Monday, 29 April 2019

What is Glorification?

Here's another word which we Christians carelessly toss around. Glorification means to be worthy of praise or to give praise to God. Glory also is used to describe the pure and brilliant light which surrounds God.

We read of God's brilliance in Exodus 24:17 (BBE) which says, "And the glory of the Lord was like a flame on the top of the mountain before the eyes of the children of Israel."

Moses wanted to see the glory of the Lord close up but God didn't show it all to him. Exodus 33:19 (BBE) explains, "And he said, 'I will make all the light of my being come before you, and will make clear to you what I am; I will be kind to those to whom I will be kind, and have mercy on those on whom I will have mercy. But it is not possible for you to see my face, for no man may see me and still go on living."

Glorifying God is praise to him, as we see in 1 Chronicles 16:29 (BBE). "Give to the Lord the glory of his name; take with you an offering and come before him; give worship to the Lord in holy robes."

We also learn from Colossians 1:27 (BBE) that Christ is in us, giving us hope for future glory in heaven with him. "To whom God was pleased to give knowledge of the wealth of the glory of this secret among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"

Paul also reminds us in Colossians 3:4 (BBE) that we will someday share Christ's glory. "At the coming of Christ who is our life, you will be seen with him in glory."

I'll be mentioning this glory in detail in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Non Christians don't know what they're missing out on when they reject salvation. Many believers likewise miss out on the true meaning of the glory we'll share with our heavenly Father. I feel sad for both groups and I pray that my book will awaken in them the desire to study the scriptures as the folks in Beroea did.

On Thursday, I'll begin the month with what mortification means.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Saturday Song: Manfred Mann's Earthband, "Joybringer"

I love the happy message this song by one of my favourite artists brings. No doubt about it, we all need somebody to bring us joy.

Check out this positive song here.

Certainly Paul understood the joy which the good news of Christ brings to the world. Romans 10:15 (KJV) reads, "And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"

We also need to emulate our Lord. Luke 8:1 (KJV) says, "And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,"

Jesus also quoted Isaiah 61:1 (KJV)which reads, "The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;"

And Solomon wrote in Proverbs 25:25 (KJV), "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."

We also must encourage one another. As Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV), "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."

On Monday, I'll post about what glorification means. It's another word often spoken without people properly understanding it.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

What is Consecration?

Another fancy word Christians use is consecration. It means to be set apart or to set something apart for sacred use. Since God wants us to be different from the world's people, he gave us this order to keep us from sinning.

Genesis 6:9 (BBE) shows how even the ancient people were meant to stand apart from sinners. "These are the generations of Noah. Noah was an upright man and without sin in his generation: he went in the ways of God."

We also note that Abraham believed God. Paul noted in Romans 4:3 (BBE), "But what does it say in the holy Writings? And Abraham had faith in God, and it was put to his account as righteousness."

Those who follow the Lord are especially selected for and by him. Psalms 4:3 (KJV) describes this well. "But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him."

We see too that God separated priests and other people for holy tasks. Exodus 28:3 (BBE) says, "Give orders to all the wise-hearted workmen, whom I have made full of the spirit of wisdom, to make robes for Aaron, so that he may be made holy as my priest."

Moreover, we're to be examples to the world of our Lord and how he changes our lives for the better. One example is when Paul and his traveling companions worked to support themselves. They could have taken up a collection but they decided it would be better to fund there own mission trips. As 2 Thessalonians 3:9 (BBE) says, "Not because we have not the right, but to make ourselves an example to you, so that you might do the same."

Non Christians will also recognize true believers because they love each other. As Jesus said in John 13:35 (BBE), "By this it will be clear to all men that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another."

We also rebuke the world by not following them to destruction. As we read in 1 Peter 4:3 and 4 (BBE), "Because for long enough, in times past, we have been living after the way of the Gentiles, given up to the desires of the flesh, to drinking and feasting and loose behaviour and unclean worship of images; And they are wondering that you no longer go with them in this violent wasting of life, and are saying evil things of you:"

I'll be writing more about this in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? We are to be lights to the world but some of us are Christians in name only. What a poor example for a watching world to see.

On Saturday, I'll write about a wonderful song which shows how all of us should be to others.

Monday, 22 April 2019

The Christian Life is Like Bowling

One analogy of sanctification is bowling. The gutters on either side of the lane are legalism and antinomianism. And like in bowling, it's much easier to have the ball roll into the gutter than go straight down the alley.

