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Sunday, March 29, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, 27

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 is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.

'Ask, and it shall be given you'
Or, The Certainty of the Answer to Prayer.

‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened,’—Matt. vii. 7, 8.
‘Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss.’—Jas. iv. 3.

OUR Lord returns here in the Sermon on the Mount a second time to speak of prayer. The first time He had spoken of the Father who is to be found in secret, and rewards openly, and had given us the pattern prayer (Matt. vi. 5-15).  Here He wants to teach us what in all Scripture is considered the chief thing in prayer:  the assurance that prayer will be heard and answered.  Observe how He uses words which mean almost the same thing, and each time repeats the promise so distinctly: ‘Ye shall receive, ye shall find, it shall be opened unto you;’ and then gives as ground for such assurance the law of the kingdom:  ‘He that asketh, receiveth; he that seeketh, findeth; to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.’  We cannot but feel how in this sixfold repetition He wants to impress deep on our minds this one truth, that we may and must most confidently expect an answer to our prayer.  Next to the revelation of the Father’s love, there is, in the whole course of the school of prayer, not a more important lesson than this:  Every one that asketh, receiveth.


In the three words the Lord uses, ask, seek, knock, a difference in meaning has been sought.  If such was indeed His purpose, then the first, ASK, refers to the gifts we pray for. But I may ask and receive the gift without the Giver.  SEEK is the word Scripture uses of God Himself; Christ assures me that I can find Himself.  But it is not enough to find God in time of need, without coming to abiding fellowship:  KNOCK speaks of admission to dwell with Him and in Him.  Asking and receiving the gift would thus lead to seeking and finding the Giver, and this again to the knocking and opening of the door of the Father’s home and love.  One thing is sure:  the Lord does want us to count most  certainly on it that asking, seeking, knocking, cannot be in vain:  receiving an answer, finding God, the opened heart and home of God, are the certain fruit of prayer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Sunspots 773


Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: Relevant tells us about St. Patrick.

Relevant also tells us some things to remember when we get anxious.


Computing: Gizmodo compares several streaming services.

Finance: FiveThirtyEight tells us that the restaurant business is hurting badly, and gives state-by-state data. Restaurant employees, or suddenly laid off workers, are hurting even worse.

Health: Lifehacker tells us why we shouldn't name diseases after locations.

The virus is everywhere! Grammarphobia tells us what "deadly" means.

Politics: (and Health and Finance) Gizmodo reports on some Senators who may have had advance warning of a stock market collapse, and who sold stock before the panic set in.


(and Health and Education) Relevant reports that a Liberty University professor has openly criticized Jerry Falwell, head of the University, for his bizarre theories on the origin of COVID-19, and for requiring employees to work on campus. Here's more on that same story, from later, also from Relevant, which may explain Falwell's actions, at least to some extent.


Science: The Scientist reports that some beetle larvae are able to live and grow on polystyrene, a plastic. This may mean that there is hope for getting out from under the load of plastic we are adding to the environment.

The Scientist also reports on the skull of a very tiny dinosaur, preserved in amber.

Gizmodo reports on NASA's detailed photographs of an asteroid that is scheduled to be landed on, sampled, and have the samples returned to earth.

FiveThirtyEight describes how COVID-19 tests actually work.

Sports: March Madness, sort of. FiveThirtyEight describes the women's NCAA basketball tournament that wasn't.

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

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray, 26

This is the final excerpt from Murray's discussion of the Lord's Prayer:

‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’  Our daily bread, the pardon of our sins, and then our being kept from all sin and the power of the evil one, in these three petitions all our personal need is comprehended.  The prayer for bread and pardon must be accompanied by the surrender to live in all things in holy obedience to the Father’s will, and the believing prayer in everything to be kept by the power of the indwelling Spirit from the power of the evil one. Children of God! it is thus Jesus would have us to pray to the Father in heaven.  O let His Name, and Kingdom, and Will, have the first place in our love; His providing, and pardoning, and keeping love will be our sure portion.  So the prayer will lead us up to the true child-life:  the Father all to the child, the Father all for the child.  We shall understand how Father and child, the Thine and the Our, are all one, and how the heart that begins its prayer with the God-devoted THINE, will have the power in faith to speak out the OUR too.  Such prayer will, indeed, be the fellowship and interchange of love, always bringing us back in trust and worship to Him who is not only the Beginning but the End:  ‘FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER, AMEN.’  Son of the Father, teach us to pray, ‘OUR FATHER.’

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 is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Sunspots 772


Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:


Christianity: (And Politics) Christianity Today reports on a survey that indicates that most white evangelicals do not like the President's behavior, but do like some of the policies that he has pushed. 

Christianity Today reports that regular church-goers are less likely to perceive the threat of the COVID-19 virus.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware reports on a site that helps you be really private when on-line.

