February 25, 2018

Seek First – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:05 am by sranderson0103

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Appropriately, this passage is one of the most familiar and most memorized verses in the New Testament. Quite a few songs have been based on this verse and have etched its words into our hearts. The passage pointedly expresses a fundamental concept about our service to God.

Familiarity sometimes causes us to look past truly important lessons. Perhaps unfamiliar renditions in different translations will help.

“But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” NET

“and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” NLT

“But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.” CEV

“But let your first care be for his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these other things will be given to you in addition.” BBE.

Let us look again, with care at what it says.

The original Greek verb translated “seek” or “pursue” indicates durative action, implying a command to establish an ongoing habit or lifestyle of “seeking” the things of the kingdom. As one commentator said, “We are commanded to put first things first on a continual basis and watch Him take care of the items of secondary interest.”

“The kingdom” was the theme of Christ’s teaching.

“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, …” (Matthew 4:23)

“Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,…” (Matthew 9:35)

The Kingdom was His priority. We should make it ours. The world will ridicule efforts to live Biblically. (A good example is the new CBS show Living Biblically.) Mockery should not deter us from molding our thinking by the Word of God so that we think as He does on every issue. Spiritually minded men have always understood this.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalms 119:105)

“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23)

“With Your counsel You will guide me,…” (Psalms 73:24)

Jesus described the appropriate attitude of Christians.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;” (John 10:27)

The context of this chapter focuses on maintaining proper priorities in relation to…

Pride (vv. 5-8, 16-18)

Treasures on Earth (vv. 19-21)

Singleness of purpose (vv. 22-23)

Covetousness, serving two masters (v. 24)

Anxiety, concern about the future (vv. 25-32, 34)

The world tends to make these things primary. Jesus says they are not. He reminds us of what we surely know. Remember, “…your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (v. 32). Did you forget? Surely we know God knows, but we act as if He is ignorant. He really “knows” implying more than just knowledge. He knows and He cares.

If we reverse the proper order and put second thing first (like the world) we are disobedient. This is not an option. It is a command from Jesus Christ. When we refuse to obey His commands we demonstrate a lack of love for Jesus (John 14:15) we sin (I John 3:4) and sin separates us from God, (Isaiah 59:2). Those separated from God cannot go to heaven.

Not only will we miss our primary goal, the blessings of kingdom, but we will miss the promise of secondary “things” as well.

The word “added,” is a mathematical term implying more benefits in addition to what already existed. These further benefits are promised conditionally… if we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…’

Failing to meet the conditions deprives us of God’s spiritual blessings here and hereafter, with earthly blessings piled on top. Bad mistake.

Let’s make sure this passage is laid up in our heart. (Psalms 119:11)

 

 

 

Advertisements

February 18, 2018

Eternal – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

The late Isaac Asimov, the famous atheist, author of more than 500 books, acknowledged:

“In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself – and that is what the second law is all about.”

The creator of the universe initiated this law (the Law of Entropy) and it governs the universe, which is winding down; not up.

“Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. “Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. “But You are the same,” (Psalm 102:25-27)

Everything we see (as our clothes) is wearing out. This realization tells us, it has not always been this way. Something quite different from what we observe, was responsible for the initial order of the universe, from which it is now degenerating.

Since science is based on what we observe and everything we observe is going downhill, science cannot explain that initial order. The necessary implications of observational science, point to an explanation beyond the natural processes we observe; in other words, to a super-natural explanation.

The First Law of Thermodynamics, derived from what we observe, tells us nothing can be ultimately created or destroyed. Those who are brave enough to think about these two universal laws, come face to face with the realization the “natural” world cannot account for what we observe. What is the source of all this stuff (law says not from nothing) and how did it get up, from which it is now going down? Of course, imaginations conger up fanciful solutions, but have little to do with real science.

Think about it. Think about the implications of the first law. If there ever was a time when truly nothing existed, then nothing would exist (if we are limited to observational, scientific explanations). The fact that organized stuff does exist, says something beyond the natural is responsible, something super-natural. And it says that what is responsible is beyond our space-time continuum. These observable facts point to an explanation that is supernatural and eternal.

Eternal? Can that be a reasonable explanation? Since we have never observed anything eternal, it sounds unreasonable. But, a reasonable answer requires consideration of the alternative. What would that be? Squarely, contradicted by the First Law of Thermodynamics, the devoted naturalist says, “Nothing.” “Nothing created everything.” That’s the alternative story, and they’re sticking to it. (See, A Universe From Nothing, Laurence M. Krauss) An astute critic expressed it this way. “Naturalists believe that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing but then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs and eventually people.”

I understand that the “eternal” explanation is difficult to swallow but it’s better than, “nothing.”

Inspiration (confirmed by perfectly fulfilled prophecy and abundant, competent eye-witness testimony of supernatural signs) reveals that a supernatural, eternal being is the answer.

