How to doom a kingdom, part II (We serve a powerful God)

Of course, Micaiah doesn’t say anything good about Ahab, just as the latter is accustomed to. He then goes on to report one of the most amazing as well as terrifying visions of the old testament:

I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another.Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.” (vs. 19-23)

God’s sovereignty is a motivation for discipleship

This passage may be an eye-opener to some. It shows our Lord from a perspective that we don’t necessarily come to think of naturally. This is a God who intervenes in his creation. A God who decides by his sole will because he answers to no one. People take offense on this, but God is sovereign over his creation. This story is a great example of how God decides of the fate of people, in a way. One must not forget that Ahab also brought this on himself. After all, it was he who decided to sin for all of his life, to marry Jezbel, to hate the Lord and ignore the warning of his prophet. We have a great example of the way in which God’s will and human choice interact with each other here. It seems that God always gets his way without breaking the will of anyone. The knowledge of this fact should make us seek his glory and rejoice in him, because in the end, he will give us what we really want!

The ensuing battle (Ahab obviously ignores the warning) is almost comical. The king tries to escape his fate – or rather, divine providence – by disguising himself. Being the coward that he is, he even tells Jehoshaphat not to disguise himself in the hopes that he will be killed in his place. However, God opens the eyes of the Syrians and they see that he isn’t the king of Israel, ignoring him. As always, God preserves the faithful!
Now God shows that he always gets his will:  But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. (v 34) One man fires a random arrow and hits the king at the small area where he is vulnerable! No one can defeat the will of God, under any circumstances!

With this knowledge, we are left to say If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 Being aware that nothing can stop God and that he cares for the faithful really helps me in my daily life. Let us stand strong and fight the good fight trusting our Lord, the Lord of hosts! Let us seek his kingdom knowing that he will provide us with everything we need. Let us seek his glory, for he will reward it!

How to doom a kingdom, part I (We serve a powerful God)

One of the passages I read today is one of the most interesting ones in the Bible, in my opinion. This is because it gives a tiny little bit of insight into the doings of our God, in a similar fashion to the books of Job or Revelation. I am always fascinated when I can see a little of God’s glory and supremacy like that!

The text is in 1 Kings 22:1-40. A few quick words on the setting: Jehoshaphat reigns in Judah. One of the better kings in history, he lives for the Lord (He walked in all the way of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. v. 43a). He also married family of Ahab, who reigned over Israel.This is one of the most evil kings in the history of God’s people. He pretty much always did the opposite of what God had ordained. (There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the people of Israel. Chapter 21:25f)

The first part of this text can teach us a few very important things that apply in manhood, leadership, worship, life, and everything else important. Continue reading

A feast with consequences

King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand. Daniel 5:1 ESV

What’s so special about what looks like any feast?
At the time, the Persian army stood before the gates of Babylon. They had just beaten Belshazzar’s father, King Nabonidus, in the Battle of Opis, effectively beating the Babylonians and clearing the path for the capital.

However, no panic is recorded to have happened at their arrival – Babylon was the most powerful stronghold of its time, and it’s inhabitants simply regarded it as impregnable. It is understandable that king Belshazzar was very self-confident, which explains with what mindset he was able to feast at a such a time.

Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. (v. 2)

In his drunkenness, he becomes so proud as to utterly disregard the God of Israel, the God which the former king Nebuchadnezzar II had known to be the one true God. He ignored everything he had witnessed (He was alive during the events of chapter 4) and defiled the Lord through his abuse of the treasure.

By the time he (literally) saw the writing on the wall, it was too late – that same night, the Persians took Babylon without resistance and killed Belshazzar. Daniel, however, preserved by his Lord, lived on to serve at the court of his new master, the King of Persia.

Since most of us obviously aren’t drunken kings under siege, what does this event teach us? I, for one, often behave like Belshazzar. Not only am I constantly in danger of – or, more likely, actually being proud, but I also make mistakes of large scale. I never was drunk, but I still “feast” in war-time. I often play games or read Tom Clancy novels when I should actually be communicating with the Lord, praying, reading, singing, thinking, taking notes, … In short, I ignore the war that I live in. And it’s pretty hard (spoiler: impossible) to survive in this war as a human. We aren’t strong enough.

