Monthly Archives: December 2019

Tomorrow

 

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (James 4:14-15)

At this time of year, we reminisce about the past year. If one is of the contemplative sort, one might assess past failures and successes and consider how one might diminish the former and capitalize on the latter. Then, facing the coming year, we plan for improved outcomes in the year ahead.

Many have noted the number of the coming year, 2020. We associate that number with clear, sharp vision. We all want to see 20/20, and if that is physically impossible, we attempt to make the correction by the use of corrective lenses. That works relatively well for physical vision, but what about those intangible things like the future? The future is always nebulous, obscure, and unpredictable. We can plan, but nothing can guarantee that our planned intentions will work out as we hoped. Sudden illness could strike. Calamity could assail us – a car accident, a natural disaster, loss of income, stock market crash, war, etc. We cannot tell what the future will bring.

Jesus’ half-brother advises: “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow” (James 4:13-14). James prompts us to consider, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). We often arrogantly assume that we control our lives and our circumstances, but we delude ourselves when we think that way. We have no control over our lives and circumstances. Our lives, as James says, are but a vapor, like a morning fog that appears briefly and then dissipates with the warmth of the morning sun.

So, does that mean we should not plan ahead? As Paul would say, “God forbid!” We need to plan. In laying out the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:27-33), Jesus said, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? … Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:28, 31). Planning is wise and setting goals is prudent.

However, making plans without including God in one’s planning is presumptuous. Jesus gave the example of a rich man who had a bumper crop and wondered what to do with the abundance (Luke12:16-21). In his presumption, he thought of building bigger barns to store his crops and retiring to a life of leisure. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). That’s the point James makes when he says, “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15, emphasis mine). Go ahead and make your plans, but remember that failure or success is in the Lord’s hands, “if the Lord wills.” The saying in Spanish is “Primero Dios” – God first!

Happy New Year!

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Holidays, New Year's Day, Religion

O Holy Night

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. (Luke 2:8)

“The stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.” It was a “holy” night – sacred, pure, consecrated. There was no night like it before, and there has been no night like it since.

It was a holy night because Jesus entered the world on that night. The birth itself was nothing special. Surely He was not the only baby born on that night. According to Luke’s account, Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem some time before the birth. “While they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6). Surely in the small village of Bethlehem word of a young expectant mother got around quickly. Surely the town had at least one midwife to help with the birth, and the ladies of the town would be more than eager to help a young mother, “great with child,”[1] deliver her firstborn. Just because there was no room for them in the inn, does not mean the couple was totally on their own. So, the birth was itself was unremarkable.

The miraculous conception nine months earlier is another matter. The Creator[2] took the form of the “created” when the angel told Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The “Son of God” was God Himself growing inside the virgin’s womb for the normal human gestation time.[3] At conception, He became Emmanuel, God with us.[4]

But now, on this holy night, the incarnate God, entered the world He created. It was a very holy night indeed.

Notes:


[1]  Luke 2:5

[2]  John 1:1-3

[3]  John 1:14

[4]  Matthew 1:23

Comments Off on O Holy Night

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Christmas, Religion

Christmas Excitement

Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. (Isaiah 42:9)

It’s that time of year once more. The places I work and worship sparkle with bright red, green, and gold decorations consistent with the colors of the Christmas season. Long before Thanksgiving Day, merchants displayed all their Christmas wares enticing shoppers to covet without first giving thanks. Television commercials attempt to instill a sense of privation so the viewer feels the need for what they are selling.

GMC™ produces two commercials that really stand out to me. They show a young couple, probably in their late twenties or early thirties, with no children, and a big fancy house. In one of the commercials, the husband buys GMC ™ vehicles for both of them. In the other, the husband gets the wife a puppy, and the wife gets him a big crew-cab pickup. Seriously, how many young people, on the average, have that kind of cash? Most young people that age, if they graduated from a college or university, are saddled with enormous school debt and are doing well to afford payments on a Honda Civic™ much less a $60,000 fully decked out pickup truck!

Regardless of how we feel about the materialism associated with the Christmas season, we cannot get away from the sense of expectation. At church, our choir and orchestra are working hard a polishing up the music for our Christmas concert. It will be wonderful, and we are excited about presenting it. Our church looks forward to our Christmas Eve services and our sharing of the Lord’s Supper, aka communion.

We celebrate the birth of our Savior. Think about what that means. The same God that created heaven and earth and all things, the same God that created human beings in His very image, is the same God that implanted Himself in the womb of a virgin girl to be born like any other human baby, live a sinless life among His creation, and give Himself as a sacrifice for humanity’s sin. That is awesome! That boggles the mind!

We anticipate with excitement the celebration of Christmas, the First Advent, but our celebration should look forward to the Second Advent yet to come. The prophets of old foretold of Jesus’ first coming. Beginning in Genesis, the Bible promises that the “seed of the woman” would crush the head of the serpent, i.e., Satan.[1] Isaiah tells us that the woman would be a virgin.[2] In Genesis, we also learn that He would come from the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah.[3] Isaiah foretold that Jesus would be in the line of King David[4] and the psalmist concurred.[5] The conniving Balaam unwittingly predicted that a star would announce His coming.[6] Micah pointed to Bethlehem as the place of His birth,[7] and Hosea said He would come up from Egypt.[8] These are just some of the prophecies of His First Advent. Many more prophecies foretold of His life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection – all with 100% accuracy.

