The Testaments

As you may know, redemption is not a New Testament idea. Instead, what Jesus accomplished through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension was the fulfillment of promises made thousands of years before His birth. If you will, take a moment and read this passage from Isaiah written about seven-hundred and forty years before Jesus was born.

The Redeemed Shall Walk There

Isaiah 35:10 (ESV emphasis added)

10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Doesn’t this resonate with the same truths proclaimed in the New Testament? Sometimes I fear we have built too high of a wall between the Old and New Testaments. 

Old Testament Scriptures

When Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV), by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The Scripture to which Paul referred was the Old Testament, for the New Testament had not yet been written. In fact, 2 Timothy is thought to have been written around 67 AD (https://tinyurl.com/vo2kctx). Well before many other books in the New Testiment.

Get a Bible Reading Plan

If you get some extra time off from work during the holidays, make or download a Bible reading plan for next year. Be read for January 1, 2020. I believe all Christians everywhere will need an extra measure of grace next year.

Benediction

I pray: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. – Numbers 6:24-26 ESV

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2020 Vision

elderly woman with eye glasses pushed down on her nose

Where there is no vision, the people perish” — Proverbs 29:18 (NIV)

The Hebrew word “vision” in this proverb means, “divine communication” and the word “perish” means “cast off restraint.” Thankfully, God still speaks to us through the Holy Spirit with the most common way through our reading of His Word.

2020 Vision

This coming year will be the only year that any of us will ever have spiritual 2020 vision. 😉 So, it seems wise to me for us to begin planning how we are going to study the Bible in the year 2020. Of course, we all should remember what God said in Proverbs 16:9 (ESV): The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Still, planning is a good thing.

For me, I can think of no other book in the Bible that gives us the panoramic view of Christianity that the book of Romans provides. To provide you with a quick reminder:

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 1:7 (ESV)

The terms used in Paul’s greeting are the keynotes of the book of Romans. These keynotes are God’s callinglovegrace, and peace, which Paul explains at length in Romans.

Unless the Lord changes my plans, I think I shall begin my 2020 Bible study in the book of Romans. I pray that our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, will guide you in your preparation for the year of 2020 vision!

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But as for me

Chinese buffet

My Godly eighty-seven-year-old father-in-law (FIL) is a fantastic person. He loves people, is full of hospitality, and has actively sponsored and helped recovering alcoholics since his unbroken sobriety 37 years ago. 

One of FIL’s treats is going to the local Chinese restaurant. I think part of the fun for him is that he gets to choose what he eats. Thankfully, his Chinese restaurant’s buffet has a wide variety of dishes from which he can choose.

No Buffet With God

Christians can enjoy food buffets, but God’s Word is not a buffet. With God, it’s all or nothing. Sadly, this truth isn’t taught very often and is believed even less.

There are indeed some complicated commands which God has given us. Nevertheless, we can’t see the future, and God doesn’t reach the same conclusions which we reach.

But as for me

When you feel challenged by worldly desires, pressured to ignore specific commands from God, or confronted by others to keep your religion “at home,” claim Joshua 24:15 (ESV) for yourself and your family.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Prayer 

Father God, as you had the Apostle Paul write in Romans 1:16, help us wholeheartedly declare, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Use us to advance Your will in this world and not to be confounded by the lies of the enemy. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

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Many Words

a puzzle that says "choose your words"

My wife and I watch way too many British reality police shows. We’re fascinated by how polite the arrested suspects are. Police will walk ahead of the perpetrator, and the accused dutifully follows along behind. And while the offender is being booked, the officer will offer the detainee a cup of hot tea or hot coffee. 

Mind you, this politeness only applies to people that have committed serious crimes. If the person is drunk, then they’re handled just like here in the States. Still, the politeness of the alleged offender as well as the police is just so different from the scenes we are shown here in America.

However, it seems that all criminals think they can talk their way out of their crimes. This mindset of thinking you can talk your way out of a misdeed appears to be part of humanity’s fallen condition. 

Be Wary of Many Words

So, a word to the wise, be wary when someone gives you a long-winded explanation when a simple answer would make more sense.

With local, state, and Federal elections ramping up in America, the possibility of an early election in the UK, oh, and the failure to form a government in Israel, my guess is that we will hear a lot of long-winded explanations. Remember what God’s Word states:

When words are many, sin is not lacking;
so he who controls his speech is wise.

Proverbs 10:19 (Complete Jewish Bible) 

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. 
(Matthew 5:37. ESV)

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Don’t we love a good mystery?

