The Old Cowboy learned while growing up in the Oklahoma oilfields that your word is your bond. I do everything I can to speak the truth. Some days I hear that old phrase “just who does he think he is?” When I was young that did bother me some. Now days I just dig my boot heel in a bit deeper and let ‘em go on and bray.
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One of the great things about Jeremiah is how the Lord God instructed him to deliver lessons using everyday things.
An example of this is Jeremiah 13. God asks Jeremiah to buy and bury a linen loincloth, remove it from its pit and show how useless it had become. By its continued sin, Judah has become useless to God. Judah had been God’s possession to show his glory, but now it had become spoiled.
God then asks Jeremiah to tell them, “Every jug is to be filed with wine,” (Jeremiah 13:12 NASB). Judah smirked back saying, “Tell us something we don’t know.” The figure was designed to show how Judah was like stumbling, bumbling drunks who didn’t realize how foolish they were.
God tells Judah, “’Thus says the LORD, ”Behold I am about fill all the inhabitants of this land ― the priests, the prophets and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem ― with drunkenness! I will dash them against each other both the fathers and the sons together,’ declares the LORD,” (Jeremiah 13:13-14a NASB).
The same can be true of us if we become useless, and are not glorifying God, sharing his gospel and have turned a blind eye to sin.
God gives all a chance to repent. Here’s a good idea: let’s take that opportunity and obey God today.
My favorite subject in school was Mathematics. One of my least favorite subjects was Literature. Math was always exciting to me, but reading literary works was typically a chore. My motivation for reading was often lacking–especially when it came to older novels. It wasn’t that I had difficulty reading, but, as a teenager, I failed to see much benefit in studying those works of old. Looking back upon my years of public schooling, I know that I did not put forth my best effort and failed to learn all I could have in this area.
I wonder if some Christians have a tendency to view the Old Testament in the same manner as I viewed many literary works. Although it is doubtful that many children of God would affirm that the Old Testament is pointless for man today, nevertheless, by their actions, some Christians treat the Old Testament as an irrelevant and useless document of antiquity.
Friends, let us never forget that God’s word, the Bible, is composed of sixty-six books–thirty-nine of which are in the Old Testament. How many of those first thirty-nine books have you studied in depth? How many of them have you even read from beginning to end? How many of them could you find quickly, if asked to do so? Tragically, there are many books in the Old Testament that most Christians know little, if anything, about.
Perhaps you are wondering: “So what, Stephen! The Old Testament is no longer binding upon man today; we live under the New Testament and are to be guided by the doctrines taught therein. Why should we spend our time studying in the Old Testament?”
Such is an appropriate question, but before I answer it, let me say this: It is true that God does not expect anyone living today to pattern his or her life around the Old Testament. It has been superseded by the authority of the New Testament (Heb. 8:6,7,13). However, that is not to say that the Old Testament does not serve a purpose for man today. Listen to what Paul wrote about this matter in Rom. 15:4 – “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” The apostle Paul was most certainly referring to the Old Testament books, and he provides an inspired answer to our question.
Christians should spend time studying the Old Testament because there is much to be learned therein. Without the Old Testament, we would be ignorant about the details of the creation, specifically the origin of man. Without the Old Testament, there is much about God and His nature that we would not learn. Without the Old Testament, much of the history of God’s children would be unknown. Without the Old Testament, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Without the Old Testament, it would be impossible to understand and defend much of the New Testament (since there are hundreds of Old Testament references found within the New Testament). Without the Old Testament, we would be without many examples that were recorded for our admonition (I Cor. 10:11). Although the Old Testament is no longer binding upon man today, only a fool would dismiss it as being unworthy of diligent, in depth study.
Let me leave you with this thought. Though my Literature teachers told me of the benefits of reading and reflecting upon certain literary works, it took me quite a while to believe them. Friends, I hope you will take Paul’s inspired words to heart and realize that the Old Testament was written for your learning. To ignore these books is to deprive oneself of much spiritual nourishment. I pray that you will put forth the effort to mine some of the many jewels that are present within the first thirty-nine books of the Bible.
RT – In this segment you’ll note an effort to delineate the word “gospel.”
3. Doesn’t the Bible specifically separate baptism from the Gospel in 1 Cor 1:17?
RT – NO. This is a false delineation. Given the context of the passage one can easily see the problem. The problem of partisanship ran rampant in the Corinthian church. Paul made a distinction between the gospel message of Jesus and the message of those who desired a particular alignment. If baptism is not part of the gospel message, then by whose authority did Paul teach/preach when he wrote on it?
