Lessons from Romans (these things)

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)

There are two questions here; the second is a popularly quoted verse… but consider the first question – what are ‘these things’?

Let us consider some ‘things’ that come before this verse

  • No condemnation now for us (v1)
  • We are free the law of sin and death (v2)
  • We have, indwelling us, the same Spirit that raised up Jesus, and he shall revive our mortal bodies (v11)
  • We have been adopted by the Father (v15)
  • We are thus His children (v16)
  • And, therefore, joint heirs with Christ (v17)
  • Unimaginable glory is awaiting us (v18)
  • The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us (v26)
  • God is managing/working the things which occur for good (v28)

Wow! What a list to praised Him for!

Some may be opposed to us, but with God being “for” us, they cannot be against us successfully!

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Arrogance?

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

I like this verse, especially for what it does not say.

It does not say “He that believeth on Him will not be condemned as long as he holds on”.

If one has trusted in Jesus Christ (the “him” of the verse), one “is” (present state) not condemned. This is why people can stand on this verse and say that they know they are saved; this is not arrogance: it is merely standing upon what God’s word says.

The second part of this verse is also pretty solemn: it’s another “is” (present state). The one who does not believe already has a known outcome: he is “condemned already”. Not even a large pile of good works can change this state. (As an aside, I believe that the Bible infers that the degree of punishment suffered by a non-believer can be mitigated by the good works he does).

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Burned Them

I appreciate the people who follow my musings!


This thought came from the following verse: And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them. (2 Sam 5:21)

(Feel free to read vv 17-21 to get the context; essentially, David and his men, following God’s directions, beat the Philistines, and found the ‘images’ (gods) left behind by the Philistines and burned them.

As a side note, I’m glad that I don’t have a God made by my hands that can be left behind. The God of the Bible is great and mighty.

I was fascinated by this idea of David and his men burning the images… because these images were some of the gods of the Philistines, they probably used very good materials and spent time and effort making these images. David and his men could have kept the images and sold them back to the Philistines, or possibly taken out any precious metals or jewels to use for another purpose. It would have been pretty easy to rationalize keeping them.

It makes me think of another instance in Acts 19 in which the people who had turned to God brought their books of spells and other such things, and burned them. You

I wonder how this would work today – would we have the courage to burn such valuable (albeit wicked) things? Or would be put them up for sale on eBay because “hey, we could use the money to help God’s work”. I doubt if any of us have things as valuable as the books that the people burned – 50,000 pieces of silver is a huge sum of money.

Just a thought.

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Christmas Story Thoughts

Let me wish all those that read this a Merry Christmas! (albeit a trifle late)

The Christmas story is known to many people; however, although Christians are supposed to be people of the Book (the Bible), we are often influenced by other things around us. Here are some things I used to think about Christmas until I put aside Christmas stories and shows, and just looked at what the Bible says (in no particular order):

  • There was no angelic chorus singing at Jesus’ birth: I had always assumed that this happened; when I read some comment that angels don’t sing, I thought the writer was wrong, and looked at the Biblical narrative to prove him wrong. However, what the Bible actually says is that one angel appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth (incidentally, that is why “The First Noel” begins The first noel the angel [not angels] did say…) with the well-known: Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. After that, the angel was joined by a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying [not singing]. I also find it interesting that the Scripture says “a multitude of the heavenly host” instead of “a multitude of angels”. That implies to me that the multitude was something different than the lone angel.

  • The wise men did not visit the baby Jesus in the manger. This is certain from a comparison of the visit from the shepherds and the wise men. The shepherds found the babe lying in a manger. The wise men came into the house [not manger] and saw the young child [not babe] with Mary his mother. Moreover, Herod had quizzed the wise men about when the saw the star in the east, and when he had all of the children two years and younger killed, it was according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

  • Despite the song “We Three Kings”, don’t know that there were three of them, nor do we know that they are kings (and they probably weren’t). The Bible merely calls them “wise men”. There were three gifts given, but that doesn’t imply three of them. Many believe that these were descendants of the Babylonians, Persians, or Medes – they would have had access to Daniel’s prophecies about the Messiah, including the timing of His birth.

  • Despite the popular imagery, we don’t know that Mary was riding a donkey. There is no donkey listed in the story; however, that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t one. People reasoning for the donkey would note that Mary, being as close to giving birth as she was, would have needed something. Against that is the indications that Joseph and Mary were very poor (based upon her purification offering). We should not be dogmatic in places where the Scripture isn’t clear.

