faced Christianity is the existence and nature of Jesus. This sets Christianity apart from all of the other faiths, and it has even led to divisions among those who call themselves "Christian" as well. This dispute is what ultimately caused the execution of Jesus, because although Jesus was fully a man, he represented himself to be equal to God:

John 5:17-19 (New International Version)
17Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

There is no question in my mind or the mind of scholars over the past two thousand years that Jesus existed. Although there is some dispute that the entire passage is genuine to the author, the Jewish historian Josephus wrote in the late 1st Century about Jesus in his Testimonium Flavianum, as it is popularly called:

Antiquities 18.3.3 Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.

I have linked to the comments to the passage and the criticisms for and against authenticity, and I would suggest that you read the foundations for this secular reference to the existence of Jesus.

In addition to this and other secular references, the holy book of Islam, the Qur'an, supports the existence of Jesus. Jesus is mentioned 25 times in the Qur'an and although Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet from God before Muhammad, the very fact that Islam chooses to define Jesus' nature validates his existence. The Qur'an was written in the 7th Century, and if you take time to read the passages, you will find many parallels to Biblical writings about Jesus, with a slight twist to conform to their theology. Wikipedia does a good job of covering this topic, and you can find great links to English versions of the Qur'anic passages about Jesus to study for yourself.

Where am I going with this? Well, to study and comment on the nature of Jesus, you need to first agree that he exists and walked this earth, and in providing extra-Biblical support I seek to answer any arguments that someone might have against this fact.

(A careful study of these and other secular and Christian sources can be found referenced at KnowWhatYouBelieve.com.)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What Do You Believe? Skeptics &Scoffers - July 18, 2015


2 Peter 3:3-5 (New International Reader's Version)
3 First of all, here is what you must understand. In the last days people will make fun of the truth. They will laugh at it. They will follow their own evil longings. 4 They will say, "Where is this 'return' he promised? Everything goes on in the same way it has since our people of long ago died. In fact, it has continued that way since God first created everything."

5 Long ago, God's word brought the heavens into being. His word separated the earth from the waters. And the waters surrounded it. But those people forget things like that on purpose.

Think about it. Why do you think that anything about Christianity is constantly under attack? Why is it that every Christmas and Easter season, especially in the United States the belief in the God of the Bible and the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross is always under attack?

I watched recently on the National Geographic as skeptics and very "learned" men studied and speculated the validity of the Shroud of Turin. Right after that program was one stating that the story of Noah's Ark was a myth. Programs like this disputing something concerning our faith can be seen almost daily on television and the assault on Christianity does not let up. Then there are the movies such as the Da Vinci Code, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Golden Compass, Religulous, Jesus Camp, Dogma, and many others. It seems at every turn anything Christian is ridiculed, slandered and discounted.

Why do other major religions, such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism get a pass? Have you seen any program doubting the prophetic visions of Mohammed, or that he traveled to and from Heaven from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Have you seen anything criticizing the Buddhist belief of re-incarnation and the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth? Did you see any program that called into question the Hindu moral law of cause and effect called karma? The many programs about these faiths tend to lift them up, venerate and revere them, and yet anything having to do with Christianity unless its produced by Christians is always presented in a negative light.

I see it like this...the reason Christianity is always under attack is because it must be true. Our faith believes that we are all fallen sinners in need of a personal Savior. God hates sin and we cannot have any hope of being reconciled to Him on our own efforts( if you study all of the other religions, they are about how you have to do something to be made right with God, or you get numerous do-overs until you get it right). Jesus Christ, became a man and led a sinless life preaching, teaching and healing, and although he was innocent of any crime, he was executed on a cross on our behalf(of course this does not make sense, because how could anyone give up their own life to save the lives of others?) Then proving that He was God, he stepped out of the grave and appeared to over 500 of his followers before returning to Heaven. And if we put our faith, hope and trust in Him for our eternal salvation our lives will be radically changed here on earth and for eternity. Wow! Now that is something wild to believe in!

John 15:18-25 (New International Reader's Version)
18 "Does the world hate you? Remember that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you like one of its own. But you do not belong to the world. I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
20 "Remember the words I spoke to you. I said, 'A servant is not more important than his master.'—(John 13:16) If people hated me and tried to hurt me, they will do the same to you. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you like that because of my name. They do not know the One who sent me.

