Sunday, December 31, 2006

Whose chosen whom?


John 15:16
Ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you.

We get things mixed up in our lives too easily. We get the idea sometimes that we make our own choices as to our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Lord simply sets that to rest. We did not choose Him, He chose us.

And there is great peace in that. It means that our choosing is as solid, as unshakeable, as eternal as Jesus Christ is.

It matters not what my emotions tell me.
It is of no consequence the direction my world takes


My relationship with Jesus Christ, my salvation is based only on choices that Christ has made and therefore my salvation is as certain as Christ is God.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I would have told you


John 14:2 KJV
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

I see the loving concern of our Saviour in that He says, "... if it were not so, I would have told you..."
If there were no Heavenly home
If there were no place for the believer to go
If God did not desire us to be with Him
If heaven's splendors were not accessible to us
Jesus would have told us so

If there was no salvation
If there was no way to have our sins forgiven
If we could not possibly be reconciled to God

Jesus would have told us so

Christ's love for us is expressed in the fact that He has told us all the truth. He has not only told us what we want to hear, He has told us what we don't want to hear but need to hear, and He has corrected our thinking when what we thought has been wrong. Jesus did not allow His disciples to hold to cherished opinions not based in Scriptural fact. It was one of the things the Jews struggled so much concerning Him. He only gave them the truth. He refused to let them continue on in their delusions of right.

And it is one of the greatest reasons to trust the Word of God. If it were not trustworthy, Jesus would have told us so.

So
There is a way to be reconciled to God
There is a heavenly home awaiting the believer
There are mansions prepared for them there and
Jesus is coming again that where He is we may be also.

Jesus told us so.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The tough part of Christianity


John 13:17 KJV
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

If there is a portion of the Christian life that is the toughest, it is that faithful consistent growing in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

It is so easy for us to settle in to Christianity sort of like a man and woman might settle in to marriage; before the marriage and maybe in the first little bit of the marriage, there is of necessity the development of a relationship. You get to know what the other is like and you learn to deal with that, enjoying many things, and enduring some things. But then after a while some couples quit working on the relationship and just get on with life. Sometimes a married couple nearly ignores one another even though they live in the same home.

Christians can do that with their relationship with Jesus. At first, there is that time of getting to know the Lord.
You find out He died for your sins,
You learn enough of the Bible and of church life to figure out the big "do's and don'ts"
But then if we are not careful we might settle into a sort of happy medium with the faith where we now know the things we enjoy about being a Christian and the things we must just endure.

So I say again that the tough part of the Christian life is maintaining that frame of mind where we constantly grow in our relationship with the Lord. And as we grow in that relationship, the Lord teaches us new things.

Then comes the second part of the Christian life, simply doing the things He has taught us.

The tough part of the Christian life is not doing what Jesus taught us. Jesus said we are happy if we do them. The tough part is the relationship.

So I can tell if my relationship with Christ is right or not, most often, just by asking myself if I am happy doing what I know He has taught. If I am not happy, the answer is not to change what I do, it is to seek a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Apologies

Once again I find myself having to apologize. I was away from computer for a few days around Christmas.

Glorify thy name


John 12:28 KJV
Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

Barnes, "...There can be no doubt that when God says here that he had glorified his name, he refers to what had been done by Christ..."[1]

See in this passage both the desire of the Lord and the determination of the Father. Should not this be our foremost goal as well? Glorifying the name of the Father is more important than
Our comfort
Our happiness
Our reputation among men, even
Our life upon this earth


Glorifying the name of the Father should be more important to us than doing what we want with our lives, or having what we want in life.

If something glorifies God, we ought to do it regardless of the personal sacrifice and cost.

Jesus glorified the Father
Through the things He did in His life,
Through the words He spoke in this life and
Through the things He suffered in this life.

Then God the Father glorified His name once again through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

God will use us to bring glory to His name in what we do when we obey the Lord and through the things we suffer when we endure it with God's grace.


