Category: DEVOTION

MEDITATION FOR THE CHRISTIAN

Millions of people around the world meditate-why don’t Christians? My guess is that, apart from the sheer business of our existence, many Christians consider meditation to be an occultic, suspicious practice reserved for those wrapped up in Eastern religions: something the good Christian should steer well away from.

The truth is that meditation is something we can and most definitely should engage in, with great benefits to our physical, mental and spiritual well-being, and at the same time honoring God and doing exactly what He wants us to do! But what exactly is meditation?David, a “man after God’s own heart”, wrote in the Psalms about meditating on God (example Psalm 63). The word “meditate” is translated “think” in the NIV:

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night (verse 6).

The meaning of the word includes, according to Strongs, “The act of thoughtful deliberation with the implication of speaking to oneself-meditate”.

Jesus Christ said that we are to love God with our whole being, including our minds (Luke 10:27). God tells his people to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

We’re all busy trying to further our lives, and working to make things happen, and we forget that Christ…God…is not only in our life but is our life (Colossians 3:4). Without our God there is no life. Isn’t it a good idea, then, to think about Him?

In Eastern meditation the goal is generally (I confess I am no expert) to lose oneself, and to abandon your individual self and your connection with the world around you. I can see physical and emotional benefit in this. However, God instructs us to love Him with our minds, and as in the case of David, the goal and the focus is not to forget self, but to seek God, to know Him, and to consider deeply who and what He is and who we are in relation to Him.

At least once a day, get comfortable, get quiet, turn the TV and the phone off, and think about God. It’s not about what we want Him to do for us (although He cares). It’s not about us being “spiritual” or babbling to Him. It’s not even really, as some say, about us “listening” to hear what God has to say, except through His written Word. It’s about us knowing that He is there, that He is amazing beyond our comprehension, that He is our creator and sustainer, and that our life is entirely His.

IS IT REALLY “ALL GOD”?

Jesus Christ said that without him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Clearly he was speaking of things we may do for the kingdom of God. Without Jesus we are powerless to achieve anything for him or which is pleasing to the Father. But is it really the case, as some insist, that he does it all: that everything we do is only his doing and not ours?

I’ve heard this phrase many times in my Christian life: “It’s all God”. I’ll willingly agree that without Him we can do nothing, and that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. That really is “all God”. My only qualification there would be that we have to respond to the gospel. Calvinists insist that we can’t even do that, because, they say, that would be “works”. We’ll save that issue for another day. Today we’re asking if we as believers can do nothing whatsoever for God because it’s all God’s doing.

Salvation is by faith, and then the Spirit of God works within us to want to do what’s right, and empowers us to do what’s right. Anything done by or in the flesh or for our own gain is unacceptable to God-it has to be inspired by the Spirit in us and for His glory. However, the Christian life is teamwork. If we make no effort in it, we remain as spiritual babies. We negate the work of the Spirit. We fail to produce spiritual fruit, and we bury our talent so that nothing is gained by it. That’s the fact of the matter. If it were really “all God”, we would be robots and would have no mind of our own. We would not be choosing to follow Christ or choosing to do what’s right: we would be driven to do it by the Lord.

If we as believers fail to help the one in need, or fail to worship the Lord, or fail to turn away from sin, whose fault is it? God’s? Are we failing because God isn’t doing what He should be doing in us? No, it’s our own fault for not walking in the Spirit, for not learning to walk in His ways, and for not making the effort to do what we  should do. Believers who have been told that it’s “all God” are more likely to not appreciate their role in the Christian walk.

There are so many ways in which this subject could be approached scripturally. But it seems to me pretty obvious that when Paul told his flock to “walk in the Spirit”, the word “walk” requires some sort of effort on our part. Scripture is full of guidance, advise and commandments to us concerning what we should and should not be doing to live out our Christian faith. If there were no effort required from our own will there would be no need for all those things. Didn’t James say that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26)?

With that in mind, I bring your attention to the words of Peter, who made the matter crystal clear for us:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3-11).

 

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

In this world of struggles and disappointments and hardships and loss it’s refreshing to be reminded that there’s something worth celebrating every day of our lives, and that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ.

smile

The Greek word translated “gospel” in the New Testament means “good news”, and in the context of the Bible the gospel is the “good news” about Jesus Christ. But what exactly was and is that good news, and what does it mean for us?

In answer to the second question first, read what Jesus said:

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

The Bible speaks of a love-gift from God. That gift is forgiveness of all our sin, and eternal life with our Creator. The only requirement is that we accept God’s son, and attempt, through him, to live God’s way instead of our own.

Contrary to the common view on the street, as promoted by Hollywood and by certain authors, the gospel, the scriptures and the essential Christian doctrines were not all invented hundreds of years after the time of Christ’s life on earth. Lee Stroebel, with an MA in Law from Yale University, and a former award-winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune, in his book “The Case for Christ” interviewed a number of believing scholars such as Cambridge educated Sir Norman Anderson. Anderson was a Professor at Harvard, and lectured at Princeton. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of London. Anderson said that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians can be confidently dated to around 55 AD (1).

Dr. Gary R Habermas, a New Testament historian, received his Ph D from Michigan State University and his DD from Emmanuel College, Oxford. In his book “The Historical Jesus”, Habermas discusses the creed quoted below as found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and writes:

“That this confession is an early Christian, pre-Pauline creed is recognized by virtually all critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum” (2).

