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Three easy lessons?

Posted by: David Carroll

Proverbs 23:12 (NIV)

Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

This admonition is found all through the proverbs. It is vitally important for a person to be docile and open to instruction. Applying the heart means putting your mind seriously to the task of learning how to live a godly way of life. Applying the ears means listening very carefully. Nothing about this says that it is easy. It takes diligence, effort. And it takes application; as the book of James admonishes, "be doers of the word and not hearers only".

There is a reward:

2 Timothy 3:15b (NIV)

You have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Satan's fall from heaven

Posted by: David Carroll

Isaiah 14:12-15 (NKJV)

How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!

For you have said in your heart: "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High."

Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.

Here we have an incredible documentary of Satan's fall from heaven. Evidently, Satan was one of God's most perfect angels who had the privilege of serving in the very throne room of God as one of His guardians. But pride was his downfall. Many times great blessing and giftedness from God can be a person's downfall. Pride is the root of all sin. Those who pride themselves above God will end up in the lowest depths of the Pit.

There are five "I wills" in this verse, each attesting to Satan putting himself before God. A lot of people think they are going to heaven when they die. When I am talking to someone about Jesus, I will ask them "Why should God allow you into his heaven." Many times someone will say things like, "I try to be a good person," or "I try to keep the commandments." Of course, the purpose of such a question is to find out what is the basis of their confidence in going to heaven. But look at the answer: "I" this and "I" that. All the emphasis is on "I" and not on Him. The only way anyone is going to Heaven is to put there trust in Jesus Christ and not on themselves.

What's to fear?

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 56:3-4 (NIV)

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Fear comes, what do you do?

Trust in the Lord. Read his word. Give Him praise.

Now what happens?

You affirm, "I will not be afraid" because you have just figured out that compared to fearing God, what can man do to you?

A thorn in the flesh

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NIV)

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

God used Paul in a mighty way, perhaps more so than any other person we know of in the Bible. Paul spoke of himself in the third person earlier in this chapter how he "was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." What mystery this presents to us! Paul was different from all the other apostles. He was discipled personally by Jesus like the others but not until after Jesus' resurrection and ascension. No doubt this revelation was part of that instruction. The interesting thing about this revelation is that Paul was not allowed to tell it like so much other revealed doctrine which he wrote down for us in his letters.

This intriguing and tantalizing reference was made solely for the purpose of explaining the thorn in the flesh Paul was given. This thorn was a reminder to Paul and kept him humble and dependant on the Lord. Here again we have God allowing suffering not for punishment but for a loving purpose, in this case to make Paul better able to do God's work. We don't know what the thorn was; some speculate it was some sort of eye disease.

Here is the wonderful principle for us: if we do something great for God with our natural ability, then people might give us the praise. But if we do something supernatural for God out of our weakness, the praise must go to Him since it is unexplained apart from His power.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Posted by: David Carroll

Isaiah 6:1-5 (NIV)

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty."

Yesterday, I was reading how Isaiah, the prophet of God, was speaking "woes" upon other people who would call evil, good and good, evil. Now we see this same prophet previously had an encounter with the Living God where he had pronounced woe upon himself. He was particularly aware of his uncleanness and had the same reaction as anyone who sees God.

A sheet-rock contractor awaits inspection of his competed work and the owner comes in with a spotlight. He shines it at an angle on the wall and every minor imperfection is magnified a thousand times as it casts a dark, harsh shadow. The contractor naturally and rightfully cries "unfair!" There is no sheet-rock wall in the world that could stand up to such scrutiny.

And so it is with God, in the brightness his presence, we would cower in abject horror at the realization of our true nature compared to his absolute holiness. The attendant angels worshiped God by repeating "Holy" three times, the strongest form of a Hebrew superlative.

This awesome encounter is not over for Isaiah, he goes on:

Isaiah 6:5-9 (NIV)

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"

And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

He said, "Go and tell this people: "'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'

What is this hot coal? It was the cure of Isaiah's guilt and sin. The coal was taken from the altar of sacrifice, the temple's picture of the ultimate atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our guilt and sin can only be removed by Jesus' sacrifice. It is through our lips, purified and sanctified by God, that the good news of Jesus Christ is preached to a world who hears but does not understand.

