Shekinah Glory

This entry is part 450 of 450 in the series Inquiring Minds
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What are some examples of Shekinah found in Genesis to Revelation?

The Shekinah glory was God’s special presence especially showing up after Mount Sinai in Israel. As they wander in the wilderness, God guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

His Shekinah glory was mostly seen in the tabernacle and temple. It was a weighty presence, a cloud that made it hard to stand. The pillar of the cloud is described in connection with the Shekinah glory of the Lord (Exodus 33:9-10).

The angel of the Lord also appears in connection with the Shekinah glory of the Lord (Exodus 14:19). It’s most likely this angel represented the presence of the Lord, or was the Lord himself. Many of the appearances of the angel of the Lord suggest divinity, perhaps Jesus himself.

The Shekinah glory is always connected with the presence of the Lord, relationship with Israel and Moses, and God’s desire to be amongst his people. He appears at the installment of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 7:1).

His presence fills the Temple in Solomon’s day, but he also fills the tabernacle when Moses goes in to speak with him (Exodus 33:9). The Lord’s Shekinah presence hindered the priests from carrying out their duties because they could not stand in his presence (2 Chronicles 7:2; 1 Kings 8:10).

The Shekinah glory was also seen in the fire that came down from heaven as God’s presence filled the temple (2 Chronicles 7:3). It was a presence of power, but also a personal presence. God spoke with Moses from the glory cloud.

It’s quite possible that the burning bush experience from Moses in Exodus 3 was also a Shekinah glory moment. The ground where the Lord’s presence resided in the tree became holy. Moses had to take his sandals off while he stood on that ground. The Lord’s presence made the ground holy.

The Shekinah glory is described in two ways. The first is a brilliance, a light, that settled on the face of Moses. When he would leave the tent of meeting or the tabernacle after spending time in God’s Shekinah presence, his face would glow and he covered it up with a veil.

But the Shekinah glory is not only a radiance or light, it is also a weighty presence, a heaviness that settles. The word “glory” in the Bible references these two possibilities, radiant light and heaviness.

The radiant light shows the brilliance of God, that there is no darkness in him. We can take this figuratively to mean that there is no sin or wickedness in him. But we can also take it literally, as John does when he says that God is there light in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:4).

The weighty and heavy matter of God’s presence among us shows that he is the priority in our lives. Nothing matters as much as he does. As we minister in his presence, we feel the weight and importance of who he is.

This can also be taken literally to mean that the people could not stand in God’s presence. When you are in God’s presence and can’t stand, the better thing to do is to bow before him.

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Adding to Scripture

This entry is part 448 of 450 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Is it wrong to speculate or be curious about certain biblical passages if the apostle John warns in Revelations not to add or take away?

John does warn us not to add to Scripture or take away from it (Revelation 22:18). The original context of his warning is for the prophecy of Revelation. But we can extend the context to refer to all of Scripture. His warning is just as true for all of Scripture as it is for the book of Revelation.

However, speculation and curiosity about biblical passages is part of worship to God. As we think about Scripture and try to understand it as best our limited human perspective can handle, we are worshiping God by studying his word.

However, there are questions from faith and questions out of doubt. We must be careful to study the word and consider what it means through questions of faith. If we are asking questions out of doubt, it is not worshiping God. It is questioning his word in a critical manner.

Many volumes have been written about God’s Word. From the many perspectives of different writers concerning the Bible, our own understanding is enhanced. There’s nothing wrong with reading about God’s Word from another human being.

Writing about the Bible does not add to Scripture. It only seeks to understand what has already been written in the Canon of Scripture. We believe that the Canon of Scripture is closed as of 95-96 AD. No more Scripture can be written by anyone. Only the first apostles in the first century had the ability and authority to write Scripture because they had a personal relationship with Jesus while he ministered on the earth.

We may be surprised to find out in heaven those Christians who are there with us. There are many denominations and groups of Christians that believe they are exclusive. They think they’ll be the only ones in heaven. But we will see others we disagree with about scriptural matters in heaven. God is gracious as we seek to understand him.

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Free Forever

This entry is part 98 of 98 in the series Holiness Matters

At the end of every year, most of the people I know work on their New Year’s resolutions. They have a desire to start out the new year making their changes. Like most of us, they want to improve their person, character, abilities, add hobbies, and enrich their lives.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these goals. The problem comes when we implement them for the new year. If you’re like me, you go overboard. You make so many new goals that you become overwhelmed within a couple of weeks.

