Monthly Archives: July 2018

Jul 2018
You Are Dead

As part of my job at Geisinger, I often have to look up anywhere from 10 to 50 patient charts each day. Sometimes I have need to look up a chart for a current patient, while other times it might be several weeks after the fact that I have to go back in to check something. Every once in a while, I will get a brief but uncomfortable message that will pop up on the screen as I attempt to enter someone’s chart. It will say, “you are about to enter the account of a deceased patient” and the system will then double check to see if I really want to keep proceeding. While death is obviously a common thing at a hospital, that message still has a way of stopping me, even for just a second or two.
Our passage today reminds us of another death that has taken place. Colossians 3:1-3 says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Paul just comes right out and says, “you are dead.” Nothing like a direct statement like that to get our attention! Obviously, he is not referring to physical death but to a spiritual death. He is saying that when someone comes to Christ, their life as was once constituted has died, it’s over. Our lives are now “hidden with Christ.” As Paul writes in Acts 17:28, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.”
He also further explains this idea in Col. 3:5, telling us to “mortify our members which are upon the earth.” Things like fornication, uncleanness, and covetousness. He adds another list in verse 8 to include sins such as anger, blasphemy, and lying.
So Paul is urging us today to consider our old man dead and to put to death the desires of our fleshly nature and to instead live a Christ-centered life that is bringing forth spiritual fruit. Consider the idea of someone trying to access your chart before you came to Christ and having a message pop up that says, “you are entering the account of a deceased patient.”

Jul 2018
The Endless Procession
Our church recently participated in two parades. The first parade in Salladasburg is a quaint small town parade. It’s over within 15 minutes which is great! Then there is the larger parade in Jersey Shore which seems to go on forever! Last year, I wore the animal costume and in the hot and humid July weather, it felt like an eternity.
In high school, we had a project in Bible class where we were expected to categorize every proverb. For some reason, I saw this project as a daunting task, and I did not take it very seriously. Maybe it was the fact that in Proverbs 10:1-22:16 you will find three hundred seventy-five proverbs! Now, I wish I had invested more into the project. These proverbs have been carefully selected and organized to instruct and nurture the wise who “will receive commandments.” Sometimes the seemingly endless procession of proverbial truths is overwhelming, but with some effort, you will find an order which will help you process the instruction.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The pursuit of happiness is a serious endeavor, yet many fail to consider the pointers in Proverbs as to how one should pursue happiness. The contrast of joy and grief resurfaces throughout the proverbs often as a wise son versus a foolish son. The wise son makes his father glad and the hope of the righteous shall be gladness; but the foolish son grieves his mother and the workers of iniquity will be destroyed (10:1, 28)
If you run a business, then you may be familiar with P&L. This abbreviation is the second major contrast you will find throughout Proverbs. The proverbs are extremely practical and you will find many kernels of truth hinge on the profit and loss of one’s choices. Treasures of wickedness profit nothing and the fruit of the wicked tends to sin; but the righteous are delivered from death and the labor of the righteous tends to life (10:2, 16).
“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied” (Proverbs 27:20). The final broad category of satisfaction and frustration includes so many of these truths. The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish, blessings are upon the head of the just, and the memory of the just is blessed; but the Lord pushes away the substance of the wicked beyond their reach, violence covers the mouth of the wicked, and their legacy shall rot (10:3, 6-7).
As you read through the book of Proverbs consider categorizing the Proverbs in one of these three or even more groupings of truth. You could even meditate on one proverb a day for just a little more than a year, and you would be much the wiser!

Jul 2018
A Shelter in the Storm

I wonder why Psalms was not entitled “The Lamentations of Israel”? Many of the Psalms have Israel confronting their enemies; of which, they never lacked. To this day, they are the most hated of people. Israel is surrounded by enemies. They cannot go anywhere in the world where they can live peaceably. Even in America they cannot live free from persecution. Does this example remind you of anything? How about Christians? True followers of the Lord Jesus suffer persecution no matter where we reside. We have much in common with Israel.

We, as believers, do not suffer the persecution that our brethren do in foreign countries; nor the pain of our Christian ancestors in this country. We could speak of the burnings and drownings of the faithful. Read the words to the hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers”, and you will see  it is a testimony of their trials. There are those who hide to worship God for fear of being killed.