22 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Those who hate me hate my Father also.

24 "I did miracles among them that no one else did. If I hadn't, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen those miracles. And still they have hated both me and my Father. 25 This has happened so that what is written in their Law would come true. It says, 'They hated me without any reason.'—(Psalms 35:19; 69:4)

Friday, July 17, 2015

What Do You Believe? The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit - July 17, 2015



Genesis 1:26 (New American Standard Bible)
26Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Genesis 3:22 (New American Standard Bible)
22Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--

Matthew 28:18-20 (New International Version)
18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


Now this is a hard one to wrap my head around, but it is essentially the most important doctrine that defines true Christianity. Essential, because how you treat this subject determines whether you believe in truth or a heresy.Understanding this essential of Christianity determines whether or not you are following the truth that saves you, or an inerrant doctrine that condemns you. Wow! That is pretty strong, but it is very important that you know the difference between truth and error when it comes to the very nature of God.

What I am talking about is the doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-unity of God. For Christians this is probably a term you have heard about, and you may have a limited understanding of the concept. Since I have complete confidence in the inerrant and in fallible word of God found in the Bible, the verses I give above settles the question for me. In every translation and the original languages the contexts are the same. Our Triune God was present at Creation, and Jesus as the second person of the Trinity commanded all disciples to baptize in the names of all three persons of the Godhead.

In trying to explain how the Trinity exists, and I hope you will excuse me in noting this, but I have always used the very weak and simplistic analogy of a chicken's egg (How can you really explain the complex and inexplicable nature of our awesome God?). A chicken egg has three distinct components (actually you might divide an egg even further, but hang with me on this one), the outer covering of shell and shell membrane, the egg's white, and the egg's yolk. Each of these components are separate and essential to the egg. All co-exist together and together they are the egg.

Ben Rast with Contender Ministries puts it this way in an article he writes on the ministry's website,"We may never fully understand the nature of God until we get into heaven. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal. Our finite created minds are unable to fully grasp these characteristics of God." He further states, "The doctrine of the Trinity can be summed up as follows: Within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three co-equal and co-eternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In order to prove this doctrine we must prove the following, there is only one God, the Father is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons."

This doctrine is upheld in the Nicene Creed which we studied a few days ago, and you may want to take a look at the creed and study it further. I have also provided the links to study further the proofs for the Trinity. You will also find information on various cults that call themselves Christian, but do not believe in the same nature of God as we do. These include Mormonism, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witness, and what I believe is the very dangerous Oneness Pentecostalism, Jesus Only or Holiness Churches.

In fact many well-intentioned evangelical pastors today embrace Oneness pastors, which has been the criticism against T.D. Jakes, Phillips, Craig,& Dean and others. I am concerned that many new Christians may be led astray if they do not fully understand the differences. Before embracing the teaching of any pastor or church, you need to examine their beliefs in reference to orthodox Christian theology that has been with us since Jesus and defined by the church fathers in the 3rd and 4th centuries. If you have any questions, please be sure to study the links and to send me any questions that you might have.

Bottom line is this, to be a true Christian, you need to believe that our God is a Triune God, and within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three co-equal and co-eternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Any other doctrine out there should be considered as incorrect.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Do You Believe? Blinded From The Truth - July 16, 2015

2 Corinthians 4:1-5 (New Living Translation)
1 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. 2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

3 If the Good News (The Gospel) we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.


This is not an easy subject. Sometime it is really difficult. What I am saying is as much as people try to believe in the God of the Bible, and to accept the gift of Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross for mankind's sins, it is a tall order for people who are unbelievers to suddenly give up their skepticism and become believers. Why is this?

The main reason is that the lifestyle that is promoted by the world and the values it espouses blinds people to the wickedness in which they are trapped in. That is what is meant by "Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe". Our world has been so blinded by what is called "relativism"("what is right for one person may not necessarily be right for another", "that's true for you but not for me"),that absolute truth and what is morally right and wrong has been distorted, "veiled", from those who are perishing, dying in their sins.

My making the statement that people are "dying in their sins" is considered very controversial in our culture today. Why? Just a few decades ago, especially in the United States, moral absolutes were very easy to identify, and everyone was measured against a Judeo-Christian standard of right and wrong. But because of the failure of Christians to become engaged in the culture during the last several decades, this worship of relativism slowly crept in and the belief in God's absolute truth began to be diminished, until today these Judeo-Christian values are in danger of being eliminated from our culture. We may even see a day when upholding and speaking out for these values in our country will be considered a crime, as it is in many countries in this world.

