Quote for 05/06/2021

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.    Luke 9:23-24

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This sounds like so much double-talk; if you want it, give it up. If you keep it, it’ll be gone. It reminds me of a behavioral study I saw with a bird, a falcon, I think.

The bird was in a cage. Out of reach, beyond the bars was a piece of meat. Attached to the meat was a string that lay part way inside the cage. The scientists marveled that the bird understood the counterintuitive concept that it could bring the food closer and within reach by moving away from it while holding the string.

Back away from it, and you get it.

Whether it’s the experiment with the bird or Jesus’ wisdom from Luke 9, we have the same sort of concept. We might not understand the underlying principle that makes it so, but Jesus provided the practical example for us to see, the proof that it works.

I must admit that I don’t understand it, but I see it working in the Bible with Jesus, and I’ve experienced it working in my life.

Namely, I put others, especially God, ahead of me and watch how well things end up in the long run.

The Flood

So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood.    Genesis 7:7

Pop quiz: How long did the Flood last?  If you said forty days and nights, you’re wrong!  The increase of waters lasted that long.  From the time God closed Noah and family up in the ark to when they landed on Ararat and disembarked was about a year.  Genesis gives us which months and tells us how long it all lasted.

One whole year!  Why?  Well, it’s a big planet, and God covered the whole thing with water above the highest mountains.  That’s a lot of water coming and going very quickly!

Have you ever been thrown around by water?  I got caught in an undertow once.  It slammed me down on the sand in chest deep water, and it was a struggle to get my feet under me and push off.  Find tsunami videos on YouTube.  It doesn’t take much to toss buildings and vehicle around like Matchbox cars.  And that’s just a local event!

How much earth, rocks, plants, and animals do you think got moved around during the Flood?  The waters came up from the earth and fell from the sky in such quantities that even Steven Spielberg would have a hard time putting it on film.  There had to have been underwater avalanches to start, burying a lot of sea life.  Eventually, the waters started getting at land animals.  Once they reached their peak, it was drainage time.

The waters drained and re-arranged the planet for the better part of a year.  Again, that moved a lot of dirt and stone.  As things happened, there were layer after layer of sediment laid down as the Flood went through its stages.

Question: now that you’re thinking about how little water it takes in a tsunami to really move a lot of things around, how drastically do you suppose it changed the landscape worldwide?

Given the power of water, it’s likely that the Grand Canyon for example, was cut in very short order.  Compare pictures of the badlands in the American west to the erosion seen after Mt St. Helens blew.  Except for the scale, they are virtually identical.  The badlands were shaped quickly by the Flood.  So much of what we see on earth is all about how the Flood shaped everything.

By the way, about those layers of sediment that had to form during different stages of the Flood; when geologists talk about the geologic layers dating back millions of years, have you noticed that they talk about how those layers are identical all over the world?  That’s how they know which layers they are talking about.

But what if those layers did not take millions of years to form, but just one year, courtesy of the Flood?

Hm.

Quote for 05/05/2021

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.    1 John 3:16         

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Think on how you’d feel at the end a movie in which the hero dies saving everyone at the end. Our hearts would break at not being able to see Hero ride off into the sunset, but they would also be filled with love for someone who cut his own life short in order to save someone he loved.

That’s Jesus! He loves you and me so much that He was willing to die for us, and that after giving up His divinity in heaven with God to do it. THAT is how much He loves us! THAT is how much we should love him!

Of course, God raised Him from the dead. He didn’t exactly ride off into the sunset, but He did ascend from the earth, through the clouds, and into heaven where He promises He went to prepare a place for each of us.

He loves you. He’s waiting for you in heaven. Imagine His heartbreak if you don’t show up.

He loves you so much! Accept it. Return it. Share it!!

Quote for 05/04/2021

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.    2 Corinthians 5:14-15

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Compels is a strong word, but if we truly are of Christ, if we truly believe in our hearts that Jesus made a conscious, painful decision to sacrifice Himself for us, it is the right word. It is the right attitude.

True love is more than just an emotion; it is a choice. Lack of this understanding is why so many marriages fail. When feelings fade, people claim to have fallen out of love as though they have no say in the matter. Jesus showed us differently.