“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.” (Psalms 41:13)

“Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalms 90:2)

Understandably, the Word of this supernatural, eternal being, will endure forever.

“Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands.” (Psalms 119:89-90)

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

The inspired Apostle Peter quotes Isaiah’s revelation and extends the promise to the preaching of the Apostles.

“BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.” (I Peter 1:25)

The eternal Word of the eternal God promises that because God is eternal, we also shall live forever.

“His descendants shall endure forever And his throne as the sun before Me.” (Psalm 89:36)

The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:17)

 

 

 

February 11, 2018

Confess – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Since sin began, back in the Garden of Eden, man has been foolishly trying to conceal sin. We are ashamed. We don’t want anyone to know. When we are really ashamed we really don’t want people to know what we have done. So, the understandable reaction is to cover up. The desperation to conceal often leads to foolish conduct. “Let’s get behind this bush so God can’t see us.” We snicker, and then say to ourselves regarding our own sin, “Pretend nothing happened. Everything will be fine. No one will ever know.” Satan whispers absurd rationalizations into our ears that seem very reasonable. “After all, if this gets out, it will hurt my influence for good. I will never be able to face my church family. My life will never be the same.”

Absurd conduct often proceeds to the really bizarre. Recall that King David committed a terrible sin and did his best to cover it up (II Samuel 12). Bathsheba’s noble husband (the victim) foiled David’s desperate, almost laughable shenanigans to conceal. So, murder appeared to be the only reasonable thing to do.

It took divine wisdom forcefully expressed through the prophet Nathan to penetrate David’s calloused defenses, but imagine a more typical approach. “David, it would be wise for you to confess your sin.” “What?” “You think that makes sense?” “You have to be crazy.” (Murdering the honorable, self-sacrificing husband is obviously much smarter.) David, along with thousands who have followed since, would respond, “No! No! No! That would be stupid.”

Man says we ought to cover. God says we ought to confess. Nathan explained that man’s proposed course is very different from God’s.

“For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” (II Samuel 12:12)

No matter how it sounds or feels, this was God’s wisdom.

Foolishness of our cover up “wisdom” is exposed when we understand and face the uncomfortable reality of God’s penetrating, pervasive all-seeing eyes.

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)

Nathan’s powerful confrontation forced David to see his foolishness and to acknowledge God’ wisdom.

“O God, it is You who knows my folly, And my wrongs are not hidden from You.” (Psalm 69:5)

“I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

We should learn from this and many other Old Testament examples that humility and confession of sin is required to approach our holy God. These lessons bring us to Christ who, through His inspired ambassadors bring the point home.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another…” (James 5:16)

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

Consider the vivid picture of this difficult lesson, illustrated in Jesus’ parable of the “prodigal son.”

“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:17-20)

God’s wisdom is truly

for

 

February 4, 2018

“The God of the Old Testament – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

I am continually amazed by the number who pass for Bible students, who slander “the God of the Old Testament.” I refer to those who see a moral problem produced by elevating trending societal concepts of “goodness” to the status of moral law, a status that supersedes revelation from the Creator. They effectively say, “Yes, I admit God was a vindictive meanie in the Old Testament, but then He evolved into the wonderful God of love we see in the New.” This attitude demonstrates an astounding arrogance (assuming a superior sense of morality) and at the same time an amazing ignorance of the God of the Old Testament.

The following quote is not from Jesus, nor from one of His official ambassadors, the apostles. It is the law of Moses that instructs…

“‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)

A professional teacher of that Mosaic law, “a lawyer” asked Jesus…

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’” (Matthew 22:36-39)

The words in capital letters are quotations from the Old Testament. The first quotation was one of the most familiar and revered of all passages to the Jews:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

The second commandment which the lawyer considered great, says:

“…you shall love your neighbor as yourself;….” (Leviticus 19:18)

Jesus acknowledged that His opponents knew the Old Testament Scriptures. He said: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” (Matthew 23:2-3) This lawyer, an expert on the Law of Moses concluded regarding that law: “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40)

But wasn’t God cruel and vengeful toward the residents of Palestine when He commanded them to be “utterly destroyed” and gave their land to His favorites, the chosen Israelites? The answer is absolutely not! The view betrays a lack of appreciation of God’s holy view of sin.

“Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor.” (Habakkuk 1:13)

The sin of the residents of Palestine had grown to a fullness that the holiness God could not tolerate. Consider His own explanation.

“Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess,” (Deuteronomy 9:6)

“‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. ‘For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.” (Leviticus 18:24)

The holy God who created the universe sees things perfectly through infinitely holy eyes. It is insolent arrogance for His feeble creation to assume that they know better.

The truth is that the great underlying theme of the Old Testament is love—love for God and love for others. Jeremiah testified that God’s love is eternal, from long before and that it will never end.

“The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)