Child Detective

Don’t we all love a good mystery? When I scroll through Netflix, it is chocked full of them. The TV or movie shows may be categorized as SciFi or Drama or Action, but the stories are all mysteries with a thin veneer of Nexflix’s category layered over it.

In the Bible there are two very different kinds of mysteries, and it has nothing to do with their veneer. 

The mystery is not known until it’s known

The most common kind of mystery in God’s Word is the one where, in times past, there were hints and statements in the Scriptures that couldn’t be fully understood until God unveiled that truth. From that point forward, the fact is so undeniable it’s difficult to imagine anyone having been stymied with those passages of God’s Word.

For example, the truth that God always meant to call the Gentiles. People didn’t understand this until Jesus came and preached His Gospel. Before Christ’s earthly ministry, it was “a mystery – a concealed truth” – but once revealed, there was nothing hidden in it. This fact is confirmed in Colossians 1:26 (NKJV), “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.

It’s not known now and perhaps ever

The other kind of mystery that is recorded in the Scriptures is the kind of mystery that God reveals, but not entirely, not yet and perhaps never. 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NKJV) is an excellent example of this:

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

How blessed we are to be living during a time when, through the victory of Jesus, so many of God’s mysteries have been made known. Sure, some remain veiled, but I think we have enough on our plates. We’re not living in a TV show. We don’t need to be trying to guess what God hasn’t revealed.

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Hangry for God’s Word

Hangry baby ready for a bottle

I somehow feel like it’s my job to keep my readers up to speed on modern language. A few weeks ago I covered “Too long; didn’t read” and today I’m introducing “hangry”. I know what you’re thinking! That word has been around for years. True. Still, I’m confident that at least one other person, other than me, hasn’t learned this word.

The official definition of “hangry” means “that cranky feeling you get when you haven’t eaten.” This is such a universal condition that people finally invented a word for it. No doubt, next year it will be in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Baby’s Scream For Food

Have you ever heard a baby cry/scream because she or he is hungry? When you hear that sound you immediately look for a bottle or whatever food the baby can tolerate. It doesn’t have to be your kid. In first world countries, a complete stranger’s child can start crying and fifteen bottles will miraculously appear. 

Babies get seriously hangry. And they don’t try to hide it. So, if I may ask, have you ever been hangry for God’s Word? Have you become so eager to get alone with God and read His Word that you do get hangry? I heard a preacher once say that he was ready to throw himself in a field just so he could get away from distractions, read the Scriptures, and pray.

Hangry Is In The Bible

God’s Word says a lot about hunger but the one passage I want us to focus on today is found in 1 Peter 2:1-3 (PHILLIPS), “Have done, then, with all evil and deceit, all pretence and jealousy and slander. You are babies, new-born in God’s family, and you should be crying out for unadulterated spiritual milk to make you grow up to salvation! And so you will, if you have already tasted the goodness of the Lord.”

Now, we should be past the bottle feeding stage. Paul wrote, “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready…” (1 Corinthians 3:2). However, whether you and I need spiritual milk or ribeye Scripture, I think it might be good for us to become so hungry for God’s Word that we get a bit hangry.

Photo credit: Djuliet on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

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Meology

Scientist looking through a microscope

I read a lot of science journals for fun and in an attempt to remain current in various sciences. So today I want to announce to the world that I’ve discovered an overlooked science.

Before my announcement I needed to name this discovery. Since most specializations within science attach the letters “ology” to the name I did a quick search on that suffix.

What is ology?

Wikipedia’s definition is way too complex. The suffix ology is commonly used in the English language to denote a field of study. The ology ending is a combination of the letter o plus logy in which the letter o is used as an interconsonantal letter which, for phonological reasons, precedes the morpheme suffix logy.

Here’s my definition of “ology”: almost any word that ends with ology means the study of what the first part of the word means. Example: dermatology is the study or science of skin. The Greek word dermatos, meaning skin, and is combined with ology – Dermatology.

Meology

Therefore, the name of this new science I’ve re-discovered is called meology. As you can see, this word is composed of two parts: me and ology. This vein of science is the study of “me”, hence me-ology.

Meology is limited to me. You can have your own study. A fascinating aspect of this science is that it can’t be yourology; that’s way too close to urology, the branch of medicine concerned with the function and disorders of the urinary system. 

Yourology and urology, how could you tell the difference in a conversation?