He sweated drops of blood as He prayed to be spared the coming agonies and then chose to obey His instructions. He chose to love us, and He continues to do so every time we sin.

Such love compels us to choose love for others, not in emotion, but in a conscious act of choice.

Quote for 05/03/2021

He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.    Isaiah 53:3-4

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Isaiah didn’t say His name.  True, he didn’t know the name, but his description of Jesus is unmistakable.

Jesus was indeed a man of sorrows.  He kept company with, preached to, and healed the lowest citizens of His society.  He would not have seen so much pain and suffering, if he’d stuck with the priests and Pharisees.  It’s no wonder He often went off by Himself to pray.

What else could He do with so much sorrow piling up around Him?

And did anyone care or notice?  Generally not.  Of the ten lepers He cleansed, only one returned to say thank you.

He didn’t feel any love on the cross.  Even God forsook Him!  He was more alone than any human can possibly imagine!

But we esteem Him now!  We know what He did on the cross.  We know what He’s currently doing in our lives.  What He did for all humanity was beyond heroic!  Yes, we esteem Him now, knowing all He endured for us!

The Firmament and the Universe

Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.    Genesis 1:6-7

I’ll start by saying I’m not the one who figured this out.  This comes from an astronomer who is also Christian.  He put a whole new spin on the verses above, and I think it’s worth thinking about.

Let’s begin with a random piece of information I read years ago.  I’ve searched for it since without luck, but I know I read this.  The Hubble telescope can only see so far into the universe, because the universe is apparently spherical.  There is a horizon it can’t see past, just as we can only see a limited distance (3.1 to 3.3 miles) of the planet while on the ground due to the earth’s curvature.  Although the vast majority of astrophysicists subscribe to the flat universe theory, there is a minority who believe it is spherical.

Since when is the majority right about everything, am I right?  I mean, prohibition worked out none to well.  Hitler was elected by the majority.  Despite an embarrassingly small amount of physical evidence, the majority of scientists believe in evolution.  The majority think abortion is good.  Obviously, the majority lays an egg from time to time.

Here’s another random fact; scientists can detect a radiation signature that permeates all known space.  Their considered conclusion is that it is an echo from the Big Bang billions of years ago.  You know…the origin of the universe.

Next random fact; everything gives off some sort of radiation.  Bricks, your electronics, living things, and even people all give off some sort of radiation.  Using sensitive enough equipment, scientists can take pictures of people that show their auras.  Dr. Leonard Horowitz, author of DNA; Pirates of the Sacred Spiral wrote that we are all arguably “precipitated light” and that our DNA is shaped helically to act as a transceiver for both receiving and generating different “signals” with our environment.

Have you ever wondered why being in nature and away from the city – unplugging – is so refreshing?  It’s because our DNA can “hear” the world around us without interference from all the electronics of civilization.  We start becoming one with nature once again.

For the record: I like civilization!  I’m well aware of the fact that, if one isn’t very careful in the wild, becoming “one with nature” might be nothing more than being something’s dinner.

Ending this list of random facts is the definition of “firmament.”

“The vault or arch of the sky.”  Miriam-Webster

The sky is more than our atmosphere.  It is everything “up there.”  Sun, moon, stars, galaxies, etc.  God said so.

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.    Genesis 1:14-15

With all this “random” information in mind, let’s go back to verses 6 and 7 above.

“Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.

Waters under the firmament would be here on earth; rivers, lakes, and oceans.  If you realize that the firmament is the entire sky with all the stars and galaxies light years away, just where the heck is the other water??

Welll, if the universe is a sphere – and Hubble’s inability to see past a universal horizon waay out there indicates such – we need to zoom out in our minds to God’s all-encompassing point of view.  Namely, that if the entire universe with all the stars and stuff is the firmament, the water must be above it, outside of it!  How is that possible?  Think of the universe as a sphere covered with water.

I know.  That’s a whole lot of water, but we’re talking God here, so…

Finally, recall the random fact above that everything emits some sort of radiation.  I’m sorry; did I forget to mention that would include water?  And that the wavelength water gives off matches the frequency of the “background noise” of the universe, which scientists attribute to the echo of the Big Bang?

