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Sunday, January 16, 2022

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, excerpt 109

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post in this series is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. In this excerpt, Murray continues a discussion about persevering prayer. His book is based on Mark 11:22-24.

Our great danger in this school of the answer delayed, is the temptation to think that, after all, it may not be God’s will to give us what we ask. If our prayer be according to God’s word, and under the leading of the Spirit, let us not give way to these fears. Let us learn to give God time. God needs time with us. If we only give Him time, that is, time in the daily fellowship with Himself, for Him to exercise the full influence of His presence on us, and time, day by day, in the course of our being kept waiting, for faith to prove its reality and to fill our whole being, He Himself will lead us from faith to vision; we shall see the glory of God. Let no delay shake our faith. Of faith it holds good: first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. Each believing prayer brings a step nearer the final victory. Each believing prayer helps to ripen the fruit and bring us nearer to it; it fills up the measure of prayer and faith known to God alone; it conquers the hindrances in the unseen world; it hastens the end. Child of God! give the Father time. He is long-suffering over you. He wants the blessing to be rich, and full, and sure; give Him time, while you cry day and night. Only remember the word: ‘I say unto you, He will avenge them speedily.’
The blessing of such persevering prayer is unspeakable. There is nothing so heartsearching as the prayer of faith. It teaches you to discover and confess, and give up everything that hinders the coming of the blessing; everything there may be not in accordance with the Father’s will. It leads to closer fellowship with Him who alone can teach to pray, to a more entire surrender to draw nigh under no covering but that of the blood, and the Spirit. It calls to a closer and more simple abiding in Christ alone. Christian! give God time. He will perfect that which concerneth you. ‘Long-suffering—speedily,’ this is God’s watchword as you enter the gates of prayer: be it yours too.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The "Who" of creation, in the New Testament

The Who of creation, in the New Testament

The Bible says almost nothing about the when, where, how or why of creation. It does tell us about the Who. There are several passages in the New Testament that teach us that God the Son was pre-eminent in creation. Some of them teach that He is holding it together now.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him. Without him, nothing was made that has been made. (Scripture from the World English Bible, public domain)

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created in the heavens and on the earth, visible things and invisible things, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things are held together.

Hebrews 1:1 God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. 3 His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, who, when he had by himself purified us of our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…

Hebrews 11:3 By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible.

Ephesians 3:9 and to make all men see what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ,

Revelation 3 may also point to the Son’s critical role in creation: Revelation 3:14 “To the angel of the assembly in Laodicea write: “The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning* of God’s creation, says these things: …’”

There is evidence, in the creation story, and elsewhere, that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit were also involved in creation, but there’s little or no evidence for that in the New Testament.

*There is a text note in the World English Bible, indicating that “Beginning” may also be taken as Source, or Head. Some other versions have similar text notes.

(The same passage in Revelation, from the NIV: 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation)

Thank you for reading. Honor Christ, creator and sustainer!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Sunspots 866

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:



Finances: FiveThirtyEight discusses the so-called eviction tsumani that didn't happen.

Health: (or something) NPR has 22 tips to use if you want to pass on drinking alcohol.

Gizmodo reports that the COVID vaccination rate in the US is 59th in the world, below all other first-world countries.

Politics: NPR has a discussion of why it's so hard to get some people to reject Donald Trump's false claim that he is the rightful President.

(and Christianity) Relevant has an article distinguishing between Christian Nationalism and following Jesus.

The Dallas Morning News also discusses Christian Nationalism.

Science: Gizmodo reports that it is possible to track animals using DNA fragments in the air around them. This is a non-invasive technique.

Gizmodo also reports that dogs can tell when a person talks in a language they aren't familiar with.

The Scientist reports that 14 new species of shrews have recently been found on the island of Sulawesi, part of Indonesia.

The Scientist also reports that preserved human feces, about 2000 years old, indicate that gut microbial diversity has decreased dramatically, as well as showing what the diet of humans was like, in that time and place.

