Wicked Questions

Wicked people are destined for hell. This is a clear teaching of Scripture. That being the case we should be on the lookout for how Scripture describes wicked people so we make sure we aren’t one of those.

Job talks about wicked people and he says there are two main questions wicked people ask:

“What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?”

In today’s English, it would read like this:

1) Why should I listen to God? I can do what I want. Get off my back. I don’t have to serve anyone. Who is God to tell me what to do?

2)  If I can’t get everything my way there’s no point to asking God. What’s the use of praying, it doesn’t work anyway?

Do these questions have any root in our lives? If you are hung up on whether you need to do good works, serve God, follow His commands and also wonder why to pray, you just might be in trouble.

This, however, does not mean that doing good works and praying is a sign you are saved either! Be careful of wigging out.

We are saved by grace through faith and the result is service to God and making request in all things to God. It’s what happens, which is why wicked people do neither.

Making Subliminal Points

“For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”
–1 Corinthians 3:19

Paul is quoting from the Old Testament to make his point about the wise in the world being made fools before God. A huge point.

I would like to skip that point for the time being and give you something else less obvious to ponder.

The quote above is from the book of Job. Job 5:13, in fact. Here’s the cool, amazing point: he is quoting Eliphaz one of Job’s friends.

Why is that cool? Well, obviously because Job’s friends were all idiots and speaking error and yet the Apostle Paul quotes Idiot Number One in making his point!

How is that not cool? What does this do for our interpretation of Job’s friends? Or, perhaps, what does this do for our understanding of the Apostle Paul?

I like to think that Paul quoting Eliphaz is another example of God making the wise look foolish and the foolish look wise! I think Paul outdid himself in making this point by using subliminal pointmaking!

He’s Coming Again

One of the dumber aspects of Christmas Eve is when the newscast shows the map of where Santa is in the world delivering presents at midnight. The smiling news people fake laugh and tell all the kids to be patient.

I was thinking about the stupidity of this when it dawned on me, “It’s really dumb to pick a date when the Lord will return because what time zone are we using to choose our date?”

Think about it. As far as I understand it, my buddy Andrew in Australia had Christmas like, four days ago. If Christ is going to return, as I once heard, on August 8, 1988, based on what time zone?

I think this shows the idiocy of choosing dates for the return of Christ and the rampant me-centric nature of most Christian thought.

No man knows the day or the hour and this might possibly be because it won’t be the same hour or day for all people! Plus God knows more than us, that plays in there too.

Anyway, good news is: He’s coming again!

Joy and Peace

Everywhere you go this time of year you see or hear people talk about “joy” and “peace.” They are the acceptable messages of Christmas to humanist heathens.

Unfortunately, Christmas happy thoughts do not produce joy or peace. In fact, Christmas may very well demonstrate a total lack of such things in people.

The birth of Christ did indeed bring good tidings of joy and peace. He was the Gospel in the flesh. But His arrival does not produce peace and joy for everyone. Only one group gets peace and joy.

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
–Romans 15:13

The only way a person will have joy and peace at Christmas is if they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for the sins of the world, was buried and rose again and was seen of many witnesses, just as it was foretold in Scripture.

All other peace and joy is merely a sham, smoke and mirrors. It will soon vanish and you’ll be left with emptiness bringing angst and sadness. God does not give peace the way the world does–when He brings it, it lasts.

Come and get it.

Constructive Cynicism and Kids

On the way to drop the kids off at school this morning we had some Christmas music from the Christian station on the radio. A woman was singing some sort of Christmas song she no doubt wrote herself.

She repeated the word “gloria” approximately 18 million times. I took this handy opportunity to explain to my dear daughter that it was sad that Christian types couldn’t be more creative and intelligent. “When you grow up, be a smart Christian who knows more than one word.”

She agreed to do so. At times it bothers me how often I am annoyed. Like yesterday’s post, who cares? At the same time, maybe I should be ashamed that I’m not annoyed more often.

My daughter was just enjoying the song, or more accurately, enjoying me attempt to sing “gloria” in a falsetto voice 18 million times. I had to go and ruin it, drop more cynicism on it, belittle yet another person in my attempt to “teach.”

My hope is that I can inspire my children to excel in Christ, to not settle for mind-dead Christianity–all slogans; no Word. Zeal without knowledge. A form of godliness without the power. I also hope to help them detect such things when they see and hear it.

More importantly, I hope to instill in them a never-ending wonder at our great God. A never-ceasing desire for more of Him. Just enough information to set them about diligently seeking Him on their own.

