Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | September 7, 2018

The Facts of Life Explained

Understanding what it’s all about!

There are several key facts of life that are important enough to warrant some serious thought; I’ll list some of those facts here.

Fact # 1

We, and the entire universe in which we exist are all created and continually sustained by the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Second Person of God, the Holy Trinity.

Fact # 2

We have all descended from one man, Adam, who died spiritually when he disobeyed God and caused the spiritual death of all his descendents.

Fact # 3

Every human being born of a human father has been born spiritually dead, most specifically including you and me, and there was nothing whatsoever we could do to change that fact.

Fact # 4

The Lord Jesus Christ took on human form and was born of a virgin, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so he might die as a substitute for all who will receive him as Savior.

Fact # 5

After rising from the dead, the Lord Jesus Christ returned to heaven and God, the Holy Spirit, came to earth to create a new race of men by bringing their dead spirits to life by a new spiritual birth and then joining with them in an eternal union of God and man for all who receive Christ as Savior.

Fact # 6

Since that time two distinct classes of mankind have existed; those born-again, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, made spiritually alive, have God as their spiritual father, and indwelt by God, the Holy Spirit, versus those who have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, are still spiritually dead with Adam remaining their spiritual father.

Fact # 7

We now live in a time of God’s grace wherein God is assembling a family for himself; this time will close when all the members of God’s family are called home.

Fact # 8

After the family is removed from the earth God’s judgments will follow; if they were not cut short no flesh would survive. By God’s grace a remnant will survive who receive Christ as Savior and join him in the 1,000 year kingdom to come, along with all who have been resurrected. 

Fact # 9

After the 1,000 years have passed, all who have rejected Christ will be resurrected, judged at the Great White Throne Judgment and condemned to the Lake of Fire for all eternity.

Fact # 10

Those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be joined with God in an eternal relationship in the new heaven and the new earth.

These are some important facts of life; may the Holy Spirit bless and guide you as you think on them.

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | August 27, 2018

Thinking Again on the Eternal Security of the Believer, concluded

Our Universe is Totally Amazing!

Last time we considered how distinctly different the Bible is from conventional human wisdom and reason; it looks at life and living from a point of view that is virtually unrecognizable to human thought. We saw how God took steps to redeem his creation that included the establishment of a completely new human race unlike any that had existed before; a humanity that possessed a living spirit and was indwelt by God. God had truly begun his process of conforming his new creation to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ!

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Romans 8: 28-30

Now let us look at the situation we face as born-again Christians who must live out their mortal lives on a spiritual battlefield called Earth. While God is in the process of conforming us to the image of his Son, I think we’ll all agree we have a long way to go!

GOD KNOWS US BETTER THAN WE KNOW OURSELVES

As painfully aware of our failures as we might be, God knows our failures even better and in spite of all of them has sent His Son to die in our place and pay for all of our sins past, present and future.

In Romans 5:8 the apostle writes: “But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is at this point that the confusion about sin begins in the minds of many.

When we think of being sinners our minds review the committed sins of which we have been guilty over the course of our lives. The knowledge of those sins can all too easily haunt us as our minds replay those events of rebellion and transgression against God.

Are our personal sins the sort of thing the Holy Spirit had in mind as He inspired Paul to write those words? I think not because a few verses later He led Paul to explain the primary reason Christ died on the cross.

THE FEDERAL HEADSHIP OF ADAM

Mankind truly has a big problem with sin, but it is not the sins of commission or omission which so quickly come to our minds; it is rather the sin of being a human being; it is the sin of being a descendent of Adam. I have written more on this in a two-part series which starts with “In Search of Truth Part 1, the Nature of Sin.”

In Romans 5:12 the apostle writes: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.” In the following verses Paul goes on to explain what is called the doctrine of the federal headship of Adam. Adam, as the first man had within him all who would be born subsequently into the human race. When Adam sinned against a direct command from God, he died spiritually and all who would be born of a human father died at the same time.

What this teaches is that both you and I and everyone who was to later be born died spiritually in Adam in the Garden of Eden! This is God’s primary charge against the human race and the main reason Christ died on the cross.

There is absolutely nothing you can do or undo that would change that one fact, you are a human descendant of Adam’s race and you spiritually died in Adam in the Garden.

