Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Follow Me

~ The Patch of the USAIC ~

The "Follow Me" patch is the emblem of the U.S. Army Infantry Center (USAIC).

Notice a few things about the emblem:

First, the familiar wording which our Lord used so often, such as in Matthew 4:19, where we read, "And He said unto them, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." This is a most basic message of the Word of God; that men ought to follow Christ.

Second, notice the sword - a two-edged sword, recalling to mind Hebrews 4:12, "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword ..." Just as the Word of God should have a central position in any believer's life, so too the sword occupies the center portion of this emblem.

Third, notice the colors. First we have the blue background - blue is often used to represent the heavens. White is the other color, commonly associated with purity, a tradition which clearly has its origins in Scripture.

Fourth, we notice the only thing left is the emblem's unusual shape. This shape is only possible by the use of an unusual number of sides - seven. Seven can be clearly shown to be the Scripture's number for completeness, perfection, or more accurately "spiritual perfection."

The "Follow Me" patch is the emblem of the U.S. Army infantry headquarters. The Army is clearly the most fundamental branch of any country's armed forces! The infantry is the most basic component of any army! And this emblem belongs to the headquarters of the infantry! Isn't it amazing - the same nation whose motto is "In God We Trust" possesses the "Follow Me" patch at the very heart of its military forces.

NOTE: This short article was Robert Lloyd Russell’s first published Christian content. It was originally published in the April 1982 issue of At Ease magazine – a publication for military personnel.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

God’s 4 Responses to Prayer

~ All of God’s Responses are Answers! ~

~ The following four terms used to describe God’s answers to prayer are from an unknown source and have been around for decades. ~

In this view of looking at God’s answers to prayer, an examination is made of three factors: the request, the petitioner, and the timing. Based on those three factors, God replies in one of four ways.

Situation One
The request is acceptable to God.
The condition of the petitioner is acceptable to God.
The timing is not right from God’s perspective.
SLOW” is the answer!
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11-12).

Situation Two
The request is acceptable to God.
The condition of the petitioner is not acceptable to God.
The timing is acceptable to God.
GROW” is the answer!
“He who isn’t listening to God finds that even his prayers are an abomination to God” (Proverbs 28:9).

Situation Three
The request is not acceptable to God.
The condition of the petitioner is acceptable to God.
The timing is acceptable to God.
NO” is the answer!
“This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).

Situation Four
The request is acceptable to God.
The condition of the petitioner is acceptable to God.
The timing is acceptable to God.
GO” is the answer!
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).

COMMENT: There is more about prayer in the book “Thy Will Be Done On Earth: Understanding God’s Will for You” written by myself.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Strings and Wind Instruments

~ Do You Know About the Father of the Harp? ~

Our youngest daughter was a very competent harpist and consequently had many opportunities to perform. Dad quickly became the harp mover and was often referred to as the “father of the harpist.” I did not mind the title—in fact I felt it an honor as I moved her harp nearly 400 times to her various performing opportunities. Then she left our nest and went on to university training and increased her excellent skills.

I was only doing what any father would do. In Genesis we read of the first father of a harpist—Lamech. Lamech was the father of Jubal the harpist, and Jubal was the father of the harp itself!

Lamech was the father of innovative offspring. His firstborn, Jabal, was the first shepherd. One of Jabal’s brothers, Jubal, was an inventor and the father of the harp and the flute. Jubal’s younger brother, Tubal, was a metal-worker and apparently an inventor.

Jubal is only mentioned once in Scripture. “Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.” (Genesis 4:19-22, NIV, emphasis added.)

It is not hard to picture a camaraderie among these brothers. Perhaps Jabal enjoyed Jubal’s music while shepherding his sheep. Tubal may well have assisted Jubal in his making of prototype musical instruments.

These three brothers represent some firsts. We learn throughout the pages of history that instrumental music, especially from the harp and the flute, played a major role in the worship of God. Finally, the working of metal became very important in everything from weapons of war to transportation.

