Devotional – The LORD is His Name

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He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the LORD is his name. Amos 5:8 ESV

Pleiades is one of the closest ‘star clusters’ to the Earth and is easily observable to unaided human eye. Although 14 stars can be seen with the naked eye, scientists estimate Pleiades is comprised of well over 1,000 celestial bodies.

Orion is one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky. Visible the world over, Orion has captivated the attention and imagination of mankind throughout history.

Closer to home we are blessed with the reliability of the rising of the Sun each morning, and the setting of the Sun every evening. No matter how dark the night we know the darkness will not last indefinitely… the light of the rising Sun will conquer the darkness of the night.

Even closer to home we are mesmerized by the mighty waters of the World’s oceans. The rise and fall of the tides, the power of the crashing waves, and the unfathomable volume of water that fills the oceans mystifies the human mind.

Who made Pleiades? The LORD.
Who made Orion? The LORD.
Who turns night into day and day into night? The LORD.
Who filled the oceans with water? The LORD.

The LORD is His name!

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Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleiades
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_(constellation)

Editorial note:
Originally published July 29, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com

 

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Devotional – Are You In God’s Hall of Faith?

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By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God. Hebrews 11:3 ESV

Hebrews 11 is God’s Hall of Faith… the names of Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, David and many others who lived triumphant lives of faith are there.

Did you know you are also listed in God’s great Hall of Faith?
You are… if by faith you ‘understand that the universe was created by the word of God.’

Today, the world’s elite scoff at the idea of a creator God. Our high schools and universities furiously reject any notion of the Lord creating the heavens and the earth.

Have you ever been laughed at or ridiculed for your faith in the Creator of the universe? Take heart for you are not alone! Hebrews 11 goes on to tell of “others” who “suffered mocking… and… were… afflicted, mistreated.”

God did not overlook their faith… He will not overlook your faith either!

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Editorial note: Originally published May 21, 2015 at assemblyHUB.com

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2013 – The Year Of The Great Comets?

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1 ESV

Comet in the night skyAccording to astronomers there will be two major celestial events that could make 2013 known as “The Year Of The Comets.” Over the course of the year two different comets are predicted to become visible to the unaided eye from most areas on Earth.

The first of the two comets, 2014 L4 (PanSTARRS), should become visible sometime during the months of March and April. The site will be one that most living people have never seen.

However, the second of the two comets (named Comet Ison) could produce a sight so spectacular that no one in generations has seen! How spectacular? Well if the astronomers’ predictions are correct the comet could even outshine a full moon in the night sky!!

I find the prospect of this second comet to be extremely exciting. Unfortunately, we will need to exercise a bit of patience as this event is not predicted to take place until late November at the earliest.

Unfortunately, many will fail to ascribe glory to the Creator of the universe for these spectacular events. Nevertheless, the truth of God’s Word remains unchanged: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1.

Are you wondering if there really is a God? Maybe you’re looking for a sign from God? If so just look to the sky! Because the heavens declare His glory! and proclaims His handiwork!! In 2013 the sky will proclaim– even scream– His handiwork.

 

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Source: The Independent

Photo credit: NASA

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My Creator: The Bible Part 1

the_trifid_nebula_in_stars_and_dust

Last month we looked at the thought that we can’t get to a moral law or society without a moral standard outside of us. The recent events in Connecticut and China have reminded us that evil is very real in our world. Today I’d like to consider another subject that gives me evidence of a creator and more specifically, the God of Christianity. That subject is the Bible. The Bible remains the number one read book of all time by a landslide. It has sold almost 5 times more copies than the next best seller.

Now the Bible has been used and abused for many generations so my goal is not to address all the ways in which the Bible has been mistreated (and misinterpreted) to come up with weird and dangerous practices. I will be concentrating on some areas that are simply stated plainly and testable. There’s several ways the Bible shows evidence and in this post, part 1, I will be looking at the Bible and science.

