Serving Jesus through discipleship

Archive for the tag “Bible”

What is Truth

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Either you believe that the Bible is the word of God or not. If you believe it, then by definition the Bible is truth and the above quote by Jesus is too. If you don’t believe it, the Bible is still true; you just don’t have a spiritual anchor.

“I believe that the Bible is true; so I am OK, right?” Not necessarily! Do you know the truth?

You see, the truth of Jesus Christ is under attack. It always has been. You wouldn’t think that the attack would be coming from inside the church but it is. It always has!

In the first century, the attack was from a group of people known as the Gnostics. They believed that they had a special revelation and knowledge about our Savior that no one else had. Several of Paul’s epistles were written because of the Gnostic influence in the early church. The doctrine that was being disseminated sounded good but was totally anti Christ. So it seemed that after Paul had preached Christ and made many converts, the Gnostics attempted to add their own spin to the Gospel. They were somewhat successful at leading some away from the truth.

Are you being led away from the truth? One indication is what you believe about the Bible. Do you believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired word of God? Another indication is whether or not you know, read and study your Bible. Even if you answered “yes” to both of the indicators, you still could be being led away from the truth; although it is not as likely. What does the man in the pulpit of your church think about the Bible? Does he preach the Gospel or does he preach messages with references to Gospel passages? Do the messages that reference Scripture use the meaning of Scripture that you would get by reading that passage in context or is the meaning changed to emphasize the point the preacher is trying to make?

St Nicholas' Kirk

St Nicholas’ Kirk (Photo credit: Nick in exsilio)

I attend a church where the pastor delivers messages with scriptural references. I am also reading at least one book that the pastor has highly recommended. What I am discovering is that my pastor is teaching from books other than the Bible. That isn’t necessarily wrong. It does however, send up a red flag. I need to be a “good Berean” and search the scriptures to verify what he is teaching. If “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correcting and for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work”, why then would a pastor need to teach from any other book. Just because it comes from the pulpit at your church, don’t believe blindly what the pastor says, check it out for yourself. Better yet, become so familiar with the truth that a half truth or a lie is repugnant on its face.


Points of Comparison

For some reason lately, when I read the Bible, I see America’s situation in the annals of ancient Israel. How am I like other America haters both in this country and in the world. One way I can think I am different is that rather than proclaim “Death to America” I pray for our countries repentance.

Are there good people in this country? According to Jesus, only God is good so the answer to that one is no. However, relatively speaking there are many people who try to do the right thing. One of the problems is that there are so many people of authority that are misguided and will not listen to the truth. People like the teachers. How did we get so many tenured professors that are socialists/progressives? The once great Christian institutions like Harvard and Yale, established to educate their students in the way of the truth of the Gospel, are now the leading proponents of atheism.

Yale Bowl during "The Game" between ...

Yale Bowl during “The Game” between Yale and Harvard. The Bowl was also the home of the NFL’s New York Giants from 1973–1974. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The courts that are supposed to guarantee our rights are perverting the constitution to mean something that it doesn’t say and are thereby denying Americans their freedoms.

The self serving politicians are doing nothing to stop the erosion of our freedoms. The rule of the day in Washington is compromise. There is no such thing in Washington as standing on your principles!

The media is barraging us constantly with progressive ideas and calling us haters of whatever when we stand up for what is right.

We have seen the major denominations of the Christian church cave in the these progressive pressures.

Then there is the Word of God. People misinterpret it, conveniently ignore parts of it and sometimes even try to change it; however the Word of God stands. The truth! A beacon of hope in a fallen world. To realize the hope that Scripture provides, read it, memorize it, and meditate on it. The Word of God will change your life. Then encourage your family and friends to do the same. We can, as a country, return to God; one person at a time.

Can We Hear the Voice of God? (Part 9)

Why Is Scripture Authoritative?

Holy Scripture is God speaking. That simple but profound statement is why Christians believe that Scripture is our highest authority by which all other lesser authorities are tested. Practically, this means that lesser courts of reason, tradition, and culture are under the highest court of truth, which is divinely inspired Scripture.

By contrast, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches teach that Scripture is a part of the larger pool of revelation that the church uses in its teaching. The authority is not in the Bible itself, but in the teaching office of the church.