Meology in the Bible

Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of meology can be found in the Bible. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV), “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Fear and trembling certainly calls me to be serious about my study as it should you in yourology your meology. Also, I see that meology is not just research but it includes applied science. “Ellicott’s Commentary” provides the following insight:

Work out your own salvation.—To “work out” is (as in Ephesians 6:13) to carry out to completion what is begun. This is the function of man, as fellow-worker with God, first in his own soul, and then among his brethren.

It seems we each have a need for meology. Thankfully, as Christians, we have God alive within us. Thank you, Jesus!

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PC&D

Rough Cross standing on a hill

It is likely that you of know of the Christian Contemporary & Worship vocal group Phillips, Craig & Dean (PC&D). They’ve been recording and touring since 1992 and have sold over 2 million records. I find it interesting that all three of them were pastors before they formed PC&D, and they continue to be pastors.

Randy Phillips is the pastor of LifeAustin Church in Austin, Texas, Shawn Craig is the pastor of Crosspoint Church (formerly South County Christian Center) in St. Louis, Missouri, and Dan Dean is the Pastor of Heartland Church (formerly Christ Temple) in Carrollton, Texas.

No Concerts on Saturday

They declared a virtual moratorium on Saturday night concerts because all three singers are full-time pastors. They make it a priority to be at their respective churches for Sunday services.

Many of their songs have become standards, performed by many Christian artists. Also, their songs are part of worship services in countless churches.

One of my all-time favorite songs from PC&D is a song based on Galatians 2:20 (NIV), where Paul declares, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I hope this song blesses you today.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillips,_Craig_and_Dean
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We Believe

Archaeological stone

From the Jerusalem Post article titled, “Archaeologists Identify City Gate from the time of King David” by ZACHARY KEYSER included this statement: Even though the “House of David” inscription has confirmed the essential historicity of King David from the Bible, scholars have reached little consensus about the nature and extent of his rule.

As believers, we have committed our lives and our eternities to Jesus. We believe the Bible is the Word of God. We believe Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Yet, as intelligent, socially adept people, we are expected by society to doubt God’s Word and to separate what we believe from how we make decisions and how we act.

We must guard our minds while we stay engaged in the places where God has planted us. Proverbs 18:15 (ESV) reads, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” It’s not God’s will for us to disengage with the world. If we did that there would be no reason for us to remain “in the world.” However, it is God’s will that we do not deny Him. Also, we are not to be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we are to be obedient to God’s will.

So guard your minds but be at peace and be joyful for God, Himself, lives in us. As Psalm 16:11 (ESV) states, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” 

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A Benediction is a Blessing ;-)

Peace - open hands

In my daily Bible reading, I read 2 Peter 1:2, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance, through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” That got me thinking. (My wife hates that.) Had I written a devotional about benedictions? I did a quick search. No, I hadn’t. Yeah!

I love benedictions because they bestow a blessing. We find them throughout the Bible, and we see them in liturgical worship as well as other aspects of church services.

I did a quick search for a list of benedictions in the Bible, and there are a lot of them. So, I went to Bible.org because they had a list of eleven benedictions in the Bible. I can deal with eleven.

As I read each one, I immediately noticed a characteristic that I never noticed. From the list, ten of the eleven benedictions include the word “peace” and six of the eleven include the word “grace.” So, from my sample, peace is by far the most used blessing.

Peace and Grace are Important

It was time to use Strong’s Concordance. Biblehub.com has an abundant number of tools to help people study the Bible, and Strong’s Concordance is one of them.

One of the great things about Strong’s is that it includes lexicons for Greek and Hebrew. So I went to Bible Hub, entered 2 Peter 1:2, and hit Enter. Bible Hub showed me that verse in a long list of Bible translations. That list is always convenient. 

Next, I clicked on the menu item for Strong’s. Now I saw a lexicon of each word in 2 Peter 1:2. As for the word “peace,” Strong’s showed me:

peace
εἰρήνη (eirēnē) Noun – Nominative Feminine Singular
Strong’s Greek 1515: Probably from a primary verb eiro; peace; by implication, prosperity.

That is interesting, but I wanted to dig deeper. So I clicked on the link Strong’s Greek 1515 which took me to a page full of indexes and way more information than I was prepared to tackle. 

What does peace mean?

However, scanning down the Greek Lexicon, for “peace” I found the following: “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is“: Romans 8:6;

Every generation has had difficulties, diseases, deaths, and destruction; ours is no different. That is why I find great comfort in God’s blessings of peace upon His own family.

As I close, let me write perhaps my favorite benediction as I pray you will receive this from our Abba Father (Mark 13:36). 

Benediction

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26 ESV)

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