Monthly Archives: March 2017

God’s Word Is The Standard

The following is an excerpt from my book, Our Most Valuable Treasure: Psalm 119 – The Key To Unlocking His Word.

Who established and determined the exact length of a “foot” as a unit of measure?  One strong theory traces the origin of the length of a “foot” back nearly 900 years.  In England during the reign of Henry I, the king, it is believed, determined the exact size for the “foot”.

The 12-inch foot didn’t become a common unit of measurement until the reign of Henry I of England during the early 12th century, which has led some scholars to believe it was standardized to correspond to the 12-inch foot of the king.[1]

If units of measure differed all throughout the world over different periods of time, it would lead to chaos and confusion.  Having a defined, standardized unit of measure became the way to understand distances, define capacities, and allowed for fair trade.  We know an inch, a foot, and a yard are the same distance now as they were 300 years ago.  The inch, foot, mile, and all other units of measure, are the authority when it comes to measuring.  We also have a unit of measure for determining truth.

 Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. – Psalm 119:89

 The important term in this verse is the word “settled” as used in the NKJV.   Other versions use phrases such as “stand firm” or “firmly fixed.”  The idea of this verse is God’s Word has been set or decided.   It is not up for debate or change.

You can take great comfort in the fact that His Word is not changing.  What was true in His Word two years or 2000 years ago, is still true today.   It is our great measuring rod. We can take any philosophy, ideology, teaching, or opinion from all time periods, and compare it to God’s Word, knowing His Word is the standard.

We can trust God’s Word.  It has been settled and will continue for all eternity.  There is great comfort from the fact that you can always count on the Word’s unchangeableness.   It is solid, consistent, and settled.

The main point to remember is since His Word is settled and unchanging, all things we encounter can be compared to the Word to see if it measures up to the truth as defined by Scripture.  His Word is the standard against which everything else is measured.

This is the first and most important concept because it determines authority.  If there was debate about the exact length of an inch or a foot, there would be no way to determine between individuals the length of anything.  Distance would be subjective, capacities would be irrelevant, and confusion would reign.  There would be no voice of authority for measurements.  It is the same when discussing truth.

Perhaps the reason the modern evangelical church experiences confusion on a variety of issues, is due to the lack of agreement on the standard used to determine truth.  Truth cannot be defined by a variety of ever changing markers.

Feelings, experiences, and cultural acceptances are too often used as the markers for morality.  Believing God’s Word is true, gives us a solid standard as His Word becomes the source of authority for us.

As social norms change, there has been a strong push for the Word of God to be changed.  Even within the evangelical church, there is substantial pressure to adapt and change Scripture.  It becomes explained away, distorted, and its meaning becomes twisted to suit modern thinking.  David and Jason Benham put it well when they said,

 There are only two ways to approach the Bible; start with you – where you take your beliefs and experience, then wrap the Bible around them.  Or you start with God – where you take the Bible and wrap your beliefs and experience around it.[2]

 The psalmist is making his case in no uncertain terms, “Your word is settled” and there is no other option.   His Word is defined, unchanged, and remains authoritative.   It is the measuring stick we use to line everything else up against.  God’s Word is where we must turn for truth.  God’s Word is the foundation or back bone upon which everything else rests.  God’s Word must be the standard to which everything else is measured.

We have a tendency in our modern church culture to look for extra-Biblical sources to validate the truth of the Bible.  Whether it’s other ancient texts or artifacts from a long gone society, we use those sources as the means to determine if the Bible is true.  Somehow believing an archeological discovery proves His Word.  It’s like using a size 12 man’s shoe to decide if the ruler is correct!  The ruler is the determining factor of the size of the shoe, not the shoe determining if the ruler is accurate.

Because His Word is the Standard, we can measure everything else against it.  It is the final authority.

Blessings My Friend,

Jeff Millslagle

PS. If you enjoy these periodic posts of mine, would you please “like” and share it on your personal Facebook page? I’d greatly appreciate it!

[1] http://mentalfloss.com/article/25108/why-are-there-5280-feet-mile-making-sense-measurements.

[2] Living Among Lions, David and Jason Benham, W Publishing Group 2016, page 118.

 

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I Want My Name Changed

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also I took Titus with me . – Galatians 2:1 NKJV

 A leader of the early church is a man named Barnabas.  He enters the pages of the New Testament in Acts 4:36.  He was from the island of Cyprus and became a follower of Jesus.  How this happened we are not told.  While he moved to Jerusalem, his sold some of his land, giving the proceeds to the early church(Acts 4:36). He was a cousin of Mark (Colossians 4:10).

His name was originally Joses and we are told the apostles gave him the name Barnabas, meaning “son of encouragement.”