Others appeal to the so-called Wesleyan Quadrilateral:

Wesley believed that the living core if the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illuminated by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason. Scripture [however] is primary, revealing the Word of God “so far as it is necessary for our salvation.

In practice, though, the Bible often becomes just one of four major sources of authority to be balanced. Thus, when contemporary critical theories of the Bible start to be taken seriously, the Bible is often judged by other authorities.

The central development of the Protestant Reformation was the return to Scripture as supreme authority. The reformers coined the slogan sola Scriptura (sometimes prima Scriptura) to summarize this conviction. Nothing judges Scripture. It judges everything else. As followers of Jesus, we take the same stance He did and receive the Bible alone as infallible, inerrant truth from God with full authority in our lives.

English: Mural of Protestant Reformation, Mour...

English: Mural of Protestant Reformation, Mourneview A mural of the key players in the Protestant Reformation – at the shops on Mourne Road in Lurgan’s Mourneview Estate. There was a loyalist paramilitary mural here originally. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bible is a living book of God authoritatively speaking as a perfect Father to children He dearly loves. The Bible tells us to live Godly lives. For example, it commands us to “put away falsehood” and “speak the truth with our neighbor”, not as arbitrary rules of conduct but as church family members who are “members one of another.” It is a story of what is best in a loving family, a family we are invited to be a part of, a family leaving sin and dysfunction and growing to maturity and fulfillment. It is the story of the God of redemption rescuing us from rebellion, brokenness, sin and death. Its authority is that in these inspired words we find how to connect with the forgiving and transforming power of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Sinful Nature of Man

It’s everywhere! This weekend we heard of a devout Christian businessman, Dan Cathey, honestly proclaim the truth of the Bible; that God‘s idea of marriage, and his, is one man and one woman. For this proclamation of the truth, Dan has been at the center of a firestorm of controversy.


Chick-fil-A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you probably know, Dan id the founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A. It is not secret that Chick-fil-a is run according to Christian principles. The politicians that started this controversy, apparently cannot stand that someone who lives by a set of immutable principles is a success in America. The mayors of several cities are threatening not allow Chick-fil-a to operate in their cities because of Mr. Cathey’s view. These politicians are declaring sin to be good and God’s best to be evil. I think even more they want to take over the church. That’s what politicians do when they can’t pervert God’s law from without; they attack it from within.

We see that God’s word has been undermined in at least 4 major denominations that have ordained homosexual clergy. It occurs to me that the laity of these congregations more than likely don’t read the Bible and if they do, don’t understand it. I maintain that if you are a Christian and don’t KNOW the word of God; do not feed on the word of God daily, you may be letting the enemy in through that gaping chasm. Why else would king David have said, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against thee.”

Contemplate the words of Isaiah, “The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! Let us eat and drink, you say, for tomorrow we die! The Lord Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: ‘Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,’ says the Lord, the Lord Almighty.”

We have a choice! Be a slave to sin or be a slave to God. Which do you choose?

It Takes Faith? Really?

I just read another unbelievable story in the Old Testament! Ok, maybe the events really happened as the Bible says, but give those events to a modern reporter and the you’ll have quite a different story.

Cover of "The Battle Is Not Yours"

Cover of The Battle Is Not Yours

Supposedly, during the rule of King Jehoshaphat, the Moabites, Ammonites and some of the Meunites came to make war against Jehoshaphat. This had Jehoshaphat and the kingdom of Judah worried because they knew they were not powerful enough to vanquish such a large army. So the only thing that they could do was to gather together and pray to their God for protection from their enemies. During the assembly Jahaziel spoke a message to the assembly from the Lord. “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” There was more that he spoke (2 Chronicles 20:16-17), but I’ll let you read it for yourself.

The story says that the Army of Judah went out to the battlefield but instead of fighting sang praises to the LORD. Here’s the unbelievable part. God confused the three armies and they destroyed each other. Judah was because there was no one left alive to fight. Do you believe it?

