Psalm 139

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

You know my sitting down and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off.

You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139:1-6

DELEGATED AUTHORITY

The work of judging the people in every small matter was too much for Moses to do alone.  Jethro, his father-in-law, advised him to not shoulder all this responsibility by himself but rather to delegate part of it to others.  And so he did.  (Exodus 18)

In the early church when the need arose for someone to administer to the needs of certain Grecian widows, the twelve said, “It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.”  And so, seven men were selected to look after that matter.  This freed the twelve to give their attention to the word of God and prayer.  (Acts 6)

God has seen fit to organize the church in a way so that responsibilities can be divided up.  God has set elders in the church as the overseers and spiritual leaders of the flock.  He has also seen fit to have men appointed as deacons in order that they may have certain parts of the Lord’s work delegated to them.

Be looking out among the congregation for those men whom we should select and appoint as additional deacons.

Claude

BLESS THE LORD

Psalm 103 both begins and ends with the words, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.”  It’s a common theme running throughout the Psalms.  And there are many reasons suggested as to why we should continually bless the Lord.

In this Psalm while there are several reasons named, there is one that dominates.  And that one is the Lord’s mercy.  Note the following:

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgression from us.  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:8-14)

An appreciation of the riches and extent of God’s mercy toward us should make us all want to say with the Psalmist, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.”

Claude

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?

What has been on your mind lately?  Does it measure up to this: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)  These are what ought to be on a Christian’s mind.

We hear it said, “You are what you eat.” In a moral and spiritual sense, “You are what you think.” The Bible says, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) And again, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” (Matthew 15:19)

The solution to the problem of evil speech is not to tape the mouth shut but rather to guard the mind. We do not need to cuff our hands to prevent stealing nor wear blinders to keep our eyes from looking on evil; rather we must guard the heart. The Bible says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

What’s on your mind?

Claude

Prayer & God’s Will

The following question was submitted to the religious writer of the Winston-Salem Journal: “Can prayer actually change God’s will?”  While the answer given by the writer contained some good observations, the most important point seems to have been missed. The fundamental truth to remember in answering such a question is this: It is God’s will to hear and answer the prayers of His people. Therefore, if the natural course of things is going one way, God may, in answer to a prayer, intervene and grant the request.

There is a clear example of this found in Isaiah 38. Hezekiah, the king, was sick and destined to die. The Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, told him, “Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.” (Isaiah 38:1)  Hezekiah then prayed for his life. He said, “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.” (Isaiah 38:2-3) God then sent Isaiah back to Hezekiah with this message, “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.” (Isaiah 38:5) Did God change what He had just said was going to happen? Yes.  Certainly it was a complete reversal. Did Hezekiah’s prayer actually change God’s will? No, certainly not. To hear and answer the prayers of His people is a part of God’s will.

Of course, we need to remember that sometimes God says, “No.”  He says “No” because He knows what is best. (2 Corinthians 12:1-10) But that’s another lesson.

Claude

The Common Origin of Mankind

(This is a copy of my letter to the editor in the Winston-Salem Journal.)

I read with interest the article by Faye Flam (Winston-Salem Journal October 6, 2016) entitled: “Why biologists don’t put much stock in race.” The main thrust of the article seems to be that scientists, beginning in the 18th century, were responsible for officially dividing human beings into Europeans, Africans, Asians and Native Americans and that this division lends scientific credibility to racial prejudice. But now, they say, with modern DNA testing we know better. Now we know of the common ancestry of us all.

I thought it should be pointed out that the Bible from the very start asserts the common origin of all mankind. This is clearly seen in the creation story. (Genesis 1-3) Note particularly the statement that Eve is “the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20) The Table of Nations (Genesis 10) also demonstrates the unity of the human race. Furthermore, the apostle Paul emphatically proclaims that God “hath made of one all the nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17:26)

Claude

HOW DO I ANSWER?

