Monday, June 26, 2017

What Things In Life Have True Value?


What is it in life that has true value? Of course, you will expect an answer in this blog to be of a spiritual nature. If the same question were to be presented elsewhere, not in a biblical/spiritual context, what would you say?

Will the financial blog have the answer?
Will the real estate blog have the answer?
Will the sports blog have the answer?
Will the entertainment blog have the answer?
What about the health blog? Political blog? Science blog? Nature blog? Art blog?

Value. True value: Where will you expect to find the answer?

Solomon wrote:
   Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
   But righteousness delivers from death.
   --Proverbs 11:4

The ‘day of wrath’ refers to the day in which God’s anger is displayed through His righteous judgment. Since God is pure and holy, He has every right to punish or destroy unholy mankind. He is not unfair; man is unholy and undeserving of God. So, God’s ‘day of wrath’ is truly just (fair).

Solomon says that riches do not profit in the day of wrath. Are riches limited to money? Of course not. We should consider all kinds of material wealth.

The simple point is that earthly wealth, regardless of its form or quality or quantity, has no benefit whatsoever when God displays his wrath against mankind because of sin.

However, in sharp contrast to ‘riches’ stands ‘righteousness.’ In simple terms, righteousness is doing what is right in God’s eyes. We should not think of righteousness as mere obedience to religious law code, but rather, following God’s instruction and example in scripture and striving to please him. (God’s instruction comes in many forms, not just commands).

When a person makes a proper response to God’s instruction in scripture through righteousness, he will be delivered from the ‘day of wrath.’

Wait!
Is that what the verse said?
Literally, it says that he will be delivered from ‘death.’ But death is set as a parallel concept to the ‘day of wrath.’

So, what in this life is of true value?
What should a person pursue?
How should we order our lives?

Chase after righteousness.
Righteousness is life, true life.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Prejudice


Prejudice is an old issue. We don’t have to worry about that any more. Right?

Perhaps the word ‘prejudice’ brings a specific issue to mind. However, the simple idea of prejudice is that of passing judgment on someone or a situation before having all the facts. It means to judge or decide beforehand: Pre-judge.

Prejudice is a word that describes an attitude of arrogance. Prejudice says, “I know, or I can figure it out without assistance. My ideas are better than anyone else's. I do not need to ask anyone.”

Prejudice presumes.
Prejudice assumes.
Prejudice ‘knows’ without really knowing.
Prejudice causes hard feelings; threatens relationships; strains friendships.
Prejudice causes separation, causes strife.
Prejudice destroys.

   Through presumption comes nothing but strife, 
   But with those who receive counsel is wisdom.
   --Proverbs 13:10

Monday, June 19, 2017

A False Truth???

Man and Truth

1. No amount of rationalization, human reasoning or logic makes truth. Truth exists independent of human thought.

2. Accusations do not establish truth; especially false accusations.

3. Truth is not subject to human courts of law or any other tribunal or gathering of thinking heads (reasonable or not).

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The scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees attempted to discredit Jesus. Their attempts failed because of the superior wisdom of Jesus. Even then, it was not the wisdom of Jesus that made truth true. Truth already existed independent of all the thinking and reasoning and testing and trapping; and even Jesus’ wisdom. It was with depth of wisdom that Jesus appealed to truth and confounded the ones testing him.

When the Sadducees tested Jesus (Matthew 22), they were actually mocking Jesus and those who believed in the resurrection. They had constructed a hypothetical situation based on the Law of Moses that would stump the ‘resurrectionists.’ How mockingly brilliant they thought they were. After all, they didn’t even believe in the resurrection.

Jesus used scripture to show the reality of the resurrection and it shamed the Sadducees for such a silly question. Such is human reasoning when pitted against the truth...Silly.

When Jesus was ultimately accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death, the charge against him was not true. In fact, the reason the accusers of Jesus believed he was guilty of blaspheming God was because they had already rejected the truth about Jesus, that He truly was the Son of God. So, they believed the very thing they 'assumed' to be true.

So, about the only thing the Sadducees accomplished was to show that a false assumption is sure to yield a false truth. (Think about that one.)

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The flaw with science when it dabbles in questions about the origin of the universe or the origin of man is that it starts with things that already exist in the natural world. Read any introductory science book that explains the scientific method: Science investigates things that are visible, audible, touchable; things that can be tasted or smelled; things that are measurable. Science is completely dependent upon human senses and human instrumentation for detecting and measuring and evaluating.