Some people have begun trying one theme for the year instead of setting new goals and habits. That way if you don’t finish all of your new projects and goals or find yourself overwhelmed, you’re just doing your best.

We try very hard to change who we are and what we are like. We try to improve ourselves with sheer willpower and a lot of self-help books. But many times we find ourselves almost exactly the same at the end of the year. What went wrong? Is it possible to truly change?

Eternal Addictions

Bad habits and addictions lead us to the person we don’t want to be. But once these habits become ingrained in us, it’s very hard to change. An iron will may help for a while, but it won’t get us to the finish line.

Self-help books on multiple subjects are produced every year. I have found some of them helpful, but only if I am able to keep up implementing their suggestions. They give me things to think about I don’t come up with on my own.

The novelty of these approaches wears off, for me about a month into the new year. Then I find myself pushing back the goalposts for my projects. Only one or two things sticks for longer than that.

Addictions are even harder to kick. First, they provide a pleasure factor that incentivizes us to keep doing them. Second, they become ingrained because they may have a chemical incentive to not stop, like drugs. Third, some addictions even change our brain patterns so we don’t want to stop.

Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and detox options may help for a while. But just like our habits, addictions become part of our routine. You must want to stop before you can accomplish it. People have different personalities and levels of willpower.

Some psychologists suggest that our habits and addictions will never change. You will always be addicted to whatever you’re addicted to. The question is how much you can control it. One of the best tools for true change is the ability to replace a bad habit with a good one and repeat it regularly.

Alcoholism is a good example. An alcoholic cannot have one drink. The moment they get a taste for alcohol again, they drink many more. I have the same problem with potato chips, but that is not to trivialize what an alcoholic goes through.

Is there another solution that can change us for good? Even some Christians I had met in my ministry say they can’t stop their habits and addictions. We grasp for the solution, the silver bullet that will help us get away from these bad habits and addictions.

Life Change

When a person comes to Christ the Bible says they are a new creature in him (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus changes us from the inside out through the power of his Holy Spirit indwelling in us. It used to be that preachers and evangelists made it sound like life was rosie when you meet Christ.

I always hated this approach because it promises things we can’t deliver. The Bible presents a very different picture from what you often hear in an altar call. We’ve tried to make the gospel of Jesus a cure-all for every problem.

But that’s not what Jesus taught, and that’s not what the Bible says. Jesus told us that when we serve him, we will run into trials and persecution in this world. But then he gave us the assurance that he overcame the world (John 16:33).

The gospel doesn’t say life will be perfect after you begin serving Christ. It says that when you have trouble in trials, you are not alone. Jesus walks with you through every situation you face in your life.

But I have always had a problem with people who say they can’t stop sinning, can’t change their bad habits, and can’t shake their addictions for good. Am I perfect? Have I arrived in my personal life? No. Every Christian must continue to contend with the flesh of the past.

We live in a sinful and wicked world. Temptations are everywhere if we look for them. Even when they come looking for us, we must rely on the power of Christ to overcome them. I am not some starry eyed, too heavenly minded Christian to understand the battlefield.

But I contend that every Christian can experience freedom and victory over these things. Temptation and our desires promise more than they deliver. But the gospel delivers everything it promises.

For Freedom

Paul reminds us that Jesus died to give us freedom from sin, addiction, temptation, our flesh, and every other desire we have had before we met him (Galatians 5:1-2). But it’s not some kind of magical thing we don’t have to do anything with.

What I mean by this, and people will misunderstand me as they misunderstood Paul in the first century, is that Jesus gives us power, but we must wield it. He died for our freedom, and it is ours when we come to him.

But we must enact that freedom in our lives. We don’t do it through works at save us. But in our sanctification, we listen to the Holy Spirit as he directs us. He takes up issue after issue in our lives and tells us what to do. But we must obey.

Think about it this way. Jesus died for every person that has ever lived. Only those who follow him in obedience receive his forgiveness and freedom. He died for all, but not all accept him. Those who accept him experience everything he promised. Those who don’t experience God’s judgment.

In the same way, Jesus offers this freedom and all who choose him experience his freedom. But what good is it to trust in Christ and continue in sin? He offers all the hope in the world but we must grab a hold of it.