I want to say with Isaiah, "Here am I, send me!"

That's bad (good)

Posted by: David Carroll

Isaiah 5:20-22 (NIV)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks,

When a politician is confronted with a potentially embarrassing attack from his opponent, a typical strategy to fend off the attack is to spin the talk into just the opposite. Sometimes it is simply saying the exact opposite of what the opponent is accusing you of. Other times it is accusing the opponent of doing the very thing he is accusing you of. Sadly the victor ends up being the one who can lie best.

Here the bible speaks woes on those who do such things. I always wondered whether this verse applies to the popular way of speaking about something you like as being "wicked," or as being "bad." Of course what is meant is that it is something that is actually good (at least in the eyes of the speaker.)

This verse goes on to pronounce woe on those who are proud and who consider themselves to be clever. All of these traits are avoided in the person who speaks the truth and to the person who maintains a sense of humility before God.

Finally this verse picks on those who drink famously and become known by their skills at the art of mixology. This brings back memories for me. I used to be a bartender and I remember bragging that I had made 600 drinks one evening. Now I just like to brag on Jesus. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus pronounced a number of blessings in contrast to these woes.

Matthew 5:8 (NIV)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Come now, let us reason together

Posted by: David Carroll

Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV)

"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

If there were grievous differences between us, such that we were about to take our case into a courtroom before a judge, we might say something like, "Come now, let's talk about this, let's see if we can this out of court." This would be a reasonable thing to do.

God has a case against us. We have broken his law, but God is offering a settlement so that we do not have to go to court about it. Whatever it is, it is bound to be a good deal since we are most definitely guilty and have no reasonable defense.

So what's the deal? God says he is willing to give us a clean slate, total forgiveness. This comes completely at his expense, we pay nothing for it. The deal is, he requires that we be willing and obedient. We would be his, bought with a price. We do nothing to earn or deserve this deal other than to give up our rights totally and completely to Him. Oh and by the way, that is not a bad thing, we are not talking about a miserable existence here; we are talking the best of everything. It make sense, he owns it all, he has the resources. If we want to keep our rights then we will be, not might be, devoured by the sword.

I can reason about this. It's a no-brainer.

A sacrifice not despised

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 51:15-17 (NKJV)

O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart--These, O God, You will not despise.

Sacrifice is a part of worship to God. In the Old Testament sacrificial system, not only were sacrifices were a foreshadowing of how God's justice is satisfied. The Bible speaks of our sin as a debt owed to God—not as in money but as in a transgression which must be righted. In order for a to be canceled, an acceptable payment must be made. Animal sacrifice in the old testament were a shadow of the real sacrifice that God wants us to understand. An innocent animal offered as a sacrifice died in the place of or instead of the offerer. What is it about such a sacrifice that God despises? It is when it is offered without an accompanying brokenness of spirit and contrite heart. This comes from an understanding of what is really going on. The dead animal does not please God.

What is it about an animal sacrifice that pleases God? It is the picture it paints of the one and only, perfectly innocent Son of God who would be sacrificed as the satisfaction of our sin debt. When we understand the astonishing love that God demonstrates with this, our only response can be a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart. The absence of these indicates a selfish pride and a disdain for God. This is what God despises.

Isaiah 1:11 (NIV)

“The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?” says the Lord “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.”

Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Pure and unadulterated erotic passion and sex

Posted by: David Carroll

Song of Solomon 1:1-4a (NIV)

Solomon's Song of Songs. Beloved Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth--for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you!

Take me away with you--let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.

What a treat it is to read the Song of Songs. In it we find beautiful graphic descriptions of erotic love. I have this delightful blushing reaction of good emotions that come over me as I read this book. What makes it even more exciting is that I am reading the word of God. Think about it, God invented sex, this is not something we have come up with on our own. It makes sense that we should enjoy it.

All good things come with boundaries however. Outside the proper boundaries, sexual love becomes lust and a degrading counterfeit. God blesses and sanctions sexual love between a man and a woman within the confines of the marriage covenant. How unlike the profane and vulgar depiction of sex we are inundated with by the entertainment industry today.

