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« Reply #5970 on: November 19, 2017, 09:43:01 AM »

The Only Way

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)
 
This is surely one of the best-known, best-loved, most important, clearest, yet most profound verses in the Bible. There is no other way to come to God except through Christ, no other truth than that which is founded and centered on Christ, and no other eternal life except the life of Christ imparted to the believer—through faith in Christ.
 
All who teach otherwise are “thieves and robbers” of the soul, for Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:8-9). There is no other door to heaven and no other Shepherd of the sheep. He is the only “light of the world” (John 8:12) to illumine a world otherwise blackened by sin, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
 
He is “that bread of life . . . the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever” (John 6:48, 51), and there is no other such life-sustaining eternal food for the hungry soul.
 
Likewise, He is the “living water.” “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37-38). No other water satisfies. He is also the one “true vine” in whom we must abide for fruit-producing life. He said, “For without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:1, 5).
 
The Scriptures have made it abundantly plain that there is “none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
 
There is no other way; the Lord Jesus Christ is the all-sufficient way, and the perfect way, to God. It is not that He shows the way; He is the way, and all who want to come can come to God through Him. HMM
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« Reply #5971 on: November 20, 2017, 09:23:04 AM »

Our Hiding Place

“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)
 
There are times in the life of each believer when the trials become overwhelming and the whole world seems to be falling apart. Without the Lord, it would be impossible to escape, but with the Lord there can be safety and restoration, for He can be our precious hiding place until the storm is done.
 
There are many gracious promises to this effect in His Word, and we need only to claim them to experience them. The “pavilion” in our text is best understood as the tent of the commander-in-chief, well-protected and away from the battlefront. Surely, we are safe there. “Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (Psalm 31:20). There is a wonderful Messianic promise in Isaiah 32:2: “And a man [that man is Christ!] shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”
 
There, sheltered from the storm, our gracious Lord gives comfort and sweet counsel until we are able to face the tempest victoriously. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2).
 
One of the most beautiful of these promises introduces David’s great song of deliverance: “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Saviour; thou savest me from violence” (2 Samuel 22:2-3). HMM
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« Reply #5972 on: November 21, 2017, 09:24:51 AM »

The Names of the Men

“And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of the tribe of Reuben; Elizur the son of Shedeur.” (Numbers 1:5)
 
These are the first entries in several long lists of names here in the book of Numbers—all names of men in the 12 tribes of Israel. We know nothing about most of these men except their names, so it is natural to wonder why God had Moses include them in the inspired Scriptures.
 
In fact, this is one of the objections that skeptics and liberals have raised against the doctrine of verbal inspiration of the Bible. What possible spiritual or doctrinal or practical purpose could be accomplished through these lists of names for any future readers of the Bible?
 
And there are, indeed, many such lists of names. For example, the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles consist almost entirely of names. Then there are the lists in Ezra 2; Ezra 10; Nehemiah 7, 11, and 12; Romans 16; and others.
 
Information is included about some of these people, of course, and even the meaning of the names may warrant speculation about their parents’ hopes for the children.
 
But there is also another very cogent reason for God to have included all these names of relatively less significant people in His book. He wants to assure us that He is interested not only in the Abrahams, Daniels, Pauls, and other great men in His Kingdom, but also in the Elizurs and Shedeurs and Bills and Kates in His spiritual family.
 
There are many millions of names “written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27), and the heavenly Lamb—the Lord Jesus Christ—is also the Good Shepherd that “calleth his own sheep by name” (John 10:3). The names in His book here on Earth are an assurance that He knows and calls us by each of our names in His book in heaven. HMM
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« Reply #5973 on: November 22, 2017, 09:26:20 AM »

Our Hope

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.” (1 Timothy 1:1)
 
Paul, in his opening salutation to Timothy, makes it clear that the Christian’s hope is not just in Christ, but is Christ! In the New Testament, the term “hope” does not refer to some vague wish but to a confident expectation of something (or someone) sure to come. It focuses especially on the promised return of Christ to complete His great work of redemption.
 
