It’s Amazing

It’s amazing.

We’ve left a period when a president of the United States was elected because the previous president had reportedly had an affair in the Oval Office of the White House. (The Republican nominee, George W. Bush, said “When I raise my right hand, I’ll restore honor and dignity.”)  Now, the front-runner of the Republican Party for the presidency is a thrice-married man who is in the casino business.

Did I miss something?

When Donald Trump explained why he was twice divorced, he told CNN, “I blame myself because my business was so powerful for me,” Trump said. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”

So, the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president of the United States says he doesn’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing to have been twice divorced because “my business was too powerful for me.”

Yet many people are trying to find a reason to vote for Mr. Trump. I’m having some real trouble trying to understand this.

One person said that we’re not trying to find someone to become the head of the church. No, we’re looking for someone to become the head of the nation. But, perhaps that’s where the big disconnect is. Perhaps we’re deeply concerned about morality in the church, but when it comes to the leader of the free world, we’re willing to lower our expectations quite a bit.

I think it says something about our country when we think about electing a man president of the U.S. who is twice divorced and has made his money in building and running casinos.

A Great Conversation

Facebook and Twitter allow people to have conversations. Sometimes, the conversations are not altogether wholesome.

Now, King David never had conversations online, but he did have some in the book of Psalms. One such conversation occurred in Psalm 11, a conversation between the wicked and the king.

David was first expressing his trust in God asserting his confidence in God and asking, “How can you say to my soul, ‘Flee as a bird to your mountain?’”

But, this is always the advice the wicked give. They don’t trust God, so, naturally, their first thought is to run away. “Runaway, David! Your enemies are about to kill you with their arrows!” This is the solution of the wicked to any challenge. It was not David’s.

The wicked then said, “The foundations are being destroyed! What can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). This almost sounds like a news broadcast, doesn’t it? Have you ever noticed how negative the news is? Everything is an inescapable disaster. It may not be possible to escape disaster, but it is possible to endure it as a faithful child of God.

David understood “the Lord is in his holy temple,” (Psalm 11:4). God is right where he has always been, and his eyes “behold,” (Psalm 11:4b). We don’t have to run away. God will help and will always be right where he is needed.

Then, David says something very interesting. “His eyelids test the sons of men,” (Psalm 11:4c). Those trials coming upon us are opportunities for us to glorify God and show the wicked the true meaning of Christian life. So, what if trials come to us? As Christians, we are ready! We are strong! God will help us. We need nothing else.

How many television commercials have you heard that advise people to “buy gold,” “open a secure savings account,” and get ready for the calamity to come? Believers in God know the trials coming upon them have a purpose (1 Peter 1:7). Truly, “the Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,” (Psalm 11:5). God sends “snares” on the wicked (Psalm 11:6) in an attempt to show the shortcomings of their thinking. Perhaps, if they see they will turn toward him.

Psalm 11:7 gives us the great conclusion: “The upright will behold his face.” This is the reason why God’s people live faithfully all their lives no matter what trials may come. We look forward to seeing God’s face. This is why the faithful do not run from trial and calamity. God is always with us and, one day, we will see his face!

Finklestein: It Isn’t So

“Was there ever, thousands of years ago, a personage named Abraham?” was the beginning sentence of the cover story in the December 2001 issue of National Geographic.

Nine years later, the same question was asked in the December 2010 issue of the same publication about Kings David and Solomon.

In both issues, the same answer was given: there is no way to prove any of them ever existed. Both articles heaped doubts on the Bible and its truthfulness.

Tad Szulc, the author of the 2001 article on Abraham wrote, “Without any proof of the Patriarch’s existence, the search for a historical Abraham is even more difficult than the search for a historical Jesus.”

When dealing with the possibility that Abraham actually existed, Szulc maintains the same response, “no evidence.”

In the 2010 article on David and Solomon, author Robert Draper makes a similar statement. “despite decades of searching, archaeologists had found no solid evidence that David or Solomon ever built anything.”

There is a single source common to both articles, even though they’re nine-years apart. Israel Finklestein, an archaeologist with Tel Aviv University contributed to both. Finkelstein has one answer to anything biblical: it isn’t so.