Is there more to this book than just a beautiful love story between a man and a woman? The Bible is full of allegories and symbols. In the Old Testament, Israel is depicted as the wife of Jehovah. In the New Testament, the Church is depicted as the bride of Christ. Why is Israel spoken of as the wife of Jehovah? It must be because it shows the depth and commitment of God's love for us, despite our inability to keep his commandments. Why is church shown as the bride of Christ? It must be to picture the thrilling excitement we have with our relationship to Him.

The conclusion of the whole matter

Posted by: David Carroll

Ecclesiastes 12:8,13-14 (NKJV)

"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "All is vanity."

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

The whole book of Ecclesiastes is this philosophical look at life as this empty, meaningless, and perplexing pursuit of satisfaction which is never achieved. Solomon documents all of his own personal pursuits and is left empty on all counts. This is from the perspective of a natural man "under the sun" who figures that we might as well "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die." Mixed in throughout the book are references to God whom Solomon credits as the Giver of all things. The key to the book is found in these last few verses, where Solomon resolves the whole investigation into the meaning of life: "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all."

Notice the last sentence in the verse. It says that every secret thing, both good and evil will be judged. If we were judged only by what you can see on the outside, we might fare pretty well in the world's eyes. It is the deep motivations inside that are so evil, we don't even notice them. God sees them. Solomon makes reference to a Shepherd in the following verse:

Ecclesiastes 12:11 (NKJV)

The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.

Man's fulfillment and salvation from his evil works are found in the "One Shepherd," Jesus Christ who said:

John 10:11 (NKJV)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

Why am I sorry?

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Paul speaks of two kinds of sorrow, two kinds of results. One result is salvation the other is death. We've all felt sorrow, the worldly kind. Something bad happens to us and we feel wronged, bitter or angry. Or we cause something bad to happen in which case we are embarrassed, ashamed, or even horrified. But these worldly sorrows are about us or they may even about others. What is Godly sorrow then? What ever it is, it produces repentance. Repentance means change or to turn away from one thing and turn to another. Biblically speaking, it means turning toward Jesus Christ. The kind of sorrow that does this is the kind that sees the cause of the sorrow as sin and sees the one chiefly offended as God.

King David sinned with Bathsheba and against Uriah. The impact of his sin was devastating to many people. David felt Godly sorrow which led him to repentance. In is prayer of confession to God, this is what David said about his sin:

Psalm 51:4 (NIV)

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

I messed up

Posted by: David Carroll

I was doing some database maintenance trying to copy over some new stored procedures and I inadvertently copied over an old data table of all my blog entries and I lost about two weeks of entries between 7/24/03 and 8/10/03. I was able to get back a few from Goggle's cache of my pages and from my RSS aggregator cache. Also I was able to find all the titles from feedster's cache.

All I can say is Praise the Lord! I get to go back and try to recreate those! Maybe God has something for me in those scriptures that I missed the first time.

I thought I'd ask if any of you readers have some of these entries still on your aggregators. I would appreciate if you'd email them to me. I'd be grateful.

Blessings

(Now I gotta go blog about today's reading... the tyranny of time!)


UPDATE I was able to find all of the entries on Google's cache! Thank you Lord! (oh yeah, and Google too :-)

(Now, back to today's blog...)

Good food, hard work, things to enjoy

Posted by: David Carroll

Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 (NIV)

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him--for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work--this is a gift of God.

God is good. He has created a beautiful world for us to live in and to enjoy. Work is a dignified endeavor. Work is not the curse as some would think. God gave Adam the job of keeping the garden before he sinned. Work is hard but we can find satisfaction in it. God likes work, he is a worker too and finds satisfaction in a job well done. God must like food too. Jesus ate with the disciples every time he appeared after his resurrection. Jesus gave us the Lord's Supper to remember him by. All the things we enjoy in this life are a gift from God. We ought not get greedy and want more than what has been allotted to us. The simple enjoyment of such things disappears when greed is involved.

Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Eternity in their hearts

Posted by: David Carroll

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician once said "Within each one of us there is a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill." That is to say, only God can truly satisfy the deep longings and needs of man. God has wired us this way. Don Richardson, who wrote the book of the same name as the title of this post, shows that there is remnant evidence of once held belief in the one true God among all cultures. Combining the deep needs common to all men for a redeeming God along with these cultural connections to the truth it is plain to see how the commission to evangelize the world is not only possible but that the road is already paved.