I wonder how many of the people that were there believed it. In the same chapter of 2 Chronicles the text describes how Jehoshaphat sinned because he did not trust God (vs.35 -37). Really? After witnessing a miraculous victory, the king did not trust God? Was the historian who wrote this story really naïve enough to believe it? Or did God really intervene in a hopeless situation? You have your choice, with God or without God. Either way the story is incredible to say the least.

Every day we are face with miracles! The miracle of birth; the miracle of the interdependence of the ecosystem and the flora and fauna. God surrounds us with miracles every day. They are so common that we take them for granted and attribute them to other forces that are more incredible than God’s intervention. So is God the sustainer of the universe? You get to decide! Decide right and the Bible says you are destined for everlasting glory. Decide wrong and its everlasting torment.

Oh, here is one last thought; “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)

Only the Good

Cover of "Spiritual Life"

Cover of Spiritual Life

When the Bible talks about life and death, it is hard to determine if the text means spiritual death or physical death; spiritual life or physical life. Of course when the reader has the right frame of reference in some passages it is easy; passages like, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it.” After much thought and reading of scripture, that passage becomes clear.

It is said by people that “only the good die young”. The Bible says, “Fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.” Does this passage from proverbs 10 mean spiritual life or physical life? I think when Solomon wrote it, he meant physical life. Of course, with his wisdom he could have meant both. In that day, if you feared the LORD you would have obeyed all of the law. The law of God was the law of the land. Not unlike the Muslim countries of today. By obeying the law, you would preserve your life because many transgressions had the penalty of death (physical).

Today, in America, God’s law is not the law of the land. Far from it. The death penalty is an anathema to many. Our legal system is reticent to carry out its own verdict of capital punishment. However God’s system of justice is still in effect. The transgression of God’s law still results in death (spiritual); “the wages of sin is death”. It seems sinful to not complete Romans 6:23, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD”.

“Only the good die young.” Jesus said that “only God is good” and He ain’t dead. Humanity, however is dead in its sin. Christians are alive in Jesus and have been proclaimed righteous. it may be that only the good die young, but the righteous will live forever!

A Puzzle?

Have you ever noticed that many preachers, when teaching from the word, almost always have 4 or 5 other verses to support the verse that they are teaching? Have you ever wondered why?

Sometimes that habit is so annoying. At other times it is so enlightening. One thing for sure, if you are following along in your Bible, that book will look worn after a short time. Is that why they do it; to make your Bible look well used?

Any student of the Bible has heard the saying, “Let Scripture interpret Scripture.” That sounds moronic to the uninitiated. But that is exactly what the Bible expositor is trying to do when he uses cross references. Does it work? I suppose that depends on the skill of the preacher.

Why am I asking these questions? This morning my devotional reading is from Proverbs. Proverbs 4 says, “The beginning of wisdom is acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.” What does that mean? I think we first have to define wisdom. Wikipedia defines it this way, “Wisdom is a deep understanding anrealization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding.” Webster defines it this way:


Bible (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

a: accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : knowledge b: ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight c: good sense : judgment d: generally accepted belief

: a wise attitude, belief, or course of action

: the teachings of the ancient wise men

I think I will have to go with Webster on this one. Solomon is talking about the accumulated philosophic or scientific learning. All of that learning is just vanity unless you gain understanding to go with it; which is why Solomon adds “and with all your acquiring get understanding”. So wisdom is the combination of knowledge and understanding the application of that knowledge. That seems pretty straight forward. Add to that Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” and the passage takes on a different hue.

With this in mind, to get the whole counsel of God; to understand what the Bible is about, it is necessary to read the entire book. I have heard that some Christians believe that they only need the New Testament. Since the New Testament is based on the Old Testament, they would have a hard time understanding it. Other people’s knowledge of the Scripture is what they get on Sunday morning. The arguably greatest bible expositor of our time, John McArthur, recently celebrated a milestone in his career, after forty years, he completed teaching the New Testament. Can you afford to wait that long to acquire the wisdom of God?

I am going through the entire bible for the fifth time. To read the Bible in a year only takes about 15 minutes a day. Still God’s word is new and fresh. Each time I read through it I gain understanding I didn’t have before. When I study a book or chapter, I gain even greater understanding. I can’t help but wonder how much I have missed by starting my Bible reading program so late in life.