CNN reports on a large exploding star.

Gizmodo and The Scientist discuss the recent use of a genetically modified pig heart to replace a man's heart. So far, all is going well. 

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, January 09, 2022

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, excerpt 108

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post in this series is hereAs usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. In this excerpt, Murray continues a discussion about persevering prayer. His book is based on Mark 11:22-24.

The insight into this truth leads the believer to cultivate the corresponding dispositions: patience and faith, waiting and hasting, are the secret of his perseverance. By faith in the promise of God, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him. Faith takes and holds the answer in the promise, as an unseen spiritual possession, rejoices in it, and praises for it. But there is a difference between the faith that thus holds the word and knows that it has the answer, and the clearer, fuller, riper faith that obtains the promise as a present experience. It is in persevering, not unbelieving, but confident and praising prayer, that the soul grows up into that full union with its Lord in which it can enter upon the possession
of the blessing in Him. There may be in these around us, there may be in that great system of being of which we are part, there may be in God’s government, things that have to be put right through our prayer, ere the answer can fully come: the faith that has, according to the command, believed that it has received, can allow God to take His time: it knows it has prevailed and must prevail. In quiet, persistent, and determined perseverance it continues in prayer and thanksgiving until the blessing come. And so we see combined what at first sight appears so contradictory; the faith that rejoices in the answer of the unseen God as a present possession, with the patience that cries day and night until it be revealed. The 
speedily of God’s long-suffering is met by the triumphant but patient faith of His waiting child.

Thursday, January 06, 2022

What Christianity is for, as opposed to against.

 


A Facebook friend of mine posted that she got complaints that Christians are just against things (and perhaps people). I decided to summarize, briefly, the things Christians are FOR. The chart could easily be expanded, of course.

If you can make use of the graphic, help yourself -- no attribution needed.

The text version of the graphic is this:

Christianity is often said to be against certain things. That is true. It's against evil. But true Christianity is FOR being like Christ, and FOR other things, such as:

Freedom from the guilt that comes from wrong-doing. 

The worth of every person, regardless of ethnicity, age, sex, intelligence or economic status.

Enjoyment of what God has made possible, such as unselfish Christian love; joy; humor; beauty of form, sound and ideas; and creativity.

Care for others, and for the environment.

Belonging to a fellowship of other believers.

Christians have made many mistakes, including condoning slavery, and the Crusades. But Christians have also done many positive things, now and throughout history, such as caring for the sick, educating, fighting slavery, and elevating the status of women. Many of the most important scientists and artists have been Christians.

Thanks for looking and reading.

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Sunspots 865

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:


Computing
: Gizmodo tells us that an 8K TV may not show a picture any better than a 4K one.

Environment: Listverse discusses wildlife bridges, which are supposed to make it much less dangerous for animals to move around in populated areas.

Health: (and Politics) Gizmodo describes the worst COVID lies on Fox News, 2021.

Science: Gene editing has worked, on a case of sickle-cell anemia, according to NPR.

Gizmodo reports on the discovery of parasite eggs in a toilet used about 2700 years ago.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, excerpt 107

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post in this series is hereAs usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. In this excerpt, Murray continues a discussion about persevering prayer. His book is based on Mark 11:22-24.

But why, if this be true and His power be infinite, does it often last so long with the answer to prayer? And why must God’s own elect so often, in the midst of suffering and conflict, cry day and night? ‘He is long-suffering over them.’ ‘Behold! the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being long-suffering over it, till it receive the early and the latter rain.’ The husbandman does indeed long for his harvest, but knows that it must have its full time of sunshine and rain, and has long patience. A child so often wants to pick the half-ripe fruit; the husbandman knows to wait till the proper time. Man, in his spiritual nature too, is under the law of gradual growth that reigns in all created life. It is only in the path of development that he can reach his divine destiny. And it is the Father, in whose hands are the times and seasons, who alone knows the moment when the soul or the Church is ripened to that fulness of faith in which it can really take and keep the blessing. As a father who longs to have his only child home from school, and yet waits patiently till the time of training is completed, so it is with God and His children: He is the long-suffering One, and answers speedily.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

