A Daily Basis?

In the latest issue of the Gospel advocate (GA), there is a small piece concerning the amount of time Christians read the Scriptures on a daily basis. The numbers were discouraging.

On a daily basis only 195 of the respondents to a survey said they read and study the Bible; 36% engage in Bible study once a week. “The Christian Post, in an article titled ‘Study: Most Churchgoers Do Not Read Bible on a Daily Basis,’ reported that [the author] felt attributes from the modern American culture influenced the responses… Too many churchgoers want the benefits of salvation without investing in personally knowing Christ and the abundant life he offers” (cited in the GA, November 2012).

There are a number of warnings to be found in Scripture: there is the warning that pertains to failing to live a godly life, there is a warning concerning the Lord’s ultimate return and judgment, and there is a warning pertaining to Jerusalem’s destruction. These warnings exist in order to help people understand particular dangers associated with not listening. Because people fail to heed the Lord’s word it is only to be expected they will fall into the trap of Satan. Why do people refuse to hear? Hosea said: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (4:6, ESV). Two reasons the Lord’s prophet gives us: rejection and forgotten. Hosea spoke to those who were in positions of religious authority. You will note, that destruction is the result of ignorance, and ignorance is the result of refusing to learn from the Lord. Paul said many years late, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

It is a serious matter, and only the fool-hearted person will not take it to heart! Just as the report said, there are many people who go to church and want to be saved by the Lord’s mercy, but these same people are guilty of what Hosea said.

Are we so busy at home that we can’t take time—even twenty minutes each night—to read together as a family, or even individually? Are we so busy with work that when we come home we can’t take that same amount of time to give to the Lord when He so abundantly gave to us? As parents and adults we are able to offer any number of reasons why we didn’t so this or that. Others will express understanding and sympathy. How do you think the Lord will respond to these reasons, especially if the children leave Him who gave so much? I think you know.

#bible-reading, #daily

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Why Sandy Hook?

On Friday, December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, a 20-year-old gunman massacred 20 Sandy Hook Elementary Students, 5 Faculty members, his mother, and then himself. Too late, he took himself out of our misery. The inevitable question is: WHY?

(1) Former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, the next day on Fox TV News noted the answer is “complex,” involving medical, psychological, mental, sociological factors, and anyone who had a simple answer could not be right. (2) Politicians and their Propaganda Press, began their tyrannical mantra of, “all guns must be outlawed.” (3) Even before the precious bodies began to be buried, President Obama did not let this crisis go to waste, and on Sunday opened his address to that stunned community gathering with a Scripture quotation:

 A) “Thank you. Thank you, governor. To all the families, first responders, to the community of Newtown, clergy, guests: Scripture tells us: “…do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away…inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

He also used the occasion to advance his political agenda:

B) “In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” Obama said. “Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard?”

 A response to their remarks follows.

(1) Mayor Giuliani’s comment shows abysmal ignorance of the Word of God. God created humans and knows everything about us; the Bible is the gradual unfolding of the revelation of God and what He provides in our best interest; Jesus Christ is the only personification of perfection in a human being. God condemned the first murderer, Cain, who killed his brother Abel. “Why?” is answered in 1 John 3:11-12: “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” In the entire history of mankind, those who choose to do evil obey the Devil, of whom Jesus Christ said, “”Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:43-44). The simple solution to all evil is that, for whatever reasons, evil is chosen and the Devil obeyed. Jesus Christ is available for everyone who repents and is baptized in His name for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

(2) The Propaganda Press drive a political agenda by reciting its current mantra, without investigating and reporting only the facts. Any horrific crime where a gun is used, “the gun must be outlawed.” Almost every school shooter has been a boy from a broken home. God planned that every child born should have two parents: a male and a female (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6; Colossians 3:18-21). A Government which sanctions divorce for every cause, “legalizes” homosexual “marriages,” and provides welfare for single parents has virtually destroyed the will and need for the home as God would have it. For every “single mother” there is a delinquent dad. But the Propaganda Press completely ignores this fact because they headline their “party line.”

 (3) A) The Scripture the President quoted is 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1, and it comforts in that it emphasizes that the stresses and pains we encounter in this life should not keep us from achieving the greater goal of “an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

However the President of the United States of America, standing before the American Flag and behind the Presidential Seal, in a public school facility, and in his official capacity representing the Executive Branch of the Government, quoted Scripture??? What happened to the “separation of church and state” arguments? The President proved by his quotation that there is NO “Law of the Land” that separates “church and state,” therefore THERE IS NO LEGAL PROHIBITION FOR PREACHING SCRIPTURE, PRAYING, OR OTHER RELIGIOUS PRACTICES IN PUBLIC ASSEMBLIES!!! Since he disregarded all supposed claims that separate church from state, WHY CAN’T ALL CHRISTIANS DO THE SAME?