Instructive cynicism is good; wonder-killing cynicism destroys.

O for grace.

Don’t be Stupid About Christmas

Christians, in general, have lacked, shall we say, “intellectual rigor” in their long history. Seemingly every oil stain or gastrointestinally induced brain flatulence gets equal play with God’s Word.

This is a problem. Add two thousands years of this and we have huge problems. Many Christians believe things that make no sense. One area where this is prevalent is in our holiday beliefs. Here are my top 4 candidates for most annoying Christmas Belief.

1)  The X in X-mas is not a serious issue, if it is for you, it may merely reveal an ignorance of Church History.

2)  Jesus was not born on December 25. Seriously, He wasn’t.

3)  The wise men did not show up at the manger scene. More than likely they showed up years later. They also did not smell like smoke, even though they “came from a fire.'”

4)  Contrary to the scene on your coffee table, Jesus was probably not born in a stable. More than likely he was born in a house just like most kids.

Have a well-informed Christmas.

The Magnified Word

Very serious Jewish folk do not say the name Jehovah, the YHWH name. When they come across it in Scripture they will not read it. Instead they usually use the word Adonai, commonly translated Lord, which the KJV and most others carry over into English.

The reason they don’t pronounce God’s name is because they are afraid of using it in vain. “If we don’t use it, we can’t use it in vain.” Flawless logic.

God’s name is used in vain all the time today. From the blatant to the hidden (look up gosh in the dictionary). The lower we trample God’s name the lower we trample His Word.

It is no mystery to me that in a day where God’s name is usually only heard in conversation as a cuss, that God’s Word has hit such a low in man’s opinion.

“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”

God’s Word is magnified above His name.

Let that sink in.

If we are to be careful with God’s name, how much more so with what is magnified above His name?

Be careful with God’s name, but be even more careful with what God has said.

Inspired Words

2 Timothy 3:16. Most Christian-types know it. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” It’s very familiar to us.

But then ask a Christian who knows this verse, “what is inspired?”

Nine times out of ten they will tell you “the writers were inspired to write what God wanted said.” They say this as if they didn’t know 2 Timothy 3:16, which literally says “all scripture is God-breathed.”.

Paul’s point is not that authors were inspired, his point is that the writings (scriptures) themselves are inspired. These are inspired words, God breathed words.

The typical response is, “well, ok, but the writer’s were inspired to say the inspired words.” Can’t prove that from Scripture. 2 Peter 1:21 says they were moved by God, but it does not say they were God-breathed.

The issue is fairly significant. If the author’s were inspired, what’s to say they lost their inspiration at some point? Was everything else they said inspired? Maybe just their ideas were inspired.

But nope, the words themselves are inspired. That’s what it says. This is the Word of Life. That is why they are powerful and sharp and able to cut. They have God’s breath in them. This is no dead letter!

Gift for the Girl Who Has Everything

Christmas is next week. If you have to do any shopping for “the girl who has everything,” you’re probably stuck.

Well, be stuck no longer.

I was given a great gift idea by my Bible, a gift for the girl who has everything and also a gift that keeps on giving. Back in Solomon’s day, he married one of Pharaoh’s daughters.

For some reason, maybe Kwanzaa, dad Pharaoh wanted to give his daughter a gift. But what do you get a woman who is married to the richest, smartest, awesomest guy ever? That is tough. Here’s what he did.

“For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon’s wife.”

So, if you need me, I’ll be out razing a city.

Al Gore and Jesus

Al Gore and Jesus are alike: both are asking us to sacrifice now for reward later.

*Al Gore says stop driving a car so the earth is saved a hundred years from now.
* Jesus Christ says stop sinning so you can enjoy the rewards of doing so for eternity.

Both show an amazing lack of understanding in human nature. Do they not know that we are motivated by immediate returns? If Al Gore said “Stop driving a car because I will send my minions to kill you” he would have greater results.

Jesus would have better returns if He said “Stop sinning or I’ll kill you right afterwards.” Instead, both use delayed reward and they are both getting more or less ignored (although Al does seem to be making more money off the deal).

However, thankfully, Al Gore and Jesus are not alike in many other ways. Al Gore is lying; Jesus is not. Al Gore has no power to make anyone do anything; Jesus has the power to rebirth you, to make you not you anymore.

Jesus does not rely on you and your ability to stop sinning; He killed your sin nature and gives you a new nature, one wired to do what Christ says. You must be born again, it’s the only hope. Al can’t do that; Jesus can and His rewards are worth it.