This chapter is a reminder to humble ourselves under our God. And to stay alert. Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak, says Jesus in Mk 14:38. Let us watch, wary of the war in us!

Psalm 101 – Motivating for life without compromise

“A Psalm of David. I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.
Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.
I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.”

I don’t really have anything to say; David speaks well for himself.

Let’s walk our lives pleasing the Lord and being useful to him!

 

 

1 Corinthians 1& 2 – God’s sovereignty || ministry? – how to witness

We often think that we have to convert people, that we have to convince them of the truth. But this is wrong. The recurring theme in these chapters is that we aren’t supposed to convert people through rhetorics; instead, we are supposed to be witnesses of the Cross!

“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (v. 1:17)

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (v. 2:1.2 & 3.4)

These two verses clearly warn us from resorting to eloquence, or rhetorics, or wisdom, or whatever you want to call it. We should not try to convince people of the truth; that’s what human, earthly religions do. But what else should we do?

 “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (.v 2:12-16)

As you can see, our job is not of convincing. If we can convince people of something, then it isn’t the gospel! If we can convince people of something, we are teaching a different God than we should! For our Lord can’t be recognised or understood by people.
You see, this is why doctrine is important. It really, really is. Because what I just told you doesn’t make any sense if you don’t believe in the sovereignty of God. I mean, how are we supposed to minister if the only thing they understand is false?

You really do need to believe in God’s sovereignty to spread the gospel in God’s way.
Our job is to be witnesses! Testis, non orator. We aren’t supposed to convert. we witness the cross through scripture, through the Spirit, and if it is God’s will, he will give understanding and repentance to a person trough the Holy Spirit. God saves. We don’t. If we try to do it, we take the glory that is rightly his! “Lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” (v. 1:30-31)

We are saved because of God. Now let’s talk about it! And if, in his infinite wisdom, the Lord wishes so, he will save the person we are talking to.

Hosea 11 – God’s neverending love

I read one of the most beautiful passages of the Bible yesterday. The chapters before this one are full of God’s wrath, but then the Lord shows a different aspect of himself:

““When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
“Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent?
A sword will flash in their cities; it will devour their false prophets and put an end to their plans.
My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I will by no means exalt them.
“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.
I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man— the Holy One among you. I will not come against their cities.
They will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west.
They will come from Egypt, trembling like sparrows, from Assyria, fluttering like doves. I will settle them in their homes,” declares the Lord.” (NIV, for once)

I was really moved by this passage. God looks so personal, so loving, so human in a way – and not human, the Holy One who doesn’t remain in his wrath! This is the strongest illustration of the personal, caring God Father I know.

This helped me to see the cross in the right light, because I take it for granted way to easily. It helped me understand how much the Lord hates sin, and how much he loves his people! The only proper response we can give is Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (NIV again, it helps us not to overlook the “mercies of God” part)

Praise the Lord!

2. Timothy 2:21 – Used of the Lord

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)

Do you want to be used of the Lord?
I want to. Many people – in fact, most churches – want  to. We want to bear fruit. We want to prepare the kingdom of God. Right? But why do we often feel so useless??

The answer can be found in this passage. To be useful to the Lord, and so, to bear fruit, we must clean ourselves and set ourselves apart as holy, completely dedicated to the Lord’s cause. I will quote Paul Washer again. We aren’t relevant because we conform ourselves to the world. We are relevant because we are set apart, living our life for the Glory of God.

You see, you can’t convert anyone. Nor can you withstand the temptations of sin. Why then would you want to live like the world to minister them? The only thing you will achieve is weaken yourself through sin! If you want to be used of the Lord, then live your life his way, and he will work through you! He will use you, and he will convert people through you if you set yourself apart. But you gotta do it his way. Your way isn’t an alternative to a holy, set-apart life – if your way isn’t God’s way, your way hinders God! Pastors, elders, parents, let me tell you this: If you want your church to be relevant, if you want the Lord to save people using you, then do not be conformed to this world!

In Hosea, Israel conformed itself to the world. It sinned against God in many ways. What is our Lord’s view on this?

