Not Of The World

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My Musings –  Just because we must be in the World (“not that you take them out of the World“), does not mean that we must be of the World.  Christians are not people of the World, they are people of the Word. For this reason, it is imperative that we regularly spend time in the Word (“protect them from the evil one“).

As you sent me into the World –  Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  (John 18:37, NIV 1984).

I have sent them into the World“You will be my witnesses [to the truth] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Our testimony to what is truth will not be credible if we are not familiar enough with the truth (in the Word).  We will not be credible witnesses to the truth if we are of the World.  Will you be a person of the Word or of the World?  Get the “L” out of the World.

“Set your minds on things above [the Word], not on earthly [Worldly] things.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived [Worldly]. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these.”  (Colossians 3:2, 7-8, NIV 1984).

 

 

The Heavens Declare

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My Musings – God continues to bring order out of the universe that He created.

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Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky –The creation of the “lights in the expanse of the sky” on the fourth day parallels the creation of light in general on the first day. These lights produce another separation—day from night. On the first day, God had said, “let there be light,” and there was light. But this was a chaos of light, scattered and confused. Now it was collected into countless luminaries and made more glorious and serviceable. God is the God of order, and not of confusion. The creation of light on day one, was now being set in order in the various heavenly bodies. The atmosphere being purified by the vegetation, would make the sun, moon, and stars visible in the sky. They are described as being “in the expanse of the sky.” This is how they appear to the eye, though we know they are really at vast distances from it. These lights may be said to be “made” on the fourth day—not created, indeed, for it is a different word (meaning light bearers) that is used here, suggesting what had previously been created were now being ordered and set in place for their intended purpose.

To separate the day from the night – The “creation” of the lights in the heavens on the fourth day parallels the creation of light in general on the first day. These lights produce another separation—day from night. These terms are meaningless without the existence of the sun and the rotation of the earth.

Let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years – The lights were “signs” that mark off time periods (days, seasons, years). They were not astrological signs, correlating heavenly movements with events on earth. The worship of heavenly bodies is condemned.

The greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night – This refers to the sun and the moon, but the writer deliberately avoids the words “sun” (shemesh in Hebrew) and “moon” (yareach in Hebrew), as these correspond to the names of West Semitic deities: Shamash and Yarik. The Book of Genesis affirms that they are created objects, not deities. They merely divide (separate), govern, and give light in God’s creation.

The greater light – Many scientists believe that the sun and the rest of the solar system was “born” about 4.6 billion years ago, being formed from a giant, rotating cloud of gas and dust known as a solar nebula. As the nebula collapsed because of its gravity, it spun faster and flattened into a disk. Most of the material was pulled toward the center to form the sun.

The lesser light – The Moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite and was formed around some 30–50 million years after the formation of the solar system. The reigning theory is that a Mars-sized object impacted with a very young, still-forming Earth about. The planetary object that impacted Earth has been dubbed “Theia” by scientists because in Greek mythology, Theia was the mother of the moon goddess Selene. When Theia hit Earth, a portion of our planet came off and eventually hardened into the moon. This theory does a better job than others of explaining the similarities in chemical compositions of the Earth and the moon, however it doesn’t explain why the moon and the Earth are chemically identical.

He also made the stars – The Milky Way galaxy, is home to the earth’s solar system. Scientists say it was formed a little more than 13 billion years ago, just a few billion years after the Big Bang. The galaxy is estimated to be about 100,000 light years in diameter and 1,000 light years thick. It is part of a system of 50 galaxies known as the Local Group, which is part of the Virgo Supercluster. Containing as many as 50 billion planets and 400 billion stars, the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. It has a center “bulge,” surrounded by a flat disk comprising several loose arms that contain stars and their orbiting bodies, as well as gases and dust.

God “also made the stars” almost sounds like an afterthought. But scientists estimate that there are about 2 trillion galaxies in the universe and that each galaxy has about 100 million stars.  And yet still, “these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him!” (Job 25:14).