It is freely given to us though it cost him his life. The Bible spends just as much time talking about how to walk with Christ blamelessly and obey him to show our select live as it does talking about the free gift of salvation through faith by grace.

Walking the Christian life requires us to accept the freedom Christ gives, but live in obedience to his Spirit. Coming to the altar and accepting Christ as your personal Lord and Savior is the beginning, not the end of your walk.

His freedom is ours and we take it freely. But he also has a program of transformation in place for those who follow and obey him (Romans 8:29). We must conform to Christ, not maintain what we already are.

Jesus declares us righteous, but we obey the Holy Spirit to walk in righteousness every day. Jesus calls us to hard tasks like picking up our cross daily (Luke 9:23) and crucifying the flesh with its desires (Galatians 5:24).

He calls us to show our love for him by obeying his commandments (John 15:10). He has given us salvation. But he is working a new thing in us through sanctification. Jesus loves us enough to start where we are when we come to him, but he loves us too much to leave us there.

The Power of Christ

I mentioned that I have a problem with people who say they can’t stop there sinning, bad habits, and addictions even after they come to Christ. I believe the gospel holds more power than that. I believe Jesus’ sacrifice is greater than that.

When Jesus says we will become like him, he gives us the power through his Holy Spirit to change. This includes addictions, temptation, sin, the desires of our old flesh, and the like. Jesus’ name is greater than anything we encounter.

Jesus sits on the throne (Ephesians 1:19-22; Colossians 2:8-15). Because he has suffered in his crucifixion and death but was raised to life, he is king over the universe. He reigns over everything in all of creation, including addictions, sin, and the flesh.

Everything bows to Jesus. If we don’t believe that then we didn’t hear the gospel right. What kind of power flows from the blood of the cross if Jesus died to save your soul but not finish the work of making you like him?

If Jesus powerfully changes lives, why do Christians think they are still stuck in their old ways? The Bible teaches the exact opposite of this idea. We don’t follow Christ to the cross just to go to heaven.

Jesus offers much more than a quick fix or a way to stay out of Hell. He offers his Spirit who dwells in us. He offers becoming like him in his death so we can enjoy true friendship. And he offers life change that matters in the real world.

We’re not just waiting for our glorification with Christ. He wants to change our character and person now. He wants to demonstrate his power in us to the rest of the world. What good what are witnessing be if Jesus saved us spiritually but didn’t change our lives now?

Let us believe in the power of the gospel and the sacrifice of Christ to truly change us. Let us believe in freedom and victory here and now, not just later in heaven. Let us trust the process Jesus puts in motion the moment we commit to following him in obedience.

Conclusion

Jesus has real power to change us in this life. He has a program of holiness in place. But we must follow through and obey when he speaks to us through his Spirit. He wants to change us, not just declare it. He wants what he has declared to become reality for us.

I’m very passionate about Jesus’ ability to change us from the inside out. After salvation, we must join in the process of sanctification, becoming holy like Christ so we can dwell with an eternity.

After the altar call comes the altering of who we are to align with him. He doesn’t leave us where we are when he meets us. He makes us like him so we can have a relationship with him. Let’s not stop short of victory in Christ for our everyday situations. Let’s embrace the full Gospel and its power to change each of us.

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Living and Written Word

This entry is part 449 of 450 in the series Inquiring Minds
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What is “The Word”? Is “the Word” from Genesis to Revelation, and how do I become a doer of “the word”?

There are several different ideas you present in your question. The Word refers to Jesus. It’s a reference from John 1:1-5 concerning Jesus and his incarnation. He came into the world as the Wisdom of God, the Word.

The idea of the Logos (Greek for Word) comes from the Greek philosophies. They believed that the Logos was a divine idea, the matter or thing that held the world together. So when John uses the same term to represent Jesus, he is saying that Jesus sustains the whole universe.

The Word is also the Wisdom of God. Greek philosophers believed that wisdom held the world together. So this is the importance of why John would use this term to refer to Jesus, especially as he came into the world.

John links Jesus as the Logos of God with creation. He was present in creation. He had an active role as the Son of God. He may have acted as God’s voice. When God spoke everything into creation, Jesus was the active force behind the coming together of the world.

But he is much more than the Wisdom of God and the matter that holds all things together. He is also the life that gives light to all creatures. He gives us all life, but he is also our light. He is the revelation of God to us.