Lest we become too proud of our scientific understanding of how the world works, this verse also reminds us that we'll never know it all.

But now my eyes have seen You

Posted by: David Carroll

Job 42:1-6 (NIV)

Then Job replied to the Lord: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.'

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

God finally has Job where he wants him. The righteously indignant young man Elihu had pointed out that Job's three friends were wrong. Their idea that great suffering implies great wickedness was wrong. God had already declared Job righteous. Elihu said Job was wrong too. Job was righteous but not perfect. There was a heretofore unseen sediment of pride in his life that had been stirred up by his affliction. Job had said wrong things about God maintaining his innocence at the expense of God's justice. Elihu proclaimed to Job that suffering for the righteous was not punishment from an angry God but rather refinement from a loving God. Suffering for Job was like the pain of the surgeon's scalpel. Finally God demonstrates his majesty and sovereignty to Job. God's might has a purpose to bring down the proud and to exalt the humble--all for His glory.

Now Job admits his lack of understanding. All of his remaining pride is removed when he sees God as He truly is. His only possible response is repentance. Now, for the rest of the story...

Job 42:7-8a,10 (NKJV)

And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.

Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you.

And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

The Seen and the Unseen (ala Matrix)

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I can personally testify to it: our bodies are wearing out. I can also say however that I am closer to my Lord than when I first became a Christian; my soul is being renewed. Carry that to it's logical conclusion: death itself is nothing to lose heart over for it is at that point that our souls will most rejoice to see our savior face to face. All of our sufferings will seem but a mere inconvenience compared to an eternity of glory.

This earth we live on is mostly empty space. Consider the atom, the building block of all matter. If the nucleus of an atom were the size of a pin head, the nearest electron would be about 100 yards away. A neutrino is a particle like an electron but without a charge; it does not react magnetically with any other particle. Scientists say that a neutrino can fly straight through the earth without hitting anything. It makes sense when you realize that the actual matter of the earth, protons, neutrons, and electrons, are just a nearly empty lattice work of particles connected magnetically. With the peculiar implications of quantum physics, we might find out that our whole existence is but an elaborate digital hologram, a bit like The Matrix. We do learn in the Bible of a battle taking place in the spirit world around us, and of angels making appearances in our world.

On the other hand eternity is permanent. It existed before the world and it will continue to exist afterwards. The Bible says this world is passing away. The stuff we can see and touch is less real than that which we can only contemplate and dream of.

The most incredible event in all of human history is when God himself stepped out of Eternity into time and space taking upon himself human flesh. He became our kinsman, here to redeem us.

Treasure in Earthen Vessels

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (NKJV)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed--always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Our modern society is infatuated with our bodies. We exercise them, tan them, supplement them, massage them, dress them, and then cap them off with a crown of beautifully coiffed hair. For the worldly person, a fine body is something of high value, something to be shown off and used for great pleasure. Not so for the sold-out Christian. He sees his body as a frail and temporary residence which houses something of far greater value than the body itself. Yes, he maintains the house to keep it useful and sufficient for the task but what task is that? It is the battle for lost souls.

Like a good soldier, a Christian is willing to be used by his commander for any purpose he wishes. A good soldier is willing to lay down his life for his comrades. He pushes his body to the limit for the good of the kingdom. And when he comes home, battered and bruised yet victorious, he accepts with great honor the hero's welcome.

John 12:26 (NIV)

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Letter of Recommendation

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NIV)

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Perhaps you have been asked before to write a letter of recommendation for someone looking for some position of responsibility. Most of the time I am glad to do it. Why? Because I know the person's character and what that person has accomplished. In the secular world, it is all about accomplishments. In the Church, it can be pretty much the same way. A church leader might be known for the building program he led, or for the successful fundraising program. However, this is too much like the world's way of looking at success. How should a Christian measure success? It is by changed lives. How many people came to know Christ? How many disciples became themselves disciplers of others?

