The End of Days

Originally posted in May 21, 2013.

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For some reason, my wife and I like disaster movies.  This is not to be confused with movies which are a disaster.  Or maybe it’s just me,and she puts up with it.  She does that, – a lot.  If there’s a DVD with background information on how it’s done, so much the better. I’m fascinated by the “hows” of the disaster scenes.  My comment to my wife is often, “I wonder how they did that.”  One of my favorites along that line is “Dante’s Peak.”  Even knowing how they do the dam rupturing or the highway collapsing and seeing how they “shoot it,” especially since there’s no such highway near the town where they shot the movie, it’s amazing to me that, knowing all that, you cannot tell it in the movie.  It looks real.  Another thing that amazes me is the amount of work it must take…

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“Worm Theology”

“How then can man be righteous before God?
Or how can he be pure who is born of woman?
If even the moon does not shine,
And the stars are not pure in His sight,
How much less man, who is a maggot,
And a son of man, who is a worm?”

Job 25:5, 6 (NKJV).

These verses, quoting a man named Bildad the Shuhite, form part of the discussion between Job and his three “friends” about the whys and wherefores behind Job’s suffering.  The friends seem to believe that he is afflicted because of some hidden sin, while Job maintain that he is innocent.  We don’t want to get into all that, except to say that God finally intervened and settled the matter once and for all.  He revealed that He had brought all this suffering on Job to demonstrate that there are people who follow and serve God simply for Himself and not just for what they can get out of Him.

Our thought for this post is taken from the verses at its beginning.  I haven’t heard the phrase itself in the title for a long time.  I think it was from a Christian radio program my grandmother used to listen to.  The speaker was decrying the use of “worm” to describe man, which wasn’t uncommon back then.  I don’t really remember what he said beyond the phrase, except that he did seem to think that it wasn’t fitting to describe mankind like that.  “A worm.”  Indeed!

A worm really isn’t very high on the social ladder, to say the least.  They’re good for baiting fish hooks and robins pull them out of the ground.  A heavy rain will bring them out en masse, but no one invites them for dinner – except the robin 🙂 .  At the same time, they are vital for our ecology, loosening and aerating the soil as they burrow along and they help to fertilize the ground.  We would probably be in trouble without them.

Compared to man, though, they seem pretty insignificant.  They don’t build great skyscrapers or drive automobiles or fly planes.  There is no great civilization named after them, no “wormtopia”.  They exist mostly unseen and unsung.

Insignificant.

That’s part of the thought in the verse at the beginning of the post.  Compared to God, man is indeed insignificant, in spite of the fact that we have created and built great and impressive things.  We’ve left our footprints on the moon.  We send spacecraft beyond our solar system.  We can examine things down to the atomic level and have unraveled the mysteries of our DNA.  In spite of all that, we are just creatures of the moment.  This moment.  We have no guarantee of the next moment.  I may not even have enough moments left to finish writing this post.  Only God knows for sure.  We don’t normally think like that – we plan for the future, and we should, but there is no guarantee about that future.

Why we should be concerned about that uncertainty as a race and as individuals of that race, Bildad also mentions that in his comments to Job:  “How then can man be righteous before God?” v. 4.  Worms don’t have to worry about that, but it’s perhaps the most important question facing men and women, boys and girls – how to be righteous before God.  It is the most important dilemna facing us:  how to become what we are not.

Men have dreamed up all kinds of answers to that question.  Some have started religions or believe that religious ceremonies of one kind or another can make them righteous.  Others donate to charity or build hospital wings, or do humanitarian works, often as great personal expense or suffering.

As I began to work on this post, it was on a Sunday, “church” day.  At the front of many church auditoriums, you will see a cross.  There’s a lot of discussion about that Cross.  About a death suffered on a cross almost 2000 years ago.  There were three crosses on Golgotha that day.  Two other men died on them; what made the third Cross so special?

The One who died on it.

He was not –

Insignificant.

It’s interesting that our Lord Himself used the word in the title, or at least it’s attributed to Him prophetically.  Psalm 22 is a prophecy of the agony of the Lord Jesus as He hung on the Cross.  In v. 6, as part of His thoughts during that terrible time, we read,

“But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.”

Our Lord was mocked and ridiculed as He hung naked on that Cross.  Our pictures of that event have covered Him up, but the Romans, and the Jewish leaders, had no such concerns.  He was just “a worm,” to be trodden underfoot and disposed of.  Or so they thought.

There’s something incredible about the word translated, “worm,” in the verse in Psalm 22.  This wasn’t just any old fish-bait; it’s the word referring to the species of worm from which the color crimson was obtained.

