Payh Blog
Nov 12, 2020

No Greater Love

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

I am a combat veteran who fought in a war America lost: Vietnam. I came home by the grace of God and am living 50 years later. Very fortunately for America, her veterans, celebrated yesterday, won both World wars, as well as a host of others.

There was never a danger we would ever be consigned to speaking Vietnamese, but speaking German or Japanese were real possibilities. Were it not for America’s exceptionalism in World War II, we may have.

I am an aficionado of World War II history. I wish many more Americans of all ages were. The history is neither dry nor dusty. Not only is it riveting, but it is transformative in the lessons which can be gleaned. I am thankful for all we have been given by these valiant warriors, some who died and others who survived, even into their hundreds; as well as veterans of all the wars in which America has been engaged.

We also learn by the history and experience of war that its very nature is barely controlled chaos. Mistakes are the name of the game, overcome not only by sheer numbers and war materiel, but ultimately the sacrifice, determination, and courage of a whole generation of Americans.

They poured out their life’s blood, persevering gallantly in service in Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Europe, Germany and a host of Pacific Islands so that tyranny might be crushed. And for a time, it has.

Crosses and grave markers dot those fought-over foreign lands. Many of the vets who survived have made their way back to those hallowed cemeteries to kneel near their buddies’ resting places. For those who died and for those who served we still celebrate Veterans Day in America. Some citizens may not celebrate, for they have the freedom not to, all because millions served and some of those gave the last full measure of devotion.

Jesus spoke these descriptive words two millennia ago about folk in every age. His words were spoken not to a specific time or event, but to a compelling act of love which transcends the ages. Those words speak clearly to these life-preserving souls who over the centuries willingly gave of themselves for others, even to the point of laying down their life for their friends.

Martyrs have given their lives for the greatest Friend of all, as do those who serve Him lovingly as slaves (Romans 1:1). Nor will such be forgotten, as the last book in God’s Word declares they will come to life and reign with the Lord for whom they died.

Many lovers of their neighbors through the centuries have given their life that those friends might live. Only our Mighty God knows who each is and has recorded their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

None of them served or died in obscurity, for God knows who they are as do all those populating the Courts of Heaven. Their true significance and the memorial of their love lies in the omniscient mind and heart of our eternal God.

Jesus’ death on a cross at Calvary solidifies this act of love of those who faithfully serve and gave even to the point of death. Jesus Himself freely poured out His life blood that we might live; otherwise the service and sacrifices of these veterans and all other followers of the Lamb will have come to naught. He does not forget! I hope you didn’t either, yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

“Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure-store. Take my self and I will be ever, only, all for thee, ever, only, all for thee.”

(6th verse of Francis Havergal’s hymn, “Take My Life, And Let It Be,” 1874)

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Nov 05, 2020

Voting Produces Results

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, he turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1

This is being written well in advance of November 3. At this point I really have no idea who won. I do not even know if anyone today yet knows, because of the projected counting of mail-in ballots.

Be assured, SFTD steers clear of personal-name politics, though not from Scripture-based obedience to God’s commands. God well knows politics is part of human life. After all, God presented us with the godly instruction of Romans 13 and many other Bible passages, which refer to God-ordained human governance.

In any case, the Bible tells clearly that God directs the hearts of world leaders whom he raises up or brings to nought, turning one way or another the stream of their heart. Of course, that means not only a George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, but also an Adolph Hitler and a Josef Stalin.

Does God really direct the hearts of such heinous leaders as Hitler and Stalin? They obviously cannot over-power the sovereign God. But why are they allowed to perpetrate such evil on the populace? Both Hitler and Stalin are of their father, the devil. But where does God fit in?

This presents us with a great mystery, the mystery of sin and the goodness of God. God is not the author of sin, and His pristine character is well described in Scripture. He is perfectly holy, righteous, and good. In Him there is no blemish. So how do we account for evil leaders if God directs their hearts like a stream of water? I think such is a mystery hidden within His plan.

No matter the result of this election God is working out His sovereign plan on the earth, and we who love His Word know the final result. We know that sin continues today to present ever increasing tribulation to believers and decreasing godliness in the world, until the true King returns to establish His kingdom. The book of Revelation assures you things will get worse before they get better.

We do not know in all its details how God will accomplish His plan as He systemically moves the world toward the return of the Savior and King, but we do know He is in control and He has the back of His children in all the vicissitudes this life presents.

That does not mean you will not see hardship and trouble; you will experience the valleys of the shadow of death. But He remains ever beside you as you trust Him to deliver in one way or another. He will not give you what you cannot survive, whether in this life or beyond the veil.