The world measures by perishable fruit. Christ has appointed us to bear fruit--fruit that will last. (John 15:16)

In this same third chapter of Second Corinthians is a wonderful description of sanctification. This is God's purpose for us. When you see a spirit-filled Christian, look for that glow in their face.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Do you smell fumes or fragrance?

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Corinthians 2:15-16a (NIV)

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

I like to talk about Jesus Christ and I like to hear others talk about him too. For me, there is a sense of well-being that comes in such an environment. It was not always like that. I remember when I felt quite uncomfortable whenever someone talked about Christ. At times, I was repulsed by it. What is the difference? Why would the same odor smell attractively, sweet to one person and be repulsively pungent to another. It is not that the odor is any different, rather it is the organ which is doing the sensing. The bible says that when we are saved, we are regenerated. All things become new. God gives you a new organ which senses and receives the things of the Spirit of God.

In fact, that is a pretty good measuring stick for salvation. Have your likes and dislikes changed? Mine have.

Is that a promise? Yes

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NIV)

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

My pastor says that as we read the Bible, we should ask these questions: what did it mean then?, how does it apply today?, and what should I do in response? In answer to that last question, he says we should look for one of four opportunities: is there an example to follow?, is there a sin to avoid?, is there a command to obey?, or is there a promise to claim?

The Bible is full of God's promises. Some are unconditional. Others are conditional upon our behavior. The wonderful thing is that none of God's promises are conditioned upon how God feels. God does not change. He is not capricious. It is not immediately evident, but if you examine the promises, you also find that all of them are fulfilled by or are connected to Jesus Christ. He is the central story of the Bible.

One of his promises is that he will not allow any of those who come to him to be lost. For the one who comes to Jesus Christ, there is a guarantee of heaven.

I say Amen to that!

The God of all comfort

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

I have troubles. God comforts me, perhaps through his word or through another Christian. You have troubles, I comfort you. The comfort I give to you comes from God who gave it to me. Now my troubles have purpose, meaning. They teach me deep dependence on God even in the night season. Suffering in this life is not necessarily retribution for wickedness, but it can serve to refine us.

Over twenty years ago, my wife and I lost our first born baby during childbirth. We were devastated, but we had no place else to turn to but God. I remember crying uncontrollably in the shower where I could finally release the tears in private. Then I began to sing praises to God while floods of comfort came over my soul. Later friends would come by wanting to comfort me but not knowing what to say. I found myself comforting them with the comfort with which I had been comforted of God.

God is good.

Job's Resurrection Reference

Posted by: David Carroll

Job 19:25-27 (NIV)

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Here is the oldest book of the Bible, and in it we find not only speaking about a New Testament style Redeemer but also a very clear reference to the idea of a physical return of the Redeemer who will stand upon the earth but also that of the resurrection of man. Job says that after he is destroyed, presumably in death, that in his own flesh, he will see God. That speaks of the resurrection.

This sort of passage in the Old Testament thrills me. I'm with Job, my heart yearns for that time when I will see God!

In the twinkling of an eye

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NIV)

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

We all love a good mystery story. Here is a good one. I have heard my pastor say that those who are once born will die twice and those who are twice born will only die once. The second death refers to eternal hell. The second birth of course, refers to being born again of the spirit of God. Here is the exception to that rule. There are some who are twice born who will not die.

Chapter 15 of First Corinthians is the most detailed treatise we have on the resurrection. He speaks of the resurrection as being changed. We are talking about new, perfect, imperishable bodies. Paul says it is going to happen in an instant of time. I always look forward to getting my computer upgraded. Folks, we are headed for an upgrade! I have to admit it, I'm looking forward to it. This old body is wearing down a bit, doesn't work as well as it used to and some things have quit altogether (like the hair on top!)

What do we know about this new body? Well, Jesus had one. He could walk through walls, appear and disappear, float away in the air. Lest you think it is just a spirit body, Jesus could eat too. Almost every time when he appeared after his resurrection, he ate.

By the way, the unsaved will be resurrected too. You are eternal whether you like it or not. You will spend eternity either separated from God in hell or with God in heaven. It's your choice. I suggest you choose heaven, I hear you'll get very thirsty in the other place.

I need a lawyer

Posted by: David Carroll

Job 9:32-35 (NIV)

"He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.

