Friday, 12/13/19 – Friday Tough Question

Paraskevidekatriaphobia?

Paraskevidekatriaphobia = the fear of Friday the 13th!

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It’s astonishing to me just how many believers in our Lord Jesus Christ still harbor a lingering queasiness about this particular date. Though the Christian has no basis whatsoever to be afraid of a date on the calendar this particular superstition does seem to have its origins in Scripture!

The word itself is actually derived from two Greek words “Paraskeví” (Friday) and “dekatreís” (thirteen). With the extension “phobia” (fear) we now have the word “paraskevidekatriaphobia” (fear of Friday 13th). But the connection to scripture goes deeper than just the fact that it’s word components are Greek in origin.

the greek statues

The number 13 fell into a dark area as Judas was viewed as the 13th person at the Last Supper: i.e. Christ, plus the twelve apostles. The number 12 it was argued was a perfect number of completeness. There were 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 hours on a clock, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 gods of Olympus, and so on. The number 13 just threw this whole system out of balance!

Friday was also bad enough in itself because it was on a Friday that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified! Put them together and you’ve got a day of disaster to be avoided at all cost!

man preparing dough for bread

But God is not the author of such superstitious fear. Many wonderful things happened on Friday and around the number 13. I imagine some of the same folk who fear Fridays are also among those who chime T.G.I.F. at the end of every work week. And it’s always nice to get a baker’s dozen (13) of some delicious baked goods. And the teaching of scripture is sternly clear:

Lev. 19:31 – “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.” (See also Deut. 18:10-12)
Gal. 4:8-11 – “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.”
Col. 2:20-23 – “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?”
1 Tim. 4:7 – “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness”
2 Tim. 1:7 – “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Other theories on the origin of Friday 13th also exist from the Norse goddess of fertility “Frigga” to stories of the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar on a Friday 13 in 1307. But for the Christian this date holds no more terror than the Easter Bunny. God is on His Throne and no man-made superstition can ever budge Him one particle!

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

Press on…

 

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send it to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 12/6/19 – Friday Tough Question

“What’s God got Against Money?”

Regardless of your general Bible knowledge you’ve probably come across these two oft-cited scriptures:

“You cannot serve both God and money. (Matt. 6:24 – NIV), and
“…the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. (1 Tim. 6:10 – NLT)

abundance bank banking banknotes
Money, money, money, money, money…

God = good; Money = bad. This seems to be the accepted equation. But is it really all that simple? And, if it is, what’s so bad about money anyway? “What’s God got Against Money?”

To get a clearer understanding of this it’s important to notice two words in particular, one in each of the above verses.

In Matt. 6:24 the word to note is “serve” — “You cannot serve both God and money.”
In 1 Tim. 6:10 the word to note is “love” — “…the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

close up photo of woman with her hands tied with rope

The Greek word ‘serve’ (δουλεύω) means ‘to be a slave,’ ‘to obey’ or ‘submit to.’ It is used of those who become slaves to some base power, who give themselves over to it. You could say, rather than you owning it, it owns you!

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The Greek word ‘love’ in the second reference carries with it the same idea of ‘slavery’ or ‘bondage’ to a thing, whether voluntary or involuntary, actual or alegorical. It indicates a greedy desire… a willingness to gain the thing even by unethical means.

We are made to worship and will worship whatever thing we set up as primary on the throne of our heart — and there is only room for one on that throne.

Money is unsatisfying, and for that reason addictive. If we chase after it, though we may catch some of it, we find it insufficient. We seek ‘just a bit more,’ and when that ‘bit’ too proves unsatisfying the result is bondage… an unending quest. The only way out is to seek something else, to seek the Rightful Ruler, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Consider these words by the wisest man of all…

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income…. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)
“I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners, or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit. Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.” (Ecclesiastes 5:13-15)

Press on…

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

 

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/29/19 – Friday Tough Question

Why reference Moses to the Gentiles?

Here’s an interesting question which my wife asked a few days ago. It’s a good question yet one in my fifty-plus years of Bible study I never thought to ask.

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After Jesus’ ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the beginnings of the early church, the first believers slowly learned that the grace of God extended not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. Jesus had made the way back to God possible for all people… “God so loved the world!” (John 3:16).

As this fact became evident a council was held by the pioneering pillars of the church in Jerusalem. A group of men from Judea had been teaching believers in Antioch that circumcision was still necessary for salvation. Consequently, Paul and some others had travelled to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders to resolve this matter.

multi cultural people

Both sides of the debate were represented and there was lengthy discussion. Finally Peter rose. He recounted how since God had made no distinction in granting the Holy Spirit to Gentile believers it would be wrong to impose upon them the legalistic practice of circumcision. Paul and Barnabas also testified how God had confirmed His acceptance of non-Jews through signs and miracles, and James cited the prophet Amos who proclaimed God’s intention to one day bring salvation to believing Jews and Gentiles alike.

