Payh Blog
Industrial machinery and the construction crane
Aug 29, 2018

A Strange Rule?

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat!’ -2 Thessalonians 3:10


Would Paul and the Bible have been acceptable to modern day politically-correct pundits? After all, the welfare society has ruled out the necessity of work for many welfare recipients even though they are able-bodied. Some are not, but many others are. Why is this a biblical rule? Does God not agree with a primarily socialist policy? Even in countries which are not necessarily labeled as socialist but are prosperous in their capitalist environment, abundantly-provided welfare – even for those who do not need it – is king.
Those poor countries which could use it most do not, or they do not have the means to provide it. Is it possible to provide welfare (in most cases, coerced alms) for those most desperate for it and not for many others who could work but will not? How do you justly create such a demarcation between the genuine have-nots and those who do not really need assistance?
There are always those who protest vehemently to grant welfare to those who have no genuine argument to receive it. The Bible commands us to remember the poor, but determining who “the poor are is not an exact science, especially when you view the poor in some much less wealthy international countries versus the poor in prosperous western society. There is little comparison, which world travelers well know.
Panhandlers in countries like the United States largely make a very good income in their chosen profession of panhandling. It is difficult to separate the truly needy from the scammers on most street corners who end up restricting the alms from those who truly need it. There is no guilt on the part of such actors.
Perhaps there is truly an argument for more general welfare when unemployment is high and there are few jobs available; but when unemployment plummets because of worthy government policy, there ends up being more jobs available and not enough willing workers to take them, which is currently the situation in the United States. If habits proliferate from worse times to the good times, who would choose to work if they can do nothing and still eat? Not following Paul’s rule has deleterious consequences for both the people who take advantage of welfare in order to not work and still eat and also for the entire society in general.
One: Over-abundant forced welfare decreases the charitable help coming voluntarily from those more blessed to those less so. The “socialism falsely described in the New Testament Church (Acts 4:32) thoroughly misses the point that in the New Testament Church community, mutual help is totally voluntary out of love for God and for their neighbor in the church, and not from a mandated government tax-collection. Such impersonal government-coerced largess completely vitiates the grace, mercy, and love coming from the giver and the gratefulness and love reciprocally generated in the receiver.
Two: Removing voluntary compassion opportunities decreases the virtue of the whole society and results in a harsher and more selfish demeanor in the population at large. The moral erosion in the consequent society leads to a degenerative impact on the world. The result is a world which erodes into selfishness, resentment, and covetousness.
When Jesus commands us to “remember the poor, He is not commanding us to erect an impersonal, general, and coerced government program but to examine our own hearts and act out of voluntary compassion to help meet our neighbors’ needs. This is good for both the giver and the receiver. It generates within each what is encouraging and character-building for both. It is a redemptive salvation for the whole society. Satan seeks to destroy this opportunity. He is the suggester of many government welfare programs because he knows the evil it can and may produce.
While such a rule in 2 Thessalonians sounds cruel and vindictive to many, it is in reality redemptive medicine for the soul of both the giver and the receiver. Unfortunately, a fallen society driven to pursue its fallen nature does not see this God’s way. The believer must rise above unfortunate government policies and wisely “remember the poor out of the compassion of his own heart. “Blessed is he that wisely doth the poor man’s case consider; for when the time of trouble is, the Lord will him deliver. (Psalm 41:1, Scottish Metrical Psalms, 1650)
This Labor Day, be reminded once again that work is an essential element of human life. God created men and women along with their children to find pleasure and purpose in their work. Labor is a primary calling for God’s human creation and was before the Fall as well as after. Sin only introduced difficulty and frustration to work, not the natural calling to do it. Joy in the Lord will overcome the adversity sin brings in work. Nevertheless, the Bible declares that if man chooses not to work, neither should he eat. It is a good incentive to do what men and women and children were created by God to do.


“Give me a faithful heart, guided by Thee, that each departing day henceforth may see some work of love begun, some deed of kindness done, some wanderer sought and won, something for Thee.
(3rd verse of S. Dryden Phelps’ hymn, “Savior, Thy Dying Love Thou Gavest Me, 1862)
 

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Lanterns With Different Colors Hanging On The Old Wood
Aug 22, 2018