We by no means even know our nation will survive till Christ’s return, but we do know His true church will prevail and all His children will be kept for eternity. The gates of hell cannot destroy the true church, nor her true members.

“God reigns” is the clarion call of the believer, no matter what the results of this election. He will never relinquish His rule nor turn from His sure plan. But He persistently exhorts you to, “…build yourselves up in your most holy faith, and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life (Jude 20-21).” So be it.

“This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet. This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done; Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one.”

(3rd verse of Maltbie Babcock’s hymn, “This Is My Father’s World,” 1901)

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Oct 28, 2020

Unknowable Humility

“Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:29

It is truly remarkable that the one who even approaches having the amazing grace of humility never thinks himself or herself humble. The one who is closest to being humble never claims he or she really is. In truth such humble people think they are actually prideful, while at the same time they continually strive to slay that pride.

They participate as we all do in this life-continuous-battle acknowledged in the quote: “I am convinced that the purpose of life is to be humbled regularly.” (Dennis Prager) They understand this fray while accepting the plan God has laid out for them.

They see their life lived out under the hand of God’s sovereignty, while all the time doing constant battle with His arch-enemy, Satan. This fallen angel has a consistent goal: stir up and sustain in every human creature the very same trait he introduced to the hearts of Adam and Eve: self-pride!

He blatantly lied to Eve that she and Adam could be just as God if they ate the fruit God forbid them to eat. Their eyes would be opened, he said, and they would be equal with God.

Of course, on its very face, such is impossible. No one can be made equal to the Creator of all, to the One and Only God, to the One who has no beginning and no end. The Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit simply is! And no one or thing even approaches Him as the eternal being. All else and all life is begun and is created. Otherwise it simply isn’t!

God said of Moses that he was very meek, more humble than any man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). It would do well to study the character of Moses in the Scripture to get a better picture of what humility is.

Jesus described himself when he said. “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest to your souls” (Matthew 11:29). Study the person of Jesus to get a true sense of what it is to be humble in your heart.

Meekness is humility. Practicing meekness is expressing a humble spirit. Yet, the meek Jesus expressed righteous anger when he drove the money-changers out of the Temple and called the Pharisees white washed tomb stones.

We get in our heads a wrong understanding of humility. It is not something we highly respect or aspire to imitate. You need to look to Jesus and to Moses to seek to imitate their humility as the pillar of your character. But it is not easily gained. It requires putting yourself to death. And that is not something we really want to do.

Philippians 2 expresses the essential elements of humility when it says you should imitate the mind of Christ in yourself. “Do nothing from self ambition or conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Think this through with the firm intention of becoming like him! If you are not intentional and you do not follow through in the grace of Jesus it will never happen. You must be convinced that you want to have the mind of Christ more than anything else in life! You strive to be humble, but you never believe you are. To you it is truly unknowable and unattainable. But it happens as you surely and steadily put the Lord Jesus Christ on your own self!

“I ask thee for the daily strength, to none that asked denied, a mind to blend with outward life, while keeping at thy side, content to fill a little space, if thou be glorified.”

(3rd verse of Anna Waring’s hymn, “Father, I Know That All My Life,” 1850)

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Oct 21, 2020


“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:19-20

By the grace of God we just sold our home in Colorado Springs where I grew up and my parents lived for over 50 years. My wife, Glenda, and I owned this home for all 16 years of our marriage. Though only living in it for a few months out of every year we accumulated a lot of “stuff” in it in those sixteen years.

My separate ministry from PAYH, which I led when Glenda and I married, took us around the world. We accumulated memories of where we served and places we visited. Later travels after leaving this ministry to concentrate on PAYH added to the “stuff.” We found out just how much when the house was packed and loaded on a truck by movers.

We all have experienced thieves, moths, and rust through the years. We know how such things impact “stuff.” We have had some “precious” things of ours stolen through the years, have somehow lost other significant possessions, and more has simply broken and worn out with age.

These are most valid reasons to not put your trust in your accumulation of temporary things; nor to worship or “treasure” them. Your real treasures should lie elsewhere. The old adage of never seeing a U-haul trailer hitched to a hearse tells the true story: you can’t take it with you. All of it burns up in the end.

The accumulation of “stuff,” however, should never be assumed to be evil in and of itself. It is the worship of “stuff” which amounts to sin. Your “stuff” can truly be a reminder of God’s care for you, of His provision for your family, and remembrancers of His love.