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6)

Israel didn’t turn to the Word for knowledge. Modern, popular “christian” churches are in imminent danger of this: They listen to pop culture, to psychology, to philosophy, and they try to be attractive to the world to save people. God doesn’t need you to be attractive. God is Sovereign! He can save people without you looking like them. In fact, that’s the way he wants to do it. Do NOT be conformed to this world!
That’s also the way Paul tells the gospel. Did you notice that he never alters the gospel to be politically correct? Never. He explains differently from culture to culture so that his audience may understand better, but he never leaves anything out. And he always makes people mad – because that’s the reaction you will get if you preach the gospel. Do you preach the gospel? Or do you teach your politically correct view of God, so the pagans will like what they hear? If so, good luck: “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” (Titus 1:16)
You probably know the gospel of Matthew. If you don’t bear fruit, be afraid!
“Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10)

One final thought about sin and being conformed to the world; again, from Hosea:
“Strangers devour his strength, and he knows it not; gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not.  The pride of Israel testifies to his face; yet they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him, for all this.(Hosea 7:9-10)

Sin, if tolerated and pursued – as churches that want to be like the people they minister to in order to be relevant do – will weaken you to the point that you cannot serve the Lord.

If you want to be used of the Lord, set yourself apart in holiness!

Ecclesiastes 11:9 – Youth equals freedom? – The consequences of sin

“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.”

If we listen to the world, it teaches us it’s idea of youth: youth means freedom. It means listening to your heart, to your feelings, doing whatever you want. No regrets, fun and yourself are all that matters. Do whatever you can to be happy, because #YOLO (you only live once).

This is exactly the opposite of what the Word of God teaches! Sure, we should be happy. One recurring theme of Ecclesiastes is that we should be happy with our situation. And yes, we should roam free and do what our heart desires. We should discover things. However, this shall not be without consequences. And that is the crux of the matter. The world tries to make us forget that our behaviour has consequences. Satan tries to teach this. He wants us to sin as much as possible, without thinking of consequences. The problem is, this is not the way it works. The second most recurring theme after the vanity of the world is the fear of the Lord. Because the Lord will judge, and he will judge righteously, and everything will be made public. Sin will be punished, because God is just. That is, if we are not saved through our faith in Jesus Christ, of course. And even then, we are “only” spared death – the consequences of sin remain. If a man sleeps with the wrong kind of person in college, gets AIDS, comes to know the Lord, and is saved, he still has AIDS, and he still no longer is a virgin. This holds for everything, and Satan would love us to forget it.

Though we don’t know who the author of Ecclesiastes is, I found Solomons Proverbs very useful to understand the Kohelet. Let’s let the Word of God speak for a moment. Here is a selection of Proverbs that teach us about this topic:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10)

“Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.” (Proverbs 10:17)

“The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.” (Proverbs 10:27)

“Whoever keeps the commandment keeps his life; he who despises his ways will die.” (Proverbs 19:16)

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2)

“Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge. Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” (Proverbs 23:12-14)

“If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:12)

“Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” (Proverbs 28:14)

 Do you see? Freedom doesn’t mean we get carte blanche to do everything stupid we want, and when we turn 18, everything is forgotten! I know this is the way the law woks in many countries, but God doesn’t work that way!

We need to turn to the Word (not the world, scripture) and live our life by that. Being young may be an excuse to try (some!) things, and to do what we want instead of serving in our families and churches (after all, isn’t that maturity?), but it isn’t and shall never be an excuse to not fear the Lord who created the world and is just and righteous and hates evil.

You Only Live Once. After this one attempt, you will be judged if you don’t fear the Lord. Make something of your life!

The weight of the world – Leave everything behind!

Again, this is based on Paul Washers sermon on biblical manhood.

If you look at the fake fantasy of the world, or you won’t be satisfied by the beauty of God’s creation! Nor will you be happy with your wife… You get to the point where you are so bombarded by fiction that the real thing won’t bring you any joy! The false prophet isn’t only mormon or jehovas witness, it’s wall street and marketing!

“In our own home, we don’t have cable, we don’t have anything! We can selectively watch things.”  Spongebob would have been considered grotesque, viral, disgusting a few years ago – now, it’s for children. Same thing here. In my home, we have an LCD screen, and we watch stuff from a Raspberry Pi , or a laptop. No ads, no movies we don’t wanna see, no waste of time. You can watch so many things that you lose discernment for what is good and you become animalistic.

