The Bible begins by telling us how God created the earth. But what was he doing before? God is eternal so surely the universe we live in is not the first of God’s works and it won’t be the last. Some people think Heaven will be boring because we will have nothing to do. In fact we will have plenty to do just learning what God has done in the past and observing what he does in the future. (I wonder if the words past and future will have any meaning. We live in time so for us some things have happened in the past and others are still in the future. Will this still be true in eternity?)
The Bible does reveal some things that happened before the earth was created. Read the rest of this entry
Good cop/bad cop is a routine police sometimes us when interrogating suspects. The bad cop is hostile toward the suspect. The good cop is sympathetic and sometimes even restrains the bad cop. The suspect comes to accept the good cop as his friend and sometimes will give him the information the police are looking for.
The suspect comes to think of the two cops as being opposed to each other and he naturally sides with the one who is friendlier to him. In fact they are working together. From the suspect’s point of view they are both bad cops because they are trying to get him to give them information they need. From the point of view of law abiding citizens they are both good cops because they are trying to enforce the law and fight crime. Read the rest of this entry
Matthew 6:9-13 contains the prayer known as the Lord’s Prayer. It contains the phrase “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Is this part of the prayer being answered today? It appears to me that most of the earth is rebelling against God’s will rather than following it.
The Bible tells us that God created the world and everything in it in six days and we should acknowledge him as our Creator. Humans have come up with the belief that the earth developed by natural processes over billions of years and that life arose by a process of evolution. This belief is such an integral part of our culture that even many Bible believers accept it and interpret the Bible in a way that accommodates the belief that the earth is old. I once believed in an old earth and reconciled this belief with the Bible by believing in the gap theory. Read the rest of this entry
Most of you are familiar with the story of Job. He was a man who feared God and he was very wealthy.
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters.He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. (Job 1:1-3)
Satan claimed that Job served God not out of sincerity but because God had made him wealthy. God allowed Satan to test Job by taking away his wealth. Job lost his wealth, his children, and his health. His wife urged him to curse God and die. He was also afflicted with three “friends” who claimed that Job had brought his misfortunes on himself by sinning.
Job insisted he was innocent and wanted God to explain the reason for his suffering, but his faith in God never wavered. In the end God did appear to him but rather than explaining the reason for what had happened he asked Job a series of questions that revealed his superiority to Job. As a result Job came to know God better than he had before. Read the rest of this entry
There is disagreement as to whether Jesus was God. Some who deny his deity say that he never claimed to be God. The fact is Jesus said several times in the gospels that he was God.
If you begin reading the gospels, beginning with Matthew, you will come to a section known as the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7. He stated three times in this sermon that he was God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)
He equated being persecuted for the sake of righteousness with being persecuted for his sake. Only God, the source of all righteousness, could make such a claim. Read the rest of this entry
My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
in your splendor and majesty!
4 In your majesty ride out victoriously
for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
5 Your arrows are sharp
in the heart of the king’s enemies;
the peoples fall under you.
6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father’s house,
11 and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
12 The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
the richest of the people.
Have you ever experienced a time when your life was so messed up you wanted to ask God what was going on? Job did.
Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, hat I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. (Job 23:2-4)
If you read Job 1-4 it is easy to see why he felt that way. He feared and obeyed God and God had blessed him with great wealth and with ten children. For a long time he had lived a prosperous and happy life, and then suddenly everything began to go wrong. Read the rest of this entry
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8
These two statements show that both truth and love are part of God’s character. We need to express both of them when telling others about God.
Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.
We must always speak the truth and what we say must be motivated by love. But what will happen if we speak truth without love or try to practice love while ignoring truth? We can find out by looking at two organizations in Topeka, Kansas, that do these things. Read the rest of this entry
There is disagreement about how God wants us to live. If God would just speak to everyone in an audible voice that would eliminate all questions about God and enable us to serve him without any doubts or disagreements.
Or perhaps it wouldn’t. The Bible records a time when a crowd of people did hear God speak.
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
Everyone present heard the sound of the voice but not everyone understood it. Read the rest of this entry
Are you blind? If you were asked this question I think all of you would answer “No”. After all, you are reading this page right now so that proves you can see. But the Bible has some things to say about blindness that might make you change your mind.
God revealed to Elisha the plans of the king of Syria and Elisha in turn warned the king of Israel.
Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there.” And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice.
2 Kings 6:8-10
The king of Syria learned that Elisha was responsible for his failure to defeat Israel so he decided to capture him. Read the rest of this entry
Have you ever believed that God was treating you unfairly? I think everyone has at one time or another. I know I have and the Bible tells us about a man named Job who felt this way.
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.
His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
Job feared God and turned away from evil. He cared about the welfare of his children and offered sacrifices for them in case they had sinned, and God had blessed him with great wealth. It appeared that he was all set to live a life of piety and comfort. Read the rest of this entry
For a long time after World War I the war was referred to by many as the Great War, meaning that it involved more nations and people than had any other war up to that time. When an even greater war began in 1939 people stopped using this term and began calling it World War I and calling the new war World War II. But there is another war going on right now which really does deserve to be called the Great War and most of the world is completely unaware of it. Here is how it began.
You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
This is addressed to the king of Tyre, but it obviously doesn’t refer to the human ruler but to Satan, who was the real ruler. Read the rest of this entry
Are you a Satanist? The answer most people would give to this question is “No!” The popular conception of a Satanist is someone who meets at midnight with other Satanists to perform Black Masses and other Satanic rituals. There are probably some Satanists like this but the vast majority of Satanists are unaware of the fact that they are serving Satan and many of them even believe they are serving God.
In his letter to the Ephesians Paul describes the condition of Christians before we were saved.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Before our salvation we were dead in our sins and followed Satan, the prince of the power of the air. God and Satan are moral opposites so there are different requirements for worshiping them. Read the rest of this entry
There is an Irish blessing, “May you be in Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you’re dead.”
The apostle Paul was someone whom God blessed very much. Do you suppose he was in Heaven half an hour before the Devil realized he was dead?
There is a war going on between God and Satan. When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a soldier in God’s army and a participant in that war. In order to wage war effectively we must know who our enemy is.
When we look at what is going on in the world we see many who are doing and advocating things that violate God’s commands. Some believe that women should have the absolute right to kill their unborn children. Others believe there is nothing wrong with homosexual activity and that the government should allow marriages between two people of the same sex. Militant Muslims use force to impose their beliefs on others.
These people are not the ones we are fighting.
There is a well known saying, “In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.” But is it true? What if there were a country where all the people were blind but had learned to cope with their condition and considered it normal? How would they respond if someone who could see came into their community and told them what it was like to see? Would they believe what he said or consider him a madman?
H. G. Wells wrote a story called “The Country of the Blind” which describes this situation. Here is Wikipedia’s summary of the plot.