4. While this will take a few minutes, would you mind reviewing these three articles: http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/moser/AWPTG.HTM,http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/moser/CVAP.HTM, and http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/moser/jmh_4.html? Our understanding is that a “gospel sermon” given by a Church of Christ preacher would be about the formula of what one must do to be saved: Hear/Believe/Repent/Confess/Be Baptized. If you reject the claim made by Church of Christ preacher K. C. Moser that the CC is guilty of preaching ”The Plan” rather than ”The Man”—why is he incorrect?
RT – What one wrote or said pertaining to what they think is or is not a gospel sermon is not how I will answer this. If one preaches/teaches the very words of Christ (Romans 15:18; 1 Timothy 6:3; 1 Peter 4:11) then that one is teaching the good news (gospel) of God. Perhaps a question might be asked of you: If one preaches/teaches from only the Psalms, is that a gospel (good news) message? Moreover, it might be asked, is there something wrong with this so-called “formula”?
4. Please take a look at these articles by 3 Church of Christ preachers: Carl Ketcherside, chapter 28 Two Great Errors, Leroy Garrett, chapter 10 What is the Gospel also chapter 33 Is Doctrine Important, and Cecil Hook chapter 8 Gospel and Doctrine. Would you agree with the distinction between preaching and teaching, between gospel and doctrine, between fact and interpretation? Isn’t the gospel simply a proclamation of good news that one accepts or rejects? Wouldn’t you agree that, strictly speaking, the teachings of the apostles are not facts as the gospel is, but interpretations, implications, and edification (chapter 5 beginning page 13, Private Interpretation)? Didn’t even the apostles have different opinions and emphases on docrtrine; thus Peter said of Paul’s teaching, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand.”? Are you confusing law and gospel? (The point of this section is that the gospel is something to be believed and is to be preached to non-believers. Matters of obedience are taught to those who are already Christians.)
RT – Where does the New Testament make a distinction between teaching and preaching? Garrett and Ketcherside have been known for some time trying to make this distinction, but there is no warrant for the distinction to be made. If one is “preaching” the good news, is that not teaching? To deny is foolish! No, I wouldn’t agree that the apostles had different opinions and emphasis on doctrine. Did they not both emphasize godly living? When they spoke of the Lord’s return, did they not both speak with emphasis? Besides, why use the word emphasis? Those who so assert need to demonstrate. Moreover, to use Peter’s words with regard to Paul without the remainder of the verse is to misuse the passage and ask a misleading question! Yes, there is a distinction to be made between fact and interpretation. Did the Holy Spirit inspire the apostles to preach the very (actual) words of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17)? If so, who gave us the interpretation? You make a distinction between facts and interpretation in your remarks about the apostles. Did Jesus preach/teach fact or interpretation in Matthew 5:27-32?
5. Leroy Garrett further clarifies what the gospel is: “Surely we can see that Jesus was referring to a specific message, a proclamation of certain heavenly facts to be believed. This is why Paul in 1 Cor 1:21 spoke of the gospel as ‘the thing preached.’ This is why he could speak of ‘obeying the gospel,’ for the gospel is one thing and obeying it is something else. This is why he could refer to ‘the defense and confirmation of the gospel,’ for the gospel is one thing, while to defend it and confirm it are something else.” Isn’t the gospel one thing, and obeying it something else?
RT –Yes, it is true that the gospel is one thing and obedience is another.
What resolution did you make for the New Year? In a USA Today snapshot poll 41% said “lose weight”, 11% “get a job”, 8% “make a major purchase”, and 8% “fall in love”. If that doesn’t add up to 100%, it is because 32% said they don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Many have failed so often in past resolutions, that they simply want to avoid the possibility of failing again. But consider those who did resolve. While there is nothing wrong with the categories represented, unless it is that “fall in love” department, there is a serious lack of spiritual consideration. I’m all for losing weight, but why not lose pride and arrogance? I’m all for getting a job, but why not get a deeper sense of commitment to family and God? Instead of making a major purchase your goal, why not make a major life change your mission? Instead of falling in love this year, why not try loving one another? This is Just-a-Minute with Ed Boggess
Larry Miles is discussing. Toggle Comments
An Old Cowboy musing that I plan to blame on either being an old cowboy, the Oklahoma oilfields or just the fact I do forget some things every now and then. I have learned that correct spelling and proper grammar are more esteemed by school teachers and serious writers then by old cowboys. Now I say that knowing full well that Mrs Cook my high school English teacher has most likely clawed her way out of the grave, and with that meter stick is looking for me. That and a couple of those high class critics are likely rereading a couple of those papers I wrote to see if they missed something. The big thing is I appreciate you reading what I write and I hope it makes you think about things around you. The coffee cup is empty and I have said enough. Y’all have a nice day.
- Saul’s son, Ishbosheth was murdered in cold blood, as they say. He was murdered by two men who were seeking a reward (presumably). David regarded this as an act of treachery, and the only reward for such evil was death.