About the buildings discovered and excavated by his own colleagues at the Hebrew Union College, Finklestein said the excavations couldn’t possibly have been constructed by either David or Solomon, but afterward.

Finkelstein dismissed the Bible in the 2010 article as “unscientific.” “You can find evidence in radiocarbon for David being a villager in Norway in the sixth century A.D.,” Finklestein declares. Where Solomon is concerned, Finklestein says, “Now, Solomon, I think I destroyed Solomon, so to speak. Sorry for that!”

The two articles, to be sure, were written from different perspectives, but it’s interesting that both authors would go to a self-professed cynic for opinions of the existence of Bible characters. Both articles say basically the same thing: “When it comes to the Bible, there is no proof as to its accuracy.”

Those of us who have studied and believe the truth of the Bible know the proof is in the book. We know whom we have believed.

The Master, the Captain

In a recent movie chronicling Nelson Mandela and the emergence of South Africa from apartheid, the character playing the first black president quotes a poem by William Earnest Henley which says, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

The quote echoes the philosophy of secular humanism, defined simply as, “making man the measure.” Humanism means precisely what Henley said in his poem. Man is the master. Man is the captain.

Some think humanism is a relatively new philosophy, arising during the 20th Century with pragmatism, but that idea is incorrect. Instead of being recent, humanism is as old as man himself. In fact, some Old Testament characters supported the main tenet of humanism.

King David of Israel believed in humanism for a time. When he saw a naked Bathsheba from the roof of his palace, David became a humanist. His change of philosophy resulted in the sin of adultery and the murder of an innocent patriot, Uriah, all in the name of fulfilling the king’s desire, which is precisely what humanism is. If man is made the measure, then any kind of desire must be immediately granted.

In the poem David wrote reflecting his sorrow and repentance for his humanistic conduct the king took steps away from humanism. He wrote, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin,” (Psalm 51:2 ESV). David knew he had violated God’s objective standard and had sinned. Humanists don’t accept the Bible as an objective standard, and don’t even believe such a standard exists.

Humanism embraces relativism, which is the belief that men can only can understand and evaluate beliefs and behaviors only in terms of their historical or cultural context. Common statements reflecting relativism might be, “That’s true for you, but not for me,” or “You can’t judge others by your standards.” If those statements are familiar, it’s because of the influence of secular humanism and relativism.

Simply, when a man becomes the master of his “fate,” he makes up his own rules. The problem with this is that man can’t make up his own rules, because when he does he violates them. In fact, the rules he makes aren’t rules at all, because everything is “relative,” isn’t it?

God has already covered this aspect in his word, too. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV).

People of the world can descend to accept their own ways, but when they do they give up any possibility of ever aspiring to anything higher and nobler than themselves. This is where humanism has led the world. If we ever wish to become higher and nobler beings, we must reject the idea that man is the measure and must return to the only being who can restore us to greatness, and that is the one, true God.

What About our Reach?

The Impala is an amazing creature that has a vertical leap of more than 10 feet and can jump an amazing 30 feet.

With such abilities, one would think zoos would have to take extraordinary measures to build enclosures to keep these nearly airborne creatures inside the zoo, but they don’t. It seems the Impala will not execute its amazing jumps unless it can see where it’s going to land. So, zoos only have to build a six-foot wall to keep the animals inside.

Unfortunately, there are some members of the Lord’s church who have this same problem. They are capable of so many great things and could do amazing things, but they’re limited to going only so far as they can see. Just as the Impala is unable to jump unless it can see the landing, some children of God restrict themselves to doing only those works for God they think they can with the money and talent they believe they possess.

The writer of the Hebrew letter wrote, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is the ability to do something or to see something not on the basis of sight, but on those things that are invisible, or unseen. The apostle Paul wrote, “We walk by faith and not by sight,” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

It is a shame to see a church with so much potential limit itself because a lack of faith prevents it from using its potential to become great in the kingdom. If it is true that “without faith it is impossible to please him (God),” (Hebrews 11:6), then can a church with a lack of faith be pleasing to God?

All should recall it was Jesus who said to the church at Ephesus who had left their first love, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent,” (Revelation 2:5). What Jesus meant by the candlestick is that if Ephesus didn’t repent and get faithfully busy, the church they had taken for granted would exist no longer.

