Thursday, June 30, 2016

7 Years in Review

Seven years ago I began blogging, and while my pace has slackened because my time and responsibilities have shifted, I'm grateful to God for every chance I get to delve into His word and learn from it. It's difficult to believe that seven years ago my wife was seven weeks away from having our twin girls and we had only been married for less than two years! Now we have a summer of festivities as it were: Gabriel's birthday in early July, our anniversary (9 years) late July, our girls' birthday mid-August, and finally Gillian's birthday late August. That's a fairly full docket.

Monday, June 13, 2016

James Chapter One, Part 7

1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; (24) for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. (25) But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Go back just a little to verse 19 where we read James' admonition to be swift hearers, slow speakers and to be slow to anger. Too many words chosen from emotion rather than reason hinders spiritual progress, while being a thoughtful hearer can aid our understanding. While human emotion and anger will not lead to godliness, James informs us that the implanted word (scripture received in a readied heart) can produce such righteousness and once more cautions us to jettison the things that would hinder our ability to walk beside the Lord, learning from Him, verses 21, 22.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

James Chapter One, part 6

1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

The Greek word for filthiness means literally that: dirtiness or anything that befouls, defiles or dishonors. The KJV originally translated wickedness as "naughtiness," a silly term in today's nomenclature but carried a strong connotation hundreds of years prior. Naughtiness carries its base term "naught" which is essentially nothing or worthless. To call someone naughty essentially meant their life had no value to it; they were sons of Belial or sons of worthlessness. Someone's life wasn't empty or worthless because they did nothing; it was because they excelled only at sinning. James here instructs us to lay aside our moral impurities and our overflow (an excess or overabundance) of wickedness as a prerequisite to truly appropriating something of genuine value. That is, the implanted word or the Gospel which is able to save our souls.

Friday, April 29, 2016

James Chapter One, Part 5

1:19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; (20) for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James proceeds to give us some practical advice regarding our relationship with others. In hearing a matter we are informed to listen intently; the concept of being swift to hear simply means being willing to genuinely listen to someone. This might mean hearing someone telling you about a trial of theirs, or of a fellow saint falling to temptation, or any matter that would invoke a saint's judgment. Now I do not use the term judgment in the modern sense, as in condemnation; but rather judgment in a deliberate and intelligent effort to discern good and evil, and to separate a proper course of action from a foolish or sinful one. Jesus gives two examples.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

James Chapter One, Part 4

1:15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (16) Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

We have a morbid progression laid out for us of sin as it works in us to produce death. Return to verse 14 where we read "each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desire and enticed." We are, each of us, "drawn away" from a faithful walk of obedience with our Lord in the Holy Spirit when our special sin rears its head. Each of us who are saints through faith in Christ have it; we each have "hot buttons," certain sinful things or behaviors that entice us more than others'. Our flesh knows well what each is, and so does Satan, who hardly needs to prompt us at times for us to fall flat on our faces. To run our race, to continue forward with God (the only direction he desires for us to go in our maturity and faith) we must "lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us," Hebrews 12:1.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

James Chapter One, Part 3

1:13-14 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

Here we come to a clear statement by James that God is not capable of evil; He is incapable of even being tempted by it. To clarify, the type of evil described in this passage is a Greek word used to define a lack of moral uprightness within someone. It is this absence of a moral fabric that inclines one toward good that brings every sinner into temptation. This particular word is used once more in James to describe the "unruly evil" of the tongue, James 3:8.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

James Chapter One, Part 2

1:9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, (10) but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.

Verse nine deals with the "lowly" or poor brother in Christ who can glory in his exaltation. Just earlier in this chapter James instructs us to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials" because "the testing of our faith produces patience," James 1:2-3. The wealthy can glory in humiliation, or practicing humility, realizing that God has exalted them with material gain for only a brief time; for their spiritual gain as they serve others and glorify God. We all have a fleeting life, and we shall be called upon to give an account of what we did with our "talents" (resources or borrowed money, so to speak) when we come before Christ's judgment seat, Matthew 25:14-30; Romans 14:10-12. What we have is a gift from God, therefore it is foolishness to boast as though we acquired it some other way. Also, our pursuits, like our lives, will perish, and so a believer blessed with wealth ought to conduct themselves (and their fortune) in the light of eternity and their entrance into glory. The trial of the rich is often to understand that it is given to them to in turn give to others. "Freely you have received, freely give," Matthew 10:8.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

James Chapter One, Part 1

1:1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: greetings.