- Application: When it is assumed that one’s action will be interpreted by another in a particular way, that assumption, many times makes one look like a donkey! The men who served the king of Israel, Ishbosheth, turns against him when they thought it served their interest. They thought David would reward them for their effort in unifying Israel under one king. They thought wrong. This is often what occurs. Is it good when one begins to attribute a way of thinking to another, and they get that wrong 50% of the time? Sure it is! If one desire to get it right 100% of the time, rather than interpret just let the other express him or herself; that way we have no reason to wonder.
Let’s start with personal item (aren’t they all?): The second grandchild, says today’s ultrasound, is a boy. Due to drop in around June 21. Big sister Eden, age 1+, didn’t seem so keen on it. She confided to me that she’d been hoping for a baby sister to play with. But mom and pop, and Auntie L., vovô and vovó are happy. Please say a prayer, since there are a couple of health concerns, blood pressure, things like that.
• Today’s Bible (NT) reading is James 1. Have you seen the chiastic structure for the letter I posted some time back? Considering most commentators despair of finding any sensible outline to the letter, this represents real possibilities.
• Rick Kelley’s mom’s kidney transplant is on-again, off-again. Keep praying for his mom and his sister who’s donating the kidney.
• I watched “National Treasure” again with The Missus and The Maiden the other night. It’s very dated. The main character was searching the Internet on Yahoo rather than Google.
• We chomped down on more of The Missus’s homemade sausage tonight. Good stuff. Brazil doesn’t have the breakfast sausage like you get in the US. Just as well, but we certainly enjoyed her special treat.
• Lessee, let’s scare up a little ditty to finish up with.
Malicious hands abuse, molest,
A hug can end in your arrest;
The world sees either too little, too much,
But Jesus has the healing touch.
• Oh, have you checked The Christian Hub lately? Great stuff going through there, all the time.
The Old Cowboy enjoys taking the time to sit back to read while I sip on a cup of coffee. Every now and then I read something that makes me think. That was the case earlier when I was pondering what Benjamin Disraeli had to say; “Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” I recon while you are going down that path, first you should figure out where that feeling came from. Then ponder if you are right, and is it worth expending so much effort on. I’ve found that making a mountain out of a molehill takes a lot of time and effort, and some days the end result is down right ugly.
Below is the link to the February issue of “Words In Season” E-zine. I hope you will take the time to check it out and read the articles and hopefully share them with others. Please tell others about this resource and I hope some will subscribe to the RSS and E-Mail Feeds.Yours in the Blessed Hope,Larry MilesYou might also like the following sites
Is greatness measured by physical status? Not according to the Lord. As He took a child He looked upon him as being of such a mind that each disciple of the Lord must be the same. If we take John 3:3-5 and couple it with 18:3-4 we have at least three components to salvation, don’t we? Don’t tell the “faith-only” crowd. They will call that a works religion!
Jesus uses a child as a perfect illustration of the way Christians ought to be; to whom does He address His words in v. 6? Many expositors say it is mature believers (and I agree), but why should we think it is not little children as referenced in the previous verses? To begin, a child’s humility and dependence is used as an illustration for one who actually responds to the Lord’s invitation; this would refer to one who can decide on his or her own (cf. Acts 8:3). Second, the “little ones” are lost (v. 11); does this apply to a child? Third, not directly connected to the text, note how Jesus addresses the disciples (John 13:33; cf. 1 John 2:12).
The greater point of understanding in the text is not who the “little ones” are, but the necessities and consequences associated with the problems of those who cause the little ones to lose their faith (18:7). Some men and women of God will say something like this when others leave the Lord: “It’s not my problem!” Perhaps it is more than is realized.
Yesterday one of the sisters here in Denton, Texas handed me a newspaper clipping to read. Looking at it later, I noticed it was from a paper in Moultrie County, Illinois, and written by none other than Ron Thomas. So, Ron, your writing gets around–keep up the great work!
- Confusion is continued in the house of Israel. Abner seeks to establish Saul’s reign, but his efforts are thwarted when Ishbosheth accuses him of stepping over a line that no man is allowed to cross (3:1-16). Angered, Abner seeks to give David Saul’s throne, and David is pleased, but with one condition. His first wife, Saul’s daughter, is to be returned to him. This way, not only is he reunited with his lawful wife, but the nation will see this as a unifying force. Abner complies; ultimately, however, he is slayed by a man David thought was his inferior – Joab (3:17-27). As the nation is getting closer to reunification David does what he can to humiliate Joab (3:28-39).
- Application: Even strong a strong king (David) felt inhibited by wicked men such a Joab. Can you imagine the tense relationship they had through his reign of forty years (for it was not until Solomon became king that Joab lost his life)? Relationships are to be nurtured, but when one is wicked, not much nurturing can take place.
