Reflection on James 5:7-10

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+5.7-10

Scripture

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.

Observation

James encourages us to be patient as we wait for the Lord’s return. We should be like farmers who wait for the rain to bring on the harvest. We must have that kind of patience because the Lord is coming.

We must not grumble about our fellow believers, because the Judge- Jesus- is standing outside the door and about to come in to bring judgement.

Application

Faith and patience go hand in hand. Sometimes God intervenes quickly and miraculously. Often He intervenes slowly and gently. We see the goal of our prayers and want Him to act immediately, but God moves more slowly than we would like.

There is a right time for our prayer to be answered. It may be today, next year or 20 years away. Will my faith and persistence in prayer last over that time scale?

The farmer looks for the rain because his livelihood depends on that water coming down from heaven. The farmer cannot control the rain, and so his life is literally in God’s hands. He calls out to the Lord, believing for the rain that will bring life.

All of this waiting and praying is about the valuable harvest. The harvest is more than money in the bank- it is fulfilment and vindication of a lifestyle and a season of work. Every farmer I know will pluck a head of grain, sniff and taste it. They know by looking if the crop is good, but they need the personal touch- the taste and smell of their beautiful harvest.

We have a beautiful harvest- not our own but the Lord’s harvest. A harvest of souls who are coming into the kingdom. This harvest cannot be brought in my machines. It needs the personal touch- every head of grain individually touched and brought in.

Prayer

Lord I understand that your time scales are not the same as mine, that you deal by generations while I live in minutes. Help me to stay in step with you. Show me the harvest that is waiting to be brought in. Amen.

Creationists Rebutting Flat Earthers

Creationists are often accused of being in the same category as flat earthers. Here is an interesting article from Creation.com aiming to falsify one implication of the flat earth theory.

 

A direct test of the flat earth model: flight times

More data supporting a spherical earth

by 

Published: 6 December 2016 (GMT+10)

Flat Earth Society, with annotations by RC

flat-earth

Figure 1: “Flat earth” map obtained from the Flat Earth Society website. The locations of the cities used in this study are marked (blue dots), as are the straight-line distances from Johannesburg to each city (red lines). I also added a black flag at the approximate position of the north pole. Originally, the city locations were marked in pen on a printed copy of this map, using various geographic hints from the map itself, but the data are recreated here for the sake of the reader.

After receiving such a surprising number of negative comments on our flat-earth rebuttal, I decided to perform a numerical analysis of the flat-earth model compared to the traditional spherical-earth model.

Science is about testing hypotheses, so let us set up an experiment to test these alternative views. For this, I enlisted the help of two of my children, ages 13 and 11. It made for a fun homeschoolproject.

The basic problem is the distance between longitude lines in the flat-earth model. In a spherical earth, the longitude lines start from one pole and converge on the other pole, and the distances get wider the closer they are to the equator. But in the northern-hemisphere–biased flat-earth model, the longitude lines start from the north pole and radiate outwards to the supposed ‘encircling southern polar ring’ like spokes on a wheel.

This means that the distances become greater the further south they go. This suggests an easy test of the two models: compare distances to travel times for distant places in the southern hemisphere.

The normalized data revealed a tight correlation between the spherical earth model and flight time.

The goal of this simple study was to compare reported airline flight time data with two distance measures, the ‘great circle’ distance of spherical-earth theory and the ‘straight-line’ distance of flat-earth theory.

The driving hypothesis is that the flat-earth map is distorted and so the flight times will not match the calculated distances. This, of course, assumes there is no great conspiracy among the millions of people working for the airline industry or the tens of millions of people who fly on their airplanes annually, which seems reasonable. I am also assuming airplanes on a flat earth would use the rule we all learned in geometry that ‘the shortest distance between any two points on a [standard, Euclidean] plane is a straight line’.

This assumption was in favor of the flat earth model for, as we will see, any curved line would only exacerbate the noticeable distortion with increasing flight time and distance from the source.

 

Read the rest here

Tom Brown: Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

December marks the annual festival of religious people saying that Christians should not celebrate Christmas. Here’s a great article by Tom Brown that debunks that nonsense.

 

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?
Today’s Question: Being that the season of Christmas is upon us, we as Christians have come to celebrate the reason for the season. My brother and I have been debating this issue lately. Even though he is Christian also, he is hard to convince that we should celebrate the birth of Christ, not the commercialism that the world imposes on us. He still maintains that through his research and studying on the issue of Christmas, that the pagans around Jesus’ time celebrated the giving to a “Sun God” of some kind on the same day that we celebrate Christmas. I don’t know where he got his sources on that, but of course I’ve vehemently opposed the notion, and had to remind him that we don’t know the actual time of year of Jesus’ birth, but we as Christians have come to honor it on December 25.

Is there any specific references that I can direct him to within the Bible that will alleviate his skepticism?

Jeff Eisert

Bible Answer: I cannot promise that anything I say will change your brother’s view. I really do not think this is an important matter. If he does not want to celebrate Christmas, then he should not celebrate it. As for my church, family and me we love celebrating it and will continue to do so. It has been a time where people who would not normally go to church will attend. Anything to get people to go to church is a good thing.

Concerning Christmas not being in the Bible, that is true as far as the name “Christmas” which means “Christ-Mass”. The name is not in the Scriptures but the event that the name represents is definitely in the Scriptures. The story of the birth of Christ and the circumstances surrounding it is very much emphasized in the Bible. Mathew and Luke both go into detail describing Christ birth, including the shepherds and eventually the wise men giving gifts to Christ. That is all in the Bible. Without His birth, there is no salvation.