Even good things can be bad. Don’t let good movies replace the time you spend reading to your children! When books will replace multimedia in the home, you will see a transformation in your home! Not just christian books, any good books! Nothing can replace the social interaction of a father reading to his sons. This will build relationship, and the sons will learn a lot more from it than just the content of the book!
You see, Christianity goes really, really deep. It’s not about going to church on Sundays and not doing a few things, it changes everything! You don’t have to become a road scholar to change this, it’s simple things like reading with your children! Or else, the media will get you!

Avoid people who do not fear the Lord. Do not hang around with people who do not resemble the scripture. Do you hate the works of the world? Flee them! They shall not cling to you!

 2 Timothy 2:16-21

Even ungodly speech will affect us to the point where it will lead us into ungodliness! “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19)
You want to be used of the Lord? Take inventory of your life. Separate yourself from the wicked things. Like and athlete, follow Hebrews 12:1-2. Leave anything that is wicked and wrong behind. If you really want to reach your goal, it has to be your only goal! Everything you do will have to bring you closer to your goal. If it doesn’t, stop it!

Do not learn a new truth in one evening and impose it upon your home. That’s legalistic and may turn into a dictatorship.

  1. Test the truth in the scripture.
  2. Study to find out what you can apply.
  3. Apply it in your life.
  4. Talk it over with your family.

Most of the things called “christian” in America today are not christian. Are you ready to set yourself apart, and be used of the Lord?

What now? – Steps to godly manhood

Here we go with the next part of the sermon!I’m going to look at what we can do to become godly men.

First of all, men must dominate themselves through scripture and the holy spirit.
We must avoid evil influences. Avoid the media and godless conversations like the plague. Like God told Cain, sin waits around the corner like a wild beast. You ought to fear. There is a certain thing about fear that’s very healthy: realising that you are not superman and that if you fall over, you leave a wife, and children, and a church.
If you are single and wanna live your life, go ahead. But if you are a man and have a woman, fear about the destruction of your soul, her soul, and the souls of your children.

Set yourself apart from the world!

Avoid evil influences. As Romans 12:2 says, we should not conform to this world. No unequal yokes. This doesn’t only apply to courting and marriage, but also to the way we spend our time, and who we spend it with. If you have ungodly friends, or spend time on television and multimedia, you will be influenced by that!

Flee lust.
2 Timothy 2:22
We need to reject the lust within, and actively! pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.

We fight the devil, but we flee youthful lust. Something in our flesh is worse than the devil himself! Do not put yourself in a situation where you are to be tested.
Most teenagers have already had romantic sexual experiences.
Do not be alone with a person of the opposite sex that you are attracted to. And do not put your children into that situation. Where did you learn that it’s time to date with 16? From the world! If you put two people of the opposite sex together, they will fall. This is one of the reasons why I decided to follow the principles of courtship. You can find that post in November 2012.
“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” The church is destroyed because we don’t turn to the scriptures for matters of family. We conform to the world in every possible way because we think that we need to be like them to be relevant, to “be a light” as they say. But this is completely unbiblical! You see:
“that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:15.16)
We are a light in the world when we are not conformed to it, but separated! Do you want to be preached the bible, or live a pagan life with a few christian elements?

Train your children so that the only suitor they will accept is a godly one.
Do not be involved with other men who do not care about the things of God – I don’t care how much you read the bible, you will be influenced. Protect the eyes!

Psalm 101:3 & Job 31:1

In our perverse culture, even the women are now attracted to the opposite sex through the eyes. Like the psalmist, we should protect our eyes, and therefore our minds! Our Prayer should be Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

Let us not stain ourselves with one drop of unclean things! This holds for any form of entertainment (movies etc.) and friendships!
If a movie has only one dirty scene, don’t watch it!

If we really want to be godly men, we should “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14) Do we really fight to achieve this?

1 Corinthians 16:13.14 – What a man is like

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13.14)

Paul Washer elaborated many of his points on this verse; so will I.

As culture moves further and further away from scripture, it moves further away from the institutions of scripture. That’s why we have such a mixture of masculinity and femininity today. We have lost what it means to be a man, and to be a women. We need to go back to scripture and learn what family should look like, what we should teach our sons.

