Friday, November 27, 2015


We're familiar with infinity, even if we can't really comprehend it. We know the Realtor selling point "there's an infinity pool!" or the Toy Story motto "To Infinity and beyond!" which is pretty funny actually.

In the second grade classroom in which I am stationed as teacher aide, there is a number line above the Smart board. (AKA chalkboard for us old timers). To the left of zero are a host of negative numbers and to the right of zero is a host of increasing whole numbers. The teacher occasionally mentions to the kids that the numbers go on and on, to infinity.

When I was a schoolchild I learned about the number googol. I used to think that a googol was the largest number. It isn't. But here is a Wikipedia definition of a googol:
A googol is the large number 10 to the 100. In decimal notation, it is written as the digit 1 followed by one hundred 0s. The term was coined in 1920 by 9-year-old Milton Sirotta (1911–1981), nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner.  A googol has no special significance in mathematics. However, it is useful when comparing with other very large quantities such as the number of subatomic particles in the visible universe or the number of hypothetical possibilities in a chess game. Kasner used it to illustrate the difference between an unimaginably large number and infinity, and in this role it is sometimes used in teaching mathematics. 
The ancients had a difficult time expressing just large numbers. For centuries, the standard way to describe any number over 10,000 was "myriad." A really, REALLY big number would be 'myriad myriads'. Here in Deuteronomy 32:30 ISV the rhetorical question is asked how could one of the the thinly populated Jews have put ten thousand soldiers to flight, or two of the Jews put "a myriad to flight". Other translations say ten thousand.

How can one person chase a thousand of them and two put a myriad to flight, unless their Rock delivers them and the LORD gives them up?

Of course a verse that comes immediately to mind is Revelation 5:11-

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,

One day, the famous mathematician Archimedes (287BC-212BC) wanted to sort of count the number of grains of sand, Or rather, he wondered how many grains of sand would be the upper limit of grains of sand that could fit into the universe. Archimedes definitely had big thoughts.Yet he knew that 'myriad upon myriad' was not going to suffice as a reckoning for this large number experiment he desired to perform. Wikipedia says,
In order to do this, he had to estimate the size of the universe according to the contemporary model, and invent a way to talk about extremely large numbers. ... Archimedes had to invent a system of naming large numbers. The number system in use at that time could express numbers up to a myriad (μυριάς — 10,000), and by utilizing the word "myriad" itself, one can immediately extend this to naming all numbers up to a myriad myriads (10 to the 8th power.) 
And Archimedes went from there.

Anyway, the ancients had a hard time naming large numbers, and infinity is just beyond us all. It means endless, and comprehending endless numbers, or endless anything, is impossible.

Here's another brain buster. The only reason we can even have numbers to infinity is because of God. God is infinite. He is beyond everything that there is.

This photo is of a book called God Does Exist!: Defending the faith using presuppositional apologetics, evidence, and the impossibility of the contrary. A Twitter friend posted this page from the book as he was studying. I read the excerpt he posted below, and became entranced with the idea of an infinite God and infinite numbers. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Even though in our own crude, puny human way, we can only express the majestic God as myriad upon myriad big, the fact that we have an infinite relationship with Him is enough. Our time with Him is endless, boundless, impossible to calculate. We will worship Him in infinite glory endlessly.


Further Reading

What is Infinity? Math is Fun

Ligonier Devotional: Our Infinite God

Bible Hub Topic: Infinite

Thursday, November 26, 2015

His sheep know His voice and they follow. Inspiring video

Youtube synopsis:

Published on Nov 17, 2013
A little compilation of a visit to my friend, Christopher Lange's farm at Harestua, Norway. I have long wanted to film this test, where we call for his sheep in the same words as he uses, and then let him do it. A Biblical lesson to learn from this!
The verse that comes to mind is

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

It's an inspiring video, especially when we think about Lazarus, who was dead when Jesus called him, and he responded to his Master's voice by coming alive again! If we are alive when He calls for us in the rapture, we also will respond to His voice, and "come up here" to be with Him.

HT to reader Ruby who alerted me to this video and to Jacco who found it.

Thankful for salvation: thoughts on Felix

After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, "Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you." (Acts 24:24-25)

It is stated earlier that Felix was thoroughly familiar with "The Way". (v. 22). Whether it was because Felix had been governor in the area for almost a decade, or because his wife was Jewish, or both, Felix was familiar with the facts about Jesus and his "sect" as Paul's accuser Tertullus put it. Felix was secure in his knowledge of Christianity in the intellectual realms, enough to feel confident to make a decision regarding the case.

