Thursday, September 25, 2014

Grandparents and the Elderly


    Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them...”  Ecclesiastes 12:1 (KJV)

    Solomon thought deeply about life and what it means to us.  By 2050 there may be 2 Billion senior citizens in our world.  In our world of time we grow old.  God has planned it this way.  We need to help each other, and we are blessed by doing this.  Some would like to get rid of the elderly and disabled.  But in time they too will be old and disabled.

    The Bible speaks to this in Ecclesiastes.  The NLT translates the Hebrew metaphors (guards... strong men... servants... women) and also provides an interpretation of these poetic elements (legs... shoulders... teeth... eyes).  The silver cord and the golden bowl, like human life, are very valuable.  Our body is like a common earthen jar that is fragile and soon broken.

    “Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”2 Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky.3 Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly.4 Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint.5 Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral.6 Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well.7 For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”  Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 (NLT)


    Five biblical passages raise issues of concern to the world’s elderly today.  Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.”  Psalms 71:9


    The figure of Sara: the alleged uselessness / sterility of the elderly.  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"  Gen 17:17


    The figures of Naomi and Ruth: the abandonment of a mother-in-law by her daughter-in-law.  And she said, "Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law."  Ruth 1:15


    The story of Eleazar: the responsibility each elder has towards the younger generation and for the transmission of the faith.  And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest was to be chief over the leaders of the Levites, with oversight of those who kept charge of the sanctuary.”  Num 3:32


    The last Scripture passages come from the New Testament: the stories of Zechariah / Elizabeth and Simeon / Anna.  Aging together in fulfilment of God’s will, and on the zealous expression of gratitude for a lifetime dedicated to the Lord.

    “But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.”  Luke 1:7

    “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”
Luke 2:25

    “and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”  Luke 2:37


    “Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.10 So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless.”  Eccl 11:9-10 (NLT)

Monday, September 22, 2014



    But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”  2 Tim 3:14-15

    Paul reminded Timothy of the role his godly mother and grandmother had played in his understanding of the Scriptures.  "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

    This shows that God does intend to communicate with us and that the Old Testament part of the Bible is also important (Timothy was taught from the OT).  "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we though the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."  Romans 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11.  

    “The basic claim made by the Bible for the word of God is not so much that it is to be blindly accepted because of God's authority, but that it is recognized by its transforming and liberating power. The "word of God" is recognized in actual experience because it does something to anyone who actually "hears" it: it transforms his entire existence.”  Merton

    "Despite the challenges we have seen, the power of the Bible does not depend on our ability to explain every problem.  Scripture has lasted for thousands of years without our defending it, and it is not in danger today.  'God's Holy Fire' has transformed lives throughout the centuries and continues to do so.  Our task is to accept the view of inspiration that the Bible actually claims for itself."  from God's Holy Fire, ACU Press.

    Campbell wrote: "We have, in writing, all the Hebrew and Greek that is necessary to perpetuate to the end of time, all the ideas which the Spirit of God has communicated to the world; and these languages, being dead, have long since ceased to change.  The meaning of the words used by the sacred penman, is fixed and immutable; which it could not have been, had these languages continued to have been spoken..."  The Sacred Writings, A. Campbell, 1826     [Modern Hebrew and modern Greek are different languages.]

    Many are not aware of the human effort used to translate the Bible into language and form we can understand.  The Original Bible was written all in capital letters with almost no punctuation.  Chapter and verse divisions did not come until the 16th century.  In ancient times few could possess a Bible.  Manuscripts had to be copied by hand.  Printing introduced a revolution where the common man could have his own copy of the Bible.

It is the Spirit's Bible!

Copyright every word!

Only His thoughts are uttered,

Only His voice is heard!

William Luff

    Usefulness.  The Bible was written to be understood in much the same way a newspaper is understood.  Some things are more difficult (2 Peter 3:15-16).  But we read words in their context and in the usual way of expressing things with words.

    The Bible is a library of Books, each one written to specific situations and time-periods in the history of the People of God.  Yet we see the thread of Christ-is-Coming; Christ-is-here (The Gospels); and Christ-is-Coming- Again.  Three great streams of prophecy are seen in the Old Testament part of the Bible: The Suffering Servant of God; The Coming King; The Descendant of King David.

    Peter writes in the context of assuring Christians of the hope we have, and of the dangers which face the church.  "We also  have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts..."  2 Peter 2:19. 