Legalism, as I've explained before, is reading strictly literal meanings into biblical commands. One example I've written about is tithing. There were three sorts of tithe in the Old Testament but the general idea is to give a tenth of one's income to the Lord's house. Certain Christians make tithing compulsory but the New Testament writers say we should give as God has prospered us.

On the other side of the spiritual bowling lane is antinomianism. This error claims that the Old Testament laws don't apply at all, not even the Ten Commandments. Preachers who teach it claim that we don't need the law and that grace is everything.  Those who believe this feel they can live any way they want to and all will be well because grace covers everything.

The Apostle Paul ran into that same kind of nonsense. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:15 (BBE), "Do you not see that your bodies are part of the body of Christ? how then may I take what is a part of the body of Christ and make it a part of the body of a loose woman? such a thing may not be."

The law is holy, as Paul pointed out, but it's us who are sinful and need its light to reveal our wickedness. As Romans 7:13 (BBE) demonstrates, "Was then that which is good, death to me? In no way. But the purpose was that sin might be seen to be sin by working death to me through that which is good; so that through the orders of the law sin might seem much more evil."

Scripture likens following God as walking straight forward. One example is in 2 Chronicles 34:1 and 2 (BBE). "Josiah was eight years old when he became king; he was ruling in Jerusalem for thirty-one years. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, walking in the ways of his father David, without turning to the right hand or to the left."

Sin is like the ball turning away from the center of the alley. Ezekiel 3:19 (BBE) advises, "But if you give the evil-doer word of his danger, and he is not turned from his sin or from his evil way, death will overtake him in his evil-doing; but your life will be safe."

Solomon also said in Proverbs 4:27 (BBE), "Let there be no turning to the right or to the left, keep your feet from evil"."

I could also add other verses which exhort us to keep on the straight and narrow road. Instead, I'll save those for my book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Satan is always trying to distract us from following Christ. One way he does that is with wrong doctrines which seem to offer us something to brag about.

I'll post on Thursday about the meaning of consecration. My hope in posts like that is to take the mystery out of these theological terms.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Saturday Song: Lenny Kravitz, "The Resurrection"

Though Lenny Kravitz is a Christian, he also is a well-respected rock star in his own right. Neither is he afraid to sing about the Lord. I'm glad because I both love Christ and good rock music.

Take a listen to Lenny's song here.

Each Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. But why should this matter so much? It certainly mattered to the early Christians. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:19, (KJV) that, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

We have the hope of our rising from the dead because of what Christ did to pay our death penalty. Romans 6:23 KJV) tells us, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

But why should we be held guilty because of Adam's sin? Because he represents us all and he failed to obey God. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:21 (KJV), "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead."

Revelation 20:6 (KJV) explains why this rising to life eternal is so important to us who obey Christ. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

I hope you liked what I wrote and this beautiful tribute to Christ's resurrection.

On Monday, I'll be posting about how the Christian life is like bowling.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

How Not to Misquote Scripture

I wrote earlier how naive I was as a new believer and how I craved mentoring. Doubtless pastors dream of having congregants like I was in their churches. In fact, I was so ignorant of the scriptures that I thought, "God helps those who help themselves," was in the Bible. It's actually a saying by Benjamin Franklin.

This is one of many reasons we must study, not just read, God's word.  As Moses said in Deuteronomy 32:2 (BBE), "My teaching is dropping like rain, coming down like dew on the fields; like rain on the young grass and showers on the garden plants:" We know that his doctrine came from God, not his own mind.

But we also know that Satan is the master of scripture twisting. While trying to tempt Christ, he caught on to the fact that Jesus quoted verses for his answers. So Satan misappropriated Psalms 91:12 (BBE) which says,"In their hands they will keep you up, so that your foot may not be crushed against a stone."

But Christ was wise enough to come back with a correctly-applied verse. Instead of taking the Devil's dare to throw himself off the temple, he answered in Matthew 4:7 (BBE), "Jesus said to him, Again 'it is in the Writings, You may not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

And as I've pointed out before, knowing the scriptures helps us answer any accusation or question non Christians have. Knowing our Bibles also prevents us from falling for Satan's scripture twisters. As 2 Peter 3:16 (BBE) says of the Apostle Paul's  admonitions,  "And as he said in all his letters, which had to do with these things; in which are some hard sayings, so that, like the rest of the holy Writings, they are twisted by those who are uncertain and without knowledge, to the destruction of their souls."