TWO DISTINCT TYPES OF HUMANITY

As I mentioned last time, the earth today is inhabited by two distinct types of human beings; those who are spiritually alive and indwelt by God, the Holy Spirit, and those who are spiritually dead. Spiritual life comes only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. In Ephesians 2:1 Paul writes: “And you hath he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins;” spiritual life came with salvation and only salvation and the second birth can provide spiritual life.

These then are the issues at play when one accepts the saving work of the Lord as their payment for sin. The Lord Jesus Christ as our kinsman redeemer has paid the price necessary for our redemption from Adam’s transgression. We have received the gift of spiritual life in Christ Jesus, our Lord, and eternally joined with God, the Holy Spirit in an unbreakable union for all of time and eternity!

Where then does personal sin enter the picture? With regard to the believer’s eternal place in God’s family it is irrelevant; with regard to the Spirit led life it is critical. In I John 1:8-10 John writes: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

The good news there is God hears us when we confess our sins to Him and is also faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Confession of our sins before God restores the power of God the Holy Spirit in our lives and permits us the privilege of enjoying the fruit of the spirit as described in Galatians 5:22f. Remember, the new birth and salvation are a matter of faith alone, not of works; forgiveness of personal sin is likewise a matter of faith alone, not of works!

The motivator for resisting sin should not be fear of losing our salvation which is impossible, but rather our devotion to and love for the Lord Jesus Christ and our sincere desire to please the one who died in our place!

With regard to our salvation there is nothing whatsoever that can separate us from the love of God; in Romans 8: 38-39 Paul writes: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

With this you, as a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, can know beyond any doubt that your place in God’s family is preserved eternally by the mighty power of God. Rejoice in your good fortune and give thanks to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Christians have an obligation to the family to behave in a manner that brings honor to the family; as an eternal being, inseparably joined with God, the Holy Spirit, you have an obligation to live your life as a representative of the family with the honor and respect due to your heavenly Father!

Noblesse Oblige

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | August 20, 2018

Thinking Again on the Eternal Security of the Believer

The Bible

The narrative found in the Bible does not follow traditional human perspectives on life and living; it is as if it was written by someone under the influence of an outside source who saw things from an entirely different point of view. It presents a scenario which seems entirely contrary to human reason and logic; the whole concept of sin and redemption being a case in point.

The primary message of the Bible involves only two men, Adam and Christ, the only two men who had God as their father; everything else that happens is simply the results of the actions of one of those two. The first man, Adam, failed by disobeying a direct command of God thereby causing his own spiritual death and the spiritual death of every descendent that would subsequently be born of a human father. The second man, Christ, was fathered by God, the Holy Spirit, and was the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity.

This time, God would come himself in the form of a created human man and take the necessary steps to redeem his fallen creation, steps which would include the painful death of his mortal human body on the cross and the unimaginable agony of becoming sin for all mankind, past, present and future.

A Wild Scenario

Now, for a moment, be honest with yourself; there is no man who could have dreamed up such a wild scenario; the creator of the universe coming as a servant to suffer and die in order to redeem his creation? Let’s face it, this is outside the realm of human reason and logic! What is even more incredible is this is the true reality in which we live!

This wild scenario continues after the work of redemption was finished by Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, as now God, the third person, the Holy Spirit, permanently indwells all who receive Christ as Savior never to leave them again. This is done by giving them a new birth whereby their dead spirits are brought back to life and creating an entirely new race of humans, those who have living spirits and are permanently indwelt by God, the third person versus those who are still spiritually dead.

While nothing has changed in the physical appearance of those who have experienced the second birth, everything has changed in the eternal, spiritual reality that really counts. This is a truly permanent change that cannot be reversed as it is the work of God, not of man; God, the Holy Spirit, has restored the spirit that died in Adam to a new birth through the work of Christ and, in addition, has indwelt the newly born-again individual and will never leave them.

This time, God had devised a plan whereby human frailty and Satanic deception could never again result in the spiritual death of God’s creation and a new creation was to come into existence just after the First Advent came to a close.

A Totally New Humanity is Created

After Pentecost, May 25, 33 AD, a totally new kind of humanity came into existence; humans with a living spirit, like Adam had before the fall, but in addition have God eternally joined to them in an inseparable union which was established and is now maintained by the power of God! Nothing in the universe can break that union, absolutely nothing!

