Friday, 8/23/19 – Tough Question – Why those plagues?

Why were the plagues upon Egypt chosen?

I must admit this is a question which I had never before considered. But, God being God, it is unlikely that the plagues He chose to send upon Egypt in efforts to break Pharaoh and cause him to allow the Hebrews to leave were chosen at random. Indeed, a deeper look at the ten plagues reveals much more…

closeup photography of green grasshopper

First, the very fact that there were ten of them is significant. Ten, in scripture, represents fullness and completeness. As we will see, the ten plagues demonstrated to the Egyptians God’s complete authority over the false ‘gods’ of Egypt. And just as God judged Pharaoh, his people and their gods with ten plagues, so He soon after gives His own people the Ten Commandments which if broken incur His judgement upon them as well.

The Egyptians had many false gods. The ten plagues as we will see were a direct demonstration of God’s power over their imagined ‘gods’ of the land.

1. The Nile becomes blood (Ex. 7:14-25). ‘Isis’ was the Egyptian god of the Nile, ‘Khnum’ was the guardian of the Nile, and ‘Hapi’ was a water bearing God of the Nile. (Water is the most essential element needed for life.)

20190822_0904502. The plague of frogs (Ex. 8:1-5). ‘Heket,’ or ‘Heget’ was the Egyptian god of fertility and renewal and had the head of a frog.

3. The plague of gnats (Ex. 8:16-19). The Egyptian god ‘Geb,’ was the god the dust of the earth; ‘Set’ was god of the desert.

20190822_0905164. The plague of flies (Ex. 8:20-32). ‘Re’ was the sun god. ‘Khepri’ was a god with the head of a fly. ‘Uatchit’ may also have been a god represented by the fly.

5. The death of livestock (Ex. 9:1-7). ‘Hathor,’ goddess of love and protection, had the head of a cow. ‘Apis’ was the bull god.

20190822_0905446. The plague of boils (Ex. 9:8-12). ‘Isis’ was considered a goddess of medicine and peace. ‘Sekmet’ was believed by the Egyptians to be a goddess with power over disease. ‘Sunu’ a god of pestilence.

7. The plague of hail (Ex. 9:13-35). ‘Nut’ was the goddess of the sky. ‘Set’ was the god of storms.

8. The plague of locusts (Ex. 10:1-20). ‘Osiris’ was god of the crops. ‘Seth’ was an Egyptian god of storms and disorder. (The locusts came like a dark cloud in the skies and created a havoc worse than any Hitchcock film!)

20190822_0906099. The plague of darkness (Ex. 10:21-29). ‘Ra’ and ‘Horus’ were Egyptian sun gods and ‘Hathor’ was a goddess of the sky.

10. The death of the firstborn (Ex. 11:1-12:30). ‘Min’ was believed a god of reproduction and ‘Isis’ also a protector of children. Through this final plague the Passover was also instituted foreshadowing the sacrificial Lamb of God Who would deliver His children from eternal destruction.

Through all these plagues Jehovah God demonstrated His ultimate authority over all man-made idols and so-called ‘gods,’ over Pharaoh (also considered a god), over nature, and over sin. Ultimately we must all bow to Him. – Have you?

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:31)

Press on…

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

Thursday, 8/22/19 – Discipleship – The Bible

Logos, Rhema, and Graphe!

These are three Greek words often rendered “word” in English Bible translations. This is not due to a laziness in the linguists but rather to a limitation in the language – the English language. Greek is very rich. Many Greek words contain nuances of meaning which similar words in many other tongues do not. Logos, Rhema and Graphe are examples of this.

20190821_143817Logos is God, the Word, the third Person of the Trinity “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” (John 1:1-4)

The Logos has been expressed (i) creativelyAnd God said, ‘Let there be…’” (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26), (ii) prophetically through the O.T. prophets, and lastly (iii) incarnately (in flesh) through Jesus Christ: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Heb. 1:1-2).

Jesus is the incarnate Logos (Word, God), the Logos (Word, God) in bodily person, the Logos (Word, God) made flesh.

