Technology and the Bible

Anyone who knows me knows that I like science and science fiction. Maybe it’s the draw of the utopian societies or maybe it’s the technology. I don’t know why but I have always been drawn to sci-fi. I love reading and watching videos about our most recent achievements in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and technology.

I am also a Christian. I love Jesus with all of my heart and long for the day when I will dwell forever with

Privative technology

the Master. But how do these two parts of my being mesh? Or do they? Some believe that we should live as simply as possible to the point that they abstain from using any technology developed beyond a certain point. Personally I disagree with this. If you are going to take that perspective then you need to abandon ALL technology including primitive tools such as flint knives and cut animal hides as clothing.

We think of technology from our modern perspective. Computers are considered tech but butter knives and spoons aren’t. But actually any tool from a simple stone picked up as a hammer is a form of technology. And we see these tools used throughout the Bible both for good and for evil.

So how should a Christian deal with technology? There are as many answers as there are people answering. Everyone has an opinion and since this is my blog, I’ll give you mine. Please keep in mind that this is just my opinion.

I’m sure that by now you have guessed that I like technology, but it is actually a pretty complex issue. I’m going to bypass any tech that is used for or was created for war or evil. I’m also going to skip simple tools and basic electric devices such as toasters and gas ranges. Although without these our lives would be vastly different.

So let’s look at some of the tech we have available today and some of what the future holds.

Computers are probably the first thing many people will think of when you talk about technology. Without computers there would not be any modern, advanced technology. Computers are really nothing new. Manual computing devices have been around long before electricity was a common tool. At around 1620 an English minister invented the slide rule. With this device he was able to perform complex mathematical calculations very quickly. A device called The Antikythera mechanism was discovered around 1900 and it dated back to before the time of Jesus! But the oldest computer that I could find was the abacus. This device, still used by many Chinese, was may have been used by the Babylonians as early as 2400BC!

5MB compared to 32GB

While these aren’t what we would call computers today, they certainly were the beginnings. Modern electronic computers were developed in the 1950’s and since then have progressed dramatically. The picture on the left is an IBM 5 MB hard drive. They didn’t sell them but would lease them for $28,000 per month. The picture on the right are two 32 GB drives purchased for $12 apiece.  

We’ve all seen the pictures of the first Apple computer – made with a WOOD frame! This is the same company that now makes the iPad and smart watches.

Well, that was a great history lesson, but what about its relation to Christianity? No technology, in and of itself, is inherently evil except that it was thought of and invented by fallen man. I’m including even nuclear bombs. The bombs can’t think. They don’t know that they are about to wipe out an entire city. Those who decide to deploy those devices are the ones who may or may not be evil, not the bombs. A screwdriver isn’t evil even if an evil person uses it to stab someone.

I use my computer to write and post blogs. I have a wonderful program called e-Sword that has a ton of Bible translations in many languages. Most of are familiar with Blue Letter Bible phone apps. I’m 66 years old and went to collage without computers. I wrote term papers and did research by hand in an actual library with paper books. I had to show up in class to get credit and hand in paper test sheets. It wasn’t hard because it was all I knew. Of course my “friends” in sci-fi novels had computers and online classes, but I’ve never had a problem separating reality from fiction.

I had planned on putting in several paragraphs here about robots. Not industrial machines that build cars but humanoid robots or androids. I just watched a documentary on YouTube about Gemma Chan had an android made in her image that was so convincing that it fooled reporters who were interviewing the robot. They actually thought they were talking to Gemma not a chat-bot. It was eye-opening. So I’m going to hold off on giving you my opinion of androids. Since this isn’t the 24 century and not all androids are like Data I’m not sure what I think. I hadn’t realized that out androids were at that level yet. Sophia may have been granted honorary citizenship in Saudi Arabia but you would never mistake it for a living person. Yet the Gemma robot did just that. I have to process that for awhile before I decide what I think about it.

The images below are all androids (human-like robots)

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The Faces of hunger

Have you ever been hungry? I’m not talking about missing a meal every now and then and I’m not talking about planned fasts. Have you ever been unable to provide a meal when you wanted?

Worse than this, have you even been in the position that you could not provide a meal for your children? No money, no hope and no resources?

