Daily Archives: February 6, 2014

Questions about Creation: What/Where Was the Land of Nod in the Bible?

 

The land of Nod was where Cain settled after he was punished by God for the murder of his brother, Abel (Genesis 4:8). The Bible reads, “Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Genesis 4:16). No one knows where the land of Nod was located, only that it was east of Eden. The Bible does not mention the land of Nod again.

Cain’s settling “east of Eden” implies that he was further removed from the garden than Adam and Eve were. His fate was to live the life of an outsider. The fact that Cain left God’s presence suggests that he lived the rest of his life alienated from God.

The word Nod, in Hebrew, means “wanderer, exile or fugitive.” This corresponds to God’s word to Cain that he would “be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth” (Genesis 4:12). Some Bible scholars have suggested that Nod is not an actual place; rather, the Bible simply means that, wherever Cain went, it could be called the “Land of the Wanderer.”

Though God had driven Cain from his home, it was Cain’s choice to live outside the presence of God. Essentially, Cain’s punishment in becoming a wanderer and a fugitive was to lose all sense of belonging and identification with a community. Living in the “land of Nod,” Cain lived without roots in isolation. For his sin, Cain was made a castaway and later became a godless, hollow person “in the land of Nod.” Upon separating himself from God, Cain built a society totally detached from God. The Bible tells us that the children of Cain followed in his path and established a godless civilization (Genesis 4:16–24).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Holy Spirit: What Is the Spiritual Gift of Mercy?

 

In His Sermon on the Mount, one of Jesus’ beatitudes is “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Mercy means to be led by God to be compassionate in our attitudes, words and actions. It is more than feeling sympathy towards someone; it is love enacted. Mercy desires to answer the immediate needs of others and alleviate suffering, loneliness, and grief. Mercy addresses physical, emotional, financial or spiritual crises with generous, self-sacrificial service. Mercy is a champion of the lowly, poor, exploited, and forgotten, and often acts on their behalf.

A good example of mercy is found in Matthew 20:29–34: “As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’ Jesus stopped and called them. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. ‘Lord,’ they answered, ‘we want our sight.’ Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed Him.” Notice that the blind men associated mercy not with a feeling but with an action. Their physical problem was that they couldn’t see, so to them, the act of mercy was Christ’s intervention to restore their sight. To be merciful is more than a feeling; it is always followed by an action.

This gift has a practical application of active service as well as a responsibility to do so cheerfully (Romans 12:8). Additionally, we are all called to be merciful. Jesus says in Matthew 25:40 that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 5:7 promises mercy to those who are merciful towards others. As spiritually dead and blind sinners, we are no better off than the two blind men in Matthew 20. Just as they were utterly dependent on Christ’s compassion to restore their sight, so are we dependent on Him to “show us His mercy and grant us His salvation” (Psalm 85:7). This bedrock understanding that our hope depends on Christ’s mercy alone and not in any merit of ours should inspire us to follow Christ’s example of compassionate service and show mercy to others as it has been given to us.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Characters in the Bible: What Should We Learn from the Life of Hannah?

 

Hannah was one of two wives of a man named Elkanah who lived “in the hill country of Ephraim” near Shiloh. The other wife of Elkanah, Peninnah, had children, but Hannah had no child. Because of this, Hannah was very grieved. She desperately desired a child but could not conceive. To make matters worse, Peninnah taunted Hannah concerning her barrenness. Although Elkanah loved Hannah and was very kind to her (1 Samuel 1:5, 8), Peninnah’s unkindness on top of her natural grief was too much for Hannah to bear. Hannah cried out to God about her situation. She promised the Lord that if He would give her a son, she would dedicate him to God as a Nazirite (a man set apart to serve God; see Numbers 6:1–8).

While Hannah was earnestly and silently praying, Eli (the priest at the tabernacle) saw her and mistook her distress for drunkenness. He made an ill-advised comment to encourage her to give up drinking, and she corrected his mistake. “I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief,” she told him (1 Samuel 1:16). Hannah then explains her predicament, and Eli says, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” After that, Hannah felt better; she had received God’s promise.

The Lord answered Hannah’s prayer. She bore a son and named him Samuel, whose name means “Asked of God.” When the child was old enough, she kept her promise to the Lord, taking him to Eli and giving him to the Lord to serve in the tabernacle. There, Eli worshiped God along with Hannah. And then Hannah spoke a beautiful prayer, recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1–10.