Listverse tells us about 10 flaws of the Wikipedia. (I still use it)l
 
Health: (or something) Listverse debunks some myths about washing your clothes.

A COVID19 tracker, that gives numbers of those testing positive and negative in each state, and the numbers of deaths.

(and Politics) Relevant reports that Jerry Falwell, head of Liberty University, believes that the recent virus outbreak was caused deliberately by North Korea, and maybe China, or was a politically motivated attempt to bring down President Trump. The Scientist, on the other hand, reports that at least one Chinese official says that the US started the spread of the disease in China. (President Trump has also complained about this action by some part of the Chinese establishment.)

History: Gizmodo reports on recent discoveries related to ritualistic sports, involving a court, and a rubber ball, in Mesomerica.

Relevant reports that Martin Luther had some good advice for communities threatened with a pandemic.

Science: The Scientist reports that some beetle larvae are able to live and grow on polystyrene, a plastic. This may mean that there is hope for getting out from under the load of plastic we are adding to the environment.

The Scientist also reports on the skull of a very tiny dinosaur, preserved in amber.

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

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, 24

This is another excerpt from Murray's discussion of the Lord's Prayer. God willing, there will be another excerpt from this discussion, posted next Sunday:

‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’  As bread is the first need of the body, so forgiveness for the soul.  And the provision for the one is as sure as for the other.  We are children but sinners too; our right of access to the Father’s presence we owe to the precious blood and the forgiveness it has won for us.  Let us beware of the prayer for forgiveness becoming a formality:  only what is really confessed is really forgiven.  Let us in faith accept the forgiveness as promised:  as a spiritual reality, an actual transaction between God and us, it is the entrance into all the Father’s love and all the privileges of children. Such forgiveness, as a living experience, is impossible without a forgiving spirit to others: as forgiven expresses the heavenward, so forgiving the earthward, relation of God’s child. In each prayer to the Father I must be able to say that I know of no one whom I do not heartily love.

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 is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Sunspots 771

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to
someone else:

Christianity: Relevant reports on a study that showed that graduates of Christian colleges care more about others, and less about making money, than graduates of secular universities.

Relevant also tells us about 4 things that Jesus never said, but that He is often, er, said to have said.

And a Relevant writer says that Christianity isn't just a relationship, but it's a religion.

And Relevant interviews Eugene Cho, new leader of Bread for the World. Cho has a lot to say about Christians and politics.

He Lives reminds us that not everything created on day six was good.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware suggests a program that will help you recover log-ins and product keys.

Politics: (sort of) Gizmodo reports that adding more lanes to highways increases highway congestion.

(and Christianity) Relevant reports that President Trump, once more, disputes Christ's teachings about dealing with one's enemies.


Science: (and Health) NPR reports that gene repair on a person (not on a cell culture), to cure a specific disease, has been attempted.

NPR also reports that global warming is affecting grasshoppers, and that may be a warning for the rest of us.

Gizmodo reports that there may be an explanation for dark matter, and that the explanation involves newly conceived configurations of quarks.

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

Thanks for looking!

Monday, March 09, 2020

Was the original creation perfect?

Many Christians believe that the creation was perfect before the Fall. Perhaps. But the Bible doesn't really say that.

A search for the Hebrew word meaning "perfect," in the Blueletter Bible, from the King James Version, results in 91 instances, in 85 verses. (If anyone needs reminding, the Old Testament was mostly in Hebrew, and the New Testament was mostly in Greek, so searching for a Hebrew word doesn't result in any New Testament occurrences.) The first three instances of "perfect" are as follows: The superscript, and/or link, right after the word, perfect, below, is a link to the results of the broader search.

 Gen 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect H8549 in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

 Gen 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfectH8549

 Exo 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, H8549 a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

These three instances refer to the attitudes of two humans, servants of God, and to an animal sacrifice. Most of the uses of perfect in the Old Testament are like these.

A search for "good" also gives results. The first occurrences are in Genesis 1-3, about some aspect of created entities -- "behold, it was good," or "it was very good."

Then, there are the next two occurrences, one of which is translated into a different English word, rather than good:

Gen 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; H2896 and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Gen 15:15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good H2896 old age.

One of these is a description of female attractiveness, and one is related to living a good, long life.

However attractive a woman might be, or, actually, several women, it is hard to believe that they were all perfect, or perfectly attractive. Close, maybe, but not perfect. And it is difficult to believe that a good, long life (Abraham's is the one in Genesis 15) was perfect. He was a good man, an example of faith, but he made some mistakes, and fell short of perfection. He allowed his wife to talk him into siring a child with a servant girl, and he lied to other men, saying that Sarah wasn't his wife, when she was. Most likely, there were other failings, not mentioned specifically in the Bible. His life was good, not perfect.

