"Breakfast" with God

(My Quiet Time)

January 27, 2012

By: RBC Ministries, Discovery Series 
(Part VII)

When were the Gospels written?
It was once popular to assign the Gospels to the second century and charge that they were later compilations of oral tradition. Thus they were considered historically unreliable. But careful scholarship has pointed to early dates for the writing of the entire New Testament.

Because of archaeological evidence and manuscript discoveries, we now have a good reason to believe that most of the New Testament was completed between AD 47 and AD 70, and that all of it was completed by AD 95.

"It is my serious conclusion that we have here in the New Testament, words that bear the hallmark of reality and the ring of truth." -J.B. Phillips

An example of a manuscript find that has affected dating of the New Testament is the Rylands Fragment. This portion of John 18 was found in Egypt and has been dated about AD 125. This find supports the view that the last gospel to be written had already been in circulation of many years.

Have biblical prophecies come true?
Christians say yes! The RBC booklet Can I Really Trust The Bible? states, "Some of the most dramatic examples of fulfilled Bible prophecy are those concerning Jesus Christ. Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12 and Psalm 22, for instance, record specific details about death by crucifixion hundreds of years before this terrible form of execution was ever practiced... Another example of fulfilled prophecy was the destruction of the city of Tyre. Hundreds of years earlier, Ezekiel had predicted that the city would be destroyed and the ruins scraped off and dumped into the sea, never to be rebuilt (Ezekiel 26). It happened exactly as predicted... The predictions of the judgment of God against Nineveh (Nahum 1-3), Ammon and Moab (Jeremiah 48-49), Babylon (Isaiah 13-14; Jeremiah 51), and Edom (Isaiah 34; jeremiah 49; Ezekiel 25, 35) were all fulfilled" (pages 22-24).

Does the Bible hold together?
That is, does a collection of writings by 40 different authors from many different backgrounds and occupations, over about 1,600 years, in three different languages, and written on different continents, have a consistent message? Or is it a confusing jumble of ideas?

From start to finish, the bible tells how God has been working out His plan to rescue people from the penalty and power of sin. He revealed Himself to the patriarchs, then to the nation of Israel. He worked out His plan in Christ, in His disciples, and in the early church. And the last book in the Bible, Revelation, tells how God will complete His plan. From the symbolic sacrificial system of the Old Testament to the reality of Christ's sacrifice of Himself on the cross, from the first chapters to the last, God is consistently described. This incredible unity points to the Bible's supernatural origins.

(To be continued...)

December 28, 2011

By: RBC Ministries, Discovery Series
(Part VI)

Reliable Book
Supermarket tabloids do not have a glowing reputation for being reliable sources of factual information. For example, I remember seeing the headline: AMELIA EARHART FOUND ALIVE! The truth, of course, is that Amelia attempted a solo plane crossing the Pacific in 1937 but disappeared. She was lost at sea and presumed dead. The tabloid's story was probably interesting to read, but was it true? Highly unlikely.

What about the daily newspaper? Much more credible perhaps, but not infallible. What is printed one day may be (and sometimes is) corrected or retracted the next.

How can we test the reliability of the Bible?
What kinds of criteria can we use to evaluate whether it's true? After all, if the Bible is not reliable, then how do we know what to believe about what Christ said or did?

The science of archeology can give us a lot of valuable evidence, which will either confirm or contradict the biblical record. One hundred years ago, many Bible critics were trying to dismiss much of its history as the work of creative storytellers. But in this century, archeological finds have overwhelmingly supported the biblical data.

One case of archeological evidence is a recent study of ancient Jericho, which concluded that the walls did tumble down as the Bible indicates. Archeologists Bryant G. Wood of the University of Toronto said, "When we compare the archeological evidence at Jericho with the biblical narrative describing the Israelite destruction of Jericho, we find remarkable agreement" (Biblical Archeological Review, March/April 1990).

Sir William Ramsay, a noted archeologist, was once skeptical of the New Testament book of Acts. He set out to prove the inaccuracy of the book but instead came away as an ardent believer in its great historical value. Ramsay concluded, "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense... In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest historians" (The Bearing Of Recent Discovery On The Trustworthiness Of The New Testament, p.222).

This perception matches what Luke himself said about his methods. In the introduction to his record of the life of Jesus (Luke 1:1-4), the author mentions his reliance on eyewitness testimony and his concern to present "an orderly account."

(To be continued...)