It is specifically called the blessed hope: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). It is also a living hope, for God the Father “hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
 
Furthermore, since Christ is our hope, it is a saving hope. “For we are saved by hope” (Romans 8:24). It is a glorious and joyful hope. It recognizes the present truth of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), so that we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
 
It is not a blind hope but a reasonable hope, one founded on solid evidence, and every believer must “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
 
Finally, this hope of the imminent coming of Christ, when at last “we shall be like him,” is a purifying hope, for “every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). It also is a stabilizing hope, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:19). In every way, God “hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). HMM
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« Reply #5974 on: November 23, 2017, 09:22:10 AM »

Giving Thanks for Christian Friends

“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2)
 
We all have much to be thankful for. It is certainly appropriate to give audible thanks for our daily bread, whether in private, at a family meal, or in public at a fine restaurant. In fact, Jesus set the example. When He miraculously fed the multitude beside the Sea of Galilee, He began with a prayer of thanksgiving: “He took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them. . . . And they did all eat, and were filled” (Matthew 15:36-37).
 
It is good to give thanks for our food and shelter and clothing, but the blessing of having Christian friends is even more thankworthy. The first letter to the Thessalonians was possibly Paul’s first Spirit-inspired letter to Christian friends, and Paul began with a testimony of thankfulness to God for them (see the text above).
 
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he began similarly: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3), and to the Colossians, he started the same way: “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” (Colossians 1:3). The same when he wrote his epistle to the church at Corinth: “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:4).
 
Even when writing to the Christians at Rome, whom he had not yet met personally, he wrote: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all” (Romans 1:8). He also thanked God for his personal friends Timothy (2 Timothy 1:3) and Philemon (v. 4).
 
Throughout our Christian life journey, we develop lasting Christian friends and can thank God for all of them. What a blessing to have such friends, and how fitting it is to give God special thanks for them at this time. HMM
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« Reply #5975 on: November 24, 2017, 09:52:10 AM »

Called Before Birth

“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him.” (Galatians 1:15-16)
 
There is great mystery here. Paul was the human writer of much of the New Testament, yet he also claimed divine inspiration. “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12).
 
It was only a short time before, however, that Paul had been bitterly opposing that gospel. “Beyond measure,” he said, “I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it” (Galatians 1:13). Eventually, he was converted and began to preach “the faith which once he destroyed” (Galatians 1:23). Yet, during all his years of fighting God’s truth, he had already been separated unto God and called by His grace even before he was born, as our text reveals. His teachers in the synagogue, his studies under Gamaliel, and even his anti-Christian crusades were all being orchestrated by God to develop Paul into the unique person he would be, the great Christian whom God could use to write much of His own written Word. Paul’s epistles were thus truly his epistles, derived from his own experience, research, study, reasoning, and concerns. At the same time, they came out as God’s Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, free from error and perfectly conveyed from God to man, because God had Himself ordained and planned all Paul’s experiences and abilities and had implanted all these concerns in his heart.
 
And so it was with all the human writers of the Bible. God’s Word (like Christ Himself) is both human and divine, yet meeting all our needs. This is mysterious indeed, but well within the capabilities of our omnipotent and gracious Creator. HMM
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« Reply #5976 on: November 25, 2017, 09:37:46 AM »

Abide

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
 
As recorded in John 14–16, many of Christ’s last words to His disciples as He was about to leave them regarded abiding. The word meno occurs 18 times in this discourse and is translated not only “abide” but also “remain,” “dwell,” “continue,” and “be present.” Let us look at what He told them about abiding while He was “yet present” (14:25) with them.
 
First, “the Father . . . dwelleth in me” (14:10), “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (v. 11). That is, they are one and the same, inseparably abiding together, giving great power to those believing on Him (v. 12).
 
Furthermore, the very Spirit of God, the “Comforter,” will “abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive . . . but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (vv. 16-17). “I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (v. 20).
 
Abiding in Him, as we see in our text and in verse 7 (as opposed to the tragic end of those who “abide not” [v. 6]), brings forth much fruit, and that fruit shall “remain” (v. 16).
 
There is one requirement—that we keep His commandments (14:23 and 15:10), and if we do so, we will “continue” and “abide” in His love (vv. 15:9-10). “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (15:11). Not only are we to abide while in this world, but throughout eternity. “In my Father’s house are many mansions [same root word, meaning abiding places]: . . . I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (14:2-3). JDM
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« Reply #5977 on: November 26, 2017, 09:37:18 AM »

Four Commands

“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” (1 Peter 2:17)
 
Our text today gives four commands for believers to obey, each of which is difficult but nonetheless “is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (v. 15). It comes in a lengthy passage (2:11–3:12) that discusses the matter of authority and a Christian’s proper response to it. Ponder each command:
 
Honor all men. This could be translated “Give honor to all.” While the verb is the same as in the last command, its verb tense is not the same, here indicating a continued, conscious choice to do this, while honoring “the king” indicates the development of a lifestyle of showing respect to civil authority. Evidently our day-to-day encounters with sinful “men” require us to be continually choosing to regard them with honor and dignity. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3).
 