In Romans 8:38-39 this is referenced when it is written:

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Living by Faith

While a great part of life responds well to human reason and logic there are areas where it just doesn’t seem to work. Mankind wastes a lot of time trying to reconcile human reason and logic with reality (evolution being an example) which is why we are cautioned to live our spiritual lives based on faith, not on reason and logic. One area which seems to be a particular puzzle to mankind is the subject of sin.

We all struggle with sin and when human reason is applied we can see ourselves coming up short. It is only logical that our sinful failures should exact some divine retribution which, by the thinking of some, could include the loss of our salvation. After acting in a certain way we may feel totally unworthy of God’s saving love but that application of human logic is totally contradicted by the narrative of the Bible. Let’s take a look at what the Bible reveals as the truth of our reality.

OSAS

OSAS is an acronym for once saved always saved; the popular expression for the eternal security of the believer. Christianity teaches that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross provides an eternal, unalterable salvation for the one who accepts the finished work of Christ as the payment for their sins.

This very simple concept is amazingly difficult for many Christians to believe and accept. I find it saddening that so many who should be rejoicing with confidence in their salvation are afflicted by doubt and uncertainty when it comes to the security of their position as members of God’s family.

There seems to be a feeling that some sins are just too bad to be so easily forgiven by simple belief in the Lord as one’s Savior; certainly, they think, some sins are so hideous that some sort of special penance or additional payment is required for God to forgive those sins.

Notice particularly that I selected the word feeling because these ideas come from our own feelings of unworthiness. There are times when all of us are disgusted by memories of our failures and feel unworthy of salvation; feelings that God should just send a lightning bolt down from heaven and obliterate us giving us what we truly deserve.

In the last part we will examine how this all plays out in our lives; what are the ramifications of being a member of a relatively new race of man?

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | August 11, 2018

33 Years Ago, Today

A New Beginning

On August 11, 1985 at 9:00 PM my older son, Kevan, went home to be with the Lord. The family was gathered around his bed as he stopped breathing and was pronounced dead; we had been by his bedside for many hours as he steadily declined and finally left his mortal body. For several hours he had been unresponsive so we were not sure he could even hear us. Just in case he could, I had started reading the gospel of John out loud until I got to John 14 and had only read a few verses when I started sobbing uncontrollably; the family understood my distress and waited patiently for me to regain my self-control.

After that we talked quietly and waited for the inevitable; at 9:00 PM that evening he was gone; we gathered around his bed and I led the family in prayer. We thanked the Lord for the precious life that had been entrusted to us by the Lord and asked that we might honor his life by demonstrating the sufficiency of God’s grace by living our lives, over the coming days, filled with faith and joy in the Lord.

We desired his memorial service to honor him and the Lord as we suspected several unbelieving friends would attend the service; we wanted his service to be a memorial to a life well lived, not a mourning for a life lost; a service that clearly displayed the joy and hope available to all who are born-again in Jesus Christ. By God’s grace we were able to do just that; a joyful reflection on a beloved life that had gone home to be with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I spoke during the service and told those assembled there how exciting the last few days must have been for Kevan, home with the Lord and seeing and hearing amazing things we cannot even imagine. Four years before his death Kevan had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, an Astrocytoma grade 3 and had only three months to live. The following years were a struggle for Kevan which had gotten ever more difficult as time passed. The last few months before his passing were particularly difficult for him and those who loved him.

He fought valiantly against the cancer and added four more years to his life before it finally sent him home; but in the end it took his mortal life. I call this “A New Beginning” because that is what really happened, our Kevan just moved on to his eternal home with the Lord. Kevan had been made in the image of God and the living essence which is Kevan, and for an all too brief a time occupied a mortal body of clay, had moved on to his eternal reward in the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our Common Heritage

We are all just like Kevan, all of us have been created in the image of God and are eternal; there will never be a time when we do not have a living presence in the universe. From a human perspective I still miss Kevan and have a picture of him on my desk; I see it and think about him many times each day. From a spiritual perspective I know that I shall someday see him again, as my brother in the family of God; the timing on that is in God’s hands and I rejoice in the perfection of all his decisions including calling Kevan home at age 28.