Your eyes should above all else continue to be fixed on your Savior’s face, beholding your real treasure, the essence of your trust, the sure repository of your forever love. (Hebrews 12)

Not in every instance is the accumulation of inessential “stuff” sin; rather, it is how you view it, how close you hold it to yourself, how unbearable it becomes for you to part with. Your one heart-propelled exclamation ought always be instead, “Give me Jesus, or I die!” Mere stuff can never take the place of your being in Christ, and His being in you!

As Saint Paul wrote, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him.” (Philippians 3:8-9)

You must keep the accumulation of “stuff” in the truest perspective. Never grasp mere things over boldly grasping Jesus Himself. He alone is your salvation, your all in all!

“My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine; for thee all the follies of sin I resign; my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”

(1st verse of William Featherston’s hymn, “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” 1864)

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Oct 14, 2020

In His Image

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:26-27

Folks sometimes post pictures of their children with a child picture of themselves to point out how they are the spitting image of one another. Is this what it means somewhat to say you are created in the image of God?

You ARE made in the image of God, yet you are visible, and God is not. So His image in you must not be your big nose or small hands, but rather your human nature, your mind, character, heart, and soul; all that lives on as “you” when your body is discarded.

Is it possible to know who you are when you exit your distinctively “you” body? I believe Paul tells you “yes” to that question when he describes his brief “translation” into heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. This is a mystery, but as Paul says, “whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell”; yet they still know one another.

So do you actually think much about what it means to be created “in the image of God?” You ought to know something about it because Scripture indicates it is a vital truth for you to grasp. It describes who you are foundationally. You are made in God’s image whether you claim it or not.

It is a good thing to do to meditate on what God’s image in you means. Do not treat it glibly, matter of factly, or just ignore it. Rather be reminded of it and do the personal research to grow in your understanding of who God is and through knowing Him knowing who you are.

Calvin wrote in his Institutes of the Christian Religion: “Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating Him to scrutinize himself.”

So take your Bible and search in it for the biblical defining of God, in all 66 books. Scripture always enlightens Scripture, so its parts reflect the truth of the whole. Scripture is never inconsistent with itself. If you find it so you are not understanding the true meaning of a text or you are taking that text out of context.

Then, also look at the magnificent Creation and see the magnificence of God in it. This is the God in whose image you are created. You are never equal to God, but His nature is reflected in you, minus your sin. As it says so poetically in Psalm 139 you are marvelously made.

Attempt to list the things you know about yourself that you believe reflect the image of God in you. An exercise like this will help you to look at the face of God and then at yourself through this lens to know yourself more thoroughly.

It ought to humble you at the very least. God’s glory does that. Your ultimate goal in all this is to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is your glory.

“Clearer still we see thy hand in man whom thou hast made for thee; ruler of creation’s glory, image of thy majesty. Music, art, the fruitful garden, all the labor of his days, are the calling of his Maker to the harvest feast of praise.”

(2nd verse of David Clowney’s hymn “God, All Nature Sings Thy Glory,” 1960)

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Oct 08, 2020

Expert Schemers are We

“God made man upright, but he has sought out many schemes.” – Ecclesiastes 7:29

Men and women are schemers. Does it surprise you? Yet the Bible calls you such. If sin impacts you, and it does, it necessitates the nature and capacity to scheme. It is a route chosen and manipulated to really try to avoid God. Adam and Eve did this right after they had chosen to believe the lie to be equal to Him, rather than love, obey, and worship Him. The scheming really began in earnest.

Scheming is defined by your planning, either unconsciously or purposefully, to avoid the presence of God; avoiding His perceived eyes on you or simply ignoring His commandments. This is because of an avid pursuit of other desires not conforming to His expressed and loving desires for you.

Being in God’s image, and not an animal, machine, or non-human concoction we have an imaginative, magnificent mind to scheme well. But the One whom we image not only sees through those schemes, but in a real sense laughs at our numerous machinations. Yet His love for us keeps Him resolute in “bringing many souls to glory.”

In hindsight we see quite clearly the lie the ultimate schemer, the serpent, foisted on Eve, and through Eve on Adam. Then they both schemed to avoid their Creator as they tried then to escape His presence. Alas, we follow in their footsteps. Our imaginations work overtime in thinking we can pull one over on God. He will not see, He won’t be aware, or He simply will not care. None of these are true.

I rather think you need to sharpen your perspective on just who God is. Having and keeping in your mind a clear view of the God who is, will keep you perhaps from attempts at scheming with the awareness that He knows, sees, and yet, above all, still loves you.

