Meditation: Judging in the Kingdom

Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

This judging refers to condemning someone, not judging whether something is right or wrong. Later in the chapter Jesus will tell us to know the difference between true and false prophets. So we are still to judge or discern among things good and bad. Jesus seems to have in mind here people picking on each others flaws, criticizing them harshly.

As Jesus said, the standards by which we judge others will be the standards people use to judge us. These words are true on a human level and a God level. I remember telling a woman her fault and she replied, “Oh yeah, what about you?” And so the measure we use is measured right back to us. We know very well that if we are not walking the talk when we are pointing out another person’s flaws, we open ourselves to ridicule. “Why are you blaming me? You do the same thing!” We are then revealed as hypocrites for knowing the standard and not living up to it. If we can’t, why are we imposing it on others? Continue reading

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Meditation: Colossians 1:10, “A Higher View”

“That you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

What do you long to have? Perhaps a simple and quiet life. Maybe more peace or security from ongoing troubles. A special person with whom to share your life. Recognition in your field. And more money wouldn’t hurt.

I’m glad I’m reading the Bible. It tells me of greater goals than I can come up with for myself. But the Bible’s views are rather high, aren’t they? “Walk worthy of the Lord.” Is that even possible? “Fully pleasing Him.” I barely please myself, with all these worries churning in my mind. “Fruitful in every good work.” My scraggly garden shows that I’m no green thumb. “Increasing in the knowledge of God.” Don’t we forget sermons within the hour?

When we think from a human perspective, we think small. Really small. But with the Bible, we get the mind of Christ. With a renewed mind, we find possibilities beyond ourselves that are worth desiring. And with those possibilities, we aim our lives in new directions.

Yes, there’s a catch. You have to want these things. Paul prays for these blessings because they are not automatic. If we settle for “small” things, we’ll aim our lives in that direction. If we aim higher, the Spirit will train us how to get there. We have not because we ask not.

To do:

  • Make a prayer list and add these high thoughts to it. Pray that they would be your own.
  • Baby steps: “Fully pleasing Him.” What one thing can I do today to please Him?
  • Baby steps: “Increasing in the knowledge of God.” What can I read to know God more?
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The Symbolism of Revelation 12

Revelation chapter 12 is usually called by teachers and commentators a break, pause, or flashback as we jump back in time to the Satanic persecution of the Jews and the birth of Christ. But Jesus protects us from that thinking by dividing the book into three parts when He gave direction to John in Revelation 1:19: “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”

With these words, Jesus divides Revelation into “the things which you [John] have seen,” which is the vision of Jesus in chapter one; “the things which are,” which refers to chapters 2-3, and “the things which will take place after this,” which is chapters 4-22. (Note that 4:1 begins with, “I will show you what must take place after this,” which begins the third section of the book.) So there’s no room in the three divisions for the past. We can’t place Revelation 12 before John’s vision of Christ.

Revelation 12 could take place before John’s encounter if Jesus had said, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this, and the things before My visit to you, and the things which will take place after this.” But that would be pointless, wouldn’t it? It pretty well sums up all of history past and all of the future. If He meant this, Jesus might as well have said succinctly, “Write the things that take place in the past, present, and future.” But then why bother to say it at all? By eliminating the times before His encounter with John, Jesus places the bulk of events of Revelation where they belong, each part in its own time. With this reasoning, there is no room for the past in the whole of Revelation. Continue reading

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Are we justified by faith, or by works?

James 2:14 begins a train of thought that has puzzled readers probably ever since it was written. Here is the beginning of the passage:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

He makes this startling statement (2:24):

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

The puzzlement arises because they seem to directly contradict what Paul wrote in Romans 3:21-24. There, it tells us that the children of God have been declared righteous and justified when they believed in Christ apart from following the Jewish laws. Continue reading

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Meditation: Colossians 2:9, “All the Fullness”

“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9, KJV).

The bottle I drink from is a package composed of the plastic bottle itself and a paper wrapper around it, which itself is paper and ink. The bottle is not 100% plastic nor 100% paper. Now I’m looking at a book that is mostly paper that is coated with words in ink. It is not 100% paper nor 100% ink. Now I am looking at a computer case that is plastic. But its insides are a wide conglomeration of materials. So it is not 100% plastic.

But Jesus Christ is 100% Man and 100% God, and one person of the trinity. He is the Son of God who came to earth in the flesh, yet retained His full deity. He had always been God from eternity past, but He was not always a man. As a man, Jesus experienced the breadth of human life, except He never sinned. He was not partly God and partly man, but the divine Son of God who took on flesh. Continue reading

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All does not always mean All

In the Bible, “all” sometimes means all, and sometimes it has a much more limited sphere. This is also true for “whatsoever” and “everything.” In many cases, these all-inclusive words are not referring to everything in every possible scenario in the world, but everything in a defined, limited application. In other words, the Bible uses these words the same way we use all, whatever, and everything in normal conversation.