What does it mean to be a man?
A man is on the alert. He is a watchman in the fallen world. He knows that he must guard the things he has been appointed stewardship to by the Lord. He does not have the luxury to let his chest fall. He stands firm in his faith. He knows what he believes, and he acts on that knowledge. He will stand steadfast and protect his family, come hell or high water.
He does not make the woman take responsibilities in church that they shouldn’t have to take. He takes responsibilities, he teaches.
Acting like men doesn’t mean act like bullies, or stick the chest out. But be strong, and act in love. A man loves God, loves 1 woman, loves his children, and loves the people of God. He always acts in love no matter what sacrifices this means for him. He pours his life into his family. When he comes home from work, he teaches and he serves.
He’s through with playing games, because he doesn’t have the time.

This is just getting started. I will follow this post up with more detail on the way we should live. It’s time to grow up. Let’s become the men we are supposed to be. Let’s work!

Shun Babblings – by Henry Morris III, D.Min.

This is a repost of a daily devotional I am subscribed to done by the Institute of Creation Research.
You can find the original at http://www.icr.org/article/7490/
 

Shun Babblings

by Henry Morris III, D.Min.

“But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus.” (2 Timothy 2:16-17)

Paul’s earlier warning about “word fights” (2 Timothy 2:14) is strengthened in the text above with a different emphasis. Word fights are “picky” debates started by quarrelsome people. They are useless and divisive. They create conflicts and schisms.

Profane and vain babblings, however, are worldly and valueless “noise.” Less obvious and more subtle than fighting, they have the effect of destroying godliness. “But refuse profane |ungodly| and old wives’ fables |myths, baseless stories|, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7).

Because “godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8), Paul strongly urged Timothy to “keep |guard| that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

The “oppositions” spoken of are the “antithesis”—the conflict, the stand against knowledge. Paul calls this anti-knowledge a pseudonumos—a false name. It sounds like knowledge but is not true.

The results of these “babblings” are not good. Ungodliness will increase. Error will eat away at spiritual health and truth like gangrene. The two church leaders that Paul mentions, Hymenaeus and Philetus, are listed as examples of such a cancer. They taught that the resurrection had already occurred for the saints.

Peter’s warning is very similar: “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17).

HMM III

Where are the men? – The unbiblical principle of adolescence

This is an important matter if you haven’t heard of it yet. Paul Washer mentions it in many of his sermons because it’s so relevant.

The fact is that our society lacks men. Few generations ago, boys would work hard and grow up to become men around 12, or maybe 15. They worked, built homes, loved wives. One of Paul Washers examples is the movie “Master and Commander” in which young men aged around 15 lead the charge from a british vessel onto a french one during the Napoleonic wars. The famous Jonathan Edwards graduated from Yale at 17 – he began college at 13. What happened to our society? How did we get to the point where 15-year olds play games and 16-year olds go to the mall?

The loss of manhood in our society was caused by the changes of the ’60 and ’70, when our culture decided that feminists and homosexuals knew more about education and family than every culture that has ever existed on the face of the earth. They introduced something called adolescence, something that doesn’t exist in scripture – nor any culture prior to ours until as little as 40 years ago, for that matter. With adolescence, boys get the privileges of men without assuming the responsibilities of men. The result? They never grow up! And now, we have 40 year olds that don’t have time to take care of their wives, or to teach and train their children, because they are busy playing games with their friends!

We should strive to introduce our sons to manhood as soon as they can walk. We need to train them to become godly men according to scripture. This is what the church needs most, now.

Amos 4-6: Self-rightous hypocrites (What our worship should be)

I’ve been reading Amos since yesterday, and it has made a strong impression on me. It’s amazing how relevant this book is today.

The first 3 chapters are an announcement of God’s upcoming wrath over the entire region, including Israel and Judah. He also says that there is no escaping his punishment.

In Amos 4-6, God explains in detail why he will punish Israel.
The Israelites bring sacrifices and tithes, but they do not fear the Lord. They bring sacrifices to look good, to feel righteous, to save themselves. But this is not the way it works. Sacrifices mean nothing to the Lord if their motivation isn’t right.
God brought many evils about his people, but they didn’t return to him.
The Service of the Israelites is worthless because their lives don’t reflect that service. They hate truth, wisdom, and justice – like in Habakkuk 1: “So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” (Habakkuk 1:4)
That’s the situation in Israel. The people live like they want, and then add a few good deeds here and there to save them – even being proud about them.