The word perfect is not used in describing the created world. Rather, "good," or "very good," is found in the first part of Genesis. I checked the translations of Genesis 1:31, which summarizes God's creative activity, and none of the English versions of the Bible use the word, perfect, which, as shown above, was used in other places in the Old Testament. They all use very good.

For this, and other reasons, it appears that saying that the world, as created, was perfect, is reading something into scripture that isn't there.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, 23

This is another excerpt from Murray's discussion of the Lord's Prayer. God willing, there will be more excerpts from this discussion later:

‘Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.’  This petition is too frequently applied alone to the suffering of the will of God. In heaven God’s will is done, and the Master teaches the child to ask that the will may be done on earth just as in heaven:  in the spirit of adoring submission and ready obedience.  Because the will of God is the glory of heaven, the doing of it is the blessedness of heaven.  As the will is done, the kingdom of heaven comes into the heart.  And wherever faith has accepted the Father’s love, obedience accepts the Father’s will.  The surrender to, and the prayer for a life of heaven-like obedience, is the spirit of childlike prayer.

‘Give us this day our daily bread.’  When first the child has yielded himself to the Father in the care for His Name, His Kingdom, and His Will, he has full liberty to ask for his daily bread.  A master cares for the food of his servant, a general of his soldiers, a father of his child.  And will not the Father in heaven care for the child who has in prayer given himself up to His interests?  We may indeed in full confidence say:  Father, I live for Thy honour and Thy work; I know Thou carest for me.  Consecration to God and His will gives wonderful liberty in prayer for temporal things:  the whole earthly life is given to the Father’s loving care.


This post continues what is intended to be 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 is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Sunspots 770


Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:


Christianity: Christianity Today has posted an annotated list of important African-American theologians.


And a Christianity Today writer discusses her same-sex attraction.


Relevant reports that church membership is related to age -- older people are more likely to be members, and that a substantial minority of Christians are going to more than one church.


Computing: Gizmo's Freeware points us to thousands of sounds that can be used freely.
 
Environment: (And Christianity) A good article in Relevant on why Christians care for the environment.Health: Joel Duff has been thinking about the so-called Corona virus, and doubts that the US response is sufficient.

Politics: Relevant reports on a study that shows President Trump's popularity is significantly less among women.

Science: There's an article in New Scientist, stating that earth has acquired another moon, which is about the size of a car.

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

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Answers in Genesis believes in evolution, although it's reluctant to use that word

Lest there be any doubt, Answers in Genesis (AiG) believes in evolution, although it is reluctant to use that word: A museum exhibit about the processes associated with “natural selection” and “speciation” throws much light on such questions. Noah actually only needed about 16,000 animals on the Ark to represent all the distinct kinds of land-dwelling animals. The above quote was taken from an AiG source, and is part of the explanation as to how the ark could have held enough animals to become so many species. How? because natural selection after the flood led to abundant speciation!

If natural selection and speciation aren't part of evolution, in fact most of it, I'm not sure what evolution means. Darwin's book title began like this: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection... See here for more on AiG's proposals on how so many animal types came to be.

See here for unrelated problems with the AiG source, which is an attempt to portray the scope of human history.

Added May 19, 2020:
For more on proposed rapid speciation, from AiG and other Young-Earth Creationists, see here.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray, 22

This is another excerpt from Murray's discussion of the Lord's Prayer. God willing, there will be more excerpts from this discussion later:

‘Hallowed be Thy name.’ What name? This new name of Father. The word Holy is the central word of the Old Testament; the name Father of the New. In this name of Love all the holiness and glory of God are now to be revealed.  And how is the name to be hallowed?
By God Himself: ‘I will hallow My great name which ye have profaned.’ Our prayer must be that in ourselves, in all God’s children, in presence of the world, God Himself would reveal the holiness, the Divine power, the hidden glory of the name of Father.  The Spirit of the Father is the Holy Spirit: it is only when we yield ourselves to be led of Him, that the name will be hallowed in our prayers and our lives. Let us learn the prayer: ‘Our Father, hallowed be Thy name.’


‘Thy kingdom come.’  The Father is a King and has a kingdom.  The son and heir of a king has no higher ambition than the glory of his father’s kingdom.  In time of war or danger this becomes his passion; he can think of nothing else.  The children of the Father are here in the enemy’s territory, where the kingdom, which is in heaven, is not yet fully manifested.
What more natural than that, when they learn to hallow the Father-name, they should long and cry with deep enthusiasm:  ‘Thy kingdom come.’  The coming of the kingdom is the one great event on which the revelation of the Father’s glory, the blessedness of His children, the salvation of the world depends.  On our prayers too the coming of the kingdom waits. Shall we not join in the deep longing cry of the redeemed:  ‘Thy kingdom come’?  Let us learn it in the school of Jesus.


This post continues what is intended to be 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 is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.