Crimson.

The color of blood.

“Saved by the blood of the Crucified One”

So goes the old gospel song.

We don’t sing those old songs and hymns any more.  We like the nice little choruses that don’t really say much.  Goes along with our Christianity, which today doesn’t really do much.  You think not??  Look at America.  Thousands and thousands of churches.  Where is their influence in our culture??  I’m old enough to remember that things which are practiced and promoted today were hidden away in a corner 50, 60 or 70 years ago.

O, listen, beloved.  Our Savior humbled Himself in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.  We have our little crucifixes or crosses, all prettied up and made into jewelry, but we have no idea of the horror and suffering of those who hung on the originals!  There was nothing pretty about them!

Added to this in the case of our Lord was the fact that God made Him to be sin who know no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, 2 Corinthians 5:21.  We might be able to have an inkling of the physical suffering of our Lord, but this aspect of it is as far over our understanding as the farthest stars in the heavens.

He was the Lord of glory!

He was holy, harmless, undefiled…,Hebrews 7:26.

madesin

for the likes of us!

That is something else for which we have no comparison.  Sin is part of our makeup, part of our lives, part of our culture.  Granted, some don’t delve into it as deeply as others, but, still, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23.

What must it have been like for incarnate holiness to be made into immeasurable sinfulness??

He suffered the wrath of God against sin, a wrath and suffering for which there also is no comparison on this earth.  But He did it willingly, for the joy set before him endured the cross, [He despised] the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:2.

Don’t rush by that word, “endured.”

It took the Son of God to be able to do that, but even He did not find it “easy”.

Oh, listen!  Do you know this One who bled and died for the sins of His people?  He died that you and I might live.  He suffered wrath, in order that you and I might receive grace and mercy and forgiveness.  He lives, in order that we might have hope for the future, regardless of the circumstances of the present.

Do you know this One?

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

One Or The Other

Thus says the LORD:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD.  For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.

“Blessed in the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is in the LORD.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit,”  J
eremiah 17:5-8 (NKJV)

As I was reading in Jeremiah the other morning, I was struck by 17:6, which describes the life of the man “who trusts in man…whose heart departs from the LORD”:   “A shrub,” “the desert,” “shall not see when good comes,” “parched places,” “wilderness,” “salt land,” “not inhabited.”

Not a very appealing picture, is it?

This is especially true when we compare it with verse 7, which describes the blessing of “the man who trusts in the LORD”: “a tree,” “planted by the waters,” “spreads out its roots,” “by the river,” “will not fear…heat,” “its leaf will be green,” “will not be anxious in…drought,” “nor…cease from yielding fruit.”

As I was thinking these verses over, it seemed to me that they presented “Two Extremes.” That was the original title for this post.  But the verses don’t really propose two extreme ways of living; they describe one or the other of the only two ways of living there are:  trusting in man, being self-confident and trusting to our own wisdom, or, trusting in the LORD because we can’t really see the next year or day or minute or second.  Last year, for example, I doubt anyone foresaw COVID-19.  And, yes, there are conspiracy theories about it all, but that’s not my purpose here.  Nobody knows when it will end or what it will ultimately do to our nation and culture – and the nations and cultures of the world.  No one can absolutely see and be sure of what will happen next – in anything.

At the same time, even though we can’t see tomorrow, there are things we’re to do today; we’re not just to sit around.  If a farmer expects a harvest, for example, he has to get out and do some hard work.  Crops don’t just appear magically.  They take several months of attention.  Houses don’t build themselves.  Meals don’t cook themselves.  The parts of a car don’t assemble themselves.  Life may go on, but so must we.  At the same time, it is the Lord gives us the intelligence, the strength and even the life to be able to “go on”.  When we do, though, we just don’t always know how things will turn out.  Ecclesiastes 11:6 says, In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good, emphasis added.

Jeremiah 17:7 has been a favorite of mine for a long time:  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD.”  The thing is, you can’t separate it from verse 6.  As I wrote above, these verses describe the only two possible ways to live:  self-confident, or, if I may coin a word, Lord-confident.  There is no middle road here; it’s either one or the other.

Verse 6 describes a man “whose heart departs from the LORD,” and tells us what the result of that is.  Verse 9, which we didn’t quote at the beginning, tells us why the “heart” is not to be trusted.  The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked: Who can know it?  Obviously, “the heart” isn’t referring to the physical organ which pumps blood throughout our body, and is a truly wonderful creation.