November 7, 2011 

By: RBC Ministries, Discovery Series
(Part V)

What is the Purpose of Life?
Christians believe that because man has lost his anchor in God, he has lost his sense of purpose. The author of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes described the different ways that people try to find happiness. He was an expert on the topic because he had tried them all. That person was King Solomon, a man known for his wisdom, but who had tried many dead-end pursuits in life. He sought fulfillment through education, but all his learning left him empty. He sought pleasure through food, wine, sex, music, and things of beauty, but again he never got beyond superficial happiness. He tried finding the joy of life through hard work and materialism, but he realized he could not fill the void in his heart. Solomon filled his palace with 700 wives and 300 concubines, but they could not replace the Lord. Solomon concluded that a life that does not center around a relationship with God is empty.

Does It Sound Logical To You?
Is Christianity a reasonable explanation for the realities of life? Faith in Christ offers relief from the universal problem of sin and guilt. Jesus Christ offers to fill the God-shaped void in our hearts with Himself. Christianity offers a basis for values and morality, and for knowing right from wrong. The biblical view of human history describes the moral deterioration of society (while allowing for much good), and the eventual return of Jesus to execute justice on the living and the dead.

But even the best-sounding and most reasonable human explanation is foolishness if it lacks a basis in spiritual reality. Christianity stands or falls on the credibility of its holy Book (the Bible), its leader (Jesus Christ), its community (the church), and its practicality (as seen in the lives of individual believers). The next several pages will explore these issues.

Supermarket tabloids do not have a glowing reputation for being a reliable sources of factual information. For example, I remember seeing a headline: AMELIA EARHART FOUND ALIVE! The truth, of course, is that Amelia attempted a solo plane crossing of the Pacific in 1937 but disappeared. She was lost at sea and presumed dead. The tabloid's story was probably interesting to read, but was it true? Highly unlikely.

What about the daily newspaper? Much more credible perhaps, but not infallible. What is printed one day may be(and sometimes is) corrected or retracted the next.

(For more information on the biblical description of life's origin and purpose, ask for the RBC booklets: How Can I Know There's A God? and Why In  The World Am I Here?).

(To be continued...)

October 3, 2011 

By: RBC Ministries, Discovery Series
(Part IV)

Where Did Evil Come From?
Some religious faiths describe a type of god who possesses both good and evil elements. Other explanations have good and evil gods pitted against each other --with the outcome in doubt. Still other religious deal with evil by denying its reality; they say that evil is only an illusion.

Christianity, however, sees evil as an intruder in a good God's good creation. Evil came into the world through Adam and Eve's willing choice to rebel against God. They had that option because God wanted them to freely love Him --not because they were forced to love Him (Genesis 3).

According to Christianity, the choice for evil had a far-reaching and devastating impact on our relationship with God, our relationship with each other, and our relationship to the world. Instead of close fellowship with God, there has been estrangement. Instead of harmony between people, there has been self-centeredness, conflict, and heartache. Instead of humanity working in harmony with nature, we have exploited our world. It's only by returning to a right relationship with God that our lived can reverse the effects of evil.

"I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen, not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." -C.S. Lewis

Christianity also offers an explanation for what God is doing about the problem of evil. Jesus Christ is central to the solution. The Bible tells us that Jesus came to bridge the gap between a perfect God and imperfect people stained by evil (2 Corinthians 5:19). God has not been sitting idly by while humanity goes from bad to worse. Jesus came into a world of suffering and evil to suffer and die for us. He came to free us from our personal bondage to evil, and to ensure that one day all evil will face God's perfect justice.

Why Do People Seek Religious Answers?
Our heart has a void that cries to be filled. Christians believe that because mankind was created to know and relate to the Creator, people will never be complete without Him. So why doesn't everyone turn to the God of the Bible? Why do people turn to other gods instead? Part of the answer is that ever since Adam and Eve chose to go their own way instead of obeying God, people have continued to choose to run their own lives (Romans 1). People have created their own gods --deities that they can manipulate through magic or appease through rituals or self-sacrifice.

And Christianity includes another reason that so many religions exist --a spirit-being named Satan who is more than happy to offer substitute religions. He is called the father of lies (John 8:44), the one who has blinded the minds of people to the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4). He offers counterfeit spiritual experiences to those who choose false gods.

(To be continued...)

September 14, 2011

By: RBC Ministries, Discovery Series
(Part III)

Reasonable Explanation
How did this booklet (or this blog, for that matter) you are reading get in front of your eyes? Would you believe me if I said that Colby, my pet guinea pig, wrote it? Would you accept the explanation that the booklet simply appeared one day out of thin air and you happened to pick it up? Would you believe that a creature from Mars designed the cover, or that the book was printed by a tribe of aborigines in a hut on the outback of Australia?

Excuse me for getting ridiculous, but I think you get the point. Just a simple 32-page booklet has a reasonable explanation for its existence, so do our lives, our world, and human history.