The Bible doesn’t claim to be a science book. It is a book of God’s dealings with humanity over the course of many centuries culminating in the giving of His Son Jesus to rescue our souls from sin and the establishment of His church. However this does not mean that there isn’t science in the Bible and it’s upon this evidence that we turn to for a few moments.

The Bible makes scientific claims that are supernatural. They are supernatural in that they were written centuries before scientists had any idea about them. There’s too many to write them all in this post but here are a few that will adequately show what I mean.

  1. Job 36:27-28 “He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits.”  This was written about 4300 years ago long before scientists discovered the very truth in this verse.
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:7 “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from which the rivers come, there they return again.”  Solomon writes the words to Ecclesiastes roughly 950 BC or about 2700 years prior to scientists being able to prove the source of the world’s precipitation.
  3. Proverbs 6:6-8 ““Go the ant, you sluggard, consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” Notice the fact that the writer Solomon refers to the worker ants in the feminine. Notice also the details about what the female ants do and how they work. It wasn’t until the 1700’s that scientists discovered that ALL worker ants are female and that the patterns of activity in this verse are accurate.
  4. Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”  We are told that we are made from the earth. This was written thousands of years ago. Chemists only discovered in the past few hundred years that we have 59 elements that make up our bodies. Every single one of them can be found in the elements of the earth.
  5. Isaiah 40:22 ““It is He (God) who sits above the circle of the earth.” This was written about 700BC. It wasn’t proven scientifically until 230BC.
  6. Job 26:7 ““He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing.”  Again this was written over 4000 years ago. Centuries before it was scientifically proven that the earth does indeed sit on nothing but empty space.

There are dozens more examples that could be given.  Again none of these in isolation proves anything. But as you start to take the evidences together, so far moral and science, you can see how a case for God is not only very credible but very likely.  As we get into more evidences the proof becomes even greater.

 

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Jump back to the previous post in this series…

To be continued…

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My Creator: Right and Wrong

Speaking in a TED Talk David Christian, who is the creator (notice the word I used there) of a university course called Big History, says

“Let’s wind the clock back 13.7 billion years ago to the beginning of time. Around us there is nothing. There’s not even time or space. Imagine the darkest emptiest thing you can and that’s where we are. Then suddenly, BAM a universe appears.  An entire universe.”


Really David? We are supposed to believe that absolutely nothing “existed” then all of a sudden an entire universe existed? This is not science, this is faith. It’s funny how Big Bang promoters love to push the science vs religion discussion saying that religion is not scientific. It seems clear that the big bang theory is far more faith based than the creation account.
As a believer in God the creator and a literal 6 day creation I find it remarkable that evolutionists use terms like “we know…” and “this is how it happened…” There is no possible way they could ever know since no one was there to record it.  There were no scientific experiments or tests done at the beginning of time that we can look back to and say, “Ah so that’s how it all started”.  In the end we all come to the same conclusion – my belief is based on faith after examining the evidence around me.

I respect the atheist who says that after examining the evidence as he sees it he has come to the conclusion there is no God but that he cannot prove his faith.  I don’t respect the atheist who says there is absolute proof that God does not exist. That belief is foolish and juvenile.

Let’s be honest Christian, we do not believe in God because there is 100% scientific proof that He exists. There isn’t.  We believe God exists because of evidence that includes science but goes far beyond it.  In fact we believe in God because of faith.  We can argue with people about our evidences (and they are necessary as we are challenged in scripture to be ready to defend our faith) but at the very heart of the discussion we must come the subject of faith.  Over the next several Mondays I’d like to share my personal evidence for My Creator. Some of these are non-scientific and non-biblical and some are.

 


Morality


 

This is a very troubling problem for the atheist. If you agree that there is no God and we are just a collection of cells with no moral base then you cannot accept any right or wrong in the world. Richard Dawkins says, “We live in a universe which has ‘no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” [1] William Provine of Cornell University agrees and writes, “There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.” [2]

Now leaving aside the Bible for a moment even the most basic preview of human life would be aghast at this belief.  Tell the young woman who was raped violently that there is no evil and no meaning to life. Tell the Jewish daughter whose parents were tortured and exterminated in the Holocaust that their life had no value and her pain is imaginary. Tell the families of the victims in 9/11 that it was just a big chemical reaction that caused those men to fly planes into the World Trade Centre and that animal instincts took over.