I hope you enjoyed these notes. Feel free to leave a comment if you think of any others.

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Types of Preaching

For several years, I have heard preachers talk about ‘Bible preaching’ in contrast to ‘preaching that tickles the ears of the listeners’. This latter expression comes from the following Bible verses:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (II Timothy 4:3-4)

I was pondering this recently, and have concluded that these two types mentioned leave out an important consideration.

Bible preaching is preaching what the Scripture says; not changing the message because of who is/may be listening. (There are many things it is not; however, far better writers that I have discussed this issue, and it is not the point of this entry).

The contrast are the so-called preachers who do pay attention to who is in the audience.

One result of this kind of preaching is the ear-tickling type already discussed; this type of preacher doesn’t want to offend people in the audience, avoids controversies, and gives warnings in generalities.

The other kind of preaching is the one that is often overlooked: it is the preacher who usurps the role of the Holy Spirit. This kind of preacher believes (as evidenced by his actions) that it is his job to bring conviction and cause change in the members’ lives. He may say that they are God’s people, but he really considers them ‘his’ people to mold as he sees fit. His ‘preaching’ is aimed at getting people to change (instead of teaching what the Scripture says and allowing the Holy Spirit to make changes). This type of preaching is often described (humorously, but perhaps with a semblance of truth) as stomps on my/your toes or rips my/your face off. These expressions have no basis in Scripture and do not fit the biblical exhortation of feeding the flock of God. (I Peter 5). They are indicative of someone who is trying to manipulate the audience. It may be more exciting or satisfying to act this way, and it may be easier and quicker than putting in the time to really study the Scriptures, but it rarely produces strong Christians.

It is the preacher’s job to ‘preach the word’; the results need to be left to God. Do we believe this? Can we really leave the results up to God?

Addendum

When I re-read the above, I thought that it may be thought that I am advocating that a pastor never pays attention to what is going on with people in his church. A friend also pointed out the same thing, so I decided to add the paragraph below.

Having written this, a wise pastor is not oblivious as to what is going in the lives of the people that God has placed in the church. Preaching to meet needs is certainly valid; the main point of this article is that it is not the preacher’s job to ‘mold’ people by manipulating them.

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Proverbs 9 Thoughts

I find this chapter of Proverbs very interesting.

There is a contrast between the teaching of wisdom and the teaching of folly.

Note that they have exactly the same promise/advertising/promotion (verses 4 and 16: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith…)

They both promise to provide wisdom and understanding: how should we know which teaching to follow?

Well, consider the teachers — wisdom is very active: read verses 1-3 and see all of the action words (builded, hewn, killed, mingled, furnished, sent). Folly, by contrast, is merely sitting around and calling to people who pass by: beware the teaching of someone who is indolent.

It appears that wisdom has reaped the rewards of wisdom and is better off than folly (wisdom has ‘maidens’). I’m sure folly has some excuse, blaming others for preventing her from doing well. We probably all know someone who refuses to acknowledge his own shortcomings, and blames his lack of progress on others.

Also, wisdom offers better things: her drink and her bread; folly offers stolen water and bread (bread eaten in secret because it was stolen).

Furthermore, the teaching of wisdom encourages the learner to improve himself (forsake the foolish, go in the way of understanding, and so on), but folly only appeals to one’s sensual appetites (bread and drink). Wisdom also offers bread and drink, but not only bread and drink.

By the way, we hear foolish talk about “Judge not”; a preacher once said that this is the sole Bible verse most people know (whether or not they are Christians). To make this passage say that no one should ever use their mind to make decisions is just ripping this verse out of context. In fact, a few verses later, disciples are told to judge possible teachers (ye shall know them by their fruits [in context, these words are instructions for recognizing false prophets]). So, it’s perfectly permissible to consider the lives and circumstances who would teach us.

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New Blog Setup

Some time back, a co-worker observed that I valued knowledge. I had not heard that assessment of myself before, but upon reflection, I think he is correct. I enjoy learning new things and growing in my knowledge.

For many years at work, I posted a word-of-the-day as part of my status. Several people told me that they enjoyed it, so in Jan of 2020, I widened the sphere to my Facebook page; each day, I have posted a vocabulary word that is unknown to me or that I find interesting.

Facebook has limited formatting, so starting in 2021, I plan to move that feature to a blog. I recently have it ready to roll, and it cane be found at http://vocabulary.rlosey.com

I hope you’ll give it a look, or make plans to regularly check it out next year. Maybe we can grow in knowledge together!

