Category Archives: Bible commentary

Understanding the Environment

If you were going on an African safari in the summer you would need to understand the environment in which you would be living. You would want to know the conditions so you could prepare and make sure you packed the supplies you would need to survive the various elements you were to encounter. You would not pack the same supplies if you were traveling to Alaska because the conditions are much different in the more northerly regions than around the equator. Knowing the environment would be critical to survival.

It is interesting that many Christians find themselves struggling to survive, and many times failing to survive, in their spiritual walk because they have failed to analyze their environment. When they encounter trials and hardships they don’t understand the changing tides of their spiritual journey and they become confused, disoriented and lost in the jungle of the world around them. The Christian life is not always filled with sunny skies and flowering gardens. Believers often encounter hardships and trials they feel are unfair and undeserved. This leads to the feeling that God is unfair and that he doesn’t really love them or care about them. Eventually many drop out of the safari with God and resort to their own plan and desires.

If we assess our spiritual surroundings we realize that we live in a hostile environment. As children of righteousness we cannot peacefully coexist with unrighteousness. God’s word tells us that we are enemies. Righteousness is far too powerful for the ungodly, the unrighteous, and the wicked to stand up against. In order for wickedness to prevail it must do all it can do to remove the influences of righteousness. Why has the Bible been evicted from the educational process of a nation that has as its motto “One nation under God?” Why has everything possible been done to remove prayer from our public activities and praying in the name of Jesus is considered villainous? Why can only one theory of man’s beginnings be taught and promoted in the federal education system? Because the reasoning and arguments of human wisdom crumbles when confronted by the eternal wisdom of God and his righteousness. So, the wicked become angry and hostile toward those who endorse righteousness. Even the promotion of someone who is ethical and moral is met with the most venomous hostilities. The Psalmist in Psalm 120:6, 7 says, My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war. When the righteous seek to promote peace and reconciliation through Christ and the cross the wicked shriek with fear and terror and oppose it with every fiber of their condemned souls.

We see the Nation of Israel confronted with this same dilemma when they were in Egypt. Exodus 1:8-14 describes the environment of God’s chosen people. Years earlier they had been directed into Egypt by God through Joseph. At that time they were only a small family of seventy people struggling to survive a world-wide famine. Joseph, a disenfranchised family member, had become the top advisor to the King of Egypt and was responsible for rationing out the food. Reunited by the famine Joseph persuaded his family to move to Egypt so he could provide for them. Gradually the good will of their host changed and instead of welcome guests they found themselves in bondage and slavery.  The Pharaoh first afflicted the Israelites physically with hard labor, but when that failed he attacked them personally and mandated that all the male children born to the Hebrews be put to death. The pharaoh mandated the first late-term abortions to try to bring them under his tyranny.

When in a hostile environment there are a few things the spiritual traveler needs to understand.

First the redeemed needs to understand that God has a purpose. In Genesis 12:1-3 God explained to Abraham his long-range plan and revealed his purpose for Israel. He he would make his family a great nation. In order to accomplish this purpose he had to take them through some hardships to unite them into a cohesive civilization. Had God not taken them through this period of bondage they would have scattered and become lost in the culture of the godless living about them. Like Lot, they would have found the pleasures and conveniences of the unrighteous too tempting and become caught up in the worship of false gods. Knowing the certainty of this course God would later instruct them not to inner mary with the ungodly cultures around them. Not because of genetic differences, but because of spiritual darkness and the natural tendency of man to succumb to the environment around them.

In Genesis 15:13 God told Abraham that his family would spend four hundred years, in bondage, in a strange land, but he would deliver them and give them great substance. God had a purpose for this chosen lineage of Abraham, but many of this Hebrew family had forgotten about God’s purpose. Others had not been taught about God’s purpose and how they fit into his master plan.  So, when the hardships came they were discouraged by the hostile environment in which they resided.

Just like Israel, God has a purpose for our lives. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that God has a purpose for our lives in the midst of adversity. If we will fail to analyze our environment we won’t understand that we live in an environment hostile to righteousness and we will lose sight of God’s purpose.

The believer must also understand that God has given us promises. God’s purpose for Israel was revealed in his promise to them. He promised to make them a great nation. God’s purpose for the believer’s life is reinforced with promises. He has promised to provide and protect us as we labor to glorify him and accomplish his purpose. When the hardships of the environment press us and try to beat us into surrender we need to seek the face of God and rest upon his promises. Paul states with great assurance that, my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches, in glory, by Christ Jesus. Forgetting God’s promises at the front door of the church after weekly worship can be fatal in our spiritual journey through life.