When things go very wrong, for example, we may say that “Everything’s falling apart.” Do we mean everything in a manner that includes the whole world? No; we are declaring that a large part of something we are involved in is coming undone; we are declaring how overwhelmed we feel about it. This is what I mean when I say that these words have a defined, limited sphere. So it is with several uses of the word “all” in the Bible.  Continue reading

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Our Righteous Standing in Christ

If I were reading the articles on my web site as a new Christian, I would have felt anxious. I would have examined my life and wondered if I’m good enough, if I’m working hard enough, or if I’m committed enough.

I have been saved for over 30 years now and realize that some of my recorded observations make more sense to a person familiar with the cross and its power than those who are still giving in to the flesh on an ongoing basis.

My articles are not to be interpreted as a works-based salvation. For this reason, I want to explain a rock-solid foundation that belongs to every believer in Christ. We who focus on doing the best we can may lose sight of some tremendously important truths that are meant to stabilize our daily walk. Without these truths, we will be prone to self-recrimination and depression. Or we may go in the opposite direction and identify with our works like the Pharisee. Been there, done that. Continue reading

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Accessing Grace for Help

“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'” (1 Peter 5:5)

When we think of grace, we define it as an undeserved gift from God. You can’t earn it, just as you could not earn your salvation. God gives the sinner life even though the sinner’s life was lived in opposition to God. So salvation was an unearned gift of God.

But there is more to grace than God giving us an undeserved gift. According to 1 Peter 5:5, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” God withholds grace from one class of people and gives it to another. A logical mind would reason, “of course the humble got grace — he deserves it while the proud does not.” But if grace is undeserved favor, how could this reasoning make sense? The truly humble, of course, would be the first to protest that due to the sin they repented of, they do not deserve grace any more than the proud do. Continue reading

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There’s More to the Romans Road to Salvation

In most cases of the gospel proclamation, the message preached is about entering into salvation. The Romans Road is often used to lead a person to faith in Jesus Christ. (To learn more about this method of chaining verses, see this article from GotQuestions.org.)  From the tension, despair, and frustrations I’ve seen among Christians in hard times, it’s evident that they’ve missed the other parts of Romans, which tells us that salvation is an ongoing process in which God uses difficulties and trials to mold us into people of victory and hope. I have been frustrated and endured long bouts of tension-filled sleeplessness myself, and can relate to this misunderstanding. When we don’t understand how God saves after we accepted Christ, or what exactly He saves us from, then “victory” becomes a hazy buzzword at best.

If you thought the gospel was only about entrance into salvation, if you are frustrated that things are not going your way, or your financial situation or relationships are causing you pain, then there is more to the gospel and the power of God than you have been led to believe. If you believe that God is here to smooth things over when you have trials, that He will help you escape every hurt and sorrow, and He will banish all difficulties from your life, then you have not begun to enjoy the gospel fruit. There is more! God’s way of salvation is different than what we have believed. He does more than deliver us from a future Hell and leave this life a hit-or-miss affair. Let’s look a little closer at what Romans really teaches about salvation. Continue reading

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Our Righteous Standing in Christ

If I were reading the articles on my web site as a newer Christian, I would have felt anxious. I would have examined my life and wondered if I’m good enough, if I’m working hard enough, or if I’m committed enough.

I have been saved for over 30 years now and realize that some of my recorded observations make more sense to a person familiar with the cross and its power than those who are still giving in to the flesh on an ongoing basis.

My articles are not to be interpreted as a works-based salvation. For this reason, I want to explain a rock-solid foundation that belongs to every believer in Christ. We who focus on doing the best we can may lose sight of some tremendously important truths that are meant to stabilize our daily walk. Without these truths, we will be prone to self-recrimination and depression. Or we may go in the opposite direction and identify with our works like the Pharisee. Been there, done that. Continue reading

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Kingdom Culture

When we have a low view of our salvation, it creates in us a lopsided view of personal growth. We look to the past or upbringing (“I came from a Christian family, so I’m saved”), or boast in the name of our denomination, or insist that we are good people. These things give us a misplaced measure of confidence in our spiritual walk. Jesus’ message was the good news of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). What standard are we using to gauge our spiritual growth? If we are going to evaluate our spiritual standing, I suggest we judge according to kingdom principles. Continue reading

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Jesus’ Creation of Authorities

Jesus did not only create the seen and unseen things of the natural world, but also conceptual entities like hierarchies of authorities in heaven and earth. When we think of Him as Creator, we usually don’t go that far, do we? We just focus on the physical things of our world.

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him (Colossians 1:16). Continue reading

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How can the Kingdom of God “suffer violence”?