A good way to test this theory about the erosion of values can be found by watching the Turner Movie Channel. On it you will find screenings of movies from the 1930's,1940's and 1950's. Compare those movies to those made today. The values portrayed by Hollywood then are not the values portrayed by Hollywood today.

And you need only look into the lives of most popular actors of today, and you will see the "fall-out" this has caused in their lives. It has also caused massive fall-out in the lives of those who mimic their lifestyle. Today you also see these same problems creeping into the lives of our politicians, professional athletes, and other "famous" people that the culture idolizes.

I would probably be safe in saying that the majority of people would not want to see their children or grandchildren exhibiting these lifestyles or behaviors, whether they are believers or not. Today's cultural values, exhibited on television and in the movies, in our schools and halls of government, are not those that will ultimately sustain our culture.

This is my message. If you are a Christian and you believe in the plan of God, you need to become engaged first in what you believe and then get engaged in the culture. Take this research and study into "What Do You Believe" and answer that question for yourself. Pick up the references and your Bible and become solid in your faith. Know what you should know.

If you are a non-believer, you need to take a close look at yourself and see if the life you are leading is really one that you can be proud of on your deathbed. Hate to sound morbid, but a hundred years from now everyone reading this will physically be in the same place. You have an opportunity to get your life on the right path; the path God has laid out first for your salvation and then for your lifestyle. As Paul says it in his letter to the Corinthians,"You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake." Turn your life over to Jesus Christ today.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Do You Believe? The Nicene Creed - July 15, 2015

John 12:44-50 (New Century Version)
44 Then Jesus cried out, "Whoever believes in me is really believing in the One who sent me. 45 Whoever sees me sees the One who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world so that whoever believes in me would not stay in darkness.

47 "Anyone who hears my words and does not obey them, I do not judge, because I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for those who refuse to believe in me and do not accept my words. The word I have taught will be their judge on the last day.49 The things I taught were not from myself. The Father who sent me told me what to say and what to teach. 50 And I know that eternal life comes from what the Father commands. So whatever I say is what the Father told me to say."



On most Sundays in churches around the world, countless Christians make a profession of their faith using the words of the Nicene Creed. As a teenager I went through the "rigors" of confirmation and had to memorize this an other creeds. Did I understand what I was stating? Probably not; it was just one of those things that young people that attended denominational churches were required to do to be considered a "member" and professing Christian. Unfortunately, many who recite this creed do not clearly understand what they are saying, and it has become so ingrained into the memories of church members, that it has lost much of its meaning in the hearts of professing Christians.

In the face of heresies that began to arise in the young Christian church, there arose a need for the leaders of the church to come together and commit to writing what Christians believed. A council of bishops, the Council of Nicaea, was called by the Emperor Constantine in the year 325 A.D. and served to repudiate the heresy that had arisen and confirm the nature of God, and the relationship of the Trinity.

Immediately after this council, additional challenges arose and necessitated more definitive additions to the creed at the First Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. This has given us in essence the creed many denominational Christians profess today. While not necessarily rejecting the Nicene Creed as erroneous, some evangelical and other Christians, on the basis of their "by scripture alone" view, consider it as in no way authoritative because it is not part of the Bible, and do not recite it in their services.

Over the next few days, as we dig more deeply into what we believe, we will dissect this creed along with other believer's creeds and look into biblical support of what these creeds state. Here is the text of the modern version of the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God,the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,begotten, not made,of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What Do You Believe? Is the Bible Reliable? - July 14, 2015



2 Timothy 3:16-17 (New International Version)
16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Do you believe the Bible verse above? Originally I intended to go through a long discourse in order to present the proof texts and historical evidences for the reliability and validity of the Bible. This can be easily found through careful study of books on the subject. But, if you call yourself a Christian and you truly are a believer, the truth is easier to discern because of your personal experience, and the confirmation you receive from the truth that lives in you.

"All Scripture is God-breathed." - This statement is true for me because I have experienced a whole new life that can be found in Bible. During my many years, I studied the world's religions and surveyed a number of religious texts, and none of them had "life" in their words as the Bible did. I would challenge anyone seeking the truth to go to the library or bookstore and study the other religious texts. You will understand what I mean.