Job looks at his situation and feels he needs someone to speak for him to God. This is a fascinating insight on Job's part. God is not like us, He is too holy, too awesome. In our frail humanness, we could not exist in his presence. So Job longs for someone who could speak for both God and man, someone who could touch both God and man. He hopes for someone who could remove God's wrath from him.

Who is it that could do such a job? He would have to be as pure as God to be able to approach Him and understand Him. He would have to be like a man to know his pain and plight. He would have hold the key to satisfy God's wrath. Friend, if you do not know such a person, let me introduce you to Jesus Christ, the God-man who not only can speak for us but who suffered and died in our place.

1 Timothy 2:5 (NIV)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Tongues, Edification, Decency and Order

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Corinthians 14:23 (NKJV)

Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

1 Corinthians 14:26b (NKJV)

Let all things be done for edification.

1 Corinthians 14:40 (NKJV)

Let all things be done decently and in order.

I don't have the gift of tongues. I've tried it but all that comes out is mumbo jumbo, didn't get a blessing out of it. I guess I should have tried it around someone who could interpret. I know some people who claim to have the gift and I've even heard some practice it. But I was not blessed. I've seen worship services where tongues were spoken and someone interpreted. Still wasn't blessed by it, in fact I saw some real disorder in that place and got very uncomfortable.

I've read some commentators who say that tongues is simply a foreign language. You could substitute the word language for the word tongues and it would all fit. I don't know though.

It seems the point of Paul's exhortations to the Corinthian church regarding this subject is summed up in the last two verses quoted above. Build people up in the Lord, do things decently, organize your worship. Going much further than that on this subject, I'll just have to claim this next verse...

1 Corinthians 14:38 (NKJV)

But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.

Having a bad day?

Posted by: David Carroll

Job 1:20-21 (NKJV)

Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:"Naked I came from my mother's womb,And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Job had a really bad day. He went from being the richest man in the East with a very large household to loosing all his possessions and all his children in a matter of moments. Look at his reaction; yes, he was full of grief as evidenced by his very Jewish reaction of tearing his robe. But then he fell down to the ground and did what? He worshiped and acknowledged God as sovereign and then he blessed God. Wow! That is a supernatural reaction of trust and faith. Next time you are having a bad day, read this first chapter of Job.

This is just the beginning of Job's travail. Next chapter he looses his health and what's worse, then he is "comforted" by his three friends to try to convince him of his wickedness while he tries to defend his innocence. Why do the righteous suffer? Is that the main question of the book of Job? Stay tuned...

How to have the desires of your heart

Posted by: David Carroll

Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

If I offer you a dessert after dinner, I might say "Delight yourself in this." What do I mean? You may never have tasted this dessert before, but I say to you that you will enjoy it. How do I know this? Because I have tasted it myself. Now suppose I only gave you one bite. You'd be wanting more, that would be the desire of your heart. Because of my not wanting to deny you your pleasure, I would give you more.

Once you have experience the joy of the Lord, that will be your desire. God will surely give you more. The wonderful thing is that I might leave you wanting more of that dessert because I have no more, but God's delights will never be exhausted.

Ephesians 3:19-21 (NKJV)

To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

For such a time as this

Posted by: David Carroll

Esther 4:14 (NKJV)

For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

What delightful a tale of a villain and a heroine which grips and delights with irony. Esther is the beautiful Jewish girl who becomes Queen of Persia during after the exile of the Jews. In her position, she risks destruction herself as she saves the Jews from annihilation by a wicked man named Haman.

I love the implication of that question that Mordacai asks Esther when she wavered momentarily in her complacency "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Can this apply to us in our everyday lives? Sitting next to a stranger on an airplane, is it just random chance or is it God directing your steps? If it is the former, I can justify taking a nap and never bothering with striking a conversation with that person. If it is the latter, how can I not but take the opportunity to witness to that person about the escape from eternal hell that God offers through faith in Jesus Christ.

What about the abundant wealth you have been blessed with or the position of influence you have been placed in? What is your responsibility when needy and desperate situations cross your path?