More on the firmament

 Job 37:18 Can you, with him, spread out the sky,
 which is strong as a cast metal mirror? (World English Bible, public domain)

Job 37:18 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong,
and as a molten looking glass? (King James)


II. That he had no share at all in the first making of the world (v. 18): "Hast thou with him spread out the sky? Thou canst not pretend to have stretched it out without him, no, nor to have stretched it out in conjunction with him; for he was far from needing any help either in contriving or in working." The creation of the vast expanse of the visible heavens (Gen. 1:6-8), which we see in being to this day, is a glorious instance of the divine power, considering,
1. That, though it is fluid, yet it is firm. It is strong, and has its name from its stability. It still is what it was, and suffers no decay, nor shall the ordinances of heaven be altered till the lease expires with time.
2. That, though it is large, it is bright and most curiously fine: It is a molten looking-glass, smooth and polished, and without the least flaw or crack. In this, as in a looking-glass, we may behold the glory of God and the wisdom of his handy work, Ps. 19:1. When we look up to heaven above we should remember it is a mirror or looking-glass, not to show us our own faces, but to be a faint representation of the purity, dignity, and brightness of the upper world and its glorious inhabitants.

- Matthew Henry's commentary, 1708-10, on Job. (Newton's Principia was published in 1687. I don't know if Henry was familiar with its ideas of the structure of the solar system, but he doesn't seem to have used them, if he did. We don't, always, either. We still speak as if the sun rose and set, when it really doesn't.)

A web site defending inerrancy attempts, with some success, to eliminate some of the difficulties suggested above. However, it seems to me that the best way to deal with passages like that above is to suppose that God, who knows how things really work, simply allowed the views of people who knew (or know) only partly to be represented in the Bible. For example, take this excerpt:

Job 38:31 “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loosen the cords of Orion? 32 Can you lead the constellations out in their season? Or can you guide the Bear with her cubs? 33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you establish its dominion over the earth? (World English Bible)

We now know that the constellations, such as the ones mentioned above, are composed of stars (or galaxies that look like stars to the naked eye) that are far apart, and at varying distances from us. Orion, for example, has parts that are about 26 light years away, and other parts that are several thousand light years away. God knew all of that, and more, but Job didn't. God used the ideas of the time, incorrect as they were, to teach Job, without correcting Job's view of astronomy. Job wasn't meant as an astronomy text. No doubt we have some seriously incorrect views of nature, too.

Thanks for reading!

Sunspots 864

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:

The Arts: A BBC report (about 3 minutes long, video) on some amazing paper folding.

Christianity: Singer Mariah Carey insists that she is NOT the queen of Christmas. Mary is.

Relevant is not happy with Christians who think that there is a so-called "war on Christmas."

Education: (or something) NPR discusses the significance and history of piñatas.

Environment: Gizmodo reports that Halliburton, a large corporation, claims to have lost important evidence related to two different massive fuel leaks.

Health: NPR discusses mask types, with recommendations.

Science: Gizmodo reports on a study that found a hundred or more "rogue planets." (A rogue planet is one that doesn't orbit a sun/star.

Gizmodo also reports that the ivory-billed woodpecker seems to be extinct.

Edward O. Wilson, perhaps the most influential biologist of the 20th Century, passed away recently. 

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, excerpt 106

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post in this series is hereAs usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. In this excerpt, Murray continues a discussion about persevering prayer. His book is based on Mark 11:22-24.

To enable us, when the answer to our prayer does not come at once, to combine quiet patience and joyful confidence in our persevering prayer, we must specially try to understand the two words in which our Lord sets forth the character and conduct, not of the unjust judge, but of our God and Father towards those whom He allows to cry day and night to Him: ‘He is long-suffering over them; He will avenge them speedily.’