It would seem the name fit him as he was first one of the first believers in Jerusalem to welcome Saul, latter called Paul, into the church (Acts 9:27).

Years later, he is sent out by the Jerusalem church leaders to Antioch.  In the same passage (Acts 11:22-26), he is described as one “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” He made contact again with Paul, bringing him back to Antioch, where he and Paul served the church an entire year.  They “taught a great many people” while in Antioch and even effected the church culture so much as there was a change of the name of the followers of Jesus. In Antioch, under the teaching of Paul and Barnabas, for the first time, believers in Jesus were referred to as “Christians.”

He of course accompanied Paul on the first missionary journey and he played a major role in the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.

Barnabas was a man of service.  He had a mission – serving His Lord.  He was a person who was known for his encouraging nature, quiet leadership and deep devotion to Jesus.

I so want to be like that guy.  Known as being an encourager, his name is even changed by church leaders!  On the front of mission work, yet known more for the supporting role in the work he did with Paul, Barnabas was a leader the church needed for the time.  I think the same type of leader is needed for our church today.  A leader known to want to serve people, having the ability to teach and lead others, and known as a source for encouragement.

How about you?  Would early church leaders be tempted to change your name?  I would be afraid to ask about any name change for me as I am sure my dominate trait is not one of encouragement.

But we need Barnabas’s in our churches.  Be an encourager and be devoted to following Jesus – like our friend, Barnabas.

In His Service!

-jm

Thoughts From Galatians – Part 2

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. – Galatians 1:6-8 NKJV

 The gospel is under attack.

This isn’t something new as evidenced in Paul’s harsh words to the churches of Galatia.  He is astonished to hear of the “turning away” by some from the message of grace.

The simplicity of the grace of God, given to us and not earned, faced great opposition in Paul’s day and the message is under constant attack in our church culture.  In verses 6 through 10 of Galatians 1, see no less than 5 points Paul was trying to instill into the Galatian churches and these 5 points are relevant for our day.

  1. The Gospel message is often under attack. If it happened to the 1st century church, there is a good chance it happens to us.  Don’t be surprised when the message of the cross is attacked. (verse 7a)
  1. The attack is meant to “pervert” or corrupt the gospel. The word here means change from one form to another form – opposite of the former.  The attack is actually meant to change the entire message. (verse 7b)
  1. False teaching often comes in a form that looks credible. Paul says “even if an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you…”  False teaching perverting the gospel almost never comes in an obvious evil-looking form.  (verse 8a)
  1. We must always be on guard and not let the message be swayed by the messenger. We must be ready to take action, even aggressive action against the attack. The term Paul uses is translated in many versions as “accursed.”  This is a strong word meaning to treat it as something you would throw out of your house.  Protecting the gospel may need us to take aggressive action. (verse 8b)
  1. Finally from verse 10, we learn our stance may not be popular. We are to please God. If we were just to make people happy, we wouldn’t be servants of God.

For nearly 2000 years, the message of Paul has remained true and applicable.  His constant reminder to the Galatian churches is also for us, the message of grace is under attack and we must not waver from the gospel of Jesus.  His grace is a free gift from God and it is the only way we can find salvation.  Not through our works, but solely through His grace.

In His Service!

-jm

My book on Psalm 119, Our Most Valuable Treasure, is now available on Amazon! For a limited time, the price has been reduced to $8.99.

One final request….. if you enjoy my periodic posts, would you please share a link to my blog and/or the book via Amazon on your personal Facebook page?  I would greatly appreciate it!

Thoughts From Galatians – Part 1

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. – Galatians 1:3-4 NKJV

In the New Testament book of Galatians, Paul mentions 5 aspects of Christs’ redemptive work.  While he lists these in quick secession, it is worth some time to look at each phrase of Paul’s description as recorded in verse 4.

First, Paul mentions Jesus “gave Himself.”  It is the opening act of redemption where Jesus gave Himself.  He wasn’t forced into it or coerced.  He willingly “gave” or we might say, “sacrificed” His own life as a necessary step in God’s redemptive plan.

Next, Paul says this was done “for our sins.”  There can be a temptation to think of Jesus’ act of sacrifice for the world at large and miss the personal application of His death directly addressing our individual sin.  Your sin (along with mine) demanded action – sacrifice.  Jesus gave himself for “our sins.”  Don’t let the truth of the depravity of your sin escape your understanding of His work.  You needed redemption just as much as anyone.

Thirdly, Paul says “that He might deliver us.”  It is His work that delivers or rescues us.  It is not something we did.  We didn’t clean up our lives and then find Christ.  No, He delivered or rescued us which allowed us to grow and mature as believers.