Many religions offer explanations for our human existence, the complexity and order of the universe, the problem of evil, our religious nature, the purpose of life, our eternal destiny, and much more. Christianity's contention, however, is that it offers an explanation that fits life as we know it, human nature as we know it, and God as He has revealed Himself.

Of course, it would take volumes to discuss these matters adequately. But at the risk of sounding simplistic, here's a brief summary of Christianity's answers to some of these issues.

Where Did We Come From?
The Bible tells us that an intelligent, powerful, personal Being was actively involved in creating the universe. Does that fit life as we know it? Does life show design and order? Does human personality reflect a higher Personality?

The naturalistic explanation declares that time plus chance produced the complexity of the universe. But does that provide adequate answers? Even generous estimates of the earth's age do not include enough time for life to evolve. Too many things had to happen in too precise a manner. Although many scientists propose naturalistic evolution, they do so because of their assumption that no supernatural being was involved.

Eastern religions lump people, animals and plants into the same category -- created by an impersonal god-force that pervades the universe -- and minimize the great differences between them. Christianity, however, tells us that human beings are similar yet very different from the animals. People possess personality, self-consciousness, a spirit, and the ability to relate to God on a personal level. Human beings are qualitatively different from animals, plants, and rocks.

(To be continued...)

August 24, 2011 

By: RBC Ministries, Discovery Series
(Part II)

How Can I Know Christianity Is True?
How do you know if anything is true? How do you know that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit? How do you know that woolly mammoths once trudged across our land? How do you know that cocaine is addictive? How do you know that Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin and died in a theater? How do you know that NASA astronauts walked on the moon and not on a back lot in Hollywood? How do you know that Japan's Emperor Hirohito died of cancer in 1989? How do you know that Julius Caesar ruled the Roman Empire?

In the above examples, the proofs and the methods of confirmation vary greatly. A scientific experiment in a lab could confirm through repeatable experiments that water freezes at 32 degrees. Fossils and frozen remains are visible evidence that mammoths tramped around on earth. Physical and psychological testing confirms cocaine's addictive quality.

But when it comes to historical information such as Lincoln's birthplace and where he was shot, man walking on the moon, and Caesar's exploits, we cannot perform repeatable experiments. In those cases we have to rely on historical records, eyewitness accounts and reputable historians who collected data.

Different types of situations require different types of proof. In some cases, scientific experiments are extremely valuable. In other cases, historical research must be used.

When it comes to testing the claims of competing religious views of life and God, several key areas need to be examined. The following pages take a close look at Christianity according to five criteria. We will see if it presents a reasonable explanation for life as we know it. We will examine the reliability of the key Christian book, the Bible. We will take a look at the leader, Jesus Christ. Then we will study the origin and influence of Christianity. Finally, we will look at the effect of faith in Christ has on individuals.

(To be continued...)

August 16, 2011
By: RBC Ministries, Discovery Series
(Part I)

What Do You Think?
The official-looking letter announced that I had been selected to serve as a juror. Several weeks later, I dutifully walked into the courtroom and listened as the accused and the accuser argued the case. My job as a member of the jury was to weigh the evidence. What were the facts? Whom could I believe?

The lawyers used logic, presented physical evidence, offered eyewitnesses, and even made emotional appeals. Then it was up to the jurors. We filed out to a back room and discussed the case. Because the evidence was overwhelmingly one-sided, we quickly reached a unanimous decision. We walked into the courtroom and announced the final verdict. Case closed.

If Christianity were put on trial and you were appointed a juror, what would it take to convince you of its truthfulness? Would you look for convincing logic, thorough documentation, positive impact on society, stirring testimonials? Could a verdict be given?

Before you examine the care, however, you would need to define clearly what's on trial. Otherwise you might prejudge it as true or false based on personal impressions instead of facts.

When you think of Christianity, do you think of:
-an irrational leap of faith?
-an intellectual or emotional crutch
-something for "losers"?
-a bunch or do's and don'ts?
-a lot of rituals?
-fanatical, narrow-minded people?
-the high moral teachings of Jesus?
-one of many ways to know God?
-the only way to know God?

Dictionaries simply define Christianity as a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. The New Encyclopedia Britannica states, "At the very least, Christianity is the faith tradition that focuses on the figure of Jesus Christ" (Vol.16, p.251). Concisely said. But what are the key elements of that "faith tradition?"

Stripped of cultural additions, the core of Christianity includes beliefs about who Jesus was and what He has done. Christianity holds that Jesus was and is more than a man; He is God in human flesh. As the Second Person of the triune God, He became man, born of a virgin. He lived a perfect life, taught us how to please God, died on a cross to take on Himself the penalty for our sins against God, rose from the grave, appeared to hundreds of people, and then ascended to heaven. He did all this so that we might know God and love for Him now and with Him forever.