Brethren, our reach should exceed our grasp because we are people of faith and believe that with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

The Way People Think

Have you ever thought how much we’re influenced by the way people think? Philosophies have influenced mankind for centuries. It is said Alexander the Great was tutored by a philosopher, Aristotle. Philosophers, like John Locke were at the heart of the creation of the American democracy.

Hollywood has more influence on us than we know. The fruit of this is being seen with how many people are relating their understanding of ethics and morality on the basis of what they’ve seen in movies. Understanding this, actors have been taking center stage to share their philosophies and they’re trying to influence the world.

The most evil king and queen of Israel influenced the tiny nation of Judah. It was Ahab and Jezebel who were responsible for the importing of the worship of Baal into Judah. They influenced Jehoshaphat, king of Judah to help them in a losing battle against Syria over Ramoth-Gilead in 1 Kings 20-22. Even though Ahab, Jezebel and their children were destroyed, their influence was felt in Israel and Judah for years and years.

In the 22nd chapter of second Kings, there is the story of good King Josiah and how he repaired the temple of God. The craftsmen and scribes went into the temple and discovered the book of God’s law inside. It had been lost. Think of it. The law of the Lord had been lost IN THE VERY HOUSE OF GOD! It had been covered with debris and the rubbish of the crumbling walls. It had been lost to the Levites and the priests — the very ones who should have kept the word of God alive and at the forefront of the people’s minds and conscience. If any institution should have kept the law of God alive, it should have been the House of the Lord.

The youthful king wept as the law was read because he realized God’s word had been neglected and the Lord’s commands had been disobeyed. He called the people together and had the law of God read to the people.

If living in this world teaches us anything, it is that the MAJORITY OF THIS WORLD HAS LOST SIGHT OF THE WORD OF GOD. Most people, including some members of the Lord’s church, only consult God’s word in DIRE EMERGENCY. Preachers of the word, just as in the days of Elijah, Elisha, Michaiah and Jeremiah, are considered only to be consulted in time of need, much as a fire hose is kept coiled in disuse behind a glass that says, “Break only in case of fire.”

In this world, we pay professional athletes millions of dollars to put a stupid little ball into a stupid little hole, or hit a stupid ball out of a baseball park and consign those who teach the word of God to almost the status of paupers.

We should see the CONTRAST of WHAT PLACE THE WORD OF GOD HAS IN OUR LIVES. In many ways, we have lost the word of God and consigned it to a dust heap INSIDE THE VERY CHURCHES WE ATTEND. Our Bibles are used, not as a guide for our lives, not as a path for our feet in this world, not as the truth to lead us to heaven, but rather as an adornment or an ornament on a coffee table. It is a catcher of dust.

As we look at what is called Christianity in this world, we see the law of the Lord is lost again. Just as in Josiah’s day and the influence of Ahab caused the word of God to be lost in the temple, the influence of the world is causing the word of God to be put into last place among those who say they are God’s people.

Think about it. Why are there so many churches? Why is division, the very thing the apostle Paul condemned in 1 Corinthians 1, the most prevalent thing in the world? All division is contrary to God’s plan. Jesus prayed in John 17, “That they all may be one…” Jesus wanted us to be one that the world might know “that thou hast sent me.” He called upon us in John 13:34, “Love one another as I have loved you that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.”

Why are we not one? Why do we not speak the same thing, as Paul exhorted the Corinthians? Why do we not all practice the same thing?

The law of the Lord is lost. That’s why. The law of God is covered with the debris of man’s philosophy, man-made ideas and doctrines. Just as Judah left God under the influence of Ahab, the influence of the world has caused the division of the body of Christ.

Think of it. The word of God was sufficient in the first century to guide the early church, wasn’t it? Someone might say, “Well, they didn’t have a Bible.” Of course they did. They had the writings of the apostles and there were teachers in the churches who possessed the word of God by inspiration.

What happened? Man decided he could direct his steps as well as God does. So, creeds, manuals, disciplines and articles of faith replaced the word of God. What happened is that man substituted himself for the objective standard of God’s word in religion. The final authority of God’s word was rejected.