Rather than scheming to avoid Him, wrestle with God in vital relationship. Know that it is God with whom you have to do with absolutely everything in your life. Get into a living give and take with the Lord. The worst thing you can do is ignore Him. That is the worst scheme of all.

“Search me, O God, my heart discern; try me, my inmost thought to learn; and lead me, if in sin I stray, to choose the everlasting way.”

(The Psalter, Psalm 139:14-24, 1912)

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Oct 01, 2020

A “God” Not Worthy of Your Belief

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8

Stephen Hawking, the famous, some say brilliant, theoretical physicist, now dead, denied the existence of God. He said the universe has no need of a Creator; a universe, he claimed, which was able to create itself, and, apparently, sustain itself.

This is exactly why I say, “some say brilliant.” Because he may certainly be very smart, but he is not very wise, and his concepts of philosophy and those truths which are beyond the material universe are self-contradictory. He claims, for example, that philosophy is dead, only science exists, while in the same breath he is philosophically musing. Yet many still bowed in obeisance to his prowess.

The massive problem with his discussion of things spiritual and universal is that Hawking displayed a very diminished view of the God who actually is. His view of God equates somewhat to many primitive and erroneous views of God now and in the past, like the worshiping of an assortment of inanimate things, the worshiping of elements of living creation itself, or worshiping a human construct of who and what God is.

You can see this in the description Hawking believes of God in his writings. He has no concept or understanding of the God revealed in the Bible as well as what is manifest by observing the incredible universe, for he never describes any such God while continually pointing to a “straw-man” of who He isn’t. This is what atheists do.

You would think Hawking would be moved to at least speculate on the majesty of God by the sheer immensity, complexity, intricacy, and purposeful design of all creation. But Hawking instead relies on his own leap of faith, with no shred of extant evidence, to say his personal view of God is not. And yet there is really no plausible, observable evidence to suggest the universe devised its own making out of nothing.

Hawking is aware the universe is inexorably moving, expanding. So he conjectures it must have begun from a single spot, a spot infinitesimally small, and all on its own accord. Actually defying the laws of nature, which Hawking believes rule the universe, these same laws, nevertheless, caused a random creation itself out of nothing. This is a supposition with absolutely no evidence.

Life, however, does not evolve from non-life, as evidenced from continuous observation and scientific research. This fact is a law of nature. And the immensity and order of the universe remains beyond our comprehension. To think it all began unmoved, unenergized by something or someone is a massive stretch of disconnected imagination.

Yet, for all our study of space, and planets, and galaxies we have yet to find life or signs of life beyond earth. Is, then, the whole of this immense universe meant only to impress and serve as overwhelming pointers to the greatness of God, for those who dwell or have dwelled on the earth; those creatures who are made themselves in the image of their most powerful and magnificent Creator?

If this is so, the Creator has an abundant focus and purposeful intent on those who dwell and have dwelt on the earth. But do those who have lived on the earth from the beginning merely pass out of human memory while falling short of the prospect of future being, forever? Is this the general sense of mankind?

Or is there an instinct, a faith-sense of eternity in the heart of man? What thoughts of this really dwell in man’s inner consciousness? Are these eternal instincts worthy of your consideration? I truly believe Hawking died not really convinced he was moving into a realm of empty nothingness. In his inner consciousness he expected something would succeed his last breath. “[God] has put eternity into man’s heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The greatness and immensity of the universe point to the existence of a majestic, infinite, unfathomable God. One to be worshipped and praised on the basis of His works alone; One who draws from His creatures endless praise and love. The god of Stephen Hawking and similar atheists is not worthy of belief, because such a god simply is not.

But there is a God who is worthy of your belief. It is the God who is! O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

“High in the heavens His throne is fixed forever, His kingdom rules o’er all from pole to pole; bless ye the Lord through all His wide dominion, bless His most holy name, O thou my soul. Bless Him forever, wondrous in might, bless Him, His servants that in His will delight.”

(5th verse of Psalm 103 from The Psalter, 1912)

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Sep 23, 2020

Seeing God

“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him. Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’“ – John 14:7-9

Only one person of the Triune God is visible to your eyes. You serve such a God, who is three persons in one, but you will only be able to see Him through His Son, upon whom you will one day look face-to-face.