I dread the thought of waking to find our country surrounded by those threatening our annihilation, as did Israel in 1967 (“For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance (Ps. 83:2-4). Sounds like lines from a present-day newspaper. Just as horrifying is being rounded up for extermination in a concentration camp, or being a missionary having your car lit afire with you in it. What is the root of this anger? A hatred for the things of God! The world would do the same to us if they could. Remember what Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

Most Jews are not believers of Messiah, but the fact their roots are in the true-God make them targets like Christians. If people of Judeo-Christian faith would disavow the True One, our problems would cease immediately. To this we say- never Lord! God will exonerate the faithful. “And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee (Deu. 30:7). When we are rebuked for our faith, remember the root is hatred of God. The psalmist petitions God in Ps.83:17-18, “Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” We pray that all mankind would be saved, but that will not happen. We will always have enemies amongst us as followers of Christ. But God will take care of it all and it will be worth it all!

Jul 2018
Tailed by Trouble
She turned down a different road than I had expected. I was probably eight or nine, but I still remember this moment vividly. We were on our way home, and we lived in a neighborhood which was showing signs of not being the most wholesome. I had the way home memorized as a kid, but Mom turned down a different road, glancing in her rearview mirror. “Where are we going? Why did you turn down this road?” I was asking too many questions. She explained someone had been following us quite a while and she didn’t want to lead them to the house.
When Ahab looked in the rearview mirror of his life, he saw something following him. “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” Ahab accused Elijah. “I have not troubled Israel,” Elijah responded, “but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Kings 18:17-18).
God is longsuffering and waited for the kings of Israel to turn their hearts back to him, but they refused. They dodged down every street and alley, trying to shake trouble from their tail, but to no avail. In 2 Kings 9-10, you read of the day when trouble caught up to Ahab’s family. A young prophet was sent to anoint Jehu as king of Israel and commission him to fulfill God’s vengeance upon a godless family. Jehu eliminates the sons of Ahab and even has Jezebel thrown from a window to her death. You may feel a little grimy reading these chapters, “How could God be so ruthless?”
Throughout Scripture, you can find examples of people who caused a lot of trouble, but eventually, trouble caught them. Joshua asked Achan, “Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones” (Joshua 7:25). Saul “hath troubled the land” and later the Lord sent a spirit which “troubled him” (1 Samuel 14:29 & 16:14).
I’m reminded of the admonition in Scripture, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Often the trouble-maker thinks they are getting away with their ruckus, but, if they’re honest, they see trouble in their rearview mirror. God is not bound by a finite timeline like you and I are. He will repay.
Learn from these bad examples. Every person drifts toward trouble, but we have the blessed assurance, “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:6).

Jul 2018
Blood Bath

If you delight in God’s creation, then possibly you have enjoyed watching birds dunk, dive, and flutter in a bird bath. The next time you watch such a frantic display of cleansing, think of Leviticus 14-15. The curious rituals and regulations in this second section of Leviticus highlight the natural distinction between man and God. Much of the discussion revolves around circumstances beyond a person’s control. These unclean scenarios were not necessarily sinful but natural. They were innate to any who simply draw breath upon this earth.

Leviticus actively presents both extremes in man. We are unclean because we are sinners, and we are unclean because we sin. It is clear from Scripture, we sin because we are naturally sinners since sin entered the world through one man (Romans 5:12). In these chapters in Leviticus, you read of the restoration and even the renewal ceremony for those who were at one time unclean. The symbolism involves taking two birds one of which was killed over a vessel with pure water mingling its blood in the water. The water pictures purity and cleansing and the blood represents life. The second bird which is yet alive was ceremonially dipped in the vessel and released to live anew.

In Zechariah 13, this imagery is obvious as God intends to renew Israel. A fountain will be opened for sin and uncleanness (13:1). Later in the chapter, the people ask a mysterious figure, “What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends…Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered” (13:6-7). This is a clear prophecy illuminating the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus Christ’s death became the fountain filled with blood!

As a sinner receives Christ as their Savior, they are redeemed. Ceremonially, he is taken to the baptismal waters where he is “buried with him by baptism into death…so [he] also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Spiritually, we have experienced the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5). It’s a blood bath that supplies new life. The character of this new life is explained in Romans 6: How shall we continue in sin if we are dead to it? We now possess the reality, the hope of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;

And sinners plunged beneath that flood

Lose all their guilty stains.

— William Cowper