Archive for December, 2018

Baubles? Or, Grace Gems!

December 30, 2018

I received several “bauble gifts” at Christmas.  Yes, I admit it.  The nice, pretty, shiny things that are offered in this world designed to make us happy.  And they do, for a time.  But then, I noticed that many baubles that I have received in the past are now sitting collecting dust, faded, broken, or even not usable anymore (like the first Mac computer that has been sitting on an extra desk which I have been dusting off for 20 years! LOL!)  But, when it was the “new” and “latest thing,” it brought happiness – for a time.

Baubles, Bangles n' Beads, Quezon City Cpo - P.o. Box Nos. 1100 To ...H/T:  hotfrog(dot)ph

But take the term “grace gems” which can only be received through God’s written Word, the Bible, and God’s Living Word, Jesus Christ! Twenty years later, the worth of His Grace in my life has exponentially grown in affection, love, and worth!

Embrace God's Grace Part 3: Fear—The Enemy of Grace – Strong Faith ...H/T:  strongfaithchurch(dot)com

These comparisons for me, at least, show the difference between happiness (which can be fleeting) and joy (which, through knowing Christ, is always there and eternal).  The grace of God which surpasses all understanding is the key!  “Religion” is man-made (which can also be fleeting for many).  Faith is God-centered and eternal!

After reading two articles at Truth 2 Freedom’s blog about “religion” and true faith this morning, I thought that I should share them both here at Talk Wisdom.

The first one is entitled, The Real Reason Why Fewer Americans Think Religion Matters — Townhall.

I have noticed as the years go by that not many people send Christmas cards that celebrate the birth of Christ, or share any Bible verses on them.   Most are photos of family (which is fine – don’t get me wrong about this) with secular type greetings like “Happy Holidays.” Actually, that isn’t really a secular greeting because the word “Holiday” is short for “Holy day.” Indeed, Christ’s birth in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago was a Holy event!

When I read the above article, I thought about the fact that many people can celebrate Christmas without even being “religious” about it. Santa Claus, Christmas trees, gift-giving, parties etc. can all be done without even a thought about the Babe in the manger.

That’s OK, to each their own.

But for me, the biggest reason for the season is the Second Person of the Trinity coming down to be born of the virgin Mary in order to dwell with mankind and teach on this earth.  His sinless, earthly life’s goal was to do the will of the Father;  to suffer crucifixion for OUR sins (in our place), die and be buried; only to rise again on the third day to demonstrate that He is who He said He is – the Savior for all mankind! This tremendous gift of salvation is for all who place their belief, faith, and trust in Him.

The second blog post that I read was truly uplifting, faith-driven and wonderful!

Via Truth 2 Freedom’s blog (On a side note, does that guy ever sleep I wonder? He posts day and night!), I found a link to Grace Gems. I can’t wait to read more at that site, because the following post is awesome!

Here is a copy:

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

One of the fruits of the new birth, is a faith which not only enables its possessor to overcome the sensual and sinful customs, and the carnal maxims and policies by which the profane world is regulated–but also the lying delusions and errors by which the professing world is fatally deceived.

The only thing which will or can “overcome the world” is a God-given–but self-exercised faith.

Faith overcomes the world firstly, by receiving into the heart God’s infallible testimony of the world. He declares that “the world” is a corrupt, evanescent, hostile thing, which shall soon be destroyed by Him. His Holy Word teaches that the world is “evil” (Galatians 1:4); that “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father–but is of the world” (1 John 2:16); that “the whole world lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19) and shall yet be “burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). As faith accepts God’s verdict of the world, the mind is spiritually enlightened; and its possessor views it as a worthless, dangerous, and detestable thing!

Faith overcomes the world secondly, by obeying the Divine commands concerning it. God has bidden us, “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2); “Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15); and warns us that “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4). By heeding the Divine precepts, its magic spell over the heart is broken.

