A Mother’s Shame

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The rod and reproof give wisdom; But a child left to himself causeth shame to his mother. When I was a child, in our home, discipline was firmly in place. Our parents were authority, and the children didn’t challenge authority unless each of us desired a reckoning. I had no desire for such judgments. As a grandparent, I have seen way too many parents be controlled by the children. Corporal punishment was utilized by my parents, but never overdone. It needs to be utilized today by loving parents; without it, not only do the children have no discipline and respect instilled, but the children grow up to be adults without respect in a world where other adults take no prisoners (Prov. 29:15, ASV).

Unheard Prayers

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He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination (Prov. 28:9 ASV).

To turn away from hearing the Lord means, in practical terms, you’re not interested in what He says. Think about that for a moment. It is so easy to pray, but how many are aware the Lord hears not? Look at the Lord’s exhortation in these words; are you a man or woman of prayer, yet, if you have given no attention to what the Lord says AND have turned your heart back to Him in obedience, then you can be sure He does not hear you.

I hit a home-run!

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Have you ever played baseball, got up to bat and swung at the pitch thrown and missed? I have done that many times; in fact, I have struck out several times. Though I did not strike out much, the times I did was humiliating to me. I lost. If I could have hit the ball, even a grounder into a double play, at least I hit the ball and did not strike out. Only one time did I hit the ball far enough to round the bases and score (a homerun). An exhilarating feeling; something that occurred over 40 years ago (about 1973), I still remember.

I remember when I recovered a lose football during the fall of the year when I was in high school, then doing it again in the end zone. It was my “homerun” in a football game that I remember even still today.

Baseball is a good metaphor.

I enrolled in school at Bluffton College in the summer/fall of 1979. I went to play football; my future wife (Anne Lyon, a young lady I did not know at the time) went to school to get an education. Imagine that! I was not a good football player, but I had heart and started on the junior varsity team.

Football season was over; now it was just me and my roommate. He was from Tokyo, Japan (Shigeo Hashimoto). He was a great roommate, respectful and kind. He was dating a young lady from Michigan. This young lady from Michigan had friend, not her roommate. In early 1980, it was “get-your-roommate-a-date” night (I don’t know if that is what it was called, but that was the effect of it.)

Shigeo and his girlfriend connected Anne and me together. I don’t remember much about it, but for some reason I don’t think I impressed her. I was dating a preacher’s daughter already (if it could be called dating), but there was not much intrigue on either side in that attempt by me. It did not last long. Before we said goodbye to one another, I was already in the initial stages of seeing Anne. Anne was (and still) is quiet (except at home), pretty and overly considerate. No doubt, when she looked at me she might have seen something positive, but looks was not one of them!

I hit a single when Anne started talking to me.

The school year ended and I was still on 1st base. That summer Anne got sick, I learned that I was unable to return to school (economics), but Anne wanted me to stay on 1st base. I wanted to stay there also. Our long-distance dating continued, but as young people often do, we left open other possibilities. I think I might have pursued one, not more than two possibilities, but in both cases I did not even make it to 1st base.

Looking back on it, I am glad I was thrown out before I reached 1st base.

With Anne, I made it to 2nd base when we started getting serious, but our seriousness in relationship was in the early stages. We respected one another and the moral code with which Anne was raised made the difference. I was raised with a similar one, but Anne took it more seriously than me. In time our dating went from the 2nd into the 3rd year (her sophomore-junior years at Bluffton College). If I recall correctly, I made it to 3rd base when Anne and I decided to marry. I only wish I remembered about the time when that was.

On 3rd base I stood until the wedding day in August 1983. It was on that day that I hit a homerun.

I thought I would hit may homeruns, but as maturity takes hold, I grounded out at 1st more times than I wish to count.

The years unfolded; now in our 39th year, as I was bathing, I heard a song I have always liked. Frankie Valli sang “My eyes adored you.” Always liked it but now in my 62nd year of life, it encouraged me to reflect on the homerun I hit. It does not represent precisely my experience, but a portion of the chorus rings true. I have often said, and believe it to be true, that Anne is my better half (every man ought to say that about his wife, and if he can’t, he must figure out a way to get after it, work on it so it can be said!)