As I contemplate this passage, my heart is drawn to Lamech. He was from the line of Cain and in some of what we read his character comes into question. Still, I cannot help but wonder what kind of father he was. He raised three sons and a daughter to be useful members of society. I have lived long enough to know that some great parents are often disappointed in the direction their children have taken—and I am sure that many of us have children who turn out far better than we deserve. The most important role of any father is to raise his children in the knowledge of God and to lead them towards faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning work.

One way we do that is by seeking to model our heavenly Father to the greatest extent we are able. What a challenge! In the end we must leave the results to God—as we continually pray and support our children.

CONTEMPLATE: The harp is found throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Center of the Bible

~ Maybe Not What You Think ~

Where is the center of the Bible? In the last post I mentioned the significance of Isaiah 53 and pointed out it can be considered the heart of the Bible as it contains the core message of the Bible! There are other ways to determine the center of the Bible. What follows is one of the more common determinations of the center of the Bible.

DISCLAIMER: It is relevant to mention two things: (1) All calculations are based on the Authorized Version (widely referred to as the King James Version). (2) Chapter and verse divisions were not inserted into the Bible until 1205 and are not divinely inspired in the same manner as Scripture.

Psalm 118

Psalm 118 was Martin Luther’s favorite psalm. It begins by giving thanks to the LORD and comes full circle, ending with the same message of giving thanks to the LORD.

It is also a messianic psalm—a psalm which speaks of the coming Messiah. Verse 22 begins a reference to the coming of Christ.

Psalm 118:28 contains the greatest statement that anyone can make, “Thou art my God.

Psalm 118 is widely reported to be the central chapter of the Bible—but is it?

Psalm 117

Psalm 117 with just two verses is the shortest chapter in the Bible and is a good summary of what the entire Bible has to say to mankind. “Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples. For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.

There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible and there are 594 chapters before Psalm 117 and 594 chapters after it. Psalm 117 is the center chapter of the Bible.

Center Verses: Psalm 118:8-9

The central verse of the Bible is often stated as Psalm 118:8. To be more precise, there are 31,174 verses in the Bible—an even number of verses and therefore no one center verse. Rather the center verses are Psalm 118:8-9.

What is the message of these pivotal two verses? “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

This coincides nicely with the message of 118:28 mentioned previously. If God is truly our God, then we should put all our trust in Him as these central verses state. If all Christians always kept that principle in mind, what a better place this world would be!

In summary, the central verses and the central chapter of the Bible contain central truths of the Bible! These central concepts are relevant guides to every aspect of the daily lives of all Christians everywhere.

CONTEMPLATE: This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book! (author unknown)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Core Message of the Bible

~ Isaiah 53:5-6 ~

If one were to ask, “What is the core message of the Bible?” a number of answers might be given. For example, one of my favorite one-word descriptions of the Bible is “forgiveness.” Another good one-word description of the Bible would be “salvation.”

The Old Testament book of Isaiah is a fascinating book in many ways. The subject of Isaiah is Jesus Christ. His book has been called, “The Gospel before the Gospel.” Others have described Isaiah, who prophesied primarily to Judah, as the “Prophet of Grace”—what a New Testament ring that has! Chapter 53 provides one of the clearest prophecies of the death of Christ found in the Old Testament.

The book of Isaiah has also been called “The Bible in miniature” for several reasons. For example, it is well-known that the book of Isaiah is divided into two major parts consisting of the first 39 chapters and the last 27 chapters—the Bible has 39 chapters in the Old Testament and 27 chapters in the New Testament. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah can be summarized as “Isaiah—the Prophet of God’s holiness” which corresponds to the message of the Old Testament. The final 27 chapters we see “Prophet as the Servant of the Lord” directly relating to the message of the New Testament.

Someone has written the following concerning Isaiah 53: “Isaiah 53 is the central chapter of the central section of the central division, and the central verses of this central chapter enshrine the central truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

These two verses—Isaiah 53:5-6—should be familiar to all Christians. “But Jesus Christ was pierced for our rebellion, He was crushed for our sins, and He was beaten so we could be healed and made whole. He was whipped so we could be restored and made complete. All of us, like sheep, had strayed away—we had left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on Him the sins of us all.”

At the core of the Bible is the message of salvation!