Fortunately, the Lord does not require my understanding, just my faith and I choose to trust him completely. I think, from time to time on David’s observation on the death of his son where in 2 Samuel 12:22-23 it is written:

22 David said, “While the baby was still alive, I fasted, and I cried. I thought, ‘Who knows? Maybe the Lord will feel sorry for me and let the baby live.’ 23 But now that the baby is dead, why should I fast? I can’t bring him back to life. Someday I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.”

We rejoice in the 28 years we had with Kevan and have many happy memories of his precious life; now we can look forward to seeing him again at a time known only to the Lord.

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | August 8, 2018

John Bisagno, a Truly Remarkable Man!

A Memorable Life

Sunday, August 5, 2018 our beloved former pastor, John Bisagno, went home to be with the Lord. We cannot even dimly understand the wonder and joy he has been experiencing these last several days. I have no doubt some of the first words he heard from our Lord were “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”

It would be difficult, to nearly impossible, to estimate the depth of the contribution he made to our family as a pastor and friend. His ministry, in combination with the music ministry of Gerald Ray, was an essential part of our family life for literally decades. We felt privileged to be members of First Baptist Church, Houston and a part of the choir.

Our worship experience at First Baptist, Houston, set a standard of Christ honoring excellence that we have not found since. Our children grew up in that church and my daughter’s wedding was conducted by Brother John and our son’s wedding was conducted by Gerald Ray.

We joined First Baptist when it was still located in downtown Houston and vividly remember the old building and the tall office building that was used for the Sunday School classes. We remember climbing the stairs to the seventh floor because the waiting time to take one of the two elevators was just too long to get to class on time. All of these memories combine to create a storehouse of great blessings.

A Family Decision

My company had transferred me back to Houston after a few years out of town. We had sold our house in Austin and had two weeks to vacate which meant we had to find an already built house in an area we liked; we found one that seemed to fit and got moved in as required. We had been members of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin and started looking for a church in the Houston area we could attend.

Brother John’s sermons were being broadcast live on TV in those days and we started watching his sermons; needless to say all three children and their parents were impressed so the decision was made to visit First Baptist, Houston. It didn’t take long for the whole family to decide this was where we wanted to go to church in spite of the distances involved.

Shortly after joining First Baptist we had a personal visit from Brother John in our home; this was to be one of only two times a senior pastor ever visited our home; the second time was again Brother John on the death of our grandson, Brent; Brother John was there to help in both the good times and the difficult ones.

The Vision and the Move

When Brother John was called to First Baptist Houston it was a dying church with a dwindling membership located at a busy corner in downtown Houston; the church had made arrangements with local office buildings to use their parking garages for church attendees on Sunday mornings. Brother John’s dynamic preaching changed all that and people, like us, started coming to First Baptist from all over Houston to hear Brother John preach the Word of God.

It did not take very long for the leadership of First Baptist to develop a vision for growth that included relocating the church to its present location on West Loop at Katy Freeway; needless to say the congregation was enthusiastic about the idea of having our very own church building with parking immediately available. As the plans and progress developed, the entire church membership was getting very excited about the move and was looking forward to the new location.

As the time for the move approached, the congregation was asked to volunteer some time to help get the final work done; I remember the request going out for volunteers with vacuum cleaners to come to the new building on a Saturday morning to clean the carpets that had just been laid down so the chairs might be installed the next week.

I joined with many others and have vivid memories of using our vacuum cleaner in the huge Worship Center to clean the carpets before any chairs were installed; that was a lot of carpet! It was a striking sight, that huge space with a carpeted contoured floor and not one chair! The following week the chairs were installed and the Worship Center looked as it looks now.

Brother John preached his first sermon in the new building; we were there and just as excited as everyone else to finally be in our new church home.

And it Came to Pass

Over the following years we accumulated a vast storehouse of memories about our experiences at First Baptist Church including Brother John playing the trumpet. I was ordained a deacon by Brother John and taught a Sunday School class while my wife served in several capacities including Sunday School Director. We both wound up in the choir under Gerald Ray and have totally great memories of singing a wealth of beautiful Christian music and hymns accompanied by the pipe organ, elegantly played by John Hemmenway.

Our daughter was the first one to get involved with pageant followed by my wife and finally me; pageant had been at Jones Hall but was moved to First Baptist where it continued for many years as a classic Christmas event in Houston. While participating in pageant was extremely demanding it was also very rewarding; we felt saturated with Christmas good will and joy as we spent the necessary hours in preparation for the many performances that followed.