Each morning she gets up, she either says a bubbly word like “Hello” or just waves. She makes sure that she greets me. Me, I mumble. When I come home, she does the same. I return the word, but not to the same degree of “bubbly” as she. This kind of greeting may not mean much to you, but they mean a lot to me. We have fussed and fumed, I have pouted and so has she, but she is the one, generally, who initiates a reconnect. I am the lucky one! What in the world did she see in me!

With Anne, I not only made it to 1st base, but I round the bases continually. She does not throw me a fast-ball to strike me out; she simply makes sure I can hit the pitch she throws. Sometimes I swing and miss. Other times, I am able to connect.

The glue that holds us together, in this order, is God, Anne and me. Unfortunately, I am a distant 3rd.

My eyes adore you.

At my funeral, these words I want read. I am somewhat of a “gap” man, and Anne will have to fill in the many gaps because better-half’s can do that.  

My Choice

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How should I look at what has been termed “the fairer sex”? Here is how I choose to look at them.

  1. They are worthy of protection. There is something virtuous in protecting those not as strong as a male. Thus, they are worthy to die for.
  2. They are worthy of deference. By this I mean, in so far as is possible, defer to her who has your heart. I have been married 39 years, and my deference to my wife has yet to fail me. As it turns out, that which I do to her, she returns to me.
  3. Understand that perfection is fleeting, but love is not. I still lift weights and workout the heart muscle, but as we get older, the muscles are not as strong and the skin is not as tight, and the aches and pain last a little longer. The quality of love, however, is much stronger.
  4. Though I am not consistent, when a females approaches a male to converse, let the male stand up, remove his cap, and say “Yes, Ma’am.” Let him give up his seat for her all the time. If anyone stands, let it be him.
  5. Never speak in such a way you would embarrass yourself in front of your mother. Let this be applied to being in the presence of any female. If you fail to do this, you are not much of a man.
  6. The male (husband, father) is the leader of the family, but the female (wife, mother) raises the children and, thus, shapes the world.

What happens if there is a female not worthy of any of this? No doubt, there are many females like this. First, have a default position like what I have suggested. Second, if/when you come across one like this, move on and don’t soil your name by descending into a way of thinking and behaving that brings discredit to your name. Third, she may look at you and take notice of how you respond to her, and change her mind.

It’s your choice.

Messy Divorce (1)

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The following reflective posts (on social media) was by a young man who lost his wife because of a poor decision. Sadly, he saw a side of his in-laws that was not Christ-reflective. I thought I would turn the sentiments expressed into anecdotal thoughts and post on my blog, for who can’t relate to them in some way?

My world looks very different than it looked 12 months ago. It has been the hardest year of my life. As I have gone off course, repented, and struggled to navigate my way back to the Lord despite the obstacles, I have learned that this is an opportunity for growth. Growth isn’t necessarily linear–with every year measurably better than the last. Some years serve as setbacks, where going forward cannot happen without first falling backward. Growth is more like a dance, with dips and turns, hardships and failures. But those hardships offer opportunities for fresh starts. You don’t have to be defined by your mistakes; you can be defined by what you did with those mistakes. I am greater than my sins because Christ is greater, and I choose to walk in the confidence of His mercy & forgiveness than the shame of my past.

As 2021 comes to a close (don’t let the door hit you on the way out), I’m eager to begin 2022 with a new start. And a new start begins with growing from the past. 2021 taught me lessons I hope I never forget. Here are some that I’ve written down for myself:

1. There are two sides to every story. What is so obvious to people who think – is so infrequently remembered in difficult times. Sometimes “difficult times” are not required. There are always two sides! That does not mean both sides have equal weight or are on par with quality, but at the very least, there are two sides, and both need to be heard. Proverbs 18:13, 17

2. Most people don’t care to consider both sides (because the truth is not what’s important to them) but are eager to be like the TV reporter who wants to become part of the story. While I would not dispute this sentiment, it has been my observation that people align with the one they like more. it is truly the case that “most people” are this way? Perhaps, but whether that is so or not, many stay quiet without involvement, and just allow what others are saying to persuade.