If you are not reading Scripture daily, how much of God’s blessing for you are you leaving unclaimed?

The Wisdom of God

English: Wisdom of God, Buckland Road. A grade...

English: Wisdom of God, Buckland Road. A grade I listed Anglican church with the unusual dedication to “Jesus Christ the Wisdom of God”, which is pretty enough outside but its real treasures are within. Unique in England, its basilica-style interior is filled with genuine marbles and mosaics from ancient Rome and Byzantium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shortly after Solomon took the throne, God appeared to him and asked , “What shall I give you?” We all know how Solomon answered. Do we know why God was pleased with that answer?

The Bible tells us that. “Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth of honor, or the life of those who hate you, nor have you even asked for long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule My people over whom I have made you king” (2 Chronicles 1). After reading 2 Chronicles 1 did you notice that Solomon’s request was not selfish? He was asking for wisdom so that he could do the job that God had given him to do; rule over God’s people. I think that Solomon had wisdom already. He had the wisdom to ask for that which God wanted to give him and in fact had already given him so that God would be glorified.

Solomon received a bonus as well. Because he asked for a Godly gift, God granted him earthly riches as well. This whole story reminds me of what Jesus said in Mathew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

Are you ready to pursue the wisdom of God?

Close to Him

Nice Talking to Me

Nice Talking to Me (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.” These words of David are recorded in 2 Samuel 23. “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me”. David is not saying that God spoke to him, what he is saying is that God spoke through him. David’s words were actually God’s words. Yet I don’t recall where David was a prophet or God’s messenger.

Can you imagine being that close to God. So close, so connected that you are aware that the words you are saying are actually the words of God speaking through you. That does sound like a prophet, doesn’t it?

You can be that close to God! We are assured many times in the Bible that if we earnestly seek God, we will find Him! When we look at David’s life, we see that he was devoted to God. His life was a prayer, a song, a testimony! David lived for the glory of God. We all know that David was not perfect in his quest to serve God. He allowed some very grievous sins to creep into his life. Sometimes, it took others to point out his sin but as soon as it was pointed out, David repented.

Psalm 119 says, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.” By reading and knowing God’s word, by meditating on God’s word, and by the power of the Spirit of God who dwells within us, we can avoid sin and live a life that is pleasing to God. And what is it that pleases God? Complete trust in Him, faith!

Through faith, and diligently seeking Him; through discipleship, we can be close to Him!

Choose This Day Who You Will Serve

A Treatise On Matthew 6:19 – 34

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.
But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I referenced Matthew 6:19-34 so that you could follow along in your translation of the Bible. I use the New American Standard Bible (NASB) in almost all of my Bible quotes. If I use another translation it will be noted.

The Open Edition of the New American Standard ...

The Open Edition of the New American Standard Bible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The topic of the first section (verses 19 – 24) is wealth; the topic of the next section is anxiety or worry.

Jesus point in verses 19 through 24 is that earthly treasure, whatever that may be is at best temporary. If your treasure is money, thieves can steal it! Your own lustful desires can cause you to misspend your wealth thereby depriving you of both your treasure and probably the thing you spend it on.

But let’s say you wisely spend your money (by earthly standards) on houses, stocks, cars, art, etc. The houses require constant maintenance to preserve their value. Even then, ups and downs in the market can cause you to lose your equity if not your whole investment. Then there are natural disasters like floods, fires, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes that can destroy your house and potentially wipe you out. The same is true for the other investments! None of them is lasting!

Another thing you have probably forgotten; none of them are yours! We are reminded of this in Psalm 24, “The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” So by attempting to amass treasure for yourself you are stealing from God! You need to ask yourself these questions: “What would God have me do with what He has given me?”; “How can I use this to honor God?” If you ask yourself those questions, answer them honestly, and then act appropriately on the answers, you will be storing up treasure in heaven! Jesus then declares that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. He makes this declaration so that you can assess yourself; is your treasure on earth or in heaven?

