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Monthly Archives: August 2013

How God Views the Self-Directed Man – Charles Stanley

ASking for DirectionsRead Luke 12.16-21

We’ve all heard jokes about men who refuse to stop and ask for directions. But in reality, there’s probably a good bit of truth to the stereotype, and it isn’t limited to males. Plenty of men and women in this world zoom along without slowing down to ask for guidance.

If you were to look at the situation from a spiritual perspective, you’d see a world of lost souls desperately trying to save themselves. They think  they can earn their way into heaven through hard work and the accumulation of good deeds. But they’re wrong.

Today’s passage from Luke describes a wealthy person who makes a lot of plans based only on his own thoughts, desires, and experience. Take the time to look at the passage again, and notice how many times he used the words “I” and “my.” What you’ll see is that his focus was squarely on himself. This parable is a sad picture of the self-directed man trying to make his own way and secure his own future with no help from anyone–including God.

The Lord didn’t mince words: He called the man “fool” (v. 20). Worldly wisdom amounts to nothing in the eyes of our omniscient, all-wise Father (1 Cor. 1:20), and He expects His children to request and follow His guidance.

The message for us today is clear: When we figure out our own plans and take action with no thought about what God would advise, we are behaving like fools. The Lord has a plan for your life. He knows where you’ll succeed and where you’ll fail. Be wise and ask Him for directions.

Faithfulness in Littles – John Colwell, 1882

little-foxes-card-1“Catch the foxes–the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes!” Song of Songs 2:15

The little things of life are most important. Those who affect to despise the importance of little things, are in danger of becoming little people. Certainly no great man will ever do so. He will the rather prove his greatness by a hearty recognition of the truth of the wise saying, “He who despises little things, shall fall little by little.”

The Great Teacher drew some of His most beautiful and important lessons from little things, such as little flowers, little birds, little dew-drops, little children. He insisted on faithfulness in littles.

My friend, life is great because it is the aggregation of littles.

As the coral reefs which rear themselves high above the crawling sea beneath, are all made up of minute skeletons of microscopic animalcules; so life, mighty and solemn as having eternal consequences–life that hangs over the sea of eternity, is made up of these minute incidents, of these trifling duties, of these small tasks; and only those who are faithful in the least are, or can be, faithful in the whole.

Little things make either . . .
the joy–or the sorrow,
the success–or the ruin,
the safety–or the danger,
the grandeur–or the smallness
–of human life. Illustrations of this principle abound.

Little neglects lead to great ruin.

Little precautions lead to great safety.

Little wastings make great losses.

Little savings make great gains.

Little troubles make us miserable.

Little virtues make us godly.

Little vices make us wicked.

Therefore, says inspired Wisdom, “Catch the foxes–the little foxes that spoil the vines,” which is equivalent to saying, “I know you will keep out the more hateful and destructive full-grown foxes by stopping all the large holes in the vineyard fence. Your danger lies in overlooking the smaller gaps by which the little foxes may enter, and thus spoil your vines by robbing them of the tender grapes.”

How forcibly may this advice be urged upon Christian people! They will be almost certain to secure the vineyard against the intrusion of shameful vices, destructive sins, and great scandals; but are they always so careful to stop the smaller breaches in the fence of their Christian character against the little foxes, lesser sins, smaller vices, and trifling moral blemishes which, nevertheless, spoil the loveliness and perfection of their lives? Judging from observation and experience, we fear not.

For the complete transcript of John Colwell’s writing on Little Foxes, go to the E-Book tab and look for the title “Little Foxes.”

A Tactical Advantage – Charles Swindoll

tactical-advantage-von-clausewitz-notwithstanding-demotivational-poster-1244349100Having predicted your success in battle against the attacks of the devil (Psalm 91:5–10), this Psalm continues with several commitments from the Lord. He has promised to give you a tactical advantage, which the songwriter enumerates in the final verses.

Assistance against Evil

God has promised to send angelic assistance when we face attacks from supernatural realms. It makes sense. Satan and the demons are supernatural beings—so are angels. We need supernatural help when dealing with supernatural enemies. In verses 11–13, the composer describes three specific activities of the angels on our behalf.