Does the Messiah Cry?

Isaiah 42 speaks of a servant who is coming. I, along with many others, view this servant as the Messiah. Isaiah 42:2 says, “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.”

Cry means to scream out, proclaim, put on an attention grabbing show. He doesn’t cry, shout, make noise. he’s meek and lowly. Certainly He is.

One thing I have learned over the years is that as soon as you think you have a handle on a verse, keep reading! Something will come soon after that will shatter your previous understanding.

For instance, I will now quote Isaiah 42:13, a verse 11 verses later, “The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar.”

I love that! Two ways to understand this:

1) There are two comings of the Messiah. The first one is meek and lowly, the dying, suffering servant; the second time He comes in victory as a conquering man of war who shouts as He goes forth to battle.

2) The type of Messiah you get is up to you! Which one do you want, the Messiah of humility or the Messiah who will crush you?

Choose carefully.

Intercession and Pride

Intercession for others often leads to pride for me. I go through a list of their problems and eventually get around to saying something like “and this is what they need, how they can’t see this I have no idea. But I can, so do this to them. That’s what they need.”

This is nothing short of pride and self-righteousness

1 Timothy 2:1 tells us that intercession should be made for all men, I assume this means we should do it.

At the same time, Romans 8 tells us we don’t know how to pray as we ought and the Spirit makes intercession for all the saints according to the will of God. I trust Him more.

However, 1 Timothy 2:1 says to do it. Perhaps the answer is to know what the word actually means.

The Greek word is only used two times in Scripture (1 Timothy 2:1 and 4:5 where it’s translated prayer). The verb, to intercede, means to fall in with someone, to draw near so you can talk freely. Vincent Word Studies says:

Thus in Romans 8:26 it is not that the Spirit pleads in our behalf, but that he throws himself into our case; takes part in it. So Hebrews 7:25 not that Jesus is ever interceding for us, but that he is eternally meeting us at every point, and intervening in all our affairs for our benefit.

Intercession does not mean going through a list of troubled people and going off on them to God, knowing what they need, hoping they will get as smart as you to see what their problem really is.

Intercession for people is meeting with them, talking with them, being there with them. It’s much more than thinking of them in prayer: DO SOMETHING FOR THEM. I think you could sum it up with: love your neighbor.

If intercession is something you do that leads you to pride, you’re not doing intercession. When it’s done right it leads to a peaceable, godly life.

God and Stuff

When Saul was chosen to be king of Israel he wasn’t too thrilled. When the people came to anoint him they couldn’t find him, and we have this classic King James verse, 1 Samuel 10:22:

“Therefore they enquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold he hath hid himself among the stuff.”

First, this verse is cool because it gives divine sanction to using the word “stuff,” which is nice.

Second, this verse is just funny because you can just see him hiding behind boxes, peeking out to see if they’ve chosen someone else to be king.

Third, this is funny because just imagine Barrack O’Bama starting his presidency by hiding amidst “stuff” so he wouldn’t have to go to the inaugural.

Fourth, this verse is cool because when God wants you to do something, He’ll get you out of stuff so you can do it.

The Grandeur of the Cross

“If you want to see the grandeur of the cross, you must see the grandeur of the one who was on it.” I believe a guy by the name of Paul Washer said that, or at least that’s how I remember it.

I think this is a great statement. Many people died on crosses and this did nothing for you. Many of them were “innocent” of true crime, many were martyrs, yet this accomplished nothing for you.

What makes the cross so powerful to the Believer is that Christ was on it.

Now, if Christ was just a guy, even a really good guy, the cross has no power. What gives the cross power is that God was made flesh and died on it for our sin.

Faith in the Christ of the Cross leads to a cross in our lives. Our old man was crucified on it with Him. Therefore, I say with Paul, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

I am dead to the world because Christ was on the cross and I was on there with Him. But not only that, Christ got up, He got better. I am now raised to newness of life.

To know the greatness of the cross you must know the greatness of the One on it. When we see Him, when we truly see Him, everything else fades. You are not your own. It is no longer I. I am dead to sin. I glory in the cross because I glory in the One who was on it.

You Cannot Serve God

One of the more popular verses in Joshua is 24:15 “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” A less known verse is 24:19:

“But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.”

What do we do with this? Verse 19 says you can’t serve God; verse 15 says we should choose to serve God like Joshua has. In fact, in verse 21 they say they will serve God, which they also said in verse 18.