What do you do when your child tells you that they are hungry and you literally have nothing to give them? When you don’t even have a place to live? Or a safe place to sleep.

I’m calling this post the faces of hunger but I could call it the faces of homelessness. The pictures I’m posting are all Americans. They may be in your city or town. These children and single moms didn’t ask for this. They don’t want to be living on the street. The fortunate ones have a car as their home, but that’s not good enough.

You see, I’ve been there myself. I know what it’s like to have to tell your children that there’s nothing to eat. I know what it’s like to see your wife crying in frustration and despair. I know what it’s like to have to beg. It’s not a pleasant experience.

Yes, some people choose this way of life. These are not the people I’m talking about. How about the single parents whose partners are gone? How about the parents who have mental issues? Maybe they made some bad choices in the past and now they are living with the consequences. We all have made poor choices from time to time. Some worse than others.

How about the families that just aren’t making enough money? They have to choose between rent, utilities and food.

Looking at this picture you have to ask how anyone can live like this? No one should ever have to and these are the lucky ones. They have a roof!

It is estimated that there are over 209 million adults in America. Can you imagine if half of these people were to give just one dollar to help this situation? ONE DOLLAR. That would be nearly $105,000,000 toward the hunger crisis in America.

There are programs that can help. The government has welfare programs and churches have shelters and

feeding programs. But what about you? Are you a Christian? A follower of Jesus? Remember, Jesus took compassion on the crowd and fed them because they missed one meal! How can we not feel compassion for these who live beside us? The Pharisees asked Jesus who they should consider their neighbors. We have literal neighbors who are hungry and we do nothing to ease the pain. How can we, as Christians, just sit and let them go hungry?

There are places where you can donate food, money and your time. Donating you time is vital. Food banks and shelters need volunteer help so they can stretch their food dollars to feed more families. Every dollar they pay toward wages is money not going to food. Homeless shelters also need your help, physically and financially. Look up places near you. I know they are there. We often ignore these facilities until we need them, but they are there. I’m going to list a few but these are by no means the only ones. Do your own research. Some of these are Christian organizations and some are secular. There are also local shelters and foodbanks that you can find with a quick internet search. Your church may also have a benevolence fund or organizations that they sponsor and/or support.

Feeding America

Meals For Good

The Hunger Project

Feed The Children

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Prayer – WHY?

Prayer is effective

Why should I bother to pray? Why should you bother to pray? As the title of this blog says, prayer is effective.  It works. But first let’s back up a bit and ask another question. What is prayer? Before we can be convinced that prayer works we need to know what prayer is and how to pray. Maybe I should have done this blog before the series on The Lord’s Prayer but we can catch up.

So, what is prayer? The dictionary lists prayer as a noun and defines it as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” Asking for help or thanking Him for His help are certainly two aspects of prayer that the Bible tells us to practice. But prayer is so much more than this.

God is our Father and we should talk to Him as we would our earthly fathers. I told this to someone many years ago and very quickly was told that his earthly father wasn’t someone that anyone would want to talk to. I know, some of us don’t have a good relationship with our earthly fathers for various reasons. I was actually in that same position myself so I understand. But our Heavenly Father is GOOD! We need to talk to Him frequently just as we would talk to any loved one. Cultivate the habit of prayer. One way to do this is to realize that every thought, word and deed is in His view. God sees and knows all about us, so why not address all of our thoughts toward Him? (This is also a good way to help keep your thoughts from straying into area they should not stray.) Live a life of prayer! 1Thessalonians 5:16 says, “pray without ceasing.” I believe this can be done as we begin to understand that through the Holy Spirit God lives in us and He knows what we think and feel.

He also understands. Jesus was born an infant, became a toddler, a teenager and a young adult just like all of us. He lived with peer pressure, changing hormones and adolescence. Yes, Jesus is (was) God, but He was also fully man. And Jesus prayed! In fact, He prayer a lot. Jesus believed that prayer worked and He modeled that belief for us.