1. Angels are given “charge” of us (91:11). The term “charge” is from the Hebrew tzawa, which means “to appoint, install, give command of.” Other passages of Scripture suggest that the Lord has actually appointed angels—heavenly guardians—to give us aid when attacked by supernatural forces (Matthew 18:10Acts 12:15).

2. Angels “guard” us in all our ways (91:11). The Hebrew word shamar means “to keep, watch over, observe, preserve, take care of.” Angels are overseers of God’s people. Like silent sentries, they stand guard over those who seek refuge in the Lord, preserving our steps.

3. Angels “bear you up” in their hands (91:12). The verb nasah actually means “to lift, to carry, take up.” When used figuratively in reference to a person, it means “to support, sustain.” In the context of Psalm 91, the angels see to your mental, emotional, and spiritual needs so that you will not be overwhelmed by the deception of the devil and his minions.

Security from Evil

For thirteen verses the songwriter has spoken directly to you. Now God speaks, committing Himself to six promises in response to your seeking refuge in Him.

  • I will deliver him (91:14).
  • I will set him securely on high (91:14).
  • I will answer him (91:15).
  • I will be with him in trouble (91:15).
  • I will rescue him and honor him (91:15).
  • I will satisfy him (91:16).

What a list of promises! From God’s mouth to the psalmist’s pen to your eyes. These are yours to claim. The Lord says that those who love Him and those who know Him have this secure hope in Him. The Hebrew term used for “love” is unusual and rare. Most often it is used with reference to “attaching something to something.” The Hebrew term includes the idea of attaching a saddle to a horse. It would be acceptable to render Psalm 91:14: “Because he clings affectionately to Me.”

Choosing Faith over Fear – Charles Stanley

Faith-and-fear-word-cloud-1024x555Isaiah 41:8-13  – 8 “But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend, 9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. 10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 11 “Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored ; Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. 12 “You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, Those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent. 13 “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’

These days, there are plenty of reasons to fear. Our world seems to be in a continuous state of war and crisis. The jobs market is dismal, natural disasters wreak havoc, and stories of crime dominate the headlines. As Christians, we know that fear should have no place in our lives, but how can we ignore what’s going on around us?

Basically, there are two paths you can walk: faith or fear. It’s impossible to simultaneously trust God and not trust God. Another way of saying this is that you cannot both obey and disobey Him–partial obedience is disobedience. So, which road are you traveling?

Some people who read the Bible and believe in God nevertheless choose to live with fear. Seeing others experience hardship, they start wondering if it could happen to them: Someone at my office lost his job; will I be next? Someone died in an accident–I could die too. But this kind of “logic” places your circumstances above your relationship to God.

 If Satan can get you to think like this, he has won the battle for your mind. But when you focus on God rather than your circumstances, whatever the situation is, you win.  The Bible tells us, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7).

 Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear, and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He’s sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped.

What God Does – Charles R. Swindoll

rescuedPsalm 91:3–4

         3 For he will rescue you from every trap

          and protect you from deadly disease.

         4 He will cover you with his feathers.

          He will shelter you with his wings.

          His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

While the first two verses of Psalm 91 depict the faithful character of God, verses 3 and 4 describe what God does. The psalmist names three actions the Lord takes on our behalf:

a. He delivers: from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence

b. He covers: with His pinions/under His wings

c. He shields: by His faithfulness

The Hebrew sentence structure enables us to point out particular emphases in our study from time to time. In this case, the emphatic part of verses 3–4 is “He.” We might render the line: “He alone” or “He it is—not anyone else!” Practically speaking, you will find no absolute assistance or deliverance from anyone other than your Lord.

Now, one at a time, let’s look at the specific actions God takes to protect and sustain us when the enemy attacks. The psalmist describes these actions using three different analogies.

