Wednesday, September 28, 2011


John 3:18-19   Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

            To us, God may appear to be angry. He seems to be an unjust, harsh, and stern judge. But God is saying here, “Now then, I will cancel the charges against you. You will no longer have to mourn. To be sure, you have sinned and earned the judgment of God. But your sin will be pardoned. The death penalty will be removed. I will no longer remember the sinfulness of the world – the sin in which people were born and in which they lived. Everything is settled. I will no longer look at your sin. Simply believe in my Son.”

            What’s missing? Why does judgment still hang over us if the Son has removed our sins? This judgment remains because people reject Christ, the Son of God.

            Suppose a physician is treating a sick person whom he knows he definitely can help. Suppose he has promised to get rid of his patient’s pain. The physician suggests a remedy for his patient’s illness or an antidote to counteract the poison his patient has ingested. Suppose further that the sick person knows without a doubt that the physician is capable of helping. In spite of all this, the patient says, “Get out of here. I don’t need your advice. You’re not a physician. You’re a fraud. I’m not sick. I didn’t eat any poison. And besides, it probably won’t hurt me.” Then what if the patient tries to choke and even kill this doctor? Wouldn’t you say that person is not only sick but also stark raving mad? The spiritual madness of refusing the help of God’s Son wants to give us is ten times worse than this.

Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional, By Martin Luther. March 3.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Proverbs 3:5-6    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

            Sometimes our troubles in communication involve expectations we have adopted, usually unconsciously. “We expect to be understood by other Christians and it comes as a shock to realize that they do not understand” writes Julie Gorman, teacher at Fuller Seminary. We expect to be understood, period, and are shocked when we aren’t. If not shocked, at least convinced it’s the other party’s fault – things were certainly clear when I spoke them.

            But Christians should never be shocked to be misunderstood, whether by those who share our faith or those who do not. Misunderstanding occurs because of two realities, both basic to the Christian understanding of creation, that as creatures we are both fallen and finite. Being fallen means our minds are never fully dependable; and our autonomous hearts are always attracted  to whatever ideas seems to make us the center of the universe, even though it sets us adrift to be…lost in the cosmos. If anything, we should be shocked when someone hears us correctly. But even if we were not fallen we would remain finite. Even if all we are and do weren’t so badly broken we would still be severely limited. Even at the best of times we can never comprehend everything at once, but only grasp bits and pieces, parts and partially at that, which means we can never fully, exhaustively understand anything.

            Being both fallen and finite, it makes more sense to expect misunderstanding, to see clear communication as a grace, a gift as precious as it is unexpected.

Critique: 2011 Issue 2 “Hindrances to Communication” by Denis Haack, pg. 6-7.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


John 10:27-29    My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

            A spiritually dead person can no more give himself spiritual life than a physically dead person can give himself physical life. That requires a supernatural act on the part of God. By that supernatural act God Himself, through His Holy Spirit, sovereignly takes us out of the kingdom of Satan and places us in His spiritual kingdom by a spiritual rebirth.

            And having once been born into the kingdom of God, we can never become unborn. Since it took a supernatural act to bring us into a state of spiritual life, it would take another such act to take us out of that state. Hence the absolute certainty that those who have been regenerated and who therefore have become truly Christian will never lose their salvation, but will be kept by the power of God through all the trials and difficulties of this life and will be brought into the heavenly kingdom.

            This gift of eternal life is not conferred upon all men, but only upon those whom God chooses. This does not mean that any who want to be saved are excluded, for the invitation is, “and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17).  The fact is that a spiritually dead person cannot will to come. “No man can come to me unless the Father wo sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Only those who are quickened (made spiritually alive) by the Holy Spirit ever have that will or that desire… And concerning them Professor Floyd Hamilton has very appropriately written: “All that God does is to let them alone and allow them to go their own way without interference…God save all who want to be saved, but no one whose nature has not been changed wants to be saved.”

The Reformed Faith by Loraine Boettner, pg. 10-11.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Proverbs 9:13-18    The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house…calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way. “Let all who are simple come in here!” she says to those who lack judgment. “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.

There is an accepted tradition among those who struggle with addictions that goes something like this: helping yourself will help others, and helping others will help yourself. If an alcoholic learns to “take his soul to task,” it will bless family, friends, co-workers, and probably many others. If that same alcoholic looks out for the needs of others, and goes out of his or her way to serve another drinker, then that person will most certainly be blessed in some way.

As I dug into Scripture’s teaching on the reckless nature of the human heart and its rich teaching on self-control, it made me see that I needed help as well… Be sure to look for addictions in your own heart and life. Even though the focus of this book will be primarily on drugs and alcohol…the basic ideas are relevant to all kinds of sins that are not easily cast off. (Are there any sins that are?)