Watching at Midnight

“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. -Matthew 25:13


What a master storyteller Jesus was and is! His parables were well-crafted to both intrigue His hearers, because they were drawn from pictures common to first century Jewish life, as well as always elucidating a particular truth essential to salvation. These parables are profound; they are a matchless enlightening of the Gospel message, both the intricacy and simplicity of your redemption.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins, which Jesus tells here, pricks the ears of His audience, for they know well the peculiarities of first century Jewish weddings. The concept of maidens going out to meet the bridegroom at midnight is most familiar to them but alien to Gentile ears, especially in the modern era. Yet this is not an insurmountable problem for the one who really desires to grasp the truth of God’s Word, a seeker eager to do the research. “Study to show yourself approved to God…accurately dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
The lesson of this parable is crucial to the living of your life today, whether or not you see it as essential to your survival. It is vital in that you must immediately be about “procuring oil because it won’t be available later when you must have it, no matter how hard you try to obtain it. This oil which must be in your possession prior to midnight, or, that is, prior to the unknown arrival time of the Bridegroom, cannot be bought with all the money in the world.
What is this oil? Oil is the fuel which keeps your lamp burning. The light of your lamp never goes out as long as fuel is there. Without this oil, one is not able to greet the Bridegroom when He comes and immediately enter with Him into His open-door home for a great banquet. This door then, according to Jesus’ words, closes irrevocably!
The oil to light your lamp is God Himself; the actual presence of God is your oil. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: The Father who sends His Son and sends His Spirit; The Son who is the visible manifestation of the Triune God, the Savior, the Redeemer of lost mankind; the Spirit who shines light on this Son, who sparks your salvation and comforts you. God in all three persons is the oil of your lamp.
This oil is procured in your persistent seeking of Him. It is accumulated through a growing relationship with Him; in loving Him, worshipping Him, and respecting Him with awe and reverence. Little by little, or much by much, in the seeking and finding of Him, oil is filling your jar. But then also, like the thief on his cross in sincere and humble repentance beside Jesus, it might flow, more unusually so, into your jar all at once. In any case, the oil required to keep your lamp burning as you greet the Bridegroom is abundantly supplied. However, attempting to procure it when the Bridegroom is already on His way is simply a lost cause.
Jesus tells this parable during the last few days before His crucifixion, essentially only moments before His death. It is a timely, very significant warning not to be ignored. They are words to hang your life on. He says you must be diligently watching; that is, actively watching, not stagnantly watching. Be about the business of getting this oil, living today with eternal priorities, that is, living with continuous watching, yearning, and sensitivity for His arrival. He Himself tells you poignantly, “Yes, I am coming soon! Will your continual response be, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!?


“Rejoice, all ye believers, and let your lights appear; the evening is advancing, and darker night is near. The Bridegroom is arising, and soon He draweth nigh. Up, pray, and watch, and wrestle; at midnight comes the cry.
(1st verse of Laurentius Laurenti’s hymn, “Rejoice, All Ye Believers, 1700)
 

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White clouds on blue sky
Aug 14, 2018

Living Well, Dying Well

“Enoch walked faithfully with God, and then he was no more, because God took him away. -Genesis 5:24


It is said there are only two certain things in life: death and taxes. But for at least two who lived previously, these two never knew death. Enoch and Elijah never passed through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, according to the Bible. Moses, though, dying at the age of 120, appeared with non-dying Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus and three of His disciples many years after they had walked on Earth. Moses, with Elijah, obviously appeared as himself.
What did Paul really see in heaven? As far as we know absolutely, only two purely human persons ever saw into heaven before dying: The Apostles Paul and John. But that was through events supernaturally accomplished by Jesus Christ for both Paul and John. Others have not experienced this from what Scripture tells us. Paul’s depiction of heaven, of which he did not tell us much, is that it was not relevant or even obvious to him that he was “in the body or out of it; it was quite the same.
Then, there are those believers and unbelievers who will still be living when Jesus returns and history as we know it comes to an end. They will not die, but together with the rest of previously-lived humanity, will face Judgment. Then their future will be made clear as related to us in Matthew 25.
You do not know experientially what transpires immediately upon your death. When that death will occur is yet a mystery to you, but not to God who knows every day of your life ordained for you. We do know Whom we trust and that His promises are true. But believers have not experienced what “life will be like immediately beyond their final breath.
Paul’s memory of fourteen years of his “third heaven experience parallels entirely what he experienced in life; though beyond his imagination, it was not a “strange experience to him. Moses and Elijah conversed with Jesus as naturally as they had known Him on Earth, as the visible One, the eternal Word, the divine expression of the Triune God; this is before He took on eternal flesh in His incarnation in the womb of His mother, Mary. I rather think, though, that Moses and Elijah were aware of Jesus’ life and ministry on Earth up to that point.
Enoch’s life is characterized in Genesis as “walking faithfully with God. Such is “living well concisely defined! And then it says God took him, snatched him up to heaven. Is this not what similarly happens to the believer who trusts in Jesus, walks with God, dies, and then is immediately with Him in Paradise? Enoch’s experience is somewhat different, for he appears not to traverse the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but the result is apparently the same. The three disciples saw Moses and Elijah and apparently recognized them conversing with Jesus on the Mount, obviously as natural as life itself.
Receiving an eternal body as described in 1 Corinthians 15 comes later for all believers at once, but life in Paradise before that is still something entirely recognizable. The conclusion to be drawn from all these “windows into the plan of God is for each of us to live well by walking today with God, and thus dying well, being immediately with the Lord and also with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
There is no fear in this. The challenge and the goal for you now is to “walk faithfully with God in the strength of the Righteous One, Jesus, and then traverse with Him the Valley of the Shadow of Death, which He Himself did. Living well by faith promises dying well.