3. You must not build your faith on other people. When the mountains move, all you have left is God. Is my relationship with Him ready to stand? This is far easier said than done. People gravitate to those with whom they connect. Yet, the wisdom of this sentiment is so obviously true. Who is the closest to you but your family members? Should they not know you better than others? They should, but as you lean on them (or anyone, for that matter), it’s not long before you, sometimes, realize they are leaning on nothing themselves and you both fall.

4. You’re not as strong as you think you are. One of the great self-deceptions is that which says, “I can do it!” or “I’m alright, I don’t need you to help me.” – when both may be a long way from the truth. Then why do people say things like this? Because, in part, the scarring a person experienced has no desire to be shared with another but a select few. The other day a sister asked me about a previous preacher, where he is at, how he is doing. I had nothing to offer, but what was being said by a few who had direct knowledge was that the brother fell hard. She could hardly understand it. “How can people who know so much Bible give up that which they taught others?” She asked. I said her that many don’t have the depth they hope to convince others they have. I also said that many go into ministry to try to fix their own struggles / problems.

It’s about Choice

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Not long ago, Al Sharpton said regarding abortion:

Going even further to sugarcoat the issue, Sharpton — a Baptist minister — claimed the religious position and the Bible support “choice” on the matter. “The Bible — if you’re using this as a religious argument — the Bible is about choice,” he asserted. “You can go to heaven or hell; there’s nowhere in the Bible that says you have to go to heaven,” he added. “So where do we get this theology of forcing something when the reality is that you can’t even biblically base that?”

Calling the issue of abortion “a question of choice,” Sharpton claimed there was no justification in outlawing feticide. “If you are a minister as I am, you can preach to people to convert them,” he said. “You do not make laws to compel them.”

Al Sharpton is a religious charlatan. Would he say the same thing about adultery, the killing of those who have already been born? I am beginning to think he might. He is not a credit to those of the Baptist faith. This is his effort to minimize the stinging message of abortion as murder and make it more palatable to people to vote in a certain direction (his denials of this notwithstanding!). His effort at substance is like the Titanic.

Is the teaching of the Bible about choice? It is. The choice is between life and death. The Lord said to the Israelites (through Moses), See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil (Deut. 30:15, ASV). In this exhortation, it’s about choice, but if one wants to be pleasing to the Lord, then the choice is obvious. Is that a compelling matter? It is not a compelling matter. Yet, at a certain level of application, it would be if a person of Israel wanted to please the Lord. The Lord sets forth the principle of Deuteronomy 30 in a New Testament context also. It was Paul, in Acts 26, who said the Rome’s local governmental authority, Wherefore, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision (26:19).

So, yes, it can be framed the way Sharpton said, but the repercussions of the choice Sharpton said nothing about. Are laws of the land compelling? Each of us has a choice to obey or disobey. If we choose one, the consequences are such and such; if we choose the opposite, then the same. Thus, we have a choice. Yet the consequences of the choices made have a compelling quality to them. If a person takes an innocent life, is that murder? To ask is to answer! Is there freedom of choice in this? There is.

In the context of baptism and salvation, the Lord’s apostle said,

Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered; and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness (Rom. 6:16-18).

So, it does come down to a choice that each of us make. Some make laws to benefit to community, making it a civilized community of right and wrong. Outlawing the killing of the innocent (including abortion) is one such law. People, such as Sharpton, would take some of those laws and make that which is evil and turn it to a good (cf. Isa 5:20).

When the Lord is removed from the community, there is no chance people can know what is right and what is wrong; all they can do is make an educated guess and hope the majority agree with them. Yet, just a Scripture declares, In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes (17:6). George Soros, the AOC types and people of similar thinking would love to turn civilization upside down and begin a new world order that seeks to elevate self and help people not prepare for eternity. Paul, in writing about Satan said, that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11).