James was a late-believing brother to Jesus and presided over the Jerusalem council. At length he proposed the following:

“…we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:19-21).

This they did, and Paul, Barnabas, Judas and Silas hand-delivered the letter to those in Antioch.

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The question my wife raised was this: Why include to Gentile believers the caveat that the Mosaic law was so widely accessible (v.21)? It’s almost as if they are saying, “We’ll tell them they don’t need to follow the practice of circumcision, but in case they want to hear about it they still can.” As well, Gentiles would not have been – nor have intended to become – synagogue goers. Why is this mentioned in the Jerusalem injunction?

Well, though it’s taken thus far just to form the question, the answer may be quite simple.

Matthew Henry offers good insight on this…

Remember, this letter was sent to “the church” in Antioch (Acts 15:30). It was not delivered only to Gentile believers but to the mix of Jewish and Gentile Christians in the newly assembled Church. The letter was intended to give direction to the Gentiles but also to foster Jewish acceptance of the Gentiles into their midst.

Henry puts it this way,

“…great respect ought to be shown to the Jews for they have been so long accustomed to the solemn injunctions of the ceremonial law that they must be borne with, if they cannot presently come off from them… though the gospel has set us free from these things… We must therefore give them time, must meet them half-way; they must be borne with awhile, and brought on gradually, and we must comply with them as far as we can without betraying our gospel liberty.” – Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible Commentary

What a great Truth it is that we ALL have access to One Father through the One and only Son by One Spirit. (c.f.. Eph. 2:18).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/22/19 – Friday Tough Question

Yah, but what am I supposed to DO?

I know I know. Though yesterday’s blog is completely true for each Christian it does indeed deal only with the general Will of God — God’s Will for every believer.

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Which way do I go?

Perhaps you are facing some specific crossroad, trying to determine the Will of God for your life right now about some particular decision. Here are a few guidelines I’ve always found helpful and which have sound scriptural support.

First, listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit within you. Scripture tells us (John 16:12-15). the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth the Holy Spirit will remind us of things guide us. Listen to the Holy Spirit within you.

Next consider the Word of God. Is this thing you are considering in agreement with the full counsel of God’s Word? The Holy Spirit will never lead you outside of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will apply the Word of God to your specific situation and guide you.

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Mature believers…

Next, what are other mature believers saying to you? Do they feel that the thoughts and directions you are having are from the Lord? Does your church leadership support you? This is vitally important if you believe God is calling you to some missionary service. You need the support and commissioning of your local church as you begin to take steps along this significant path.

woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise
Open door…   Peace of God…

Is there an Open Door of opportunity? Watch this one because sometimes you may get the first three all in agreement and yet there is no door of opportunity. But this may only mean that though you are on the right track, God’s time has not yet arrived. God will lead you in “the fullness of time” into the Will He has for you. When the time is right the doors will miraculously open.

Do you have the witness of God’s Peace in your heart after coming thus far? God’s Peace about a matter is a wonderful affirmation that you were walking in His Will.

Finally there is the Provision of God. Whom God calls He also enables. God always provides what is needed, when it is needed, but seldom before it is needed! When the time is right God will provide.

1. Still, small Voice of the Holy Spirit within you
2. Word of God
3. Affirmation of others
4. Open door of opportunity
5. Peace within
6. Provision of God

Study the following passages. See how many of the above guidance points you can identify in these testimonies.

Acts 15 – Council at Jerusalem
Acts 16:6-10 – Call to Macedonia, not Asia
1 Cor. 16:5-9 – Great door open to me
Mark 16:20 20 – signs following

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/15/19 – Friday Tough Question

How did Cain know his offering was not accepted?

Interesting question. Of course we could also ask “How did Abel know his offering was accepted?” Or, “What prompted mankind’s first generation to make offerings to God at all?”

The Bible does not address these questions directly, but if we pause to think through what scripture does tell us certain reasonable assumptions do stand out.

20180811_162826God created man because He desired relationship… someone to love and someone who could love in return. Honest relationship requires free-will. I cannot build intimacy with a machine. As much as I love my morning coffee my coffeemaker will never love me in return. While computers are growing more and more in their ability to mimic human relationship it is still a mimicry. Free-will comes with risk. Free-will does not guarantee reciprocal love, it only makes it possible. Hate or indifference are also possible.

