Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Thinx 87: Holding On and Being Upheld

Everyday, it's you I live for
Everyday, I'll follow after you
Everyday, I'll walk with you, my lord

— "Everyday", Hillsong United.

I sing it often. Pity it's not true. Sometimes I don't live for God; sometimes I live for others or live for myself. The gap between what I sing and what I am oscillates.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

— John 10:28 (ESV)

It's just as well Jesus holds me. If my salvation depended upon my efforts alone, there'd be no hope for me.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 86: Prayer

"Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish."

— Esther 4:16 (ESV)

It has long been known that three days without water is fatal. Esther invites the Jewish community to go with her on a journey to the edge of death. Everyone's prayers will be fervent, sincere and urgent and even more so because if Esther fails to reach the king then all is lost.

Rarely do I intercede with such intensity, as if my life depended on it. I am unhappy with the shallowness of my faith.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 85: Life After Death

When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.

— 1 Chronicles 17:11 (ESV)

Note "walk with your fathers". Other translations say "time to die". The latter implies the end of David as a person. The former suggests that David will live on, walking with his fathers (e.g. Abraham, Isaac, Israel) and doing so immediately, not waiting for the resurrection.

Reminds me of the words of Jesus himself:
"But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

— Luke 20:37,38 (ESV)

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 84: Following the Crowd

“You must not follow a crowd in doing evil things; in a lawsuit you must not offer testimony that agrees with a crowd so as to pervert justice,

— Exodus 23:2 (NET)

Even if the crowd has important people in it; even if men and women in lab coats with doctorates say it's a good thing; even if the law of the land sanctions what God forbids; Even if your parents or your spouse or your children think it's OK or least socially acceptable.

I fear God. I know he's not to be trifled with.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 83: Hiding the Cost of Discipleship

strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

— Acts 14:22 (ESV)

It is unfair not to tell new believers about the inevitable outcome of their choice to believe the Gospel; focusing purely on the wonderful plan that God indeed has for one's future makes for shallow disciples who are thus left unprepared for the schemes and screams of the flesh, the world, and the Devil.

Making the gospel attractive is one thing; being knowingly evasive about the consequences of faith is quite another.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 82: Persecution and Punishment

For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

— Psalm 57:6 (ESV)

See the psalmist's plight: hounded all day by enemies who twist his words; who watch his every movement, looking for grounds to accuse. The psalmist has enemies who, like wild animals, acknowledge no law apart from their own evil desire.

Note the psalmist's response: He calls out to God in prayer and praise, expressing trust; he acknowledges his fear and declares its remedy; and he leaves the anger, judgment and punishment to God.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Thinx 81: Love and Harm

Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

— Romans 13:10 (NKJV)

This doesn't mean that if you refrain from harming your neighbour, then you've fulfilled the law. Rather, having loved your neighbour in word and action, the sum of these does good to your neighbour rather than harm. The previous verse gives more context.
For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

— Romans 13:9 (NKJV)

To love your neighbour as yourself works like this: When your body is hungry, do you feed it? When your body is in danger, do you protect it? You are demonstrating by feeding and protecting youself, a love for yourself. In the same way, if your neighbour is hungry, feed him, and if he is in danger, protect him.

We all love ourselves -- we all seek to eat, drink, stay comfortable, and stay safe. It is extremely rare to find anyone who willing seeks opportunities to starve to death. All the things that we would have for ourselves in this regard, seek also for the neighbour. This is what it means to love others as you love yourself.

It is not enough just to avoid harming. One must actively pursue loving.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 80: Infringing God's Copyright

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah

— Psalm 4:2 (ESV)

The science of biomimetics copies what is seen in the natural world and develops products of benefit (usually) to all. Velcro is an example, derived from the structure of burrs.

Sadly, God is very rarely acknowledged as the inventor. His copyright is consistently infringed. I doubt that he's impressed.

Before we point an accusing finger at the scientific and engineering communities, we should also consider our own failure to give credit where it is due.