Love the brotherhood. Our agape love—God’s kind of unselfish, undeserved love—should extend, on a habitual basis as seen in the verb tense, to all believers. “See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22).
 
Fear God. A lifestyle marked by a reverential fear of God is in mind here. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).
 
Honor the king. As mentioned above, this is to be a life’s commitment, continually recognizing the God-given authority of human government (1 Peter 2:1-14).
 
“Having your conversation [i.e., manner of life] honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (v. 12). JDM
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« Reply #5978 on: November 27, 2017, 08:59:48 AM »

Eternal Things

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
 
One of the most difficult handicaps for a Christian to overcome is spiritual nearsightedness. It is easy to see temporal things but hard to think on eternal things.
 
Paul, however, in the midst of an extremely busy and difficult temporal life, somehow did manage to keep his sights on that eternal life to which he was called. The wonderful redemption that Christ purchased for us with His blood is nothing less than “eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12); and therefore “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). Consequently, as joint-heirs with Him, “they which are called . . . receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15). He is, surely, the “God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus” (1 Peter 5:10) and has there provided for us “everlasting habitations” (Luke 16:9).
 
All of these eternal things—eternal redemption, eternal salvation, eternal inheritance, eternal habitations, and eternal glory—are of infinitely greater value than the temporal things that crowd our minds and limit our goals. They are all a part of the wonderful eternal life we have already received through faith in Christ. It is significant that the phrase “eternal life” (or “everlasting life,” which is the same Greek phrase) occurs no less than 44 times in the New Testament. God speaks of it often, and so should we!
 
The very first eternal thing mentioned in the Bible is the “everlasting covenant” God has made with all men (Genesis 9:16). The last is the “everlasting gospel” to be preached to all men (Revelation 14:6). HMM
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« Reply #5979 on: November 28, 2017, 07:55:14 AM »

Conformity

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)
 
One of the greatest dangers facing Christians is the temptation to become conformed to the things of the world around them, thus destroying their testimony for the Lord. We are specifically commanded, in fact, “Be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). One cannot serve two masters, and the great privilege of the believer is the privilege of becoming conformed, not to a dying world, but to the living Christ.
 
But first we must be conformed to His death, dying to the world and its standards. The greatest desire of the apostle Paul was to “win Christ. . . . That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:8, 10).
 
Death is far from the end, however. When Christ returns, He “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). In this verse, the Greek for “fashioned like” is the same as “conformed to.” These corruptible, dying bodies we now live in will one day be changed. As Christ rose from the dead, we also shall rise, and our bodies, like His, will be alive forevermore.
 
Even that wonderful prospect is not the best of it, however. Not only will our bodies be incorruptible like His, but we shall be like Him—like Him in holiness, like Him in love, like Him in wisdom. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). In the words of our text, we are actually predestined to be conformed to the very image of the Son of God! HMM
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« Reply #5980 on: November 29, 2017, 10:16:59 AM »

The Living Word/The Word of Life

“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (Philippians 2:16)
 
There is such beautiful correlation between the Living Word (Christ) and the written Word (the Bible) that certain Scriptures could well apply to either one. Such is the case with our text. The Philippians were exhorted to hold forth the Word of life, which presumably could mean either Christ, the Living Word, or else the Scriptures, which speak of eternal life.
 
The same dual meaning can be discerned in such texts as 2 Timothy 4:2 (“Preach the word”) and Hebrews 4:12 (“The word of God is quick, and powerful”). In fact, there are many beautiful figures of speech that are applied in the Bible to the ministries of both Christ and the Scriptures in a believer’s life.
 
For example, Christ is “the light of the world” (John 8:12), but also “the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light” (Proverbs 6:23). Similarly Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), but He also said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4).
 
The Lord Jesus Christ said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37). God also promised that “as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, . . . So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth” (Isaiah 55:10-11).
 
Both are described as the very personification of truth. Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth,” and He prayed to the Father, “Thy word is truth” (John 14:6; 17:17). Finally, both must be received: “Receive . . . the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21), for “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). HMM
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« Reply #5981 on: November 30, 2017, 09:34:12 AM »

He Is Able

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
 
Despite man’s arrogant pride, he is utterly unable to save himself or to make himself acceptable to God. Neither is he able to keep himself saved nor, above all, is he able to defeat sin and conquer death.
 