“Jesus lives and death is now but my entrance into glory. Courage, then, my soul, for thou hast a crown of life before thee; thou shalt find thy hopes were just. Jesus is the Christian’s trust.
(5th verse of Christian Gellert’s hymn, “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I, 1757)
 

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Concept of choice with crossroads spliting in two ways
Aug 08, 2018

Your World- and Life-View

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. -Isaiah 5:20


There are a multitude of choices in life. Especially in our prosperous Western Civilization, life offers a cornucopia, a veritable smorgasbord of things and activities to choose from. Many people today have more resources than either their parents or their grandparents enjoyed at their same age. They have more directions seemingly to choose, how to invest their time, and with whom to do it. Those choices, whether or not you think them entirely neutral, always have a differentiated value: good or evil. There really are no neutral choices.
Some may certainly appear to be neutral to you, like choosing Cheerios or Wheaties for breakfast; both are probably “good choices. You certainly wouldn’t choose rat poison. But seeking God’s will for your life or taking your own path involves moral choices which are either good or evil. The determining factor to choose one or the other stems from your personal world- and life-view, even if you haven’t really thought about such or feel you have consciously developed one. Everyone has a world- and life-view, even if it is one which is a bit incoherent.
Where does your world- and life-view come from, you ask? Actually, a number of sources. The fact that you are conceived in sin; your parental upbringing; your input or lack of input from personal faith and church; from the Bible; your education; your friends and companions; your interaction with the world; your health; your personality; your innate skills and gifts. All have an impact in a developing world- and life-view. Or perhaps we should also say your developing world- and life-view determines how powerfully or not you are influenced by those varied people and things in your world and in your life. It flows both ways.
In any case, your view eventually becomes more settled in forming your opinions and the choices you make. It becomes the bell-weather in what you label good or evil, whether or not they actually are. Our text claims that things which are actually good are called by some “evil and things which are actually evil are called “good. Your choices are critically important, for they ultimately determine your end.
Ignoring God and participating in what is evil determines a destructive end, and seeking to honor God by doing that which He defines as genuinely good in His Word proves to be a saving end. The Bible is quite clear in that whether or not you think it so. His Word never fails to be precisely accurate.
Are you in need of a great revision of your world- and life-view? Does it need reconstruction in view of what the Bible teaches? These are vital questions in thinking about your eventual end. Will it be a destructive or a saving end? The matter is in your hands. There are many who call evil “good and good “evil. Do not put yourself in that category. Take God’s Word seriously! Let it form and inform your own world- and life-view.


“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes; that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake, I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.
(6th verse of “How Firm a Foundation, 1787)
 

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Close Lion In National Park Of Kenya
Aug 01, 2018

Satan Made Me Do It

“Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. -1 Peter 5:8


A perfectly reasonable excuse? You think? Of course, making this excuse assumes there is such a thing as Satan, or a master devil. Many self-described Christians do not believe in a personal devil such as Satan, according to the well-known surveyor of religious followers, Barna.
Most of the Barna survey results expose those who take these surveys to be all over the map on any number of religious issues, depicting a real lack of knowledge and commitment. Their equivocations attack their credibility. Many of the respondents’ various replies are actually contradictory. Barna, nor other authentic Christians, have any certainty the self-described Christians in the survey really are followers of Christ, proven by their answers, especially as compared to genuine believers who are defined differently in the Bible. Of course, there are always pretenders scattered among genuine believers, as the book of Jude readily points out.
We would be hard pressed to offer much concrete evidence of Satan as he is were it not for his exposure by Jesus in the wilderness, as they engaged in combative, yet personal conversation. Also, the book of Job (and especially its first chapter) draws the curtain back between the spiritual and physical world, uncovering this diabolical one and his obvious purposes. And, though he is not called “Satan in Genesis 3, the talking serpent is unmistakable as the devil in his cunning deception of our first parents. If you believe the Bible is God’s Word, you cannot deny the existence of Satan.
He is so well known to people of deep faith that even the scholarly Martin Luther threw his ink well at him, hitting the wall, and Jesus, knowing Satan was behind Peter’s unbelief, said to Peter on one occasion, “Get behind me, Satan! Is he as real to you that you take similar actions or even speak out loud to him? Belief in Satan as your chief enemy is a faith-result of believing in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If Satan is real to Jesus, how can he not be real to you?
But the question remains: Does Satan make you sin? He does! But is he rendered powerless to overcome you when you take Jesus at His word? The Bible tells us you can escape Satan’s temptations by following Jesus’ lead. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Satan is lethally dangerous and very shrewd. He purposefully destroys lives. But he is also vulnerable and can be defeated.
The struggle with sin and Satan is faith-producing. It is what best creates true Christian character, the very thing Jesus desires in you. No believer is beyond such struggle; all are tempted with sin of every kind, all must struggle with Satan, and all are given the opportunity to produce heroic Christian character prior to standing before their Judge. As Isaac Watts wrote, “Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?
Life in this world requires vigilance against sin and Satan. Your guard can never come down as it will when you let your faith become complacent. Rest in Jesus certainly, but also be strong in Jesus. His strength within you is your salvation. But Satan, the prowling lion, devours many “someones.


“Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb, and shall I fear to own His cause or blush to speak His name?
Sure I must fight if I would reign. Increase my courage, Lord; I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by thy Word.
(1st and 4th verse of Isaac Watts’ hymn, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross, 1724)
 

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