Friday, July 29, 2011

Biblical Musings 12

Hill with Caves Near Kursi, Traditional Dwelling of the Gadarene Demoniac
"You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 (NASV)

Are there there those who are oppressed by the devil today? How should we approach this subject?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Real Evil

One of the reasons that we as a society have moved from a black-and-white view of morality to the idea that morality is various shades of gray is the reliance on human beings as the standards of good and evil. But human beings are sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6) and therefore cannot perfectly reflect real good. But they are also not perfectly evil, but still reflect some of the original moral character God created them with (Romans 2:14,15; James 1:17; Ecclesiastes 7:29). This means there is a danger for those who do hold to a black-and-white view of morality and who are in search of real good and real evil to glorify or vilify certain individuals or groups beyond what is justified by the circumstances. Now God is the source and standard for real good (Psalms 25:8; Mark 10:18; Nahum 1:7). Evil cannot have a source in the same sense because evil is a corruption of and a rebellion against good. But the chief instigators of evil in our world are in the spiritual realm (2 Corinthians 4:3,4; Hebrews 2:14,15; Ephesians 2:1,2), and they are the ones we battle (Ephesians 6:10-13; 1 Peter 5:8,9; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Therefore, we can put human beings in perspective, for they are all knowingly or unknowingly serving something beyond themselves. We need to look elsewhere to find the real standard and the real enemy. And we need to deal with other human beings in the light of those facts.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Biblical Musings 11

The Garden of Gethsemane, Where Jesus Prayed
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASV)

If the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul prayed and were refused, what does it say about our prayers? How should this affect our approach to prayer?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Biblical Musings 10

Catapult Stones from Maccabean Times, Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem
"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  Matthew 16:18,19 (NASV)

What are the implications of this statement? What is the power of binding and loosing? Who has this power?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Who Is in Control?

Does the world sometimes seem out of control? Does your life sometimes seem out of control? But more importantly, who should really be in control? Too often the answer we would prefer, if we really examine ourselves, is that we want to be in control ourselves. But as we look at the world around us, especially from the Christian point of view, it seems to be careening out of control. But God says that He is in control (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28; Isaiah 46:10). Further, He says He is at work building His church (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:6,7; Colossians 2:19). He is also at work in our lives to accomplish His purposes (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6; Colossians 1:28,29). The problem is that this does not always involve what we want and what makes us comfortable. Sometimes it means going through times of hardship (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18). But we need to trust Christ to bring us through the difficulties, both in ourselves and in the world around us. Even if what happens is not what we want.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Biblical Musings 9

Church on the Traditional Site of the Sermon on the Mount
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth,' but I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV)

What does this passage mean? How should we apply it today?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Biblical Musings 8

The Sea of Galilee Looking Toward the Golan Heights.
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.  But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.  Luke 8:22-25 (KJV)

What are the implications of the fact Jesus told His disciples to row to the other side of the lake? How might they be relevant to our lives today?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Is on the Agenda?

Christian leaders often say they do not want people in their congregation who have an agenda. What is an agenda, and is it a good or a bad thing? Now it needs to be noted from the outset that it is unreasonable for leaders to expect their followers to be totally plasticine and to conform to everything they hold. Also, the closest approach to this is to have only immature believers who remain immature. Once an individual becomes rooted in the Word of God and tests things by it, they are bound to develop some of their own opinions (Acts 17:11; Hebrews 5:13,14; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). The issue is, how do we make this work? The Biblical picture is that of unity in diversity (1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Ephesians 4:11-16; Philippians 2:1-11). This does not include the acceptance of genuine Biblical error in teaching and practice (Romans 16:17; Jude 3; 2 Timothy 4:1-4). But there does need to be an incorporation of different approaches. The problem comes when someone takes a minor issue and blows it so out of proportion that it becomes their whole focus. This can happen to leaders as well as followers, and for the leaders with this type of narrow point of view, everyone not in agreement with them has an agenda. But there are followers with their pet idea that they emphasize to the degree it becomes the cause of disruption. So one thing we need to do is ask ourselves, what are the things we are going to hold and promote, even if it means alienating others? And it is useful for both leaders and followers to try to synchronize their agendas, and if they cannot, someone may need to seek another place of fellowship. But we must be careful of promoting our pet ideas beyond the degree they really deserve to be defended.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Biblical Musings 7

View Down onto the Jezreel Valley from the Mound of Megiddo (Armageddon).
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.  It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming -- in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning -- lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" Mark 13:32-37 (NKJ)

What are the implications of this statement? How important are they to how we live our lives?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Biblical Musings 6

Remains of the Synagogue in Capernaum; Floor Is from Jesus' Time.
And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. Luke 4:31-35(KJV)

We have here a manifestation of demonic influence in the house where God was worshiped.  Is this possible today? What would it look like?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Times of Trouble

How do we respond to people in times of suffering? We must start by avoiding jumping to the conclusion that their suffering must be due to sin on their part. Scripture clearly rebukes this idea (John 9:1-3; Job 1,2; Luke 13:1-5). Now there are cases where suffering may be the results of God's discipline in the person's life (Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 Corinthians 11:29-32; 2 Samuel 12:7-14). But we must be very careful of reaching the conclusion that this is what is happening without strong evidence (remember the rebuke of Job's comforters, Job 42:7-9). And if someone is involved in sin we need to correct them with care, following the Scriptural requirements (Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Hebrews 12:12,13).

The Scripture further says we are to be genuinely concerned about the suffering of others (1 Corinthians 12:26,27; Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:2). This is hard because when you sympathize with others, you end up hurting with them. It seems easier (if less Scriptural) to keep them at arm's length. One way to do this is to just spout platitudes (it is unfortunately possible to turn Scripture into a platitude) to avoid actually becoming engaged in people's problems. There has been much said about listening versus speaking. I believe there can a place for speaking, but it is hard to be really concerned unless you listen. There has also been much said about whether or not to quote Bible verses. I also believe there is a place to use Bible verses, but not as a quick answer to avoid listening to and sympathizing with the person. Bible verses thoughtlessly quoted to a hurting person can come off as condemning rather then comforting. (As saying, surely you should have already known this.) But the main issue starts with the heart. If you are genuinely concerned with the person and their pain, it will help keep you away from pitfalls.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Biblical Musings 5

Replica of Sign Warning Gentiles out of Jewish Area of the Temple, Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh -- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands -- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. Ephesians 2:11-16 (NKJ)

How might this apply today? Are there walls we have built in the Christian church that need to come down? What are they and how do we do it?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Biblical Musings 4

Statue of Elijah at Traditional Site on Mt Carmel
Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing. I King 18:21 (NIV)

What does it mean to waver between two opinions? How might it be found manifesting itself today? How can we avoid it?