We read in the Scriptures that no one has ever seen God, and in the child’s catechism we learn that “God is a spirit and does not have a body like man,” implying you cannot see the Father with your eyes. Should you be like some of the disciples, including Philip, and ask Jesus to show you the Father? Read again Jesus’ answer to such a question. But just as the Holy Spirit, you do not have the capacity to see God the Father. Two of the persons of the Trinity are fully invisible to your eyes. But Jesus is and always has been the visible image of the Godhead. The Apostle John said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. and the Word was God,” and this same Word is and has always been the visible image of God.

In the first chapter of Job we are told that Satan presented himself before the Lord. Did Satan see God in this encounter? This is the spiritual world made up of persons not visible, except for when they make themselves visible, just as God and two of His angels did when visiting Abraham near Sodom and Gomorrah. Do you know if “the Lord” in this revelation in Genesis is God the Father or the pre-incarnate Son? But because the Scriptures tell us in John 1:18 that no one has ever seen God, then the theophanies of the Old Testament are always the second person of the Trinity.

He appeared to Joshua as the Captain of the Lord’s Hosts. He wrestled with Jacob. He was in the burning bush and spoke to Moses. He was in the pillar of fire and towering cloud which led Israel out of Egypt. These are “theophanies”, visible manifestations of God to man, and it is Jesus before His birth, as the Second Person of the Godhead, and after who expresses the Triune God to all His creatures.

So what is God, the Father, like? According to His Son’s revelation He is just like Jesus. The same in His nature. The same in His character. The same in every trait as Jesus except human flesh. Jesus told you He always did the Father’s works, He spoke the Father’s words, He has the Father’s heart. “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” This is something difficult for you and me to fully grasp, but such is received and accepted by faith.

Your faith receives as true the truth that flows from Jesus, for He is the way, the truth, and the life. We may not comprehend it all, for God is infinitely beyond us, but He reveals Himself to us in His Son. It is not possible for you to fully comprehend the Almighty God, for you would be seeking what Eve sought when she believed the serpent, who told her in eating the fruit she would be as God. Utter foolishness! There is and will always be only one God, who has been from all eternity, and will be forever. All else is created and must be sustained by God.

If you truly desire to see God, look intently at Jesus Christ. Be intimate with His Word, for He is the Living Word. Imitate Him in all His ways. Place Him in the forefront of your mind and heart. Look always to Jesus as the founder and perfecter of your faith. Love Him with all your heart, strength, and mind. You will never know God apart from knowing and loving Jesus. “No one comes to the Father except through Him.”

“Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.”

(1st verse of Walter Chalmers Smith’s hymn, “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise, “ 1867)

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Sep 16, 2020

Recognizing Jesus

“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” – Matthew 11:3

“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” In human terms you might label this the multi-million/billion/trillion-dollar question. But in the most significant terminology you could ever use, this is THE question which supersedes all other questions.

John the Baptist, imprisoned with a death penalty hanging over his head, sent messengers to Jesus with this peculiar question to ask him. For some reason John had become mystified over who Jesus really was, and this after already saying of him as he came to receive baptism from John, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

With what John had said of Jesus already you would think he was absolutely sure that Jesus was and is the Messiah. But you must remember that even though Jesus called John among the greatest of prophets, John was still a mortal, fallen creature born with original sin just like the rest of us. Yet he was a redeemed man, redeemed by the very One whom he announced to the world, as it was prophesied of him hundreds of years prior in the few last words of the entire Old Testament: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”

Jesus said of John, “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” And then this “Elijah” sent messengers from prison to ask Jesus if He was THE ONE! Was he the one who had come to set captives free, to break down the bars of captivity? John thought of such promises of the Messiah as he languished in Herod’s prison, still a captive.

This question is also before all mankind. It is asked of you. Is Jesus the one to whom all the world must come for salvation? Is He the promised Messiah? Or shall we look for another? Another person? Another way? Another means of salvation?

This was asked of His disciples – “Who do people say that I am? But who do YOU say that I am?” Peter answered for them all – “You are the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the Living God; to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!”

In a world where there are so many people and things which claim to offer salvation to mankind; which claim to be “the way, the truth, and the life”; can any one person, thing, or way claim this? Isn’t this the height of hubris to make such a claim? The mantra of the modern age, in fact, the mantra of all the ages is, “there are many ways to God, there are many roads to salvation!”

This is either true or it is the greatest lie of all the history of mankind’s existence. This was the lie told in primeval Eden. And this same “serpent” has been repeating this lie ever since. And, what is more, people have been believing it. This is the lie that is like the fog which creeps in on little cat feet to every mind, seeps under doors of houses, slides through the cracks in window sashes to find residence in the hearts of men and women.