Theology makes a difference. It is the infrastructure of our lives. Build it poorly and the building will eventually collapse in ruins. Build it well and you will be prepared for anything. The basic theology for addictions is that the root problem goes deeper than our genetic makeup. Addictions are ultimately a disorder of worship. Will we worship ourselves and our own desires or will we worship the true God? Through this lens, all Scripture comes alive for the addict. Since all Scripture addresses our fundamental disorder of worship, all Scripture is rich with application for the addict.

Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave by Edward T. Welch, pg. xv-xvi.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Joshua 24:15    But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your forefathers…or the gods of [those] in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

            To help us understand sin, God gives a story depicting an event that perfectly describes sin for us. It is the events surrounding the lives of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). The focal point of this story is the questioning of God’s Word. The sin was not committed in the questioning or discussion about God’s command. The sin was in the action taken as related to God’s prohibition of eating the forbidden truth. Adam and Eve wrestled with the questions brought to them by Satan. Their engaging Satan in the discussion about what should and should not be eaten was not the sin.

            Often times we are confronted with a choice that brings a question to mind about God’s Word. Back and forth we go in our minds about which decision should be made. We ask ourselves what God meant or what he prohibits us from doing. The questioning and the struggle are not sin. We must engage in this debate to find the true course of action. Unlike Adam and Eve, we need to invite God into the debate. One of their mistakes was to engage in this discussion between themselves and Satan without allowing God into the decision process.

            They both knew what God had said. Satan knew what God said. What Satan did was played on their freedom to choose between the right and the wrong way to obey God. Satan denied God was truthful to them. He caused them to question God’s goodness in this prohibition. He opened the door to doubt and led them to act upon their doubts about God.

            Sin is acting without faith, living in disobedience to God’s will for our lives. It can be a subtle move from faith into doubt and disobedience. The best defense against Satan is to invite God into the decision process. That will guarantee the right decision is made and sin is defeated.

Jericho Road Ministries Chapel, by Rev. Bruce W. Gimbel, 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2011


 Proverbs 22:6    Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

A – Always trust them to God’s care.
B – Bring them to church to learn to worship Him.
C – Challenge them to high goals.
D – Delight in their achievements.
E – Exalt God in their presence as an example for them.
F – Frown on evil.
G – Give them unconditional love.
H – Hear their problems and heart.
I – Ignore not their childish fears and concerns.
J – Joyfully accept their apologies.
K – Keep their confidence and trust.
L – Live a good example before them.
M – Make them your friends.
N – Never ignore endless questions.
O – Open your home to their visits.
P – Pray form them by name each day.
Q – Quicken your interest in their spirituality.
R – Remember their needs.
S – Show them the way of salvation.
T – Teach them to work.
U – Understand they are still young and are your child at every age.
V – Verify your statements.
W – Wean them from bad company.
X – Expect them to obey.
Y – Yearn for God’s best for them.
Z – Zealously guide them in Biblical truth.

Unknown Source, Calvary United Methodist Church, Windber, PA

Friday, September 16, 2011


Genesis 1:26-31       God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; make and female he created them.

            After several days of creation God decided to create us, mankind. It took him five days to prepare the stage for his pinnacle of creation. In place for our arrival was the created universe. The stars and moon provide light for our days. The waters and dry land offered opportunities for living creatures to feed. Plants sprung up to shelter and shade the living creatures. Day and night were established for the created order to live and to rest according to their appointed times.

            When you think of the preparation we undertake for a new born child’s arrival, our efforts look quite similar to God’s preparation for us. We buy the cute clothes and shoes for baby. A room is picked out in the house for the new born to occupy. Furnishings are ordered and set in place. The color of the walls, carpet, sheets and blankets are all arranged. Everything arrives and is set out for optimal viewing by baby. The colors, smells and sounds will stimulate baby’s growth and development. What a wonderful and exciting time of preparation and anticipation. When baby arrives we cherish the time for his arrival and watch as he sleeps in his new home.

            Love is the common factor between God’s preparation and our own preparation for baby. Love is revealed in the consummation of a new living being. Adam is made in God’s image as baby enters the world with characteristics of his parents. All the world and all of baby’s room was set in place for the individual’s best interests and welfare. Everything leading up to the arrival was very good and well planned.

            Over and around us is the created order, established and ruled by God’s creative and sustaining hand. We were made good and pleasing to God. Nothing about our appearance or abilities is not pleasing to God. What a loving God we have when we consider the newborn child. God is love!

Jericho Road Ministries Chapel, by Rev. Bruce W. Gimbel, 2009.

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