In Hannah’s prayer, God is presented as the One who helps the weak. Hannah and Peninnah represent the weak and the strong in this world. The strong often mock the weak, but God hears and rescues the Hannahs of the world. Hannah’s prayer addresses the arrogance of the proud, contrasting their haughty words with God’s knowledge, which is vast and far beyond their understanding. “The bows of the mighty are broken,” she says, “but the feeble bind on strength” (verse 4). She begins her prayer with “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord.” Hannah recognized that her strength came from God and not from herself. She was not proud in her strength but rejoiced in God’s ability to make a weakling strong.

Hannah’s story gives us insight into God’s heart. God does not despise human desire. Hannah’s longing for a child was obviously placed in her heart by God Himself. Her husband tries to comfort her, saying in loving exasperation, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” He does not understand why she cannot be content with what she has—namely, him! But Hannah’s desire for a son would not be quenched. She was mocked by Peninnah and rebuked by Eli, but heard by God. God did not chastise her for being discontent. We know that godly contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). But that does not mean that our human desires—even those that overwhelm us with sorrow when they are unmet—are sinful in God’s eyes. He understands our feelings. He knows that “a hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). And He invites us to bring our requests to Him (Philippians 4:6).

Hannah’s story also teaches us that God can use human weakness to accomplish great things. Samuel, Hannah’s son, grew up to be a great man of God—the final judge and the prophet who anointed the first two kings of Israel. But why was Hannah’s story necessary? Why not just start with Samuel in the tabernacle or at the start of his judgeship? Why not simply let him be born to a God-fearing couple and send an angel to tell them to dedicate their son to God? In short, why involve Hannah’s grief? Because God is glorified in Hannah’s story. Her weakness, her trust in God as she turned to Him, the fervency of her desire, and her faithfulness in bringing Samuel to God as promised are all evidences of God working in Hannah’s life. Her tears were ordained to be part of the glorious story of what God was doing in Israel’s history.

Every person experiences desires that will not be quenched and circumstances that cause grief. Many times, we simply do not understand these things. But in the life of Hannah we see that God knows our story from beginning to end, that everything has a purpose, and that trust in Him is never misplaced.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Christian Life: How Can I Learn to Trust that God Is in Control?

 

Before we can learn to trust that God is in control of all of life’s circumstances, we have to answer four questions: Is God really in control? How much control does He have? If He is not in complete control, then who/what is? How can I learn to trust that He is in control and rest in that?

Is God really in control? The concept of the control of God over everything is called the “sovereignty” of God. Nothing gives us strength and confidence like an understanding of the sovereignty of God in our lives. God’s sovereignty is defined as His complete and total independent control over every creature, event, and circumstance at every moment in history. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent, God does what He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases. God is in complete control of every molecule in the universe at every moment, and everything that happens is either caused or allowed by Him for His own perfect purposes.

“The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand’ ” (Isaiah 14:24). Nothing is random or comes by chance, especially not in the lives of believers. He “purposed” it. That means to deliberately resolve to do something. God has resolved to do what He will do and nothing and no one stands in His way. “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” Isaiah 46:10). This is our powerful, purposeful God who is in control of everything. That should bring us great comfort and help to alleviate our fears.

But just exactly how much control does God have? God’s total sovereignty over all creation directly contradicts the philosophy of open theism, which states that God doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the future any more than we do, so He has to constantly be changing His plans and reacting to what the sinful creatures do as they exercise their free will. God isn’t finding out what’s going to happen as events unfold. He is continuously, actively running things—ALL things—here and now. But to think He needs our cooperation, our help, or the exercise of our free will to bring His plans to pass puts us in control over Him, which makes us God. Where have we heard that lie before? It’s a rehash of Satan’s same old lie from the Garden—you shall be like God (Genesis 3:5). Our wills are only free to the extent that God allows us that freedom and no farther. “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’ ” (Daniel 4:35). No one’s free will trumps the sovereignty of God.

Some people find it appealing to think that Satan has control over a certain amount of life, that God is constantly revising His plans to accommodate Satan’s tricks. The book of Job is a clear illustration of just who has the sovereign power and who doesn’t. Satan came to God and in effect said “Job only serves you because you protect him.” So God gave Satan permission to do certain things to Job but no more (Job 1:6–22). Could Satan do more than that? No. God is in control over Satan and his demons who try to thwart God’s plans at every step.