1. He delivers from the snare of the trapper. The first analogy imagines a bird becoming entangled in a fowler’s trap, which is baited with something the bird needs. My Webster’s dictionary says that a trap is “something by which one gets entangled, something deceptively attractive.” The word “deliver” is translated from natzal, meaning “to separate, to cause removal.” It suggests that the bird has already been deceived by the trap and has been caught. Certain death awaits, as described by the phrase “the deadly pestilence.” Literally, from “a death of destruction.” One translation renders this “a violent death.”

2. He covers with His pinions, under His wings. The Lord is here pictured as a bird keeping close watch over its brood. Both Psalm 36:7 and Psalm 57:1 mention the protection we have under our Lord’s “wings.” When danger presents itself, baby ducks and geese make a beeline for their mother, who creates a shroud with her wings. The mother will then pivot to keep her young hidden from any predators.

3. He shields by His faithfulness. The psalmist has pictured our Lord’s protection in three distinct ways in verses 3 and 4. First, in the scene of a trapper. Second, in the scene of a bird and her brood. Now, in the scene of a battle. Here he assures us that we are guarded by His faithful presence. The Hebrew word for “shield” depicts a protective barrier large enough to protect a soldier from a hail of arrows. The term translated “bulwark” comes from a term that carries the idea of “surrounding.” It could be another kind of large, curved shield. Because the term also denotes a particular kind of stone, the concept of a fortified barrier, such as a castle wall, makes better sense.

Regardless, the idea is the same: in the heat of battle, when the enemy’s attacks become too much to bear, the faithfulness of God is there for your protection; hide behind Him.

Speed Painting of Jesus – Awesome

The Antidote for Worry – R.C. Sproul

dont-worry-philippians-4-6Matthew 6:25–34 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (v. 33).

Having told us not to store up earthly treasures (Matt. 6:19–24), in today’s passage Jesus anticipates an objection to His teaching. Sure, some may think, it is easy to tell us not to pursue earthly treasures, but we need money and other goods to meet our needs. Will we not worry if we do not go after such treasures? After all, how will we afford to eat, buy clothes, and so on without money?

Our Savior’s answer to this unstated problem is simple: “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on” (v. 25a). In the examples that follow, Jesus shows us why we need not fret about such things. But before we get into these reasons, note that Christ is not here commending a lackadaisical approach to life in which we expect everything to fall into our laps. Nor does His teaching release us from the duty to feed our families. Scripture is clear that we should be industrious, just like the ants (Prov. 6:6–11), and that anyone who does not provide for his family is worse than the unbeliever who does (1 Tim. 5:8). Even so, toiling away out of fear for the future is not the same thing as God-glorifying labor.

Life’s pressures invite us to worry incessantly about tomorrow. Yet Christ says divine providence makes this anxiety foolish. Birds do not worry, they sing, and still they find food each day without sowing or reaping. We as God’s image-bearers have more worth than they and can be all the more confident that He will feed us as well (Matt. 6:26; see Gen. 1:26–27). “The lilies of the field” neither toil nor spin. Their life and worth is so limited that they are fuel for our fires, yet their glory is far greater than Solomon’s. Since the Father provides for these, He also will provide for us, His beloved people (Matt. 6:28–30).

Far from compounding our anxiety, making God’s kingdom the center of our lives frees us from anxiety. If we seek this kingdom first, He will meet all our needs (v. 33). Those who serve Him wholeheartedly and live out the ethics of God’s kingdom will share what they have (5:42; 6:1–4), and thereby our Father will meet our needs through our efforts and the generosity of others. We need not worry about tomorrow, for God always takes care of His own (Ps. 37:25).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Some of us are more prone to anxiety than others. Yet as we read in today’s passage, persistent worry is not our calling as Christians. We need not be anxious about tomorrow if we are serving Jesus, for while we may not get all of our wants, He will certainly give us all of our needs. If you are struggling with anxiety this day, take your eyes off yourself and do a good deed for another person. Then, ask God to help you learn how to trust in Him confidently.

Jelly-fish Christianity – J.C. Ryle

jellyfish018The consequences of this widespread dislike to distinct biblical doctrine are very serious. Whether we like it or not, it is an epidemic which is doing great harm, and especially among young people. It creates, fosters, and keeps up an immense amount of instability in religion. It produces what I must venture to call, if I may coin the phrase, a ‘jelly-fish’ Christianity in the land–that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power.