But when the case got personal, really personal, Felix became alarmed. He told Paul to go away and when it was a more convenient time, Felix would think about it. The Greek word for time used in this verse means "a suitable time" or "the right moment". But there will never be a more convenient right moment.

As James Montgomery Boice said of Felix's procrastination, if you put it off, the same sinful nature that made you put it off today will make you put it off tomorrow. Nothing will be different. In addition, you've begun a habit of procrastination which will only deepen and entrench. Tomorrow it will be worse for you. Now is the acceptable time (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Notice Felix's alarm at being told of sin and judgment. In the Greek the meaning of terror is 'being in the grip of a great Godly terror'. The word is used 5 times in the New Testament.

--When the women who brought spices to the tomb after Jesus' death saw the gleaming angels, they were terrified.
--When they were gathered and Jesus appeared to His disciples they became terrified.
--Cornelius' terror at seeing a holy angel in a God-given vision.
--In Revelation when a great earthquake occurred and a tenth of Jerusalem fell, the people became terrified and gave God in heaven glory.
--Felix, upon hearing Paul speak of sin and judgment.

You see, in each of the four cases, apart from Felix, the people became terrified upon directly seeing a slice of heaven. Or in the case of the earthquake they knew it was a mighty work of God Himself. And just as seeing a holy angel of God or experiencing God's hand directly, Felix was experiencing heaven. It wasn't just Paul speaking some words articulately and Felix becoming annoyed or a bit worried. It was the Holy Spirit opening the depths of Felix's soul to see his own sin compared to heaven. It was a deep, spiritual terror. Paul's words and their effect should have brought about the same reaction from Felix as Peter seeing Jesus as Lord of creation with the heavy, full nets of fish in Luke 5:8. Peter fell at Jesus feet, saying "Go away from me, I am a sinful man!" Felix said, "Uh, come back later, this is inconvenient for me."

When Felix was confronted with his sin and positionally saw how far he was from Jesus, he should have done the same as Peter. Yet though the Lord graciously offered Felix the opportunity to see his sin in light of God's glory, and though Felix did see it and became abjectly afraid, he procrastinated.

This is a decision. Jesus said whoever is not with Him is against Him. (Matthew 12:30).

So don't let anyone sway you from evangelizing this way, talking of sin, self-control, righteousness, and the coming judgment. "Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" doesn't have the same potential spiritual terror to pierce the soul as "You're dead in your sins and Jesus is coming to judge you."

There is no record in the Bible as to whether Felix found "a more convenient time" and reconciled to God. Probably not, seeing as the next verse records that Felix kept Paul in prison to see if Paul would cough up some money for a bribe. In this case, it IS worse for Felix. All that intellectual knowledge will put him in a worse position at the judgment.

For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:21)

It's Thanksgiving. I can think of no better gift than salvation to be thankful for. A close second is the Holy Spirit as a gift and a deposit inside us, illuminating the wonders of the Holy Bible to our mind and growing us in sanctification. Or perhaps Jesus forgiving our sins after salvation, or maybe it's His chastisement which refines us into sterling silver and gold. Or maybe seeing the world, on our walk after the meal, and giving God the glory for His beautiful earth. Or His eternal, boundless grace. There is so MUCH to be thankful for, if you are a Christian. Offer the Gospel to someone today, maybe by next year at this time they will be praising God in gratitude for their reconciliation, and blessedly, Thanksgiving will have taken on a whole new meaning for them.

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Further Reading

All Dressed Up and No One To Thank

Giving Thanks for Salvation

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Scripture photo with poetry by Kay Cude: Three Crosses

Art by Kay Cude, poetry by Kay Cude, all rights retained by Kay Cude. Photography used by permission

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

East Greenwich High School senior privileges: The Courtyard

I attended High School between 1974 and 1978. It was an excellent high school, offering high-end academics, a thriving sports program, a beautiful campus, and star teachers. To us, though, it was just high school, and the best thing about it was none of those things.

It was Senior Privileges.

Seniors were allowed entry to spaces in the school that no other students were allowed to enter. These spaces were severely restricted, and anyone who was not senior was barred.

For example, the Health Room was once a senior-only room, and was furnished with couches, a television, and refrigerator, if you can believe it. Even more unbelievable in this generation's health-conscious era, of the area of the school’s inner courtyard where three brick walls connect was once reserved as a smoking area for students. Smoking is now banned on the entire campus.