When you have reached out and surrendered yourself to God, and you have asked for Him to reveal Himself to you, the Bible takes on a whole new character. Rather than just being words on a page or historical text, it "comes alive" and reveals things to your spirit that you never knew. And each time you read a particular verse or passage, it can take on a whole new, deeper meaning. To me, that confirms that the Bible is "God-breathed".

"Is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness"- As you open up the pages of the Bible, and as you prayerfully read with and open mind and an open heart, the Spirit of God will reveal things to you in the verses that are useful and helpful for daily living.

For those of you who believe yourselves to be a Christian, have you ever had a problem that really bothered you, and as you read through your Bible, you suddenly found the answer you needed to resolve that problem? This has been the case for me on countless occasions. To me, that confirms that the Bible is "useful".

"So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."- As I try to live out my Christian life in this world, I need to know that help is their when I need it. I need to know that I can count not only on knowing the rules, the do's and the don'ts, but I need to know that I can find the stuff that really matters. The stuff that changes lives and helps other people.

I need to be able to rely on something to help me find the right answers. The word of God found in the Bible does that for me; it "equips" me for each and everything I do as I try to pattern my life after the life of Jesus Christ. It teaches me how to love and how to live. To me, that confirms that the Bible is "reliable"

Those who have a difficult time understanding the Bible need to do two things. First, approach God in prayer and surrender yourself completely to Him; give up your selfishness, your arrogance and your stubbornness. Then pour your heart out to Him, and "clean yourself up", leaving all your junk with Him. Admit that you can't live this life by yourself. Second, ask God to reveal Himself to you; ask for his Holy Spirit to open your mind to how He wants you to lead your life. Ask Him to give you direction through His word. I know for a fact that He will do this for you.

As we seek to understand what we believe, we will need to rely on the solid, truthful, word of God found in the Bible as our most treasured proof text. You have to be confident that you believe what it says completely. You can't pick or chose just because some of what it says may be "convicting". Yes, as you dig deeper in the Bible, it will make you uncomfortable, and it may even annoy you. But this revelation is for your benefit. It is God's Spirit telling you what is right or wrong for your life. Once you have this firm foundation, understanding what you believe will be much easier to know.

Monday, July 13, 2015

What Do You Believe? Why Bother? - July 13, 2015



1 Peter 3:14-16 (New King James Version)
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”[Isaiah 8:12]

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

You may be wondering why I am focusing on the topic of "what do you believe", rather than on other things in this blog. You might find this a little boring, and it might not be that important to you. The reason I chose to spend time on this is due to a prompting I received by the Holy Spirit some time ago. You know, those thoughts or impressions that you feel are from God about what you should do. I learned long ago that when I have those, I need to pay attention and listen to what God is trying to tell me.

Some time ago I became aware that many people were going through the motions of being a Christian. The world around us would choose to ignore what we believe and fight Christianity at any cost. Each and everyday our Judeo-Christian heritage comes under assault and in many cases it is being removed from public places by the secular and politically correct activists.

In many churches today, there are many people going through the motions, and because of lack of knowledge, and of what it truly means to be a Christian, they succumb to false doctrines and liberal interpretations of scripture. These many well meaning believers are ill-equipped to carry on an intelligent defense of the hope that is in them. There are people who may read this blog that may not be certain of what they believe, and this uncertainty can lead dangerous consequences when faced with a growing and oppressive opposition.

My goal is to provide information that will help confirm your faith and equip you to be able to handle yourself when faced with questions from skeptics, or to assist you when you share your faith. It is meant to give you a clearer understanding of what it means to truly be a Christian, to take a look at the basis for the truth of Christianity. Once you examine the doctrines needed to understand, to believe and to uphold, my hope is that you will have a more solid foundation with which to face the future and defend what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Oh, by the way, there are many today in this world that are having to defend their faith in Jesus Christ, and they are being persecuted and even killed for doing so. The photograph above is of a Pakistani Christian woman that we all need to pray for; we need to stop the execution of a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges.

Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) has long spearheaded efforts, joined by other Christians in Pakistan to plead for the life and release of Asia Bibi, 48, a wife and mother of five. Appeals of her case have been rejected time and time again, and yet Bibi has held on despite abuse and torture for her faith. If she would be executed, Bibi would be the first woman to be executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Her death sentence was handed down almost four years ago. She has been in prison for over six years since the initial blasphemy charge. Bibi was arrested by police on June 19, 2009, and charged with blasphemy after she engaged in a discussion about her Christian faith with co-workers. She is currently confined to a prison cell near Faisalabad, according to VOM.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

What Do You Believe? Manuscript Evidence - July 12, 2015

Psalm 33:4 (New International Version)
4 For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

If you are going to base your belief in a faith, what better way to do it than to trust in the manuscripts and texts that contain the narrative about the faith you believe in. Many skeptics discount the Bible based on things they have heard or the ranting of professors in schools and universities, but very few have taken on the task of investigating for themselves the validity of the Bible. I bet if you have someone who criticizes your faith in Christianity and the Bible, they most likely have never studied the Bible, much less even taken the time to read it.

A criticism that arises about the Bible from skeptics and many evangelicals of other faiths is that the Bible is unreliable as a text. They claim that it has been "corrupted" over the centuries, and translated so many times that what we have today is far from the original text. Did you know that there are more surviving manuscript copies of the Bible than any other ancient book in history?

Principle to this is the New Testament which was originally written in Greek. Although it has not been shown that any originals have survived the almost 2000 years since its writing, it has over 5,656 surviving manuscript copies in Greek, and over 19,284+ in 14 other languages. The first fragments of copies have been dated to 114 AD, just 50+ years after the original was written. When you study the copies for the accuracy of the translation for meaning, context and doctrine, they are essentially the same.

In comparison the closest other writing of antiquity with the greatest number of surviving manuscript copies is the Roman author Homer's Iliad which has 683 surviving copies, the first having been written 400 years after the original was written. (There is more historical manuscript evidence for the people of the Bible than there is evidence for the existence of Julius Caesar, and yet I have never heard of anyone that disputes that he was a historical figure?)

We are very fortunate that Josh McDowell and other researchers took the time to document and investigate the Bible. He has carefully documented many of the historical sources for the manuscript evidence. Please take the time to pick up his book, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Lee Strobel also covers his investigative study of the documentary evidence in his book, The Case for Christ. You will benefit from these two books for the references that they provide.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What Do You Believe? Atheist; Skeptic; Believer - July 11, 2015

Titus 2:7 (New Living Translation)
7 And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.

2 Timothy 2:25 (New Living Translation)
25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

There is nothing better than the example of a changed heart and life to act as a witness to the truth and validity of Christianity. For many of us it was a wonderful Christian witness, whose life and example led us to embrace and follow Jesus. As we study the truth of Christianity, we will also look to a source whose desire to examine these truths were due to a close personal example.

"For much of my life I was a skeptic. In fact, I considered myself an atheist. To me, there was far too much evidence that God was merely a product of wishful thinking, of ancient mythology, of primitive superstition."
"Let's face it: even a cursory examination of the evidence demonstrates convincingly that Jesus had only been a human being just like you and me, although with unusual gifts of kindness and wisdom.

But that's all I had ever really given the evidence: a cursory look. I had read just enough philosophy and history to find support for my skepticism- a fact here, a scientific theory there, a pithy quote, a clever argument. Sure, I could see some gaps and inconsistencies, but I had strong motivation to ignore them: a self-serving and immoral lifestyle that I would be compelled to abandon if I were ever to change my views and become a follower of Jesus."

"It wasn't a phone call from an informant(reference to an earlier story)that prompted me to re-examine the case for Christ. It was my wife.

Leslie stunned me in the autumn of 1979 by announcing that she had become a Christian. I rolled my eyes and braced for the worst, feeling like the victim of a bait-and-switch scam. I had married one Leslie- the fun Leslie, the carefree Leslie, the risk-taking Leslie and now I feared she was going to turn into some sort of ...repressed prude who would trade our upwardly mobile lifestyle for all-night prayer vigils and volunteer work in grimy soup kitchens.

Instead I was pleasantly surprised- even fascinated- by the fundamental changes in her character, her integrity, and her personal confidence. Eventually I wanted to get to the bottom of what was prompting these subtle but significant shifts in my wife's attitudes, so I launched an all-out investigation into the facts surrounding the case for Christianity." - Lee Strobel(Excerpts from The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus)

Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, is a former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of nearly twenty books and has been interviewed on numerous national television programs, including ABC’s 20/20, Fox News, and CNN.

