Wednesday, June 28, 2017

BEING SHAKEN

 I Was Just Thinking About – BEING SHAKEN.

A news story from this past Sunday indicated the following: “An AirAsia X flight to Malaysia from Perth, Australia, was forced to turn back Sunday after the twin-aisle Airbus A330-300 aircraft began shaking due to what the airline called a technical issue. The plane turned around and safely landed back at Perth Airport.” A passenger when being interviewed said: "We were asleep and heard a loud bang around the 1-hour-and-15-minute mark…It shook for the whole ride back, close on two hours." Some indicated that it felt like they were sitting on a washing Machine. What happened to cause this vibration and shaking? It is suggested that a blade inside one of the Rolls Royce Engines broke. This caused an imbalance affecting the stability of the aircraft. As the Pilot gave updates to the passengers, he made an appeal for them to Pray.

I wonder if anyone gave serious thought to their plight and how it might cause them to momentarily enter eternity. I wonder if there was any thought given to both the willfulness and arrogance of mankind. I wonder if the thought crossed any mind that the judgment of God is manifesting itself. The prophets spoke of the different ways in which people will become aware of God’s judgment. Isaiah 2:17-21 states: “The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear. People will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when HE RISES TO SHAKE THE EARTH. In that day people will throw away to the moles and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship. They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when HE RISES TO SHAKE THE EARTH.”

The prophet also declares this word from the Lord, Isaiah 13:13, “Therefore, I will make the heavens tremble; and THE EARTH WILL SHAKE FROM ITS PLACE at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.” There was an occasion when the disciples of Jesus asked Him about the end times. He replied, Luke 21:25, “I will make the heavens tremble; and THE EARTH WILL SHAKE FROM ITS PLACE AT THE WRATH OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY, in the day of his burning anger.” Hebrews 12:26 also warns of the dreadful day: “At that time HIS VOICE SHOOK THE EARTH, but now he has promised: Once more I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH BUT ALSO THE HEAVENS.”

We need to give serious thought and attention to Jesus Christ and that which He desires and requires from His people.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Monday, June 26, 2017

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

I Was Just Thinking About – ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.

A few years ago, the television program, Person of Interest, featured the ability of a computerized system  that was developed (the machine) that identified people who were viewed as expendable and/or in trouble. It was publicized as being “a crime thriller about an ex-CIA agent and a mysterious billionaire who prevent violent crimes by utilizing an all-seeing machine that can predict the events before they happen." On that program, the featured programmer pursued such people as those who needed assistance and help.

Last evening, June 25, 2017, 60 Minutes on CBS (In a repeat telecast from October 2016)) introduced did a preliminary review of Watson, the IBM development that features Artificial Intelligence. This is not a new development and it is believed that it had its beginning after the conclusion of World War II.  It is reported that “a number of people independently started to work on intelligent machines. The English mathematician Alan Turing may have been the first. He gave a lecture on it in 1947. He also may have been the first to decide that AI was best researched by programming computers rather than by building machines. By the late 1950s, there were many researchers on AI, and most of them were basing their work on programming computers.”

Watson appeared on the quiz program Jeopardy and competed against two of the top winners in the history of that program. Ken Jennings and a fellow human contestant, Brad Rutter, competed against Watson in a three-episode tournament and were soundly defeated by Watson. Watson’s success has also led to the development of robots with various skills and abilities that are becoming programmed to perform intricate Surgery on Hospitals. There is currently a serious development of Pilot-less passenger planes. We already have drones that are controlled by computer centers for everything from delivery services to locating an enemy and destroying him. The development of AI has become part of the automobile market with Driver-less cars. While all of this may be fascinating, it must be remembered that it is named “Artificial Intelligence” for a reason – it can only be functional by that which a credible human being can program into it.

The Scriptures emphasize one embracing a non-artificial intelligence. It is identified in Jeremiah 9:23-24, This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise boast of their wisdom…let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.” Also, I Corinthians 1:25, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than Human Wisdom.” An old expression is: “Go with God!” That is the wisdom we would do well to employ.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

THE NECESSARY STRUGGLE

I Was Just Thinking About – THE NECESSARY STRUGGLE.

We have become so familiar with different passages of Scripture that we tend to either forget or ignore what it intends for the Biblical Christian. One passage that illustrates this for us is Ephesians 6:10-17 and the emphasis upon:Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Vs.11-12). Paul made a very clear emphasis with the words “our struggle” and the sense that it is never-ending.