Science tests and measures. Past accomplishments have given man the ability to peer farther and farther into space; deeper and deeper into the ocean, and even into the earth’s core. Science has detected and measured infinitesimally minute particles as well as distant giants in the vastness of space. Yet, in all of this, science merely probes, tests, measures and observes existing matter.

It is no fault of science that it cannot probe beyond things that exist as matter. Science is ill equipped to explain truths involving intangibles: God, love, hope, conscience, morality, eternal life. It is the wrong tool.

It is the fault of man to try and use science for something it is not equipped to do. So, anyone who ‘assumes’ that science can reveal truth in the area of intangibles and reality beyond measurement is more like the Sadducees and Pharisees. Begin with a faulty assumption, and who knows what you’ll be able to come up with???

Thursday, June 15, 2017

No Free Lunch


It is likely that you know someone who has invested in some sort of moneymaking scheme that did not turn out as expected.

S
ome folks 'invest' in the lottery. Others jump at that opportunity that was ‘too good to be true.’ Still others are looking for that ‘once in a lifetime’ deal.

There are many kinds of ‘get rich quick’ schemes. However, few people actually get rich, fewer still get rich ‘quick.’

Financial advisers talk about steady growth over time...often decades. They advise folks to start saving early in life. They do not advise you to put you money in the high risk, quick turnover kinds of ‘investments.’

Hard work and diligence pay off in the long run. We are really lucky to have such knowledgeable advisers in our day. Their research and observations are valuable.

How did people ever get along without them?

Solomon said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Well, sort of . . . . Actually, Solomon said:

   He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, 
   But he who pursues vain things lacks sense.
   --Proverbs 12:11

Hard work and patience pay off.

Isn’t is refreshing to see that God’s wisdom predates our modern research and observations and knowledge. He has practical advice for our day...
Always has...
Always will...

Be wise. Listen.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Flatter . . . Splatter!


Flattery gets you everywhere!

We have been taught to believe it, and it is basically true. Flattery offers loads of benefits. However, in back of flattery, you will often find lies.

Solomon warned his son about the immoral woman. She was a flatterer and she was bold.

   So she seizes him and kisses him, 
      And with a brazen face she says to him:
   “I was due to offer peace offerings; 
      Today I have paid my vows.
   Therefore I have come out to meet you, 
      To seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you.”
   --Proverbs 7:13-15

The ‘brazen face’ is a serious face, seemingly truthful. It is with this brazen face that she sells her empty flattery.

The peace offering was an animal sacrifice that was divided between God, the priest, and the worshipper. The portion received by the worshipper was to be eaten on the day that the offering was made. So, the woman declared that ‘on that day’ she had paid (fulfilled) her vow of an offering that had to eaten that same day.

I have come out to meet you.
(YOU are the object of my desire.)

To seek your presence earnestly.
(I have made a strong effort to find you.)

I have found you.
(My quest is over, my dream fulfilled...in you.)

The young man was seduced by her flattery. Yet, the only reason her flattery worked was because of his inflated ego, inexperience in life, and his own desires. Through flattery she offered him what he wanted.
But could she deliver on her promises?

It was true, she had sacrificed that day, but it was a setup. Her sacrifice provided her the opportunity to satisfy her selfish desire. She wasn’t looking specifically for ‘him.’ She was looking for any two-legged ‘him.’ She was looking for the first ‘him’ that she could draw into her clutches. She would be satisfied with the first na├»ve fool who passed by.

Her flattery painted a picture of lies, making it seem as if ‘he’ was the very one she desired.

She flattered . . . and he fell greatly, splattering himself spiritually into ‘the chambers of death.’ (v. 27)

Still today, men (especially young men and men in mid-life crisis) are drawn in by the illusion created by flattery. Yet, through humility and knowledge of God's word, a young man can avoid the sexually immoral woman, and therefore avoid spiritual death. Verse 26 reveals the outcome...

   For many are the victims she has cast down,
   And numerous are all her slain.

Men, beware; be wise; be pure.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Kingdom of God Is...


How should we go about resolving doctrinal differences (ugh!)???
(Wait! Don't shy away from biblical doctrine; it is nothing more that biblical 'teaching.')