Someone might argue that since we are not commanded to celebrate Christmas we should ignore it. Well, we are not commanded to celebrate the resurrection as a holiday either, so does your brother want to give up that holiday simply because the name “Easter” is of pagan origin? He needs to forget the name or the source of the name. Many names and words have pagan origins (see my article on Nike Man as an example.), but we do not give up using those words or names. We would not have a language without the use of pagan words and names.

Someone may argue against Christmas that it is a non-biblical holiday and since Christmas in not celebrated in the Bible, we should not celebrate it, either. First of all, the birth of Christ is biblical, so you cannot make a case by calling Christmas non-biblical, but I suppose you can say that Christmas is extra-biblical. That is, there is nothing in the Bible against it, and there are things in the holiday that is based on the Bible, but there is no command to celebrate the birth of Christ, so it is an extra-biblical holiday.

Here is how I approach this argument: Jesus Himself celebrated an extra-biblical holiday that corresponds to Christmas. People are usually surprised to find this out. Yes, Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, and Hanukkah is not in the Old Testament.

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. (John 10:22-23)

There is no Old Testament Feast of Dedication. There are several feasts mentioned in the Bible, but not Dedication. What feast is Dedication? That is Hanukkah. Hanukkah is a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of oil that burned for 8 days. This event took place after the last Old Testament prophet had written the scriptures. The scriptures were closed before this event, and thus, this Feast is extra-biblical. And Jesus was in the temple area where the feast was celebrated. He participated in Hanukkah.

Today, Christmas is celebrated next to Hanukkah. So the question you can propose to your brother who refuses to celebrate Christmas is this: If Jesus celebrated a holiday that was not in the Bible, why can’t you enjoy Christmas as well and give gifts just as the Jews today give many gifts during Hanukkah?

Your brother mentioned that giving gifts was based on giving to the “Sun-God”. Whether or not that is true can be debated, but I have always felt that giving gifts was based on the wise men giving gifts to Christ. Even if it were true that Christmas came out of the pagan practices of giving to the “Sun-God”, the truth is the “Son-of-God” is worthy of greater gifts, and giving gifts is simply a loving way of showing your appreciation to others you love. Sure, many people get in the commercial spirit than the true spirit, but that is no reason to get rid of Christmas or to avoid the holiday.

Your brother did not mention it, but others have complained that Christmas is really pagan because the Christmas tree is pagan. I’ve heard people say that Jeremiah 10:3-5 is a reference to the Christmas tree:

For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”

These people argue that the tree is adorned with silver and gold, a supposed reference to tinsel around a tree. But look carefully at the passage and it will be clear that Jeremiah referred to an idol made out of the tree. A craftsman shaped the tree out of the forest with a chisel. Who has ever seen a craftsman use a chisel to shape a tree into a Christmas tree? Of course not. This is a reference to craftsmen making idols that resembled man and animals, like a scarecrow. Yet Jeremiah says, “They cannot speak and walk.” So obviously this is not a Christmas tree, for Christmas trees do not have mouths and legs.

Reflection on Romans 15:1-13

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+15.1-13

Scripture

Therefore accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.

Observation

We who are strong must always be considerate of those who are sensitive to different issues. We must seek to serve them and build them up.

We must accept our fellow believers just as Christ accepted us. Christ came as a servant for the sake of both Jews and Gentiles.

Application

Accept one another as Christ accepted you.

Accepting can be a loaded word. Do I accept everyone who claims to be a christian? How far do I go in “accepting” them?

We are very good at conditional acceptance. “I accept Anglicans, but…” “I accept charismatics, but…”

We may have doctrinal differences or issues over worship styles with some people. We accept them but with an unspoken condition that they aren’t quite as good as we are. Perhaps we see them as the “weaker believer” that Paul talks about in this chapter.

Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.”

When I was saved, Christ accepted me whole-heartedly. No conditions. No “buts”. Total acceptance.

That means I must accept all christians in that unconditional way. No “A-class” and “B-class” people. They are all “A-class” to Jesus.

When people refuse to accept me because I don’t measure up to their standards, I have to accept them anyway. My responsibility is to receive people as they are. If they are not able to see that they have the same responsibility then that does not let me off the hook. The commandment is unconditional.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I thank you for accepting me into your kingdom. I am not perfect, but that does not stop your love. Help me to treat other people in exactly the same way. Show me those whom I overlook or reject and help me to love them with your love. Amen.

Reflection on Isaiah 11:1-10

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah+11.1-10

Scripture

In that day, the heir to David’s throne

will be a banner of salvation to all the world

The nations will rally to him

and the land where he lives will be a glorious place

Observation

A Branch will come out of the stump of David’s family. The Spirit of the Lord will be on him- the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will give justice to the poor. Even the natural order will be changed so that deadly enemies will live in peace together.

The heir to David’s thrown will be a banner of salvation to all the world.

Application

The great and mighty tree that was the royal line of Judah, the house of David, seemed dead. Like a mighty tree cut down and poisoned, just a stump remained. But, Isaiah says, that stump is going to spring forth a Branch who will bear fruit.

Jesus is the Branch. He is the one who comes out of David’s line bearing the Spirit of the Lord, and judging in righteousness and gentleness, and winning the whole world to His side.

Jesus carries the banner of salvation. He is the banner of salvation. This flag shows how to come back to the Lord. It is a sign of redemption, reconciliation, grace, forgiveness. We were far from God, but now Jesus is this banner, and the whole world rallies to Him looking for the miracle of restoration into the Kingdom of God.

Jesus is our King, a royal conqueror who over comes the world with His grace. What kind of King conquers with love? What kind of King wages peace on His enemies?

King Jesus- the Son of God, Son of David, redeemer of all.

Prayer

Jesus you are my King. No longer a branch growing from a stump, you are the banner of salvation to the nations. All who come to you will be free of the tyranny of sin. Thank you. Amen.