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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Bible

The Cowardice of Many Chief Rulers

John 12 42 and 43

John 12:42,43

We sure like to throw rocks at those lousy Pharisees, don’t we? We like to sit back and judge them for their legalism, hypocrisy and rejection. Here is the bad news; we can very much be them. Atheism, the simple lack of a belief in any god or gods, has been replaced by the New Atheism. Rather than simply resting in their state of disbelief, the New Atheists have a plan and an agenda; that plan is the eradication of faith in general and the Christian Faith in particular. The tools of this are mockery, name calling, cultural pressure and even legislation. They want to put us out of the Synagogue so to speak.

As non-believers, we fall prey to this pressure and reject Jesus ourselves. Even as saved children of God, we fall prey to this and wander away under the pressures of this world. We, too love the praise of that world more than the praise of God.

Friends, Jesus has this. Some 2000 years ago God made Himself in the form of the man Jesus Christ, and walked this Earth for the specific reason to save us from ourselves and offer us a place eternally with Him. Jesus IS God, and has all the power of God. The praise and approval of men today may satisfy us in the moment, but our eyes need to be on the praise of God in the forever.

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The Prophecy of Isaiah

John 12_40.JPG

John 12:39-41

Here, things get a bit complicated, as we see the almost incomprehensible balance of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. The prophet Isaiah had foretold the massive rejection of Jesus by His own people; in fact, in the eternal plan of redemption, this rejection was actually absolutely necessary. This is a difficult thing, for sure. It might even seem that God caused the Jewish nation to reject Jesus, as we see hinted at in the above passage. Yet, we see clearly the idea throughout Scripture that men make choices about God our Father and Jesus.

The eyes of the Jewish nation certainly did become blinded, rendering them unable to see. They absolutely made choices not to see the clear evidence before them. Friends, these non-believers hardened their own hearts, and God certainly allowed them to do that, and even knew that they would.

Despite our nature and tendency to reject and harden our hearts, God still reveals Himself to us all and offers all men and women the opportunity to come to Him. Jesus came as God in the flesh not for a few, or a pre-selected group of humanity; He came to extend His offer to all humanity. The choice is ours and ours alone. As you take a look at your own relationship or lack of with Jesus always remember that. If you have that relationship always remember it as well as you move through a largely non-believing world.

Lazarus a Living Testimony

john 12 10 and 11.JPG

John 12:7-11

John 12:17-23

The non-believing world in the day of Jesus was hostile to our Lord, and got more and more hostile as His ministry continued. It seems fairly amazing that, in light of the clear and evident fact that Jesus raised Lazarus that the Pharisees still refused to believe in Him. Instead of believing, they were angry that others were choosing to believe in and follow Jesus. The solution of the Pharisees was to eradicate the evidence! Clearly, many of these men had seen the miracle of the raising of Lazarus and that many of those who chose to believe also had; yet, their response was to not simply ignore the evidence but to attempt to make the evidence go away. “If we only kill this guy Jesus raised from the dead, then our problems are solved;” this seemed to be the rather convoluted logic of the non-believing Pharisees.

Guess what, friends? Not a thing has changed. Even today, the non-believing world thinks if only they can erase the evidence of God, then God will cease to exist. Eternally sadly for them, that simply will not work. Just like the Pharisees could not actually erase the fact that Lazarus died and came back, the clear evidence of God and our Lord Jesus Christ likewise can never be erased. The only question is: who will we choose to believe?

The Evil Heart of Judas Iscariot

John 12_5.JPG

John 12:4-6

Martha was not the only guest at this gathering who had something to say about what Mary was doing for Jesus. First, it seems beyond doubt that Martha loved her Lord, but was just somewhat distracted by the things going on; she had simply lost sight of priorities. Judas Iscariot, clearly, did NOT have good intentions in his heart. In fact, we know he rejected our Lord, and even today is eternally separated from Him in the torment of Hell.  What we see here is the posturing and preening of a man pretending to be righteous while really hiding evil in his heart.

Friends, that is true for many today. Of course not all are hiding overt evil in their hearts while pretending to do good as Judas was. Many are simply convinced that they can actually do enough proper and good things to warrant the favor of God. It simply does not matter, as the end result is the same. We cannot earn the favor or our God, nor can we even do enough to balance the scales in our favor eternally. We may not be hiding the level of evil in our hearts as Judas was, but the fact remains that our hearts are evil due to the fact that we have all fallen short of the perfection of God’s glory.

We have a choice. Will we rely on empty posturing and good works, or accept the full payment Jesus made on our behalf?

The Precious Gift of Mary

John 12_3

John 12:1-3

Many of us are very, very busy. Many of us are Marthas, so wrapped up in the things that we are “doing,” that we lose sight of many things more important. If we take a look at this story in Luke Chapter 10 we can see that Martha was “cumbered about much serving;” one translation says “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”

In the middle of all of the excitement and preparations we see Mary seemingly doing nothing. If fact, in the Luke account, Martha calls out her sister for just that! To paraphrase, Martha more or less asks Jesus to make Mary get up and get busy doing something useful. Jesus quickly points out to Martha that Mary is actually doing the one thing that is important.