The President’s quotation was written by an “Apostle of Jesus Christ” and to those whose “sufferings” and “consolation” are connected with Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:1, 5). Was the President being insensitive to other religious groups? Were there no Jews, Muslims, or Atheists present to object to Christian Scripture, or the concepts of “inner man,” or “eternal?” One parent’s objection has been all it has taken to stop such references throughout the rest of the country. Since the President of the United States of America can preach from Scripture written in the name of Jesus Christ in complete disregard for minority objections, THEN WHY CAN’T ALL CHRISTIANS? Those who do not accept the beliefs of the group should simply absent themselves from that group assembly.

That the President would quote Scripture to show concern for these dead children makes one wonder why he doesn’t quote other Scriptures for the living children?

-Has he not read about the Egyptian king who “dealt treacherously” by having babies killed as they were born (Acts 7:17-19)?

-Has he not read how God described how His sparing Jerusalem was like saving a newborn baby that had been “loathed on the day” it was born and thrown to the ground that it might die (Ezekiel 16:1-6)?

-Has he not read that God’s Prophet, Elisha, wept foreseeing a king’s “evil” who “will dash their children, and rip open their women with child” (2 Kings 8:12)?

-When abortion murders millions of babies who, though conceived, were “not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil” (Romans 9:10-11), what is the President doing to prevent “more tragedies like this?”

If the President only quoted Scripture for a political photo-op, then, we must conclude he uses God’s Word to cover selfish ambition, and is “handling the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2). If, however, he believes in God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ, then we must conclude that he’ll “use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this” by Executive Order, thus remove all laws and rulings that presently “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

(3) B) The President said, “We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard?”

-Then how can he accept “as routine” abortion clinics, Planned Parenthood, or The Supreme Court’s ruling that approve the genocide of abortion?

-Then how can he accept “as routine” thousands of American military service personnel who continually die in foreign countries?

-Then how can he accept “as routine” Federal policies that hamper public education (and protection!) of our precious children, that take it out of local, loving hands?

There is no answer or preventative to be found in the institutions of men who “only fix our eyes on what is seen,” and refuse to see the solution offered by the God who cannot be seen about that which we cannot see. Only God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ can prevent more sin.

          —–John T. Polk II

#bible-reading, #church, #god, #jesus-christ, #marriage, #massacre, #preaching, #sin, #worship

Making a list of must-know OT texts

I asked this on Twitter and FB, but you’re probably the best people to ask: What OT texts ought to be included in a list of must-know scriptures? My list permits 56 separate texts. The texts should have more than a single verse, up to 20.

I’m putting together a three-year public reading schedule for congregations, using B.B. Baxter’s “100 Key Scriptures” as a base. He focuses on the NT, so I’m supplementing with passages from the Old, to stretch out to a plan for three years.

We plan sermons, so why not public Scripture readings?

#bible-reading, #public-bible-reading

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Psalm 35

Vs. 1-8 contain David’s appeal for God to deal with his enemies;

Vs. 9-18 depict how merciless those enemies are;

Vs. 19-28 contrast the effects of God’s intervention in the enemies and in David.

David’s frequent appeals for protection from his enemies in his Psalms is a reminder to all of us that the doers of good have always had enemies. Beginning with Cain and Abel (1 John 3:11-13), those obedient to God are hated by those who are not. Jesus Christ, the best man of all explained it: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). Psalm 35:7 no doubt reminded David of Joseph’s brothers (Genesis 37:4,5,8,11,18,23-25) whose “pit” held him till he was sold into Egypt (Acts 7:9). Hatred was in Joseph’s brothers, but not caused by Joseph’s actions. No cheap, tawdry video today causes the hatred that burns in the hearts of those who are taught to believe someone else is blessed by God while they are not. Good-haters are God-haters! “A disciple is not above his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Psalm 35:19 perfectly stated the case for the perfect Savior being hated by the Jews in His day: “”But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause’” (John 15:25).

Verses 9-10 use “poor and the needy” to show heartlessness in those who would overpower the poor and steal from the needy. Verses 11-14 mention that enemies: make false charges (verse 11), “reward me evil for good” (verse 12), and rejoiced at his stumbling (verses 15-16), but “when they were sick” David’s concern was “bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother” (verse 14). David asks God how much longer this will go on (verses 17-18), the same question asked by those Christians killed in the Jewish persecution (Acts 8:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16; Revelation 6:9-11) and answered in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Luke 11:49-51; 21:21-24). It is right and proper to pray that God will deal with evil-doers, both in this life and the one to come. Of those who slander the truth: “Their condemnation is just” (Romans 3:8). Christians’ faith which endures persecutions and tribulations “is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you” (2 Thessalonians 1:5-6).