Satan knew from the Old Testament that God’s plan was for Jesus to come to the earth, be betrayed, crucified and resurrected, and provide salvation for millions, and if there was any way to keep that from happening, Satan would have done it. If just one of the hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah could have been caused by Satan to fail to come to pass, the whole thing would have collapsed. But the numbers of independent, “free will” decisions made by thousands of people were designed by God to bring His plan to pass in exactly the way He had planned it from the beginning and Satan couldn’t do a thing about it.

Jesus was “delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). No action by the Romans, the Pharisees, Judas, or anyone else kept God’s plan from unfolding exactly the way He purposed it from before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1 says we were chosen in Him before the world was even created. We were in the mind of God to be saved by faith in Christ. That means God knit together Satan’s rebellion, Adam and Eve’s sin, the fall of the human race, and the death and crucifixion of Christ—all seemingly terrible events—to save us before He created us. Here is a perfect example of God working all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

Unlimited in power, unrivalled in majesty, and not thwarted by anything outside Himself, our God is in complete control of all circumstances, causing or allowing them for His own good purposes and plans to be fulfilled exactly as He has foreordained.

Finally, the only way to trust in God’s sovereign control and rest in it is to know God. Know His attributes, know what He has done in the past, and this builds confidence in Him. Daniel 11:32b says “the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Imagine that kind of power in the hands of an evil, unjust God. Or a god that really doesn’t care about us. But we can rejoice in our God’s sovereignty, because it is overshadowed by His goodness, His love, His mercy, His compassion, His faithfulness, and His holiness.

But we can’t trust someone we don’t know and there is only one way to know God—through His Word. There is no magic formula to make us spiritual giants overnight, no mystical prayer to pray three times a day to mature us, build our faith and make us towers of strength and confidence. There is only the Bible, the single source of power that will change our lives from the inside out. But it takes effort, diligent, everyday effort to know the God who controls everything. If we drink deeply of His Word and let it fill our minds and hearts, the sovereignty of God will become clear to us, and we will rejoice in it because we will know intimately and trust completely the God who controls all things for His perfect purpose.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

The mirage of moral intuition

The refrain: “in those days, everyone did what was right in their own eyes” echoes through the book of Judges. But it also echoes through our culture today. It is a sure sign of our world’s wickedness that it has taken a biblical phrase that expresses a complete surrender to sin, and turned it on its head, as if it were somehow virtuous to try and be a good person by living according to your own standards.

mirage

An often-overlooked element of our culture’s sprint toward Sodom is the world view that people are capable judges of morality. In fact, if you were to ask your average American why they think they will go to heaven (assuming for the sake of argument that it exists), you would hear “because I am a good person.”

The follow up question has to immediately be, “why?” to which you will undoubtedly get the response: “because I try to do what is right,” or some variation therein. Maybe “because I always try to be a good person,” or “I help people,” or, “I live and let live.” But if you are really lucky, you may actually even hear them say, “Because I always do what is right in my own eyes.”

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Depression, Medication, and Biblical Counseling multi-part blog series PDF

Earlier in our BCC Grace & Truth blog series on Biblical Counseling and Depression, we posted Dr. Bob Kellemen’s article, “I’m Thinking about Going to the Doctor for Depression Meds”—What Is a Compassionate, Comprehensive Response? That article by Dr. Kellemen was part of a multi-part blog series he ran at his RPM Ministries blog site Changing Lives. Dr. Kellemen has collated his entire series into a free PDF download. Continue reading →

NoCo: You Can’t Judge a Prophet By His Clothing

3350250103_false_prophets_2_answer_5_xlargeby Hariton Deligiannides, head of the elder board of Bethlehem Bible Church 

The apostolic testimony in Scripture consistently reveals the undercover ops of false prophets.

Acts 20:29-30 – “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

2 Peter 2:1 – “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, ”

Jude 4 – “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Among you. From among your own selves. Secretly. Crept in unnoticed. How can these things be so? Very simple. Because you cannot judge a prophet by his clothing. As our Lord Himself put it,

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”(Matthew 7:15)

Like the wolf who disguised himself as grandma in the children’s classic, Little Red Riding Hood, false prophets disguise themselves in sheep’s clothing.

So what can you judge a false prophet by? Again, as our Lord Himself put it, “You will recognize them by their fruits.”(Matt. 7:16, 20) Let me give you 5 key words that highlight their evil motives and demonic lies.

Joel

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In 19 Minutes, A Team Of Snipers Destroyed 17 Transformers At A Power Station In California

When a real terrorist attack happens, sometimes we don’t hear about it until months afterward (if we ever hear about it at all). For example, did you know that a team of snipers shot up a power station in California? The terrorists destroyed 17 transformers and did so much damage that the power station was shut down for a month. And it only took them 19 minutes of shooting to do it. Of course most Americans have absolutely no idea that this ever happened, because they get their news from the mainstream media. The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at that time says that this was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred”, and yet you won’t hear about it on the big news networks. They are too busy covering the latest breaking news on the Justin Bieber scandal.

