Christianity 201

October 8, 2021

Filling our Lives with Good

A year ago we introduced you to Michael Wilson who writes at Jesus Quotes and God Thoughts. Clicking the header which follows will take you there to read this, and then take some extra time to explore other articles.

Do We Want to See Good Days?

I must embrace life. I want to see my days fill up with good stuff.

God’s goal for us is to be honest. So, here is what I must do. I must say nothing evil or hurtful. Oh, the times I have said something and at once wished I could take it back. The better way is to not say evil and hurtful things.

I must cultivate discipline in my speech. I must be uplifting and encouraging. Then my days will fill with good.

For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Master [Lord] are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Master [Lord] is against those who do evil.
English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Peter 3:10–12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Peter quoted these statements from Psalm 34:12–15, so it would be profitable for you to read the entire psalm. It describes what God means by “good days.”

  • They are not necessarily days free from problems, for the psalmist wrote about fears, troubles, afflictions, and even a broken heart.
  • A “good day” for the believer who “loves life” is not one in which he is pampered and sheltered, but one in which he experiences God’s help and blessing because of life’s problems and trials.
  • It is a day in which he magnifies the Master Jesus, experiences answers to prayer, tastes the goodness of God, and senses the nearness of God.

We must deliberately decide to love life. This is an act of the will: “He who wills to love life.” It is an attitude of faith that sees the best in every situation. It is the opposite of the pessimistic attitude expressed in Ecclesiastes 2:17: “Therefore I hated life … for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

  • We can decide to endure life and make it a burden, escape life as though we were running from a battle or enjoy life because we know God is in control.
  • Peter was not suggesting unrealistic psychological gymnastics that refused to face facts.
  • Rather, he was urging his readers to take a positive approach to life and by faith make the most of every situation.

We must control our tongues. Many of the problems of life are caused by the wrong words, spoken in the wrong spirit. Every disciple of Jesus should read James 3 regularly and pray Psalm 141:3 daily. How well Peter knew the sad consequences of hasty speech! There is no place for lies in the life of a saint.

We must do good and hate evil. We need both the positive and the negative. The Old English word “eschew” means more than just “avoid.” It means “to avoid something because you despise and loathe it.” It is not enough for us to avoid sin because sin is wrong; we ought to shun it because we hate it.

We must look for and pursue peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9).

  • If we go out and seek trouble, we will find it; but if we seek peace, we can find it as well. This does not mean “peace at any price,” because righteousness must always be the basis for peace.
  • It simply means that a disciple of Jesus exercises moderation as he relates to people and does not create problems because he wants to have his own way.
  • “If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Sometimes it is not possible! We are also admonished to work hard to achieve peace. It does not come automatically.

“But what if our enemies take advantage of us?” a persecuted disciple of Jesus might ask. “We may be seeking peace, but they are seeking war!” Peter gave them the assurance that God’s eyes are on His people and His ears open to their prayers. Peter learned that lesson when he tried to walk on the water without looking to Jesus. We must trust God to protect and provide, for He alone can defeat our enemies.

The next time you think you are having a “bad day,” and you hate life, read Psalm 34 and you may discover you are really having a “good day” to the glory of God!

August 17, 2020

The Surprising Question the Disciples Asked Jesus

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:35 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.” – Matthew 26: 21-25

Following up from two weeks ago, I had hoped to return to one additional brief quotation from Scott Sauls‘ book A Gentle Answer and as I wrapped up reading the book I found this excerpt especially powerful. This exposes an interesting irony in this part of the conversation at that Last Supper, and it whetted my appetite for more, so below this you’ll see some additional notes.

The Judas Within Us

Shortly before his death, Jesus prepared and served the annual Passover meal for himself and his twelve disciples in the Upper Room. As the twelve were reclining at the table eating their meal, Jesus announced to them, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” When he said these words, Jesus did not single out the disciple Judas as the betrayer or as the infamous “son of perdition” (John 17:12 NKJV). Instead, he used the second-person plural, indicating that any of the twelve could feasibly betray him.