One thing that Jesus made very clear was that prayer was not like rubbing a magic lamp to get whatever you wanted. He said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it.” (John 15:7 GNB) Notice that He said “if you remain in me AND MY WORDS REMAIN IN YOU…” Living a life of prayer as I described above will help us to keep His words in us. We cannot expect that Jesus will make us millionaires and help us to live a life of frivolous debauchery. While some believers are blessed with finances it is their gifting to finance the kingdom work. They live a life of prayer and it shows. (Here I need to say that not all who call themselves Christians are actually true believers. They live a material life seeking money and fame and they use Jesus name in vain. “By their fruits you will know them”.)

Remaining in Jesus words isn’t that hard. Spend time reading the Bible and praying. Your efforts will be rewarded. If you are sincere Jesus will guide your readings, give you insight and understanding. So talk to the Father today. You don’t need fancy words or formats any more than you would need to talk to your earthly dad. God WANTS to hear from you and you NEED to talk to Him.

I will continue this study on prayer but don’t wait for that. So start praying and reading the Bible now. Most people find that as they spend more time talking to God that they will find more meaning and richness in the Word. God speaks to us through His Word and the Holy Spirit will certainly direct you to the readings you need.

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The Lord’s Prayer (vs 13)

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (vs 13)

We just prayed that we would have our sins forgiven and now we are asking that we be guarded from falling again into sin. This is not saying that God tempts us but rather that God protects us from allowing Satan to be let loose upon us.  David once prayed, “Keep me safe, also, from willful sins; don’t let them rule over me.”  (Psalms 19:13 GNB)

Later in Matthew, Jesus said, “the spirit is will but the flesh is weak” and that we should continue to pray that we do not fall into temptation. (26:41) I want to note that it is not a sin to be tempted. Jesus was tempted. Everyone is tempted. The devil wants us to sin and stray so that our witness will be weakened and so that we will not be effective for God’s kingdom. The issue is when we give in to that temptation. You’ve heard the expression, “Just say no”? So when Satan sends temptation our way, just say no!

Deliver us from evil is often translated as deliver us from the evil one. Both are possible interpretations of the Greek text and the meaning is almost the same. Yes, deliver us from evil. However, delivering us from the evil one (Satan) will be delivering us from evil in general. The devil is real and he is constantly trying to get us to fall. As believers, we have the ability, through the Holy Spirit, to resist these temptations. James 4:7 says that we are to “resist the devil” then he will flee from us. Why? Because it is through the Holy Spirit that we are able to resist and the devil cannot stand up to God’s Spirit.

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The Lord’s Prayer (vs 12)

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. (vs 12)

Debts, here, is rightly translated as “sins”. Yet “debts” is the right word. Jesus was talking to Jewish people and before Jesus was the Sacrifice there was a debt owed to God for these sins. The payment owed was punishment. Every Jew knew this which is why they were so careful to observe the Temple sacrifices.

While the Jews sacrificed daily and annually in the Temple so as to be forgiven, we know now that there is no way that we can ever make up for our sins; or our Sin. When we pray “Father forgive us our sins” we are asking that the Blood of Jesus be applied toward the debt that we owe. Jesus made the payment, once and for all, for everyone’s Sin and all we have to do is ask and God is faithful to forgive us. (1John 1:9)

Jesus also said that we are to forgive our debtors. Again, this is talking about sins. In this case about people who have done us wrong. It’s easy for me to ask God to forgive me. I know that I am a sinner. The apostle Paul claimed that he was the “chief of sinners” in 1Timothy 1:15. I’m not trying to contradict Scripture, but often I feel that I hold that place myself. I know that I have an accumulation of debts that would be owed if not for His forgiveness. It is also easy for me to want to exact justice from anyone who wrongs me or my family. And this is wrong. It is yet another debt that I must ask to be forgiven. Because we are to let these things go and let God deal with them.

The Bible has thirty-three Vengeance is mine, says the Lord that specifically tell us that it God’s job to repay people, not ours. I have linked to openbible.info where you can look up these verses if you choose.  We are to turn the other cheek rather than insisting on punishment. The prayer that we are studying also says that we are to ask that God forgive us as we forgive others! This implies that if we don’t forgive than He won’t forgive. I tried looking this up and scholars disagree on this. Having said that I still want to do what Jesus asks us to do. We know that He wants us to forgive, so I try. And yes, it’s hard. So let me suggest that you also pray for the grace (strength) to forgive.