In conjunction with a Sermon he was going to preach on I Corinthians 16:13, (“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”), Isaac Watts (1724) wrote the following words that would later become part of the Hymn, Am I A Soldier of the Cross?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Along with this spiritual warfare is the disciplined pursuit of both peace and holiness. Hebrews 12:14 states: “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.”The NLT states: “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” In his devotional on this verse, John Piper wrote in Desiring God: “There is a practical holiness without which we will not see the Lord. Many live as if this were not so. There are professing Christians who live such unholy lives that they will hear Jesus’s dreadful words, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). Paul says to professing believers, “If you live according to the flesh you will die” (Romans 8:13). So, there is a holiness without which no one will see the Lord. And learning to fight for holiness by faith in future grace is supremely important.”

In these matters, are you taking a serious God seriously? If not, why not?

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

CROSS REMOVAL

I Was Just Thinking About – CROSS REMOVAL.

The focus of Biblical Christianity is the Cross. Not as a physical or material symbol, but as a place of capital punishment and execution. It represented the place of intense suffering and torturous death. It was the place where Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became the sacrifice for the sins of those who would believe in Him. However, that which the cross symbolizes for Biblical Christianity, is totally opposite to the views of Atheism and the Humanist movement.

In Pensacola, Florida, the following occurred on June 19, 2017: “A group of Pensacola residents, represented by the American Humanist Association and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, sued the city in 2016 seeking the removal of the cross, calling its placement on public, government-maintained property unconstitutional…The 34-foot-tall white concrete cross has stood in the popular park since 1969, and replaced an earlier wooden cross on the same site which was erected in 1941.” The response of one of the groups states: “We are pleased that the court struck down this cross as violative of the First Amendment,” said Monica Miller, Senior Counsel at the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. The cross was totally unavoidable to park patrons, and to have citizens foot the bill for such a religious symbol is both unfair and unconstitutional.”

What is conveniently ignored in the First Amendment to the Constitution is that it espouses Freedom OF Religion – not Freedom FROM Religion. While the Humanist Association champions its “religion”, the Biblical Christian view is silenced. It would be refreshing to hear someone declare a foundational truth of Biblical Christianity by emphasizing the words I Corinthians 1:18-24, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks search for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Psalm 14:1-3 should also be noted: “The fool says in his heart: There is no God. They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

WHAT ARE WE MISSING

I Was Just Thinking About – WHAT ARE WE MISSING?

What are we missing? Is it possible that the Biblical Church can miss the obvious and get caught up with other and lesser things? Can the Biblical Christian become so preoccupied with complicated details that the primary purpose for life and purpose is ignored and averted? Today’s Devotional – Insight for Living – asks the question: “Who Cares?” The illustration used is summarized: “Who really cared? His was a routine admission to busy Bellevue Hospital. A charity case, one among hundreds. A bum from the Bowery with a slashed throat. The Bowery - last stop before the morgue. Synonym of filth, loneliness, cheap booze, drugs, and disease. The Bowery became the dead-end street of an incredible life. On that icy January morning before the sun had crept over New York's skyline…a shell of a man who looked twice his age staggered to the wash basin and fell…He was found lying in a heap, naked and bleeding from a deep gash in his throat. His forehead was badly bruised and he was semiconscious.

Who was this person? Did it really matter? Should one who had some measure of success be concerned for one who outwardly was the epitome of failure? “A friend seeking him was directed to the local morgue. There…he was identified. When they scraped together his belongings, they found a ragged, dirty coat with 38 cents in one pocket and a scrap of paper in the other. All his earthly goods. Enough coins for another night in the Bowery and five words: Dear friends and gentle hearts. Almost like the words of a song, someone thought. But who cared?”

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells of a man who became the victim of merciless thieves. They beat him severely and took all of his possessions. They left him in a heap – half dead. Those who might’ve been able to help ignored this victim. They crossed to the other side of the road to avoid even looking at him. No one cared except for the Good Samaritan who invested his own time and treasure to help one who was on the threshold of death.