    The false teachers may not be whom we think.  Peter warns that some will "deny the Lord who bought them."  The devil first attacks the Holy Spirit; and then denies the Lord Jesus actually came in the flesh (see 1 John 4:1-3).  Some said Jesus only seemed to be human, and that He did not actually rise from death (1 Cor. 15:12-20).  A "rising from the dead" certainly proves the human side of Jesus who experienced life from our point of view (Phil. 2:5-9).  But He did not cease to be God even though He "lowered Himself" in order to die for us (Hebrews 2:5-9).  Christ Jesus in the flesh "tasted death for every man."  John emphasizes that Jesus came with the water [of His baptism] and the blood [of His death].  See 1 John 5:6.

    We allow the Light of Christ to shine on us and through us2 Cor. 4:6.



    God give us the courage to do great things, and  the humility to appreciate little things

    1.  Courage is important.

    Christians should proclaim the Gospel as authorized by Jesus and recorded in the Gospel of Mark the Evangelist.  Christians should have courage to do great things, but at the same time, the humility to appreciate the little things.

    a) We serve a Risen Savior!  He lives within our heart!

    “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Col 3:16-17 (NKJV)

    b)  The Risen Lord is Our Man in Heaven!

    “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen. Mark 16:19-20 (NKJV)

    Mark describes the Ascension of the Lord Jesus. Before ascending into heaven He sends the apostles to preach the Gospel "to the end of the world", not only in Jerusalem or in Galilee.

    Go all over the world. The horizon ... great horizon... And as you can see, this is the mission of the Church. The Church continues to preach this to everyone, all over the world. But she does not go forth alone: she goes forth with Jesus. So they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord acted with them. The Lord works with all those who preach the Gospel. This is the grace that Christians should have. A Christian who does not demonstrate faith will not have influence.  This grace is part of the Christian walk: always more and more, more and more, more and more, always onwards!  We grow spiritually!

    2. First Century Preaching.

    The First Letter of Peter defines the style of Christian preaching as one of humility. 

    Grace to you and peace be multiplied. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  1 Peter 1:2-5 (NKJV)

    The style of evangelical preaching should have this attitude: humility, service, charity, brotherly love. 'But ... Lord, we must conquer the world!' That word, conquer, doesn’t work. We must preach in the world. The Christian must not be like soldiers who when they win the battle make a clean sweep of everything.

    “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.”  2 Cor 5:20 (NKJV)

    God is making his appeal through us: Paul doesn't say that he speaks for God; rather, God speaks His word through us. Christ's redeeming work opens the way for all to "Come back to God!" and be reconciled with Him.  Christian witness has this appeal at its heart. Paul was also appealing to the rebellious Corinthians to come over to God’s side.

    3. Life style Evangelism.

    The Christian proclaims the Gospel with his witness, rather than with words.  A joyful soul that is not afraid of great things, that moves forward towards heavenly horizons, and the humility to take into account the small things. This is like a tension between the great and the small and Christian missionary activity proceeds along this path.

    a) Jesus is working!

    The Gospel of Mark ends with "a beautiful phrase" where it says that Jesus was working with the disciples, confirming "the word with accompanying signs.”

    When we go forth with this grace and humility, when we are not scared by the great things, by the horizon, but also take on board the little things - humility, daily charity - the Lord confirms the Word. And we move forward. The triumph of the Church is the Resurrection of Jesus. But there is first the Cross. Today we ask the Lord to become missionaries in the Church, witnesses in the Church, but in this spirit: a great grace and also a great humility. So be it.

    “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”  Acts 4:31 (NKJV)

Monday, September 8, 2014


Times of testing for the whole earth   (from Rev. 3:8-11)

To the faithful church in Philadelphia:

   I have set an open door before you

and no one can slam it shut.

You didn't deny Me when times were rough.

    Because you kept My Word, I'll keep you safe

  in the time of testing that will be here soon.

Every man, woman, and child will be put to the test.

    I the Lord am on My way; I'll be there soon.

Hold a tight grip on what you have

so no one distracts you and steals your crown.


        1. The present distress. 

      Men may revert to the law of the jungle from time to time. But history shows that the church survives.  Times of testing were already under way in NT times.  Some thought that Jesus would come again in just a few days or weeks.  The world was involved in war.  Society seemed to be falling apart.  Times were much like the judgment that came in Noah's flood.  Human relationships were being strained by the circumstances.  Such things as being Jews or Gentiles, being slaves or freemen, were unimportant in view of what was taking place.  Even marriage was an added distraction.  Yet Paul's advice was to remain as they were (1 Cor. 7:17-24).