Because Jesus brings us life, he is the Living Word. But he is also the one who inspired the written word of God through his Holy Spirit. The Word of God refers to the Bible, the inspired Scriptures written through human hands.

The Word of God extends from Genesis to Revelation, 66 books. Over a period of 1600 years through about 40 authors, the Holy Spirit inspired every word of the text of Scripture. The word is the proclamation, promises, and plan of God for the salvation of humankind.

God’s Word describes his plan and expectations for those who become his children through belief in Jesus Christ. He gives us his promises and commands for how to live a life that pleases him.

James tells us we need to be doers of his Word (James 1:22-25). It’s healthy to hear God’s Word regularly. But hearing his word does nothing unless we do it. Knowing what God expects is not enough. We must do his works and his word.

After we know what his word says, we must do what it commands. Jesus said we show our love to him by obeying his commands and keeping them (John 15:12). James tells us that the one who doesn’t do the word and only listens to it deceives himself.

God’s Word is like a mirror. We look into it and we see what he wants to change in us. But if we only see it and don’t make the changes the Holy Spirit calls us to make through our obedience, we remain the same, and God’s Word is not implanted in us.

We are required to both hear, and then do what God’s word says. So we see Jesus as the living and written word of God. We follow his commands as doers of his word, making this obedient friends of God.

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More Than You Bargained For

This entry is part 97 of 98 in the series Holiness Matters

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Promises get a bad rap in our society. It’s standard practice for many people to break their promises. They see them as ways to get out of a situation or someone else to help you with something. But then they don’t follow through on the promises they make.

Not everyone’s this way, but there are many people who use promises like this. They promise they will do something for you or help you with something. But they don’t show. People don’t expect you to fulfill your promises because they are so used to people not doing what they say they will do.

Jesus expects Christians to have a higher standard when it comes to promises. After all, salvation is based on the promise that his sacrifice on the cross makes a way for us to have a relationship with him. He is the Promise of salvation to us.

The Great Promise

Sin and evil desires also promise us that they will bring great pleasure and joy to our lives if we give into them. They promise everything from wealth to health to happiness. It’s not wrong to want these things.

They promise these right desires in the wrong ways. Each one of them is outside of God’s plan for our lives. There are right ways and wrong ways to fulfill our desires. To be sure, God gives us desires. He also gives us the right way to fulfill them. These are the ways that we will honor him.

It seems too good to be true, and it is. If we fulfill our desires the way our flesh and temptation want us to, it will cause us more grief in the end. The immediate gratification will be fulfilled. Later we will find a greater price to pay.

Jesus frees us from these evil desires. When we consider ourselves dead to sin, and follow through and practice it, these empty promises will not grab our attention so easily. But at the time, they seem impossible to turn down.

That’s the danger of sin and temptation, of the desires of our flesh. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). But we still live in a sinful and evil world. The things that used to be so ingrained in us will still try to tempt us and rear their ugly heads.

But we must be strong in the Lord. We must ask the Lord for the way of escape when temptation comes. We must stand firm in God’s promises when sin comes to promise something too good to be true.

Falling Short

If we listen to the temptations of sin and fleshly desires, we fall short of God’s desire for us. We give into temptation, and sin against God. But we are not the only ones to fall short of the promise.

Our evil desires and temptations promise things too good to be true, but they fall short in the long run. They bring up our old addictions and the things we used to do before we met Christ. But everything they promise they don’t deliver.

When we give into temptations and sin, we will find ourselves empty as we do the things we used to do. They are empty because we realize as we do them that they are fruitless. The promise of gratification falls short.

Old evil desires tend to remind us of “the good old days.” Before we knew Christ, those days held more pleasure for us because we didn’t realize the emptiness they left. If we did realize it, we filled it with other things.

Now that we know Jesus, he is our desire. I have found that the more I learn about God, the more I spend time with him, and the more I read the Bible, there is always more. There’s always more to know and to learn. There’s always more depths in God.

I never leave my time with God or in his Word wanting more. There is always more to ponder, to apply to my life, and to worship God for. We fill our lives with all kinds of addictions and vices before we meet Christ. And the reason we have so many is because they all are empty.

