Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Abyss

In Proverbs 15:11 we read, "Hell and Destruction are before the Lord; So how much more the hearts of the sons of men." The writer is making a point about what God is able to see in us, but a closer word study reveals something even more amazing.

The word for "Hell" in the Hebrew language in this text is "Sheol." This was the grave, or the abode of the dead. Solomon is first pointing out that God's vision of us reaches even into the realm beyond the grave.

The word for "Destruction" here in the Hebrew language is "Abaddon." This is considered to be the darkest and most far reaching places of death. It is known as the place of destruction or, "the abyss." The root from which this word is derived literally means "to perish." Parallel passages include Job 26:6; 28:22; and in the book of Revelation this abyss is presented as a "bottomless pit."

In Revelation 9, the word is "abyssos." This is where we get the transliterated form, "abyss." The Greek word abyssos is a combination of the letter alpha, and the word "bythos," which means "the depths of the sea." This all adds up to present the abyss as one lexicon describes, "a very deep gulf or chasm in the lowest parts of the earth used as the common receptacle of the dead and especially as the abode of demons."

During Christ's ministry, he encountered Legion, a conglomeration of demons which from multiple gospel accounts had entered and possessed at least two human souls. When Legion recognized the Son of God, "...they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss" (Luke 8:31). In Jesus' mercy he cast them instead into a herd of swine, which immediately ran off violently from a steep cliff and drowned in the sea.

Later Romans 10:6-7 say "But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, 'Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, " 'Who will descend into the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." This poses a very intriguing thought. Jesus, our Savior, was willing to go where demons begged not to! He went there for us, to remove sin and death forever. Jesus descended into the deepest realm of death, so that he could completely free us from our human bondage!

What a wonderful Savior we have!

"I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death." ~ Revelation 1:18

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pull Over

A man was driving in a quiet town late at night trying to get home. He was very tired, and he did not realize that he was going too fast. That is until, he saw a policeman coming his direction. When he looked down at his speedometer, it read over 50 mph, and the speed limit was 35 mph. So he pulled over immediately. Seconds later, the policeman turned his lights on and turned around and parked behind him.

When the policeman got to the man's window, he said, "This may be the easiest traffic stop I have ever had. You pulled yourself over before I even turned on my lights." The man and the policeman talked for a few minutes. He was given a warning and drove home without any further delay.

This is a true story. It is not written to give you a pointer on how to get out of a speeding ticket. Rather, it is a reminder that it is a good idea to admit when you are wrong. We do not like to plead guilty. Rarely has a driver ever felt he was the one in the wrong when given a ticket. Certainly there are times when we are falsely accused, or unfairly treated. But the majority of the time, if we are disciplined by those authorities that exist in our lives, we had it coming.


When you have a bad attitude, PULL OVER. Count to ten and get yourself together. Don't run from the truth, but realize that you need to calm down and show some self-control and patience.

When you are going to fast, PULL OVER. Life needs to slow down a bit for many of us. When we are distracted and have things to do and places to go, we will look down and find ourselves at a rate of speed that we cannot handle. When we make too many promises and try to do to many things in one day, everybody is in jeopardy.

When you are guilty, PULL OVER. It takes a great deal of humility for people to turn themselves in. Admitting fault is the first step to overcoming any weakness. God will look upon us with mercy when our heart is saddened and in a state of repentance. "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." (Psalm 34:18).

Everybody needs to be disciplined. It is always better, when the discipline begins on our own.

"For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death." ~ 2 Corinthians 7:10

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


In 1887 the coffin of Abraham Lincoln was pried open to determine if it contained his body. What makes that act so remarkable is the fact that Lincoln's body had rested in that coffin for 22 years. Yet, even more amazing is that 14 years later a rumor circulated again that Lincoln's coffin was actually empty. The furor so gripped the land that the only way to silence it was to dig up the coffin--again. This was done and the rumor silenced when a handful of witnesses viewed the lifeless body of Abraham Lincoln. ~ Today in the World, 1991

Don't take offense. This needs to be said.

There are many things that are said on a regular basis that do not need to be said. That being the case, this article is designed to make you think about some of the things that you are saying that may be hurting the kingdom of God.

As long as the earth remains, people are going to dig up coffins and spread rumors. But Christians should never be party to such. Here are a few reminders about gossip to which all of us should take heed:

1. Do not gossip about the elders.
1 Tim 5:19 - "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses." When people say negative things about the elders to you without complete proof, don't believe it and don't feed it. These men are held in high regard and are holding up the integrity of the church.

2. Do not gossip about the preachers.
Paul said to a fellow minister, Titus, "Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you" (Titus 2:15). Preachers make mistakes daily, and are sinners just like the rest of the world. But they also are representatives of the church. When a person talks negatively about their preacher, they are cutting down their own spiritual body and family.

3. Do not gossip about your brethren.
Paul said that some brethren have strayed from the faith, involving themselves in idle talk (1 Tim. 1:6). To do such is to stop living the Christian way. Jesus never engaged in idle gossip. No lover of the church would ever cut another brother down. Rom. 12:10 - "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another."

4. Do not gossip about the world.
Gossip is not any more acceptable just because it does not concern your brother. You can also do damage to the cause of Christ by having a bad reputation. Nobody is going to want to be a part of a congregation that is full of tale-bearers. People are seeking love, affection, belonging, brotherhood, hope, and peace. They are not coming into the doors of the church building to be examined by the members. They have come to communicate with God and to work on their relationship with Him and His church.

"Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification." ~ Romans 15:2

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Getting in the Water

Someone has said that, "The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it." We understand that life begins at conception (read Psalm 139), but we also realize that there are many different ways in which we are said to be "living." There is our first breath, our first words, and our first steps. Later on it is a first date, a first kiss, et cetera. Perhaps the better question - "When does life really begin?"

2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." Put that together with Colossians 3:1-4 - "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."

Now observe from those two passages the following:

1. Spiritual life begins when someone dies. We must die to our old self, the person who was a sinner, who once walked after the pleasures of the flesh. (Rom. 6:3-4; 10-11).

2. Spiritual life begins when someone is buried. The way we put away that man who has died is to bury him in a tomb. Just as Jesus put sin in the grave, so must we. (Rom. 6:6).

3. Spiritual life begins when someone is raised. Jesus told Nicodemus that spiritual life was an impossibility without one being born again. This involved being raised by the power of God, through the water and the spirit, in order to obtain everlasting life (Rom. 6:5, 9).

4. Christ IS our life (Col. 3:4; also see Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21)

In June of 1981 Reader's Digest published the following story:
Kim Linehan holds the world record in the Women's 1500-meter freestyle. According to her coach, Paul Bergen, the 18-year-old is the leading amateur woman distance swimmer in the world. Kim does endless exercises and swims 7 to 12 miles a day. The hardest part of her regimen? "Getting in the water," she says.

We are interested in resolutions this time of year because we are interested in living. We want to do better, be better, and just plain live better. We know that the life that God wants to give us is the best life, and that we are not really living until we are living in Christ. But the hardest part is still the most obvious solution. It is getting started. It is letting go and letting God. It is getting in the water.

"Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" ~ Acts 8:36