It is fortunate that we live in a community in which much of the citizenry holds to the basic tenets of Christianity.  But at the same time we often hear well-meaning statements with which we do not agree.  Sometime ago one such statement was made to me.  It went something like this: “It really doesn’t matter what church you go to so long as you have a commitment to Jesus.”  So what are we to make of such a statement?  Can we give a hardy, “Amen” or does it contain a fundamental flaw?

First, let me say that it is a wonderful thing when anyone anywhere has a commitment to Jesus.  But then let me hasten to add that that is just the starting point.  Real commitment to Jesus will spend a life time searching the scriptures to know the way of the Lord more perfectly.  Furthermore, as we come to a better understanding of God’s word, we make changes in our personal life in order to conform more perfectly to it.  This is generally understood and accepted with regard to one’s personal life.

But the same is also true of our church life.  Since churches do differ in both doctrine and practice, it is inevitable that some people as they study the scriptures will find that the church of their forefathers or the church that first introduced them to Jesus is not adhering as closely as they should to God’s word.  What then should one do?  Certainly we should always have the courage to step out and be a part of the church that most closely adheres to the teaching of Jesus.

 

Claude

GENDER IDENTITY and REALITY

Who would have thought a few years ago that there would ever be a controversy over gender identity?  But here we are.

Jesus had something to say on the subject. Referring back to the original creation He said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.” (Matthew 19:4)  This settles the matter for Christians, that is, if they believe Jesus. But what about those who are not Christians and who do not believe Jesus?  For them there is simple reality. Even a child knows that male and female are biologically different.

How is it, then that there is any controversy. It’s because we live in a world with a completely new way of thinking. It’s called subjectivism. Webster defines it this way: “a doctrine that individual feeling or apprehension is the ultimate criterion of the good and the right.” In practice this means that a person constructs his own reality based on his own feeling or apprehension. Therefore, if a male feels in his innermost self that he should be female, he can reject the objective biological reality of being male and construct his own reality. Furthermore, society is expected to accept his reconstruction. But does it in reality change his gender?

It all reminds me of C.S Lewis’s definition of a lunatic – “the man who says he is a poached egg.” Subjective feelings do not change objective reality. Try giving a merchant a ten dollar bill and tell him that you in your innermost self feel like it is a twenty. Reality is reality – subjective feelings do not change it.

 

Claude

Sudan Preachers Persecuted

Last December, two evangelical preachers from the Church of Christ in Sudan were taken from their churches and thrown into jail. Last month, Abdulraheem Kodi and Kuwa Shamal Abu Zumam were charged with numerous offenses, including waging war against the state, espionage and undermining Sudan’s constitutional system. They are Nuba people—indigenous groups who do not fit the regime’s vision of an Islamic nation and are accused of supporting anti-government rebels.

Their trial has begun. They could get the death penalty if they’re found guilty.

Please pray for our brothers.

MELCHIZEDEK – King of Salem

We first meet Melchizedek in Genesis chapter fourteen.  Abraham met and gave tithes to him as he returned from a victorious battle.  The whole incident is covered in just three verses. (Genesis 14:18-20)  One might consider it to be a very insignificant incident in the Genesis record but later it becomes very important.

The next mention that we have of this Melchizedek makes him a very significant actor in God’s plan of redemption for mankind.  Here it is: “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou [the Messiah] art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110:4)  The meaning of this passage from the Psalms is explained in the Book of Hebrews. (Hebrews 7)  It has reference to our High Priest – Jesus Christ.  Jesus is a high priest not after the order of Aaron as under the law but rather Jesus is our High Priest after a much higher order – the order of Melchizedek.

How did the writer of Genesis know to include this brief incident of Abraham meeting Melchizedek?  Did he know that nine hundred years later his name would come up in one of the great Messianic Psalms?  Did he know of the importance the name Melchizedek would play in explaining the High Priesthood of Christ?  Probably not, but the Holy Spirit who guided the Bible writers knew.

Claude