We are reminded in James 2:14-17 to be a person who tangibly cares about and for others. The question raised is: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him: Go in peace; stay warm and well fed, but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that? So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead.”
Who was that man on the Bowery? “Once upon a time, long before his tragic death at age 38, he had written songs that literally made the whole world sing, such as: Oh! Susanna! Beautiful Dreamer; Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair; Old Folks at Home; My Old Kentucky Home; and 200 more that have become deeply rooted in our rich American heritage. Thanks to Stephen Foster, whom nobody knew. And for whom nobody cared.”

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

CHANGING TIMES

I Was Just Thinking About – CHANGING TIMES.

The month of June seems to be a time when Church Denominations of every stripe hold their annual meeting. The conclaves are often marked by sharp differences and contentious debates. From a bird’s eye view, one can wonder whether or not these various groups truly represent the Church of the Risen Christ, or as Scripture states it so purposely, “the body of Christ.”

I belong to a denomination that believes it is the most pure and truest representative of the Reformed Faith. And yet, as they meet, reports emerge that indicate a new day and a pattern of divide between historic conservatives (40%) and the National Partnership (60%). The prognosticators think that the 60% will become greater and the 40% will steadily decline. If any of this is true, or even if all of it is true, what is the recourse for the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ?

We know the heart of Jesus Christ about such matters from the prayer he offered in John 17. Jesus prayed that His body, the Church, might be one in the same way that the Triune God is one. The Apostle Paul carefully and urgently instructed the believers, Ephesians 4:1-7, “As a prisoner in the Lord, then, I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, and with diligence to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” He goes on to instruct about gifts that may differ but that should not affect the being the one true body of Jesus Christ.

In the Devotional, Insight For Living – June 14, 2017, Chuck Swindoll writes about “Bigness” and said: “Politics and personal preferences and opinions on things like military involvement may vary among members of the body of Christ but there is a bond deep within that binds us to one another. It is the glue of authentic love, expressing itself in compassion, fairness, willingness to support, and (when possible) coming to the aid of another. Personally. Without strings attached. Committed to the protection and dignity of human life…regardless of how somebody votes. And what does it take? Bigness. Being free of grudges, pettiness, vengeance, and prejudice. Seeing another in need, regardless of differences of opinion, and reaching out in solid Christian maturity. Just because you care. That's bigness. It's living above labels; it's seeing beyond hurts; it's caring unconditionally, helping unassumingly.” 

With whom is Jesus Christ most pleased? Prayerfully – consider these things with me.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

COLLUSION COLLISION

I Was Just Thinking About – COLLUSION COLLISION.
The word collusion means: “a secret agreement, especially for fraudulent or treacherous purposes; conspiracy.” It is a suggestive and imaginative narrative inasmuch as one major element is lacking– FACTS. Making an encompassing and condemning statement is easy whereas proving it is becomes difficult.
Sometimes “collusion” can be an individual’s effort to cover up devious behavior. From a spiritual/religious point of view, it will be an effort to deceive and failure to acknowledge truth. A sad illustration of this occurs in the life of David (recorded in II Samuel 11 and 12). II Samuel 11:1 allows for some thoughts about the location of David. The text reads: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.” Note the introductory phrase “when kings go off to war.” Questions: (1) Was David ill and unable to go with his army into battle? Or, (2) Had he previously observed the bathing habits of his near neighbor, Bathsheba, and allowed his lusts to dictate his inner desires? II Samuel 11:2-5 reveals what happened: “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace… he saw a woman, Bathsheba, bathing. The woman was very beautiful…David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her…Then she went back home.  The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, ‘I am pregnant’.”
What will David do in this moment of COLLUSION COLLISION? An oft used phrase is: “Be sure your sins will find you out.” David decides to cover up his actions by bringing home the woman’s husband for a brief furlough from the battle. David’s focus was that he could cover up his actions by allowing her husband to believe that he was the cause of his wife’s pregnancy. David failed to consider Uriah was a man of principle, integrity and loyalty. He would not allow himself the pleasure of sleeping with his wife while the remainder of the army was engaged in battle. Now what? What is David’s next move? Collusion will now include Joab’s participation to put Uriah in the forefront of the battle and to withdraw the rest of the troops, thus allowing Uriah to be killed.
The mistake David made is comparable to the mistake many make. It is believed that denying an act and making excuses will eliminate both culpability and complicity. Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 disclose the agony of body and soul as David wrestled with his acts of sin before God. He will be brought to a place where he will confess to the Lord: “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4). Has this ever happened to you? How have you dealt with Collusion Collision in your live?
Prayerfully – consider these things with me.