Faith overcomes the world thirdly, by occupying the soul with more glorious, soul-delighting and satisfying objects. The more the substance of spiritual realities engages the heart–the less hold will the shadows of the world have upon it. “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Faith overcomes the world fourthly, by drawing out the heart unto Christ. As it was by fleeing to Him for refuge, that the soul was first delivered from the power and thralldom of this world–so it is throughout the Christian life. The more we cultivate real communion with Christ–the less attraction will the baubles* of this world have for us! The strength of temptation lies entirely in the bent of our affections, “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). While Christ is beheld as “the chief among ten thousand” (Song 5:10) and as “altogether lovely” (Song 5:16) –the things which charm the poor world-ling, will repel us.

The world gains the victory over the unregenerate by captivating their affections and capturing their wills. But the Christian overcomes the world, because his affections are set upon Christ and his will is yielded to Him. (my bold emphasis – Christine)

Here–then, we have a sure criterion by which we may determine our Christian progress or spiritual growth. If the things of this world have a decreasing power over me–then my faith is becoming stronger. If I am holding more lightly the things most prized by the ungodly–then I must be increasing in an experimental and soul-satisfying knowledge of Christ. If I am less cast down when some of the riches and comforts of this world are taken from me–then that is evidence they have less hold upon me.

Source: Grace Gems!
A treasury of ageless sovereign grace devotional writings

Grace Gems: Overcoming the world! — Morning Studies

 

Hat tips to all links.

*bauble [baw-buhl]

That word intrigued me a bit so I looked up the meaning of the word at Dictionary.com

noun
  1. a showy, usually cheap, ornament; trinket; gewgaw.
  2. a jester’s scepter.

Origin of bauble

First recorded in 1275–1325; Middle English babel, babulle, from Old French babel, baubel, derivatives of an expressive base with varying vocalisms; compare Old French baubelet “little trinket.”

Related Words for baubles

knickknack, trifle, doodad, novelty, gewgaw, gimcrack, curio, whatnot

*gem
noun
  1. a cut and polished precious stone or pearl fine enough for use in jewelry.
  2. something likened to or prized as such a stone because of its beauty or worth: His painting was the gem of the collection.
  3. a person held in great esteem or affection.
adjective
  1. Jewelry . noting perfection or very high quality:

10 Things You Should Know About Christmas

December 8, 2018

I saw the following post over at Truth2Freedom’s blog back on Dec. 1st (the day after my birthday!) and thought that I should share it here at Talk Wisdom.

The True Meaning of Christmas — Steemit

Christmas can mean many different things to different people.  That’s OK, I suppose, because there is a mix of pagan activities attached to the day, as well as the true meaning of Christmas.  The following list expresses what Christmas means to me, as well as many other born-again Christians.

 

Copy of post:

1. Jesus is the reason for the season.

The primary purpose for observing Christmas is remembering Jesus’s birth. At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’s birthday, not the little drummer boy or Santa Claus!

2. Jesus preexisted with God in the beginning before the world began.

Jesus’s birth as a baby in a Bethlehem manger doesn’t mark the beginning of his existence. Rather, as John’s Gospel teaches explicitly (John 1:1, 14) and the other Gospels imply, Jesus took on human flesh in addition to existing eternally as part of the Godhead.

3. Jesus’s birth was the culmination of centuries of messianic expectations.

Jesus’s coming occurred in fulfillment of messianic expectations including his birthplace, virgin birth, and other details surrounding his advent. Later, during his earthly ministry and particularly in his death on the cross, Jesus fulfilled many more messianic patterns and predictions.

4. We should distinguish between cultural and biblical Christmas.

We must separate fact from fiction, and historic, biblical truths from mere Christmas traditions. This includes Santa Claus, presents, reindeer, Christmas trees, and other paraphernalia. Not that these customs are necessarily harmful or unhelpful but they are unhistorical. Jesus’s birth, however, isn’t a legend; it’s historical fact.

5. Jesus’s birth is part of a larger cluster of events that culminates in Jesus’s death for our sins as God’s suffering servant.