In the last two hundred years, I think Christianity has failed miserably. Just look at the number of denominations and splinter groups within those denominations. Yet, many religious folks are talking about unity these days. Unfortunately, many wish to achieve unity by simply ignoring doctrinal differences or by throwing doctrine out the window altogether. The Apostle Paul offered the answer, but not everyone can hear it!

When Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome he spoke of the kingdom, but not by saying, “the kingdom of God is like” (as in many of Jesus' parables). Rather, he wrote, “the kingdom of God is.” He was saying something about the nature of the kingdom of God.

The Christians in Rome were divided. There were doctrinal issues concerning the eating of meat and also the observance of special days. As Paul dealt with the divisive attitudes of the Christians he reminded them:

The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking,
but righteousness and peace and
joy in the Holy Spirit.

—Romans 14:17


That statement followed his clear assertion that there was no restriction in the eating of meat! However, instead of demanding that everyone adopt his apostolic explanation of liberty, he warned those who already understood their liberty (of eating all meat) not to harm their fellow Christian who, for conscience sake, could not enjoy the same liberty. Then came his explanation: “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking.”

Bear in mind that some Christians in Rome believed it to be a sin to eat certain meat. So they abstained in order to avoid sinning. It truly was a doctrinal issue, not a mere subjective opinion as many writers and teachers suggest.

Have you ever known of a church issue in which one group believed  that a certain practice was sinful, yet another group believed they had the liberty to engage in that same practice? In an open discussion of scripture each group considered the scriptures with a good conscience. Yet both, using the scriptures, came to conflicting conclusions. Their conclusions were based on their reasonings.*
Stalemate! What next?

What issues of our day are similar in nature to those in the church in Rome?
Has God actually left some doctrinal questions without clear answers in scripture?
Yes and No.

There ARE, in fact, some questions/issues for which there is no direct instruction or guiding example. Yet, an all encompassing answer IS given for all churches for all time:
The kingdom of God is...righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

I think God wants to see whether people are more interested in brotherly love or personal liberty. Are you seeking “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” or are you zealous for your liberty!? Do peace and joy accompany your definition of righteousness? What is the kingdom of God really about?

Those who pursue ‘righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’ will show self-restraint regarding their perceived Christian liberties. They will consider their fellow Christians first.

In contrast to those who show restraint are those who insist on pursuing their Christian liberties. In reality they are merely set on indulging in their personal desires.

On one occasion Paul wrote…

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.
All things are lawful, but not all things edify.
Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
--1 Corinthians 10:23-24


Voluntarily giving up my Christian liberty for the sake of my Christian brother...that is the meaning of ‘love your neighbor.’ Isn’t that what the kingdom of God is about???


* ‘Reasonings’ is the literal meaning in Romans 14:1 where some translations have opinions (NASB, ESV, RSV), disputable matters (NIV), doubtful things/issues (NKJV, CSB). 


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Who Can Understand?


   They are all straightforward to him who understands, 
   And right to those who find knowledge.
   --Proverbs 8:9

Solomon writes about wisdom as if wisdom were a woman calling loudly to people to listen.

“They” refers to the words that she (wisdom personified) speaks.

Her words of wisdom are ‘straightforward.’ They are not 'crooked or perverted' (v. 8). In other words, they are not twisted or tricky. They can be easily understood.

So, who could possibly ‘misunderstand’ the proverbs?

Remember the scoffer?
The scoffer* does not listen.
He is not open-minded.
He already ‘knows.’

When the scoffer hears something unfamiliar, he immediately rejects it, even if it is God’s word. His mind is already made up. So, God’s wisdom seems tricky, contradictory, or difficult to understand (though he would never admit it). It does not fit into his frame of reference of understanding. So, it must be rejected.

Unless you are a scoffer, God’s wisdom can be understood. If you are only 12 years old or still kicking at 112 years old, you can benefit from the wisdom that God offers. The only question is: Are you able to accept God’s wisdom as true, even when your experience ‘seems’ different? Are you willing to trust his teaching above your own understanding?

You can understand. God wants you to understand.

Wisdom calls out . . . "LISTEN!"

[*The following posts tell more about the scofferMusar, Someone's MissingA Pair to Remember, I Was Only Trying to Help..., and Broken Beyond Remedy.]