Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Money, Is It Evil?

A couple decades ago there was a TV preacher whose slogan was something along the line “Money is evil, therefore send your money to me.” Besides the obvious misquoting of scripture, there was a total lack of intelligence in that slogan. Stop and think: If money were truly evil, why in the world would God want something evil? He doesn’t, but that money-loving, scripture-twisting preacher knew that many people didn’t know their Bible.

Today, money-loving preachers abound and, unfortunately, because they claim to represent God and the Bible, give a very bad name to both. But what does the Bible itself say about money? What about the intentionally misquoted I mentioned at the outset?

In 1Timothy 6:9-10 we read that the “love of money” (the insatiable desire to be rich) is what true Christians are warned against. What about money itself? Ecclesiastes 7:12 says that it has value as a “protection.” How can money be a protection? Proverbs 30:8,9 gives a bit of insight here. In part it says that having sufficiency can keep us humble, satisfied, and discourage theft based on hunger. (Note the “New Living Translation” here.) Yes, it can protect us from defaming our God through wrong action and it can help us make an honest living, providing for ourselves and families with a good conscience.

So money itself is not evil. However, the insatiable pursuit of it can be if we shove aside not only good morals and ethical living, but develop a “I will stop at nothing in order to get rich” mentality.

More info here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What Is God's "Holy Spirit"?

Why refer to God's power as hagion pneuma (holy spirit, aka holy wind, or better yet holy breath)? Think back to Jehovah's first creative act toward mankind. After forming the body, he (God) blew into his (Adam's) nostrils the breath of life. -Genesis 2:7.  What better way to remember our creator & commemorate our becoming living beings than by that first holy life-giving pneuma (breath, wind, air)? By it we are thus reminded that our very life is dependent on that first breath? That power to create life from inanimate material is still exclusively Jehovah's. (Reference 1, Reference 2, Reference 3)

Benefits of Serving God

Recently I performed and internet search for “benefits of serving God.” The results were dismal at best. A great deal of vague rhetoric and flowery words but little reference to actual scriptural proofs. Here is the list I quickly fleshed out by reflecting on scriptures I've learned….

So, have you ever asked: “What do I get from serving God? What immediate and future rewards are there?”
  • Mark 10:29,30 A large spiritual family of support. (For those that put a lot of weight in "blood" relations, Jesus here assures you that you will become part of a much larger family. Today, that "family" is a worldwide brotherhood. See Fast Facts on this link.)
  • Hebrews 12:11 Righteous in God’s eyes. (We all appreciate being admired by others. Imagine being considered by God as a person who truly acts and speaks in a right way for the benefit of all.)
  • 1John 5:14,15 God willingly, gladly listens to us. (Hearing and listening are two different things. Listening means that God hears your words with attentive interest. Your concerns are his concerns.)
  • Luke 11:13 Strength to remain faithful & firmly resolved by way of “holy spirit.” (See this link then reflect that God can, in effect, "breathe power" into us to rise to any test of faith.)
  • Philippians 4:7 Inner peace. (Make no mistake about it. This is NOT merely rose-colored-glasses. When a person learns what it really means to "know" God and to be known by him, the effect is a real calmness based on knowledge and confidence that God truly cares for those that make the sincere, concerted effort to know Him.)
  • Matthew 6:33,34 Our needs will be provided, so no need to worry. (Jesus was here talking about food and shelter. In today's world, many people would lists dozens, if not hundreds of more "needs," but life's real necessities are demonstrated by what disaster relief services provide today--shelter, clothing, food & water. Those are the necessities to maintain life. But is that saying that Jesus and Jehovah expect us to merely subsist? No, but that is another discussion.)
The above was only with less than 30 minutes reflection. As I remember more, I'll revise this post.

What is God's Tent (Rev.21:3)

Rev.21:3 mentions that the 'tent of God.' will be with mankind. Why a "tent"? Tents are typically associated with temporary conditions, whether it be camping or refugee situations or with nomadic peoples. Is God’s “residence” with mankind only temporary? Will he pull away from us?