[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes (1798-1870)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Don't Let Go


Job 27:6 KJV
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

Gill says of this passage, "Meaning not his personal righteousness, ..... Indeed the righteousness of his living Redeemer, which was his...."[1]

Job did testify of knowing His Redeemer (Job 19:25). So the sense of this passage is that Job would never allow himself to let go of the assurance that can come only through the Saviour. He understood he would sin. He realized that every man fails God. However, He also understood the concept of righteousness through faith. If that faith is placed in the Almighty, who cannot fail, then it is impossible to lose the righteousness which God imparts to a man through faith.

If we will hold on to that truth, if we will not let it go, that blessed truth will sustain us through the dark times we go through in life even as it sustained Job through his darkest days.
Regardless of what happens to us in the flesh,
Regardless of the accusations men may make concerning us
Regardless of our own sense of unworthiness

If our soul has been committed to His trust and care, all is well with our soul.


[1] E-Sword, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Why Do We Follow Jesus?


John 6:2 KJV
And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

When a person examines John chapter 6 as a whole he will come to see that the theme of the chapter is following Jesus. The passage begins with a great multitude following Him and ends with only 12 left following.

The multitude followed Christ because they saw His miracles; the 12 followed because He had the words of eternal life.

So the question must be asked; why do we follow Jesus? If we follow Him for what He has done and we hope He will do, it is likely we will turn away.
Turn away when He disappoints us in not meeting our expectations
Turn away when He offends us with a message we did not like


But if we follow Him because He is the only one who has the words of eternal life, likely is, we will still be following Him to our dying day.

To view the video version of this blog, click here: http://bit.ly/JciaKH

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Shall Come Forth As Gold


Job 23:10 KJV
But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

The more I read in the book of Job the more he looks like a lot of us (except for Job's testimony, which is so much better than any man I have ever known;
Job 1:1
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.)

Consider;
Job had been relatively successful and happy. He had a good family, good income and a strong testimony in his community.
Job's fall happened suddenly and without any reason that he was aware of.
Job's friends, while not turning against him, did lose respect for him. This is a man who was once considered a leader and who now is being rebuked by his own peers.
Job's case was such that even younger men felt like they could rebuke him.

At the time of Job 23:10, Job had no guarantee that his situation would reverse itself. All he knew at that moment was
That God is sovereign and right to do whatever He chose
That God knew Job's "ways"
That God had elected to try him severely

From there, Job spoke as a man of faith. His faith assured him that, once the trial was over, he would be better for it.

God is good to His people. His plan are for peace and blessing, not for our harm.
We may not be able to see why God would put us through what we are going through
We may not understand how God can possibly use these things for good
We may not be able to see when we will come forth as gold
But we can be assured that "...when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Seek Only Honor From God


John 5:44 KJV
How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

One of the most difficult things we face as we grow in our faith is not allowing our walk with the Lord to become a system of religion. Of necessity we must attend church, serve others, grow in both our knowledge of an skills in ministering. There must be time being taught and there must be time rubbing shoulders with those who teach. And as we do that we will gain a testimony and reputation among those we teach and those we teach alongside of. The problem comes when we become more concerned with our testimony among them than we do with our relationship with the Saviour.

And it is easy to do. After all, we hear their voices, we see their faces. They often have impact upon any future growth we have in the things of God. So it becomes very easy to seek their honor and to view that honor as being the same as honor from God.

But Jesus said the trap the Pharisees had fallen into was that they sought honor one from another and not from God only. And it was this very thing that kept them from believing Christ.

We must discipline ourselves to seek no honor and accept no honor except that honor God gives us. To do otherwise is to step into the trap that will eventually bring us where we won't be able to trust the Lord's leadership in our lives for fear of what the others will say. The only Person's opinion that should matter to us is God's.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nothing to Draw With?


John 4:11 KJV
The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

The thing that makes the difference between the believer and the non-believer is that the believer recognizes that Jesus has everything He needs "to draw with."