It was said in the days of Noah; it was offered in the days of the prophets; it was thought in the days of the wisemen who came from afar to worship Him who came as a babe in the flesh; it was said of Him who hung on a cross; it was spread as rumor about the empty tomb; it will be shouted from the rooftops; that is, until one day “every knee shall bow and proclaim Him Lord of lords, and King of kings to the glory of God the Father.” Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?

In many ways it might seem easy to believe the lie and not recognize Jesus for who He genuinely is. There is much to compete with His claim throughout the universe, except for this: the evidence of the world shouts, the intricate design of everything that exists says, the heavens especially declare in their glory, the perfect prophecy fulfillment over millenniums of time emphatically shouts, “I am that I am!”

The one who denies all the abundant evidence of who Jesus is says “my eyes are blind to everything and anything presented to me. I would rather rot in hell than believe Jesus is who He says He is; the Savior of the world!”

Count it all joy, brothers and sisters, if the scales fell from your eyes and you recognized Jesus as Savior and Lord, and trusted Him to provide you eternal salvation through His blood. You recognized Him, not as the gardener, but as the risen Lord!

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free; I rose, went forth, and followed thee. Amazing love! How can it be that thou my God shouldst die for me?”

(4th verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain,” 1738)

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Sep 09, 2020

You Are Not Your Own

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1st Corinthians 6:19-20

Strange words, perhaps, written by the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians. Is it rational to say to a human being that you are not your own? After all, everyone has their own separate thoughts; a solitary mind, soul, and spirit.

Once past childhood, in which a young child understands they have parents who protect, nurture, provide, and discipline them, they move on into the teenage and adult years in which they begin to understand they are an individual; a separate entity from all others. They grasp the private life of separate thoughts, of conversation with themselves, of time alone, an intimate life known but to them, except what they choose to share with another.

Who “owns” this? There is an instinct born of fallenness that this realm belongs only to them. No one else can know it, except what you choose to share, and even then, you seldom share all. So you naturally think this is known only to you. The perception is that no one else is privy to what goes on in your brain and heart. No one shares your intimate “you” time.

But is such really true? Does God know and see your private self and life? Can Satan perceive your inner thoughts? Can you know this when you see neither? There truly is a whole other world apart from the material world you see and touch. And it is both, material and spiritual, which makes up your total existence.

It is very true you can ignore God, but that doesn’t make Him blind to you. When living in Scotland with a three-year-old daughter I was playing hide and seek with her in the backyard with few places to really hide. When it was her time to hide, she became frustrated to not find a place to hide as I counted down to “ready or not, here I come.” So she dropped immediately to her knees in the middle of the yard in full sight, and covered her eyes with her hands.

She thought, perhaps, if she could not see herself, then I would not be able to see her. It is a similar thing with God. Your chosen ignorance and denial of God and of His seeing you does not render you invisible to Him. He still sees and knows you completely. He knew you intimately in your mother’s womb, and He knows you throughout your life, inside and out.

He made you and His Providence sustains you. So who do you think “owns” you? Maybe this is a question you never ask. Your natural instinct is to answer, “I own me!”

In the context of 1st Corinthians 6:19-20 you are told that if you have been bought with the blood of Christ through His death for you on the cross, you are not your own, because you were bought with a price. God owns you, for He bought you with the price of His own Son. And I rather think you take great comfort in that!

Those who by their own choice do not belong to Christ, have rejected God’s ownership of them and willfully are on their own. Since they are unable to save themselves, they are consigned to condemnation. If they knew this was what they were doing by their rejection they would indeed tremble and succumb to horrifying fear. As it is they are quite oblivious, until confronted with the truth of their circumstance.

The problem for you and me is do we recognize and act on God’s ownership of us? Do we live and think of God knowing our thoughts, our words, spoken and unspoken, and speak and think them so that he is both pleased and glorified in them? This is what Paul refers to when he says you are not your own, if you indeed see yourself as a redeemed person in Christ.

Paul stresses how necessary and vital it is that you see yourself as not your own, but God’s, and intentionally choose your thoughts and words to please and glorify Him. It is this active, continuous work of “taking every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2nd Corinthians 10:5)

You can see yourself as either the owner of your private, individual self, or you can see yourself as an “open book” to God. Nothing is hidden from Him with whom you have to do! You live and think this purposefully and rest in the truth that it is so.

“And when, before the throne, I stand in Him complete, ‘Jesus died my soul to save,’ my lips shall still repeat, Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”

(4th verse of Elvina Hall’s hymn, “Jesus Paid It All, “ 1865)

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