Jesus wasn’t only born as a baby, he grew up as a young man who knew the Scriptures. Then, when he was about thirty years old, he began his public ministry, healing many, exorcising demons, raising the dead, and commanding the forces of nature. In keeping with his own predictions, he died, was buried, and after three days rose from the dead. While at Christmas we celebrate Jesus’s birth, we should remember that it is part of a life unlike any other that brought us salvation and forgiveness from sins.

6. Jesus, the Son of God, was conceived by the Holy Spirit in his mother Mary’s womb.

At the heart of Christmas is a biological and theological miracle that requires supernatural faith. Skeptics scoff at the notion of God conceiving a child in a virgin’s womb, calling it a biological impossibility and dismissing it as mere legend. Believers will recognize that only a sinless human being could save humans by dying for them, and that such a sinless human being could only be conceived by God himself.

7. There is no incarnation without the virgin birth.

Andrew Lincoln, in his book Born of a Virgin?, has argued that the virgin birth is unhistorical while asserting that the incarnation could still be true in a spiritual sense. This, however, is contrary to scriptural teaching, which keeps the virgin birth and the incarnation together as two sides of one and the same coin. Only a virgin birth allows Jesus to be the God-man who combines two natures—human and divine—into one person as the early church councils went on record as affirming.

8. Jesus’s birth was accompanied by rejection.

Herod tried to kill Jesus (Matt. 2:16). There was no place for Jesus in the inn (Luke 2:7). Even though the world was made through Jesus, the world didn’t recognize him (John 1:11). Many didn’t welcome the birth of the Christ child. The reason for this was primarily that Jesus threatened people’s self-interest. Sinful people love sin more than God and refuse to come to the light lest their sin be exposed (John 3:19–21).

9. Jesus came to make a second, spiritual birth possible for those who believe in him.

As Charles Wesley affirms in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Jesus was “born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” John writes, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (1:12–13). Later, he tells the story of Nicodemus, whom Jesus told that he must be born again (3:3, 5). Anyone can be born again spiritually by repenting of his sin and placing his trust in Jesus. Those who don’t experience this second birth aren’t believers but Christians in name only (Rom. 8:9).

10. Jesus’s coming marks the ultimate sacrifice.

He left the glories of heaven to enter the world—a dark place—naked, vulnerable, and defenseless. He exposed himself to the human condition and took on “the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3). He became weak, humbled himself on a cross, and died for our sin (Phil. 2:5–8). That—not gaudy commercialism—is what Christmas is all about.

This is a guest article by Andreas Kostenberger, co-author of The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation. This post originally appeared on crossway.org; used with permission.
— Read on servantsofgrace.org/10-things-you-should-know-about-christmas/

Hat tips to all links.

Why did Jesus speak in parables?

December 8, 2018

Parable of the Sower - Matthew 13 - Seed, Soil, wayside, stony ...HT graphic:  gbcdecatur.org

That’s a question that Ligonier.org – The teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul answers in a video presentation. There is also a transcript to read.

Excerpt:
He actually answers that question Himself, or gives one answer to it, when He tells the parable of the sower and the soils and His disciples don’t get it. They come to Him and say, “What was that all about?” and He explains it to them.

He says, “I’m giving these explanations to you because you’re my disciples. But one of the reasons I tell these parables is because when I tell the parables it actually makes clear whether people really grasp the meaning of the kingdom or not.” (See Matthew 13:11-17, Mark 4:10-12, or Luke 8:9-10.)

I don’t know if it’s said so often these days, but there was a time when people constantly said to ministers, “You should tell more stories like Jesus so that we can understand.” But Jesus didn’t tell these parables so much so that people would understand. They were really test cases of whether they understood the gospel that He preached in other words. When you think about it, that’s the case.

The Parable of the Sower is the gateway to all of the parables of Jesus.