Knowing this to be true–knowing that the line dividing good and evil cuts through every human heart–none of the disciples responded with an accusation toward another. None said, “Lord, we’ve all been suspecting this for some time and we’re glad you are finally confirming our suspicion. It is Judas, of course! It’s so obvious!” Instead, each disciple became sorrowful and introspective, and each one took his turn asking Jesus, “Is it I?” (Mark 14:19).

This “Is it I?” response to the Lord, as opposed to an “It is he!” response, is a key indicator of a healthy, self-aware, non-presumptuous gentle posture of faith. Sorrow mixed with introspection is, even for the most faithful disciples among us, the most appropriate response when the subject of evil and betrayal is raised. For none of us has measured up to the standard of true faithfulness. And all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The more we realize these truths, the less accusatory we will become toward others, and the gentler we will become as well.  (pp 165-166)

Taken from A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them by Scott Sauls Copyright © 2020 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. http://www.thomasnelson.com.


At mentioned I was wanting to spend more time on this passage, and at the commentary EnduringWord.com, some additional insights appear on this section. I was going to just focus on the “Is it I?” question, but decided to run the entire section which appears under the header,

Jesus gives Judas a last opportunity to repent

a. Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me: In the midst of their Passover meal, Jesus made a startling announcement. He told His disciples that one of their own – these twelve who had lived and heard and learned from Jesus for three years – would betray Him.

i. If we are familiar with this story it is easy not to appreciate its impact. It’s easy to lose appreciation for how terrible it was for one of Jesus’ own to betray Him. For good reason Dante’s great poem about heaven and hell places Judas in the lowest place of hell.

ii. “This was a most unpleasant thought to bring to a feast, yet it was most appropriate to the Passover, for God’s commandment to Moses concerning the first paschal lamb was, ‘With bitter herbs they shall eat it.’” (Spurgeon)

b. He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me: Jesus said this not to point out a specific disciple, because they all dipped with Him. Instead, Jesus identified the betrayer as a friend, someone who ate at the same table with Him.

i. This idea is drawn from Psalm 41:9: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.“ “My fellow-commoner, my familiar friend, … This greatly aggravates the indignity of the matter.” (Trapp)

c. Rabbi, is it I? It was noble for the 11 other disciples to ask this question (Lord, is it I?); it was terrible hypocrisy for Judas to ask it. For Judas to ask, “Rabbi, is it I?” while knowing he had already arranged the arrest of Jesus was the height of treachery.

i. “It is a beautiful trait in the character of the disciples that they did not suspect one another, but every one of them inquired, almost incredulously, as the form of the question implies, ‘Lord, is it I?’ No one said, ‘Lord is it Judas?’” (Spurgeon)

d. You have said it: Jesus did not say this to condemn Judas, but to call him to repentance. It is fair to assume that He said it with love in His eyes, and Jesus showed Judas that He loved him, even knowing his treachery.

 

 

 

October 31, 2015

Being Light on Dark Days

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead” (Deuteronomy 18:10,11)

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-11)

With today being Halloween, I looked for something appropriate and found a post from Daily Encouragement. Actually I found two. The scriptures above are taken from this post, Go Light Your World, as is the song at the bottom; and what follows is linked from the title below.

Exposing Darkness With Light

“The light shines in the darkness” (John 1:5).

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).

For about 7½ years we served the Lord Jesus Christ in New England, pastoring a church about 35 miles south of Boston in Taunton, Massachusetts. Only once did we drive through Salem which is about 16 miles north of Boston. This historic town is best known for the witch trials held in the late 1600’s. It is still a center for witchcraft and other deeds of darkness. In fact it proudly promotes its reputation as the “witch city”.   I recall sensing the spiritual darkness even as we drove through.