Paul then mentions how we are delivered “from this present evil age,” meaning we are now citizens of a different kingdom.  This current age is “evil” or worldly, but we are now part of something better.  We are now part of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Our future is better than anything we can imagine in the present.

Finally, Paul says this all “according to the will of God.”  It is His desire for us to experience deliverance or rescue from the bondage of sin.  It is His desire for us to grow as believers and I think, it is His desire for us to know His will.

So, here in just 2 verses from Galatians, we see a quick snapshot of what Christ has done and continues to do for us:

  1. Jesus gave Himself
  2. For our sins
  3. That he might deliver us
  4. From this present evil age
  5. According to the will of God.

God, through His Son Jesus Christ, is doing an awesome thing for us, in us and through us.  It is a gift from Him as we are undeserving of His gift.  His deliverance allows us to partake of greater and better things because His redemptive work was all part of God’s plan.

Galatians is the “go-to” source for teaching on God’s grace.  And we’ve looked at just 2 verses!  If you ever struggle with believing God’s grace is for you, spend some time in Galatians.

In His Service!

-jm

My book on Psalm 119, Our Most Valuable Treasure, is now available on Amazon! For a limited time, the price has been reduced to $8.99.

One final request….. if you enjoy my periodic posts, would you please share a link to my blog and/or the book via Amazon on your personal Facebook page?  I would greatly appreciate it!

All Of Us Can Learn Something

The Book of Acts is the historical account of the early church.  Beginning right after the resurrection of Jesus, the book’s author, Luke traces the growth of the early church.  The first few chapters the book concentrate on the Apostles, mainly Peter & John.  Then we see some additional characters enter the picture, highlighted by the first martyr of the church, Steven.  Philip (not the Apostle), Barnabas and a few others are listed.  There is the conversion of Saul, later called Paul, in Acts 9 who dominates the narrative for the rest of the book.

But there is one entire chapter devoted to Peter and it’s an eye opener.  It is Acts chapter 10.

To get the complete picture of what happens in Acts 10, you need to read the last 12 verses of Acts 9.  Peter, has a phenomenal time of ministry in Lydda and later in Joppa.  First he heals a guy who has been paralyzed for 8 years.  Because of that healing, “all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35).

This is followed by an even more remarkable event in Joppa.  2 followers of Jesus hear Peter is in Lydda and make a bee-line to him “imploring” him to Joppa because a woman named Dorcas had died.  This lady was deeply loved by many and Luke describes her as being a woman “full of good works and charitable deeds.”

Peter goes there finding burial preparations have begun (vs 37).  Peter tells people to leave the room and prays (vs 40).  Then an event we can only imagine happens, the dead woman, Dorcas, is raised form the dead!  Words just can’t describe this event dramatically enough.

Right on the heels of all these great ministry victories, Acts 10 takes place.  This is the chapter where God reveals to Peter how salvation and ministry is not just a Jewish thing, but something everyone – even gentiles – can experience.  God shows this to him in a vision and with a visitor.  This visitor is a gentile, a Roman centurion, basically an enemy of the Jews, but he is described as being a “devout man and one who feared God.”

This gentile Roman centurion was used by God to teach the Apostle Peter a lesson!  Peter, who just oversaw the healing of a paralyzed guy and raised a woman from the dead, is being taught a lesson through the obedience of the gentile Roman military officer!

Here’s the thought I have when looking over the events of chapters 9 and 10.

All of us can learn something.

Even if you’ve been walking with the LORD for decades.

Even if you’ve performed some great work for God.

Even if hundreds or thousands listen to your words every week.

Even if you know your Bible backwards and forwards.

Even if you’ve raised someone from the dead.

All of us can learn something.  God always wants to reveal Himself to us.  Something about His character or His Word or the hurting people around us.  We can’t ever get arrogant and think we’ve arrived.

God always has something He wants to teach us.

But I notice something else in verse 9 of Acts 10.  Peter was praying.  While it isn’t specifically mentioned, I think he was alone.  We are told he went up on the housetop to pray.  Was he trying to get away from the household business and distractions or did he just like praying outside?  Who knows, but to me I think this indicates he was alone and he was intentional about praying.

God wants to teach us but these lessons must often begin with prayer, intentional prayer where we get away from distractions and spend time with Him.  Even if we’ve just participated in some great work of ministry, God has other lessons for us to learn.

Take some time and pray.  Seek Him and see if he doesn’t teach you something.

Blessings my friend

-jm

My book on Psalm 119, Our Most Valuable Treasure, is now available on Amazon! For a limited time, the price has been reduced to $8.99.

One final request….. if you enjoy my periodic posts, would you please share a link to my blog and/or the book via Amazon on your personal Facebook page?  I would greatly appreciate it!