Thoughts on life and Scripture...

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Chocolate Sprinkles Incident

At our home we like to have chocolate sprinkles on our bread for lunch. You know, the dutch chocolate sprinkles. Maybe we like them too much. Which is why we have some rules about how much is put on the bread. So there was an incident at lunch. My wife was putting some of the sprinkles on our daughter's bread. Another child felt that mom was putting too much on the bread and so he told his mom that she was overdoing the chocolate sprinkles. When I heard this I was taken aback. Here was the child telling the mother what to do. This incident needed to be addressed. After a rebuke and an apology, all was made right.

   But as I was thinking this over later, I saw how we often act like my son did. Except we don't act this way to mere humans, but to God. How many times don't we try to tell God what to do. We often complain and grumble against God when we don't like how He is ruling the universe. Maybe we are unhappy because the fairy tale life we envisioned for ourselves has not come true. Prince Charming or Princess True Love has not come into our lives. We live with constant sickness or pain. Our job is boring and the boss man is mean. Our church is not what we hoped it would be. Life is hard and it just don't seem fair.

     We complain about it to ourselves and to others. But we are really complaining to God. When the people of Israel complained to Moses about the lack of food in the wilderness. Moses told them "Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD." Ex 16:8. When we grumble, we are actually saying that we don't think God is perfect in wisdom and goodness. We act as though God should have consulted us before He brought trouble and trials into our lives. Little, finite, imperfect creatures are rebuking the Almighty Creator who is perfect in power and wisdom. Remember how Peter did this when he rebuked Jesus for saying that He was going to suffer and die? Matt 16:21-23. Aren't you glad Jesus didn't listen to Peter?

  This thought should cause two things in your mind. First, you should see how great your sin is before God. All of us have done this at one time or another. Some of us do this all the time. This realization of our guilt should make us cry out, "God, have mercy upon me, the sinner." Second, We should be amazed at the grace and patience of the Lord. God bears with us so much. Every day we provoke Him to anger by our sins. Yet He is patient and compassionate. He rebukes and disciplines His children. He forgives them when they sin. He is so unlike sinners. We would blow up in anger every time if we had to deal with what God deals with on a daily basis.

 When we again behold the glorious grace of God toward us, then we can in His power give that grace to others. The glory of Christ is what transforms and empowers us to act with grace, patience and humility when we deal with others. We need to spend more time reminding ourselves that God is good and wise and in control. He knows what is best and He will bring into our lives whatever He knows is best for us. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Rom 8:28.  Do we really believe that? Can we trust our Father like little children, even in the pain, sorrow and disappointment of life? How we need greater faith!


Brad

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Spiders And Sin

  Imagine for just a moment a scenario. As you walk into one of the rooms of your house to pick up your baby, you see a spider between you and your child. As you look closer, you realize in horror that it is a black widow spider. This poisonous spider is now moving closer to your child. What do you do? Hopefully you won't run away screaming or freeze in terror. You wouldn't want to scoop up the spider and let it play with your child. The best thing to do is to stomp on the spider and crush it to death. No mercy, no kindness, just a swift and gruesome death. You don't take chances with deadly spiders.

   While it is considered wise not to make pets of poisonous creatures like black widow spiders, yet when it comes to something more dangerous in the spiritual realm, people are very foolish. Sin is a poison. It is destructive, deadly and life threatening. Consider what is the destructive force of sin. Pornography devastates marriages, your spiritual health and countless lives. It is a black poison. Anger can destroy families, friends, and businesses. Gossip can destroy a whole church. Pride ruins souls and leads them into hell. I could list many other examples like drunkenness, gambling, slander, and laziness, but I think you get the point. Sin is destructive like a hurricane or a deadly poisonous spider. So don't take chances with deadly sin, kill it quickly.

  The truth is people by nature like sin. They make it their pet and invite it into their homes. People cuddle and feed their pet sins. Even when it bites them, people will often return back to their poisonous pet. Yet in the end their pet sins will destroy them. Even as Christians we can make a pet of our sins. Instead of seeing sin as some poisonous spider, we see it as if it was some harmless puppy or kitty cat. We may play with sin and dabble in it a little. We know it is dangerous, but our sinful flesh is strong and still wants us to hold on to the sin. We need to look at sin not as a nice puppy but a poisonous spider. We should become sin-crushers.