Parable of the Sower | BibleOpia BlogThis explains why people can be at different levels of belief in their lifetimes.  It explains why people can “fall away” from faith in Jesus Christ.  The Bible is an honest book, telling us the truth about God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, while also informing us about the sins, errors and failings of mankind.

Personally, I have gone through several “crises of faith” in my 64 years on this earth.  A person who once loved (the agape kind in Christ, no less!) my husband and I made a sudden and devastating decision to abandon us.  Why?  Over a simple argument that could have easily been resolved.  In addition, he also rejected any family members, friends, acquaintances that he perceived as “siding” with us.  This occurred over a year ago, but when it first happened I cried day and night for three months.  I thought, how could this person do such a drastic, painful and heartless thing? Where is the forgiveness?  Where is the reconciliation?   I asked and prayed, “God?  Where are you in this?”  Now, I realize that it is a situation that needs to be resolved in the life of this person.  We are just the “collateral damage,” so to speak.  If this person is supposed to be a true Christian, then why this rejection, even after apologizing and asking for forgiveness?

Apparently, a person can reject those that he used to love unconditionally; and be totally indifferent about it.

Last Christmas, the pastor mentioned to pray for those who are in estrangement situations.  Much weeping and sniffling could be heard from the congregation.  I never knew how prevalent the act of disowning family members was until I did some research on it.  Rejection hurts – terribly!  But with faith and love in Jesus Christ, we can overcome.  Why?  Because He has “overcome the world” through His death and resurrection to life!  In eternity, there will be no tears, pain, hate, indifference, warfare, sin, or rejection.  Why?  Because the imperfect world we live in now will be gone, and a new life of love, peace, joy and worship of God will replace all of those negative and painful things that we endure while on this earth!  That is why the lovely list (love, joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness, goodness) in “the fruit of the Spirit” also contains the term longsuffering.

As Jesus told us in Scripture, there will be those who will reject Him – and the Gospel.  Then, why would we ever expect to never be rejected by people who have obviously been negatively convinced against us?  I really don’t know how this person can live with himself.  It’s very sad.  However, people make bad choices all the time and then need to live with possible regret and future consequences.

Moving on with this post.

One of the more popular posts here at this blog is entitled, The Importance of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares.

Within that post, we also read about the Parable of the Sower:

Jesus told us that there will be those who will reject the Gospel in the Parable of the Sower

Mat 13:18

“Therefore hear the parable of the sower:

Mat 13:19

“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.

Mat 13:20

“But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;

Mat 13:21

“yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

Mat 13:22

“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

Mat 13:23

“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

As Christian evangelists, we are to “plant the seed” through spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God does the rest! The verses in Matthew reveal the many ways that a person who hears the Gospel either “goes by the wayside,” or, “receives it with joy but only endures for while and then stumbles because of persecution,” or,  “allows the word to be choked out because of the cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches.” All of these can cause a person to become unfruitful.

We may inquire further to discover what Jesus meant when he stated (in Matthew 13:23) “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it.”

David Guzik has a good commentary about that verse:

d. Good ground: As seed falling on good ground brings a good crop of grain (Matthew 13:8), so some respond rightly to the word and bear much fruit.

i. This soil represents those who receive the word, and it bears fruit in their soil – in differing proportions (some hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty), though each has a generous harvest.

e. Therefore, hear the parable of the sower: We benefit from seeing bits of ourselves in all four soils.
– Like the wayside, sometimes we allow the word no room at all in our lives. – Like the stony places, we sometimes have flashes of enthusiasm in receiving the word that quickly burn out. – Like the soil among thorns, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are constantly threatening to choke out God’s word and our fruitfulness. – Like the good ground, the word bears fruit in our lives.

i. We notice that the difference in each category was with the soil itself. The same seed was cast by the same sower. You could not blame the differences in results on the sower or on the seed, but only on the soil. “O my dear hearers, you undergo a test today! Peradventure you will be judging the preacher, but a greater than the preacher will be judging you, for the Word itself shall judge you.” (Spurgeon)