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The Lord’s Prayer (vs10)

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The kingdom of God is His reign over all mankind, not just our acknowledging Him as our King. While we look forward to His return we are also to work in His kingdom by living our lives as He wishes us to live them. One way that we work for His kingdom is by telling others about Him. Jesus said that we are to be witnesses in all the earth; first in our own neighborhoods (including our homes) then the region around us and unto the ends of the earth.

When we see what Jesus has done for us and in our lives it should be easy to share this with others. This is a part of this prayer. As you pray “Thy kingdom come” you are asking God to give you the opportunity to help this come about. Remember, this is not just a rote memory that we recite over and over without meaning what we are saying. If we say the prayer we must listen to what we are saying and incorporate it into our lives.

Praying that His will be done on earth is praying that earth will become more heaven-like. God often works His will through believers. I definitely believe in miracles. I have received several throughout my lifetime. Some by direct intervention of the Hand of God but mostly through the work of other believers who submitted themselves to God’s will. Heaven is a place of miracles. It is the Father’s home. When we pray that we want His will to be done on earth as it is in His home we are asking that He will help us to know His will and to give us the strength and grace to carry out His wishes in our lives.

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The Lord’s Prayer (vs 9)

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13 KJV

WOW! I did a “quick” internet search for “Lord’s Prayer” and what I found surprised me. I’m used to reading this in Matthew and hearing the song. I discovered differing versions of the prayer based on the Scripture. I found additions to the prayer. I found different prayers based on denomination! And this was all on one web page.

I know that the prayer is given by Jesus twice. Once, in Matthew, He tells followers during the Sermon on the Mount how to pray and once, as recorded by Luke, He is asked by one of the disciples how to pray and His response is the Lord’s Prayer in a slightly different format.  I had hoped to do a study on the prayer itself so I’m going to go with Matthew 6:9-13 in the King James Version of the Bible. If you are interested in the other versions or denominational renderings feel free to look check the link I have above.

Jesus starts out,” After this manner therefore pray ye.”  While I’m not condemning our repeating this prayer, it should be noted that this was not the Master’s intent. He did not say repeat after me rather He said “after this manner” or, as the Good News Bible puts it, “This, then, is how you should pray.”  There’s nothing wrong with saying or reading the prayer either personally or in a congregation as long as it is meaningful and heartfelt. Jesus was very clear not to pray in “vain repetitions” the same thing over and over.  You could say that Jesus was saying something like, “Here is an idea of the basic format that you should use when you are praying.” (Personal paraphrase) So let’s look at this prayer format.  

“Our Father which art in heaven” directs our prayer to Almighty God above.  John Wesley, in his Notes on the Bible says, “The preface, Our Father, who art in heaven, lays a general foundation for prayer, comprising what we must first know of God, before we can pray in confidence of being heard. It likewise points out to us our faith, humility, love, of God and man, with which we are to approach God in prayer.”

We must understand that He is God Almighty. He loves us and wants us to seek Him for help and guidance, but we can never forget where He stands and where we stand.  This is emphasized in the next line, “Hallowed be thy name.”  This means “may your name be kept holy.” Again, positioning God above us.

I’m going to break here. Be sure to like and follow so that you don’t miss any of the following posts as I continue this study.

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The Virgin Birth

WHY IS THE VIRGIN BIRTH IMPORTANT?

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

Yes, that’s the correct scripture. The Virgin Birth was foretold approximately 735 years before it happened. This is important, as it constitutes the very foundation of Christianity. Let’s take a look.

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive.” There is a miracle here. When the angel told Mary that she was going to have a baby, she didn’t question God’s ability to do this, but she was curious as to how. “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

So this shows that Jesus was born of woman, without male sperm, DNA, etc. humanity was given to Jesus through this. His physical body was created when the egg was “quickened” or fertilized. How? All the Bible says is that the Holy Spirit would “come upon thee.” When the angel spoke to Mary, she understood what the English translations don’t convey. “Come upon” should be translated “supervening superimposition.” This doesn’t read very well and would be frequently misunderstood, so I understand why the translators used “come upon.” However, what it says is God will enter the world of man in a miraculous way. This is why the baby was to be called Immanuel (עמּנוּאל), which means, “With us [is] God.