When He states that the eye is the lamp of the body he is using a metaphor. The Greek word for eye is ‘ophthalmos’. One of the possible translations for this is ‘envy’. Doctor Donald A. Hagner’s commentary on Matthew says, “… is the ‘evil eye’ of Near Eastern cultures – an eye that enviously covets what belongs to another”. Dr, Hagner’s translation of verses 22 and 23 is:

The Eye enables a person to see light. If, therefore, your eye is generous, your whole person will be full of light. But if your eye is covetous, your whole person will be full of darkness. If therefore, the very organ that should bring you light is the source of darkness in you, how great is your darkness.

As is typical in the Bible, light is a metaphor for the truth or God (God is a source if spiritual illumination and strength) and of course, darkness is a metaphor for the opposite. It seems to me that what this is saying is that if your treasure is physical, you are chasing a false treasure!

Finally, it is impossible to be the slave of two masters. Make no mistake, you are the slave of that which you serve. You were created by God to serve Him! Again I refer to Psalm 24 referenced above. You must either be the slave of God or of earthly wealth. You can’t do both or divide your time. One of your masters will appropriate your affections. Your actions will show everyone where your desires lay.

My NASB Bible inserts a heading at this point which I decided to leave out. The heading is “A Cure for Anxiety”. My New King James translation’s heading is “Do Not Worry”. My New Living translation’s heading is “Jesus teaches about Worry”. My point is that the heading leads the reader to believe that a new topic is being introduced. But is it?

In some translations, the first word in verse 25 is “therefore”. I believe we have all heard a preacher say “When you see the word ‘therefore, you should find out what it is there for!” The Encarta Online dictionary defines therefore as “and so, or because of that”. It stands to reason what follows is an extension of what was said previously. In a nutshell, what was Jesus’ point? Jesus’ point was that either you serve God or you serve yourself, your covetous nature.

My NASB starts off “For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life”. I believe what Jesus means can be phrased like this, “If God is your master, why do you worry about the temporal things? Things like “What will I eat?” or “What will I drink?” or “What will I wear?” I will paraphrase verses 26 through 32.

Doesn’t God take care of the birds? They don’t sow or reap or gather crops into a storehouse, yet they are fed by your Heavenly Father! Does this mean that some birds don’t go hungry? No! Does this mean that some birds don’t die of starvation? No! But they don’t shorten their lives with worry, either!

Consider the flowers. They don’t have to work for their attire. Not even Solomon was clothed as beautifully as one of the lilies of the field. Your Heavenly Father bestows this beauty this beauty on flowers which are here today and gone tomorrow. Does this mean that all flowers are beautifully decked out? No! It does mean that God has given to each what He wanted them to have.

Aren’t you more important than flowers and birds? So, if God takes care of the flowers and the birds, won’t he take care of you also. Does this mean that you will never be hungry? No! Does this mean that you will never be thirsty? No! Does this mean that you will never be poorly clothed? No! Will working hard and worrying about what you will eat and what you will drink and what you will wear mean that you will never be hungry or thirsty or poorly clothed? No!

So if working hard and worrying produces the same result as having faith and trusting in God, why worry? Live by faith!

In verse 33, Jesus is telling you how you should live to produce the heavenly treasure. Wait, didn’t we talk about that in verse 24. He who serves God will have treasure in heaven. To serve God, the most important thing you can do is make the kingdom of God and the righteousness He demands your number one priority. If you do that and let God take care of the necessities of life, you just may find that God will take care of you. You may get hungry or thirsty or become naked, but if that is God’s will, nothing you can do will change that. Don’t forget that God may test your faith!

English: Biting one's lip can be a physical ma...

English: Biting one’s lip can be a physical manifestation of worry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember how God tested Abraham’s faith. When Abraham was a young man, God told him that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham trusted God! Abraham had his first child when he and Sarah were well past child bearing age. Later when God told to sacrifice Isaac, the son of the promise, Abraham by faith obeyed. He was fully prepared to sacrifice Isaac and was in the act when God stopped him. Abraham didn’t know how God would fulfill His promise through Isaac if Isaac was dead, but Abraham believed that God would do what He promised!

Don’t make the mistake of the “Christian” who believes that verse 33 means that if you seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will never be hungry or thirsty or naked. That is not what this verse is saying!

Finally, verse thirty-four reiterates the imperative “don’t worry” about things that you have no control over. It detracts from your kingdom work!

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