God hates the petty worship of his people: “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.” (Amos 5:21). Amos 5:18-27 sums it up very well – you should read it, you’ll see why in a minute. The Lord says that they should not desire his coming, because it will be a day of darkness to them – they will be judged.
Their only hope is to finally seek the Lord, and reinstitute justice.  “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:14.15).
Hating evil, loving good, even seeking it – that’s pretty categorical, isn’t it? It applies to every aspect of a life. I’ll mention the Shema Yisrael in Deuteronomy 6 again.

What does this have to do with us? I think that many modern “christian” institutions are directly addressed by this book. That’s what modern evangelism often looks like, isn’t it? You are saved if you love Jesus. Go to church sometimes, maybe to a youth group, listen to “christian” music, maybe go to Africa for a month. And then that’s it. Who cares if you watch the same movies, play the same games, have a girlfriend, try drugs, cheat at school? You are conformed to the world in nearly every aspect, but you go to the church service once a month, so it’s okay, right? Guys, what happened to Romans 12? “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1.2).
This passage is categorical. Our worship isn’t our songs, our prayers, or going to church every sunday. Our service is our entire life! This stuff is important. If your life doesn’t change at all, you should find out if you really know Christ at all. If you do, it’s time to act like you do! Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) And “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21). If you love the Lord, you will change.

As for the rest: God told the Israelites what would happen to them through Amos, and this hasn’t changed. For example: “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:29). In the words of Paul Washer: We can’t play church. Either we Love the Lord, and worship him with our life, or our “worship” won’t mean a thing to the Lord: “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.” (Amos 5:23). True worship is righteousness and godliness. Fittingly, the german word for godliness translates to “fear of the Lord”…

But you don’t have to worry. “Seek the Lord, and live.” “Seek me, and you will find me”. If we actively seek the Lord, we can be sure that his blood on the cross has washed away our sins, paving the way for his acceptance of our life as worship.

Ecclesiastes 1&2 – The World is meaningless

I started reading Ecclesiastes 2 Days ago, and there is a lot of wisdom in there. Before starting, I thought it would be depressing, but I am happy to say that I was mistaken.

As far as I can tell (I didn’t read much further yet), chapters 1 & 2 are both an introduction and a topic for the rest of the book. The preacher talks about the meaninglessness of the world, and everything we do in it.

He begins by saying that nothing new can happen or be done, because everything repeats itself. In short, many things happen, and nothing changes.
Then, he goes on saying that the pursuit of wisdom in itself is vain, because it doesn’t bring lasting happiness.
He continues with the vanity of pleasure, leisure, “fun”, because of the same reason.
His next point his the vanity of work, achievements, “greatness”, riches, exotic riches, sex, and reputation.
After that, he builds upon the fact that a wise way of life is meaningless because it won’t change the fact that he will die. Wisdom cannot prevent death, or change what happens after death. A wise man will disappear in the same way as a fool.
His final point is the vanity of work, because nothing will matter when he dies – his belongings will be left to another person.

Basically, what the preacher is saying is this: That nothing we do for ourselves matters. Because nothing of it will change our fate, or save us, or fulfill us, or even remain with us after death.
I fought I would be depressed because I knew the first few verses, but I actually found the beginning pretty encouraging. I know that everything done for earth is vain, but I also know that serving the Lord is not. As far as I can tell, this will be the topic of at least the next passage, and probably a recurring theme in the book.

This is a great perspective to have. I know that my life belongs to God in at least 3 ways: He created me, he lets me live, and he saved me. Therefore, why would I waste this gift and responsibility and chase after vain things? I should really give my life to the Lord (all of it, I’m not talking about praying a prayer) and serve him with everything that I am, and do. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (in Shema Yisrael, Deuteronomy 6:5). This surely implies every second of my time! My prayer should be (and will be more so, from now on) “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12). I will try to live more of my life in a way that glorifies the Lord, and spend my time learning from him and teaching him. Maybe this post will encourage you to do the same!

As a sidenote – this doesn’t mean that we are not supposed to enjoy what God has given us, as another chapter teaches if I recall correctly.