The Old Cowboy on his drive to and from Freemont had time to ponder things. Now it is true I fit with the some where over 60 bunch, even if I don’t act like it at times. It is true when you are my age you do tend to shake your head when you hear foolish things. In my most recent search for a congregation to work with, I have been told by several gaggles of elders that they figure a young preacher with a young family would better fit them. That got me to thinking about watching bluetick coonhounds down home in the Oklahoma oil fields. I learned a lot while watching the young pups, old dogs, young preachers and old preachers.
Tail chasing is a natural behavior common among young pups. After you watch a bit you figure out they chaise their tail because some old guy has been shaking it at ‘em, or they just want attention or they have a flea infestation. Now that old dog is a little more territorial. The old dog wants to be approached carefully some days, and always wants you to approach him respectfully, or he will bite. He’ll especially bite if you are pulling on his tail, or leg. So goes life around young pups, and old dogs along with young preachers and old preachers. Y’all have a good week!!!
The Old Cowboy is already up and around and ready to head to Freemont, Nebraska in a bit. I was thinking about some advice that Sarah Caldwell wrote. It sounds like she must have been around the Oklahoma oil fields at some time in her life; ” learn everythying you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” I’ll save a seat next to me in the pew for you and the kids. Bring your Bible along we’ll sit down and teach the kids what it says, and we’ll learn along with them.
Will is discussing. Toggle Comments
What are congregations looking for when they consider putting up a website? Are current services satisfactory? Or do many just plop into WordPress.com or Blogspot? Is there a need for a good service out there?
I’m asking for a brother who is apparently considering offering this service. I have no investment or connection, other than as a friend, so no disclosure needed here, as pundits often do. He asked me what I thought, and I said I’d ask around.
Please everyone reply in the comment area below. I’m directing my friend to this post.
What a joy to see this emphasis on the Old Testament! The Streetsboro OH church bulletin, attached below, has an article with the title above by H. Randall Baker. The OT is precious because it leads to Christ. “… it is these same scriptures that testify about me,” Jesus said (John 5:39b NET).
To get this bulletin by email, ask David Kenney.
Streetsboro Bulletin 01292012.pdf
The Old Cowboy was up a bit early for a Saturday. I am now fed and dressed, and have been reading. I found a city boy comment from Zig Zigler rather interesting; “Success is the maximum utilization of the ability you have.” For us cowboys and Oklahoma oil field brats it has always been a matter of you have a job that has to be done. If you don’t know how to do it, just buckle up your spurs and learn how to do it, don’t whine about what you think you can’t do. Remember you can do anything, some thngs just take a little longer to learn then others, but you can still do it. By the way, age doesn’t matter either. Young fellow watch the old cowboy, he’ll just find a way to get the job done and then move on to the next one. If you are just going to sit there and whine about the job, at least get out of the way.
Will is discussing. Toggle Comments
Check out Oran Burt’s article, “Searching for Understanding,” in the attached pdf file. He ponders how to reach younger generations influenced by postmodernism. Oran is preacher and elder with the Somers Ave. congregation in N. Little Rock AR. The church needs more thoughtful research like this as we face the new challenges before us to presenting Christ to people with different philosophies.
Observer January 29.2012.pdf
A bad plan is better than no plan at all. A bad plan has a chance, however small, of going somewhere. No plan guarantees going nowhere. Likely, perfectionists will be the main objectors to this.
• “… one who makes light of small matters will gradually sink,” says Ecclesiasticus (not Ecclesiastes) 19:1 NJB. Methinks there’s a truth here, applicable to the slippery slope where men slowly slide into false doctrine. (All that alliteration was unintended.) Remember the old illustration (which is almost certainly false) of the frog in the pan?
• Epaphroditus was sent by the Philippian church to minister to Paul’s needs, besides carrying some financial help (Php 2:25-29). Instead, he got deathly sick. When he returned to Philippi, the saints might have thought him a failure, since instead of his ministering to Paul, Paul would have had to take care of him. But the apostle will have none of that. He gives him a rousing recommendation as he sends him home. Even shares his title of “apostle” with Epaphroditus, though of course in a different sense, of being the Philippians’ messenger or envoy. Some scholars think this passage is the heart of the book.
• The envoy who looks like a failure is really a success. Sound familiar? Read earlier in the chapter, verses 5-8.
• Anybody done any real work on the meaning of “work out” in Philippians 2:12? Obviously, it must relate to the obedience mentioned in the same verse. NLT has a definite twist in its rendering, making one wonder if this is accurate or slanted by evangelical faith-only doctrine. NCV sounds better to my ears (“Keep on working to complete your salvation”), but either might be right. Got an insight here into the contextual meaning?