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It Hurts!

… the law had said, thou shalt not covet. (Romans 7:7)

Having listened to people talk, I have heard variations on the theme of “there’s no harm in looking” (or its variant “I’m married, not dead”) or “no harm in thinking”. While these may sound cute or possible funny, we are to judge all things by the Scriptures, and from them we get a different picture.

We are not supposed to covet – this is a mental attitude; a thought life concerning “stuff” that belongs to another person.

The “harm” is that as we dwell upon something that should not be ours, our thoughts can take on imagination of what it would be like if it were ours. From thence, we can think about ways to make it ours, and can find ourselves thinking about ways to discredit or harm the person to whom the thing we covet belongs.

In some cases, it moves beyond just thinking, and actions are put into place. Even if we never move to actions, we are bound to think ill of the person.

And it started with dwelling upon that which belongs to another.

So, “no harm in thinking”?

Yes, it hurts.

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Lessons from the Tabernacle

In the hopes that the following items may be a blessing to others, I wanted to share some notes concerning the tabernacle that God had Israel build. I enjoyed these insights very much, and wanted to share them here.

  • Most Christians today don’t realize what a complete change it was to have a tabernacle: before God set up the tabernacle, each extended family had an altar, presided over by the family patriarch. The tabernacle did not initiate the worship of God; it merely changed the way in which they worshiped God. From this we can see:
    1. God has the right to dictate the way in which we worship Him. It was family altars; then a single tabernacle; today, we are to worship Him “in spirit and in truth”.
    2. Change isn’t automatically bad; change the God commands is good. Too often, Christians will not evaluate a change honestly in the light of Scripture – arguments such as We’ve never done it like this before! fly around.
  • God did not have them to build the biggest or most glamorous tabernacle. It was made of fine materials, and with skill. But He did not have them build something to show off; it was designed to meet the need. We can feel discouraged when our offering to God (some ministry – maybe playing an offertory; maybe a Sunday School class; maybe a church) isn’t all that big… but if we have done a sincere effort out of love for Him, we have no cause to be discouraged. A Sunday School class whose members love God more at the end of the year is a great class, no matter the size.
  • God had them build one tabernacle; not one for each tribe; not one for each section; just one.
  • God gave great detail about how the tabernacle was to be constructed; He also gave instructions as to where it was supposed to be. (He has that right.) Let us be sure that anything we do for God does not contradict His word.
  • There were some who refused to accept this “new thing”; the tabernacle – they wanted to continue to do their own offerings near their dwelling. This practice stayed around for a while:  many times throughout the Old Testament, there is reference to people worshiping the Lord in groves.  Groves were not necessarily idol worshiping places; they may have been remnants of the attitude that “I can worship God however and wherever I want” – but once God had spoken and set up the tabernacle and priesthood, it became wrong to worship in groves (even if it was the worship of God Himself). Even today, we still see some Christians determined to worship God however they want, instead of ensuring that “their way” is holy and in accordance with His word.

 

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Growing Together

[A few years ago, I wrote an article called I Need You about the importance of fellowship. Recently, I’ve been pondering some additional thoughts along that line. In addition, this is, I think, the first time I’ve referred back to something I have previously written]

The Bible talks about Christians growing together (Eph 2:21 is one good reference). I had always thought that statements like this only meant that a Christian should be growing in his faith, or maturing in the Lord… and that we are all supposed to be growing/maturing, so it is growth together.

However, it means more than this; it means that our growth is aided by each other. I can assist my brother or sister in Christ to grow, and my brother or sister in Christ can help my grow also.  It could be obvious, such as a conversation on some spiritual topic. Other times, it may just subtle; the Holy Spirit could use something said offhand by another believer to teach me an important lesson.

Often, we only thing that the mature Christians help the young Christians to go; that it is kind of one-way transfer. Mature Christians can and do help younger Christians; this kind of help is relatively easy to see – mature Christians have generally studied the Scriptures longer and have experienced sundry trials.

Nevertheless, it is wrong to assume first of all that mature Christians should not be growing; this is a lifelong tasks.  It is also foolish to assume that young Christians cannot help mature Christians grow. Often, younger Christians have an enthusiasm and a wonder that mature Christians don’t have as much. Young Christians are also more willing to take a stand, when more mature Christians may be tired of fighting an issue.

And thus we grow together.

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