In Rev 19:13 John sees Jesus as a great Warrior riding upon a white horse. The rider is called Faithful and True. His eyes are like fire, on His head are many crowns, and He wears a blood-dipped robe. Who is He? “His name,” writes John, “is the Word [Logos] of God.

20190821_143704Graphe is the written text, the Logos inscribed, the scriptures, the ‘Holy Writ,’ the collected scriptures which form the Bible. In most English Bibles ‘graphe’ is translated ‘scripture,’ but in current usage Christians also call the Scriptures ‘The Word.’ The Bible is unique in many ways, it is like no other writings. It is inspired (in-Spirit-ed). God is its Author using human writers who “were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” (1 Peter 1:21 – NLT). We could think of it like this: The Logos (Word, God) gave men the Rhema (Word, Revelation) and the men penned the Graphe (Word, Scripture).

20190821_143740Rhema is the spoken or revealed Word. Have you ever experienced a text “leaping out at you,” perhaps bringing you great comfort, assurance, peace or conviction? That is a clear example of the Rhema of God. Specific Truth from the Graphe (written word) is made alive by the Holy Spirit (becomes Rhema) and applied to the reader’s heart and mind.

My sheep hear My voice,” said Jesus (John 10:27). But “the person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:14).

This is why it is important to pray before reading the scriptures, to pray as the psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Psalm 119:18), pray that God would grant you spiritual illumination, that He would reveal to you the Rhema you need today from the Graphe of God.

Press on…

Note: If I’ve lost you in today’s blog don’t you worry about it one bit! Just pray, keep reading your Bible, and press on in knowing and loving Jesus!

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 8/21/19 – Pressing on…

“Lord save!”

Screenshot_20190820-174351The story is found in Matthew 14:22-32. You know it. The disciples are in a boat far from land. It is night and there is a storm. Jesus is not with them. Last they knew He was away praying. The men struggle through the night, then, near dawn they see Jesus… on the water… walking toward them! Terrified, they think it a ghost but Jesus calls out “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (v.27).

With the Lord’s permission Peter steps out… onto the water. It supports him! He begins to step toward Christ, eyes fixed upon Him. One step, two, three. Soon he is as far from the boat as he is to Jesus. He sees the waves, the storm, thinks for a second of the impossibility of what he is doing! He begins to sink.

20190818_151254Peter was “in over his head” and the only way out was to “lay hold” on Christ, to submit to His strength and His solution. Peter was “in over his head” and his only way out was to be “out under Christ’s Head.” Jesus was already reaching down, already responding to Peter’s two word shout. Peter had only to reach up, to grasp hold of, and present himself to be grasped by, Christ.

Paul’s new life ambition was similar. He wrote, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Phil. 3:12). Paul had learned he needed to “lay hold” of Christ not only for salvation, or when “in over his head,” but daily, moment by moment, as a way of life… as a way of self death. As he explained to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

20190820_065550We must “let go” of self to “lay hold” of Christ. Augustine once said, “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.”

It is a simple thing really. So simple a two-year-old can grasp it… grasp Him.

“Abide in Me,” said Jesus. That means live in Me. Stay living in Me. Live your life out of that abiding place. Saint Patrick put it like this:

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

The Christian (Christ-ian) has been “raised with Christ.” His sinful (sin-filled) self has no place in heaven. It is dead — and it is dying. Now your life is something new — is becoming something new. Now “…you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3).

It is a simple thing: Grasp Jesus!

Press on…

Tuesday, 8/20/19 – Pressing on…

I am, therefore You are

20190819_073627

I am a father. I have one daughter and one son. That is what they are. They each possess certain traits or characteristics like mine because they are each partly the result of my genetic make-up. Because of who and what I am, so they each are — at least partly — who and what they are.

In his message this past Sunday Pastor Andrew referenced the seven “I am” statements of Jesus.