There were many happy years and countless memorable experiences that followed at First Baptist for the entire family. Eventually the time came when Brother John announced his retirement and we knew that an era was ending. It was Brother John and Gerald Ray that had been the catalyst for the quality of worship at First Baptist and we believed that once they left change would be inevitable.

By that time the children had grown up and had moved on to begin their lives with families of their own. My wife and I were getting older too and were having a bit more difficulty doing those things which had previously come so easily. We made the decision when Brother John retired we would try and find a church closer to our suburban home so the travel would be less of an issue.

We have always rejoiced in our experience at First Baptist, Houston and felt a sense of gratitude to our Lord for giving us the opportunity for such blessings. The memories are still vivid and continue to bring joy to our lives as we remember those times!

Brother John’s important role in the life of our family will never be forgotten!

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | August 6, 2018

Finding the Peace God has for You, concluded

One More Imagined Obstacle to Entering Your Sabbath Rest

It has occurred to me that there is one more very threatening giant in the land that attempts to scare you off and keep you from entering your resting place, your rainbow room of faith. This is the giant of shame, of remembered sins, the knowledge of past misdeeds that can hover in your memory. This giant is always whispering in your ear, bringing to mind things in your past where you failed miserably to measure up to God’s standards.

This giant is one of Satan’s most effective warriors in the spiritual warfare; he is an expert at immobilizing Christians, Satan’s enemies, of causing them to stumble and fall. He challenges their worthiness to even fight in the battle; who do they think they are, they with their many transgressions against the God they claim to serve.

The sad truth is all of us have sins in our past that we wish we could forget but all too often come back to haunt us. The Apostle John warned of this in 1 John 1:8-10 when he wrote:

“8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

God knew, from eternity past, that we would sin and fall short of the glory of God; that is why Christ died on the cross, to pay the penalty for our sins, past, present, and future. When each of us received Christ as Savior, the penalty for those sins was paid in full; the sin debt has been erased by the shed blood of Christ. Just as God had promised the land to Israel, God has promised us our sin debt is paid in full by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. I have written more on this in “Is There One Unforgivable Sin?”

You are Free of all Condemnation!

You must not listen to the giant called shame, he is whispering Satan’s lies to you hoping to immobilize you and keep you out of the land.  By faith you must join with Joshua and Caleb and believe God when you are told in Romans 8:1-4:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

You have been Transformed!

Paul explains our changed condition in Ephesians 2:1-10 when he writes:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

When God, the Father, sees you He sees the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; this is God’s free gift to all who receive Christ as their Savior. It is not deserved, it cannot be earned, it is truly a free gift given by God’s grace, mercy and love to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and God. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

Every morning when you wake up and begin your new day you are standing right in front of your Rainbow Room, your very own promised land; you have the option of spending that entire day in your Sabbath Rest, of entering your promised land, or turning your back on God and wandering that day in your very own wilderness. In his grace, mercy and love, God has NOT already condemned you to spending the balance of your life wandering in your wilderness of sin until you die as he did the Israelites.

You have the option, every day, to believe God and walk by faith right into your Rainbow Room of faith or reject God’s promise to you and walk by sight in your very own wilderness of sinful unbelief!

Believe God, Believe His Promises and Enter into Your Rest.

Painting “East of Eden” by Adele Bower©

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | July 27, 2018

Finding the Peace God has for You continued

What Was Different About Joshua and Caleb?

Let’s think about Joshua and Caleb for a moment; as two of the twelve spies that were sent into the land why did they have a different report from the other ten spies? Didn’t they all go together and see the same sights? Did they not also observe “the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large? We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.” “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Of course, they saw those same sights but with a different perspective; they saw those sights mixed with faith in God. God had told Israel He was giving them the land and Joshua and Caleb believed God. That is a profound difference that resulted in their going into the land while the others perished in the wilderness. Joshua and Caleb had no idea how God would accomplish this but they were confident He could be trusted and would let them take the land as their new home. They were confident that God would step in and provide the help they needed so the land could be taken and their enemies defeated!

They saw the same problems the ten spies saw but had confidence in the promises of God and believed that God would not let them down; that is walking by faith and not by sight.

You are Faced with the Same Choice Every Day!

