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Long to Worship? (Satire from The Babylon Bee)

SPACE — This week, NASA unveiled photos of distant galaxy clusters now visible from the world’s most powerful telescope. After seeing the images, millions have reported an uncontrollable urge to praise whoever may have created such a majestic, expansive universe.

“We’re not religious or anything, but my wife and I both felt compelled to give glory to a higher power — as if there were a higher power than multiverses, monkeys, and primordial sludge!” Local man Dave Deaver scoffed while speaking to reporters, emphasizing his unshakable faith in the unguided evolution of a godless reality. He added that the images made it difficult to suppress his instinct to glorify some kind of creator, who he again clarified doesn’t exist.

At publishing time, additional documentation has claimed that “the heavens declare the glory of God,” but it has yet to be peer-reviewed.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2022 in creation

 

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Living for Jesus in an Un-Christian World: A Study of the Epistle of Jude (Principle #4)

 

 

 

24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

The woman sitting next to me at the concert was about 80 years old with upswept silver hair. Her whole manner indicated a background of genteel breeding and taste. As the concert progressed it was obvious that she was caught up in the performance. Her rapture built until, after a particularly moving number, she could restrain herself no longer. Tapping me on the knee, she implored, “Oh, do shout `BRAVO’ for me!” (W.P. Hovey, Jr. in Readers’ Digest)

With an economy of words, Jude has written to a group of believers under attack. Although he originally wanted to discuss the joys of our common salvation, he (led by the Spirit of God) issues instead not just a survival strategy, but a battle plan to help the believers confront false teaching. (vv. 1-4)

If the gospel is true, it deserves our best efforts at defending it. If it has indeed changed our lives, we would be without excuse if we did not fight earnestly for the good news about Jesus for the sake of others.In an environment which perverts God’s grace and denigrates God’s Son, Jude does not encourage these believers to huddle together, sing hymns to one another, and allow the world to go to hell. He uses his knowledge of biblical history to speak of the God who both delivers and destroys, who hates unbelief, and who bring His sternest judgment upon those who stand against Him. Unbelief is spiritual mutiny — and God will not hold guiltless those who so rebel. (vv. 5-19)

But the battle plan is not just defensive. The believer is to go on the offense, especially regarding his own life. (vv. 20-23) He is to grow deeply in the truths of God by putting into practice the implications of his most holy faith and by reaching out to those who are presently outside the family of God.

The atmosphere in which these three principles are to be applied is found in verses 24-25. We are to live our lives as a hymn to the One who has saved us! Daily doxology (praise) is be rendered up to this mighty Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.

His Two Abilities
We learn in verse 24 that Christ is able to perform two actions on behalf of the believer:

(1) He is able “to keep you from stumbling . . .” The theme of God’s keeping power was mentioned in the first verse of this epistle as Jude addressed his audience: “To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” The normal Christian involves a confidence in God’s keeping power.

Chuck Swindoll put it this way: “I may tremble on the Rock, but the Rock never trembles under me! And that inner assurance not only relieves my fear, it allows me to carry on with much greater efficiency. And rather than causing me to be indifferent and irresponsible, it inspires me to direct all my energies toward those things that please and glorify the name of my heavenly Father . . . eternally protected because He has me in His all-powerful hand.” (Eternal Security)

(2) He is able “to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy . . .” Christ is looking forward to making that presentation as we learn in Ephesians 5. There we are told, “25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

In this Ephesians text He is going to present her (you!) to himself (2 Cor. 11:2) as a radiant church.Please notice that the church will be “without fault” and He will make His presentation “with great joy.”

I’m afraid that many Christians, although they acknowledge that God loves them, are not all that sure that God likes them very much. I appreciate the preacher who said to his congregation, “Never doubt His affection for you. He’s crazy about you!”

What He Deserves
What does the Lord deserve from us? Our uninhibited adoration. He is the only God — and He is worthy of all the glory, majesty, power and authority. Do we bring Him any of these things?I think the answer is a qualified “yes.” Although the Lord is the All-Sufficient One, and His perfections can never be improved, Scripture indicates that we can bring Him glory (Ps. 86:9- “All the nations . . . will bring glory to your name”; Rev. 15:4- “Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”).

When are we to ascribe glory, majesty, power and authority to God? This great little epistle ends by saying, “before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2021 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 15)

With these verses our study of this most extensively described miracle in all of the Bible comes to a close. The man born blind has been healed. He has been tossed out of the synagogue. He has been insulted and excommunicated. All that remains is a proverbial “moral of the story.”

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

Jesus’ Mission: There are several places where Jesus declares why He came. For example, in John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” In John 12:47 Jesus says, ““If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” However, here at the end of this great miracle, Jesus says, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (v. 39).