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, and this is exactly what Sharpton is soon to do. Is Sharpton right? Yes, the Bible is a matter of choice, but to frame the killing of the innocent as a matter of choice makes Sharpton a charlatan.

Their Contribution (Acts 1)

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Not long after Lord died and was resurrected from the tomb, the disciples (11 of them) were a bit uncertain about their immediate future; this seemed to be the case even after the Lord met them in His resurrected state. They heard what the Lord said to them, that is, they were to wait in Jerusalem until an appointed time, but, still, there was much confusion and uncertainty. With Him, they had direction, but with Him not being immediately present, they were not sure what to do. There is no surprise to this.

Finally, the opportunity came to them to interact with the Lord and ask Him about when the Messiah’s kingdom would come. He did not answer their question as they had hoped when He said it was not for them to know the times or seasons concerning the kingdom’s coming. Instead, they were to stay in Jerusalem and wait on the Lord’s time and be less concerned about the perspective from their vantage point.

Before two months were gone from the time of the Lord’s resurrection, the disciples decided it was time to replace Judas, one of the original 12, but one who died a violent death (Acts 1:18). Judas willfully chose to walk away from the Lord and the price he paid for doing so brought no redemption for him. Peter spoke the following words with Judas in mind.

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire (2 Peter 2:20-22, ASV).

It was now time for the Lord to have a replacement for Judas. The Holy Spirit makes clear the following had to be met before he would be chosen: he had to be a male, one who was with the Lord from the beginning (starting at His baptism), and he had to be a witness of the resurrection. With the Lord’s blessings, Matthias was the chosen one of the Lord.

In this short summary of Acts 1, we learn some important lessons. First, even if the events of the time are rapidly changing and one feels confused and uncertain about what to do next, the Lord always knows. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:14, ESV)! Second, you’re not the only one that might be uncertain about the immediate future; there are others beside you who need encouragement, just as you need it. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb. 10:24-25, ESV). Third, when the Lord chose a male, He did not relegate the godly woman to an inferior status. The only time we know anything about inferiority or superiority is when the Lord addresses it. Otherwise, the perspectives of people are not of any value in matters pertaining to God. Godly women buttress and support godly men. It is often the case the women are godlier than men and a significant backbone piece in every congregation of the Lord’s people. All can learn from them, so never dismiss their contribution. RT

Romans 3

Paul now anticipates an objection that would come to him, something along this line. There are advantages to the nation of Israel in receiving God’s Law on Mount Sinai, of which one advantage was that they received God’s oracles. With this gift from God, there was responsibility to live in accordance with the contents of that gift. Yet, Israel, as a nation, failed to live as they should. Taking notice of Paul’s point in chapter 2, Paul assumes an objection offered to him: If Israel’s hypocrisy is going to elevate the Lord (and His justice) even more, then would the Lord be unjust in condemning the nation? This is the essence of how chapter 3 begins. Paul flatly rejects this and turns the approach around on them when he said, “Then why am I (Paul) still judged (by you of Israel) as a sinner?” if this is going to elevate the glory of the Lord even more (3:1-8)?

Since Paul took the force of their objection away, let see what the Scriptures attribute to those who live under its authority (3:9-18). Not only are all in the world under sin, but even the Law of Moses that you, as a nation, tightly cling to shows this to be the case. In my estimation, the 9 Old Testament passages can be broken into 3 headings: 1) the path of man walking alone (3:10-12), 2) the nature of man walking this path (3:13-17), 3) the effect of their choice (3:18).

In essence, the advantage of receiving God’s Law at Mount Sinai was to make clear that even those who lived under its authority (the Jewish nation) are guilty of sin. If they are guilty, how much more are those who received no corresponding Law from God? When Paul said “by works of the Law no flesh is justified in His sight” (3:20), he means that those who live by the Law can’t be pleasing to the Lord by mere “obedience” to the commands of the Law, as if one was able to tally up more days of obedience than disobedience. Those who thought this way missed one of the points of the Law, that is, to bring to one’s knowledge what sin is, a violation or transgression of God’s revealed Law.

