God of Mysteries

www.bible.com/1713/jer.33.3.csb

The deep things of God remain are great mysteries. Even those who’ve spent their lives searching them out can only grasp the most basic concepts. There are depths of God that cannot be fathomed by mortal minds.

Even to begin such an undertaking requires the Holy Spirit, a gift Christians receive upon their baptism. For the Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God (1 Cor 3). The Holy Spirit does better than Google when it comes to the deeps of the Almighty.

So why the invitation? If our minds can’t handle it and the Spirit is our only guide, why does God invite us to know Him?

Are you ever interested in how your dad met your mom? Or what your mom was like growing up? Have you ever talked with your parents about their dreams and desires, or things that they’ve learned? It is one of my privileges to talk to the old and hear these kinds of stories. The human experience is one of the more fascinating elements of history. What life was like. How did people of previous generations solve the same problems without electricity and google?

In the same way, I think we would like to know more about where we came from, and of the mind that brought us into being. What is life like for an eternal Being with an infinite imagination and creativity? What are the principles that govern His Being? What does He like? What are His dreams and desires? Thankfully He didn’t leave Himself without record, for all these answers can be found in His book. That’s right, for all those people who say of their life, “I could write a book!”, He did.

But He didn’t just write a book. That would be too simple. He employed a host of writers who in turn using their own life experiences wrote about God from their own unique perspectives. Yet the same God shines through every page, just to show you that He isn’t an iconoclast or a demagogue, but that expression of God can take on many different means. God expresses Himself directly at times, through voice and prophet, but also through signs and symbols, through Psalm and prose, through gospel letters, even in apocalypse. The same God, but revealed in a myriad of means to appeal to the widest possible audience, human beings. And all are invited to discover His secrets. Woah.

Take some time today and read. You might learn something.

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Finally

www.bible.com/1713/php.4.8.csb

Forrest Gump’s pet line for finishing his thoughts was “that’s all I’ve got to say about that.” When the Apostle Paul was teaching the close of his letter, he was thinking along similar lines.

This verse functions as a catch-all for whatever else he could not stuff into his brief thoughts here. Essentially, “I don’t have room to give you an exhaustive list of ‘thou shalt not’s’, so here is a succinct list of of qualities that any unnamed future activities should qualify for.” Perhaps spoke of more than he could possibly know.

When you consider that the world today has been transformed by technology and science, and that 90% of the earth’s surface can be reached in less than a week, and sometimes a few days, these guidelines are something that a 2000-yr old book would have trouble predicting. Despite this gap in time, the Bible speaks just as true and as fresh S the day it was written. Any reasonable person can view this list and know what these words mean and what they intend. Anything that lacks moral excellence, or is not praiseworthy is to be avoided. Can you think of anything that might fit this distinction? If you can, then you know enough. It doesn’t take much intellectual effort here. What follows is the will to put aside the morally questionable and embrace the pure and the holy.

You might have to tape this verse to your mirror or your fridge or even your desk. Wherever you are making important decisions, or even minor ones, this verse is a helpful guide for when the Bible doesn’t specifically say so. If you’re still not sure, ask a trusted Christian friend. But don’t let this verse be far from your thoughts in the gray areas.

God bless you on this Monday!

Good News and Bad News

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.3.36.csb

My daughter asked me last night if I wanted the good news first or the bad news first. I wasn’t sure so I said, ”chronological order.” She looked at me uncertainly, and then told me news about the bread she had baked. Huh? Well, sometimes it’s not terrible.

Sometimes the difference is life and death, even eternal life and death. So it is with our text today. It is said that Jesus Christ will stand over all in judgment on the last day at the great white throne. But it should be obvious that the judgment has already been made by the time we get there. And Jesus isn’t the One who judges. What? Jesus is the cause for judgment, but each and every person makes his own judgment whether he believes Jesus is the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe, and the essential Savior we need for our sins. So much rests upon individual faith that our eternal destiny depends on it. Each of us knows by the time we get to this glorious throne what the judgment will be.

I know there are those that will reject this truth outright, refusing to believe there is any kind of God, or that He would have a Son in a human being. It all seems crazy. Our five senses just aren’t ready for supernatural stuff. But we have other senses. Pardon me for getting a little weird, but, we also have a sense of right and wrong. We have a sense of beauty and perfection. We have love and joy and peace. We know when things are peaceful and when they are tense. We are aware of more than our five senses tell us. There is more than our five senses can sense. We know this inherently. That’s why we also have a sense of awe and wonder, of things too wonderful for us to understand. We have a sense for God.

So when we read stuff like this verse, we are compelled to respond. We can not remain neutral, because there is not middle ground here. Either we joyfully accept it, or we reject it. We know it means something, because our spirit responds to it. Scripture is like that. Few find a neutral position with Scripture. If God chose to speak to us, He must have something important to say.

How will you respond today?

No Need

www.bible.com/72/php.4.19.hcsb

Need anything? This question gets asked around our house when someone is texting from WalMart or Kroger or somewhere else. It is an expression of love, a willingness to get something when that person can’t physically be at the store, but still lacks.

As Christians, especially American Christians, we have so much and our needs are so often met that it’s hard to discern between what we need and what we desire. I imagine God sees our needs in a couple of ways, our physical needs (air, water, food, shelter, clothing), our social needs (companionship, love, mentoring), and our spiritual needs (forgiveness, grace, knowledge, hope, faith, and love). My lists are not exhaustive but point to some things as human beings we need, but often neglect. We favor and savor desires for self and pleasure more than we ask for peace and joy. We might prefer a slice of chocolate cake over reading and savoring a passage of Scripture. Or maybe going out to the movies than a Home Bible Study.