Lee was educated at the University of Missouri (Bachelor of Journalism degree, 1974) and Yale Law School (Master of Studies in Law degree, 1979). He was a professional journalist for 14 years at The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois’ top honors for investigative reporting (which he shared with a team he led) and public service journalism from United Press International.

After a nearly two-year investigation of the evidence for Jesus, Lee received Christ as his forgiver and leader in 1981. He joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL, in 1987, and later became a teaching pastor there. He joined Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA, as a teaching pastor in 2000. He left Saddleback’s staff in mid-2002 to focus on writing. He is also a contributing editor and columnist for Outreach magazine. (Bio from www.leestrobel.com)

From the above noted and other books by Lee, we will gain the benefit of his journalistic approach in examining the truths for what we believe.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What Do You Believe? The Bible: Unique In It's Continuity - July 10, 2015



Psalm 119:105 (New Century Version)
105 Your word is like a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.

The Bible is truly superior to all and any books of religious text. Drawing from Josh McDowell's compilation of evidences, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict,pgs 4-7, here is why the Bible is truly unique in its continuity:

1. It was written over an approximate 1500 year span.

2. It was written by over 40 authors from many walks of life, from kings to peasants.

3. It was written in many different places, from palaces to prisons.

4. It was written at different times, from times of war to times of peace.

5. It was written during different moods, from the heights of joy to the depths of sorrow and despair, from certainty and conviction, to confusion and doubt.

6. It was written on 3 different continents, Asia, Africa and Europe.

7. It was written in 3 different languages, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

8. It was written in a wide variety of literary style, some of which are poetry, historical narrative, song, romance, memoirs, satire, biography, law, prophecy, parable and allegory.

9. It addresses hundreds of controversial subjects, that create opposing opinions when mentioned or discussed (such as marriage, divorce, remarriage, adultery, obedience to authority, lying, truth, parenting, etc.), yet the writers addressed them with amazing continuity.

10. Despite its diversity, the Bible presents a single unfolding story: the redemption of human beings to God.

11. The leading and most important character is the One, true, living God, made known to man through Jesus Christ. The entire compilation of scriptures point to Christ, from the Old Testament Law that provides the foundation and need for Christ, to the New Testament Gospels that record the historical manifestation of Christ, to Revelation that gives the consummation of all things in Christ(from Geisler/Nix, GIB'86).

To have these many books and many authors writing in their many times, their different frames of reference, in different places and moods, on different continents, different languages, different literary styles, presenting a single unfolding story of God and His relationship to man through Jesus Christ, and showing through its continuity that it is one book, truly demonstrates that the Bible is unique and exceptional.

I agree with what Josh McDowell says, "The uniqueness of the Bible as shown above does not prove that it is inspired. It does however challenge any person sincerely seeking the truth to consider seriously its unique quality in terms of continuity."

What do you believe? Please feel free to give me your comments to what I present here.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

What Do You Believe? My Sources - July 9, 2015



Revelation 3:20 (New International Version)
20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

If you are like me, wouldn't you like to be more solid in your faith? Wouldn't you like to be able to have answers when skeptics attack you for it? Or if you are like a few of those around me, wouldn't you like to know whether or not what these Christians are telling you is true or not?

As we set out to look at what Christians believe and look at the claims that they present as truth, we will examine proofs offered by a number of sources. One of the people and sources I will be quoting from is noted below. As we study these things together, I would encourage you to purchase the books mentioned throughout this study. I will barely touch the surface of what these sources offer, and the books will serve as tremendous resource for you in the future.

"You can laugh at Christianity. You can mock and ridicule it. But it works. If you trust Christ, start watching your attitudes and actions-Jesus Christ is in the business of changing lives."

Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict

This is a statement from an agnostic who set out to disprove the authenticity of the Bible. As a university student, he took on a challenge to intellectually examine the claim that Jesus Christ is God's Son. He set out and traveled throughout the United States and Europe to gather evidence to prove that Christianity was a sham. He sought to gather all that he could to refute Christian claims.

Instead, Josh McDowell found out and gathered historical and academic proof that it was all true, and in the process his life was radically changed. He became a believer, follower and apologist for Jesus Christ. We will use his book, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, that documents historical evidences to assist us in our study.