James is recognized by most biblical scholars as being a half-brother to Jesus through the marriage of Joseph (Jesus' adoptive father) and Mary. He is made mention of in Matthew 13:55, along with his full brothers Joses, Simon, and Judas, and again in Matthew 27:56, along with his brother Joses. It is significant to mention that both times he is corollated directly with being the son of Mary, and in Matthew 13:55, the writer links both Mary and James to being related as family to Jesus through the flesh.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Gospel: Reality's Foundation Part 8

The nature of the gospel forces one to contemplate the reality of Hell. The Bible does not flinch in its very real, highly disturbing portrayal of the damned being separated from God forever due to their unwillingness to listen to reason. God permits us to reject Him, no matter the evidence presented. But there is no genuine autonomy outside of God; Hell is a place of condemnation, where we will be aware of the choice offered us, and how we declined reconciliation.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Gospel: Reality's Foundation Part 7

On due consideration, let us postpone a more in depth search into the topics of legalism and license at a later time, God willing. The focus here should rather be the gospel of God and our need as human beings separated from God's presence and life to be restored both to this relationship and the image we were initially created in.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Gospel: Reality's Foundation Part 6

The gospel is God’s rescue mission to restore mankind to His intended state for us; one of fellowship and worship forever. Our present condition is not God's purpose for us; the suffering endured in this life coupled with the reality of death's finality demonstrate this elegantly. Man needs restoration; and this can only come from the willing offer made by his Creator. God freely offers the free gift of His gospel and the sacrifice of His Son to any and all who will simply and truly believe, Romans 5:15; John 11:25-26. This gospel is everlasting, and it reunites us, God’s wayward creation with its Creator.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Gospel: Reality's Foundation Part 5

The gospel is God’s answer to man’s dilemma; it is His only solution for our genuinely lost condition. Whenever someone rages, demanding why God doesn’t do something about this world’s evil, the answer is that He has: He sent Jesus to die on behalf of sin, paying the penalty that our sin deserved. There will come a day when God acts to remove sin's presence from this universe, ushering in a new heavens and a new earth but He postpones that day of judgment because to rid the world of sin He would also have to rid it of sinners who have yet to receive Christ as their Savior.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Gospel: Reality's Foundation Part 4

The Gospel, which is everlasting (Revelation 14:6) has existed since the primeval promise to Eve that would bruise the serpent's head while the woman's seed would have his own heel bruised, Genesis 3:15. Not only were God's words--prophetic of the coming Messiah--extremely important, but what He did next was equally so. After cursing Adam, Eve and finally the serpent, God clothed our first parents in tunics of skin, signifying shed blood for the remission of sin; it was the first blood shed on earth and God apparently shed it to atone (literally cover) the guilt and nakedness of Adam and Eve. This symbolized the vicarious death He only just spoke of when he mentioned the seed of the woman being bruised while bruising the serpent. Isaiah the prophet understood this when he was led to write about the virgin mother giving birth to one who would be: "Mighty God, Everlasting Father...of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end," Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Gospel: Reality's Foundation part 3

Let's consider an experiential example that I think all of us can picture: watch a group of children at play. Do we have to teach them to cheat, lie to or hurt one another, or does it seem to come naturally? No; we need to train them to be honest, play fair and care for others selflessly. Sins are symptoms of a sickness, like coughing when we catch a cold. Sin is the root of the sickness that creates mankind’s many miseries. Behavior modification (teaching people to practice ethics and morals on par with what we consider "good") can alleviate the symptoms, but it does not reach the true sickness. The sickness is sin which is part of our nature, and why it occurs in the young and old, rich and poor, learned and foolish. It is universal in nature and corrupts us from the inside.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Gospel: Reality's Foundation Part 2

If we are honest, each of us knows that not one of us has ever lived up to our own moral standards as we live to various degrees within this moral order we find ourselves in. We have, on many occasions, broken this moral law and are offenders. If we follow this natural train of thought, we find that we have offended the intelligence that is back of creation, and back of the moral order. If we posit that the First Cause established morality innately within each of us this only stands to reason.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Gospel: Reality's Foundation

I would like to address the gospel’s relevance and necessity in our society and our world. But first I would like to lay a foundation regarding observations about the world we live in and our place in it. Life abounds with poignant questions like: who are we, how did we come to be here? If there is a God, what type of relationship does mankind have toward Him?
All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.