• People love Fridays so much, because they can flee work for a couple of days. Is it a sign that work is not considered a legitimate means of service to God? Makes one wonder.
• Finally, a scrap of poetry, on a matter not so small.
Never did a human hope
Take quicker wing to headier heights,
Nor did a hand reach greater scope
Or covetous eyes see grander flights,
Than Eve before the Knowledge Tree
Of good and evil in Eden’s midst—
No harm so deep to humanity,
That fruit in her rebellious fist. —JRM
As many of you know, I maintain web sites of my own and for both congregations and individuals. I am getting ready to create a website so a brother in the Midwest can present his sermon outlines, articles, and probably some audio sermons. It is his desire that they reach as many as possible. I will link to it from some of my sites and hope you will also.
He asked me to investigate some Sermon Outline sites. Do any of you know of any where he/we might feature the outlines? He asked about sermon outline Webrings. Any suggestions you might have will be appreciated. I also plan to promote it on my social media sites
Well The Old Cowboy got rid of the BitDefender Virus Software and I am back. In the last couple of days I have gone back and looked over some of the early newspaper articles of Oklahoma native Will Rogers. One statement he made sticks out; “The road to success is potted with many tempting parking spaces.” Nothing like some good advice from another true Oklahoma cowboy, and he was a roper too.
The Church of Christ is convinced that they have the precisely correct understanding of the Bible. But critics say that they have strayed from their original purpose of Christian unity. They accuse the Church of Christ of having a different gospel, being divisive and sectarian, legalistic, and ignoring or explaining away passages of Scripture that do no fit their presuppositional interpretation. Church of Christ author K. C. Moser accused his brothers of preaching A PLAN instead of THE MAN. By this he meant that they belittle the finished work of Jesus while elevating man’s role in salvation. Could any of these charges against such a biblically based group be at all true?
Here is an article by a Church of Christ insider offering a candid look at their exclusive thinking. See chapter 18 of Heritage. It appears, however, that the legalistic patternist segment of the Church of Christ is dwindling, as indicated by this article: Ephiphanies.
RT- I suppose if Leroy Garret, Carl Ketcherside, and Al Maxey are your sources of information then there is no telling what might be “learned” falsely about the Lord’s church in the various communities. They are not sources of authority, and they are outside the “mainstream;” thus, not representative of what is taught by the majority. With that said, however, it can’t be underscored enough that each local congregation teaches in accordance with their understanding of the New Testament – there is no “headquarter” (or an equivalent word) that gives “marching orders.”
QUESTION: If you are a Church of Christ person reading this, let us describe a situation that might be revealing. Let’s say that you are introduced to a preacher or elder of conservative denomination (not Church of Christ). How do you feel inside? Do you greet this person with love and a feeling of warmth to be with another believer and servant of the Lord? Or do you immediately feel a sense of distance, antagonism, uneasiness, or superiority?
RT – What kind of substantive series of questions are these? Any time one interacts with another Matthew 7:12 and 22:37-40 applies. To answer precisely: I feel fine inside and with regard to another status in relation to the Lord I am not so presumptuous to judge. The fact that a person is a servant or not a servant of the Lord is immaterial to how I will approach him (or her). On the other hand, if in conversation more is learned then perhaps we can pursue that topic. Nope, I feel no distance, antagonism, and most certainly, no superiority.
What is the Gospel? Please see our article What is the Gospel.
1. Doesn’t 1 Cor 15:1-11 give the clearest and principle definition of the gospel as being something to be believed about Christ dying for our sins? Doesn’t gospel mean “good news” in Greek (as the ancients used the word for events such as the birth of an emperor or a major military victory)? We fear that a non-believer visiting a Church of Christ and hearing that the “good news” is a list of things that they have to do, would not see it as good news. Is it not ultimately found in the grace of God (Acts 20:24 and Col 1:3-6)?
RT – One might say that the Corinthians passage gives a succinct idea, but is this exclusive of the “gospel” in Ephesians 4? To attempt to give a succinct idea without substance to that idea is futile. Paul said he delivered first of all the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Does this mean that while the Lord lived one ought not to include that in the gospel? What did the Lord read and preach in Luke 4:18 – but the gospel! Moreover, is it not the case that others things are also included (1 Timothy 6:3; Romans 15:18)? The “gospel” is the good news, message of Jesus Christ. Your third question in this series is perplexing to me, especially in relation to your lead in. in any case, I will answer Titus 2:11-14. Perhaps I should ask: did Jesus require anything of a person if that person would be saved?
RT – The answer to the first question is the former, the second, YES.