 

Guzik goes on to reveal another aspect of this parable, and it has to do with “good soil” and ultimately asking ourselves, “what kind of soil am I?”

ii. The parable was also an encouragement to the disciples. Even though it might seem that few respond, God is in control and the harvest will certainly come. This was especially meaningful in light of the rising opposition to Jesus. “Not all will respond, but there will be some who do, and the harvest will be rich.” (France)

iii. “Who knoweth, O teacher, when thou labourest even among the infants, what the result of thy teaching may be? Good corn may grow in very small fields.” (Spurgeon)

iv. Even more than describing the mixed progress of the gospel message, the parable of the sower compels the listener to ask, “What kind of soil am I?”

The Ligonier essay continues:

Think about the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). We all know what the answer is to the question “Which man went down justified?” but that’s only because we don’t really grasp the parable. Nobody listening to Jesus thought it would be the tax collector who went away from the temple justified.

I sometimes say to people, “Just think about these two men. You’re an evangelical Christian. Which of these two are you more like? Don’t you say to God, ‘I thank you that I’m not like other men’; ‘I thank you that you’ve helped me to discipline my life’; ‘I thank you that you’ve helped me to give away money rather than hoard money’? When you begin to think of those things, actually you sound more like the Pharisee.” And that’s very, very uncomfortable: to discover that, even though you trust in Christ, there’s a Pharisee deep down inside you.

Jesus tells these parables to probe inside us to see whether we really understand the gospel and whether the gospel is really beginning to transform our lives.

They’re not just stories. They’re weapons in spiritual warfare.

Hat tip: Ligonier.org

Five Remarkable Things About the Ben Shapiro and John MacArthur Interview – Pulpit and Pen

December 3, 2018

The following discussion between John MacArthur and Ben Shapiro has to be one of the most important and wonderful, biblically-based discussions that I have ever heard in my life!

Take the time to view it!  You will not be disappointed!

Published on Dec 2, 2018

Pastor John MacArthur joins Ben to discuss the intersection of the Bible and politics, the proper role of government, and the similarities and differences between Judaism and Christianity.

Hat tip via: Truth 2 Freedom’s blog (where I discovered the interview).

Also read more at Pulpit and Pen: 5 Remarkable Things About the Ben Shapiro and John MacArthur Interview.

Excerpt:

5. MacArthur gave the clearest presentation of the Gospel imaginable to one of the largest broadcast audiences imaginable.

As Shapiro regularly says, “The Ben Shapiro Show is the largest and fastest-growing conservative podcast in America.” Fans of MacArthur already view him as a giant. Who doesn’t know John MacArthur, after all? He’s epic. He’s a legend in his own time. He’s Johnny Mac, JMAC, J MAC DADDY, the Fourteenth Apostle, the Sultan of Soteriology, the…okay, the last few I just made up. The point is, MacArthur is yuuuge.

But then we must stop to consider that the conservative evangelical world is really small. Mainstream evangelical figures like Greg Laurie, Ravi Zacharias, and Rick Warren (none of whom will be known one-hundred years from now; but future generations will know John MacArthur) no doubt have a bigger media footprint than MacArthur. By this, I mean by virtue of their self-promotion, publicity and appearances. Over the course of a lifetime, MacArthur still puts these men to shame, but my point is that the “typical” American either has a copy of The Purpose Driven Life or seen it on the shelf at Walmart. That’s not necessarily the case with MacArthur’s latest books.

But truth-be-told, MacArthur is not a household name among your typical Trumpkins, your average politicos, your regular owners of the Leftist Tears Tumbler. It is absolutely awesome that MacArthur got on the program to discuss the substance of the Gospel.