In verses 19-28, some 5 times, David says, “let them not…” That is, he wants God to stop what they are doing to him. This is not persecution of those who do good, but of those “who are wrongfully my enemies” and deceitfully have “opened their mouth wide against me, And said, ‘Aha, aha! Our eyes have seen it’” (verses 19-21). Anyone today who preaches and teaches only what the Bible says knows this feeling when liars make false charges, and can identify these enemies by name. “”Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). A person is known by his enemies, as well as by his friends! Paul pointed out that anyone who becomes our enemy when we teach the truth may be using “sectarian” tactics to make us like them: “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them” (Galatians 4:16-17). Indeed, this Psalm is timeless in application!

#bible-reading, #bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-reading, #enemies

100 Days of Scripture Day 1

John 1 & 2
Read or listen at:
http://www.biblegateway.com/

Another highly recommended spot for reading and study is https://net.bible.org/#!bible/John+1

#bible-reading

Bible Reading Schedule (April 8-15, 2012)

04/08/12 Sunday Ruth 1-4 Luke 11:29-54
04/09/12 Monday 1 Samuel 1-3 Luke 12:1-34
04/10/12 Tuesday 1 Samuel 4-6 Luke 12:35-59
04/11/12 Wednesday 1 Samuel 7-9 Luke 13:1-21
04/12/12 Thursday 1 Samuel 10-12 Luke 13:22-35
04/13/12 Friday 1 Samuel 13-14 Luke 14:1-24
04/14/12 Saturday 1 Samuel 15-16 Luke 14:25-35
04/15/12 Sunday 1 Samuel 17-18 Luke 15:1-10

#bible-reading

That dead body over which the vultures circle

From stumbling blocks to vultures, Luke 17 presents vigorous teaching by the Master. As today’s NT reading (jump here for the plan), it reminds us that the faith is not a happy-go-lucky lark, but a determined, focused, and deliberate path we follow, guided as we are by the truth of Christ.

People in this world go along doing their own thing, but the shadow of judgment ever looms. Hence, our task of proclamation will include judgment, as we root out sin among ourselves, exercise our faith, do what is but our duty to do, and constantly turn back to the Lord to throw ourselves at his feet in praise and thanksgiving. Because we are not a part of that dead body over which the vultures circle.

#bible-reading, #duty, #faith, #gospel-of-luke, #judgment, #thanksgiving

Chapter by Chapter: Revelation

Ch. 1 – Source of the message / Blessed are those who read & obey / Signification of the message / Shortness of the timeframe / The glorious Christ

Ch. 2 – Letters to the churches at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamus, & Thyatira

Ch. 3 – Letters to the churches at Sardis, Philadelphia, & Laodicaea

Ch. 4 – John summoned to heaven via a vision / Sights in heaven / Song of heaven

Ch. 5 – A sealed book / Lamentation because no one is worthy to open it / Manifestation of the Lamb, worthy to open the book / Exaltation of the Lamb

Ch. 6 – The 1st 6 seals: white horse, red horse, black horse, pale horse, martyred souls under the altar / The great day of His wrath

Ch. 7 – 144,000 sealed / An innumerable host worships God, cared for by the Lamb of God

Ch. 8 – The 7th seal opened (7 trumpets) / Silence in heaven for half an hour / The 1st 4 trumpets sound: (1) hail & fire mingled with blood – third part of trees & all green grass burned up; (2) great mountain burning with fire cast into the sea – third part of the sea becomes blood, third part of sea creatures die, third part of ships destroyed; (3) great star falls from heaven, burning as a lamp (star called Wormwood), fell upon third part of rivers & waters – waters made poison, & many men die; (4) third part of the sun, moon, & stars darkened

Ch. 9 – The 5th trumpet: bottomless pit opened & locusts / The 6th trumpet: 4 angels loosed / No repentance forthcoming

Ch. 10 – John is given a book/scroll, told to eat it (sweet in eating, but bitter in his belly)

Ch. 11 – The temple measured / The 2 witnesses / The 7th trumpet: all heaven worships God

Ch. 12 – The woman, the child, & the dragon / Satan cast out of heaven / The woman persecuted

Ch. 13 – The beast from the sea / The beast from the earth

Ch. 14 – The Lamb & the 144,000 redeemed / Proclamations of 3 angels / Reaping the earth’s harvest & reaping the grapes of wrath

Ch. 15 – Prelude to the 7 bowl judgments

Ch. 16 – The 7 bowls: (1) loathsome sores; (2) sea turned to blood; (3) waters turned to blood; (4) men are scorched; (5) darkness & pain; (6) Euphrates dried up; (7) earth utterly shaken