- Confusion is continued in the house of Israel. Abner seeks to establish Saul’s reign, but his efforts are thwarted when Ishbosheth accuses him of stepping over a line that no man is allowed to cross (3:1-16). Angered, Abner seeks to give David Saul’s throne, and David is pleased, but with one condition. His first wife, Saul’s daughter, is to be given him again. This way, not only is he reunited with his lawful wife, but the nation will see this as a unifying force. Abner complies, only to be, ultimately, slayed by a man who David thought was his inferior – Joab (3:17-27). As the nation is getting closer to reunification David does what he can to humiliate Joab (3:28-39).
- Application: Even a strong king (David) felt inhibited by wicked men such a Joab. Can you imagine the tense relationship they had through his reign of forty years (for it was not until Solomon became king that Joab lost his life)? Relationships are to be nurtured, but when one is wicked, not much nurturing can take place.
On a group discussion list, a good brother asked in his sincere study of the Word,
If we say that “children” (in the qualification for elders) can mean one or multiple children, then would the same rule apply to the word “elders”? Would it be Scriptural to have just one elder if he truly met the qualifications laid out in Scriptures?
Ron T. replied,
I would suggest not on the basis of Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:5, Acts 14:23. The plurality in these verses will not allow for a singularity of application.
I liked Ron’s expression here, besides agreeing with him. I might add Acts 15:2, 4 to the list.
I’m beginning a study of the eldership in preparation for a study in another state, at the request of a congregation now in the process of selecting supervisors and servants, so this exchange got my attention.
Congrats to Weylan Deaver, who has an article published in Bulletin Digest, January’s issue, I think. I don’t have the copy with me at the moment. The article is “No Matter What … God Is Not Mad at You.”
My print copy came in the mail, with December 2011′s issue, a couple of days ago.
This morning while looking through some old quotes, I found this one from Thomas Jefferson; “When ever you do a thing, act as it the world were watching.” He was right, the world was watching him.
Actually the answers to our problems do not exist within mankind. Only in Christ can we find what we seek as human beings. Sin will continue to be here and everything that comes with it (1 Peter 5:8). We cannot stop it no matter what we do. All we can do is give ourselves to the Lord, so He can help us deal with them (Romans 5:6-11; Acts 2:37-38; Acts 22:16).
“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.” [C.S. Lewis].
The mount of transfiguration is interesting and perplexing. It is interesting because of what transpired; it is perplexing because for what reason do we read it? In Matthew we read of its occurrence after Jesus’s discussion of His own death and resurrection; more than this, though, we have the Lord’s exhortation to His disciples that each needs to take up the cross and follow Him (also in Mark and Luke). For whose benefit was this “change of form” for? It could not have been for Jesus – at least it does not appear so – but then why only three of the twelve were present? For that matter, why was it that only the prophets Elijah and Moses were present with Jesus? Moses was the great law-giver that God chose for the great occasion of deliverance, and Elijah never saw death. Luke tells us that the conversation between the three was in regards to the death Jesus was about to experience (Luke 9:31). Interestingly enough, the Greek word in Luke 9:31 is exodon (exodus). As Peter spoke there was a “bright cloud” that overshadowed them; thus Moses, Elijah (Peter, James and John?) were in the presence of God, as the shekinah enveloped them (cf. Exodus 40:34-38).
Elijah must come first, and the disciples saw him on the mount with Jesus and Moses. Was the prophetic word of that which the scribes taught (as recorded in Malachi 4:5-6) come to pass (be fulfilled)? In the Hebrew Bible there is no Malachi 4; it is 3:23-24. The teaching of the rabbis have varied between (1) Elijah will be the first resurrected, (2) he will come from Gan Eden in both body and soul (that is, he is still alive; he did not die), (3) to the fact that for assurance of his return Jacob (Israel) took a letter from Elijah’s name as “security that Elijah will come and herald the redemption of the children of Jacob” (ArtScroll, volume 2 (The Twelve Prophets), p. 338). From all this we learn that the Jews are still waiting and looking.
How much faith do you have? Is it something to be measured in quantity? Jesus spoke of having faith as little as a mustard seed – if the disciple had it a mountain could be moved. Really? We learn from the disciples that there were two things necessary before they could expel the demon (or heal the boy). It was not a matter of simply the boy being harmed by some physical ailment, because Jesus rebuked the demon within the child (v. 18). The two things needed were authority and faith. Did they have either? Presumably they had the former, but it was the latter that was lacking. In v. 21 (NKJV; also in Mark 9:29), Jesus said there were two others things missing: prayer and fasting. The disciples had three strikes against them! If they just had a “little bit of faith” then a mountain could be moved. The mountain in this context was the rebuking of the demon. Just like those of that day, we also use a proverbial saying to make a greater point.