We try to fill the hole in our hearts with the wrong things. None of them can match Jesus in his glory. These empty and vain vices we left behind when we met him can never do the job of filling our lives with the same pleasure and joy as our walk with Christ.

What’s more, they demand more and more of our attention. They are addictive because we need more and more of the same thing to reach the same high. We spend more and more of our time and resources trying to get to the same pleasurable pinnacle. It’s never like we remember.

Delayed Gratification

Though it’s not taught in our culture very often, the concept of waiting to gratify our desires, to enjoy them completely, is a very biblical concept. When we demand to fulfill our desires right now, we cheapen the joy of fulfilling them later.

There something about waiting to get what we want. It makes it all the more sweeter when we finally get to that goal. Delaying our gratification in our desires gives us something to look forward to. It teaches us discipline, and how to wait.

For instance, as Christians we wait for the return of Christ to take us home to heaven. But the more that we wait, the more we long for his return. When he comes, on that day it will be the most incredible experience of our lives.

I like to set goals and make my desires the reward for achieving those goals. It helps me to be disciplined in my work, but it also brings great joy at the end of the task. Not only do I feel the weight lifted from completing a task, but I get a treat on top of it.

But most of all, delayed gratification teaches us how to live the Christian life, to run our race for the prize at the end. It teaches us to wait in God’s presence and for his timing. We learn how to pray with persistence and enjoy the answer of the Lord.

Conclusion

Our desire is now to please Jesus and everything we do. We don’t do works for ourselves. We do them because we love God and want to serve him. Our motives and intentions have changed. And so have our desires.

But when those old desires creep up in our lives and try to tempt us away from Christ, we must have the discipline to put them in their place. We are dead to sin and dead to those old desires. They shouldn’t tempt us anymore. Every day, we must crucify the flesh to experience the victory of God.

Leave a comment and give some tactics you use to defeat the flesh every day. How do you crucify it and keep it in its place?

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Peter and Paul Disagreement

This entry is part 447 of 450 in the series Inquiring Minds
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In what ways did the Apostle Paul and Peter disagree?

To my knowledge, there is only one disagreement between Peter and Paul. Paul mentions it in Galatians 2:10-14. When Peter visited Antioch, and the Christians there, even though he was the first apostle to witness to the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house (Acts 10), he avoided the Gentile Christians because of the Judaizers, Jewish teachers from Jerusalem.

Paul saw this as an affront to the gospel. The gospel teaches that Gentiles and Jews who know and follow Christ no longer care about their ethnicity. Any squabbles or disagreements with one another are subservient to Christ and his message and kingdom.

As he says in Galatians, there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:29?). So Paul saw Peter’s avoidance of the Gentile Christians at Antioch, of which there were many, as a challenge to the gospel message.

Peter essentially either out of fear of these Jewish visitors from Jerusalem or some other reason, as siding with them on the matters of Christians needing to be circumcised (a big matter brought up throughout Galatians) and a number of other issues the Jewish teachers would raise.

From what we can gather in Galatians, these Judaizers followed Paul around and tried to catch him in teachings he did not teach. They tried to catch him on circumcision, following the law of Moses, and Christian libertarianism.

Galatians was written before the church decided the matter on circumcision and how much of Judaism a Christian Gentile would have to follow in Acts 15. Galatians may be the earliest written of the New Testament books.

So these matters had not yet been settled at this time. This is why Peter did not have clear direction on whether or not to cater to these Jewish teachers. After all, he was called the missionary to the Jews while Paul was the missionary to the Gentiles.

We see other squabbles between the Hellenized Jewish widows and the widows from Jerusalem in Acts 6. There was still a lot of tension between the Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians in the time Galatians was written.

It’s no surprise that because there is no clear direction from the church on this matter yet, Peter and Paul would come to odds about the issues. If Paul would have maintained the teaching of these Jewish teachers visiting Antioch, his ministry would be short-lived.

Gentiles tended to be, “God-fearers” who honored the customs and practices of the Jews without going through circumcision handful proselytization. If Christianity became Judaism 2.0, they would have the same problem with Gentile believers.

Thankfully, the church decided in Acts 15 that Jesus was enough for the Christian religion. There was only a need to follow four rules given to Noah after the flood in the beginning of earth once again. These four rules happened even before the laws of Moses were given by God on Mount Sinai.

So the disagreement between Peter and Paul was significant at the time, probably one of the key factors driving Paul to go to the Council and present his case before the church for consideration and ruling.