All that we have and are is directly or indirectly attributable to God's loving provision. For in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). When we copy his creation and derive wealth and benefit from it, let us honour him by publicly acknowledging the source.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 79: Goodness and Faithfulness

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

— Proverbs 20:6 (KJV)

One of these days, when someone tells me he's a good man, I may remember to ask him if he's a faithful man. If he's got a girlfriend/partner/wife, is he faithful to her both in thought and in action, or do his eyes and mind wander when an attractive woman comes into view. Has he made promises and kept them? His goodness is useless if not backed up by faithfulness.
but a faithful man who can find? who answers to the character he gives of himself, or others upon his own representation give him; who is as good as his word, and, having promised assistance and relief, gives it; and who, having boasted that he has done a kindness to such an one and such an one, does the same likewise to another when applied to; or who sticks to his friend, and does not forsake him in his adversity, but supports and supplies him whom he knew in prosperity; it is hard and rare to find such a man

— Gill's Exposition

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 78: Weighed down with cares

"But be on your guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day close down upon you suddenly like a trap."

— https://www.bible.com/bible/107/luk.21.34

This is for me, because I am being weighted down with the worries of life. I need to be on my guard, praying. [6 Jan 2003]
"All new news is old news happening to new people"

— Malcolm Muggeridge

Muggeridge was right. Here we are 12 years on from when I wrote the above. Different details; same challenges. I still need to be on my guard.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 77: Testing

The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

— https://www.bible.com/bible/59/psa.11.5

We forget that. He examines us; we experience difficulty so as to test whether our trust in God is real or feigned. Do we love God for who he is or for the material encouragements he gives?

God's knowledge of us is total. The test is applied not so that he can find out something he doesn't know but rather so that we can find out something that we are unaware of: the truth about ourselves.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 76: Thankfulness

For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, "I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink."

— https://www.bible.com/bible/59/hos.2.5

A friend gave me a toasted cheese sandwich. I thanked him and I also gave thanks to God for it. He said he didn't think God had much to do with it. I said, "Who invented wheat? Who invented cows? Who invented milk? ... In Him we live and move and have our being."

How can one not be thankful? Yet a practical atheism, that acknowledges God's existence but denies aspects of his nature, lives on.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 75: Remembrance

"...Treat my Sabbaths as holy and they will be a reminder of our relationship, and then you will know that I am the Lord your God."

— https://www.bible.com/bible/107/ezk.20.20

If the sabbath reminds the Jew of his relationship with God, what reminds us of our relationship with him? Communion, Sabbath-keeping or something else?

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thinx 74: A distance of zero

God is watching us, from a distance

— Bette Midler, "God is Watching"

“Do you really think anyone can hide himself where I cannot see him?” the Lord asks. “Do you not know that I am everywhere?” the Lord asks.

— https://www.bible.com/bible/107/jer.23.24

Surely God watches us from every atom in our own body, from every atom in the wider environment, and from every dimension. Whatever the measurement, the distance is zero!

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 73: Before

“You shall have no other gods before me.

— https://www.bible.com/search/bible?q=exodus+20%3A3&version_id=107

The word before is significant, implying not replacement but rather putting YHWH at the bottom of the barrel and stacking deities on top which you work through slowly, only very rarely getting to the bottom.

Thought about that in context of Jeremiah 12:2b
They always talk about you, but they really care nothing about you.

— https://www.bible.com/search/bible?q=jeremiah+12%3A2&version_id=107

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015

Thinx 72: I believed, therefore I spoke

But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in what has been written, “ I believed; therefore I spoke ,” we also believe, therefore we also speak.

— http://bible.com/107/2co.4.13.net

Actions naturally follow faith. Faith without a physical manifestation is a contradiction. The truth must be lived out, not merely assented to intellectually. Christians in the rest of the world understand this and suffer accordingly. The Western church has so far avoided suffering but only by holding its tongue.

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2015