The book of Proverbs is full of wise sayings. The Holy Spirit, especially in this book, has packed a lot of wisdom into few words. Proverbs 20:24 is a succinct verse I’ve been contemplating recently – “A man’s steps are of the LORD; how then can a man understand his own way?”
Although God has granted free will to every human being, man is not in a position to adequately guide himself alone. Man (whether righteous or wicked) cannot understand all the long-term consequences of his daily choices (in both word and deed), but God certainly does understand and is very much involved in the lives of those made in His image. He is Master over everything–including that which we do not understand and cannot presently perceive. I believe that this verse addresses the providential guiding of Almighty God. God knows the end from the beginning; He knows how to work out things for good in the ultimate sense for those who love Him (cf. Rom. 8:28).
So, what should we do in light of these truths? We should wait upon the Lord! We should confess our own ignorance and insufficiency before God and trust Him–even when it feels like He has forgotten us or is working against us. We should serve God to the best of our ability, even when we do not understand why certain things are or are not happening in our lives presently. I have compiled a list of verses from the Old Testament on this theme that I’d like to read at this time:
Psalm 25:1-5 – “To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.”
Psalm 37:1-7 – “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.”
Psalm 52:8,9 – “I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise You forever, because You have done it; and in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name for it is good.”
Proverbs 20:22 – “Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.”
Isaiah 30:18 – “For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.”
Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Jeremiah 14:22 – “Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are You not He, O LORD our God? Therefore we will wait for You, since You have made all these.”
Zephaniah 3:8 – “‘Therefore wait for Me,’ says the LORD…”
Although the contexts vary from which these verses are taken, the general theme is very clear. Wait on the Lord–in other words, trust Him enough to serve Him and rely upon Him in crisis and in the good times. He will take care of you and see you through! Is there something you strongly desire to be added to your life but God has not blessed you with yet (like a godly mate, for example; cf. Prov. 18:22)? Wait on the Lord; He knows what is best for you and His timing is perfect. Is there something you strongly desire to have removed from your life but God has not done so yet (like a thorn in the flesh, for example; cf. II Cor. 12:7ff)? Wait on the Lord; He knows what is best for you and His timing is perfect. Indeed, “a man’s steps are of the Lord” (Prov. 20:24). There is nothing better for a Christian to do than to trust and obey God, no matter what. Such a course will lead to joy and peace that passes understanding.
Tim Tebow did it again. He threw the winning touchdown in his first playoff game during overtime. In spite of pundit’s and naysayers, Tebow has led his team to success. Why do the media experts so oppose Tebow? I think it is because he openly declares his faith in Jesus. He wears his faith on openly and many cannot stand it. However, most Americans realize the value of someone of Tebow’s openness and honesty. When the fifth annual Celebrity Neighbor survey was taken Tebow was named the most desirable neighbor, edging out such stars as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. But the biggest winner of all was “none of the above” with 42% saying they would prefer not having a celebrity neighbor. At least, in spite of a declining morality and religious climate, many Americans still see the value of honest and open Christian faith. This is Just-a-Minute with Ed Boggess
- As David was in a state of confusion over Saul’s pursuance of him, Israel was now in a state of confusion because the nation/state had no physical head. David quickly turned to the Lord for guidance to eliminate this confusion, but the house of Saul would not let it die so easily. Those of Judah quickly lined up behind David. Abner, of Saul’s house, put Saul’s son (Ishbosheth) on the throne, but he did not have the presence of Saul, and the Lord was not with this move. In time, there was an odd contest between the forces of David and the forces of Abner, with David’s forces coming out on top. This threw the situation in Israel into more of a state of confusion: Ishbosheth was a weak king, Abner’s forces were defeated by Joab’s forces, and David was king over Judah for seven years (evidently the other tribes of Israel were “kingless” for a good portion of this time).
- Application: David’s appeal to the Lord is another occasion that is to be taken notice of; he not only waited on the Lord when Saul was alive, but he also waited on the Lord when Saul was dead. Notice how Abner did not do this.
The Old Cowboy had a few minutes to read a little about the 9 signs of loosing organizations.
1. Fuzzy Vision: Corporate vision and mission don’t inspire people, and people don’t know where the organization is going and what it is trying to achieve in the future.
2. Lack of Leadership Skills: Fear of changes, management is either too directive or too hands off.
3. Discouraging Cluture – The cluture does not inspire people, no shared values, lack of trust, people lose confidence in their leaders and systems.
4. High Bureaucracy: An organizational structure with too many layers.
5. Lack of Initiative: Poor motivation and encouragement. People do not feel their their contributions make a difference.
6. Poor Vertical Communication: People have no clue what the big picture is, and there is too much uncertainity. People don’t know what top-managers are thnking and planning.