A jelly-fish, as everyone who has been much by the seaside knows, is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little delicate transparent umbrella. Yet the same jelly-fish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation.

Alas! it is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, ‘No dogma, no distinct beliefs, no doctrine.’ We have hundreds of ministers who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity! They have no definite opinions; they are so afraid of ‘extreme views,’ that they have no views at all. We have thousands of sermons preached every year, which are without an edge or a point or a corner–they are as smooth as marble balls, awakening no sinner, and edifying no saint!

We have legions of young men annually turned out from our universities, armed with a few scraps of second-hand philosophy, who think it a mark of cleverness and intellect to have no decided opinions about anything in religion–and to be utterly unable to make up their minds as to what is Christian truth. Their only creed, is a kind of ‘nothingism.’ They are sure and positive about nothing!

And last, and worst of all, we have myriads of respectable church-going people, who have no distinct and definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than color-blind people can distinguish colors. They think . . .
everybody is right–and nobody is wrong,
everything is true–and nothing is false,
all sermons are good–and none are bad,
every clergyman is sound–and no clergyman unsound.

They are ‘tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine;’ often carried away by some new excitement and sensational movement; ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old; and utterly unable to ‘render a reason of the hope that is in them.’

All this, and much more, is the result of that effeminate dread of distinct doctrine which has been so strongly developed, and has laid such hold on many pastors in these days.

I turn from the picture I have exhibited with a sorrowful heart. I grant it is a gloomy one; but I am afraid it is only too accurate and true. Let us not deceive ourselves. Distinct and definitive doctrine is at a premium just now. Instability and unsettled notions are the natural result, and meet us in every direction.

Cleverness and earnestness are the favorite idols of the age!

What a man says matters nothing–however strange and heterogeneous are the opinions he expresses! If he is only brilliant and ‘earnest’–he cannot be wrong! Never was it so important for believers to hold sound systematic views of truth, and for ministers to ‘enunciate doctrine’ very clearly and distinctly in their teaching.

I’m a Receiver by the Apologetix

No Pain – No Gain, Greg Laurie

No Pain No GainThe Christian life is the greatest life there is. God takes a life that was empty and aimless and, worst of all, headed to a certain judgment, and he turns it around and transforms it. That is more than enough right there. But in addition, he removes the guilt that haunted us, fills the emptiness inside of us and literally takes residence in our heart. This all comes as a result of the gospel believed and followed. That is the good news. But we also need to know there are some new problems that come along as a result of becoming a Christian. You get rid of an old set of problems, and you inherit new ones. As Bible commentator Ray Stedman put it, “A Christian is one who is completely fearless, continually cheerful, and constantly in trouble.” We need to be aware of the fact that the Christian life is not a playground; it is a battleground. In fact, the Bible tells us, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 NKJV). But why does God allow trials and hardships in the life of the Christian? Let me give you a few reasons.

First, adversity levels us and keeps us humble. Prosperity has a tendency to make people proud and self-sufficient. We don’t think we need God when we have a wallet full of credit cards, a lot of money in the bank, investments and good health. So we sort of ignore God. But when an economy goes south or the stock market crashes or our home burns to the ground, we turn to God because we are reminded of what really matters. As the psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (Psalm 119:67). When the people of Israel were poised to enter the Promised Land after years of wandering in the wilderness, God gave them this warning: “When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 6:11–12 NLT). We talk about the problem of pain, but let’s talk about the problem of prosperity. Prosperity brings responsibility. I am not an owner of anything; I am a steward. Everything God gives to me is a gift, and I am held responsible for what I do with the resources that are at my disposal. So we must take the responsibility of prosperity seriously and make sure that we remain dependent on God.