After studying at Kellogg College, Josh completed his college degree at Wheaton College and then attended Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master of Divinity degree. In 1961 Josh joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ International.

Not long after, he started the Josh McDowell Ministry to reach young people worldwide with the truth and love of Jesus. Well known as an articulate speaker, Josh has addressed more than 10 million young people, giving over 24,000 talks in 118 countries.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What Do You Believe? - July 8, 2015


2 Timothy 1:8-10;12 (New International Version)
8So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
...
12That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.


Do you know what you believe in? There are many here in our Facebook community that have different faiths and beliefs. There are many that call themselves Christian, such as Protestants and Catholics, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. There are those who agree that Jesus existed, such as Muslims and Jews, and there are those who believe that God reveals Himself in all kinds of faiths. There are Baha'i, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Taoists and Hindus. There are also those who are Agnostics, Atheists, Pagans, Satanists, Naturalists and Universalists.

So with all these different beliefs, who is right? Is there such as thing as absolute truth? How can you know what is true and what is not? Do you have a clear understanding in whom or what you have placed your trust? Over these next few weeks I would like to open up this discussion. We will look at what Christians present as the truth, and we will learn why they believe what they do, and you can stand on the solid foundation of what you believe. Now is the time for you to be sure of what you believe in, because it will make a difference for now, your future and your eternity.

 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

One Nation, Under God, Indivisible? - July 7, 2015

 
Matthew 12:25(New International Version)
25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand."

Luke 11:17(GOD’S WORD Translation)
17Since Jesus knew what they were thinking, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is ruined. A house divided against itself falls."


On June 16, 1858, at the Springfield, Illinois, statehouse for the Republican State Convention, Abraham Lincoln gave what was thought at the time to be a very politically incorrect speech in which he referenced this statement from Jesus. In the speech, where he was rallying his fellow Republicans to not give up in the battle to resolve the slavery debate, he stated that "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

He was speaking about the confusion that existed about whether a new state should be admitted into the Union as slave or free. His statement was meant to say that in one way or the other, the debate would somehow be settled. In a few short years from this date, the United States would be embroiled in the Civil War that would cost hundreds of thousands of lives to finally settle the issue.

Over the last few decades, there has arisen a split in this country over a secular government that dismisses any government intervention in the morality of its citizens, but promotes the government interference in the economic freedoms of the people, versus a government that allowed its citizens freedom to pursue economic and personal freedom, within the moral limitation of government as allowed by the conscience of its citizens.

For example, those who are pro-abortion want total freedom to allow unrestricted abortion, yet it would have the government force citizens to have to pay for everyone's access to abortions. On the other hand, the other side feels that no citizens should be forced to have to pay for abortions if they are not willing, but feel that the unborn child has the right to life that should be protected by the government.

We live in a Nation that is very divided these days over many issues concerning economic and moral issues, and I feel that the divide is getting wider. These are issues of right and wrong, and you have to be on one side or the other. There really is little ground for compromise, because what middle ground is there in whether or not a baby should live? And, what middle ground is there between whether or not you have economic freedom rather than the government dictating what you can do and what you can earn? As in Abraham Lincoln's day, our National issues will be resolved one way or another. It is only a matter of time.

And what has caused our great National divide? My belief is that at one time in our history, moral and economic issues were settled based on what God's word found in the Bible said about a particular issue. The same was true for the issue of slavery. True Bible believing Christians were against the enslavement of men, because in Jesus Christ there was "neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free"(Galatians 3:28). All were equal in the eyes of God. Others tried to twist Scripture to make a defense for slavery, but there was no room for the middle. You were either for it or against it, and the Bible was clearly against it.

I believe there is hope for our Nation that can be found in our Pledge of Allegiance as approved by Congress in 1954. We can only hope to settle our Nation's ills and issues by being citizens that are united as "one Nation, under God", and can only be a Nation "indivisible" if we commit ourselves and our allegiance to our God. Through Jesus Christ we are truly able to live lives of freedom, and only through God can we truly survive as a Nation.

This is a re-posting of a previous entry I made, but it is as relevant to day as it was when I posted it before. Now especially, we are entering a time when our participation in the electoral process of our Nation is needed more than ever. The choice we make on behalf of God, freedom and liberty will define what our country will be like for generations to come. Make sure your voice is heard this election cycle, so that the voices of your children will not be ones of scorn for what has been left to them.