The great thing about God is that even when hardships and tribulation blinds us to his purpose and we forget about his promises, he never forgets. He is there like the father of the prodigal son waiting for us to return so he can nourish and nurture us again.

We are in the enemies domain. We are members of God’s family moving into Satan’s neighborhood. There is going to be conflict. We need to understand the environment and realize that God has a purpose and we can overcome through the power of his promises.

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Secret Treasures

Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

Some people in North Carolina have just rediscovered some interesting gems in a creek that use to be used for mining gold. They have found that there is still gold in “them thar creeks.” They are not sure where the source of the gold is, but they know there is definitely a fair amount of gold in the small stream.

The area was one of the first areas in the United States to have discovered gold in quantities large enough to set off the initial North American gold rush and commercial gold mining enterprises. But about the time of the Civil war gold mining in the area stopped. With the increase in the price of gold a renewed interest has sprung up in the gold that remains hidden in the streams of the Carolina region.

As one panning for gold should know how to interpret the clues of nature and use the tools for shifting river bed materials one interested in discovering God’s precious treasures should be familiar with the methods of interpretation.

Those who have studied the Biblical passages of prophetic writing have come up with a variety of methods of interpreting scripture. They have used some form of the basic methods to filter through the sparkling little nuggets God provided to enlighten his children with regards to his plans for the end of time and the start of eternity.

The first thing a conservative Bible student must distinguish is the difference between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. A conservative student is one who accepts the teachings of God’s Word as literal, and does not try to spiritualize textual interpretations to make them conform to his theories, but takes scripture and establishes his beliefs and interpretations on the context and complete counsel of God’s Word.

The rapture is a term used to describe the catching away of the redeemed. The redeemed being those who have received the gift of God, those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, that he came the first time to redeem his fallen creation and that he will come a second time to rule and reign as the everlasting King of Kings.

Scripture teaches that this catching away will come quickly and unexpectedly, as a thief in the night. The believers who have died will have their bodies caught out of the grave first reuniting with their souls, and those that are living when the rapture takes place will be caught up with them; meeting them in the air. This catching away or rapture is a calling out of the New Testament Church. Those believers who have been redeemed between the time of Christ and the time the catching away takes place.

The second coming is when Christ returns to earth and reestablishes the throne of David in Jerusalem and rules the world for a thousand years. When Christ returns to establish this renewed kingdom those who have been caught away in the rapture will return with him to serve him in the millennial kingdom he establishes at his second appearing.  The catching away pertains to the believers of the church age and the second coming is
specifically for the Nation of Israel.

The basic methods of interpretation relate to these two events. The issues related to the rapture, or catching away, breakdown into four  categories: pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, pre-wrath, and post tribulation. The issues related to the second coming breakdown into three basic categories: pre-millennial, au-millennial, and post millennial.

How are you doing at panning the gold of God’s treasures?

We will look at the rapture related methods of interpretation in the next blog.

Do you have a position on this subject?

What is your position?

Why do you hold to that position?

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10 Spiritual Lesson from the Execution of bin Laden

Lesson Four: Difficult to Discover

Snow leopards are very reclusive animals. For a long time, very little was known about the snow leopard because they were so difficult to find and track. Their habitat is in the upper elevations of very rugged mountainous terrain often veiled in cloud cover. They have a camouflaged coat of fur that helps them blend into the surrounding terrain. Snow leopards are very clandestine cats.

Like the snow leopard terrorists are difficult to locate and track. They build networks that provide extremely effective diversions and cover for them to evade discovery and elude capture and eradication. For almost ten years the best intelligence agencies in the world attempted to locate one of history’s most notorious mass murderers, Osama bin Laden. There were rumors that he was hiding in caves in Afghanistan.  Many thought he was in Iran or Pakistan. Many intelligence agencies thought he was in Pakistan networking with Pakistani intelligence agencies. But it wasn’t until the interrogation of another radical Muslim terrorist revealed bin Laden’s personal courier and he was located and trailed, that  they were able to determine with certainty that bin Laden was in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan. After months of deliberation American leaders decided to exercise justice and send a team of elite Special Forces to eradicate the hideous mass murderer.

Locating one’s enemy is a very difficult task. This is true in the spiritual realm as well as in the physical realm. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that we are sinners. We try to cover up the truth about our fallen nature by directing attention  to someone else who deals with sins we consider worse than ours. We determine that since our sins are not as bad as their sins we will be alright with God and not have to worry about the final judgment. But, when we stand before God in the Day of Judgment, it will not be the person we have designated as a worse sinner that will be the standard by which we are judged. It will be Christ.