Christmastime should cause excitement as we anticipate His Second Advent. There are more prophecies concerning His second coming than there are for His first coming. Since all prophecies of His first coming came true as predicted, should we not expect the same accuracy of the prophecies predicting His second coming? Celebrating Christmas should excite us knowing that the Baby Jesus is the soon-coming King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

One of the carols we sing at Christmastime is not really a Christmas carol. In fact, “Joy to the World”[9] reminds us that Christ will return to rule the world as king.

Joy to the world the Savior reigns; let men their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat their sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love.

We know historically that did not happen at His first coming. We might spiritualize those sentiments. Certainly, the Savior reigns within the hearts of all believers, albeit not perfectly. Sin and sorrow continue as always and “the curse” goes on unabated. He does not rule the world, and “the nations” care nothing about His glories or righteousness. All of these are attributes of His yet-to-come millennial reign.[10] The prophet Isaiah provides some insight into Jesus’ millennial reign on earth. That will be a time when even the animal kingdom will be at peace.[11] Knowing what is coming should make Christmas even more exciting than all the GMC™ pickups the world can afford!

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 3:15

[2]  Isaiah 7:14

[3]  Genesis 12:3; 26:4; 28:14; 49:10-11

[4]  Isaiah 11:1

[5]  Psalm 132:11

[6]  Numbers 24:17

[7]  Micah 5:2

[8]  Hosea 11:1

[9]  Carol by Isaac Watts, 1718

[10]  Revelation 20:1-7

[11]  Isaiah 11

Comments Off on Christmas Excitement

Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Christmas, Gospel, Holidays, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ, Theology

Seasons

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)

It’s fall. The trees in our front yard are mostly plucked clean of all leaves. Our Red Oak holds tenaciously onto what it has left. That suits me because I like its red leaves on display. However, it’s created a different kind of mess with all the acorns it’s dropped this year—a bumper crop! The neighborhood squirrels will have plenty to last them through the winter.

Our Sycamore creates the biggest mess. It drops branches and seed pods, and it releases huge brownish leaves. Both trees decided to defoliate this week and cover the yard to the point that even our walkways disappeared from view. My daily trips to the mailbox were accompanied by the rhythmic music of swish, swish, swish with the occasional crunch, crunch of acorns under my soles as I plowed my way through a foot or more of dead foliage.

Yesterday, guilt got the best of me. The neighbor west of me gets his yard maintained as part of his rent. My neighbor east of me runs a family business from his house, so he can find time during the week to tend to his yard. So, the yards on either side of my house are free of tree debris. I feel certain that they want me to clean up my yard before my leaves blow into their yards. In order to promote good relations with my neighbors, I filled seven plastic lawn bags with my tree trash. The resulting aches and pains from the effort reminded me that I have fully entered the fall of my life and winter is coming.

Seasons come and go for trees. The spring produces new growth. Some trees put forth beautiful flowers to sweeten the air. Summer comes and their leaves stretch out a canopy to cool the passerby from the heat of the blistering sun. Then fall comes. Photosynthesis stops and the trees show their true colors as they prepare for their winter sleep. Winter comes and the trees display bare skeletons giving the viewer a sense of sadness. But then spring returns and the cycle begins anew.

God promised that as long as Earth remains, the cycle will continue. Climate change scaremongers would have us believe that human beings affect Earth’s climate and that we can control how the climate will react by our actions. Obviously, these people do not know God, are unaware of His omnipotence, and are ignorant of His promise.

I’ve seen satellite images of Earth’s surface. Cities, much less people, cannot be seen from outer space. I’ve looked out of airplane windows; I can make out cities, and roads, but I cannot see people. Human beings are invisible specks on the planet, and these fools think we can control the weather! How arrogant! Climate changes by God’s design. The sun flares up at times making some years hotter. Sometimes the sun is less active and our temperatures are milder. It ebbs and flows, up and down. God made it that way, and He promised that the seasonal cycle will continue as long as Earth lasts. According to the Bible, Earth still has more than 1000 years to go before God destroys it to make it anew (2 Peter 3:10, 12; Revelation 21:1), but in the meantime, seasons will continue according to God’s design. There is no need to worry about climate change. As for me, my approaching winter doesn’t bother me. Soon, I will dwell in eternal spring!

3 Comments

Filed under Creation, End Times, Philosophy, Random Musings, Science, Theology

White As Snow

White As Snow – by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.*

 

“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.” (Daniel 7:9)

In this amazing vision of the everlasting God on His fiery judgment throne, we find one of the six occurrences in the Bible of the fascinating phrase “white as snow.” As the symbol of holiness, pure white finds its clearest natural expression in the beautiful snow when it has freshly covered the ground.

Twice the phrase is used to describe the cleansing of a guilty sinner by the grace of God. David, after confessing his own sin, prayed: “Have mercy upon me, O God. . . . Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. . . . wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:1-2, 7). Then, God promises through His prophet: “Come now, and let us reason together, . . . though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). The cleansing blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, is the only substance that can turn blood-red scarlet into snowy white.

When Christ ascended the Mount of Transfiguration, “his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow” (Mark 9:3), which confirmed to the three disciples that He was the Son of God, even as the voice from heaven had said (Matthew 17:5). At the empty tomb following His resurrection, “the angel of the Lord” also had “raiment white as snow” (Matthew 28:3). Finally, when John saw Christ in His glorified body, he testified that “his head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow” (Revelation 1:14).

It is marvelous that the raiment of the angel of God, the transfigured Christ, and the Ancient of days, as well as the head of Christ in His glory, are all described with the same phrase as the soul of one whose sins are forgiven!

*From Days of Praise, December 1, 2019

Comments Off on White As Snow

Filed under Christianity, End Times, Gospel, Religion, Salvation, Second Coming of Christ, Theology