Yet God knows what we need. If we will seek Him, He will supply all of them through Christ Jesus. We cannot get what we need through Shiva, Baal or Isis. Nor through Mohammed, atheism, or Wicca. There is only one path to meet the needs that God Himself installed: Jesus Christ.

So which of the countless ways to Jesus is the right path? It’s easy to dismiss alternative religions, but Christians don’t make it any easier. How can I know which church is true? Don’t be daunted by the number of Churches. Christian Churches all follow the same Bible and preach the same Jesus, more or less. Whether you find a Methodist, Baptist, Christian, Catholic, Pentecostal, Apostolic, or Fundamentalist, all of these churches revere Jesus and worship Him. But I would not attend a church that doesn’t believe in the Bible and teaches from it regularly. If they need other books, walk away. If they don’t preach salvation through Jesus, leave them behind. I can’t tell you which one to go to, because some individual churches in extremely liberal denominations are still very conservative and preach and teach Jesus and the Bible. Some pastors have not given in to social pressure and still preach truth. But they are getting harder to find. For myself, I attend a Southern Baptist-type church on Sunday morning and an acapella Church of Christ on Wednesday night. That’s where I am at present.

If you can’t find a good church, at least start reading the Bible on your own. Get a group of you and some interested friends to study together. That’s how the church started, followers of Jesus meeting in homes. I want to encourage you to become part of a fellowship as soon as possible.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Have a great Thursday and God bless!

Hiding

www.bible.com/1713/psa.119.11.csb

Need a minute? I know I’m busy. And I am sure this note finds you in the middle of something. It’s been a busy morning already. Had to go out of town this morning as a favor. Now I am on my way back and stopped for breakfast. My oldest turned 21 yesterday, so now I feel older. 😊

We are working on a get together for the family next week, so the plan is to go to Colorado and visit with family I’ve not seen for decades. Because of that, I’ve also been working on compiling family history data, and I’ve got that to finish up.

Ugh.

Add that to work and marriage and kids.

No, I am not especially busy. There’s always a lot to do. But when I sit down and think about it, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

So I am sitting here sipping coffee and contemplating the verse above. In one sense, I am hiding for He moment from my responsibilities today. But I am also thinking this word seems odd. Why would I hide God’s Word in my heart? Would I not want to share it?

But hiding the Word in the heart is more about the appearance than the intent. You are not hiding to keep it from others. You are hiding it to store it, like a squirrel does nuts for winter, to be able to draw from when times are lean, or when you need a ready verse at hand for counseling and advice. This takes time reading and studying. And as you do, your internal, hidden library will grow with good stuff. You already have baseball stats and movies in there. Put some useful stuff in there too.

And when your verses are well hidden, you will have a supply spilling out of you in your speech and your writing. The beauty of it is, the word of God will not stay hidden, but as Jeremiah once said, it is a fire burning within him. It will burn within you, and burn away the junk.

May God’s Word bless you today.

Book of Instruction

www.bible.com/1713/jos.1.8.csb

When Joshua received these words from the Lord, the only “books” he had in hand were the five scrolls Moses had written down. Collectively, they taught Joshua where he came from and what was expected of him. They would provide for Joshua all the motivation and power he needed to succeed in what he was about to do, that is, to retake the Promised Land of Canaan for Israel. This is the historical context of this verse. This is all that Joshua was intended to learn from this instruction from God.

Is there a modern application of this verse? Certainly. But it must be limited to the following: 1) that the book of instruction is from the Lord (the Bible) and that the “whatever you do” is commanded by God, I.e., the great commission. This verse is not carte blanche for whatever you want to do or a license for iniquity. 2 Tim 3:17 talks about how the word of God equips the man of God for every good work. That is what God is saying here. The Word of God will equip to do the work to which He’s called you. That’s how it works, and it is a perversion of God’s purpose to make this fit your desires.

Before you take off running with any verse, you must first determine what it meant before you can determine what it means. This verse was not written to us, but for us. We have inherited all of those to equip us in the complex world in which we live. Why is the Bible so hard to understand? Because the world is. We need every verse.

God bless you today.

Seeking Counsel

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.14.26.csb

The Silent Partner of the Holy Trinity is the Holy Spirit. Today on Pentecost Sunday we remember the birthday of the church and the role the Holy Spirit played on that day. Like tongues of fire the Holy Spirit descended upon those disciples of the early church and caused them to speak in various tongues so that all around were amazed, speaking of the works of God in their own language.

This remarkable event marked the beginning of the Church, the beginning of God’s mission of inclusion by faith of the peoples of the world by offering the “gift of the Holy Spirit” to all who would received Him by faith, repentance, and baptism. It was no longer exclusive to the Jews to know the Presence of God, to have a singular Temple where God resides. No, the presence of God is offered to all!

In one of Jesus final teachings with His disciples the night before He died, He told his disciples about the Holy Spirit, who would be a Counselor and a Teacher to them. This forms the basis for the teaching of the rest of the New Testament beyond the gospels. The Holy Spirit would and did guide them into all truth. That ceased when those disciples died, and those they directly discipled, like Mark and Luke. Paul was given special dispensation as an Apostle called directly by Christ and so too was given authority to write Spirit-inspired Scripture.

So what does the Holy Spirit do for us, if His purpose in this verse was to inspire Scripture? We aren’t writing Scripture anymore. No. But the Spirit is the same. He need only guide us to what is written, remind us of what we’ve read. The wisdom of the Spirit is already written for us to consume, but we may not always understand what we read when we read it. The Spirit works within us to help us understand it. The Spirit is just as powerful and effective for us in seeking wise counsel as it was for Solomon.

Celebrate today the birthday of the Church, and give place to the Holy Spirit every day as He points us to the Son and the Father.

God bless you today!