        “But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on, even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep, as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world, as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.“  1 Cor. 7:29-32

        Repent!  All people are to be judged by their reaction to the disasters which afflict the world.  God wants everyone to repent and believe Him.  But as the plagues on Egypt were resisted by Pharaoh, some will not turn to God.   Rev. 9:20-21

        2. Four Horsemen.  Rev. 6:1-13    We find a grim picture of man's inhumanity to man: chaos, oppression, bloodshed and death.  It is right to cry out for mercy from "the wrath of the Lamb."  God is love - but if we prefer hate, we pay the price.  God has set up this world to do just that.  God's love is "tough love" - intended to test us and bring us to Him.  It is The Lamb who rips open the seven seals.

        a) white horse - conquest.  This is still a vision.  This rider symbolizes Christ.  He has conquered death and the grave.  He continues to be active through The Spirit until the end.

        note Matt. 10:16-31.  “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. . . And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.  But he who endures to the end will be saved.”

        b) red horse - war    The sword is a sacrificial knife.

        compare Psalm 46:6-10.  “The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. ...Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has made desolations in the earth.”

        c) black horse - famine   “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, or three quarts of barley.”

        compare Jeremiah 24:9-10. “I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them.  And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they are consumed from the land that I gave them and their fathers.”

        d) pale horse - death   “To kill by war, famine, disease, wild animals.”

        compare Job 10:20-22.  “Are not my days few?  Cease!  Leave me alone, that I may take a little comfort, Before I go to the place from which I shall not return, To the land of darkness and the shadow of death.” 

        3. Hide us!     The kings of the earth, its famous people, the military leaders, hide in caves or behind rocks on the mountains.  They hide with the rich and powerful, the slaves and free people.  "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!"  Rev. 6:16

        4. Christ is Risen!  "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.  I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death."  Rev. 1:17-18

        5. Christ the Conqueror!  "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war."  Rev. 19:11

        Lives have been changed!  Fear cannot destroy hope!  New light shines in dark places!  Christian men & women battle ignorance and injustice!  Christ is LORD!

The Gospel In The Lord's Supper

The Gospel in the Lord's Supper
    1 John 5:6.  And Jesus Christ was revealed as God's Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross (literally This is he who came by water and blood): John's contemporary, the heretic Cerinthus, taught that "the Christ" descended as a spirit on the man Jesus when he was baptized but left him before he died. The truth is that Jesus' baptism and death confirmed his identity as the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus of Nazareth was and is truly the Christ, the Son of God, from the beginning and forever.”  —NLT Study Bible
    "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."  1 Cor 11:23-26
    1. The Lord's Supper for today's church.
    "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us."
1 Cor 5:7
    Into this one simple act, Christ gathered all the meaning of the ancient sacrifices and all the prophecies of His coming eternal kingdom.  How appropriate that Jesus instituted this Holy Meal at the time of the feast of the Passover.  Our Lord, with sovereign authority, brushed aside the old Passover in order to make room for the new.
    As He broke the bread, so would our precious Lord be broken; and as the grape is crushed so that the juice may be poured forth, so would our precious Savior be crushed that His blood might be poured forth for our redemption.  The cup speaks of the blood of Christ, which was shed for the remission of our sins; and the broken bread speaks of the broken body of our Lord, "by whose stripes we are healed."  Isaiah 53:4-5
    2. Let's Examine the Meaning of the Lord's Supper
    "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."  1 Cor 11:26
    Not His life—though it was spotless.  "Tempted as we are, yet without sin."  Hebrews 4:15-16
    Not His teaching—though never a man spake as He did.  "God has spoken through the Son."  Hebrews 1:1-3
    Not His miracles—though He brought the healing balm of Gilead to lost mankind.  Acts 2:22.
    But His death!  "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men (people) unto Me."  John 3:14-15
    His body—not glorious, but broken on the Cross. "but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor 1:23-24
    His blood—not coursing through the veins of a king on a throne, but poured out for lost mankind.  "how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"  Heb 9:14
    3. The Lord's Supper confirms two things —His Death and His Second Coming.
    God Himself paid the debt we could not pay.  The Supper links the humiliation of the Cross with the royalty of the coming eternal Kingdom—the fact of the accomplished past and the promise of the assured future.  It is the uniting of the believer's memory, which yet lingers around the Cross, and the believer's hope, which already rejoices in the coming eternal Kingdom.  It is a sign as to the past, and is a seal as to the future.
    4. Let's Examine the Sacredness of the Lord's Supper
    It is the highest act of worship in the church, for with its observance we come nearest to the work and worship of heaven itself, where the Church worships God in the presence of the Lamb "slain from the world's foundation."  Rev 13:8
    "Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup."  1 Cor 11:27-28
    "When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ?"  1 Cor 10:16 (NLT)
    We, the Church, join with all who worship in Spirit and truth, of every tribe and tongue and nation.  We lift Him up and we approach God our Father.  When we eat this  bread and drink this cup, we proclaim His death, Jesus our Lord, until He Comes in Glory!  [1 Thess 4:14-18]