When life gets really hard and adversity strikes, we pray – and so we should. But sometimes when life is going reasonably well, we sort of forget about prayer. In his book “The Problem of Pain,” C. S. Lewis writes, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Second, adversity teaches us eternal truths that we would not otherwise learn. I avoid pain at all costs. That is why I don’t run. I have tried it, and it hurts. I have even had people say, “Just run a little. You know, walk, and then run from here to there.” So I do it. And I hate it. I avoid things that cause pain. We want to get into shape, but we want a pain-free workout. We don’t want to hurt. We don’t want our muscles to be sore the next day. But as the expression goes, “No pain, no gain.” And what is true for the gym is also true of life. No pain, no gain. If you are looking for a pain-free life, then you are not going to grow spiritually. Pain reminds us of a deeper need, which is a need for God. And he will teach us lessons in the valleys that we never would have learned on the mountaintops, things we need to know and things we need to share with others.

Think about some of the greatest lessons you have learned in your life. They have come through adversity, haven’t they? And those are the things that you pass on and share with others. You remember those times when God came through for you.

Third, adversity gives us a new compassion for others who are in pain. When you go through adversity, you have a new consideration of others. It has been said that success builds walls, and failures build bridges. If everything is always perfect and life is always firing on every cylinder, people don’t relate to that. But they do relate to a person who is going through or who has been through pain. The apostle Paul said, “[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4). We need to continue in the faith. Some may say, “Well, my faith has been tested, and I can’t handle this.” But the faith that cannot be tested is the faith that cannot be trusted. With all respect, the faith that cannot make it through adversity is not real faith.

Real faith gets stronger through hardship, not weaker. It becomes more resilient. It doesn’t fall apart. Emotions come and go. The Bible says, “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17 NKJV); it doesn’t say the just shall live by feeling. So press on. And when you are facing adversity, don’t focus on emotions that fluctuate. Remember that God is there with you. And remember that he is in control.

Proven Faith – Charles Stanley

faith-that-removes-mountainsRead – 1 Peter 1:3-9

Faith is perhaps the most central element in the Christian life because it is the means by which we enter into salvation. But that’s only the beginning. From then onward, our faith—or lack of it—shapes our lives and determines what happens to us when the winds of adversity blow. Some Christians never lose their footing even in hurricane-force winds, but others are toppled by the slightest gust. To understand why this is true, we need to examine the source of our faith.

Inherited faith: If you grew up in a Christian home, you probably adopted some of the beliefs of your parents. This kind of godly foundation is a wonderful gift from the Lord, but eventually, each person must assume responsibility for his own beliefs.

Textbook faith: The Bible is the ultimate guide for establishing our beliefs. But that’s not the only source of influence. Books, preachers, teachers, and friends all impact our convictions. Our theology may in fact be sound, but faith is merely mental acceptance until it’s put to the test.

Proven Faith: Only when we trust the Lord through the fires of adversity will we have faith that can stand. It is no longer based on what others have told us or what we’ve accepted as true but on our firsthand experience of His faithfulness.

To evaluate your faith, consider how you react to adversity. Do you cling to the Lord or get angry at Him? Is your attitude one of rejoicing because He’s making you more like His Son, or are you bitter? No one can escape adversity, but those with proven faith will benefit from it.

Cultivate Relationship with God – Charles Swindoll

walkingwithgodRead – Psalm 100:3–4

Psalm 100 is an extended command to worship the Lord, giving specific instructions to follow. The first three commands in 100:1–2 are directly related to cultivating a spirit of joy. The next four call for our response to the Lord’s identity and character. We’ll examine the first two of these commands.

Know that the LORD Himself is God (100:3). At first glance, this seems like an odd command. A close examination of the Hebrew terms will help clarify what the psalmist intends.

The Hebrew word rendered “know” is yada. When used in reference to a person, it denotes a personal, experiential knowledge, not mere recognition. It’s the same term biblical writers used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse (see Genesis 4:1; 19:8; Numbers 31:17, 35; Judges 11:39; 21:11; 1 Kings 1:4; 1 Samuel 1:19). Our knowledge of God should be personal and experiential, not merely theological.

The word “LORD” translates God’s personal name, represented in Hebrew by the four consonants YHWH, and considered too holy to pronounce audibly. You may recall it’s based on the verb “to be,” identifying Him as the deity who actually exists. The late Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer called Him “the God who is there” (as opposed to all the gods who are not!).