The problem the atheist has in getting 90% or so of the world to buy into this concept. You can’t remove a moral standard (such as God), preach that there is no morality and expect the world religions to crumble. That’s because at the heart of all of us there is a basic belief in morality. I find it interesting that the Bible says in Psalm 2, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” It’s not the mind that is the problem but the heart. Thomas Nagy, atheist professor at New York University is surprisingly honest when he says, “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and naturally, hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” [3] He has a heart problem not a head problem.

Now let’s come back to the Bible since this is my evidence for a creator.  The Bible’s view of morality is consistent in that it presents a God who establishes moral conduct. If there is a God who created us (and I believe there is) then it is entirely consistent to believe that right and wrong exists and that there is meaning to life. I don’t have to contradict what I already know in my heart is true. When I see evil in the world I have a solid basis for why that evil exists.

Finally the Bible gives an explanation to the meaning of life. God has told us that He created us to have an intimate and personal relationship with Him. He has created us in His own likeness (don’t mistake that to mean we are all gods) so that we might experience a life that is far beyond our physical existence.

So in conclusion the atheist cannot explain morality in their theories so they dismiss it and say it doesn’t exist. Well that is not something I (and most of the world) are ready to accept as a plausible explanation.  Faith has brought me to agree with God about His existence and morality.

 

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Jump to the next post in this series…

Sources:
1. Dawkins, R., River out of Eden, Weidenfeld and Nicolswi, Chapter 4, 1995.
2. Provine, W.B., Origins Research 16(1):9, 1994. 
3. Nagel, T., The Last Word, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997, p. 130.

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The Heavens Declare…

eso1242

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1 ESV

The European Southern Observatory recently released an absolutely ginormous 9 gigapixel image showing over 84 million stars from the ‘central bulge’ of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Link: eso1242 Photo Release

I find this to be incredibly staggering… according to Wired Magazine the image is 108,200 by 81,500 pixels in size. If the full resolution 24.6 gigabyte image were to be printed it would measure 30 feet tall and 23 feet wide… and yet the image only captures a relatively small portion of only one galaxy.

How anyone could contemplate this with an open mind** and then walk away unconvinced that there is an all powerful creator God is beyond me.

 

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**Because atheists have eliminated even the possibility of the existence of a supreme being– atheists, by definition, do not have an open mind.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [8]

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

To speak of anything relating to gender today is to court controversy and enter a verbal minefield. The battles over Feminism, homosexuality, and gender identity have not only encroached upon the professing Christian church, but have also assaulted English grammar itself.*

It is true that past societal chauvinism has adversely colored the debate; this notwithstanding, God created mankind with gender distinctions that outfit men and women for complementary roles in His service – we ignore them at our peril.

On the other hand, the necessity of males and females to the divine plan for humanity is taught in Genesis 1-3, as well as in the rest of the Scriptures; to ignore their unity, interdependence, and essential equality (as opposed to functional equality) is also highly dangerous. Happily, the Creator balances the issues beautifully in His Holy Word, and has ordered the world this way for our benefit.


Twice Told Tales

In characteristic ancient near eastern style, God tells the story of the creation of the world in an overview (Genesis 1), and then goes back to one aspect that He wants to highlight in greater detail (Genesis 2.)** What is generally discussed in Genesis 1:26-30 is amplified in the second chapter of Genesis.

Two observations from these passages must be made:

  1. Man was created first and is given leadership responsibility within the creation (later Scripture will show him exercising this role in the home and in the house of God on earth – which was the Tabernacle, the Temple, or the Church depending on when one lived.)
  2. Woman is created from man, as an indispensable “helpmeet” (or “fitting helper”) for him. This goes beyond merely assisting in the work of superintending the garden, for animals could be employed in many of these tasks.