No, that is not the mental imagery that is being painted for us in this passage. God himself resides in heaven and the earth is called his footstool. So God does not literally come down to reside on earth. It simply, according to scripture, could not contain him. (“But wait!,” you say, “verse 3 also plainly says that God will reside with them. That sounds like a contradiction to me.” Actually it is not. During the wilderness trek of the children of Israel (Jacob), God’s presence with and attentive protection for his people was indicated by other visible manifestations.) More than any other generation, ours can appreciate how this might be spoken of as if someone was “right there” with us. First, with the inventions of the telephone and television, people made exclamations that it felt “as if” that person were right there with them or that “It felt as if I were actually right there visiting the location.” Now, with the opportunity to use internet video communications, once again people are making expressions that are similar. (For me, I’ve personally been amazed with GoPro videos that did give a very near “real sensation” of an experience.) In a similar but not specifically detailed manner, God will reside with mankind. We will feel even more the full benefits of God’s good favor and care.

What then is the picture Revelation 21:3,4 is painting in our minds? Tents are also a protection from the elements. God’s spreading his tent over all mankind is intended to demonstrate not only his protection but his welcoming us into his universal united family. This protection will last forever as mentioned at Rev.21:4. More information is available here (see last two paragraphs).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Is Satan is a Sentient Being?

Read Job 1:6-12. Note that Satan "enters" in among the assembled (loyal) angels AND that Satan and Jehovah have a conversation. Consider: Now, Jehovah is spoken of as truthful, incapable of
lying, honest and loyal. In contrast, Satan is spoken of as having invented lying (being the very first liar in all creation), and blinding people to truth. For these two to have any conversation it would have to be between two sentient beings. It cannot be God addressing evil in general nor can evil reply in the specific crafty way it did without there being a mind behind it.

Next is the contact that Jesus (who is spoken of as never having committed a sin) had with Satan. Recorded both by Matthew and Luke, Satan challenges Jesus to three specific compromises of faith. In each instance, Jesus, loyal to God and not his own selfish desires,  correctly handles the situation. Again, if Satan were merely a disembodied concept of evil, this conversation could not have taken place.

There are other proofs regarding this matter, but as I have mentioned recently, I am striving to keep my posts brief. If you want to read more, here is a pretty extensive article.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Protection In Distressing Times

In John 18:36 Jesus states that if his rule was earthly, his attendants would have fought to secure that rule. Other translations render the word “attendants” as servants (17 times), followers (2), subjects (1), and officers (1). Was Jesus merely referring to his earthly disciples?

Consider Matthew 26:48-56 wherein Jesus told his disciples to put away their weapons because, if Jesus had wanted to, he could have had more than a mere 11 human followers defending him, he could have had 12,000 angels doing so. (In another situation, it is interesting that it was not any man that came to assist Jesus, it was angels that attended to him.)

What lessons have I taken away from this?
1.    If Jesus did not want his followers engaged in mortal combat to even save Jesus’ own life, how much less should we be engaged in military activity to protect a country that is not even part of God’s Kingdom?!

2.    Having the confidence Jesus displayed when faced with brutal enemies will help me remain calm when and if-ever I am faced with overwhelming odds.

No Part of This World

In a prior post, I wrote that God expected the nation of Israel to trust in him for national rule and military protection. When Jesus was on earth, how did he feel about depending on human rule?

At John 18:36 Jesus answered: “My Kingdom is no part of this world. If my Kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my Kingdom is not from this source.” The foregoing rendering is from the New World Translation. In this link, 20 of the 21 translations cited, also use the word “world.” The one unique rendering is the “New International Version,” which renders Jesus’ words as: “My Kingdom is no from an earthly source.”

Please direct your focus to the statement that Jesus’ kingship is “not from this source.” Regardless of which ruler Jesus had been standing in front of, would he not have been able to use the same words? Before answering that, consider Jesus words in these two passages. In both, Jesus speaks of “the ruler of this world” having received a judgment (past-tense) and then at some future time “will be cast out.” Who is this undesignated ruler? Revelation 12:9 indicates precisely who it is—Satan the devil. How many governments are under his control? The Bible says ALL of them.

In essence then, Jesus was saying that his rulership doesn’t originate with any of the governments under Satan’s control, which is all of them. It comes only from God, his Father. If Jesus felt that strongly, how about us? While we pay our taxes and obey the laws of the land, when called on to express our allegiance, we always indicate we are supporters of God’s Kingdom.