He will avenge them speedily, the Master says. The blessing is all prepared; He is not only willing but most anxious to give them what they ask; everlasting love burns with the longing desire to reveal itself fully to its beloved, and to satisfy their needs. God will not delay one moment longer than is absolutely necessary; He will do all in His power to hasten and speed the answer.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Sunspots 863

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:




The Arts: Relevant says that Denzel Washington, as a movie director, starts each work day with prayer. Good for him!

Christianity: Relevant reports on various city ordinances prohibiting feeding the homeless, or making it difficult to do so.

Christianity Today reports on a study that found that (surprise!) people stay away from church when it rains, and also commit more crimes when it rains, and they aren't in church.

Environment: Gizmodo reports that some bacteria seem to be breaking down plastics in the ocean, for food.

Finances: NPR reports that people living in mobile home parks are having their homes taken away, and that US government agencies are facilitating this process.

Politics: The Coal miners' union thinks Joe Manchin should have supported the Build Back Better bill, according to Gizmodo.

Pornography (There are no photos of pornography in the article(s)) linked here): Relevant writes about Billie Eilish, who was addicted to pornography as a child, and discusses women being addicted to pornography.

Science: Gizmodo reports that scientists have had some success in transplanting a pig's organ into a human.

NPR reports that a large eagle from Asia has been flying around North America for nearly a year.

Sports: FiveThirtyEight reports on new ways of tracking all sorts of data during basketball games.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, excerpt 105

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post in this series is hereAs usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. In this excerpt, Murray continues a discussion about persevering prayer. His book is based on Mark 11:22-24.

‘And He spake a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint. . . . And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry to Him day and night, and He is long-suffering over them? I say unto you, that He will avenge them speedily.’—Luke xviii. 1-8.
OF all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need of persevering prayer is one of the greatest. That the Lord, who is so loving and longing to bless, should have to be supplicated time after time, sometimes year after year, before the answer comes, we cannot easily understand. It is also one of the greatest practical difficulties in the exercise of believing prayer.
When, after persevering supplication, our prayer remains unanswered, it is often easiest for our slothful flesh, and it has all the appearance of pious submission, to think that we must now cease praying, because God may have His secret reason for withholding His answer to our request. It is by faith alone that the difficulty is overcome. When once faith has taken its stand upon God’s word, and the Name of Jesus, and has yielded itself to the leading of the Spirit to seek God’s will and honour alone in its prayer, it need not be discouraged by delay. It knows from Scripture that the power of believing prayer is simply irresistible; real faith can never be disappointed. It knows how, just as water, to exercise the irresistible power it can have, must be gathered up and accumulated, until the stream can come down in full force, there must often be a heaping up of prayer, until God sees that the measure is full, and the answer comes. It knows how, just as the ploughman has to take his ten thousand steps, and sow his ten thousand seeds, each one a part of the preparation for the final harvest, so there is a need-be for oft-repeated persevering prayer, all working out some desired blessing. It knows for certain that not a single believing prayer can fail of its effect in heaven, but has its influence, and is treasured up to work out an answer in due time to him who persevereth to the end. It knows that it has to do not with human thoughts or possibilities, but with the word of the living God. And so even as Abraham through so many years ‘in hope believed against hope,’ and then ‘through faith
and patience inherited the promise,’ it counts that the long-suffering of the Lord is salvation, waiting and hasting unto the coming of its Lord to fulfil His promise.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Sunspots 862

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:



Christianity: Christianity Today reports on a survey that indicates that most Americans don't believe that Christ existed before His birth.

Relevant on why many Christians do not follow the Biblical mandate to care for the poor.

Environment: Gizmodo summarizes the ways in which oil companies have controlled our thinking and actions.

NPR reports that temperature records have recently been broken, all over the earth.