I never took advantage of those privileges but there were two others that I enjoyed.

Seniors during the 1970’s and 1980’s could sign themselves in and out of school. If we had a study hall first period of the day, we were able to come in late. We were able to sign out of school in the case of a last period study hall. I used to sign out and go to McDonald's and get breakfast, which was a new offering back then. McDonald's introduced the Egg McMuffin in 1972 and a full breakfast in 1977. That was the year I became a senior and the novelty of the McMuffin and hash browns was too luscious to resist. I signed myself out of study hall and drove to get breakfast a la McD's style, also bringing back orders for friends who didn't have a car.

But the greatest privilege to me was that seniors-only could use the courtyard. The courtyard was not an arborist's dream. It was a scrubby place, not really a greenspace, just well-worn paths amid gasping grass, concrete benches, the aforementioned smoking area, and some trees. But the school was large and being able to cut down travel time between classes to beat the bell was extremely compelling. Plus only seniors could go there.

All the Freshmen knew about senior privileges. We'd look upon the seniors emerging from the courtyard with awe, and excitedly talk about the day we, too, would be allowed entry into this most prized restricted area. I don't have enough words to relate to you the thirst, angst, and yearning for senior privileges. WE were blocked out, but THEY could go hang out! They could go in and come out! They could remain in a private area just for them! We wanted that!

Courtyard at Hotel Inca Real, Cuenca, Ecuador.
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The parallel to God's courts is the point I want to make here. Do we possess the same fervency to be in God's courts? Do we yearn for the privilege of being in His courts?

The Psalmist said,

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:10)

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God. (Psalm 92:12-13)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalm 100:4)

I know when the time comes to enter His fabulously luxuriant and holy courts, it will be with thanksgiving and praise. But until then, do we yearn for His home, which is our home? Do we look with joy and anticipation when it will finally be our turn to enter the restricted area, the private area reserved for only those chosen? Do we crave to be there, enjoying the privilege of being in His court?

I can't imagine what it will look like or what it will be like to enter His courts. The Bible tells us that we can't conceive of it. My juvenile mind could not conceive of any privilege or any courtyard sweeter than the High School Courtyard reserved for those of a certain age. Just as now, my juvenile Christian mind cannot conceive of a courtyard sweeter or more tranquil that, say, the one at the Hotel Inca Real in Cuenca Ecuador, adorned with plants, tiled floors, resting benches, beauty and peace.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”- (1 Corinthians 2:9)

But I can and do joyfully anticipate His courts even without being able to visualize them. It is quite humbling to think of Jesus preparing this place for us.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Behold the man! And The Four Beholds

We know Jesus is the Man-God. His divinity was on display when He healed, did miracles, or taught with such authority that the hearers were astounded.

His human nature was on display when He was weary (John 4:6), hungry (Mark 11:12), or thirsty (John 19:28).

When Jesus appeared before the magistrate, Pilate said to the crowd, Behold the man. Here is the verse:

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” (John 19:5)

Most of us are familiar with that phrase, and that momentous event in the life of Jesus. But did you know that Zechariah said it first? In one of the many visions God gave the prophet Zechariah, the phrase appears. Thus Pilate's utterance was a fulfillment of an Old Testament picture pointing to a New Testament truth.

And say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. (Zechariah 6:12)