And maybe it is good thing that most people don’t know about this. (Read More…)

28 Signs That The Middle Class Is Heading Toward Extinction

The death of the middle class in America has become so painfully obvious that now even the New York Times is doing stories about it. Millions of middle class jobs have disappeared, incomes are steadily decreasing, the rate of homeownership has declined for eight years in a row and U.S. consumers have accumulated record-setting levels of debt. Being independent is at the heart of what it means to be “middle class”, and unfortunately the percentage of Americans that are able to take care of themselves without government assistance continues to decline. In fact, the percentage of Americans that are receiving government assistance is now at an all-time record high. This is not a good thing. Sadly, the number of people on food stamps has increased by nearly 50 percent while Barack Obama has been in the White House, and at this point nearly half the entire country gets money from the government each month. Anyone that tries to tell you that the middle class is going to be “okay” simply has no idea what they are talking about. The following are 28 signs that the middle class is heading toward extinction… Read more

‘Divine wrath of God’ threat on Kerry’s head

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is now being warned he’s risking the divine wrath of God if he continues plans for Israel that some feel is a war against the Almighty. “By the power of our Holy Torah, we admonish you to cease immediately all efforts to achieve these disastrous agreements – in order to avoid severe Heavenly punishment for everyone involved,” a group of Israeli rabbis wrote Kerry in a letter on Sunday. “This is the same type of curse that was put on [former Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon,” Gallups told WND. Last month, Sharon died after spending nine years in a coma.

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GodLife: Outer Beauty and Inner Beauty

Outer Beauty and Inner Beauty

Have you ever seen a really attractive person — someone people can’t help but turn and stare at as they walk by? People with great God-given beauty may make a great impression, but it will be forgotten when the next beautiful person comes along.

Just for You

What kind of career do you feel called to: one where you just make ends meet, or one where your livelihood is another way for you to make an eternal impact? Click the link to learn more about God’s call on your life in our 30-Day Guide.

Personal Help

Do you ever wonder about teaching others about God’s love through Jesus Christ? We have trained followers of Jesus who can help you figure it out! Click here to share your story with us. You will hear from someone shortly.

Prayer Points

Will you pray this week:
• That you will obey God’s calling on your life
• That you will share God’s love with others
• That new believers will share the Gospel daily wherever they go
• That God will help you lead others in His ways
• To thank God for eternal life

GodLife Family

Where can you go online to get daily encouragement and inspiration, and to discuss making disciples? Visit the GodLife Facebook Page where we can gather daily to share our stories, to express ourselves, and to pray for one another!

A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine-16-Assurance and Perseverance

Reformedontheweb's Blog

Assurance and Perseverance

 

1. What is meant by assurance of Salvation?

It is an undoubting conviction of our acceptance in Christ.

2. Do all the people of God attain it?

It is not attained by all.

3. Is not assurance an essential of saving faith?

It is not; doubts and fears assail believers sometimes to the end of life.

4. Is it not desirable to attain this grace?

It is not only very desirable, but we are expressly commanded to seek for it.

5. Do any in whom the work of grace has begun ever finally fall?

They do not.

6. How do we know this?

We learn it from the Scriptures; moreover, salvation is the work of God, who cannot fail in what He undertakes.

7. Do not such persons sometimes fall into grievous sin?

They do; and years may elapse before they are finally rescued therefrom.

8…

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Considering All That Is Lost On Account Of Knowing Christ As Dung

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

8 ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, διʼ ὃν τὰ πάντα ἐζημιώθην, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι σκύβαλα, ἵνα Χριστὸν κερδήσω 9 καὶ εὑρεθῶ ἐν αὐτῷ, μὴ ἔχων ἐμὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου ἀλλὰ τὴν διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ, τὴν ἐκ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει, 10 τοῦ γνῶναι αὐτὸν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν τῆς ἀναστάσεως αὐτοῦ καὶ [τὴν] κοινωνίαν [τῶν] παθημάτων αὐτοῦ, συμμορφιζόμενος τῷ θανάτῳ αὐτοῦ, 11 εἴ πως καταντήσω εἰς τὴν ἐξανάστασιν τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶ. (Philippians 3:8-11 NA28)

8 But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but…

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