As Christian men and women, life will inevitably present us with giants in the land, threats that take many different forms, but we have the same options Joshua and Caleb had available to us every day, we can walk by faith or walk by sight. Each of us face powerful people, some form of large fortified cities, those who are stronger than we are, even giants that make us feel like grasshoppers by comparison; will you see these as obstacles or opportunities?

What happened to Israel when they later entered the land under Joshua’s direction; were they not encouraged and emboldened when they saw those giants fall before the mighty hand of God? Didn’t the fall of those giants demonstrate again the faithfulness and power of almighty God? It became the giants turn to cry all night and grumble!

The Door is Still Open, the Invitation Still Stands!

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” Hebrews 4:1

As members of the true church, the body of Christ, we have a standing invitation to enter into God’s rest; this is a marvelous blessing which all should earnestly seek and find. Israel, on the other hand, lost its opportunity to enter the land and was compelled to wander in the wilderness until that generation died off. You have not and will never be shut out of God’s rest; even if you have failed to enter his rest to this point in your life, you are still presented with the opportunity of entering God’s rest and may do so at any time; the door is open, the invitation stands!

 A Bible Study on Hebrews

My wife taught a Bible study group in our home and was studying the Book of Hebrews with her class one fall. She was using a sermon series on Hebrews and sent this follow-up message to her class.

“I want to emphasize two of the pastor’s illustrations in his sermon last Monday night. (The church where the sermon series was preached had a special place where children stayed while their parents were in the worship service; it is called “The Rainbow Room.’)

A little 2-year-old boy boldly and happily charges into the “Rainbow Room” every Sunday morning at their church because:

He belongs there! He is welcome there! He is loved there! He is happy there! He is brought their by his parents who belong to the church!

The point was; we have a “Rainbow Room”, too, ….a place where we belong, where we are completely welcome, a place of complete rest from our works, our worries, a place of joy, and happiness (and we have been brought there by Jesus to whom everything belongs.)

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:9-10.

The pastor’s daughter visits Buckingham Palace and sees the Queen of England.

The pastor was not bragging about his daughter. It really happened. While attending a university in London, she was invited to attend a very special event; a family member who works in the Royal household was to be decorated with a high honor. He was receiving this award for his years of outstanding service to the Queen. Because the pastor’s daughter is a member of the family, and was WITH him and his family, she was invited and permitted to be in this relatively small room with the Queen and many other high-ranking officials and visitors. None of her friends back at the university believed her. She was given a video of her visit, and we have seen it. Impressive. One friend told her later, “I believe that you believe you were there!” So funny.

The pastor’s point was; his daughter was admitted and welcomed to that inner circle because of whom she was (a member of the honoree’s family) and who she was with.

We are invited to the “Rainbow Room” (The Sabbath-Rest), because of who we are, children of the King of Kings. We go in with Him; He says “She’s with me!” and we are permitted into this special place of rest and peace…..NOW, right NOW. We enter by complete faith in Him, our Savior and Redeemer. Remember, the writer of Hebrews is writing to believers; he is not talking about our eternal presence with the Lord after death. That is settled; whether we enter His Sabbath-Rest in time is our choice for the here and now.

Do we go boldly into our Sabbath-Rest (the Rainbow Room) and find peace every time or do we stand outside in our unbelief and fear, looking in and continuing in our worries and complaints…always doubting the Lord’s ability, love, and promises?

Pray, believe Him and go on in. You are welcome there!”

I thought this summed up the nature of your opportunity to enter into God’s rest very well and add my best wishes for your successful entrance into your very own “Rainbow Room;” this is God’s promise to Christians and most especially to you!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | July 20, 2018

Finding the Peace God has for You

 

This Morning you Made a Critical Decision!

This morning you made a critical decision which will impact your entire day. Whether you realize it or not you made a decision which will have a profound impact on everything else that happens today. It is a decision which is inescapable and cannot be delegated to anyone else; you decided whether you will spend this day in your promised land of faith or will, instead, wander in your wilderness of sin.

While you may not even be consciously aware of making this decision, there is no way you can escape the consequences of your decision. In the next three essays I will explain what I mean and the options available to you.

