Monthly Archives: October 2020

Experiencing a Full Life in Christ.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14 KJV

I have recently revisited a perennial favorite in Christian authors: Andrew Murray. I have begun reading his book “Full Life in Christ.” It doesn’t take very many chapters for the Christian reader to feel convicted for the way they conduct themselves as children of God. Andrew Murray contends that we can become like Christ in the way we conduct our lives here on Earth. Biblically, he is correct. He has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us in this all important task. Are we crucified in Him?

Know Where You Stand

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13 MEV

Most of us (maybe all) have had times when we question our salvation. Did we get “caught up in the moment” when the altar call was given or did we really give our hearts to Jesus? Satan loves it when we doubt or question God’s love for us. The Bible is CRYSTAL CLEAR on this topic: we can know. We must know. There is no room to be wrong about this. The Bible will reveal the answer. Know that God loves you. If you desire to know God, you can be saved.

JOEL: Prophet of Pentecost

Major Lesson: Without repentance, judgment will be harsh, thorough and certain. Our focus should not be on the things we have but, rather, the LORD our God.

View Post

In Joel 1:1, it begins “The word of the LORD that came to Joel…” Thus, we know that this message was divinely commissioned and we are reminded that God always has a word for His people. This time: repent while you can.

Before repenting, the people had to prepare for the work of doing so. In Joel 1:13, we read “gird yourselves and lament, you priests.” (NKJV) 

Then comes the actual work of repentance. In 1:14 the steps are clearly laid out: 1. “Consecrate a fast.” Getting right with God must matter more than anything, including eating. 2. “Call a sacred assembly.” God’s people must come together in unity and a spirit of repentance. 3. “Gather the elders.” Church leadership must be visibly involved in the work of repentance. “Into the house of the LORD your God.” We must come together corporately in the place where we normally should meet with God. “And cry out unto the LORD.” Cry out to God and trust He will respond in mercy. (Guzik)

What happened: A plague of locusts had come to discipline the nation. Chuck Missler refers to these locusts as “not necessarily natural insects” in Learn The Bible in 24 Hours and considers them probably a ‘demon army.’ It caused an agricultural disaster in Israel. Joel called people to repent before even greater calamity occurred, not to “run for cover” (Joel 2:12-14). 

Questions to contemplate: Have you ever stopped to think about how much God ‘puts up’ with? Can you think of times when you benefitted from God’s patience and extravagant love? (From Message  Devotional Bible) As a believer, do you look forward to the Day of the LORD? We should, if we know Him. We should want Him to show His strength if we abide in Him (Guzik).

We learn once again that, while God will judge us for our sins and there will be a price to be paid (Joel 1:15-20), He will also respond to sincere repentance with mercy and salvation (Joel 2:32).

Chapter 1 begins with destruction brought about by locusts and reveals the suffering that entailed. Has any suffering you’ve endured been destructive to your relationship with God or has it been redemptive? What about Job’s response to suffering (Job 1:20-22)? The Bible gives believers clear cut direction as to what their behavior should be when they are in the midst of suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:6-7).

Most of the history of that time had to be passed by word of mouth from one generation to another (Joel 1:3). Like the fig tree, the vine is also used as a symbol for Israel as we previously read in Joel 1:6-7. In verse 15 as we also read, Joel mentions the “Day of the LORD.” This is continued in 2:1. This phrase is mentioned 5 times by Joel and mentioned by no less than 5 other prophets (Ezekiel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah and Malachi). This term can also refer to the time when Christ comes to consummate history (Mal.4:5; 1 Co. 5:5; 2 Co. 1:14; 1 Th. 5:2).   The book of Revelation offers more detail on the Day of the LORD.

In chapter 2, we discover that nations from the north are going to attack Israel (Joel 2:2). This is discussed in Ezekiel 38, 39. Half-hearted repentance before God will not do (Joel 2:12).  He demands more than that from us and will make Himself available to us if we seek Him with all our hearts (Jer. 29:13-14). He wants genuine repentance from our hearts. When we do, we stand to be very blessed by our loving Father (Joel 2:13). God does promise to once again bring rain to the land in sufficient abundance for it to flourish (Joel 2:23-24). Joel 2:25-26 shows what the destructive power of sin can do to us — how it can eat away at our lives, but also how the restorative power of God can work in a believer’s life. In Joel 2:28-29, we see why Joel has been referred to as “the Prophet of Pentecost.” This is not the only place in scripture where we read of God pouring out His unifying Spirit on His people (Ez. 39:29; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28).

The key to God’s redemption is found in chapter 2: the gift of His Holy Spirit. This story continues into chapter 3. In Joel 3:1-3, the LORD will restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem in fulfillment of Moses’ promise (Deut. 30:3) while gathering the rest of the nations for judgment. The site of the judgment is to be the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2,13). What is more important than the location is the meaning of the name: “The Lord judges.”

Joel 3:4-6 records the LORD speaking directly to those who had profited from Judah’s demise. God would repay them for their offenses of robbery and slavery. There is a reverse of a statement made by Isaiah: Instead of beating swords into plowshares in Isaiah 2:4, God’s people are instructed to do the reverse (Joel 3:10). This is considered a preamble to the Battle of Armageddon, taking place in “the valley of decision” in a face-off against Israel and its God (Joel 3:14-16). This will be a time of fierce judgment for God’s enemies, but also great mercy for His people (Heitzig). The LORD is a God who restores! Joel 3:17-21 once again records the story of the LORD restoring good fortune to Israel.