“Himself ” serves to single out YHWH as the subject of the verb, emphasizing that no other name qualifies for this distinction. The sentence might just as well be rendered, “Know that YHWH, He is God” or “He alone is God.” I like the additional qualification tacked on by one contemporary songwriter: “He is God (and I am not!)”

The English word “God” at the end of the verse translates the Hebrew term elohim, which emphasizes the grandeur of God, much like calling a king “His Royal Highness.” So, when you put the entire command together, it could be paraphrased, “Know by personal experience that YHWH alone is the sovereign God of all.”

I see two implications of practical importance here. First, God is sovereign over each of us, individually. He’s not merely the ruler of the universe, having dominion over galaxies and able to command the forces of nature. He’s my sovereign. He’s your king. He’s the boss; we answer to Him. When we surrender to that fact, life becomes much easier to understand and joy takes the place of frustration.

Second, our knowledge of God as our sovereign Lord must be gained through personal experience. That implies a personal relationship in which He leads and we follow. And through that ongoing interchange, the decision to trust Him becomes a settled, unshakable confidence. Confident people are joyful people.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise (100:4). What was in the psalmist’s mind? To what do the “gates” and “courts” refer? There are two possibilities. First, it could refer to the stronghold of a ruler, where he holds court, deciding cases and granting favors. If so, the invitation is to enter the great hall with praises and thanksgiving rather than seeking something from the Ruler.

The second possibility is a reference to the temple, the place where the people of God approached the Lord. In the Old Testament, the otherworldly glow of His glory—called the shekinah by the Hebrews—filled the Most Holy Place in the temple (2 Chronicles 5:14 and 1 Kings 8:10–11). The temple had gates and courts, both of which gave access to the presence of God.

Because Jesus Christ satisfied all the requirements of the temple rituals, we no longer go to a specific place to meet God. Today, we worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). So, how do we enter His gates and His courts? What is our access to His presence today? The answer is prayer. Hebrews 4:16 invites us to “draw near” to God’s throne. Through prayer we come into the very presence of God. This psalm tells us to approach the Lord with thanksgiving and praise. Sometimes it’s good to save our petitions and requests for another time and seek an audience for the sole purpose of praise.

A Palace of King David

Unknown-5According to 1 Samuel 17, after David slew Goliath, the men of Israel pursued the Philistines, who eventually were killed on the road to Shaarayim. Shaarayim, which means “two gates” in Hebrew, also appears in the book of Joshua and is listed as one of David’s cities in 1 Chronicles.

Where it doesn’t appear is on a map. Until now.

Two Israeli archeologists, Yossi Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, recently announced that they had not only found Shaarayim but had also found the remains of one of David’s palaces and royal storehouse.

For a personage whose existence, as recently as two decades ago, was doubted by some secular historians, King David seems to have left a lot of his stuff lying around for us to find.

This find was the result of a seven-year exploration of a site southwest of Jerusalem called Khirbet Qeiyafa. At the site, Garfinkel and Ganor discovered the two gates and a lot more. They uncovered the “southern part of a large palace that extended across an area of [approximately] 1,000 [square meters],” nearly 11,000 square feet.

As Ganor told the Times of Israel, when David came to visit what was apparently an important regional center, “he definitely didn’t live in a simple home.”

In addition to their size, “the location of the buildings fit the requirements of an Iron Age palace.” From the site, one can see “as far as the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Hebron Mountains and Jerusalem in the east,” making it “an ideal location from which to send messages by means of fire signals.”

That importance was underscored by the archeologists’ other finds: “a pillared building,” about 50 feet long by 20 feet wide. According to the archeologists, this building was where “the kingdom stored taxes it received in the form of agricultural produce collected from the residents of the different villages …” Evidence of its use is in the form of “hundreds of large stone jars … whose handles were stamped with an official seal as was customary in the Kingdom of Judah for centuries.”

This finding is “unequivocal evidence of a kingdom’s existence, which knew to establish administrative centers at strategic points.”