My Advice – The psalmist proclaims that “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalms 19:1-4).  The whisper may be faint, but no one can claim that they do not hear it.  Do not just hear it, listen to it.  The heavens declare HIs glory and so should we.  One day, we all will.  Why not start now?

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  1. All Scripture references, unless otherwise indicated are from the New International Version, 1984.
  2. https://www.bighistoryproject.com/chapters/2#the-birth-of-the-sun
  3. http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/the_birth_of_the_moon.html
  4. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  5. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 5). Peabody: Hendrickson.
  6. Smith, J. E. (1993). The Pentateuch (2nd ed., p. 53). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.
  7. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 17). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  8. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 17). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  9. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  10. Ross, A. P. (1985). Genesis. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 29). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Lowery, K. (2007). The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah. In T. Cabal, C. O. Brand, E. R. Clendenen, P. Copan, & J. P. Moreland (Eds.), The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 3). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  12. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  13. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ge 1:15–16). Biblical Studies Press.
  14. https://www.space.com/58-the-sun-formation-facts-and-characteristics.html
  15. https://space-facts.com/the-moon/
  16. https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/space/stories/4-theories-about-how-moon-formed
  17. https://someinterestingfacts.net/facts-about-milky-way-galaxy/

Just Say Whoa to Woe

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My Musings – It’s easy to dump on the Pharisees. After all, their name has become synonymous with self-righteous hypocrisy making them easy marks for criticism and condemnation.  But what if we substituted the word Pharisee in the above verses with the word Christian?  Is that how the world sees many of us?  Are they justified in seeing us that way?  We want to scream that they are way off base.  That we are under attack and being unjustly persecuted.  But we need to be very careful before we dismiss it outright.  For you see, “the problem with self righteousness is that it seems almost impossible to recognize in ourselves. We will own up to almost any other sin. but not the sin of self-righteousness. When we have this attitude, though, we deprive ourselves of the joy of living in the grace of God. Because you see, grace is only for sinners.” ― Jerry Bridges, evangelical Christian author, speaker and staff member of The Navigators.

We might think, why should we care what the world thinks of us?  Well, if they are wrong, and perhaps they are in most cases, we need not care.  Jesus did say, after all that in this world we will have persecution, and that if the world hated Him, we should not be surprised if they hate us too.  But if they are right, even about a minority, we should care very much.  For Jesus also said they (the world), will know we are His followers if we have love for one another.  And if they do not see His love in us and from us, then the truth that we are proclaiming will not seem very much like the truth.

Another reason we should care is because Jesus cares.  He had nothing but condemnation and anger (yes, anger) for the teachers, scribes and teachers of the law that exhibited such self-piety and hypocrisy.  His attitude was not a casual “well actually,” but a very much heated “woe to you!“…”You snakes! You brood of vipers!”  Whoa.  Let’s take a closer look at these “woes” from Matthew 23, NIV 1984, and learn from them.  We do not want to become 21st century Pharisees.

  • Hypocrites – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
  • Sons of Hell – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

  • Blind Guides – “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?”

  • Neglectful – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

  • Greedy and Self-Indulgent – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

  • Whitewashed Tombs, Dead Men’s Bones – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

  • Full Measured Sinners – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

My Advice – I am sure that the vast majority of Christians are not this way, or at least not blatantly.  But are there times we “deny” God’s grace to those whose sins seem greater than our own?  On occasion, is the way we behave on the outside inconsistent with how we are on the inside?  Do we overly focus on certain evils (“strain out a gnat“), to the exclusion of others (“swallow a camel”)?  Are we so self-absorbed by the “injustices” that we must endure that show no mercy to others?  Let’s just say whoa to woe.

 

And The Verdict Is?

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My Musings – Testimony is a solemn declaration by a witness, a firsthand authentication of a fact.  It is not information received from other people that cannot be adequately substantiated.  That would be hearsay, which in a court of law, would be disallowed.  John spent three years being taught (discipled) by Jesus.  He was with Jesus 24/7 for those three years, which certainly put him in a position to see if Jesus’ talk was Jesus’ walk.  He was at the foot of the cross when Jesus died and was able to see the Roman soldiers certify that He was in fact dead.  On more than one occasion he saw and spoke to Jesus after His resurrection from the dead.  In every respect, this is firsthand authentication of the facts.  His testimony was corroborated by other witnesses.  He was imprisoned because of his adherence to his testimony.  Other witnesses were executed.  John likely lived out his days under the same threat of death.  None of these recanted.