Satan is always perverting God's sayings. The Pharisees received Christ's harshest condemnation for their lies and hypocrisy, as we see in John 8:44 (BBE). "You are the children of your father the Evil One and it is your pleasure to do his desires. From the first he was a taker of life; and he did not go in the true way because there is no true thing in him. When he says what is false, it is natural to him, for he is false and the father of what is false."

Properly quoting and understanding God's Word is my motivation for writing my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Unless we use precision to discern and apply the truth, we'll be as misled as the Pharisees and those trapped in Christian cults.

On Saturday, I'll post about the Resurrection. This is no mere fable but the very core of our hope. This too is what Satan attacks and minimizes.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Are All Biblical Examples Meant for Us to Follow?

In 1963, a movie called Heavens Above, starring Peter Sellers, came out. It was about a vicar who took scriptures literally rather than literately. This foolish minister ended up bankrupting the local businesses and his church.

This film also shows how foolish Christians can be when they spout scriptures without knowing their contexts and meanings. One example is the rich, young ruler who came to Christ and asked how he might enter the kingdom of heaven. Imagine if everybody did what Jesus said to him in Mark 10:21 (BBE). "And Jesus, looking on him and loving him, said, 'There is one thing needed: go, get money for your goods, and give it to the poor, and you will have wealth in heaven: and come with me.'"

Who would have the money to support missions if we all sold our possessions? How would churches exist without donations? Governments certainly wouldn't help us out, given their hostility to Christianity.

The reason Jesus said this to that man was because he loved his riches more than God. We could say that wealth was his god.

Some people do the flip-and-point method of finding out God's will for them in Scripture. This is a foolish way to read the Bible. Like what the butler said to the vicar in Heavens Above, he was to Apply Matthew 27:5 (BBE) to himself. It reads, "And he put down the silver in the Temple and went out, and put himself to death by hanging." Would those foolish Christians do that if their finger landed on that verse?

Then the butler quoted John 13:27 (BBE) which reads, "And when Judas took the bread Satan went into him. Then Jesus said to him, 'Do quickly what you have to do.'"

This is a silly example but some folks have actually maimed themselves. I've heard that a man in a bad marriage cut off his right hand because he read Mark 9:43 (BBE) which instructs, "And if your hand is a cause of trouble to you, let it be cut off; it is better for you to go into life with one hand than to have two hands and go into hell, into the eternal fire."

For this and other reasons, I'm writing a book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? I don't want anybody to assume they're going there and then find out at death that they're sentenced to eternal damnation.

On Thursday, I'll be addressing the subject of how not to misquote Scripture.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Saturday Song: Canned Heat, "Let's Work Together"

Cooperation certainly is one thing people strive for. And though some forms of cooperation aren't helpful to humanity, such as wars and crime, we generally agree that good cooperation achieves amazing benefits for all.

One of my favourite songs is "Let's Work Together." We really do need to make this world a better place for all humanity.

Listen to this encouraging song here.

We Christians also need to work together to bring many lost souls into the Kingdom. Jesus told his disciples, as well as us, to do this. Matthew 9:37  and 38 (KJV) reads, "Then saith he unto his disciples, 'The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.'"

I believe this crop consists of saved sinners. Look at what Matthew 6:19 and 20 KJV) says. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:"

When we meet the Lord, we'll find out just how many folks will thank us for giving them the gospel. Revelation 7:9 (KJV) states, "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;"

What a wonderful day that will be. Until then, we must share the good news of salvation with every one.

I'll be posting on Monday, computer problems not withstanding, about a Peter Sellers film that points out the foolishness of folks taking scriptures too literally.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Understanding Biblical Customs

As with context, we need to know about the law and why Israelites were told to observe various sacrifices and holy days. Otherwise, the New Testament makes little sense.

Animals were sacrificed for forgiveness in place of us because they can't sin. Right from the start, God killed an animal and clothed Adam and Eve with its skin to cover their nakedness.