     This is what God calls us to do. In Colossians 3:5, we are told to "Put to death what belongs to your worldly nature."  How do we deal with sin? Put it to death! Don't have mercy on it. Killing sin is painful, difficult and dirty work. It isn't easy to kill what your flesh loves. But why would you want to keep something more dangerous than a black widow spider in your life?

  Killing sin is hard but thankfully God has given us some weapons to help us finish the job. We don't kill sin in our own strength. The Spirit of God lives in His people to give them the power to stomp on their sin. So we should pray about specific sins, calling on God to help us kill them. The Spirit uses His word to renew us and help in the fight. It is not enough to kill sin, but we must "put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another." Col 3:12-13. And even when we fail, there is forgiveness and grace through Jesus Christ.

 There is not enough space here to get into all the details of putting to death sin. But I hope you will see sin for what it is, a poisonous and deadly thing, and deal with it ruthlessly in God's power by stomping on your sins.

Brad

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Attack In Formation

This post is related to the one I did on the sword of the Spirit. When I taught that lesson, I included some brief thoughts on the subject which I want to consider in this post. I want to develop that idea more fully here.

  Our spiritual warfare is not an individual effort alone. We are not to be lone rangers or commandos alone behind enemy lines. By nature we tend to be self absorbed. Sin keeps us from fighting together in the church and it causes us to fight each other. But God knows we are stronger together. We weren't made to live alone.

  The best armies of this world are those that fight in formation and in a unified strategy. The Roman army's success was due in part to its discipline and ability to fight in formation. The phalanx of Alexander's army helped lead him to his many conquests. The British squares gave Napoleon his waterloo at the battle of Waterloo. Armies like these were able to work together for victory. They could use the different kinds of units in the army to their greatest advantage. These principles of warfare are also true in the Christian's war.

How wonderful it would be if the church would fight together in battle formation. While I would like to see this among all churches around the world, the focus of this blog will be on the local church. Each local church should learn to have an army mentality. Lone ranger Christians are dead Christians or at least a hindrance to themselves and to others.We need to look at each Christian in our church as a fellow soldier fighting a common enemy. Think of what a church could do if they would only learn to fight together.

 The devil understands the importance of unity and cooperation in the local church. He spends much of his time trying to divide churches. His tactics can vary, but there is one sinister purpose in all of them: divide and conquer. The devil will try to keep us focused on ourselves, never opening up about our struggles, never trusting others. Getting Christians into different groups and cliques is another way to divide and conquer. When Christians fight and argue about petty differences, then the devil has us where he wants us. He will try to keep us from being at church or from using our gifts in the church. Sadly while the devil is committed to total warfare with God's people, the church is often distracted and fighting among themselves.

 In an army there are different roles and different kinds of soldiers. This diversity when used together for a single purpose will often achieve victory. The same is true for the church.While we have different gifts and personalities, we have a common salvation, a common king, a common battle plan and a common destination. Now we need to act on these truths. We are stronger together. Attack in formation!
-Brad

P.S. This is the 100th blog post we have done. So, to celebrate we are giving away two books. Both are by John MacArthur. The first is called, "Hard To Believe" and the other is called, "The Truth War." If you want the books, leave a comment on Facebook or on this blog's comment section. We will randomly pick two winners in a weeks time. Thanks for reading. Our prayer is that God would bless this blog for the sanctification of His people.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Please Bless Me, God.

When we pray we often ask God to bless our food, or dear old uncle Frank or our friends. We pray for blessings for our selves. We want God to bless us. But have you ever considered why God should bless you? Or how can God bless us. There is a theme that runs through the Bible concerning blessings and curses. This theme was the subject of some of my thoughts one morning as I was milking the cows. I want to share this with you.

 What does it mean to be blessed? The Webster"s dictionary of 1828 defines it as such, "Happy; prosperous in worldly affairs; enjoying spiritual happiness and the favor of God." To be blessed is to live under the smile of God and to enjoy real joy.  On the other hand to be cursed is to have a "sentence of divine vengeance" as the Webster's dictionary defines it. God's curse brings sorrow, pain and judgement. It is to live under the frown of God.

 When God made the world, it was blessed. Everything was created good. When God made the fish and birds, He blessed them. Gen 1:21. After He made the man and woman, God blessed them as well. Gen 1:28. All was well in the world in the beginning. All was peace, joy and harmony between God and man. It was perfect bliss.