After Adam names the animals, the Bible comments: “But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:20.) She is to be a complement to him – someone who is of the same kind as him – who may empathize, comfort, counsel, and love. She was indispensable, for after Adam every human being came through the woman’s womb (1 Corinthians 11:11-12.) Most notably, through a woman’s virgin womb came the Messiah into the world.


Equality And Differences

Space does not permit a full discussion of all the relevant Biblical passages and issues regarding men and women. Therefore, I want to appeal to a basic principle of biblical interpretation.

Often, proponents of viewing men and women as having the same roles bring out verses such as Galatians 3:28. The alternate view appeals to 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 11 as well as 1 Corinthians 14 as well as other Scriptures. Since these Scriptures are all inspired by the Holy Spirit, they are clearly not in conflict.

We must appeal to the time-honored principle of context. Each Scripture must be interpreted within the context of its own book and then within the context of the entirety of Scripture. When one does this, it becomes evident that in their essential worth to God, men and women are absolutely equal. The aforementioned verse in Galatians shows that in terms of salvation and their position in Christ, they are equal. To say it another way, this verse is written in the context of the universal church, which is composed of all believers everywhere from Pentecost through the Rapture.

The passages that limit women’s activity fall within the context of the local church, that is, their service in the assembly of believers. At other times their distinct role is noted in the context of the family. Even though they have different roles, they perform functions that are of the utmost importance in the plan of God.

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*For example, it used to be understand that one could speak of a non-specified person in the third person singular as “he” – so, one could say: “If someone wants to eat breakfast at McDonald’s, he better arrive before 10:30 a.m.” Now some would prefer “he/she” or just “she” in place of “he.” Likewise, one used to speak of actors (for a male) and actresses (for a female); now it is common to hear them all described as “actors.” Cf. also author & authoress, poet and poetess, etc. This is no mere academic debate, for it directly effects modern translations of the Holy Scriptures.

**For a similar literary device see Isaiah 52:13-15, which is then discussed in greater detail in Isaiah 53.

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Read the next installment of Entry Level Theological Truth here.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [5]

Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ Genesis 1:26

God is neither distant from His creation (as in Deism), nor is He identical to it or co-extensive with it (as in Pantheism.) He is closely involved with the universe’s maintenance and destiny (Hebrews 1:3; 2 Peter 3:10-13.) What is more, God is most interested in relating to the capstone of His work: mankind. Humans, meanwhile, are prone to either overestimate or else underestimate themselves. Either they are the measure of all things or they are worthless collections of atoms randomly thrown together by chance, matter, and unthinking forces. The Almighty sanctions neither of these extremes; instead He recognizes mankind’s true position in the universe. Created in the Creator’s image, man is made to be His ruling representative on earth, and is below Him in might, glory, wisdom, and position.

Higher Beast Or Representative of God?

It is common today for people to equate the value of humans and lower life forms. The needs of pets and endangered species are championed by celebrities and the news media, while millions of people starve to death per year in grim anonymity. It is true that as a created being, man possesses some commonality with the animal creation. Yet to think that humans are merely higher forms of primates – naked apes, so to speak – would fall short of reality. One commentator explains the connection between animals and mankind:

As the last and highest of the animate creatures, man is created. His creation is indeed thrown together with that of the land animals into one day, and in this way a certain connection between the two is acknowledged. But much more does the account aim at making prominent his dissimilarity and his high dignity, as contrasted with these and all other beings. This is indicated by the place assigned him at the end of the whole series, and it is expressly stated by the assertion of his divine likeness and rank as ruler.*

Another scholar adds: “…man is set apart by his office (1:26b, 28b; 2:19; cf. Psalm 8:4–8; James 3:7) and still more by his nature (2:20); but his crowning glory is his relation to God.”**

Image-Bearing And Its Benefits

In this likeness to our Maker, humans must use their intellect and creativity for God’s glory. Most importantly, they must come to know Him and interact with Him through their spirits (that aspect of human nature that is unique to mankind and not shared with other earthly creatures.) Of course, Genesis 3 tells the sad tale of how sin marred God’s image in humans and continues to alienate them from our Creator.