Finances: Gizmodo describes a study that indicates that Lego sets are a better investment than gold or stocks.

Health: Gizmodo reports that a court decision has caused county health departments in Missouri to stop all work, and all restrictions, related to COVID.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight analyzes Donald Trump's endorsements. He's endorsing more people earlier, and, in some cases, endorsed Republican challengers to a Republican incumbent.

Science: Astronomers have discovered a very large planet in a nearby solar system, according to Gizmodo.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading.

 

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Firmament of the Hebrews

The Blue Letter Bible says the following about the Hebrew word firmament, which occurs first in Genesis 1:6, and again in Genesis 1:14: (quotation in this color)

The KJV translates Strong's H7549 in the following manner: firmament (17x).

Outline of Biblical Usage

    extended surface (solid), expanse, firmament

        expanse (flat as base, support)

        firmament (of vault of heaven supporting waters above)

            considered by Hebrews as solid and supporting 'waters' above

            Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

            רָקִיעַ râqîyaʻ, raw-kee'-ah; from H7554; properly, an expanse, i.e. the firmament or (apparently) visible arch of the sky


The same Hebrew word occurs several times in Genesis 1, and also in Psalm 19:1 and Psalm 150:1. It is repeated 4 times in Ezekiel 1, and also in Ezekiel 10:1 and Daniel 12:3.

Based on the Blue Letter Bible excerpt, the ancient Hebrews believed that there was a firmament, a structure of some kind, that held up the waters in the sky. Here are some more statements of that belief, from the Wikipedia:

In biblical cosmology, the firmament is the vast solid dome created by God on the second day to divide the primal sea (called tehom) into upper and lower portions so that the dry land could appear.

The Hebrews believed the sky was a solid dome with the Sun, Moon, planets and stars embedded in it.[9] According to The Jewish Encyclopedia:

The Hebrews regarded the earth as a plain or a hill figured like a hemisphere, swimming on water. Over this is arched the solid vault of heaven. To this vault are fastened the lights, the stars. So slight is this elevation that birds may rise to it and fly along its expanse.

No structure of this kind exists, as far as we know, and the earth is not the center of the universe or the solar system. That doesn't mean that the Bible is wrong. It was just written from the world view of the people who wrote it, and the culture of those who read it. They had a mistaken view of the solar system. We still say that the sun rises and sets, but it doesn't really. The earth rotates. But we aren't wrong if we say it does, and our literature and common discourse use "sunrise" and "sunset." We write and speak from our world view. So did the authors and original recipients of the Bible.

Thanks for reading.


Note added, December 23, 2021:

Joel Edmund Anderson, who firmly believes that Genesis 1-11 was not meant to be taken literally, says that he is not convinced that the ancient Hebrews believed in an actual physical firmament.


Sunday, December 12, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, excerpt 104

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post in this series is hereAs usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. In this excerpt, Murray continues a discussion about persevering prayer. His book is based on Mark 11:22-24.

Let it be thus whether you pray for yourself, or for others. All labour, bodily or mental, needs time and effort: we must give up ourselves to it. Nature discovers her secrets and yields her treasures only to diligent and thoughtful labour. However little we can understand it, in the spiritual husbandry it is the same: the seed we sow in the soil of heaven, the efforts we put forth, and the influence we seek to exert in the world above, need our whole being:
we must
give ourselves to prayer. But let us hold fast the great confidence, that in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

And let us specially learn the lesson as we pray for the Church of Christ. She is indeed as the poor widow, in the absence of her Lord, apparently at the mercy of her adversary, helpless to obtain redress. Let us, when we pray for His Church or any portion of it, under the power of the world, asking Him to visit her with the mighty workings of His Spirit and to prepare her for His coming, let us pray in the assured faith: prayer does help, praying always and not fainting will bring the answer. Only give God time. And then keep crying day and night. ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry to Him day and night, and He is long-suffering over them. I say unto you, He will avenge them speedily.’