But it’s not just the miracle of conception without a male contribution. In fact, that is the smallest part of the miracle. I said this was the very foundation of Christianity, right? Consider Paul’s words, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12)

The sin of Adam became racial sin, “by one man sin entered into the world” so we see that anyone born of man, would inherit this sin. If Jesus had a human father, He would not qualify as the perfect Passover Lamb. Jesus inherited not the nature of Adam, but the nature of His Father, God. Jesus was truly fully man (born of woman) and God (born from the Holy Spirit). Jesus spoke more that philosophical or spiritual truth when He called God His Father.

As the Son of יהוה, (Self-existent, eternal, I am what I am) Jesus was truly God incarnate. And this made Jesus the only possible “propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) Without the virgin birth there would be no salvation! Without the virgin birth we would still be under the old covenant. We sing the old hymn, “Jesus paid it all,” and He did; only because of the virgin birth.

So, when you hear people talk about the “myth” of the Virgin Birth, or how it makes a good story you can let them know that if they call themselves a Christian, they have to believe in the literal virgin birth. The virgin birth makes salvation possible. Anything less cancels the saving power of the cross and makes Christianity a sham.

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Contemptible Offering

The LORD Almighty says to the priests, “Children honor their parents, and servants honor their masters. I am your father—why don’t you honor me? I am your master—why don’t you respect me? You despise me, and yet you ask, ‘How have we despised you?’ This is how—by offering worthless food on my altar. Then you ask, ‘How have we failed to respect you?’ I will tell you—by showing contempt for my altar. (Malachi 1:6-7 Good News Bible)

Wow! That’s’ strong language that God used towards the priests. Needless to say God was not happy with them. They were giving Him the lame, blind and sick animals as offerings. They were giving Him animals that they didn’t want and were worthless (verse 8). By doing this they were saying that God’s altar was worthless! And this was contemptible to God. He wanted one of the priests to close the doors to the Temple so that no one would go in to light “useless” fires on His altar. He refused to accept their sacrifices. What a sad testimony.

Today we are seeing the same thing in Christian churches around the country. No, we don’t offer animal sacrifices anymore, but what we offer is still “useless” fire on His altar. If we do not give our best then He will not accept what we offer. That was the problem in Malachi’s day and it’s still the problem today. In fact, this has been the problem since the very beginning. Cain didn’t offer his best to God and God wouldn’t accept second, third or less from him. Nor will He accept that from us. God has not changed, nor will He ever change. One of the few times that Jesus talked about money, He talked about the poor widow who gave only a small “mite” or penny in the offering. Jesus said that she gave more than all of the rich people putting in their large sums. Why? The widow gave all that she had while the rich people were giving their leftovers or extra.

Don’t give Jesus your leftovers. He won’t accept that, ever. I love the song Howard Grose wrote in 1901, Give of Your Best to The Master.

Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor
Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example,
Dauntless was He, young and brave;
Give Him your loyal devotion;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain:
Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth;
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.

Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave;
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.

Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save;
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.

(Give Of Your Best To The Master, words by Howard B. Grose, 1901, public domain)

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Believe

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out with tears, “I believe. Help my unbelief!”   (Mark 9:23-24 World English Bible)

“If you can believe.” I am often like this father Jesus was talking to. I do believe, but there are times when I have to admit that I am human. I have doubts and fears. What if Jesus doesn’t do this or that and things don’t work out like I (think) I need them to work out? I do believe, but Jesus, help my unbelief!

This may well be why we don’t see the healings and the other miracles like I think the Bible says we should. We believe, but not like we should. I’m not saying that we doubt that Jesus rose from the dead. Nor am I saying that our salvation is in jeopardy, but do we believe Him before we believe a doctor? Do we believe Him before we believe a politician? Do we believe Him before we believe a pastor? When you accept a human’s word over the Word, then you need to ask Him to help your unbelief. “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

This should be our prayer any time we find ourselves questioning Jesus or His Word.

 

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