Mind blown?  I’m just sayin’…

Quote for 05/02/2021

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.    Romans 5:8

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Hard feelings are hard to get past after a fight with someone.  Grudges can last years, even lifetimes!

But can you imagine a physical fight where you both are bloodied and hurt?  Can you further imagine that, while the emotions are still hot, you would tend to your enemies wounds?

That’s what God did for us.  While His pain was still raw after Adam and Eve’s betrayal, while He thundered His judgement upon them and the serpent, He announced the plan of salvation with equal volume to that of His condemnation.

That’s how much He loves us.  Even in our state of betrayal, He still gave up His only begotten Son to die for us.

Wow!

A Canadian Underground Church

 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.    Matthew 6:33-34

No, I’m not talking about underground as in actually being under the soil.  This is a church that has been shut down by the Canadian government over the COVID crisis.

GraceLife Church in Alberta was shut down for failing to follow public gathering rules by the government.  The pastor, James Coates, was jailed for over a month in a maximum-security prison.  He was led away in chains, apparently without a trial.

Um…  Maximum security?  For a pastor who was just leading worship services?

After his release, police erected a fence around the church to prevent people from using the building.  Over two hundred police – including riot police – were guarding the fence line on a Sunday to make sure no one got in.

Gosh!  I hope they were all socially distanced!

Pastor and author John MacArthur confirmed that they will continue to exercise religious liberty and stand against abuses of power in Canada by worshipping together in an undisclosed location.  GraceLife is the first church in North America to be shut down and go underground.  With this precedent, it may well not be the last.

Canada used the pandemic to target a Christian organization as it continues its secular agenda.  Although there were large protests at the church by outraged citizens, the government really isn’t backing down.  Otherwise, why would GraceLife start having secret meetings?

Now is the time for all of us on this side of the Atlantic to start taking the threat against the faithful seriously.  We haven’t had religious persecution here and can’t imagine it could happen, but it has!  We need to let this shake us out of our complacency to pray for God’s providence as secular authorities continue to put pressure on Christianity.

Prayer; it should be our means of first resort!  Studying our Bibles should be a virtual tie with it in importance.  Talk to God in prayer and hear His answers in His written, inspired Word.

Quote for 05/01/2021

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.    2 Corinthians 5:21

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Jesus didn’t just pay the price for us on the cross. He took the sins of the entire world throughout all time, not just onto Himself, but into Himself. His very nature was changed from divinely human to supremely cursed!

This is why He cried out in agony from the cross. It wasn’t just the physical torture, which saw chunks of flesh torn from his body such that bone could be seen. Having become sin, God turned away from Him. Jesus cried out to the Father who had abandoned Him in His greatest need, “Why have You forsaken me??”

Remember how Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac at God’s request. Imagine the pain of that as a human parent. Imagine the pain the Father felt as He left Jesus alone on the cross!

The pain of Father and Son were beyond human comprehension. Even so, their love for the humanity that They created and that rejected them was even greater!

THAT’s how much God loves us! That’s how grateful we should be!

Quote for 04/30/2021

The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna!  ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’  The King of Israel!”    John 12:12-13

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The feast mentioned is the Passover.  You’ll recall that is high feast commemorating the Israelites exodus from Egypt.  It’s an annual feast God commanded them to commemorate for all generations the mighty works God performed during that whole period.

It’s fitting that Jesus comes to Jerusalem for the Passover.  Part of the feast is to kill and prepare a lamb.  On the actual Passover night, the Israelites were to take the blood and put it on the doorposts and lintel.  When the Angel of Death swept through Egypt and saw the blood on the Israelites doorways, it would pass over their homes.

So here was Jesus to be the true Lamb of God whose blood would save everyone, Jew and Gentile, from eternal death.  His reputation as a teacher and miracle worker preceded Him.  He was recognized at least as a great prophet. When they called Him “The King of Israel” did they truly know who He was or were they thinking of a savior to rid them of Romans and feed them?  We can’t know for certain, but it was prophetic whether they knew it or not!