This allowed Christianity to expand not based on ethnicity but on the gospel message. I don’t want to say Paul won the argument. I want to say the Holy Spirit helped everyone involved to understand the further implications of the issues at hand. The church listened to the Holy Spirit and we have the gospel message alone for consideration in conversion.

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Age of Creation

This entry is part 446 of 450 in the series Inquiring Minds
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Why do so many theologians say that the Earth is 6,000 years old when if all the great ages of the pre-flood patriarchs were added together it would amount to a much older planet?

The age of 6000 years for creation comes from Usher, a theologian who took the given years in the Genesis genealogy accounts and added them all up. He came to 4004. That would be considered BC, adding 2000 years for AD.

Those who believe the earth is 6000 to 10,000 years old called Young Earth creationists. They hold to a minimum amount of years, a young Earth and creation, because of a very literal interpretation of the creation accounts and prehistory of Genesis 1-11.

However, when you look at other genealogies throughout the Bible, you will quickly find names not mentioned in the genealogies of Genesis 1-11. This presents a problem, because that means there are intentional gaps in the Genesis genealogies.

When Moses wrote Genesis, he was not concerned to give us every single link in the genealogy chain. He most likely had extra biblical sources to draw on for his genealogies. But they are meant to present a theological view of humanity.

For instance, Moses shows with Cain’s lineage that his descendents tended to be more wicked than the descendents of Seth. This is done on purpose, so we can see two separate lines, one more godly than the other.

The Bible wasn’t written to give us a blow-by-blow account of everything that happened in the history it covers. It was written that we might believe in God. It is a book of faith first. What it includes is accurate to history.

We don’t really know exactly how old the earth is. Scientists give us one impression while Scripture gives us another. It’s not that the two compete with one another. Because we don’t know exactly how many years passed between Genesis 1 and Genesis 11, and even after that, we cannot use Scripture alone to give us the age of creation.

The ancients weren’t overly concerned as we are today with the details. They were concerned with the message, see in the genealogies certain attributes and trends. They record the numbers with accuracy, but as I said, we don’t have the entire list.

We don’t have the numbers for the ones I in other genealogies. Based on the genealogies alone, we cannot come to an accurate assessment of the age of the universe. Science gives us a good understanding of the age of the earth.

But we must be careful not to look at bad science. Because no one was present at the beginning of creation, we cannot verify even with science the exact age of the universe. Some scientists hold two theories religiously. I say the right religiously or philosophically on purpose.

Scientists believe in these theories and hold to them as steadfastly as the most religious Bible thumper. They look to theories like evolution that are created for the sole purpose of keeping God out of the equation.

And religious people refuse to look at evolution as a possibility to explain the age of creation. The moment we know from hard data and reproducible experiments, we aren’t dealing with science anymore.

There’s nothing wrong with philosophy. There’s nothing wrong with theory. But if it can’t be proven in a lab, and no one can we create the universe in a lab, then we are stuck at an impasse if we hold to extreme views.

We must all agree that the Bible was not written to give us the exact age of the earth and universe just as much as science cannot give us the exact date either. We need to find a way to meet in the middle.

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Creating the New Heavens and New Earth

This entry is part 445 of 450 in the series Inquiring Minds
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According to early Genesis, God created the Earth before the sun, moon, and stars. Will he create the new Heavens and the new Earth in the same manner?

Genesis 1:1 says God created the heavens and the earth at the same time. The sun, moon, and stars are objects within the heavens, the universe. It all depends on how you interpret the days of creation that she would figure out exactly when things were created.

Some of the most credible interpretations don’t talk about material objects when they interpret Genesis 1-2. They suggest that the Israelites did not have the creation account to explain the materials of creation but God’s purpose behind creating.

They didn’t understand, for instance, the mood to be an object floating in space. In fact, they call it a light. The moon reflects the light of the sun, but they wouldn’t have understood that. To them, it was the lesser light in the night.

But to answer your question, there are several approaches by scholars and theologians on the matter of the new heavens and the new earth. Some believe that God is going to re-create so he wouldn’t the new heavens and new earth after destroying this one.

Others believe God is going to renew this heavens and earth after practically destroying it in the apocalypse. There are scriptural possibilities for both views. As with all apocalyptic and end times events, we cannot be sure of exactly how God is going to do things.