One important custom is the slaughter of the Passover lamb. The Passover is symbolic of God's grace covering his people, protecting them from death. Exodus 12:12 and 13(BBE) reads, "For on that night I will go through the land of Egypt, sending death on every first male child, of man and of beast, and judging all the gods of Egypt: I am the Lord. And the blood will be a sign on the houses where you are: when I see the blood I will go over you, and no evil will come on you for your destruction, when my hand is on the land of Egypt."

This is why John the Baptist said what he said in John 1:29 (BBE). "John sees Jesus coming to him and says, See, here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Christ was that pure and unspotted lamb who was sacrificed for all."

We also see that none of his bones were broken. John 19:36 (BBE) says, "36   These things came about so that the Writings might be true, No bone of his body will be broken.

Why was that detail important? John referred to Exodus 12:46 (BBE) which instructed Israelites about the Passover lamb, "It is to be taken in one house; not a bit of the flesh is to be taken out of the house, and no bone of it may be broken."

In fact, the entire worship process pointed to Christ who was the reality of these types and shadows. Hebrews 8:5 says of the priesthood, "Being servants of that which is a copy and an image of the things in heaven, as Moses, when he was about to make the Tent, had special orders from God: 'for, See,' he said, 'that you make everything like the design which you saw in the mountain.'"

And as Hebrews 10:1 (BBE) explains, "For the law, being only a poor copy of the future good things, and not the true image of those things, is never able to make the people who come to the altar every year with the same offerings completely clean." Only Christ could do that.

This is a large topic and I'm sure it could make a whole book's worth of commentary. I'll add just a small portion of it to my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? The Old Testament pointed to Christ and understanding that truth is crucial to our growth in faith.

Saturday's song will be about a band's call for us all to work together.

Monday, 8 April 2019

What is Context?

Context means the setting in which a quote is placed. For example, we say it's raining cats and dogs when a downpour occurs. We don't mean that domesticated pets are falling out of the sky but that the rain is coming down in torrents.

A classic example of misunderstanding the context of a verse is Matthew 18:18. Pentecostal Christians believe it means we can bind and loose demons. This is most certainly not the case since demons aren't even mentioned in the chapter.

We see that the chapter starts off with the disciples asking who will be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. As Matthew 18:3 (BBE) says, "And said, Truly, I say to you, If you do not have a change of heart and become like little children, you will not go into the kingdom of heaven."

We read next in Matthew 18:6 (BBE) how Christ felt about those who mislead believers who trust in him. "But whoever is a cause of trouble to one of these little ones who have faith in me, it would be better for him to have a great stone fixed to his neck, and to come to his end in the deep sea."

After explaining how people should get rid of believers who mislead others, Christ spoke about how the heavenly Father seeks the lost. Matthew 18:12 (BBE) records this parable. "What would you say now? if a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone wandering away, will he not let the ninety-nine be, and go to the mountains in search of the wandering one?"

In Matthew 18:15 (BBE), Jesus starts a conversation about disciplining sinful church members. "And if your brother does wrong to you, go, make clear to him his error between you and him in private: if he gives ear to you, you have got your brother back again.

And just as there are no mentions of evil spirits in the chapter, there is no mention of poorly-attended prayer meetings. Matthew 18:20 (BBE) is often misunderstood to mean that Jesus will be in our midst when we gather. It actually means that he'll lend his authority to the decision of church elders who exercise church discipline. In Judaism, the word of one witness isn't enough to bring a case against somebody.

Look at what Hebrews 10:28 (BBE) says regarding how wayward and unrepentant believers were punished under the law. "A man who has gone against the law of Moses is put to death without pity on the word of two or three witnesses:"

These are just two examples of scriptures being wrenched out of context. The first was the supposed binding and loosing of demons. The second was twisted to mean a gathering to worship or pray when it actually means meeting to judge a wayward Christian.

I'll be dealing with this in my You Think You're Going to Heaven? book. Pastors, often without realizing it, are misleading their flocks. May the Lord use my writing to straighten them out.

On Thursday, I'll deal with the topic of biblical customs and why they were done. I'll also point out the reason we need to know the instructional purpose of these ancient rites.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Saturday Song: Strawbs, "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus"

I certainly feel sorry for delusional people. They honestly believe their view of reality is true and they can't understand why everybody doubts them. I've known folks like that. To them, people really were spying on them or stealing their possessions.

A band called Strawbs recorded this interesting song on one of their albums in the late sixties. I don't know if it was based on a true event but it's still an interesting song.