4. Shapiro knew exactly where to go to have an intelligent conversation about spiritual things.

This is as commendable to Shapiro as it is MacArthur. While Steven Furtick titled his book, Unqualified, as a “dig” toward John MacArthur, let’s face it… Nobody is going to call up Steven Furtick to have a serious conversation about Christianity and Judaism. Shapiro is known for his intellectualism, and there’s a reason he didn’t turn to any number of fancy-pants, skinny-jeans, steroid-ripped hipster pastors out there to discuss the issue. Could you imagine Shapiro trying to have a conversation on the Bible with Carl Lentz? That’s hilarious (I am actually laughing so hard right now, just thinking about Shapiro trying to have an intelligent conservation with Carl Lentz, I had to pause typing for about 5 minutes). I mean, to think of Shapiro trying to sit across from Andy “Unhitch the Old Testament from Christian Faith” Stanley like some kind of intellectual equal or cognitive peer is (hold on, laughter break…). Okay, I’m back.The thought of Shapiro even attempting a rational discourse with someone from the Passion Conference is hilarious.

No, when Shapiro and his staffers wanted to have an interesting, compelling conversation about faith and the Bible they knew where to go. It was straight to our elder statesman, who is considered far too serious-minded by the latte mafia, but who fit well with Shapiro’s giant brain.

Furthermore, could you imagine Ben Shapiro trying to have a conversation about such things with Tim Keller? Keller would be like nailing Jello to the wall on any given subject, speak in riddles, say some nonsensical rubbish that sounds like one of Jack Handy’s Deep Thoughts but without the humor and Shapiro would just shout, “Cut!” and walk off the stage disgusted.

No, JMAC was the man for this.

3. MacArthur shared the Gospel for a really long time, while Shapiro was mostly silent.

Yeah. Shapiro, silent. Who knew that was possible? I presume the reason for that is that MacArthur carries himself with gravitas. I mean, if John MacArthur is talking, why would anybody talk over him? That would seem dumb, and Shapiro’s not dumb.

Also, it’s likely that Shapiro was just trying to be a good podcast host. But my hope is that Shapiro found MacArthur’s commentary to be compelling, meaningful and thoughtful. I don’t just hope Shapiro was silent. I hope Shapiro was listening. May God give him ears to hear.

2. MacArthur clearly articulated the difference between Judaism and Christianity.

I didn’t really have “fear,” so to speak, but my first trepidation about MacArthur going on Shapiro’s program was that MacArthur wouldn’t spend time clarifying to Shapiro that Jews need Jesus too, or (more likely) it would be edited out of the final production. Instead, MacArthur spoke extensively about Shapiro’s (and everybody else’s) need for Jesus. MacArthur made some of the same points from the Old Testament that I’ve made in my one-sided fantasy conversations with Shapiro.

Furthermore, there wasn’t a hint of hesitation in MacArthur’s voice to confront Shapiro or the listening/viewing audience with their sin. There was absolutely no wishy-washiness with MacArthur whatsoever. And that, frankly, shouldn’t surprise any of us.

My favorite line of the night, by the way, was from MacArthur: “It’s my goal to offend everybody.” Classic. And you could hear Shapiro chuckling at that in the background. Double classic.

1. MacArthur kept pushing back to the Gospel.

I think virtually all of us thought that MacArthur would speak more about Social Justice and political conservatism. Shapiro certainly tried to steer it there. But every time the conversation drifted away from the Gospel, MacArthur would politely lend his opinion on the subject (from ungodly political leaders to the Enlightenment) and then **BAM** back to the Gospel again. Gospel. Gospel. Gospel.

MacArthur was absolutely relentless in turning it back to the Good News. And man, that’s why we love him.

Finally, what stood out to me is that Shapiro expressed genuine surprise and was impressed that so many people (ostensibly, his staffers) were waiting outside to meet him and shake his hand. Really? These are politicos. Here’s John MacArthur who wrote, Politics Can’t Save You, and has never been overtly political. And yet, these mostly young people had so much respect they wanted to shake his hand and meet him, even though they regularly see political celebrities come through those doors.

It kind of makes you wonder how much influence a pastor-preacher can have politically just by sticking to the Bible.


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