Your Neighbour

You, my readers, know God is on His throne, that nothing can happen but what He allows, and that He can and will do good for His people.

Your neighbour, your friends, your work colleagues, may not be His people.  They may not believe those things, and so not benefit from confidence in His promises.  Who knows how they are feeling today?

Every day is a good day to remember to love your neighbour.  Today is an especially good day for that, a day when patient listening, soft words, and small acts of kindness to people around you may matter even more than usual.

Romans 13:9

…and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

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Christians Voting, Guessing the Future, and Faith

Many Christians (and apparently a lot of other people) still aren’t sure how to vote.  This is not surprising, because in any vote, we make a decision about the future (in this case, what is best for Scotland’s future?), and we simply don’t know the future.  This is not only true of a referendum, but also when electing government officials.  We can’t know whether they will govern in righteousness or wickedness in future.  An evil person elected one day may repent the next day, or a seemingly righteous person may be a fraud and govern horribly.

This is one reason (not the only one) Baptists have historically been hesitant to tell people how to vote.  We may speak in principles and bring Scripture to bear on particular issues, but it is not the job of government to tell us what to believe and how to worship, and it is not the job of the church to decide who should rule.  Telling people who to elect when you don’t have omniscience is dangerous — for instance, you might inadvertently advocate someone very evil, and leave people feeling you have betrayed them.

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Scottish Independence — Some Biblical Perspective

In three days, Scotland votes.  The Bible has had no place in the debate, which is hardly surprising, but it should have a place in how Christians think about independence and the issues surrounding it.  I’ve read a lot of things on Scottish independence, including articles by Christians.  But I’ve not seen any which directly consider the Scriptures on the question of independence or the issues surrounding it.  In this article, I’d like to address some Scriptural principles that Christians should consider.

There are historical, cultural, political, financial, and emotional factors in whether anyone, Christian or not, will want to vote for independence.  My purpose is not to address those in any depth, but to focus primarily on Scriptural considerations.  Nor is my purpose to draw a conclusion as to how Christians should vote.  Sometimes, Biblical principles make our vote clear, but I’m not persuaded they do in this case.

Rather, my purpose is to encourage Christians to look to the Scripture for guidance as they work through some of the issues.  Scottish independence is a very important decision.  We should always look to Scripture for guidance on such decisions, even if it doesn’t directly answer every question.

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Hadrian Built a Wall

Psalm 2:1

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

Matthew 24:6-7

6  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars….
7  For nation shall rise against nation….

Early in the second century, the Emperor Hadrian built a wall.  Almost two millennia later, some of the ruins can still be seen, stretching across the north of England, just south of the Scottish border, between Carlisle and Newcastle.

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Scripture Testimonies — 31 August 2014

The last Sunday of the month, we have Scripture reading testimonies in our church — no comments, just reading Scripture that people have read in the last week or two.  It is profitable, interesting, and encouraging to see where people have been reading.  It encourages any who haven’t been reading to read.  And it encourages people to think, as they read, of what would be encouraging or challenging for others.

Someone asked me for the list of yesterday’s Scriptures, so here it is.

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“The Houses of Ivory Shall Perish”

The Bible in the British Museum

Phoenician Ivory

© Trustees of the British Museum

Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria from 858 to 824 BC, built a great palace near Nimrud.  The palace itself has since become known as “Fort Shalmaneser.”

This ivory winged sphinx is of Phoenician workmanship.  Not usually on display in the Museum, it also isn’t mentioned in the Bible — but ivory is mentioned, notably twice in Amos.

Why was Amos talking about ivory?  We’ll look at the Biblical and archaeological records on Ahab, Jezebel, Jehu, and Shalmaneser.  We’ll add in what we can learn from the Phoenician ivory carvings in Fort Shalmaneser and (especially) a discovery in Samaria.  It quickly becomes clear why Amos talked about ivory.

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“Nobody Feels Sorry for Me”

I can think of only one person in the Bible who said something like that.  “… And there is none of you that is sorry for me….”  It was Saul, in I Samuel 22:8.  It ended in murder.

I can think of one other person who had a similar attitude.  It was Ahab, in I Kings 21.  That ended in murder, too.

Maybe it isn’t a good idea to want other people to feel sorry for us.  It fosters ingratitude, resentment, and a host of other problems — often leading to deep hatred, which is murder in spirit (even if it doesn’t manifest itself in action).

I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks.

For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

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