In Matthew 11:12, we read an interesting aspect of the Kingdom of God:

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

How is the kingdom taken by violence? Continue reading

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The Cultural Christian versus the Called-out Christian

It has been said that if you were born in India, you would most likely be a Hindu because your parents were. If you grew up in the Middle East, then you would be one of the three strains of Islam. If you grew up in Mexico, you would be a Catholic. And so it goes. In other words, the atheist contends that Christianity as a religion is no different than all the other world religions.

You know what? In a sense, they are right. Many Christians are cultural Christians. They have taken on themselves to follow the religious practices of their parents. They say exactly what all the other religious followers say: “I am a good person. I go to church/synagogue/mosque/temple. When I die, will go to Heaven.” Continue reading

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Eternal life is a healthy relationship with God

Each of the Bible’s spiritual values have a natural-life counterpart that we live out, whether we believe in God or not. Eternal life is one of those aspects that we already know in our natural lives. The average church-goer probably believes that eternal life is the same as living a long time, of never dying. Actually, it is quite different. Eternal life is best understood as a deep and abiding friendship. It focuses on the quality of life, not its mere length. Continue reading

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Saved, but not yet delivered

In Romans chapter seven, Paul agonized over his inability to do the good he expected to do as a saved person. At the end he poses the heartbreaking question, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me?” This is spoken by a Christian man, one who had been saved by Jesus. On the one hand, he had responded to the gospel of salvation. On the other hand, he had yet to experience the saved life of deliverance from sin.

He was crying out for deliverance. He seemed to know the promises of a better life, and knew it should result in victory over sin. Sin separated us from God, and Jesus came to reconcile us to Him, so He came to deal with sin. Yet Paul still did not experience the blessings he assumed would come from a new life with God. Continue reading

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Suffering: the training ground for spiritual maturity

How does the Spirit get mature, spiritual fruit in us? He doesn’t wave his hands over us or sprinkle pixie dust. No; he does it through suffering. That seems like a negative way of looking at the process, doesn’t it? Yet the idea of suffering, particularly of crucifying the flesh, is to remove everything that gets in the way of following the Spirit. With the flesh crucified, the Spirit is free to move and work in and through us. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible

2013 Joseph M. Holden and Norman Geisler
Harvest House Publishers
ISBN 978-0-7369-4485-4
http://www.christianbook.com/popular-handbook-archaeology-and-the-bible/norman-geisler/9780736944854/pd/944854

  • Did you know that 25,000 archaeology artifacts give support for the Bible?
  • Did you know that archaeology has unearthed historical details of the lives of over 60 major characters of the Bible?
  • Did you know that archaeology is the Bible’s greatest friend, is a scientific discipline, and provides great support for the reliability of the Old and New Testaments? (We just can’t say this for any of the other world religions’ holy books.)

I’ve always wondered why we don’t see any evidence of the Exodus and the events in Egypt. I took it for granted when other books said there is no evidence, and any existing evidence was covered up by the sands of history. Until I picked up this book at an apologetics convention at our church.

Here I learned for the first time that researchers had unearthed the dwelling of the Israelites in Goshen where they stayed as slaves of the Egyptians. The archaeologists found that their dwellings were of the same structures as those they’ve unearthed in Canaan. This gives support to the story of them moving from Egypt to Canaan, as the Bible teaches. It makes sense, doesn’t it, for people to rebuild their homes in a new land in a way that they were accustomed to? And there’s more.  Continue reading

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My Prayer List Benefits

I’ve been using a prayer list to keep my prayer times productive. Here are some of the blessings I’ve discovered after keeping to it almost every evening. These benefits are for anyone who wants a better prayer life! Continue reading

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Second Corinthians insights

Morning Meditations by Steve Husting

Morning Meditations by Steve Husting

My family is being blessed as we follow this method of Bible study: http://www.stevehusting.com/doubtbusters/2013/10/19/whats-a-good-way-to-study-the-bible/

My family is going through the book of 2 Corinthians together, chapter by chapter, and sharing our results on Monday evenings at the dinner table. What follows are the results of my own meditations in the first few chapters of this book. There’s no need to restrict the blessings to my dinner table! After you read the following, try the Chapter Summary method of studying and meditating on the Bible on your own.  Continue reading

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Blessings of our Salvation

Our salvation is more than “my sins are forgiven,” or “I’m going to heaven when I die.” Here is a partial list of gratitude-inducing blessings that belong to the child of God. Our salvation is greater than we can conceive of. Don’t deprive yourself of experiencing the fullness of salvation that Jesus has won for you. “I’m a good person who goes to church” doesn’t come close.