 But all that changed when Adam and Eve fell into sin. By sinning they brought God's curse on the world. God's curse is found in Gen 3:14-19. In this passage God curses all the animals, especially the serpents. God added pain to every child birth. God cursed the ground with thorns and thistles. Until this world is made new at the end of time, creation groans under this curse. See Romans 8:20-23. Man also became cursed for his sin. Unless a man observes the law of God perfectly, he is cursed for his sin. "For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them."" Galatians 3:10. However God was merciful to Adam and Eve in spite of their sins. We know this from later passages. Even though all things became cursed, God showed and continues to show grace. He promised that One would come who would crush the head of the serpent. God didn't pour out His full wrath.There is still much good in the world in spite of the curse and sinful people.

  Later God curses Cain for murdering his brother. God cursed this world with a flood because of the wickedness of men. God through Noah cursed Ham and his descendants because he mocked and dishonored his father. But we learn in Gen 9:26 that Shem and his descendants would be blessed. Then later in Gen 12, God tells Abraham that through his offspring all the world will be blessed. This theme of blessings and curses continues throughout the whole Old Testament and into the New Testament. It really is the story of how God will bring about blessing for people who are cursed by sin.

  Blessing can only come through Jesus Christ. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree."- in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Galatians 3:13-14.  You see how costly it is for God to bless you. Jesus had to be cursed by God so that we could enjoy blessings we didn't earn or deserve. When we ask God to bless us, remember the only way He can do that is if you have been justified by faith in Christ, who was under a sentence of divine vengeance because of our sin. This request is no light and trivial request. The granting of this request was very costly; beyond the value of anything on this earth. Every good thing is indeed a reason to praise God for His grace.


Brad

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Peter De Bruys: The Forgotten Reformer

  Since it is the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation, I want to bring to your attention someone who lived far before the Reformation and yet was one who tried to bring reformation to the church. Even in the dark ages, there were men who preached the gospel. Real revivals happened. But often the church was an underground church; persecuted by the Roman Catholics. The story of Peter de Bruys is an example of this.

  The only way we know about Peter de Bruys is through his enemies. We have no books written by Peter. No admirers ever wrote his history. All we have are Catholic writers who wrote against him since he challenged the Roman Catholic church. One such source is Peter the Venerable--the abbot of Cluny.  The abbot of Cluny wrote a book that was directly against the teaching and followers of Peter de Bruys. This book is the main source of our information about this preacher.

 We know he was a priest for a time. He came on the scene in southern France around the year 1105. Although we are not certain even of the date. He  preached for some 20 years in the south of France, bringing about a revival and the emptying of Catholic churches of worshippers. Then around the year 1126, a mob laid hands on Peter and he was burned to death.

  Later on a man named Henry of Lausanne joined in the work that Peter had started. His preaching against sin lead many people to repentance and it also stirred up the clergy whose sins he denounced. Henry was arrested and then imprisoned. We don't know what happened to him there. Those who held to the teachings of Henry and Peter de Bruys were called Petrobrusians. At the synod of Toulouse in 1119, the Petrobrusians were formally condemned as heretics. This group eventually scattered and disappeared; perhaps due to persecution.

  We know more about what these men preached and taught because this is what their enemies wrote against. First, we know that they rejected infant baptism and practiced believers' baptism only. As you can see, believer's baptism only didn't start with the Anabaptist. Many others realized that infant baptism was unscriptural years before the reformation.  Second, they didn't believe that church buildings, altars or crosses were holy or sacred. God could be worshiped wherever a person was. These people understood that God is to be primarily worshiped by our hearts rather than by outward traditions and mere form. Third, they rejected the catholic mass as unbiblical. Fourth, they taught that we can't do anything on behalf of the dead.They rejected purgatory as false. Fifth, they believed that "piety is essential to a legitimate priesthood." Serious sin in a leader of the church disqualified them for that position, as is taught in 1 Timothy 3.Sixth, they taught that priests were allowed to marry.  Lastly, they believed that the church is made up of those who have been redeemed and born again by God. This was opposed to the Catholic church which taught the church was all those who are in a given locality, that is a parish system. This is what we know they taught from what their enemies wrote against them.