The Law does more than this; the righteousness of God is seen in the Law and the Prophets (3:20-31). From the vantage point of rabbinic tradition, there is nothing greater than the Law as given by God to Moses, therefore, God’s righteousness is revealed within[1] and not outside of it. While this is the rabbinic perspective, Paul preached this was not the case. God’s righteousness is revealed in Jesus, the Law and Prophets attesting to God’s righteousness in prophecy. The Law, given exclusively to the Israelite nation, only judged those under its authority to be guilty of sin. While sin existed prior to the Law, it was when the Law was given that accountability was demanded (cf. Acts 17:30). By this I mean, the Israelite nation now had a codified law from God by which he would be judged, in contrast to anything associated with a “moral law of the heart” or some non-codified (unwritten or unrevealed) law. Also, under the banner of the Law the Seed of David (Jesus) came to redeem those under the authority of the Law (1:3-4; cf. Gal. 4:4).

The Law shows what sin is, the consequences of being guilty, and that it applies to the nation of Israel. This makes it clear the nation (including the individuals within the nation) are guilty of sin and in need of redemption. The Gentiles had no corresponding Law or revelation from God (as far as the Bible teaches). Since all are guilty of sin (3:23), all (Jew / Gentile) who come to Jesus will be redeemed; as in the Law there was a “Day of Atonement”, so in the New Covenant Jesus is our “day of atonement.” This demonstrates the righteousness of God in His desire to seek and save the lost (cf. Luke 19:10).  Since God is Lord of both Jews and non-Jews, the Jewish community can be assured the Law they embraced through the many years played a pivotal role in God’s plan to redeem man, this was the advantage given to the Jewish people (cf. Exodus 19:6ff).