I might say, that taking such a view on every opportunity to do good along life's path is a risky proposition. I might be rejected; I might be hurt; I might waste money. Certainly I should be wise and a good steward of my time and resources. However I love Esther's response:

Esther 4:16 (NKJV)

"If I perish, I perish!"

The Mystery of Bread and wine

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 (NIV)

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.

This verse is misunderstood by some. They think that to partake of the Lord's Supper unworthily means that you must be worthy to partake. If not, they think, some terrible thing will happen to you. That is not what this verse says. Paul was just speaking to the Corinthians about treating the Lord's supper as if it were some feast to get drunk at. It is this dishonoring of the ordinance by supposed Christians that is shameful and sinful. He says don't partake in an unworthy manner. Jesus said for us to "do this in remembrance of me." The Lord's supper is a way to remember, sort of like a picture. They did not have photographs back then so this was an acting out of what it means to identify with Jesus death and to appropriate his body and blood into ourselves.

Paul says a man ought to examine himself. Such a ceremony is to be a solemn occasion to reflect why it is that Jesus had to die...for our sins...for my sin. How could you knowingly harbor unconfessed, unrepented of sin when reflecting upon and claiming Jesus Christ as Savior.

How do we recognize the body of the Lord? Next time you are around a group of believers, just look around. See the unity, the fellowship, the love for one another, the body of Christ. Paul was highly critical of the disunity of the Corinthian Church. The body of Christ is not a dismembered body.

Is the Lord's supper mystical? Oh yes, quite. It pictures a deeply profound act of love from a sovereign God which is at the same time both just and merciful. The miracle of Christ in us is the key to our righteousness in Him.

Who's in charge?

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Corinthians 11:7-10 (NIV)

A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

Paul makes an argument here, appealing to the order of creation, that man is the head of the woman. This is not a popular verse. It ruffles some feathers. But it is the word of God for us. Why is it important? No one would argue with the idea that their should be a hierarchal order of authority in any organization from government to companies. Then why bristle when the same thing is applied to the family organization?

When someone has rank over another, value and worth and ability are not what are being compared. It is simply a necessary organization to enable a group to function as a unit by eliminating confusion. Christ is subordinate to the Father, yet they are equal. In a earlier verse, Paul even says that the head of Christ is God. We see all through the gospels how Jesus subordinated every thing he said and did to the authority and direction of the Father. And yet, He is co-equal and now glorified with the Father.

By going back to the original creation of Adam and Eve, Paul puts to rest any other argument against this idea. What a curious phrase, "because of the angels." Paul does not elaborate as if we should know what he means by this. What we can know is that it is given as a reason why the order of authority should be observed. The angels were observers during the creation; they observe us today. A fallen angel can never be redeemed, so for them, the redemption of man is something to marvel at. They know submission and authority better than any other creature. For man, who has the incredible privilege of redemption, to usurp the God ordained order of authority is simply appalling to an angel.

The head covering business is like stripes on a soldiers uniform indicating rank. Paul calls it a "sign of authority." Just like the army wears different uniforms today than they did 2000 years ago, so too men and women in their family relationships have a different practice. But that is not the point.

How to priortize things

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (NKJV)

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.

We all live in a world where there are more things to do than what we have time for. How do you decide what's best?

A couple of days ago I talked about how a Christian is no longer under the Old Testament Law but actually under a higher law, a seemingly more difficult law, the law of Love. Although I may be free to do something, I should avoid it if it would cause another to stumble.

Today we see that law extended even further. Then we saw it applied so as to avoid harm. Today's verse takes that a step further. We prioritize what we do based on whether it helps another, whether it builds another person up. This is unselfishness.

But still, this is not the highest form of the law of Love. Jesus told us of an even higher demonstration of such Love...

Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 15:13 (NIV)

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

The Way of Escape

Posted by: David Carroll

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

God knows everything. God allows everything. God is in total control. Now, knowing this, do you think God has allowed a temptation in your life that he knows you cannot possibly bear? You may think you cannot but if you are in it then you can know with certainty that you can bear it because God has allowed it.

Not only can you bear it, but you can escape it. Notice that this is not about avoiding temptation or going around it. No, an escape implies that you find yourself in it and that there is a sure way out of it. If this verse is true, then it nullifies the favorite excuse, "The devil made me do it."