THE GOSPEL

Here, then, is Paul’s first century definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he had given his life to, despite all opposition and threats, having once been a persecutor of Christians:

“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

So the gospel of Jesus Christ-the good news we can accept or reject-is this:

1 Christ died for our sins, as prophesied in Old Testament Scriptures (we can be forgiven for all our sin because of Christ’s death on the cross);

2 He was buried;

3 He was raised from the dead on the third day;

4 He appeared alive to his disciples after his resurrection.

5 He has promised peace in this world and eternal life to all who trust in him.

NOTES

1 Lee Strobel “The Case For Christ” (Pub. By Zondervan, © 1998) p. 230.

2 Gary R Habermas “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri, © 1996 Gary Habermas) p 153.

SOFTWARE AND RESURRECTION

I’m currently considering what the mind may consist of. Is it all neurons and synapses, as the materialists insist, or is it an immaterial spirit within us? Is it perhaps a combination of both?

I see the brain as a physical interface between our spirits and the material world we live in. It also operates and maintains our body, and communicates with people and things around us. We need both brain and spirit to be who and what we are in this material world, and the mind is involved in both.

Descartes was one of the first famous philosophers to consider such questions, and is frowned upon in our time for, well, believing in God, and for concluding that the mind and the physical body are two separate things. The mind cannot be measured he reasoned, therefore it is not physical.

Whatever the mind is exactly, we know from Scripture that God knows it, and knows it better than we do:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
    You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely (Psalm 139:1-4)

I know I’m not the first to make the computer-human analogy, but thinking about it, there really are a lot of uses for it in our reasoning. Our body is the hardware, and our mind and our spirit is the software. Just as we can copy and paste on our favorite devices, and just as we back up our information so that nothing is lost, so God must have a copy of our minds, and of exactly who we are. Of course, with limitless intelligence, He can keep that copy within His own mind: He doesn’t need any hardware. I’m speaking metaphorically here. And we know that “God is spirit” (John 4:24).

Our Creator surely also has a copy of our DNA. So when we die, He can take His back-up of our being-our own human nature and character, and upload it into a brand new fleshly version of our body, created from our own (but corrected) DNA code. Voila: resurrection! It’s a glorified version of taking a software design of, say, an aircraft, and turning it into the real thing.

Unwanted, corrupted codes, which God calls “sin” will be discarded; deleted (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). Then what remains will be that in us which has loved Him and His ways, and which has lived for Him, and also no doubt, the degree of our individuality which is uncorrupted.

In that case, how much of you, of me, will be left after deletion? If your “codes” are all corrupted, and your hard-drive intrinsically flawed, you are of no value in God’s universe, and you certainly cannot restore yourself. Scripture says that all humans are fatally flawed in their software and their DNA, which is why we die. We desperately need a re-boot in this life: we must be born again, spiritually speaking. And ultimately we need a complete re-build. The living Word of God is the antivirus that we all need. And in God we can have all our corrupted codes re-written. On top of that, the operating system upgrade will be positively out of this world! Glory to God!

 

ROCK ‘N SOUL

It’s amazing how many things evolutionists and creationists agree on, without realizing it. A well-known creationist* when debating evolutionists, loves to point out that they believe humans came from a rock. The Bible says something similar…

When the evolutionists protest that they believe no such thing, he explains. According to the evolutionary history of the universe, space, time and matter came from nothing, or virtually nothing, when it expanded into all the universe we see today. A part of that matter, a large lump of rock, became the earth. Rain appeared on it magically, and created a soup in which life with all its incredible intricacies popped into existence (none of this was ever observed). That life developed itself over enormous amounts of time, until, well, here we all are communicating, pro-creating, and writing blog-posts. Voila: life from a rock.

Not only does this very wry creationist have a point, but actually, so do the evolutionists, because Scripture says something similar. Early in the book of Genesis we read that God created man out of the dust of the ground:

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Here is one example of agreement between evolutionists and creationists: humans originate from the earth itself. The most obvious difference is that we believers acknowledge that intelligence is required to make information: DNA and life, even in the simplest of cells, is mind-bogglingly rich in information.

Another difference between the two accounts of man’s origins is that according to Scripture, we (mankind) have a spirit within us, also created by God. Believers (and everyone else) get an incalculably valuable bonus which most evolutionists don’t seem to want: an immaterial, immortal soul. We are more than rock plus information.

However, we believers, along with our unbelieving brothers and sisters-in-flesh-if-not-in-spirit, sometimes get inflated ideas of ourselves and of our value. We think that our Creator owes us all kinds of goodies and service. We think we can act our way and not His way without consequences. We’re like a painting which attempts to assert rights and privilege over the artist and the owner. We think that we are the important ones and the artist is irrelevant.  With this principle in mind, John the Baptist drew the attention of those he was preaching to where they had come from-that is, the ground:

“And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).

God made us from the dirt of the ground, adding information and life. So then let’s not insult our Creator by compromising with the evolutionists about our origins: a painting does not paint itself, and information does not come from nothing or from chaos. Let’s instead give God the honor and reverence He deserves, for creating us with a certain amount of dignity, with a spirit, with a little free-will and intelligence, and the promise of much more even than that:

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Thanks for reading.

*Kent Hovind