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  1. Even though the Israelite nation was guilty of hypocrisy, there was still a benefit in them receiving God’s word. There was profit in God’s command for each male born to receive God’s covenant of physical circumcision. Unfortunately, this blessing (privilege) turned into hypocrisy; they had uncircumcised hearts. This generated bad faith or a failed faith. Second, there was an advantage to Israel in that Israel received God’s Law which, by itself, no other nation on earth could ever say. Israel, however, failed the Lord in the advantage given them because they failed to see what the Law taught (cf. John 6:44-45), they failed to see they were themselves guilty of sin, as the Gentiles were. Even though they received God’s Law, this did not make them better spiritually than any others around, only more privileged, and more responsible because they were in position to know what God expected of them (3:19).[2]
  2. How could Gentiles be in sin unless there is a law over (or given to) them to violate? Before the Law of Moses, all were guilty of sin and fell short of the glory of God; this applied to all those who lived in the days of Noah, Abraham, and Joseph – all of which received no corresponding Law like Moses did on the mountain; as far as the Record is concerned, the only “law” they had was a “patriarchal law”, one not revealed in the Bible. Regarding the Gentiles, especially after the time of Moses, God did not call them to account for their sin like He did the Israelites after His revealing the Law to Moses on the mountain.
  3. The Law of Moses declared the individual and the nation guilty of sin; Paul’s focus is on his brethren (the nation) “according to the flesh.” Unlike the Gentiles, Jewish guilt was made known to them through the revelation of God’s Law. Romans 3:9-18 illustrates this.[3] The path man walks of his own accord (3:10-12) The death man sprays in the vilest evils of his mouth walking according to his own accord (3:13-17) The fearlessness (foolishness) of man in his walk (3:18). In 3:20, the Holy Spirit gives the first indication of the Law’s purpose: guilt is associated with a violation of God’s will. This sort of violation has teeth that sinks greater with its bite than one who violates his or her own conscience. Thus, Israel is guilty. One’s righteousness was not in the possession of God’s covenant (circumcision) and having the Law of Moses revealed to them. Righteousness was the result of one’s heart response to God’s will through obedience to the Law as part of that nation. Justification before God was in relation to one’s personal faith, such as that which Abraham had.[4]
  4. The Law God gave to Moses was God’s teaching to a nation how to live, how to worship, and how to address sin when it must be addressed. The Law of Moses taught what the nature of sin is, which is a failure to do what God said. One could not do what God said if there was no faith in the doing of that which God said.[5] The Law of Moses was not a system of faith that justifies (cf. Acts 13:39) because, in the history of justification, Abraham was justified before the Law was revealed to Moses / Israel.
  5. Through the Law and Prophets there was a continuing call for Israel (as a nation) to repent because many would do the commands in outward form,[6] but they had no faith in the doing of it. This call to repentance was for them to continue to exist as a nation (in contrast to be taken into captivity), not be saved from sin. An Israelite might convince others he was doing what God said, but since the Lord knows them that belong to Him (2 Tim. 2:19) and He looks on the heart (cf. 1 Sam. 16:7), then those so operating could never get their feigned efforts by the Lord.
  6. Though the nation did not repent, the individuals within the nation could if they chose to. Since righteousness was not through the Law, how was one declared righteous before God? One could be pleasing to the Lord if it was by faith they chose to live and obey the holy will of God. This was taught as far back as Deuteronomy 10:12-13. It was the Law and Prophets that got to the heart of the problem in the nation’s existence; if the nation experienced anguish, then individuals comprising that nation did the same. While the physical nation could not be saved, the individual could be.[7]
  7. Through the Law and Prophets, the Lord’s promised Son (seed) of David was to come to the nation of Israel (cf. Psa. 2; Isa. 2:1-4; 4:2-5; et al.), giving them the first opportunity to embrace the Lord’s redemption. This was realized in Jesus (cf. John 1:45). When Jesus came, giving evidence of his credentialed claims (John 5:31-47), the nation rejected Him, killing Him, then burying Him in a tomb carved out of rock; with the nation rejecting Jesus, God rejected the nation. They hoped to put to rest any claims of Jesus, but in this they had no success. Instead, He was resurrected, and Paul preached His message. In 3:22, it is Jesus who is the righteousness of God. Thus, those who would be pleasing to God must go through Jesus (cf. John 14:6). Jesus is the Father’s righteousness, witnessed by the Law and Prophets.
  8. “Deeds of the law” (3:20, 28, NKJV, KJV) or “works of the law” (ESV, ASV). The EMTV (English Majority Text Version) uses “works of the law” in 3:20, 28, and 9:32. Moffatt renders the same phrase “on the score of obedience to law” in 3:20. To what is this referring? The only “law” under discussion is related to the Mosaic Law, as mentioned in 3:19, and as quoted in 3:10-18. There is no discussion here relative to New Testament law (cf. James 1:25) or civil law. The word “works” (ASV) is used by Paul in Romans 10x (if I counted correctly). In the following passages, it has exclusive reference to the Law of Moses (3:20, 27, 28; 4:2, 6; 9:32; 11:6). In the following passages, it refers to what an Israelite does in general (2:6; 9:11; 13:12). The Expositor’s Greek Testament commentary says it is “primarily the Mosaic law” (2.608). In fact, it is more than primarily, it is exclusively that because the context demands this interpretation. Paul is not talking about the principle of law or the holy commands that have come from the Almighty. The Jewish community looked at the Law as an “end-all”, there is salvation in no other system than that contained within the Torah, or the Law of Moses. In their commentary on Jeremiah 31:34-35, the rabbis state that the nation of Israel “remains eternally His Chosen People” (p. 277). With respect to Jeremiah 31:30-33, “God will engrave the existing Torah upon the hearts of the Jewish nation, thereby creating an everlasting and loyal bond between Him and Israel” (p. 275).

[1] Rabbi Rambam sets forth at great length the “unanimously held view that every letter and word of the Torah was given to Moses by God; that it has not been and cannot be changed; and that nothing was ever or can ever be added to it” (Chumash xix). Concerning the Torah, “[t]he letters are eternal for they are the will of the Eternal” (xxiii).

