Will I Proclaim? I Will Proclaim!

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Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.  They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”  (Psalm 145:3–7, NIV 1984).

My Musings – What strikes me about these verses is the phrase “One generation will commend your works to another; will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty.”  Is this a generation that speaks of the glorious splendor of God’s majesty?  If not, does the fault lie with this generation or the previous generation for failing to commend His works to the succeeding generation?  Trick question.  The fault lies with both.  Certainly, a generation is handicapped when the previous generation is lax in their responsibility to pass along the glory of God.  However, “what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  (Romans 1:19–20, NIV 1984).

My Advice – As is often (always) the case, my advice applies as much to me as it does my readers.  So, if you are of my generation (more years behind you than ahead of you), recommit to sharing the glory of God and the Gospel of His Son to all, but especially to those who will be left to pass it along to the next generation when you are gone.  This model has worked remarkably well for 2000 plus years.

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  (2 Timothy 2:1–2, NIV 1984).

If you are of the younger generation, with much of your “three-score and ten” left, stop making excuses.  Today is the day of salvation if you do not know Christ as your personal Savior.  But, if you already know Him, there is no better time than today to begin being accountable to the Great Commission.  Become a believer and follow Him.  Then become a disciple and teach others to follow Him.

How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if [fill in the blank] is God, follow [it].”  (1 Kings 18:21, NIV 1984).

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

When In Athens

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While Paul was waiting for them [Silas and Timothy] in Athens. . .he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. . .Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.”  (Acts 17:16–20, NIV 1984).

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”  (Acts 17:22–23, NIV 1984).

We should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”  (Acts 17:29–31, NIV 1984).

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.”  (Acts 18:9–10, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The thought occurs to me from time-to-time, that readers of my blog might be saying of me “what is this babbler trying to say?”  Especially as I share with my friends and acquaintances on FaceBook that have known me over the years, but have never known me to share my beliefs so openly.  Maybe it’s because social media does seem to give us a degree of boldness that we rarely seem to have in our personal interactions.  You know, those three taboo topics of sex, politics and religion that we are supposed to avoid.

I do try to avoid those first two topics sex (out of a sense of modesty and decorum) and politics (can be way too divisive and polarizing).  But religion…?  I guess I feel a certain sense of urgency as we approach the day that God has set “when he will judge the world with justice,” to proclaim the good news of the Gospel.  To say what I’ve left unsaid for so many years of my life.  To share what I know with others.

I would like to think for most of my readers (if they read it at all), that I am not “bringing some strange ideas to their ears.”   Yet to some, even those quite familiar with the story of Christ, the concept of being “born again” sounds cultish or merely the belief of a fringe group of religious weirdos.  But the term “born again” was coined by Jesus Himself.  Because Jesus said it should make one “want to know what [it] mean[s].”  God does not need to be “an unknown God.”  But He can only be known though “the man He has appointed” by “raising him from the dead.”  We should not think it is strange that the Father appointed the Son to be the only way we can come to Him.

So while I do get discouraged periodically, wondering if anyone is paying attention to what I write, I guess I will “keep on speaking” and “not be silent.”  One never knows who might be listening.

My Advice – But don’t just listen to me.  Listen to Jesus, the Son of the living God.

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Today’s musing was inspired by Lead Teaching Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on January 19, 2020. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.

 

In His Son

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And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”  (1 John 5:11–12, NIV 1984).

My Musings – This is an extremely simple, direct and efficient description of salvation.

  • Given – Salvation is not something earned or something we possess independently.  It is a gift from God.
  • In His Son – It is only available through believing and receiving Jesus Christ.  Don’t look for it anywhere else.  It’s not there.
  • He Who Has The Son – If you have Christ in you, you have eternal life.
  • He Who Does Not Have The Son – If you do not have Christ in you, you do not have eternal life.

My Advice – What must I do to have eternal life? Follow the instructions.  If you do, you will.  If you don’t, you won’t.  Simple. Direct. Efficient.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

Unvarnished Truth

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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.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked. (John 18:37–38, NIV).

My Musings – “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ― George Orwell, author of 1984.

We are all jaded these days when it comes to the truth.  Everyone wants to put their own coat of “varnish” on it.  Take it out of context.  Omit parts that are inconvenient.  Hear or accept only what fits our idea of what we want the truth to be.

My Advice – In a world of deceit, be revolutionary. “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:1–2, NIV 1984). Jesus came to testify to the truth, and it got Him crucified. As Christians, we have been entrusted with the truth He proclaimed.  Let’s be faithful to His truth.  The world may hate us for it, but keep in mind that the world hated Him first.  Why did the world hate Him?  Because He testified to the truth, and the world did not want to hear the truth.  If we are hated for testifying to the truth that Christ testified to, then we can truly can be regarded “as servants of Christ.”  And that’s not a bad thing.  So keep on (“prove faithful“) “speaking the truth in love.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

 

 

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.