Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Shall We Do With Jesus?

English: A cropped version of Antonio Ciseri's...
 A cropped version of Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people. See: Eccehomo1.jpg for full version.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

Psalm 22:22-23
English Standard Version (ESV)

        Every day we are faced with questions.   We decide what we will wear, what we will eat, where we will go or what we will do.   Most of these are easy, things done with barely a passing thought.  They involve decisions nevertheless and whatever we decide is rarely ever of any consequence.

         Then there are those bigger life decisions.  Should I take this job?   Should I make my life with this person?   Should we have this child?   These types or decisions call for more thought.  They are decisions that could decide the quality of our lives and state of our affairs.

         But how often are we faced with those questions that can affect us into eternity?   Pontius Pilate asked the mobs about what he should do with Jesus Christ.   Their answer was to reject Jesus as Messiah and instead put him to death.

          Each of us will have to face the question of what to do with this "Jesus who is called Christ".  Perhaps you have answered. Or maybe you are still undecided.   The question must be answered eventually by each of us.

           What is your answer? 

           This post was inspired by Oliver B. Greene's The Greatest Question.  If you like good expository books about the Bible this one is an excellent choice.  I believe it would be a helpful tool in witnessing to others.

Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!”
Matthew 27:22
English Standard Version (ESV)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jerusalem: Evidence of the Veracity of Bible Prophecy

English: Mamila area in Jerusalem night shot ע...
 Mamila area in Jerusalem night shot
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Those who love you will prosper.
Psalm 122:6
World English Bible (WEB)

        Anyone who is looking for evidence that the Holy Bible is true need not speculate much farther than what it says about the holiest of cities, Jerusalem.   Since this city was founded in about 3000 B.C. by King David it has been the focus of the sacred as well as the profane.  Many Biblical prophecies involve what will happen to Jerusalem.  More than a few of these prophecies came to be while we see others coming closer to fruition.   The prophet Zechariah prophesied that Jerusalem would become "a cup of trembling and a burdensome stone".  Has this not been the case now for many centuries?   And from the news we see that this situation is becoming even more true.

       The numerous prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus Christ as Messiah should be enough evidence for die hard skeptics to be convinced of the great truth contained in the Holy Bible.  However many continue to resist this truth or turn the blind eyes of ignorance away from accepting this truth.   Some will say the Jesus story is a mythological concoction contrived by conspiracists.   They will argue to their graves about their beliefs, yet they cannot make their case into eternity.   Accepting Jesus can come from knowledge of historical fact, but it is still primarily a matter of the faith in the heart and mind of the one who believes.

        The city of Jerusalem is another story that continues to unfold even in our time.   Those who are willing to study scripture will discover many prophecies about Jerusalem recorded thousands of years ago.  Quite a few of these have already happened.    More Jerusalem and Israel centered events continue to be the headlines in our time.   Jerusalem is the prize that many leaders want to control.   This fact is found in the pages of the Bible.

         An astute reader of the Bible can see what is coming.  From the looks of things on the current events scene, the final prophecies about Jerusalem seem to be close at hand.  You might deny Jesus, but it's difficult to deny Jerusalem in Biblical prophecy.   Once you've accepted what the Bible has to say about Jerusalem, it might be time to reconsider what the Bible says about Jesus.   The two are inextricably linked.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written."
Luke 21:20-22
English Standard Version (ESV)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Angels Stirring the Waters

King James Version of the Bible
King James Version of the Bible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Psalm 91:11-12
New King James Version (NKJV)

        Angels make numerous appearances throughout the Bible.  They serve as messengers, defenders, challengers, and comforters to name a few of their duties.   They are agents who serve God and offer hope to the Godly.   

         Some of these stories may raise more questions than are answered in the text of scripture.  In fact, some Biblical scholars dispute the King James translation as not being absolutely accurate while there are King James only advocates who believe that their preferred version is the only God-inspired version.   The King James version was translated from a Greek text that appeared after older texts that were used in some of the more modern translations.  

          This is not to say that one version is more definitive or superior than another, but we should be aware of subtle differences in the various translations.  For this reason we should not confine ourselves strictly to any one translation of the Bible.  Sometimes comparing the differences in phrasing and words used can help shed more light on confusing passages.   The use of solid Bible commentaries can also be very useful in studying scripture.

          A good example to look at in comparative studies comes from John 5 where  Jesus heals the lame man at the pool of Bethesda.   Many modern translations omit the fourth verse that is found in the King James translation.   It does seem to be a somewhat odd verse when you think about it especially in context of the healing that Jesus performs for the lame man.

          I believe that the King James version is beautifully rendered and God-inspired, but I won't say that it is the definitive translation especially from the perspective of modern readers.   There is good reason to use more than one translation of the Bible.  As long as the truth is within the covers of the book you are using, then there is value to using it.

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

John 5:1-4
King James Version (KJV)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Does Getting Old Have to Be Bad?

The Christian concept of apocatastasis include...
The Christian concept of apocatastasis includes a restoration of the world to its original state, as in the Garden of Eden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.