Though the vision actually shows Joshua being crowned, it is in reality a picture of the crowning of Jesus. The Jamieson Fausset Commentary explains further:
Behold, the man—namely, shall arise. Pilate unconsciously spake God’s will concerning Him, “Behold the man” (Jn 19:5). The sense here is, “Behold in Joshua a remarkable shadowing forth of Messiah.” It is not for his own sake that the crown is placed on him, but as type of Messiah about to be at once king and priest. Joshua could not personally be crowned king, not being of the royal line of David, but only in his representative character.
[Source: Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 723). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Roy Gingrich's outlines on the prophetic books are helpful here explaining Zechariah's vision of Joshua's crowning, and the Heavenly utterance "Behold the Man whose name is the branch!"
The crowning of Joshua, a priest, with a regal crown symbolizes the future crowning of Christ, a priest (after the order of Melchisedec), with a regal crown (as Israel’s and the world’s, King) at His Second Advent. 
During Christ’s earthly ministry, He was crowned with a crown of thorns, Matt. 27:29; during His present sitting at His Father’s right hand, He is crowned with a crown of glory and honor, Heb. 2:9; at His Second Advent, He will be crowned with many crowns, Rev. 19:12 (as the King of Israel, Matt. 27:37, and as the King of all the earth’s Kings, Rev. 19:16). 
(Here we have one of the Old Testament’s most complete, yet concise, prophecies concerning the person, the office, and the work of the coming Messiah.) 
1. The Messiah will be the antitype of Joshua (6:12). 
To “behold the man,” Joshua, was to “behold the man,” the Messiah, for the one is typical of the other. The Jews, at Christ’s first advent, “beheld the man,” the Messiah, crowned with thorns, John 19:5. The Jews, at Christ’s second advent, will “behold the man,” the Messiah, crowned with many crowns, crowns of glory, Rev. 19:12.
See the four “beholds,” Zech. 6:12; Isa. 42:1; Zech. 9:9; Isa. 40:9.
[Source: Gingrich, R. E. (1999). The Books of Haggai and Zechariah (p. 34). Memphis, TN: Riverside Printing.]

Here are the four Beholds Mr Gingrich mentioned.

Behold the Man!

And say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. (Zechariah 6:12)

Behold the Servant!

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
(Isaiah 42:1)

Behold the King!

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
(Zechariah 9:9)

Behold your God!

Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”(Isaiah 40:9)

We're entering the Thanksgiving season, and gratitude and thankfulness are much on our minds. I am thankful for the fact that I shall behold Him! All knees will bow and all tongues will confess, meaning all peoples will behold Him, their God. But I'm grateful I shall behold Him as one who is forgiven by His grace, not ashamed or crushed by fear - but worshiping Him rightly- in Spirit and in truth. My gratitude for Him having delivered the means by which to dwell in righteousness now and forever and to behold His face in love knows no bounds. Brethren, WE SHALL BEHOLD HIM, OUR MAN-GOD, Savior, Lord and King!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

His sheep know His voice

Jesus only calls those sheep whose names have been written down since before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4). Those sheep know His voice and listen to them. Those sheep follow Him out of the sheepfold and into green pastures. He doesn't put a general call into the sheepfold and wait to see who will come out. He knows them by name, and He calls them.

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Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. (John 10:1-4)

John 10:1–2. Verses 1–5 describe a morning shepherding scene. A shepherd enters through a gate into a walled enclosure which has several flocks in one sheep pen. The enclosure, with stone walls, is guarded at night by a doorkeeper to prevent thieves and beasts of prey from entering. Anyone who would climb the wall would do it for no good purpose.
John 10:3–4. By contrast, the shepherd has a right to enter the sheep pen. The watchman opens the gate, and the shepherd comes in to call his own sheep by name (out from the other flocks). Shepherds knew their sheep well and gave them names. As sheep hear the sound of their owner’s familiar voice, they go to him. He leads them out of the pen till his flock is formed. Then he goes out toward the fields with the sheep following him. 
John 10:5–6. If a stranger enters the pen, the sheep run away from him because his voice is not familiar. The point of this figure of speech consists in how a shepherd forms his flock. People come to God because He calls them (cf. vv. 16, 27; Rom. 8:28, 30). Their proper response to His call is to follow Him (cf. John 1:43; 8:12; 12:26; 21:19, 22). But this spiritual lesson was missed by those who heard Jesus, even though they certainly understood the local shepherd/sheep relationship. In their blindness, they could not see Jesus as the Lord who is the Shepherd (cf. Ps. 23).
John 10:7–9. Jesus then developed the shepherd/sheep figure of speech in another way. After a shepherd’s flock has been separated from the other sheep, he takes them to pasture. Near the pasture is an enclosure for the sheep. The shepherd takes his place in the doorway or entrance and functions as a door or gate. The sheep can go out to the pasture in front of the enclosure, or if afraid, they can retreat into the security of the enclosure. The spiritual meaning is that Jesus is the only Gate by which people can enter into God’s provision for them.
When Jesus said, All who ever came before Me were thieves and robbers, He referred to those leaders of the nation who cared not for the spiritual good of the people but only for themselves. Jesus the Shepherd provides security for His flock from enemies (whoever enters through Me will be saved, or “kept safe”). He also provides for their daily needs (the sheep come in and go out, and find pasture).
Source: Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 309–310). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

The People's Bible Encyclopedia, Charles Barnes

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