His coming, according to this text, involves two purposes: (1) “so that the blind will see” (which has happened in two ways to the man born blind), and (2) so that “those who see will become blind.” The blindness of the religious leaders of Israel could not have been made plainer than here in the story of this healing.

An Outraged Question: Some of the Pharisees heard Jesus say this and they respond, “What? Are we blind too?” (v. 40). The Greek reads: 40 ἤκουσαν ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων ταῦτα οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ὄντες, καὶ εἶπον αὐτῷ· Μὴ καὶ ἡμεῖς τυφλοί ἐσμεν; Literally, this sentence is translated as: “The ones from the Pharisees who were being with him (presumably Jesus) heard these things, and said to him: ‘Surely we also ourselves are not blind men, are we?”

The way they word their question contains that negative we touched on before in one of our posts. What they are really asking is this: “Surely we are not blind too, are we?” Their question is one of outrage, thinking that Jesus is somehow lumping them in with the man who, in their opinion, was “steeped in sin at birth.” Their question, in the way it was worded, expected a negative answer. They expected Jesus to respond with something like, “No! Not at all. I’m certainly not implying that you Pharisees are blind!”

It is interesting that their question implies that the man born blind is still blind! They refuse to acknowledge that he has been healed.

Jesus’ Authoritative Conclusion: The last statement in this miracle story is Jesus’ response to these Pharisees. He says, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (v. 41). So this miracle account is about much more than a man born blind receiving his physical sight. This story is about sin and guilt and claiming to see and actually being blind.

I believe what Jesus is saying to these religious leaders is quite stark and direct: “If you were blind — and you’re not! — you would have an excuse for your refusal to believe in me. The fact is, you claim you can see, but you don’t see your own guilt which is right in front of you!”

By the way, this miracle is referred to once more in the gospel of John. In the very next chapter the Jews accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed and some respond, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (Jn. 10)

Today’s Challenge: Would you say that your spiritual blindness has been healed by the Lord Jesus? If so, will you pray that God would lead you and me to more clearly FOCUS on Him and what He wants to do in and through us?

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2021 in focus

 

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Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 14)

Being kicked out of the synagogue was about the worst thing that could befall a Jewish person. And these religious leaders threw the man born blind out! Being excluded from the center of religious life meant, to many, that one was under the judgment of God. What the man born blind’s parents feared has happened to him.

In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

Sought Out by the Savior: We read that Jesus heard that the man born blind had been thrown out of the synagogue. And He seeks him out. Jesus doesn’t say to the man, “I’m really sorry for the third degree you had to endure!” Or “How’s it going with your vision?” No. Jesus goes directly to the most important point of all: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (v. 35).

The expression “the Son of Man” was a Messianic title. “Any Bible reader will instinctively recognize that all this takes its place in the larger sweep of Messianic expectation that finds its fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah, the uniquely qualified divine-human king. And in fact Jesus himself confirms this for us, explicitly associating himself with Daniel’s “son of man” (Matt. 26:63–64). This is in fact his favorite self-designation, recurring some eighty times in the Gospels, and becomes on his lips a Messianic title. Jesus is the Son of God. He is also the Son of Man.” (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/jesus-christ-son-man/).

A Direct Claim of Messiahship: The man born blind asks who the Son of Man is so that he can believe in him. Jesus declares, using third person language, “You have now seen him; he is the one speaking with you.” I’ll bet the word “seen” meant a lot to this man who had been born blind! Jesus is saying, “He is standing right in front of you — and you can see Him!”

A Logical Response: We read that the man said, “‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” (v. 38) Worship is the natural response of personal faith in Jesus. While the religious leaders of Israel rejected Jesus, this man, this one “steeped in sin at birth,” worshiped Him!

Today’s Challenge: Are you worshiping Jesus as the promised Messiah? Faith is not mere intellectual assent. Faith shows itself by worship. How might you express your worship of the Lord Jesus today?

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2021 in focus

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #29 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 1

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.

I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter. Let’s begin our multipart study with verses 1-2.

As we go through these 24 imperatives, you will notice that I’m including some of my notes & observations in the passage. I’m all for actively reading Scripture, marking up your Bible, bolding and highlighting and underlining what you notice.

The first critical imperative that I see is —

1. The believer is to OFFER HIS BODY AS A LIVING SACRIFICE! (v. 1).

Now, I know very little about the whole sacrificial system. I’m glad I don’t live in a culture where the blood of goats and lambs and pigeons was required to make atonement for the people.  But the Apostle Paul uses this imagery for a Gentile audience!