There’s a hymn that tells us to count our blessings. May this list be a starting point to relish all that has been given us. In addition, for those who long for more out of their life, check through these to see what you still have ahead of you. Not all blessings of salvation come on the first day of receiving Christ. Many take time and effort to develop or appreciate. For instance, the believer who keeps complaining during hard times has not developed hope yet, which is being confident of a positive future in spite of present circumstances. True hope develops over time as we weather the trials and see God follow through. Continue reading

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How do you respond to the light?

People respond to rebukes in different ways. The wise and righteous in God’s eyes will be grateful for the insight shared about their shortcoming. All others will get angry and some even violent. We’ve read of words getting out of hand at a party and someone storming out and returning with a gun: or a table conversation turning uncomfortable when the offended party responds to the accusation with tension. Continue reading

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Cultural Christianity

When I was having a discussion with an atheist the other day, he voiced the usual objection about Christianity being the only way to Heaven while other religions were unfairly left out. Over time, I had come across several different ways to address this, but there is one aspect about this issue that is seldom brought up. It’s the issue of cultural Christianity.

We take on the religion that is dominant in our area. If you live in Mexico, then you are probably growing up Catholic, for example. Middle East countries have their distinct sects of Islam. Other countries have their dominant religion. Although we treat Christianity as unique among these religions, we fail to take note that many church-goers attend because of culture; that is, they go because it is the usual thing to do, and they’ve been going that church because their parents did. Continue reading

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You can tell you are a Pharisee when …

… you are told an uncomfortable truth about yourself and you get angry.

Sometimes when I tell the truth about someone’s sinful condition, people get mad and say hurtful words in response. (These are people who go to church.) This is no different than the way the Pharisees responded to Jesus and the truths He spoke about their lives. Their darkness was brought to light and they did not like it. They got mad and wanted to destroy Him.

When Jesus said uncomfortable things in His disciples’ hearing, what did they do? Many disciples left Jesus while those close to Him responded, “To whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Continue reading

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Hope and the Christian

Hope is not merely a religious word for a theological concept, but an internalized, deep conviction developed over time, just like many other convictions that have grown on us. For example, we may develop a deep appreciation for someone when we observe how helpful she is to us. The appreciation is a conviction that wasn’t there before, even though the word “appreciation” has long been a part of our vocabulary. So we can know what hope means without really possessing it. Continue reading

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Dealing with a Deceitful Heart

God spoke to us through Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is deceitful above all else, and desperately wicked. How is this seen in our lives? Here is one example. When I am overwhelmed by worries and fears, then my heart has fooled me, since it is making my imaginary troubles greater than the Savior can handle. The heart is also desperately wicked in these circumstances, for in choosing to deal with the problems apart from God, I have put myself in the place of God. Continue reading

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Grace and Works Go Together

I fear we are limiting God’s grace in our lives. I’ve seen two different aspects of God’s grace testified to. We often emphasize salvation is by grace, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9). In this passage, grace is God being merciful and benevolent toward sinners, especially toward the undeserving, to save through faith. We could not do anything to save ourselves, so God in His grace saved us apart from any works of our own when we simply trusted in His Son. This absolutely biblical aspect of grace is rightly preached and believed in the churches. When it comes to salvation through Jesus, it is by faith apart from any works of our own. But there is another aspect of biblical grace that seems to be little known and applied. Continue reading

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Called to Forgive

How important is it to forgive those who have wronged us? Jesus spelled it out for us by first telling us the horrible fate of those who offend us:

Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2)

Why does He pronounce such a terrible judgment upon these offenders? Because He came to save and recover people’s faith in God. If we are the offender who breaks up people’s relationships, we destroy God’s work. We become enemies of God. Continue reading

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What character traits does Jesus want to see in His church when He comes again?

Or, are you ready for a reward?

When I wrote my book, Ready for a Reward, I examined verses that were related to the end times which also mentioned a character value. That is, the verses had two aspects:
1. A time frame of just before, during, or just after the Lord’s return
2. A value that pleases the Lord

For example, in Matthew 25:21 we read: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” Both key aspects are in this verse. These words will be spoken after the Lord returns, when He rewards His servants. Plus, this verse emphasizes the Lord’s values of faithfulness and a job well done. So I can be confident of a joyful meeting when I follow through to the end on the task the Lord has given me, and do it well. This is a person who is ready for a reward. Continue reading

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Reflections on salvation from John R. Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ

I am currently enjoying John R. Stott’s book, The Cross of Christ, as an eBook on my Nexus 7. I’m going slowly, savoring Christ on every page, even going back a few chapters to re-read them before moving on. In this post I want to share about four aspects of our salvation that are so huge that the Bible gives us long, jaw-breaking words to describe them. The ideas are not new; the book just explains in a way that made them so rich and God so praiseworthy. I’ve been able to add these new reasons to my stable of ways to praise of God. I’m confident that you will too. The four words are propitiation, redemption, justification, and reconciliation. Let’s take them in turn, in my own words. Continue reading

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