In light of all this, John testimony proclaiming that  “he who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son does not have life,” is more than credible.  It removes any reasonable doubt.

My Advice – Testimony demands a verdict.  Deliberate carefully.  It is an eternal life and death matter.

Garage Sale Fellowship

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My Musings – Spent time these past few days with my two older brothers as we helped our 85 year old mother with a garage sale (selling many items that she and my dad had accumulated over 66 years together).  We had many visitors to the sale.  Some were neighbors, some were dear friends, some were mere acquaintances, most were strangers.  They represented different ethnicities and social “classes.”  We exchanged pleasantries with all, joked with a few (which garage sale had the best “junk”), had warm conversations with many and prayed with a few.  At one point I remarked to one of my brothers “if more people went to garage sales, the word just might be a better place.”  What a great time of fellowship with those we knew and those we did not.

As a world becomes more and more polarized, we sometimes lose sight of the fact we all have one Father and Creator – who loves us all.  We have one Savior who did not just die for certain ethnicities, social classes or the “deserving” – He died one for all.  He will save all who believe and receive.

My Advice –  Forgive as He has forgiven you.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Give to those in need.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Entertain strangers. Do not oppress or mistreat the alien among you (ouch!).  Love your enemies (say what?). For “[w]hatever you did [or did not do] for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did [or did not do] for me.”  (Matthew 25:40, NIV 1978).  Finally, have a garage sale – just for the fellowship of it all.

The Elephant In The Room

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My Musings – “People primarily respond not to what we do but how we’re being.  It’s not that we do the wrong thing necessarily, but that we do what we do – maybe even if it is the ‘right’ thing – the wrong way.” (Leadership and Self-Deception, The Arbinger Institute).

My great fear for the Church today is that a lot of us spend a lot of time and energy “doing” Christianity, while failing to “be” Christ-like.  We pride ourselves with saying, supporting and doing the right things (the modern-day equivalent of a tenth of our mint, dill and cumin), but neglect to be those things (the all-time equivalent of, “justice, mercy and sacrifice“).  In the process, we are well on our way to alienating an entire generation from “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”  Given the appropriate “salt and light” there are many who would love to “be” like Christ, but are afraid of “doing” like “Christians.”  But unfortunately, the “salt” in many of us leaves a bad taste, and the “light” shining from us artificial and not a true reflection of its Source.

My Advice – There is nothing wrong with saying, supporting and doing the right things.  But we must practice these without neglecting “justice, mercy and sacrifice.”  Otherwise, we are merely a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  Distracting noise and “fake news” in a world searching for the truth.  Woe to us, the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge.

Don’t just do, be.  People still might not acknowledge the truth, but what they are rejecting will be plain.

Before God and Man

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My Musing – At first blush, this is a somewhat curious statement, at least to me.  If we strive to keep our conscience clear before God (a high standard indeed), why would we need to concern ourselves about man.  Wouldn’t satisfying the former, automatically satisfy the other?  It is clear that keeping our conscience clear before God is our top priority and that keeping our conscience clear before man should not take precedence.  But the former does not exclude the latter.

Paul states elsewhere to be careful to do what is right in the eyes of all people, and if possible, as far as it depends upon us, we should be a peace with all men. (Romans 12:17-18).  Man is fickle, while God is not.  So a clear conscience before God will not always satisfy man.  Especially if they do not have a relationship with Christ and their only picture of him comes from us.  But we must still strive to have a strive to have a clear conscience, “as far as it depends on us.

The first (and greatest) commandment is to love God (with heart, soul, mind and strength).  We need a clear conscience about that.  But is second is like it.  Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39). We need to keep our conscience clear about that as well.

My Advice – Sleep well with a clear conscience.