A Gift to Israel

In Numbers 13:1 the Lord makes a wonderful promise to Israel when He told Moses:

The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

Israel had seen the mighty hand of God deliver them from their oppressive servitude to Egypt, part the Red Sea, drown Pharaoh’s pursuing forces and lead them safely to the borders of their promised land. Now God was telling them to go and check out God’s great gift to them. This should have been a time of triumphant rejoicing as they took their first glimpse at their new home, a land flowing with milk and honey as they reported to Moses:

“27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.”

If they would only have stopped there, their lives would have been totally different; sadly, they threw in a “but” that would have devastating results on all but two of the spies that went into the land.

28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”……..31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

That was the report of ten of the 12 spies that were sent; there was a minority report from two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, who insisted, to no avail, that they could take possession of the land:

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Unfortunately for Israel, they believed the majority report and we are told in Numbers 14:1-2:

14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!

Their words would come back to haunt them because in Numbers 14:27-30 the Lord tells Moses and Aaron:

26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: 29 In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.”

What a tragic failure of faith; instead of going into the promised land, Israel would wander about in the wilderness until all those 20 years of age and older had died in the wilderness; ““If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!” became a reality for all of them.

What Would You Have Done?

As we read that familiar story we may wonder how we would have chosen, would we have joined with Joshua and Caleb or the ten faithless spies? We would certainly hope we would have joined with Joshua and Caleb but would we have actually done that? Can we be certain we would have chosen to walk by faith and not by sight to join with two men when there were so many who doubted?

The fact of the matter is we are presented with that option every day; we can choose to live our lives by faith or by sight; we can choose whether or not to enter into our rest every day that passes! In Hebrews 3:7-19 we are warned to not harden our hearts against the promises of God.

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

The Challenge to You Today

Today there can appear to be giants in the land; these take many forms and can threaten to overwhelm us. These giants may appear at work, at home, or anyplace and threaten our peace and safety. We too have promises from God and invitations to trust Him to watch over us and care for us.

Sadly, I get all too many letters from Christian men and women which remind me of the report of the ten faithless spies; their letters are filled with countless reasons why they must be miserable and suffer at the hands of circumstances; they seem to insist on being miserable and not entering into the rest God has promised.

We are all given the daily opportunity to respond by sight or by faith so how will you respond, with the ten or with the two? When you face the future are you all too often weeping and grumbling or with confidence in God’s promises to you, “14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled” or do you display the spirit of faith in the promises of God and say, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” The choice is yours, choose to walk by faith and not by sight!

Next time, “God’s Promise to Christians.”

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | July 13, 2018

Peace for You in Your Lifetime

A Widespread Problem Facing Christians

Each day I get letters from all over the world and a great many of those letters have to do with troubles and problems in the lives of Christians; we live in troubled times and pressures on the Christian community all over the world are increasing rapidly.

Global Media Outreach cautions the online missionaries about a growing list of “Sensitive Countries” where care must be taken to avoid any reference to Christianity in the headings of letters sent to residents in those countries.

We are warned in the Bible about the last days when the persecution of Christians will increase; from the looks of it we are moving into that time period. The Bible itself is under increasing attack because of the stands it takes on issues that have become politically incorrect; Biblical morality is being viewed as out-of-step with the times.

While bringing peace to the world is infinitely above our pay grade it is possible to bring peace within us; to enjoy a peace which passes understanding, to let the God of peace reign and rule in our individual lives.

God’s Promise of Peace to his Children

While the world searches futilely for peace and some world leaders attempt to broker peace treaties between warring nations; there remains a peace for God’s children; a moment by moment rest available from God to those who will believe him and trust him. I am particularly fond of Paul’s advice to the Philippians in chapter 4, verses 4-9 where it is written:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

Verses 8 and 9 pretty well sum it all up, there are things we must do which will be followed by something only God can do for us, give us his peace; I, for one like the sound of “the god of peace will be with you.”

A Sabbath Rest for Christians

In Genesis 2:1-3 it is written:

“2 So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”

Here we read of the establishment of the seventh day as a Sabbath which is later incorporated into the Mosaic Law as the seventh day Sabbath. While the Mosaic Law creates several days involved with the various prophetic feasts of Israel as Sabbaths the seventh day Sabbath held a special place in the hearts of the Jewish people.

At the time of the First Advent a new covenant came into being, a covenant of grace which rested on the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ; a new kind of Sabbath was introduced wherein those, under the New Covenant, enjoyed a moment-by-moment Sabbath before the Lord. The Lord had moved from a Sabbath Day to a moment-by-moment sabbath rest for his children.