Friends, if you are one of the “busy” people, maybe it is time to take a step back and figure out if what we are “doing,” is the needful thing. Sometimes, let us just be a Mary, and spend some time with our Lord devotedly loving, worshiping and fellowshiping with Him. In this story, Jesus was heading quickly toward the appointed time at which He would allow Himself to be sacrificed as a payment for the sins of mankind. Today, this is finished and the sacrifice has been made. Will we respond like Mary, or will be get so busy running around “doing” things that we forget what really matters?

What Happens When a Believer in Christ Dies?

2 corinthians 5_6

2 Corinthians 5:1-6

Life is tough. Reality tells us that, and we can all see it in our daily lives. We get older and our bodies break down; many live with unending physical pain. We suffer diseases, some of which can claim our very lives. Financially or economically we don’t always get what in want; in fact, sometimes we literally are without absolute necessities. People are mean, unreasonable and hateful in many cases. Life is, indeed, tough. I may be a shock to some, but God has never promised otherwise for His children; there are numerous references in God’s word to not “if,” but “when” believers will suffer the trials of life. In some cases, it is the very act of being a believer in The Lord Jesus Christ that brings the suffering!

Why is that so? Our verse above tells us that answer. It is because, while in our bodily homes, we are absent from the physical presence of the Lord. We are trapped in our physical states as fallen, decaying and imperfect humans. That seems a tough word, but it is a true word.

Friends, glory to God, it will not always be that way. That is, if we are His children. Some day we will be absent from the body and be present with the Lord. There, we will be just as He is: perfect, holy and without flaw or blemish. There, in that eternal state, there will be no trials or suffering but only perfect eternal glory.

Philippians Chapter 4 – No, Wait…Back up!

philppians.JPG

A couple of days ago, I expressed the thought I felt had been placed on me to write about Philippians Chapter 4, which is where I was at as I studied and prepared to teach Sunday School this past Sunday. Oddly enough, I had misread our Sunday School schedule and wasn’t actually teaching Sunday morning after all, but rather Sunday night! After a bit of a scramble Sunday during the day to get ready for the class I was actually supposed to teach, all was well. I teach NEXT Sunday morning, and we will have moved onward from Philippians into Colossians. As there are no accidents with God, I am pretty sure I was planted in Philippians for a reason. But, since we are moving on, I will move backwards, and go ahead and start from the beginning of the Book!

I am a practical fellow, and Philippians is a very practical book; hence, I am a big fan of this book. As most know, the central overriding theme of this book is “Joy,” and it is centered on how to experience Joy in our Christian lives. The idea of joy and rejoicing appears in this Epistle more than any other Biblical Book. Paul simply gives some great instructions on how to live the joy filled Christian life.

There are some things Philippians is not, also. It is not primarily a book of history; it never even quotes the Old Testament. It is not primarily a book of theology, either. It is not a book of rebuke. Unlike some of Paul’s epistles, it was not written primarily to correct some theological or behavioral issue in the church. Interpretively it is rather simple, and contains little of contention.  It contains small portions of all of those things, but none of them are the seeming primary purpose. What we have here is one big exhortation on ways believers can live a joy filled life and become more Christ like as they mature.

As we move forward, we will talk some about the city of Philippi itself, how Paul came to be there, some notable events which occurred there and whatever else comes to mind!

The Armor of God-Sharpen Your Sword.

Originally posted in 2014

armor

Ephesians 6:17

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:


 

You can read the entire text on the Armor of God in Ephesians Chapter 6.

What makes the sword unique among all of the items we have discussed in this series. The sword is the only actual weapon. Everything else has been for purely defensive purpose, while the sword is an offensive weapon.

It is the means by which the battle is carried to the enemy. In one sense, we kill untruth and lies with the truth of God’s Word.

Our sword is an offensive weapon in another very important way.  Our sword, the Word of God, is the only weapon we have available to carry the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.

Are our swords sharp? Do we know the Word of God well enough to carry it into the world as our weapon? If it is sharp, do we actually pick it up and carry it into battle?

The Armor of God-Don’t Forget Your Helmet

Originally published in 2014

armor

Ephesians 6:17

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:


 

You can read the entire text on the Armor of God in Ephesians Chapter 6.

The need for a helmet in a soldier’s armor seems fairly self evident. The head is both one of the most vulnerable and most visible targets on any human. A sufficient blow to the head is almost certain to be fatal. Our head, or more precisely, our mind is also one of the most vulnerable parts of us to attack by Satan.

What are these attacks on our minds? Satan wants us to doubt that we are eternally secure in our salvation in Jesus Christ.  If he can divert us into a constant effort to maintain our reconciliation to God, then he can render us useless in our service to Him.

Since Paul was apparently speaking to believers in this passage, he is probably not referring to the Helmet of Salvation as the fact of being saved itself. He seems certain to be referring to the hope which we have in the salvation we already possess.

Our salvation is eternally protected by God, and the Helmet of Salvation is simply the assurance we have it no matter the doubts Satan may cast in our paths. Don’t let his doubts and discouragement turn you away from the things God really wants you to concentrate on!


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