God cares about our bodies — and He wants them — as living sacrifices! Notice that this sacrifice is to God “holy and pleasing.” God cares so much about our offering our bodies to Him that He calls such an act “your true and proper worship”!

May I ask you, dear friend, have you done that? Are you doing that?  Are you and I daily offering our bodies to God as living sacrifices? Someone has said that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps jumping off the altar! Done any jumping lately?

Today’s challenge: Personally and privately give your physical being to the Lord, asking Him to use you today as a true and proper act of worship before a watching world.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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A Great Praise Song! Please take the time to watch this!

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2020 in praise

 

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One More Quote from Pastor John Piper: God’s Greatness

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2019 in God's greatness

 

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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — He Is Fully Divine!

We are suggesting that some Christians overemphasize the Holy Spirit, and also that many of us overlook Him. As the so-called “Shy Member of the Trinity,” the Holy Spirit is personal and deserves to be treated as a Person!

In our previous post, we suggested that because the Holy Spirit is personal, He can be prayed to. A major part of my thesis in these posts is that we can have a personal relationship with God the Holy Spirit which includes praying to Him. I don’t believe the Bible forbids the believer from directing his or her prayers to the respective member of the Godhead who is most intimately connected to a certain ministry.

Today’s thought is that because the Holy Spirit is fully God, we can worship Him! We don’t worship Him in place of the Lord Jesus, of course. But if He is God, He can and should be worshiped!

The deity of God the Holy Spirit can be shown from the Scriptures in several ways. He possesses the “attributes” (characteristics) of deity in His omnipresence (see Psalm 139), His omniscience (see Romans 8:26-27 and I Corinthians 2), and His omnipotence (see Genesis 1; Acts 1:8; Romans 15).

However the narrative of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 shows the deity of the Holy Spirit. As a couple they wanted to give some money to the apostles, but lied to the Holy Spirit and the church in doing so. Peter makes it clear to Ananias that they had lied to God the Holy Spirit and Ananias is struck dead for his deception! His wife Sapphira comes in later and is given the opportunity to tell the truth, but she lies as well and is put to death by the Lord! “You have not lied to men, but to God,” Peter says. This he says just after he has said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” Conclusion: They lied to God the Holy Spirit. And the Trinity would not tolerate such a serious sin at the beginning of the church.

[An Explanatory Note: When we use the expression “The Forgotten Third” we are not suggesting that the Holy Spirit if 1/3 God. No, that would be heresy. He is fully God, just as are the Father and the Son. The term “Third” is referring to His Person in the Godhead, not His divinity.]

A Challenge: IF the Holy Spirit is fully divine, we may worship Him. Write out a prayer of worship to God the Holy Spirit this morning, thanking Him for one of His ministries to you today.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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Cadillac commercial — Listen to the Lyrics! (your comments?)

CLICK HERE: WORSHIP ME!

Hands to the sky, show me that you’re mine
Hands to the sky, show me that you’re mine
And baby, worship me
Worship me
On your knees
Patiently, quietly, faithfully, worship me

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2018 in idolatry

 

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Some Quotes from John Piper’s Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ

This was an encouraging book to read.  Short.  Passionate.  Devotional in a good sense.  Need your love for the Lord stirred up?  Want to grow in your appreciation of the Person of the Lord Jesus?  Then this book is for you!   Here are a couple of quotes that jumped out at me:

We need “the eyes of [our] hearts” (Eph. 1:18) opened to see the Lord!

“We are all starved for the glory of God, not self.  No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem.” (15).

A prayer:  “Wean us from our obsession with trivial things.” (17).

A prayer:  “Remove the lopsided and distorted images of your Son that weaken our worship and lame our obedience. . . . So deliver us from small dreams and timid ventures and halting plans.” (33).

Some of you know that I have been working on my next book, Unlike Jesus, which is a study of becoming a friend of sinners (from Mt. 11).  Piper comments on this text:  “Truth came dressed in camel skins and eating locusts and living in the wilderness and calling kings adulterers and doing no miracles and dying for a dancing girl.  And this was not acceptable.  So truth came sociably and went to feasts and made fine wine and let a harlot wash his feet.  But this too was not acceptable.” (61).

A prayer:  “Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and blind and foolish into vain and empty excitements.  Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst, Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity. . . . We fear our bent to trifling.” (72).

“It follows, starkly, that horrific calamities in this world, no matter how painful, are not the greatest tragedy.  Far greater is the failure to escape hell through repentance and faith.” (97).

“Break our addiction to this world.” (116).

“. . . the Spirit persuades ‘by and with the Scriptures.’  He does not skirt the Scriptures and substitute private revelations about the Scriptures.” (121).

“Christ is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” (122)

 

 

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