[2] Compare this with the rabbinic words: “Thus, even though he and Sarah were naturally incapable of having children together, they were superior to the stars and would have children…by comparing Israel to the stars, God indicated that when Israel does God’s will, they are above all others…” (Chumash, p. 67)

[3] This is not to say the Gentiles were not guilty of the same approach, only that with a revealed law from God, God made these matters explicitly known to His selected (chosen) nation. Compare God’s purpose to the nation in Exodus 19:5-7.

[4] Nations are not saved, people are.

[5] Some elaboration here. When I say, “do what God said”, I mean doing what He said from the heart of faith, trusting Him because one knows His will and seeks to please Him. If one is ignorant of God’s will (Law), there is no way that person can be pleasing to the Lord (cf. Eph. 5:17), even though he does much good in the community in which he lives.

[6] I did not use the word “obey”

[7]  Salvation is a spiritual concept; thus salvation was related to spirituality; the nation of Israel, a physical and national concept had no role in the spiritual realm.

She is tearing it down

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MARY: “She brings jobs to the community. She is such a nice lady, such a great neighbor. When I was in need, she was there to assist me and my family.

“When November comes, I will surely vote for her!”

PETE: “That’s your choice, of course, but are you aware she promotes the tearing down of the moral fabric of this country?”

MARY: “What are you talking about?”

PETE: “The Lord set forth at creation the basic foundations of a family; it begins begin with a male and female. That is the only context in which the natural order of procreation can occur. That is the Lord’s way, and those who try to alter that with the unnatural, such as your senator, stand in the Lord’s way, tearing down what He created, which is the moral fabric of society.”

MARY: “I don’t believe it!”

PETER: “Really?” Here you are.

I know the Scripture also, Ron

Some time back a brother waffled on his commitment to the Lord. I learned about it and sent him messages to encourage him. Along the way, I sent him a message when I received a return message like “I know the Scripture also, Ron.” As I reflected on that, and doing it again now, I am reminded that knowing the scripture does not always translate into obeying the Scripture. Why is that? It’s a matter of one’s will to put knowledge into action.

Gaining knowledge is only a part of one’s spiritual growth. Another part of one’s spiritual growth is obeying from the heart that which was learned. James puts it this way, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves (1:22, ASV). It’s been said that when one lies to another trust is gone. What happens when one lies to himself?

The gaining of knowledge is much easier than putting into practice that which is gained. Why do young people go to college to learn something of interest, something that has no marketable or practical value, and become surprised they are unable to find work to complement their college degree? They do so because they see college much differently in their youth than they will when they are much older. Many young people see the Bible in a way similar to how they see college; it’s valuable, but not life changing. Sadly, older people have failed to learn lessons to avoid this pitfall.

Why is this the case? I suppose there are a number of reasons one could offer. First, in part, the habits of today are not easily changed tomorrow. As you reflect on that, there is nothing profound about such an observation. You’ve not only seen it, but, if you’re normal, you experienced it. This is related, second, to stubbornness. When a person is “preaching” to you about your bad habits, you may initially give an ear, but if it continues, then the ears turn deaf, and the heels dig in. You not only tire of hearing from them, but you also begin to turn away from them.

Just as bad habits and stubbornness become obstacles, these are perfect contributors for a third reason: weakness, that is spiritual weakness. Perhaps you can include other kinds of weaknesses, but spiritual weakness is what I have in mind. How does one become spiritually weak? Well, as stated, there is a failure to apply what was learned; but also when they don’t allow that which is learned to take root.

For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:12-14). 

What is the Holy Spirit saying here? He is saying that at a certain point, one should allow the Word of God to take root to such a degree that he (or she) becomes a teacher of the Lord’s word. The Hebrews’ writer said they were not because they allowed other things to get in the way – whatever they were. Do you?

Lack of knowledge is more than just an academic matter; it is also an experience matter. That which you learn be sure to put into day-to-day use. Don’t graduate from a college with a degree of no real, practical value, and then work at an entry-level job. Don’t read the Bible and stay drinking only milk. RT