Why keep Jesus weeping?

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 563 • September 13, 2020

WHY KEEP JESUS WEEPING?

Scripture records three occasions on which Jesus wept. Each teaches a different lesson and raises a different question about our relationship with Jesus. We will look briefly at each of the three and then ask a few direct and pertinent questions. Continue reading

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Are you a stumbling block or a building block for Jesus?

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 562 • September 13, 2020

ARE YOU A STUMBLING BLOCK OR A BUILDING BLOCK FOR JESUS?

QUESTION: “What is a stumbling block and what does it mean to be a stumbling block to someone else? What should you do if you encounter a stumbling block?”

A stumbling block is anything, whether or not designed and intended as such, that will cause one to go astray, to stumble, fall, or fail in a required task or required path or to make a mistake for which he can be held accountable. In the midst of a series of laws regulating the treatment of others we find this: “Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:14). Obviously, putting a rock or brick or some other hazard or object to cause stumbling in front of a blind person is cruel, but the New Testament takes the practical adage and turns it into a spiritual metaphor. Continue reading

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How would Jesus vote?

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 561 • September 7, 2020

HOW WOULD JESUS VOTE?*

Maybe you think Jesus wouldn’t vote, that he would not let himself be soiled with the chicanery and megalomaniacal egotism of modern politics. He probably would not recommend any politician and would surely not endorse any political party. There were two or three major political parties in his day and he found fault with them – he never said any of them could be trusted. Now do not chastise me for calling them political parties and remind me that Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, and Herodians were religious, not secular.

The truth is, they were more concerned about their sectarian standing than they were about the nation of Jews and the will of God. They pushed their own agenda, not God’s. Jesus said they were more concerned about their own traditions than about God’s word – they actually made the word of God ineffective by their traditions, interpretations and applications of it (Mt. 15:9). They professed spirituality but it was superficial and hypocritical (Mt. 23:13-33). They were not promoting the kingdom of God on earth and to that extent they could be called enemies of God. Continue reading

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Secure your heart by putting on the whole armor of God

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 560 • August 26, 2020

SECURE YOUR HEART BY PUTTING ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD
Ephesians 6:10-20

We will all stand naked before God in judgment. But it is not safe to stand naked before our spiritual enemies with nothing to hide behind and nothing to protect us from the devices designed to destroy us. We should not remain ignorant of the enemies of God and the dangers they present to us, nor of our available defenses against them. We preach and teach rightly that one is not safe and secure forever after initial salvation. It is possible for a once-saved person to fall away and be eternally lost. Holding to the doctrine of impossibility of apostasy and eternal security – the popular “once saved always and eternally saved” doctrine, is not “obeying the gospel” but is in fact a “denial and disobedience to the gospel.” Multitudes of people become Christians, and multitudes fall away from the Lord. Many are saved but far too many of the saved fall away and are lost again. Continue reading

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DEFILING THE TEMPLE OF GOD – Part 2

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 559
September 1, 2020

DEFILING THE TEMPLE OF GOD – Part 2

Question: In 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 how can a person’s works be burned up but he himself can still be saved as by fire and indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

The local congregation of the church, also the universal church which is made up of all congregational groupings of Christians, can be defiled and rendered unfit to serve as a temple of God and His Holy Spirit. It may be the result of corporate action by the congregation itself, but it can be done by individual members. Both are common threats to which many who profess to be Christians, members of local churches and/or denominations, though sincere and earnest are ignorant and blind. Without intending it, and often without knowing it, the individual or the group can make it impossible for God to accept them and dwell in them. That danger – that reality – is the focus of this part of our answer to a question stated in Part 1 of the essay, concerning Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 3:15-16. To discuss it properly we have to note the context, 3:9-17. Paul uses two metaphors of the Christian and the church. Continue reading

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What kind of mask?

GERALD COWAN’S PESONAL PERIODICALS • Number 557 • August 26, 2020

ARE YOU WEARING A MASK? IF SO, WHAT KIND AND WHY?

“Who was that masked man? …. people asked as the Lone Ranger shouted, “Hi-yo Silver, awa-a-a-a-a-ay,” and rode away from the scene of his latest act of heroism. A simple black mask kept his identity secret. Is that the purpose of wearing a mask today, to keep others from knowing who you really are?