But God is able! The word “able” (Greek dunamai) is closely related to the word for “power” (Greek dunamis), both speaking of God’s spiritual dynamics. He is all-powerful, His ability is without limit, and His power “works in us”!
 
Therefore, “he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Hebrews 7:25). Because the gospel of Christ is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16), God “is of power to stablish you according to my gospel” (Romans 16:25).
 
Even when great troubles and sorrows and temptations come, He is able. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). He “is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24).
 
In fact, He is able to meet every need of our lives and even to use us in His service. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
 
Finally, “he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). That day will surely come, but then He will give us bodies of glory, for “he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:21). HMM
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« Reply #5982 on: December 01, 2017, 08:45:22 AM »

Did He Really Die?

“And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.” (Mark 15:44-45)
 
The absolute and total physical death of Christ is essential to the gospel. Certain liberals and detractors have for years tried to obscure or deny this vital teaching, claiming that Christ merely “swooned” on the cross and later revived in the tomb, then appeared to His followers who falsely claimed His resurrection.
 
But to the Christian, the death of Christ is not an option. The Bible teaches that sin had separated each man from God: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” being declared righteous only “through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:23, 25) that was shed on the cross. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin (Hebrews 9:22). There can be no Christianity without the real death of the real, sinless Son of God.
 
It seems that the gospel writers, in recounting the events of the crucifixion, go to great lengths to make sure no one misunderstands. In Mark 15, for example, nearly 20 people are mentioned who no doubt would testify to His death. Consider the likely testimony of the Roman guards who had tortured Him to the point of death (vv. 15-23), nailed Him on the cross (v. 24), and watched Him die. The executioner (v. 25) and the centurion (vv. 39, 44-45) were trained in killing. They knew how to recognize death. The thieves (v. 27), the mocking passersby (v. 29), the chief priests and scribes (v. 31), the grave keepers (v. 46), all would have had no doubt. Pilate was convinced (vv. 44-45), as were His many friends who watched (vv. 40-41, 47).
 
There can be no doubt Christ surely died, and He died “to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). JDM
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« Reply #5983 on: December 02, 2017, 08:56:00 AM »

The Urgency of Christ's Work

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4)
 
It is striking how often the Lord Jesus used the term “must” in connection with the different aspects of the work He came to do. Since He is our example, we also must be serious and urgent about our Father’s work. Even as a boy in the temple, He told His parents, “I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49).
 
Then early in His ministry, as He went from place to place, He said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent” (Luke 4:43). Toward the end of His earthly ministry, He said one day, “I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). He also said to His disciples that “he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).
 
He had told the great teacher of Israel, Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.” To explain how this could be, He then said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:7, 14-15). Before we could ever be born again to everlasting life, therefore, Christ must be lifted up on the cross to die for our sins.
 
Still, all “the scriptures must be fulfilled” (Mark 14:49), and accordingly, “he must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). Yet, even this did not fully complete “the works of him that sent me,” for Christ had said that “the gospel must first be published among all nations” (Mark 13:10). Therefore, we also must work the works of Him who sent us, before our days of opportunity are gone. HMM
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #5984 on: December 03, 2017, 09:50:09 AM »

The Divine Designer

“Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” (Isaiah 40:12)
 
The answer to this rhetorical question can only be God, the divine Designer of all the intricate interrelationships of His great creation. Four of the disciplines of natural science are implied here, and in each case a key principle of that science is anticipated.
 
The emphasis is on the precision of the divinely allocated quantities of each component. First, there is the precise balance of the waters of the earth between the oceans, rivers, groundwater, and atmospheric waters. Hydrology is the science of Earth’s waters, and life on Earth is dependent on the fine-tuning of the components of the hydrologic cycle. “He looketh to the ends of the earth. . . . To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure” (Job 28:24-25).
 
The atmospheric heaven also has been carefully dimensioned in size and composition to make life possible, as formulated in the science of meteorology.
 
The “dust of the earth” is nothing less than the basic chemical elements out of which all things are made. The accuracy with which elements combine with each other is based on their valences, and all of this is involved in the study of chemistry. The principle of isostasy (“equal weights”) is the fundamental principle of the science of geophysics, involving the weights of mountains and hills, continents, and ocean basins.
 
God does not deal in chance and caprice, even with inanimate physical systems such as mountains and waters. Not even a sparrow can “fall on the ground without your Father” (Matthew 10:29). HMM
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