But these discoveries are only the latest in a series of findings that have overturned a long-held scholarly consensus on David and his dynasty. That consensus held that David likely never existed. And even if he did, he was little more than an Iron Age warlord whose modest accomplishments were exaggerated by the biblical authors for political and religious purposes.

But the discovery back in the 1990s of an ancient monument, known as a stele, with the inscriptions “King of Israel” and “House of David” took care of the first notion. And now the findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa promise to do the same for the second.

As Time magazine put it shortly after the discoveries at Tel Dan, “believers around the world are attuned … to the significance of archeological finds … [that establish] the reality of the events underlying their faith.”

That’s because biblical faith — from the Fall to the calling of Abraham and Israel and the incarnation, passion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ — takes place within history. We are not being saved from history; we are being saved within history. And this salvation leaves stuff lying around for us to find. And believe.

To learn more about biblical archaeology and the discovery of David’s palace, please come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary.

BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.

Seven Percent Only

A neat video – a little long but worth it – the end is what makes you think.

Religous Freedom – A Secondary Right?

religious-freedomV2The First Amendment is a promise that we are free to live holistically, according to the dictates of our conscience. Last month, however, the First Amendment was subjected to assaults seeking to force the fully free exercise of faith into the most private of places: our homes and houses of worship.

The intent is simple and fatal: redefine the meaning of religious freedom, making it a secondary right when exercised in the public square or marketplace.

If religious freedom becomes a secondary right, how will it affect you and your family? What challenges would you face if pressured to choose between your religious convictions and your job, business or livelihood?

Imagine you run a bakery. You love your customers, have never denied services to anyone and have employed openly gay individuals.

One day, a regular customer and her partner order a cake for their wedding ceremony. You are very fond of this customer but believe that marriage was created by God as the union of one man and one woman. Affirming the marriage by baking a cake would violate your belief. You thank your customer for her business and politely explain that you cannot provide a cake. The next week, you receive a letter saying you have been sued under your state’s anti-discrimination laws; you face litigation and fines if you continue to refuse to bake the cake. A lawsuit could cripple the business you have spent years to build. What do you do?

What if your daughter’s lifelong dream is to be a counselor? She calls crying and says she has been expelled from her program. You are confused. She is an honor student at the top of her class. She received her assignment for a required course, and the client was seeking counseling about homosexual behavior. Her religious convictions prevented her from affirming a homosexual relationship, so to best serve the client, she asked her supervisor to assign the client to another counselor. Her supervisor said she must submit to a remediation program to “see the error of her ways” and change her beliefs or withdraw from the program. What do you say to your daughter?

Maybe your family owns a successful business. You started with one store but now have hundreds of stores across several states. A family of deep faith, your religious beliefs are inseparable from the way you live your lives — including your business decisions. You close your stores on Sundays to honor a day of rest and give your employees time with their families. Though similar stores often pay minimum wage, your full-time employees receive a starting salary almost double the minimum. Full-time employees also are eligible for excellent health insurance plans.

Under the new health care law you will be forced to pay significant fines if your insurance coverage does not include contraceptive and abortive services. Such services, which violate your religious belief that all life is precious, have never been covered under your company insurance plan. You request an exemption but are told your religious beliefs are irrelevant because you are making a profit. You will be fined less money if you offer no insurance, but ceasing coverage would harm your employees. What do you do?

These scenarios are based on real cases happening across the country — a country where people originally came to escape religious persecution. They demonstrate a trend toward a dangerous redefinition of “freedom of religion” to mean simply “freedom of worship.”

The forced compartmentalization of faith fundamentally conflicts with the protection of religious freedom. Our First Amendment freedoms are deemed subordinate, when in fact our Founding Fathers revered religious freedom by giving it the highest form of protection under law. Thomas Jefferson emphasized the value of freedom of conscience when he stated that “no provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”

Freedom of religion is more than freedom of worship. Freedom of religion is the freedom to live every aspect of our lives according to our faith. When individuals are faced with choosing between exercising their faith or defending a lawsuit or paying a fine, they are being deprived of a guaranteed constitutional right.

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