Luke 17:1-4

I want to make 2 quick points in this passage that I read yesterday:

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
 

1. God’s sovereignty doesn’t exclude us from being responsible.

God has a plan, and he will fulfill it. But we still have a choice in our life. God allows the devil to tempt (and really tempts himself, because he has control over everything), but we are still held responsible for our deeds, as the first verse makes clear. This isn’t the only passage you can take this from. There are probably many more, but I can think of 2:
In Luke 22:22, Jesus tells Judas that he “will die as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed”. Again, we have both aspects of our life in one single sentence by Jesus.
The other passage I can think of is Romans 9:19: You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” I heard a good sermon on this passage once, in which the preacher also addresses this topic – I don’t really remember what he said, though. I can point anyone to it who wants to hear it. Anyway, fact is that we are sinful and God is just and must hold us accountable to our sin – even though, in a way, he has control over it: because he gives us choice.

What can we do with this knowledge?
I take comfort in God, because I know that he is good, and just, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I trust the Lord that he knows how to glorify himself. He may do with me as he pleases (he does anyway) and I am glad about it, for I know that he will do better than I would. I also work hard, fight the devil, try to die so that Christ may live in me, because: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13-15) (By the way, everyone should have studied James 1:2-18. This passage is really, really important). Finally, I have good faith, because “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The Word is stronger that a double-edged sword. The devil can go right back home – his future doesn’t look so good anyway!

2. Love doesn’t ignore sin in a brother.

Okay, I already wrote a lot… I’ll keep this short.
There are several passages that teach how to deal with sin in the community. Matthew 18:21-22 would be another example, if you are interested. In short, the correct response to sin isn’t to ignore it. True, there is 1 Corinthians 13, but that’s not what that passage means.

If you love your brother, then rebuke him! If he is godly, he should be glad about any guidance he can get and try to conform himself to scripture. Then, when he repents, forgive him. This is where 1 Corinthians 13 comes into play. You don’t ignore sin, you forget and forgive past and acknowledged sins. By the way, this command is old: Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. (Leviticus 19:17) As you can see, Moses already taught this as a basic rule for the community. Sin has to be fought, for the Lord is Holy. Sin cannot be tolerated in the community: either the sin, or the Holy Spirit have to leave. They cannot coexist. If we tolerate sin, we ourselves sin against the Holy Spirit in us and the others, as Leviticus teaches.

It’s important to guide our brothers and sisters in Christ within their daily life, so that they may “present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is their spiritual worship.”

Luke 16:19-31 – The sufficiency of scripture

This will be a very short post, but I wanted to talk about this. During my first quiet time today, I really enjoyed this story. You should go ahead and read the whole context, but I’ll briefly talk about verse 31:

He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
 

This is very clear evidence of the sufficiency of scripture. We have everything we need in the word – the living word – and should not have to ask for visions, or wonders to strengthen our faith. Jesus also said: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. This passage reminds of the pharisees that wanted to kill the resurrected Lazarus because he attracted too much attention in John 12. It was just as Jesus said: someone rose from the dead, yet they didn’t believe. I’ll even go further and say that we don’t need evidence of Jesus’ resurrection to believe in him. Thomas could have believed when the others told him that they had seen Jesus. We should strive to strengthen our faith through scripture – we won’t regret it!

Isn’t it  amazing how much we have been given through the Holy Spirit?

Luke 13: 23-30 – God saves!

When reading Luke 13 today, I saw yet another example of God’s sovereign salvation:

23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them,
24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’
26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’
27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’
28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.
29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.
30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

This passage underlines several important aspects of salvation.

First, not everyone will be saved. This shouldn’t be news, although it might be for some. We will only be able to be saved if we seek Jesus himself, rather than pursuing salvation for it’s own sake.

Second, we cannot save ourselves. Again, this shouldn’t be new to anyone. Only Christ Jesus, through his blood, can save us. If we stick to our own good deeds (which aren’t), to some romantic view of a loving God that forgets everything to save everyone, or even to some exotic religion, we will “not be able” to save ourselves. Romans 10:9 – “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is the only way, and it is HIM that saves us by his sovereign grace. The Lord will save whom he pleases, as he says in Romans 9.

And finally, the end is near. There is a time for choice, but that is running out. It is time to reach out and spread the word – for “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). This passage teaches what will happen to the unrepenting – we need to let the Lord save people through us!