No, no, the “heart” here is the inner man, so to speak, the one we can’t see, our thoughts, motivations, desires, impulses, our “operating system,” as it were.  Our human nature.  They – it – may tell us that some thing, some action, some thought, some viewpoint, is all right and to go for it, even though God’s Word says otherwise.  Our human natures, corrupted by the Fall, simply cannot be trusted.

Man says there are many roads to heaven.

Man says he can take it (religion) or leave it.

Or that one religion is as good as another.

Or, as some seem to think, “no religion” at all is even better.

But Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me,” John 14:6, emphasis added.

But, having succeeded at it in the beginning, the Devil continues to say, “Has God really said…,” Genesis 3:1, paraphrased.  So wickedness has pretty much become the law of the land and this once great nation may be on its way to the trash heap of history.  I can hardly believe the deterioration in just the last few years.

I’m afraid this nation has pretty much gone to the devil.

But that’s ultimately the choice for each and every one of us:

Christ or the devil.

Heaven or hell.

One or the other.

What Will We Leave Behind?

Originally posted on September 27, 2013.

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I guess I’m getting old.  Actually, there’s not much “guessing” about it.  I think about death a lot more than I did when I was younger.

Besides, it’s kind of been brought to my attention lately.  I wrote a post a few weeks ago about an elderly neighbor who was found dead in his home.  My next-door neighbor was the one who told me what had happened.  Two weeks later, he died.  He was my age.  [added a day later: Now there’s a “sale” at his house.  Cars parked up and down the street.  People going through the house; strangers dissecting a life now gone.  Got me to thinking about such things.]

Our daughter who lives in Florida was here last week to visit us.  While she was here, she went through a container of things which had belonged to my grandmother and had been in her china cabinet –…

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My Joy, My God, My All

I don’t know what the future holds, or what the results will be with this coronavirus that is plaguing us. I just know that we’re all in God’s hand, and that hand will never fail.

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from Habakkuk 3:17-18.

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vine;
Though the harvest of the olive fail,
And food be hard to find;
Though the flock may come to nothing
And no oxen in the stall –
Yet I’ll rejoice in Yahweh,
My joy, my God, my All.

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“A Relationship with God”

Originally posted March 7, 2014

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If you’ve been around more or less conservative churches for any length of time, you’ve probably heard some preacher or personal worker urge people to be saved, so they can “have a relationship with God.”  I understand where they’re coming from, but the truth of the matter is that everyone already has a “relationship” with God.  Now, this DOES NOT mean, as some believe, that we’re already all the children of God.  Nevertheless, from the most outspoken atheist to the most devoted believer, from the newly-fertilized ovum looking for a place to nestle in its mother’s womb to the most elderly person on the planet, whether historic or contemporary, ancient or modern, each and every human being has a “relationship” with God.  To be sure, it isn’t necessarily the same, but it is a “relationship” nevertheless.

What do I mean?

We live in a society which for the most part…

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The Gospel According to Job

Originally posted on August 7, 2014.

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Wait!

What?

Job?

Gospel!?

Job’s about bad stuff!  No way! …

Way!

There does seem to be a negative attitude toward this book.  Possibly that’s because those who are against it have never really read it.  And, I suppose, that might be understandable.  It’s a difficult book to get your mind around.

Just lately, I’ve read comments that the book puts God in a bad light.  Others say that it teaches that God isn’t sovereign, after all.  One blogger recently went so far as to say that he believes that the sovereignty of God is the greatest trick that Satan has ever put over on Christians (!)  Needless to say, I don’t agree with that statement!  Nor, I think, does Scripture.

Now it’s true that Job and his friends didn’t have “the Gospel” as we understand it, but they knew a great deal more about spiritual things than they generally get credit…

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Half A Christ

I posted this more than six years ago, but it’s still true today. There is still much, if not more, confusion about this eternally vital subject.

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“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…,” Acts 16:31.

What did Paul and Silas mean when they said this to the Philippian jailer and then probably later to his household?  Surprisingly, there’s quite a discussion about this, with widely varying views set forth by otherwise equally “Bible-believing” pastors and teachers.  The discussion centers around one particular idea, namely, does one have to “accept” Jesus as Lord as well as Savior, or can one just “get saved” and then later make Jesus his Lord?

This post is a response to an article by Charlie Bing, posted on 1024project.com.  It’s titled “Why Lordship Faith Misses the Mark For Salvation.”  His opening sentence says, “Lordship salvation has a very confused view of the gospel that results in very confused Christians who hold it.”  Then he goes on to make what he considers a detailed case against it.

The first…

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