They give us good insight and understanding as to his purposes behind the destruction of the apocalypse. But the Bible doesn’t completely lay out a step-by-step event map of everything God’s going to do and when he’s going to do it.

I personally hold my own views based on Scripture and my interpretation of it of how God is going to do everything. But I hold it lightly because no one really does everything about the end times. I believe God left a little bit of mystery.

If God starts again to create out of nothing, he probably will create the same way he created before. However, I believe Scripture points to a different kind of creation, just as it points to the perishable body putting on the imperishable body, the temporal body exchanged for the eternal one in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

If this is the case, creation may be different in ways we can’t possibly imagine right now. But I can gets healthy to wonder about the new heavens and new earth, to use our imagination to think of the great things God is going to do before our very eyes.

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Disciplined Desire

This entry is part 96 of 98 in the series Holiness Matters
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The Bible was written because we forget some of the things it says. It’s hard for us to remember so much information. But it also helps us to see things in different contexts. The Bible covers some of the same issues over and over.

That’s one of the most helpful ways the Bible can influence our daily lives. The Holy Spirit uses Scripture to speak to our issues and change us from the inside out. He is always working on our behalf, but making us more like Jesus.

I’ve dealt with desires and how the Bible talks about them before. But it’s always important for us to share the messages the Holy Spirit speaks to us more than once. It’s not that we don’t get it the first time. But it’s putting it into practice many of us have trouble with.

Aside from that, one of the biggest questions is, “How do we turn bad desires into good desires?” Switching from one to the other is not easy, but the Holy Spirit is here to help us.

Unholy Desires

The Bible regularly addresses evil desires and passions. In Romans 1, it talks about people suppressing the truth about God so they can do what they want. That is the main thrust of the Scriptures, that our evil desires control us and we think we are doing what we want.

Evil desires and passions are all about ourselves. These are selfish desires that grip us in their control. That doesn’t mean we don’t have personal responsibility for the desires we choose to gratify. In fact, the Bible holds us responsible for every sinful desire and evil thing we do.

But selfish desires can easily fool us. For instance, I may show love to someone else or do something charitable, but it’s not because I selflessly do it. I do it because I want to be recognized, to be famous or seen, to have my fifteen minutes of fame.

This is the wrong approach for our character. We base all of our desires out of what gratify his us and what pleases us instead of helping others. This is one of the things Jesus changes in us. We have the ability to unconditionally love others and do things out of different motives instead of selfish ones.

Evil desires in us tend to be about our own entertainment, advancement, or ability to gain some kind of power. We chase money, sex, drugs, food, and many other desires. They tell us what we want to hear, and we rarely listen to people around us.

All of these desires can be dangerous to our health and person. But we seem to continue doing them. If people do address our desires and how they are endangering us, we ignore them. This is the mind of the unsaved one. As Paul said, “Who can save me from the wretched man I am?” (Romans 7:25)

Holy Desires

That’s when Jesus comes in and changes our hearts and minds. He gives us a different way to look at our desires. Most importantly, he gives us a way to conquer them through the power of his Spirit.

Jesus saves us from these unholy desires and replaces them with holy ones. One of the most important lessons we learn is to never leave a void. When we have an evil desire, Jesus doesn’t just take it away. He replaces that desire with a godly desire.

The most godly desire is to love and serve Jesus with our whole being. This is probably the primary desire he changes. Instead of serving ourselves, we turn to serve him. We replace those wicked desires we used to have with desires to please the Lord.

Paul presents many evil desires in Galatians 5:19-21, calling them the works of the flesh. When the Bible talks about the flesh, it’s not referring to our skin. It’s talking about evil actions that tempt us as Christians, who are changed by Jesus’ grace.

He says these wicked actions are immediately conquered by the fruit of the Spirit, who is working his godly character in us (Galatians 5:22-23). Christians have the opportunity to decide what they’re going to do. Are we going to live by the Spirit, or are we going to gratify the sinful desires that lead to evil actions?

The Bible contends that unbelievers cannot choose godly character and actions. Everything they do comes out of selfish ambition. If you look at the list of some nineteen evil actions, it’s hard to find an unselfish motivation among them.

Jesus changes our motivation and intention. He makes our desires come from a place of selflessness and unconditional love for others. These are expected of us, even commanded throughout the Scriptures.