Psalm 90:9
New International Version (NIV)

        Sure, we can blame our circumstance on Original Sin, but that's no excuse for disobeying God.  Our sin is not Adam's fault, Eve's fault, nor the fault of anyone else but ourselves.  We can cower from God or resent his authority over us, yet the fact remains that God rules and his wrath upon unrepentant sinners is real.

         Some may laugh at the concept of an all-powerful Creator/Savior.  Many scoff at the laws of living as presented by scripture.  Woe to those who go through life without accepting God's grace and understanding His plan of salvation.    These are the ones who will be excluded from a glorious eternity with the one who put us here in the first place.

         Should we fear growing older, the degeneration of our mortal shells, and our eventual demise?   Uncertainty is the primary component of fear.   When we make the rules and live life according to our own plan of understanding, then we end up not understanding much and wasting away into the creation of a self-made world that offers no lasting hope.   We cannot save ourselves.

           There is hope for those of us who look beyond the limitations of our humanness.   God loves us and wants us to grow in His Word and His Way.   In our discomforts, we can be comforted.   We can conquer doubts and fears with God's power.   God is with us in this life.   And if we are with God then we have an eternity of blessing ahead of us.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Harvest of Sowing

A charitable couple giving money to a poor monk.
A charitable couple giving money to a poor monk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and He will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:17
New International Version (NIV)

          Poverty does not always have something to do with money or assets.  When we think about giving to "the poor", we often picture handing coins to some destitute street person with a scrawled sign asking for money.   Or we might think about giving money to help a charitable organization that takes care of the needy.   These are fine ways to help and we should be encouraged to help those who are in need of resources.

          Some of us might be a bit strapped for funds ourselves to the point that there seems little we can do to help the poor with monetary giving.   Keep in mind that needs are not always addressed by giving money.  Volunteering to help others is an excellent way to lend to the Lord.    Sometimes just hanging out with a person who is lonely, suffering, or sad can be as good as gold to that person.

          Your time and your talent are God's gifts to you.  They are meant to be used to help others.  When you become a person who gives freely to others, you will find yourself blessed in return.   Don't think that if you have financial abundance that just dishing out big checks is all you need to do.  Sure, keep on giving away the money if you have it to give, but don't forget your other assets that God has blessed you with.

         And if you don't have the money to spare, you surely have something that you can share with others.  Be a light in the darkness.   Start with the simple things--a smile, a kind word, or a helping hand.  See what happens.    Receiving a smile in return for the one you've given is a good feeling.    Someone out there needs your love and encouragement.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Luke 6:38
New International Version (NIV)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Where Can I Find the Truth?

Worship before the Throne of God
Worship before the Throne of God (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Psalm 24:8
King James Version (KJV)

       We live in a violent often frightening world.  There are many humans who are evil and propagate ideas and beliefs that cause great harm.  Sometimes it can be difficult to tell who is right and who is wrong.   This is especially true when claims are made as a judgement coming from God.   

       God surely can speak to us in many ways, but we should be discerning when someone pronounces a message they say that has been given to them directly from God.   This has been the ruse of many of the false prophets throughout history.

        When a person or group declares that they have the authority from their God or their scripture to cut off heads and murder people then those who have made that declaration are to be questioned in their belief system.   A so-called god who commands its followers to persecute and kill others is a small weak god who cannot fend for itself--in actuality a false god who does not speak but dwells in the delusions of its adherents.

        Fortunately the One True God who showed us mercy and provided us grace through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ is a big God who will take care of himself.  God allows earthly governments and armies to have power in their seasons, but the ultimate judgment will be directed by God himself.

         The pure logic, sense, and beauty of the book Christians know as the Holy Bible makes it very clear to those with eyes to see, ears to hear, and the wisdom of understanding the story of us, the God-created human race.  In this book the truth can be found.    Anything that disputes what is to be found in these pages speaks of deceit and lies.  

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.
Romans 2:1-2
New International Version (NIV)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What's the Big Hurry?

Prague, Běchovice, memorial to a running race.
Prague, Běchovice, memorial to a running race. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27:14
New King James Version (NKJV)

         An impatient person can be prone to doing foolish things. They want what they want when they want it and will sometimes make bad decisions rather than keep waiting for something to happen.  These bad decisions can lead to dangerous outcomes.

          The driver anxious to get somewhere might jump the red light or exceed the speed limit in order to get where they are going more quickly.   The consequences can be unexpectedly bad and sometimes even fatal.  The itchiness to move at one's own pace can be a terrible decision if approached haphazardly without thinking clearly.

       God's timing is not the same as ours.   Sometimes we have to wait for the Lord's schedule and not pursue our own desires.   Waiting is rarely easy or pleasant, but when we have to wait then we should accept the situation as it is.   

        Let God have His way and He will give you what you need to deal with your impatience.  There is possibly a good reason for your having to wait.   Slow down and look around you.   When you move impatiently through life you will miss out on the details that make life more interesting and valuable.

        See the good in everything.  Even when you have to wait longer than you had hoped.

 Rejoice in hope, be patient in
tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 12:12
English Standard Version (ESV)