Nonetheless, in Christ believers regain the status that Adam lost (they have actually gained much more than Adam lost, but that is another blog post as they say.) Man’s spiritual deadness is reversed by the new birth through the Last Adam who is “a life giving Spirit” (John 3:3-21; Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Corinthians 15:45.) They are destined to share in the administration of the future renewed planet earth under the perfect Man, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14-30; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26-27.)

In light of the implications of mankind being God’s stewards on earth, Christians must lead the way in acting as those who are created to know, worship, and serve God. This will affect every aspect of their lives: their ethics, job performance, family life, work-ethic in school, choice of entertainment, selection of friends, and many more issues. Recognizing one’s image-bearing responsibility even has implications for our behavior on the web. The image one projects on social media sites, the way one uses e-mail, the amount of time one spends amusing oneself online must be evaluated in light of mankind’s creation in God’s image.

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*August Dillmann, Genesis Critically and Exegetically Expounded, Vol. 1. Translated by Wm. B. Stevenson. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1897, pp. 77f [Emphasis mine.]

**Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Vol. 1. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967, p. 55.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [4]

The creation account in Genesis 1 reveals that God makes distinctions. That flies somewhat counter to modern sensibilities. The contemporary mindset tends to downplay differences of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic differences, and other forms of distinction among mankind. Not all of this is bad, of course, and much of it is reactionary against unbiblical sexism and racism.

Yet radical feminism, homosexuality, and extreme environmentalism all confuse categories where the Creator specifically made distinctions. These philosophies mix up proper gender roles, true sexual morality, and the vast gulf between the animal and human worlds.

Vital Differences

In chapter one alone the Lord distinguishes between chaos and order (Genesis 1:2), light and darkness (Genesis 1:4), day and night (Genesis 1:5), sky and water (Genesis 1:6-7), sea and land (Genesis 1:9-10), different types of horticultural specimens (Genesis 1:11-13), various types of celestial bodies (Genesis 1:14-18), sea creatures and birds (Genesis 1:20-22), and different land animals (Genesis 1:24-25.)

Most notably, He distinguishes between animal creatures and the capstone of His creation, mankind (Genesis 1:26-28.) Within humankind He differentiates between male and female – although no inequality is meant, for man and woman collectively form mankind (Genesis 1:27.) Genesis 2 will reveal that they have different roles (i.e. differences of function, rather than of value. Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:2-15.)

The rest of the Bible builds upon these fundamental differences by outlining men’s and women’s roles in service (1 Corinthians 11, 14; 1 Timothy 2; etc.), and mankind’s hegemony over creation and their necessary stewardship (e.g. Romans 8; Hebrews 2.) The Lord further distinguishes between times and seasons, this age and the one to come, as well as the fates of the nations (Matthew 24-25.)

Perhaps the most important distinction is saved and lost. Membership in each of these groups is determined by each person’s response to Jesus Christ. If one repents of their sins and believes in the Lord Jesus who died to save them and rose again to give eternal life then he belongs to the saved category. If one does not have faith in Christ, he is doomed to eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire (Jn. 5:24; Rev. 20.)

Two Roads, Two Destinies

So we see that distinctions are absolutely vital in this life and in the next. Rather than float along with the shifting currents of world opinion, we must build our doctrines, worldviews, and personal behavior on the changeless Word of God. Divine differences must be observed and obeyed. Indistinct thinking on these matters leads to aimless living and a lost eternity.

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Jottings – Appearance of the Saviour

Jottings

For in speaking of the appearance of the Saviour amongst us, we must needs speak also of the origin of men, that you may know that the reason of His coming down was because of us, and that our transgression called forth the loving-kindness of the Word, that the Lord should both make haste to help us and appear among men. For of His becoming Incarnate we were the object, and for our salvation He dealt so lovingly as to appear and be born even in a human body.

Schaff, P. (1997). The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series Vol. IV (38). Athanasius: On the Incarnation

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