Mad men who devise evil plots to kill innocent people believe they are superior and have the authority to determine who is worthy to live and who should die. The person who deceives themselves about sin, exalts themselves above the laws of God and grants themselves special dispensations, dispensations that the eternal judge will not accept any more than a civilized society will accept a terrorist.

Sin is difficult to discover, but not impossible. As the authorities of civilized society remained vigilant against bin Laden’s wiles and attempts to elude eradication believers need to be vigilant against sin’s clandestine activities to hide in our hearts and lives.

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Secrets of “The Things”

It is difficult to imagine what it is like to discover that your child is missing. No doubt a tsunami of emotions rage through ones heart and soul when the realization that someone they love so dearly and so deeply cannot be found. Yet, in those first devastating hours one must try to respond coherently to a new surge of trauma from what seems like an endless stream of questions. The investigators want to know the details about what the child was wearing, where the child was supposed to be, what was the child’s standard behavior, had they been known to wander off before, who are their friends and where did they hang-out? All you want to know is where your child is, and are they safe?

The experts look for “things” that will provide clues as to who the missing person is, and what they do, in order to discover where they are. “Things” are very important when trying to figure out who someone is. Even though a “thing” is a non-specific term it allows for a broad search that is narrowed as more and more “things” are discovered. The search goes from the broad spectrum of “things” to a much more defined and definite spectrum of “things” as it is determined what is relevant.

In Revelation 1:1 John tells us that the clues to who Christ is, is found in the things. The Beloved Apostle records, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

To discover the truth about whom Jesus the Christ is we must understand “the things.” The “things” are not all-inclusive. God does not reveal everything about Jesus. He reveals only the pertinent things. He deals with us on a “need to know” basis. There are things we need to know because it relates to our relationship with him, and our responsibilities to him. But there are multitudes of “things” that we do not need to know, so God does not make them known to us.  Scripture is clear that God has sealed some “things” from us.

Daniel 12:4  But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

Daniel 8:26  And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. Revelation 10:4  And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

John the Beloved in his gospel shares this with us; And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written,  that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:30-31.

What we need to know pertains to two things. The first thing related to where we will spend eternity. John tells us that one of the “things” that God wants us to know and understand about Jesus is his work of redemption. One of the most pertinent “things” God wants us to know is that He sent his only son Jesus to die on themcross and in doing so he took our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life. God’s word reveals much about the “things” of salvation. This work of Christ is the preeminent “thing.”

The second “thing” that is important to God and he wants us to know is that Christ has appointed us to be ambassadors for his kingdom.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. .

He directs us to become invested in the family business and show others how they can enter into the blessings of God’s amazing gift, eternal life. In chapters 1-5 we see Christ as the Merciful Redeemer, the one who came to seek and to save his fallen creation from the judgment that is to be revealed in chapters 6-19.

What things  do you know about Jesus the Christ?

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So, the World Didn’t End Friday?

The prognostication that the world was coming to an end, ended up being untrue. I think a few were surprised, like the ones who sold everything they had and gathered to await the mother of all earthquakes, and those who traveled the country proclaiming something their source for predicting the end of the world clearly states will not be revealed. Is anyone confused? Probably only the same group of deceived followers.

So, the world did not come to an end, well not for you and me. But in all honesty, it did come to and end for a number of people. Some found the end of the world through illness, some found the end of the world through accidents, some found the end of the world through murder and some through suicide, perhaps afraid that the world was going to end? I do not know how many people died on Friday, but for them the world did come to an end and eternity began. I wonder if their eternity was better than the world they left behind? The Bible does give us very clear insight on somethings that will happen when the world ends, whether it be the rapture or death, in Hebrews 9:27  we are told; And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Once the world ends and we step into eternity there will be judgment. The Bible tells of two judgments mankind will face, and only two. One will be a judgment for sin. This judgment is often called The Great White Throne Judgment. This judgment is where God, the righteous holy Judge, will ask that a special book be opened, the Book of Life, and those who stand at this judgment will stand for eternal sentencing to everlasting destruction, torment and damnation, because they have failed to receive the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ. They will hear a roll call asking if their name is written in this Book of Life. When the angel responds there is no one by that name entered into the Book of life the dreadful pronouncement of the eternal Judge found in Matthew 7:23  …  I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity, will be  made and they will be cast into the lake of fire.