There are several Bible-preaching churches in the city and certainly in the surrounding area. What a mighty job they have in letting the light of Christ shine through them to the darkness that pervades that area. Halloween is a very significant day for witchcraft and other satanic activities in Salem (and elsewhere), and yet the true church will have mission outreaches.

The light of Christ will shine as they expose the fruitless deeds of darkness. May the Lord bless these worthwhile efforts! Thankfully, God has a light shining in the midst of this darkness and the true church has seen many people turn from fruitless deeds of darkness to God’s marvelous light.

The first daily verse fundamentally speaks of Christ. He is the Light and indeed He shines in the darkness. Wherever you live there is darkness, although some places are certainly much more spiritually dark. We noted such a difference in this regard when we moved from Northern Pennsylvania to New England and now to Lancaster County.  But when we compare our Christianized nation to dark places such as Papua New Guinea and other unreached tribal regions the darkness is even more pervasive.  (We do thank God for Bible translators and missionaries who are going into these dark strongholds and reaching these souls for Christ.)

“The light shines in the darkness.”  The verb “shines” is in the present tense and can be understood as “the light keeps on shining.” Jesus teaches His followers. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

In our second daily verse the Apostle Paul makes a very unambiguous statement: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”  It’s a call desperately needed in our culture and increasingly so in the Church but it will subject us to ridicule among many who “love the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19).  In fact the world wants to silence those who speak out for truth exposing darkness with the Light of His Word.

You see, when we become accustomed to the darkness it just may not seem as dark anymore.  When we were children playing at dusk our moms would call out, “Come into the house.  It’s dark outside.”  But we’d continue to play since we could still see.  A few days ago I was mowing my lawn in the early evening. Afterward I entered the house and looked out the window and it was dark. But while I was mowing my eyes got used to the dark since the dimness was gradual. I believe that can be true of our spiritual eyes as well and all the more reason why we must be on guard.

Today, all over the world serious believers are allowing the light of Christ to shine through them. This light exposes the fruitless deeds of darkness and this is the essence of spiritual warfare. Darkness hates the light. Yet faithful followers of Christ will continue to let their light shine, essentially reflecting the true Light, who is Christ.

May each reader today shine brightly.  As for me and my house we will stand up for the One True God today and seek to let His light shine through us!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, You created us to be people who function and thrive by light.  Your placement of the sun by day and the moon by night is the way You provide for our physical needs enabling us to see as we carry out our multitude of duties.  As important as light is for the eyes to see, it is even more essential that the eyes of our heart see the magnificent light of Your glory.  As we walk in Your light we will be able to discern that which is evil from that which is good.  Jesus, we know that goodness cannot partner with wickedness for there is no harmony between You and the devil. We are one with You as we walk in Your truth and dispel the darkness everywhere we go, for greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. Amen.

 

June 28, 2012

Apologetics in Action

I hope none of you feel cheated when I use a video post instead of text, but today I’ve actually got two for you.

The first is Ravi Zacharias shown at his best, taking questions from the audience during what I presume to be a university appearance.  This one is on the subject, ‘Are people born to be good or born to be evil?’

Do you feel Ravi answered her question? Or was he trying to answer, ‘the question behind the question?’

The second one is an audio reading from C. S. Lewis.  It’s a really great explanation of how God can permit free will even though within the range of that free will we choose that which is not God’s ‘will’ for us.

I would like to be able to memorize this (in more contemporary language) to the point where I was able to present this to others. I’ve listened to it three times now, but would next need to take notes to follow the logic of the presentation.

Interesting enough, the Lewis clip was posted to YouTube on the channel ‘Islamic Worldview.’

I Peter 3:15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (NLT)


Here’s a previous edition of Apologetics in Action from December, 2011.

… And almost exactly a year ago, we featured a number of Ravi Zacharias Quotations.

…Finally from January, 2011, C. S. Lewis on Life, Atheism and God.