7. Poor Cross-functional Collaboration: Lack of cross-functional goals and cross-functional collaboration spirit.
8. Poor Teamwork: No organizational commitment to team culture, a lack of shared and worthwhile goals.
9. Poor Idea and Knowledge Management: Cross-pollination of ideas is not facilitated.
The list was a part of one produced by 1000 Ventures. Why Organizations Fail. Think about it a bit, does this describe any organizations you are a part of? They are all around us.
Wow, what a foolish thing! The last thing I need is to justify my work by showing others how well I think I’m doing it!
Have you ever thought that one of the things God’s word does better than anything is its ability to hold up our motives and put them on public display. All the Lord has to do is say, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves ; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others,” (Philippians 2:3-4 NASB).
Paul defines selfishness and empty conceit as the way I’m conducting myself when I try to show others what a great preacher I am. Not only has he defined my shortcoming, but he has shown how he wants me to improve. It isn’t necessary for people to get the headlines of my success. It is more important for me “to regard another as more important.”
Shouldn’t it be enough for me to glorify God, who already knows about my successes and failures? He’s the one for whom these labors are made. We are obeying his commands.
Besides, my reason for doing this job is not so I can become the one everybody wants to turn to and glorify. The reason is so that people will hear the gospel so that the power of God will save them. If I preach the truth, then I’ve done what God wants (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18).
Thank you, Lord God, for your word that cuts through our pretense and lays our motives bare before your eyes.
Here’s a Nudge for you, peeps. From today’s reading in Php 2, the NLT renders a thought in verse 3 this way, “don’t try to impress others.” I’m not here to discuss the accuracy of that rending, but it leads me to the nudging question.
Share an embarrassing moment when you witnessed someone (yourself, even?) trying to impress others. No names, please.
Or, if you prefer, when someone could have taken advantage of a moment to impress others, but showed the humility to which verse 3 urges us.
Just a thought, also: Is there an instance in Scripture of someone trying to impress others?
Fellows, please reply in separate posts. Visitors, feel free to reply in the comment area.
How many times have you ever said, “If I knew then, what I know now, I’d certainly do things differently?”
Job is saying this in the last chapter of his book. Surely, Job regrets many of the things he said about God and is ready to repent and do those works “meet for repentance,” (Acts 26:20).
Some of the things Job learned from his trial included:
- Job’s wisdom was not enough to show the patriarch what he needed to see. He needed God’s word for that, and so do we!
- Job understands that God never abandoned him. God has promised to always be with us (Hebrews 13:5). We should remember this whenever we’re tempted to think God doesn’t care.
- Job understands that God had heard him. The truly remarkable thing is that when Job was allowing his sorrow to find release through his mouth, God withheld his hand. God is giving us all the same chance.
- Job realized his need for repentance and confession. Job no longer made demands in this last chapter. He is ready to change and wants to be restored spiritually. Nowhere in the scripture is he demanding God restore his wealth. His most important restoration was the relationship he had with God.
One of the significant things I learned in this study of Job was something Don Shackleford wrote in his “Truth for Today” commentary. He said Job’s office as intercessor brackets the book. God made mention of it in Job 1:5 and it is in this final chapter as Job was instructed to make sacrifices for his three friends.
We have an intercessor, Christ the righteous, “who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” (Titus 2:14).
An Old Cowboy observation today that has been on my mind for a bit. It likely has its roots in my Oklahoma oil field brat background, or simply the cowboy in me. Recently from several folks I have heard a constant stream of; we’ll if thus and so happens, just maybe if, I think if, well maybe if I am right…if. Now friends when you you plan on inspiring anyone you have got to develop a little confidence and hope in yourself. In life if you aren’t failing every now and then, you must not be doing anything, You must be wasting all your time thinking about getting to work. If you do fail, just pick your hat up and put it on your head, brush the dust off your jeans, cowboy up and crawl back on that bronk, and try agin.
- David survived the scare his men put in him and recovered all that belonged to his entourage. The raiding party that plagued him was Amalekites. Recovering all he had, he now waited on the news that surely would come from the battlefield in which Israel was engaged with the Philistines. Word came of Israel’s defeat, and the word came from an Amalekite. For David this was a time of mourning; he mourned for the king of Israel and his death, he mourned for Jonathan in his death, and he mourned that Israel suffered a defeat at the hands of the uncircumcised (this defeat would tell David that the Lord was not pleased with Israel). The Amalekite who brought the news to David thought he was going to be in good standing, but he soon learned that it is not the prerogative of man to kill the Lord’s anointed – even if he had, supposedly, good intentions. Moreover, from what we read in the previous chapter, Saul was already dead!
- Application: In the Lord’s time all will be made clear. David waited for the Lord to bring clarity out of the confusion he suffered the last number of years. That kind of patience is one that is to be noticed.