Listen to it here:

The real Jesus warned his followers about a far more sinister group of imposters. Whether they actually believed their delusion or not, their claims to be the Christ were prophesied by our Lord.

Our Lord warned in Matthew 24:24 (KJV), "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."

Not only that but there are fakers who claim to have God's revelations yet they're in fact deceivers. We read in 1 John 2:18 (KJV) that, "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time."

Mentally-ill people can be excused for their delusions but not deliberate agents of Satan. This is why we absolutely must know the Word of God so well that we can spot a counterfeit preacher instantly.

On Monday, I'll post about what context is and why it's so important to consider it when studying the Bible. Scriptures can be twisted to mean what they aren't supposed to if not for this discernment skill.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Must We Study the Bible?

This sounds like a stupid question. Even so, some Christians feel it's too hard even to read the scriptures. They'd rather let the preacher do all the work or read a devotional each morning or evening.

Scripture itself has plenty to say about study. One early mention of this was in Nehemiah 8:8 (KJV). When the nation of Israel returned from Babylon where they were taken captive, the leaders decided to re-acquaint the people with the Book of the Law.   "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading."

Earlier on, Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt. Before he died, he spoke to the assembly all the things which God had him write down. Deuteronomy 30:10 and 11 (BBE) reads, "If you give ear to the voice of the Lord your God, keeping his orders and his laws which are recorded in this book of the law, and turning to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. For these orders which I have given you today are not strange and secret, and are not far away."

King David also loved the Book of the Law. In fact, he memorized it. Psalms 119:11 (BBE) states, "I have kept your sayings secretly in my heart, so that I might do no sin against you."

We see as well that studying was important in the New Testament. Paul admonished in 2 Timothy 2:15 (BBE) to, "Let it be your care to get the approval of God, as a workman who has no cause for shame, giving the true word in the right way."

We should also be like the people in the town of Beroea. Acts 17:11 (BBE) records, "Now these were more noble than the Jews of Thessalonica, for they gave serious attention to the word, searching in the holy Writings every day, to see if these things were so.

We also need to know what the scriptures say so we won't be confused by liars preaching false doctrines. Ephesians 4:14 and 15 (BBE), in reference to growing more Christ-like, says, "So that we may be no longer children, sent this way and that, turned about by every wind of teaching, by the twisting and tricks of men, by the deceits of error; But saying true words in love, may come to full growth in him, who is the head, even Christ;"

There is so much more I could write about this vast topic. It'll be part of my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? After all, why should folks call themselves Christians but have no desire to learn about their Lord and Master who bought them from their slavery to sin?

On Saturday, I'll post a song about a delusional man who felt convinced that he was Jesus.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Who Are the Fools?

Since today is April Fools Day, I might as well deal with those people who are truly foolish. The Bible has much to say about fools and it uses examples to help us become wiser.

According to the Bible, being an atheist is foolish. Psalms 14:1 (BBE) reads, "(To the chief music-maker. Of David.) The foolish man has said in his heart, 'God will not do anything.' They are unclean, they have done evil works; there is not one who does good."

In fact, respecting God makes a person wise. Check out what Psalms 111:10 (BBE) has to say. "The fear of the Lord is the best part of wisdom: all those who keep his laws are wise: his praise is eternal."

So, how do we grow in wisdom? Proverbs 8:13 (BBE) explains, "The fear of the Lord is seen in hating evil: pride, a high opinion of oneself, the evil way, and the false tongue, are unpleasing to me."

Unrestrained anger is another trap we, and especially fools, can fall into. As Solomon noted in Ecclesiastes 7:9 (BBE), "Be not quick to let your spirit be angry; because wrath is in the heart of the foolish."

But there is one sort of "foolishness" which Scripture approves of. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18 (BBE), "For the word of the cross seems foolish to those who are on the way to destruction; but to us who are on the way to salvation it is the power of God."

We easily see how preaching about the crucifixion of our Lord and the need for repentance seems idiotic to worldly people. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:21 (KJV) showing why this is. "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."

The world thinks we're fools while being far more foolish themselves. I'll add this to my next paperback called You Think You're Going to Heaven? People must accept that Christ is the only one who can grant them entrance into heaven. Forsaking sin and following Jesus are the only actions our Lord will accept.

On Thursday, I'll post about why we must study the Bible. After all, we call ourselves Christians so we ought to know what our Lord has taught.