1. “I am the Bread of Life.” (John 6:35)
2. “I am the Light of the world.” (John 8:12; 9:5)
3. “I am the Gate.” (John 10:7)
4. “I am the Good Shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14)
5. “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” (John 11:25)
6. “I am the Way, Truth and the Life. (John 14:6)
7. “I am the True Vine.” (John 15:1, 5)

Jesus also made several “You are” statements about us. I found seven of these also. He said…

1. “You are the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13)
2. “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14)
3. “You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:31; Luke 12:7)
4. “You are witnesses…” (Luke 24:48)
5. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” (John 8:31); “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
6. “I am the vine; you are the branches. (John 15:5)
7. “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14)

light sunset people water

And just as Jesus did NOT say He was “the way to” the Bread of Life, the Light, the Gate, etc… so too with us. Jesus does NOT ask us if we would “like to be” salt, or light, or witnesses, etc. He simply says that we ARE these things. So, since we are these things, we had better see to it that we ARE them well.

So, how do we ensure that we will demonstrate these things? We “lay hold” of Jesus. We pursue Him, though He seems to be somewhat further ahead. We run on a bit, we “press on” though now there may be muck or storm or wind against us… even bullies — or bullets.

Others have done as valiantly

“…others who were tortured… Some faced j6eers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (Heb. 11:36-38).

photo of child reading holy bible

Aggressively pursue Jesus! It is a simple thing, so simple a child can do it… in fact a childlike trust is required. He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)

Cry out to Jesus, “Abba… Father!” Bawl and shout as a child in distress calls to its parent. As Jesus did in the garden to His Father. “Lay hold” of Him. And once having laid hold, never let go. He will bring you safely through, and home.

You too, if you place your hope in Christ, whatever you currently feel like, you ARE a child of God.

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the Aug. 18 message.

Monday, 8/19/19 – Pressing on…

Aggressive Pursuit

20190818_163642

It was 25 years ago (June 17, 1994) the infamous white Bronco owned and driven by OJ’s friend Al Cowling sped along the Santa Ana Freeway. OJ Simpson hid in the back pointing a gun to his head while California Highway Patrol followed in pursuit. The chase lasted over 2 hours across 60 miles of three LA freeways. Above, seven TV news helicopters delivered the drama to over 95 million on live TV.

Click HERE to see a clip of the chase…

At 7:57 PM Simpson arrive at his home in Brentwood. He was finally taken into custody less than an hour later and subsequently charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

20190818_164423While this may not have been the most aggressive pursuit, it must certainly rank among the largest and longest. I couldn’t locate the total number of police cruisers involved in the chase, but 14 appear in the photo above. I’d call that a pretty “aggressive pursuit,” wouldn’t you?

This past Sunday pastor Andrew Violette urged us toward an “aggressive pursuit” of Jesus… to “lay hold” upon Him, like a police constable might “lay hold” on a suspect to arrest him.

In fact, in the Old Testament, this is how the phrase is often used: The parents of a rebellious son would “lay hold” on him and bring him to the elders for punishment (Deut. 21:18-21). Jeroboam sought to “lay hold” on the prophet of God (1 Kings 13:4). Isaiah speaks of young lions which roar and “lay hold” of the prey (Isa. 5:29).

But in the New Testament we read such entreaties as “Lay hold” on eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12, 19), and “lay hold” of the hope God has promised us. We need to “lay hold” of Jesus and He will “lay hold” of us. James writes,

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” (Jas. 4:8 – NLT).

Hold tightly to Him. Let His Spirit flow through you. Surrender to say and do things that may surprise you.

More tomorrow…

Friday, 8/16/19 – Tough Question – Why Sunday?

Why do Christians worship on Sunday?

grayscale photo of people raising their hands

Well, not all do. The Seventh-day Adventists, as their name suggests, gather together on the Biblical “seventh day,” which is indeed the Sabbath – the Old Testament “day of rest.”

It’s beginnings date back to creation itself. In Genesis 1 we read how God first speaks into being light, then substance and land, sun, moon, stars, sea creatures, flying beings, and land animals. Finally, on the sixth day, God makes man… in His own image… and all things He calls “good.”