   When you examine the teachings of Peter de Bruys, you should see that there is not much difference between them and what you see in many solid biblical churches today. 400 years before the Reformation, we read of a man who stood for the truth of God's word. He was evidently a man who knew and studied his Bible well. He must have been a man of courage to preach against the mighty Roman Catholic church. In the end he gave his life for his Lord. Our record of this man is incomplete. I would love to know more. But much remains unknown to us. However, God knows all about Peter de Bruys. He remembers what he did even if many or all forget him. This is true for us. History will likely forget us. But the Lord Jesus never forgets His people or their service for Him. He will reward us in His good time. Knowing this let us press on to holiness and serve our King.

Sources

Phillip Schaff's History of the Christian Church Vol 5 pages 482-485



Brad

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Greatest Weapon

The Sword of the Spirit
 When I was boy, I loved playing with swords. We often had sword fights, which at times ended with someone in tears. I can remember wanting a sword very badly. Once my parents saw a sword at a garage sale. They did not buy the sword to my great regret, although it is well they didn’t.  My uncle had an old sword in his house that I eyed with great fascination. Anyways, I grew up, and put my sword fighting days behind me, well, sort of, till I had kids. I have a new sword fascination these days.   

Ephesians 6:17, And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

In this great spiritual war, God has given us one weapon. In battle, it usually better to have a number of weapons. Maybe a rifle, grenades, knife, pistol. This is because no weapon is perfect for all situations. But in God’s wisdom He has given us a perfect weapon for every situation and foe. Having one weapon, allows us to focus all our efforts on becoming masters of this weapon, rather than dividing our energies among other weapons.

Here in our text God’s word is compared is a sword. This is not the only time that God’s word is compared to a sword.
Hosea 6:5 Therefore I have hewn them to pieces by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth;

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,

Revelation 1:16, In His right hand He(Jesus) held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp two edged sword; Same imagery in Rev 2:12 and 19:15 all in reference to the words of Christ.

This sword is called the sword of the Spirit. It could be understood in two ways.
1    1 ) A sword that is spiritual as opposed to physical. This sword is not for the warfare of steel and iron. This sword is for spiritual battles, in the spiritual realm. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
      2) Spirit could refer to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Author of Scripture. He is the interpreter and teacher of God’s Word. And He is the One who gives it power.    

In this war we are confronted by many powerful foes, that is Satan and his demons. In fact we have no ability to withstand them on our own. But with this sword, we have a weapon that can withstand and defeat every spiritual enemy we have. God’s word is more powerful than all the atomic bombs in this world. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 Power’ here is from the word we get dynamite. The infinite power of the Lord God Almighty is in His word. When the word of God is used well, not even the devil can overcome and defeat us. It can break down and transformed the hard hearts of sinners. It can demolish long held erroneous beliefs. The word of God can turn the world upside down.

A sword is used for defense and offence. You can parry or block your opponent’s blows with the sword or you can slash and cut at your foe. The same is true for the sword of the Spirit.

The word of God can defend you from temptation. When Satan tempts you to sin, then you must use God’s word to block his blows. For example, suppose you are tempted to get even with someone who hurt you. Your mind should then go to Romans 12:19-21.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. 

Another example, devil tempts you to think that not even God could love such a sinner as you. You could counter this evil broad sword by using God’s word such as Rom 8:31 -32
If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom 8:1

What are anxiety? Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. Phil 4:6

Patience a problem with others? The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Tim 2:24-25
See how the Great Master Swordsman, the Lord Jesus, handled the word of God in His great contest with the devil. Matt 4. For every sword thrust of Satan, He answered It is written and then used the right text for the right error. 

The word of God of truth is also for defending against false doctrine and error.  No error can stand against God’s word. This sword can defeat every error, big or small.

But we shouldn’t always be on the defensive. No, we are called to take the battle to the enemy and conquer territory for the King of Kings. We are to use God’s word in evangelism. It is the scriptures that the Spirit uses to give new life to sinners. For you have been born again, not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 When we evangelize, it is important to use the word of God in our gospel conversation. It has power to save like nothing else. By the sword of the Spirit we rescue souls from the kingdom of darkness. 

    
  Also when we teach or preach the word of God we are using this sword to attack. God’s word is what sanctifies us. Jesus prayed Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17 God’s word can kill sin in our lives. Through regular reading and study of God’s word, we are killing our sin and causing godliness to form in our hearts. "We must be killing sin or it will be killing us." A quote that I remember, but I can't remember the name of the author of this quote.   