In time, instead of insisting people conduct themselves according to the will of God, the authority of the Bible has been lost, just as surely as the text of the law was lost in the days of Josiah’s reign. What can reunite all people under the name of Jesus Christ? Only obeying the gospel as written in the book of God’s law can do that. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” God’s word must be the final authority in everything done is faith and practice. It must be the final authority in our life and in the church, it must be the ONLY RULE TO BE FOLLOWED.

When the law was found and read to Josiah, he wept because he realized he and his people had not been keeping God’s commandments. In other words, he knew and realized he was living in sin. There’s a lot of levity regarding the use of that phrase today. People laugh when they hear there are those living in sin because they believe living for sinful pleasure is like living in the lap of luxury. Sin is no laughing matter. There are people living in the destructive influence of sin every day. It is tearing their lives, their marriages, their families and their world apart. Living in sin may seem like living in pleasure, but that is the lie sin wants us to believe.

I was in Court last week and watched a family torn apart by sin. It was a sorrowful sight. I watched as a man and his mother signed an order of protection because they couldn’t live together without getting angry and trying to hurt one another. I watched another man in chains because he couldn’t have a relationship with a woman without pointing a gun at her. Just look at what sin has done to mankind! Just look what listening to the influence of the world has done to us! The word of God is hidden and the only thing left to people is the sadness of living in a world filled with sin!

What we desperately need is to return to the word of God and seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness first, as Jesus said in Matthew 6:33. What we need is to realize OUR VERY PURPOSE IN THIS LIFE is only to glorify God and serve him. Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.”

Are we seeking God’s kingdom first? Are we presenting ourselves to God as a living sacrifice? Lost souls are dying every day, lost because the word of God is LOST, just as the word of God was lost in Josiah’s day.

Let us turn to the word of God as Josiah and the people did.

Waiting for Sisera

Sisera, the great Canaanite army general, met defeat at the hands of God’s Judge Deborah and Barak, leader of Israel’s army. In Judges 4:7, God decreed the death of the enemy.

To avoid capture and execution, Sisera fled to the tent of Heber the Kenite, his friend. For Sisera, however, there was no escape. He couldn’t run and hide from God’s justice. Heber’s wife Jael killed Sisera by driving a tent-peg through his head while the great general slept.

Deborah’s song in Judges 5 paints a sad picture of Sisera’s mother sitting by a window waiting for her son to return to her.

“Why is his chariot so long in coming,” she cried. “Why tarries the clatter of his chariot?” (Judges 5:28.)

Sisera’s mother waits in vain for a son who will never answer her forlorn cries. He lies dead in Heber’s tent and cannot hear.

Many wait for their false doctrines and theories to vindicate them, as Sisera’s mother waited for her dead son.

The evolutionist continues to wait in the vain hope evolution will be found true. They keep searching for the “missing link.” Just recently, scientist proclaimed the discovery of such a supposed connection between man and ape. Alas, there was no proof. There was no proof of evolution because there is no proof, period.

The evolutionist refuses to understand the truth of God’s word in Romans 1:20, in which Paul writes, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so “that they are without excuse…”

Those who believe in salvation by faith alone are waiting like Sisera’s mother for their theology to deliver them. Vain hope! All the Siseras of the theological world lie dead, but their proponents sit by the window waiting to hear the “clatter of chariots.”

Sisera is dead inside Heber’s tent and couldn’t console his mother if he wanted. The judgment of the Lord has fallen on Sisera and has fallen on the false doctrines and theories of the world.

How many will end their existence in this world still waiting for their Sisera to appear? Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Are you one of those who have believed a lie? Are you waiting for your theology or theory to come and save you, just as Sisera’s mother waited by the window listening for the sound of the chariots of her dead son?

Only the truth of Jesus Christ, God’s son, can save. Only obedience to his will can fulfill the longing in your heart (John 14:6; 2 Timothy 1:12, Romans 1:16.)

Don’t sit with Sisera’s mother. Seek God now and obey him. Then, the song of Deborah will be yours.
“Thus let all your enemies perish, Oh Lord! But let those who love you be like the sun when it comes out in full strength.” (Judges 5:31.)