The Bible uses commands to show us what’s expected of us as Christians. God’s high expectations demand that we do the works that glorify him. We don’t do these out of a sense of duty, although there is duty in the Christian life, but out of love for God and love for others.

The Holy Spirit is building godly and holy desires in us. He works in our character, changing it to conform to Christ’s image (Romans 8:29). These transformations are all for God’s glory. It is not about making us better so we can gloat. It is about glorifying God and everyone seeing a witness of Christ in us.

His godly enterprise is for our good. We may not always feel great about what he’s doing in us, but we must look at the long term. The Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification in us takes time. We must be patient with ourselves and with the Spirit.

Discipline for Holiness

One of the words anyone hates to hear is discipline. We don’t want to be disciplined by her parents or by others. When the Bible talks about discipline, it doesn’t only refer to God’s correction and rebuke.

Discipline in the Bible also points to the ability to choose to walk with Christ instead of gratify the flesh. Discipline is our ability to stay on the right path and follow Christ. It is the ability to ignore the temptations of this world and our desires.

The more we walk in the path and ignore these things, the easier it will become. When we choose to fall into temptation and allow it to win, it makes it that much harder to get back on the path. When you want to strengthen your muscles, the less you work out, the easier it is to become a couch potato.

Hebrews 12:5-11 describes discipline that comes from the Lord for his children. We must take the Lord’s discipline seriously. It’s one of the ways we know we are his children. He disciplines us because he loves us. He wants us to grow in godliness.

He has high expectations for each of us. If we do not walk in his discipline instead of our desires, we will not take part in his family. We don’t like discipline at the time. Sometimes it hurts, and when the Lord chastens us or reproves us, we must remember the fire refines us.

Conclusion

God disciplines us so we can be holy before him. He cares very much about us. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t discipline us. We must die to our flesh, our old desires before we met Jesus. Just because we are saved doesn’t mean we don’t have to keep up the battle against returning to the flesh.

But Jesus gives us a way out of temptation, the ability to fight, instead of just give in. We must get into the habit of our new desire, to please God in everything we do. These new desires are the foundation for walking with Jesus. Leave a comment about how you fight the battle against the flesh. We can all learn from one another.

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Jacob and Esau

This entry is part 444 of 450 in the series Inquiring Minds
Image by White77 from Pixabay

Why was Jacob afraid of his brother Esau?

As Jacob returned from his mother’s native land where he served his uncle Laban for 21 years, he knew he had a big problem on his hands. He didn’t leave the land of Canaan on good terms with his brother Esau.

He wrestled with an angel, before which he divided his party into two groups. He put his precious possessions with Rachel in the second group. If Leah’s group was captured by Esau, he would still have the other group.

As Jacob did all his life, he continued to be deceptive and schemed to get ahead. When he met the angel of the Lord, the fight lasted all night long. He refused to let the angel go until he blessed him.

In an attempt to gain control over the angel, Jacob asked him what his name was. Instead of answering, the angel asked what his name was. Jacob’s name means, “Heel grabber, deceiver.” He finally told the angel his name, and the angel changed it to Israel, “He contends with God.”

From then on, Jacob led a life fairly free of deception. Not only his name, but his character had been changed in the fight. But he was still worried about his brother. He ran away from his brother in fear many years earlier.

In two feats of deception, he stole both his brother’s birthright as the older brother, and his blessing. Once when Esau, a man of the field, was out hunting, he came back very tired. Jacob made him some soup but withheld it from him until he gave his birthright.

At another time, Jacob, with the help of his mother Rebecca, deceived Isaac his father by putting on goat skins and trying to smell like his brother Esau. Isaac became blind in his old age. The deception worked, and Isaac blessed Jacob while Esau was hunting for game to make his father his favorite dish.

Jacob got out of Dodge as fast as he could. His parents instructed him to take a wife in the same land Isaac received Rebecca from. He was gone, Esau apparently didn’t care about this pleasing his parents. He picked a wife from the Canaanites.

Because Jacob stole the birthright and blessing from the firstborn son Esau, he suspected his brother would take all of his possessions and kill him. And when he finally met up with Esau, he found a forgiving brother who had prospered in his own right. Esau’s ability to forgive Jacob for all his deceptions, and Jacob’s character and name change mended a broken brother relationship.

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