Chapter 24 reads like this:

Choose to serve God.
OK, we will.
Nope, you can’t.
But we will.
No you won’t.
Yes we will.
OK, well, you better.

Serving the Lord is not a task to be agreed to lightly. You must “count the cost,” so to speak. To readily agree shows a lack of forethought.

I do this with my children. “You need to relax.” If that is followed up within .5 seconds with “OK,” I will repeat, “Seriously child, you need to relax.” I’m waiting for the appropriate pause before agreement, a pause that showed thought and willful decision-making.

Perhaps this is what Joshua is going for. He knows the people. As a group he knows they will fail. But there is always a remnant that actually came through. Be the remnant.

Submitting to Gifts

People are embarrassed to admit they are in need. It’s humiliating to take handouts and charity. It’s even embarrassing to go where poor people go.

When my parents would go to Kmart, my sister and I would refuse to go in. In fact, we were so embarrassed to be there, we would hide in the backseat of the car and duck down on the floor for fear that someone from school would see us in such a place.

Many wonder why people don’t take God’s free gift of righteousness. It’s because it’s humiliating. It shows need, lack of ability, total poverty of spirit and it declares our weakness.

Rather than humbling ourselves to take the righteousness of God we go about to establish our own righteousness we can be proud of.

God gives grace to the humble. Don’t be embarrassed to take God’s free gift.

The First David

David was truly a great man. A guy like me has no grounds to judge him harshly for his failures later in life. David was in charge of one of the greatest nations on earth and had all pleasure and honor, I’m sure I’d have some pride “issues” too.

I do feel safe in quoting Scripture about David, however. I doubt you’ve heard this one about David too often, 2 Chronicles 17:3:

“And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim.”

Jehoshaphat, besides having the Bible’s coolest name, was a good king. The writer of Chronicles wants you to know he was like David, but more specifically, like early David.

It’s unfortunate that great men have weaknesses, it’s also unfortunate that not-so-great men don’t give them a break. The failures of men do not give other men an excuse to fail as well.

Jehoshaphat stuck with early David, he did not allow himself to fall like older David. Anyone who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.

The Third Day

Jesus Christ “rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.” I always wondered what Scripture it was that said that. More than likely it was the sign of Jonah deal that Jesus talked about (Jonah was in the big fish for three days).

But I always wonder if there’s more to it than that. Here’s a cool deal I saw the other day, see what you think.

I was cruising through Leviticus, checking out the excruciating details of the various types of sacrifices when I came across a reference to “the third day.”

If a guy brought a peace offering the meat could be eaten that day and the rest could be finished off the next day. Apparently they had sacrificial doggy bags at that time. However, the third day is right out.

“And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.”

Cool, eh!? Jesus Christ couldn’t lie around on the third day or else maybe His sacrifice would not be acceptable. Decay really begins to set in at that time. His body would not see corruption.

Anyway, just thought it was a neat deal. Do with it what you will

Telling People to Listen to God is Not Legalism

Listening to God is not legalism, I wrote about this already. Listening to God is what living by faith means, there is no law against doing what God says.

If it is true that doing what God says is not legalism, then is it also true that telling people to do what God said is also not legalism?

Is it legalism to confront a person over his sin? Is it legalism to tell people to do good works? Is it legalism to rebuke sinners in front of church?

My answer, which also seems to be the Apostle Paul’s answer, is NO! It’s kind of the point.

In fact, not only is it not legalism to warn people about sin and encourage them to do good works, the New Testament says this is what love is.

At the same time, all of these can become legalistic when men and their opinions, traditions, scruples and ideals warp the truth. Doing what God says is not legalism, nor is it legalism to tell people to do what God says.

What Legalism Is and Is Not

Listening to God is not Legalism.

Legalism means taking a hyper-literal or hyper-strict interpretation of a law. For example, God said to rest on the Sabbath day, don’t do any work. Seems pretty simple.

Legalism is uncomfortable with this law, it’s too vague, what does “rest” mean? What does “work” mean? Legalism seeks to define the law further than it was originally defined.

Therefore, Jewish scribes and rabbis wrote down more laws to define what it meant to “keep the Sabbath,” none of which are in their Scriptures. That is legalism.

Legalism teaches the commandments of men rather than the commandments of God. The commandments of men lead men away from the truth. You begin to follow tradition rather than Scripture.

We are supposed to listen to God, it’s kinda sorta the point. No one, I repeat, no one has ever gotten in trouble for listening to God too much. Jesus was not upset with the Pharisees because they did the commandments of God.

Listening to God is not legalism.

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