Wisdom Revisited

And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:28 KJV

This Friday evening, our Bible study will focus on the topic of wisdom. There are two types of wisdom known to humanity, the true kind from God and that which the unregenerate world holds so precious. We shall look at both from the eyes of Scripture, focusing largely on the book of Proverbs. Looking forward to it!

If you don’t belong to a small group, I heartily recommend you find one or start one! May He bless you as you seek to know Him better.

The Wisdom of Proverbs

The proverbs (truths obscurely expressed, maxims) of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: -Proverbs 1:1 AMP

Proverbs was written by King Solomon, the son of King David. When he came to power, he was overwhelmed with his new found responsibilities. God, knowing his heart, offered to give him whatever he asked for (1 Kings 3:5; 2 Chr. 1:7). So what did he ask for? Wisdom to judge his people (1 Kings 3:6-9; 2 Chr. 1:8-10).

The wisdom given to Solomon is not the world’s version of wisdom. It is the wisdom of God. We see the contrast in 1 Corinthians 2. Please take a few minutes to read it.

This and much more to follow as I focus on my blog specific to Proverbs at Please check it out when you have some time.

Broken People

The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit. -Psalms 34:18 HCSB

I read a short piece this morning written by a man named Don Fortner on “Broken People.” He made a couple of points I feel are worthy of repeating.

He stated that “all men by nature are exceedingly proud, selfish people.” Hardly an original thought! The Bible has alluded to that fact countless times from the book of Genesis through Revelation.

Fortner went on to say that today’s “religion” in popular culture (my addition) is centered around making man feel good about himself. Look at preachers like Joel Osteen and you can easily come to that conclusion. There is a big attraction for people to attend a church that promotes feeling good about oneself. For them, it is a much more appealing prospect than being called to repentance! Sadly, such ‘feel good’ faith isn’t faith at all but some sort of fake, momentary burst of happiness that does not equate to the joy of knowing Christ. It merely serves the distracting purpose of Satan. The author refers to such teaching as “flesh pleasing theology of pride.”

For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord : but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. -Isaiah 66:2 KJV

He looks to those who see themselves in humility and right relationship with Him. Those He can use in worship of Him and to build His kingdom. Those who know that nothing is owed to them, but rather that they owe all to God.

Literal Bible Versions

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

Those of us who are “Bible Geeks” tend to make use of a wide variety of Bible versions, translations and the occasional paraphrase. So, every time I discover a new one, I am compelled to investigate. Once again this has happened: I recently discovered the Literal Standard Version, released this past February. As you can tell, I’m late to the table with my thoughts on this one. (I’ll blame it on the pandemic, which really has nothing to do with it).

My Pastor has said that all translations are but commentaries on the original text. I agree with that statement — it’s hard not to. That being said, there are different types of commentaries that are either literal or dynamic in nature. For the purpose of studying the sacred text, I prefer literal versions. However, I also avail myself of some of the fine dynamic translations like the NIV or NLT to often see a different perspective.

In keeping with the topic of this post, I’ll stick to a discussion of some of the more literal versions. Aside from the recently released Literal Standard Version I already mentioned there are others worthy of note, such as Young’s 1898 literal translation (the LSV is based on Young’s work). There is also the very capable Lexham English Bible. Other (less literal) word-for-word translations that are excellent for study include the New American Standard Bible, its parent the American Standard Version, the English Standard Version, the New King James Version and the King James Version. It should be noted that both the ASV and YLT frequently use the term “Jehovah” for the name of God rather than Lord, Yahweh or YHWH. That might be an issue for some. I know in my mind and heart when I see an interpretation of God’s name I immediately think of Yahweh, not Jehovah. What is key here is that we pay attention to the fact that the name of God is being referred to, right?

I will spend some time with the LSV and offer a brief review at a later time — in case anyone might be interested in picking up a copy (I purchased a paperback edition from Amazon well under $20).

To wrap this up, literal versions have advantage for the serious Bible student. They tend to offer less bias and guesswork than dynamic translations such as the very capable NLT or NIV. I use both versions often and appreciate them on their own merits, but they are not the first text I use when studying a more intriguing topic or passage. They are best consulted after reading a more literal version. I often find the resources in the NIV Study Bible and the HCSB Study Bible as invaluable. The best thing you might do is to check out different versions on an app like YouVersion or Bible Gateway, or a wealth of other choices. Happy studying!


And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. -Romans 8:28 NLT

A few years ago, the pastor of a church I was attending diffused a heated poltical debate that was taking place among some Christians on social media by reminding us that “God is in charge.” (A simple enough statement, not requiring a great deal of cerebral effort to comprehend). Yet, such a thing is so impacting on the human psyche — as it reduces all stress as it relieves us of all the awesome responsibilities undertaken by our creator.

It’s 2020 and there’s yet another presidential election in America. People from opposite ideologies are prone to tout how important this election is. Both insist that the future of America depends on the outcome of the vote. While I could not agree more with such thinking (all elections change things), whatever will happen is already decided.

The Apostle Paul knew what he was talking about when he wrote the letter to the Romans. We, as flawed humans dependent upon the grace of God, can misconstrue the meaning of verses like Romans 8:28 and consider it a promise that everything is going to be fine — as we see fine. But God is sovereign, and His plans do not always equate to something we see as desirable. We have no guarantee of health and wealth, for example, as some prosperity preachers would have you believe. A sign of maturity in the believer would be to see God’s will in all of our affairs as the only desirable thing. Unfortunately, we can all fall short of that mark. Thank Him for His grace!

The day after the election will likely come. I hope to arise that day and begin a day secure in the knowledge that Jesus is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords — regardless of who is to occupy the White House in the coming year.