A skilled swordsman is not born overnight. It takes time, effort and practice for them to become skilled in the art of sword fighting. The same is for those who are soldier of Christ and wield the Sword of the Spirit. Here are ways we can became skilled in the art of using this sword.
1     1    We must acquire a knowledge of the whole word of God. It is important we know the whole Bible; what the themes and contents are of each book. It would be good to read through the Bible a couple of times because serious study.
       2   We should learn the art and skill of interpretation and application of the word of God. Good sword fighters are good at hermeneutics.                                                                                                3  It is important to memorize verses of the Bible. Memorize passages that deal with sins and temptations you struggle with.
       4  Put it into practice. Don’t keep the info in your head use the Sword in your daily battles.                 5   Learn from a Master swordsman. Read books and commentaries of those who are skilled in the use of God’s word. A good teacher will be of great help. E.G. JC Ryle  

        May God bless this to His Church for the training of good Christian swordsmen.  

Brad

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ruminations On Wealth And Poverty

Every so often I come across this idea that people are wealthy because of some privileged background or by taking advantage of the poor. Those in poverty are said to be there because they are taken advantage of or because they belong to some minority group. In our culture, many look down on the wealthy and want to punish them for their 'crime' of acquiring wealth. The sad thing is that these ideas are often held by Christians. But this simplistic view of wealth and poverty doesn't stand up to the Bible. I would especially turn your attention to the Proverbs, which have much to say on this subject. I don't want to write a long piece on this subject, just a few thoughts.

  People become wealthy through various means. Some are born rich and maintain their wealth through good business skills. Others are born poor, but rise up to wealth through hard work, skill and prudence. There are those who gain their wealth by scams, dishonesty, bribes and other sinful ways. These people often will live off the labor and pain of others. A few people can became rich through lotteries, inheritances, and successful treasure hunts. There is a great variety in how someone becomes wealthy.

   The Bible does not condemn people for being wealthy. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, and Joseph of Arimathea were all rich people. In fact riches are a blessing from God. But the Bible condemns the love of money and its waste. Wealth is to be used for the glory of God. David used his wealth to finance the building of the temple and so we should use ours for Christ's kingdom. Paul tells Timothy to "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed." 1 Timothy 6:17-19.  Well would it be for the church if it had more godly rich people to fund the work of gospel ministry.

  All material poverty eventually traces its roots to sin. That is why Jesus could say that you will always have the poor with you. Mark 14:7. Old Mother Sin will always be here in this present age and so her children, like Mr. Poverty, will be with her til then as well. Poverty may be the sin of the one who is poor or the sin of others who caused one to be poor or it may be the result of the curse that came with sin. Either way sin is the cause of poverty. Some are poor because of addictions, foolish management of wealth, and greed. Some people come to poverty because of their crimes. Harming or abusing someone may cause someone's poverty as they are sued and now have to pay out a large sum of money. Laziness causes others to become or stay poor. In countries like North Korea or Venezuela, people are poor because of the corrupt and foolish governments that run the country. Theft or fraud can cause others to become poor. There are many ways one stays or becomes poor, but it all goes back to sin.

 Sin brought a curse on this world. Part of that curse is trouble like disease, floods, droughts, earthquakes and so on. These natural disasters can also cause poverty. A plague of locusts can turn a prosperous farm or area into a desolate wasteland. If someone gets really sick, they can't work and have extra bills to pay because of their illness. This can also lead to people becoming poor. In these cases there isn't a way for a person to prevent the onslaught of poverty. We must trust that God has a good purpose in all this, even if it seems all dark to us.

  It certainly isn't wrong to be in poverty so long as it is not because of your sins. Poverty is not a curse, even if it is because of the curse. The poor may have some advantage to the rich in this life as they may see the hopelessness of the things of the world better. James 1:9-10. It can be better spiritually to be poor, but not always.  Both rich and poor must learn to be content in whatever situation God has placed them in. Like Paul we should be able to say, " I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." See Phil 4:11-13.

  Since there are so many reasons someone becomes poor, there are also many ways needed to get someone out of poverty. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Governments like to think that giving money will solve all our poverty problems. But this is a naive solution. If the problem is addiction or out of control spending, more money will only make things worse.  Each individual case must be examined to see where exactly the cause of the poverty comes from. When the problem is identified, then the cure can be administered. There may be times when the correct solution to a person's poverty is to do nothing but leave them in it. "If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either." 2 Thess 3:10.  As you can imagine this approach is time consuming and challenging. It requires a lot of wisdom and discernment. But trying to relieve those in poverty this way, will help achieve our goal of helping the poor more often than not.

Brad