A prominent spokesman for Christianity in the first century put it this way: "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." -1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4

The Scriptures and Christ go hand-in-hand. And followers of Christ accept the statements of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. They believe it is more than just a compilation of man's lofty thoughts about God. They believe the Bible to be the record of God speaking through distinct human personalities in a way that resulted in a document that accurately speaks for God.

Christianity claims continuity with the faith of the first man and woman (Adam and Eve), with Abraham and the people of Israel who carried on his faith, with the disciples of Jesus who saw Him as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and the sacrificial system, and with men and women of faith today who bow at the feet of Christ as their only Savior and only hope of forgiveness of sins, and the One through whom they can know God.

What about you? Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? Do you agree with the above statements about the core ideas of Christianity? Or do you have serious doubts about whether it is all true? Perhaps you belong to another religious faith and you're curious about what Christians believe and why. Or maybe you have had a lot of Christian influence in your life but you now wonder if what you've been told is really true.

The following pages are for you, no matter how skeptical or how sure you are. I hope you will read these pages thoughtfully, search the Bible firsthand to see what it says, and examine your beliefs. You are the jury.

(To be continued...)

August 8, 2011

Source: MY SOUL THIRSTS FOR GOD, Reflections on the Psalms from Our Daily Bread
From: RBC Ministries

Equal Access
By: Richard DeHaan

Pastor Stuart Silvester told me of a conversation he had with an acquaintance who frequently flew his small private plane in and out of Toronto International Airport. He asked the pilot if he ever encountered problems taking off and landing a small craft at an airport that was dominated by so many large jets. His friend responded, "My plane may be small, but I have the same rights, the same privileges, and the same access to that airport as anyone else --even the jumbo jets!"

Pastor Silvester then made this spiritual application: "It's the same with prayer, with the believer's approach to the throne of grace. No matter who we are or how small we are in comparison with others or how low our station in life, we take a back seat to no one. No one is given priority treatment."

In a world that offers preferential treatment to the wealthy, the famous, and the influential, it's encouraging to know that every child of God has equal access to the Father in heaven. The psalmist said, "The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." (Psalm 145:18)

With that assurance, we can "come confidently to the throne of grace" in prayer, knowing that our loving God will never turn us away.

"All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever." -Psalm 145:10-21

August 4, 2011

By: Oswald Chambers

The Brave Friendship of God
"He took the twelve aside..." -Luke 18:31

Oh, the bravery of God in trusting us! Do you say, "But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing good in me and I have no value?" That is exactly why He chose you. As long as you think that you are of value to Him He cannot choose you, because you have purposes of your own to serve. But if you will allow Him to take you to the end of your own self-sufficiency, then He can choose you to go with Him "to Jerusalem" (18:31). And that will mean the fulfillment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.

We tend to say that because a person has natural ability, he will make a good Christian. It is not a matter of our equipment, but a matter of our poverty; not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a matter of natural virtues, of strength of character, of knowledge, of of experience --all of that is of no avail in this concern. The only thing of value is being taken into the compelling purpose of God and being made His friends.

"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." -1 Corinthians 1:26-31

God's friendship is with people who know their poverty. He can accomplish nothing with the person who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not here for our own purpose at all --we are here for the purpose of God, and the two are not the same. We do not know what God's compelling purpose is, but whatever happens, we must maintain our relationship with Him. We must never allow anything to damage our relationship with God, but if something does damage it, we must take the time to make it right again. The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.

August 1, 2011

Excerpts from: LIVING WITH THORNS, A Biblical Survival Guide
By: Mary Ann Froehlich

Following God Today
"There are two things that are always the will of God and always dangerous in a fallen world: telling the truth and loving needy people. In fact, if my life of following Jesus doesn't feel dangerous, I shoud probably pause and check to see if it's Jesus I am following." -Gary Haugen

Following God despite our fears can be as terrifying today as it was in biblical times. Christian workers travel to dangerous locations in our world to rescue victims from torture, slavery, violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking, and other abuses. These workers put themselves in harm's way to protect the oppressed. Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission, says that "loving needy people as God calls us to do is not safe. It is uncomfortable, messy, difficult, and scary."

Remember: You can't be brave if you're not scared. Elizabeth Musser says, "Courage is fear that said its prayers."

(Note: I don't own anything written on this particular page. These are all copyrighted books, writings and works by various authors and publishers. This is only for purposes of sharing devotional materials to my blog readers for their personal spiritual growth and for mine. No revenues or income are derived from these. Thank you.)
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