In Hebrews 4:6 it is written:

So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today.”

Today is the time for you to enter God’s rest if you have not already done so. The following three essays will discuss the problem and God’s solution to the problems we face living in very troubled times.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | July 6, 2018

The View from the Top

New York City from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building http://www.esbnyc.com/explore/top-deck-102nd-floor

The Higher Floors Usually have the Best Views

It is no surprise to discover the higher you go the better the view; distractions and obstacles dwindle into insignificance as you get higher and higher; you can see farther and farther as the vista opens up before you. It should be obvious the potential view from the 85th floor would be broader in scope than the view from the floors below.

I insert the word “potential” as the distance one can see is dependent on the direction faced; if one is looking inward the nearest wall may be the only thing in view but if one is looking outward the horizon may fade into a hazy distance.

It has occurred to me there is a parallel between elevation and age; it seems the older I get my view of the world and life in the world is undergoing sweeping changes. I have mentioned before in “A Surprising Discovery,” how my perceptions of life were being changed by age; while the essay was written just over two years ago the rate of change has not really slowed so far.

I’ve never visited the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building but I have visited other famous high points and noticed how often there seem to be powerful binoculars and guide maps to help one identify notable sights that can be seen. Thinking again on the parallel between elevation and age, God in his grace, mercy and love has provided a guide-book to life called the Bible which is available to all who will use it as a guide to the panorama of life that is spread out before us by the world in which we live.

I have found the process of aging has broadened my perspective on life and opened up wide vistas which have solidly reconfirmed the value of the guidance provided by the Bible.

On Being Young

I have an advantage which the young are not yet able to share; I have experienced every age between 1 and 85 one year at a time: “been there, done that, got the T-shirt” as the expression goes. I have countless memories of childhood and beyond which are available for recall at any time. I can remember how I felt as a child, as a teenager, as a young adult, as a middle age adult and can sympathize with those who are living in those seasons of their lives.

I remember the priorities and pressures I felt as a young man and know how powerful they were to me at the time; it was difficult to look past them and glimpse the bigger picture of life that was obscured by their demands yet sometimes life requires we look at the wall and not the horizon. Young people are faced with the need of making many decisions which can profoundly impact the balance of their lives; wise decisions at this point can pay great dividends later.

From the vantage point of hindsight I cannot overemphasize the importance of heeding God’s advice on life and living during this critical phase; the Bible is a sure source of instruction on making the right decisions for the long-term.

On Being Old

I am completely at peace with being old; I know some seek to avoid acceptance of the reality of their age but I am not one of those. By God’s grace my wife and I enjoy reasonably good health although we do move a little slower these days. One of the advantages of being married for over 65 years is our ability to share our life experiences and fully relate to what the other one is feeling.

One thing I have discovered is how liberating old age can be; I have been freed from many of the pressures besetting the young and can accept and enjoy life as it has become. I have watched so many generations come and go I fully realize the transient nature of life and thank God for the opportunity he has given me to enjoy the years he has allotted to me. It is rather sobering to watch little babies you have bounced on your knee become grandparents.

I have read the term, “and it came to pass” occurs 1,265 times in the Bible; the years have shown me this is the normal pattern of life, everything on this earth comes to pass, from the largest to the smallest. Both institutions and individuals come and go with a regularity that is predictable and becomes even more obvious as one looks back over the years.

On Being Wise

While wisdom does not come automatically as one ages, age has the potential to help develop a wise perspective on life and living if one seeks to find it. I’m convinced the only wisdom that really counts is a spiritual awareness of God and his dominance over all of his creation. I deliberately choose to ignore the so-called wisdom of this world and delight in my ignorance of much of the worldly way of life.

I’m reminded of the famous quotation by Thomas Grey: “where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise.” Knowing too much of the world can be very depressing if care is not taken; it sometimes appears the world seeks out the ugly and seems to feature the bad things that happen, the evening news being a case in point.

The opportunity to enjoy one’s life is much greater if the Bible is consistently used as a guide; one thing age and experience has taught me is the validity of living life as God has instructed in his guidebook for humanity, the Bible. I’m particularly fond of the section in Philippians 4:4-9 where it is written:

“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Be wise, rejoice in the Lord always!

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