The second judgment is known as The Judgment Seat of Christ. Those at this judgment will be evaluated for their service, the works they had rendered for their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Those at this judgment have had their sins forgiven and their names written in the Book of Life. They have become children of the holy righteous Judge. 1 Corinthians 3:13  gives us a preview of this judgment, Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. The question of sin has been settled, but the question of service and rewards are the focus of review. Some will receive great rewards for the sacrifices they made to proclaim the great news of God’s love and mercy. Many will stand empty-handed. They will stand ashamed and destitute. They invested their lives serving self instead of serving the one who gave his life for them. Many of these servants will have spent their life in religious service, but their ministry glorified themselves, and their services were invested in the temporal things of a world that has ended and treasures that have passed away. They have eternal life. They have the joys of heaven, but no blessing or rewards for the time they labored in this world.

So, the world didn’t end for you and me this past Friday, but it did end for some, and one day it will end for you and me too. What will your reward be, eternal life with rewards, or eternal life without rewards, or eternal damnation? When the world ends is not your decision. How it ends for you  may not be your decision. But what you enter into is your decision. What will your life be when the world ends?

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10 Spiritual Lesson from the Execution of bin Laden

Lesson Three: Unseen Evil

Some of those in a position to determine whether or not to release photographs of mass murderer bin Laden have determined that the photographs are too gruesome to be released publicly. They believe the photographs are so repulsive that they could impact ones psyche deeper than is considered healthy for the normal human mind. The  photographs of a mutilated bin Laden could never compare with the gruesome evil that resided in his heart and saturated his mind. This gruesome evil induced confused individuals to a distorted radical ideology, and convinced them to facilitate the vile activities spawned in their sadistic leader’s imagination. No physical image can ever illustrate the gruesomeness of such demented evil.

But what gruesome evil lurks behind the façade of feel good theology? What hideous wickedness resides behind the false doctrine proclaiming a deity of love and no accountability? What repulsive, grisly evil promotes false hopes through the counterfeit propaganda of grand rewards and no judgment? The evil of the terrorist threatens the temporary wellbeing of people who oppose their twisted ideology, and disrupts the free flow of law-abiding citizens. But evil is no more gruesome than that of a false theology, which promotes a feel good God; anesthetizing the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and destroying the  hope of finding redemption and heaven.

Lesson Four: Difficult to Discover  (to be posted)

Lesson Five: Determination  (to be posted)

Lesson Six: Commitment  (to be posted)

Lesson Seven:  Persistence  (to be posted)

Lesson Eight: Difficult to Destroy  (to be posted)

Lesson Nine: Concentrated Assault  (to be posted)

Lesson Ten: Glorious Victory  (to be posted)

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10 Spiritual Lesson from the Execution of bin Laden

LessonTwo: Honest Evaluation 

Bin Laden’s Actions                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some might question if bin Laden had a role in the 911 massacre because he had no physical presence in any of the hideous events.  

A comprehensive investigation generated critical information that when honestly evaluated concluded that this demented man planned and help facilitate the training of the delusional men who carried out the operation.

Without the planning and training provided by bin Laden the mass murders would never have happened, and therefore he is just as responsible for the death as if he had flown the kamikaze missiles into the Twin Towers himself.

Our Actions                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               It is easy for us to assess bin Laden’s guilt and demand that he be held responsible for his evil atrocities. But we look at the death we played a direct role in from a biased position, a position that would attempt to rationalize our activities as irrelevant and insignificant.

We would insist that we did not drive the nails in his hands. We would emphatically declare that we did not drive the nails in his feet; we would adamantly deny physically running the spear into his side. We try to defend ourselves by casting the blame on a Roman soldier, but we laid the foundation for the actions of the Roman soldiers by our disobedience to God’s eternal law. According to God’s law we cannot say, “I didn’t do it.”

The Apostle Paul tells us that we are responsible in 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.  

The prophet Isaiah lays the responsibility directly at our feet in Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Adam tried to blame Eve for his disobedience. Eve tried to blame the serpent for her disobedience, but God held each of them responsible.

An honest evaluation of bin Laden’s actions lays responsibility for the death of innocent people squarely on him and an honest evaluation of our actions lays the responsibility for Christ’s death directly on us. Bin Laden was called into account for his wicked actions and one day we will stand before a righteous holy God and give account for our actions. What does an honest evaluation reveal about your position before a holy and righteous judge? Will you stand condemned or pardoned?

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