Then, in chapter 2 we read,

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Gen. 2:2-3).

This becomes a template for human behavior, a tenet of the foundational Ten Commandments:

green trees under gray mountain

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exod. 20:8-11).

Sabbath day observance continued amongst the Jews right up to the time of Christ. In fact, Jesus Himself regularly attended the synagogue on the Sabbath. “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” (Luke 4:16). He even chose the Sabbath day to announce the start of His earthly ministry (see Luke 4:16-30).

shallow focus photography of corn field

But the Jews accused Jesus of ‘transgressing’ the Sabbath by ‘working’ on the holy day: plucking corn, teaching, healing the sick… In response Jesus announced “I tell you that something greater than the temple is here… For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matt. 12:6, 8)

Jesus did His greatest work of all, rising from the grave, on the day following the Sabbath, on the first day of the week, Sunday. In doing so He defeated death, and ensured the triumphant resurrection of all believers. He fulfilled all the Law and brought the dawn of the Age of Grace. New wineskins, if you will (see Matt. 9:17).

big ben

At first the early church met daily in homes. As the church grew some sort of structure became necessary, that everything be done “decently and in order” Through the epistles we see the emergence of leadership structure, care for widows, basic creeds to distinguish truth from heresy, ordinances of baptism and the Lords Supper, plus the collection of tithes and offerings, etc. We soon see the early church beginning to meet together on “the first day of the week”…

Luke records, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7), and Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.” (1 Cor. 16:1-2).

Interestingly the exiled Apostle John also received the great revelation of God on the first day of the week, now known as “the Lord’s day.” He records, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…” (Rev. 1:10).

appointment black calendar countdown

Moving from the Sabbath (Saturday) to the Lord’s day (Sunday) also helped to further distinguish the followers of Jesus from the followers of Judaism, i.e. those who now lived by faith in Christ from those who rejected Him as Messiah and continued in the way of legalism. Perhaps too this allowed some believers to still attend the synagogue on the Sabbath and possibly reach out to the legalists.

Finally, it is important that believers in Christ do not become contentious over this topic. Scripture clearly directs us,

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord… Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.” (Rom. 14:5-6,13)

Press on!

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

Thursday, 8/15/19 – Discipleship – Priorities

purple sky

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33)

When Jesus spoke these words He was not standing in the marketplace referencing the abundant exchanges of goods and cash. He was not standing before the courts of Caesar or the entry of the Synagogue pointing towards the powers of rulers or religion. When Jesus promised “all these things” He was not promising wealth, or fame, or prestige, or political power.

When Jesus spoke these words He was sitting on a hillside, in the barren wilderness of Judea. He had just been teaching on the care and provision of God toward nature.

He had taught that a choice was necessary: “You cannot serve both God and money.” (v. 24) He said. They are opposites. If you love one, you will hate the other.

animal avian beak bird

The one who chooses God, shuns avarice. Nature knows. Unsullied by sin the birds trust; just as there was found a worm today, there will be found a worm tomorrow. For them, tomorrow is of no greater concern than yesterday.

flor flower garden jkakaroto

No flower owns a mirror. It has no need to preen itself upon opening each morning. It merely rejoices in where it is planted, is thankful for the sun as much as for the rain. It pushes its roots deep and takes in all that the Lord provides. God sees to its beauty.

Nature abides confidently in its Creator, but sin has interfered in us.

Oswald Chambers describes our duplicity:

“Even the most spiritually-minded of us argue the exact opposite, saying, ‘But I must live; I must make a certain amount of money; I must be clothed; I must be fed. The great concern of our lives is not the kingdom of God but how we are going to take care of ourselves to live.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 21 entry.)

Now we must “seek” God…. We must keep seeking Him as our priority. We must “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” We must learn again to trust, then, His promise stands, “all these things will be given to you as well.” Like birds and flowers we too may rest in His daily provision of our basic needs. “These things” are all we need, for when we have Him, we want nothing more.

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.