Ch. 17 – The great harlot & the scarlet beast / Meaning of the harlot & the beast

Ch. 18 – The fall of Babylon the great / The world mourns Babylon’s fall / The finality of Babylon’s fall

Ch. 19 – Heaven rejoices over Babylon’s fall / The triumphant Christ on a white horse / Defeat of the beast & his armies

Ch. 20 – Satan bound for 1000 years / Souls of martyred saints reign with Christ for 1000 years / Satan cast into the lake of fire & brimstone / The final judgment

Ch. 21 – New heaven & new earth / Those who will be cast into the lake of fire & brimstone / The new Jerusalem

Ch. 22 – The river of life & description of heaven / Jesus’ final invitation & warning / Benediction

#bible-reading, #bible-study, #nt-chapter-by-chapter

Chapter by Chapter: 3 John

Ch. 1 – Encouraging Gaius (desire for his prosperity, no greater joy than to hear of children walking in truth) / Egotistical Diotrephes / Exemplary Demetrius

#bible-reading, #bible-study, #nt-chapter-by-chapter

Chapter by Chapter: 2 John

Ch. 1 – Love one another / Walk after His commandments / Beware deceivers – don’t receive them or bid them Godspeed

#bible-reading, #bible-study, #nt-chapter-by-chapter

Chapter by Chapter: 1 John

Ch. 1 – Jesus, the life & light of Christians

Ch. 2 – Jesus, the Advocate with the Father / To know Him is to keep His commandments / Love one another / Love not the world / Antichrist = one who denies Jesus is the Christ

Ch. 3 – God’s love in making us His children / Live righteously because you’re God’s children / Love one another

Ch. 4 – Test the spirits / Love one another – it shows that we love God & you can’t say you love God if you don’t love your brother

Ch. 5 – The love of God = keeping His commandments / Faith is the victory / These things written that you may know that you have eternal life

#bible-reading, #bible-study, #nt-chapter-by-chapter

Chapter by Chapter: John 17-21

Ch. 17 – Jesus’ prayer:  (1) for Himself, that He might be glorified; (2) for the apostles; (3) for all believers; & (4) for unity

Ch. 18 – Judas’ betrayal / Peter’s denial / Jesus before Pilate / “My kingdom is not of this world”

Ch. 19 – Jesus is crucified (side pierced to confirm death) / Jesus is buried

Ch. 20 – Jesus is risen! – appears to Mary Magdalene, 10 apostles (without Thomas), & Thomas (along with the other 10) / Purpose of the book – that we might believe!

Ch. 21 – The 153 fish (3rd appearance to apostles as a group) / Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him / The writer’s witness of Jesus

#bible-reading, #bible-study, #nt-chapter-by-chapter

Chapter by Chapter: John 13-16

Ch. 13 – Jesus washes apostles’ feet / Jesus predicts Judas’ betrayal…he leaves to betray Jesus / Command to love one another

Ch. 14 – Jesus: the Way, Truth, Life / The Father revealed through Jesus / Jesus encourages the apostles, promises the Comforter

Ch. 15 – Jesus, the True Vine & the apostles, the branches / Branches must bear fruit / Jesus warns of persecution

Ch. 16 – Jesus must go away, but He will send the Comforter

#bible-reading, #bible-study, #nt-chapter-by-chapter

The shock of divine love

One of the wonderful blessings of working with non-Christians and new Christians is seeing the effect that the Word has upon hearts. Looking through their eyes at a passage of Scripture helps me to gain new perspective.

I’ve read the Bible since before I can remember. It was the first book put into my hands as a child. I can’t remember not hearing and reading it. So when someone reads the Bible for the first time, their reactions remind me of the power God has put into this book.

Last night during the reading of 1 Cor. 13, there were physical reactions when the realization hit that this kind of love is what we’re called to show to others: furrowing of the brow, tightening of the chest, eyes widening in amazement, the body first leaning forward, then collapsing against the sofa.

It’s a shock. And one that old timers like me need to feel now and again as well. Lest we forget.

#bible-reading, #christian-love

Chapter by Chapter: John 9-12

Ch. 9 – Jesus heals a blind man / The Jews persist in their unbelief

Ch. 10 – “I am the Good Shepherd / The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep

Ch. 11 – “I am the resurrection & the life” / Lazarus raised from the dead / Pharisees debate what to do about Jesus

Ch. 12 – Mary anoints Jesus / Jesus enters Jerusalem / Time for the Son to be glorified / Jesus, the light of the world – His word will judge those who reject Him

#bible-reading, #bible-study, #nt-chapter-by-chapter