To help man understand this God deliberately made man incomplete. He made Adam whole at first but then removed a part of him:

“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” (Gen. 2:21-22)

So man and woman were drawn together in love and by this learned also love toward God… true love born out of free will… free will that also made possible disobedience… sin… and the consequence of sin: death.

close up of fruits hanging on tree

Well, we know what happened. Along came the tempter, the prohibition was challenged, the punishment begun. First there was immediate death of relationship. Adam and Eve now hid from God… ashamed of their differences they covered themselves. But their coverings were insufficient. Sin required death… one’s own, or a substitute. And God taught them this truth by offering the first sacrifice to cover sin… by slaying innocent animals and clothing man and woman with their skins. (Interesting isn’t it that we call animal skins “hides” for that became their atoning function.)

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This much we know from scripture; what comes next can come only by reasonable assumption. These coverings for sin could only be temporary. They did not remove the corruption now within mankind. Further sins were now our tendency and physical death remained our earthly reality. Until Christ provided His act of ultimate redemption other sacrifices were needed. So it seems reasonable to assume that God instructed Adam and Eve in these principles, and that they in turn taught their children.

Thus, Cain and Abel would clearly have understood that the only acceptable offering required shed blood. In choosing to offer otherwise Cain chose disobedience and his fellowship with God remained broken.

We read further if this in the New Testament book of Hebrews:

“By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead…. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb. 11:4, 6).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/8/19 – Friday Tough Question

Do I currently need “revival?”

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When my life is in obvious turmoil and I am acutely aware something is wrong I desperately desire the thing be made right. During such times I seek God most earnestly… I plead for His transformative intervention! “Please God, fix this!” There is “me,” the needy child of God, and there is “it,” the wrong thing I desire be made right. In these trials I see the matter clearly.

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But there are other times, times when life goes on “as normal”… comfortable and familiar times during which I sense nothing wrong at all. In these times I do not seek God so urgently. Nothing appears broken; nothing needs repair. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” goes the popular saw. In these times I may sense no pressing need… no need for “revival.”

“If you were wrong would you want to know it?” asks renowned TV personality Dr. Phil McGraw.

orange and black frog

God comes into one’s life not to help one go on “as normal,” but to bring one to dwell on a much higher place… far, far above “normal.” What we call “normal” is merely that corner of the frog swamp that has been most recently familiar to us. But God is transforming us, changing us from frogs into princes and princesses… creatures no longer fit for ponds but for palaces.

CS Lewis cites George MacDonald,

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. – CS Lewis [citing George MacDonald], Mere Christianity

perspective of a n old building with renaissance architectural design

Is nothing broken? Is nothing in need of repair?… in need of improvement?… or perhaps needing abandonment or replacement?

“If you were wrong would you want to know it?” asks the Great Doctor. Are you in need of “revival?”

Some questions are their own answers.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

20191103_152246This week at Lincoln Baptist Church you have a wonderful opportunity to seek the Lord. Join us for the Sermonindex Revival Conference — in person, or online. Go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website for details

Friday, 11/1/19 – Friday Tough Question

Why isn’t God blessing me?

apartment bed carpet chair

I woke up early this morning again, 03:15 I think. I had slept propped up on the living room couch to help drain my sinuses and so not to disturb my wife with my tossing and coughing. It was a comfortable rest, with a roof over my head and warmth and silence. For these I was thankful.

black shower head switched on

I was thankful too that all my limbs were working. I stood to my feet thankful to the Lord that I can. Just a few steps away was a warm and clean shower and I was grateful for that. Others are not so blessed. Others sleep on pavement in cold alley nooks, in trash bins, under bridges, or on floors by ATMs. Others awoke to shift to a wheelchair or a walker by the bed. Some woke to life support machines with oxygen masks and IV lines.

rectangular white island table in kitchen

Just a few steps more to a well-stocked fridge, cupboards not bare and fresh brewed coffee. A good breakfast and I thanked the Lord for them all. For tastebuds and digestive system, fullness and warmth. Fresh clothing, and nourishment from God’s Word, the privilege of prayer and the purpose for living. For these all I was grateful.

Outdoors to walk nature trails, a friend in a coffee shop, and sunsets and deer, and house pets, and laughing children. Above all a wife who loves and gives, a heritage of godly parents, a family of God. For all these I see I am most blessed.

The Blessing of Unanswered Prayers

Unknown Confederate soldier

I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.*

Dare I pray for anything more, then use that request as a gauge of God’s goodness? God owes me nothing. All I am and have comes from Him. If I ask “Why isn’t God blessing me?” I am asking amiss. I am asking out of greed, tempting God. I will have forgotten how to be grateful.

Press on…

*https://www.beliefnet.com/prayers/protestant/gratitude/the-blessing-of-unanswered-prayers.aspx#RXYwOYaPw3PdyhOC.99

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.