Because of the current health threat the prescribed and often required mask is not to hide your identity – people recognize each other even with those masks in place – but to protect you from persons who are infected with or may be asymptomatic carriers of something you do not want to share, but also to protect other persons from you, in case you are infected or carrying something others do not want to share. But these Covid-19 masks do not hide the eyes or other identifying features of the face. They may be compliance masks, or awareness masks, but they do not reveal more about us than that. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #hypocrisy, #masks

Does anybody have the right to be wrong?

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 555

August 18, 2020

DOES ANYBODY HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE WRONG?

A riverboat captain asked the riverboat pilot, “Do you know where every sandbar and rock is in this river?” “No, I don’t,” the pilot said. “Then how do you dare to pass yourself off as a pilot?” “I do not have to know every rock, sandbar, and other hazard on the river. I know what I need to know – I know where the safe channel is.”

I do not know everything, about anything. I don’t even know a little bit about everything. There are many things about which I know nothing, nothing at all. I am not an authority, even on Bible things. I do not know all there is to know about the church, the plan of salvation, worship, qualifications and work of elders, deacons, and evangelists – not even everything involved in living a faithful Christian life. But I do know and understand some things that are essential to one’s life in Christ. I know the way that is safe and cannot be wrong. I may not be able to tell you everything you ought to avoid, but I can tell you what you must do to be saved and stay safe.

Nobody has the right to be wrong – at least not in religion. Do not confuse the ability to choose with the right to be wrong – saying “the right to be wrong” implies there will be no negative consequences, no penalties or punishments. Nothing wrong can be defended or justified. Nothing wrong or invalid is worth having. Continue reading

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False advertising by Christians

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 554

August 16, 2020

LORD, MAKE OUR LEAVES GREEN

What is expected of fruit trees, maybe not so much from wild trees but certainly domesticated trees, planted and tended? Fruit. That’s the purpose of planting the tree, that’s what is expected in due season. One does not plant fruit trees for their leaves, their bark, or for firewood. No matter the particular the kind of tree, the reason for planting and tending it is that it produce its proper fruit. Jesus told a parable about an unproductive fig tree (Luke 13:6-9). It was not a wild tree but rather one planted and tended in the vineyard or garden of the landowner. In the season of harvest the owner looked for fruit from the tree but there was none. He spoke to the gardener, the one tending to that tree and other trees, vines, etc in the vineyard. “This fig tree,” he said, “has no fruit. For three years I have sought figs on it and found none. Cut it down and remove it. Why should it use the ground – it burdens the ground and deprives other growing things of what the ground gives?” There is no indication that the tree had been neglected by the gardener, no evidence that it was diseased or harmed and hindered by other plants in the garden. It was simply unproductive – a barren tree that had no proper fruit. It might have been a decent shade tree – there is evidence that sitting under one’s own fig tree was comforting, evidence perhaps of some prosperity and well-being (Micah 4:4). But the reason for having fig trees, exactly the same as the reason for having grape vines, date palms, or any other vine or tree or plant: for the fruit they can produce. When the land owner said of the unproductive fig tree in his garden that it should be cut down, the gardener pleaded for it: “Let me fertilize it and irrigate it properly and give it another year to become productive. If it fails, then it certainly should be removed.” Note: is God giving evidence that He is a Lord of second chances, that He makes it possible for past failures to become present or future successes? We like to think so. But even if that is so, let nobody presume it means one will be spared forever. Is He saying that unfruitful members of His kingdom family will end up in the fire if, after suitable care, provision, and tending they do not bear proper fruit? See John 15:1-11. Continue reading

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Don’t over-estimate or under-estimate your value

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS

Number 553

August 12, 2020

DON’T OVER-ESTIMATE YOUR VALUE. DON’T UNDER-ESTIMATE IT EITHER.

I suppose nearly every preacher has found chapter 12, verse 2 of Paul’s letter to the Romans to be an ideal sermon text — its admonitory nature and value for edification are self-evident. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. I particularly like the paraphrase of J. B. Phillips. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remold your minds from within. I heard someone say it this way: “Let God reshape you from the inside out.”

Taken in its own context it is an easy practical sermon, isn’t it? Verse 1 suggests that, if or since or because you have experienced and appreciate the mercy, goodness, and grace of the giving God you should give back in service to Him whatever you have and whatever you are. Verse 2 urges that you allow God to work in you, with you, and through you so that what you give and do will always be according to His will. Continue reading

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