I understand that the woman had not yet grasped the difference between Jacob's well there before her and the living water Jesus was speaking of; but that only emphasizes what I think is her problem at this point. She sees Jesus as just another man, perhaps a teacher, maybe a prophet, but certainly not Almighty.

Nothing to draw with?
He spoke the worlds into existence

Nothing to draw with?
He upholds all things by the word of His power

Nothing to draw with?
He is the eternal, self existent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God

Of course He has what He needs to draw with!

He can reach into the resources of glory and draw out the salvation of every soul who will come to Him.

The difference between the Christian who rests in Christ and the Christian who stresses in this life is found right here;



  • One sees Christ as fully sovereign and capable of reaching into the deepest wells of eternity to meet our needs and

  • The other looks at Christ as Saviour of sins, but nearly helpless against the forces of this world.

Look at Christ again.
He has not come to the well of our lives unprepared. He has everything He needs to reach into that deep well, and work all things together for good.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Thank you for praying


I want to thank those of you who had prayed for me last week as I went in for a heart catheter. I went to the hospital having been told that the bottom part of my heart was weak and they needed to do the catheter to find and, if possible, correct the problem without open-heart surgery. The cardiologist gave me the impression that, given my symptoms and family history, I might expect the open heart surgery.


So what a shock and even confusion I had when I woke up from the procedure to learn that my heart is the picture of perfect health! I feel like the disciples in Acts when they prayed for Peter's release from prison and Peter was released. They did not believe it.


I am still not sure if I should believe the doctor.

I have another test (an echocardiogram) scheduled in a couple of weeks; I think to try to confirm the results of the heart catheter. But it appears that God did exceeding abundantly beyond what I could have asked for!

Believing the Basics


John 3:12 KJV
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

Jesus' message of the new birth was both a basic, simple doctrine, and told in the simplest of terms. Who could not understand the concept of being born into this world? And, if one cannot put together how physical birth corresponds to the new birth, how is it ever possible to expect that they will grasp even deeper truths of the Word of God.

Yet Nicodemus did believe. He questioned, he even doubted, but he did become a believer. Those we think are getting nothing from the Word of God may be getting more than we could ever imagine! Not, of course, that Jesus did not know Nicodemus would believe, but that this passage is here for our benefit, that we would keep preaching the truth even when it appears the hearer is getting so little from it.

Check the video version of this blog.
http://bit.ly/IIifFN

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Away from the Desk Awhile


To give you a little fair warning, I will be away from the desk for awhile. I go in for a heart catheter test this week to find and repair a problem my pumper seems to be having.


If you think about it, I would not mind a word of prayer on my behalf.

What Sayest Thou of Thyself


John 1:22 KJV
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

This may very well be a good question for every Christian to ask himself;
"What sayest thou of thyself?"
Are you the kind of believer that you know you ought to be right now?
Have you grown in the faith since you first believed?
Cay you say with Paul that you press toward the mark for the prize?
Is your testimony at work what you know it should be?
Would your family, if they were allowed to bear open all they know about you, give a report of godliness?
As you examine your heart before the Lord, is there any unconfessed sins or areas of worldliness that only you and the Lord know about?


"What sayest thou of thyself?"
Are you serving the Lord where God wants you and in the capacity He wants?
Are you genuinely walking with the Lord?
How is your prayer life?

"What sayest thou of thyself?"
Have those you know you should have witnessed to heard the gospel message?
Are there people going to heaven today that might not have had it not been for your influence in their life?


One day each and every one of us will give an account for the deeds done inour flesh, whether good or bad

Rom 14:12
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (KJV)

2 Cor 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (KJV)

If we were to stand before God today, "What sayest thou of thyself?"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Once it is Over, It is Over


Luke 24:30-32 KJV
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?


How fleeting are our opportunities with the Lord Jesus Christ. Sure, He returned, and it is true He showed Himself alive for 40 days; but each opportunity came and passed and eventually the opportunities to see Him as He dwelt among men was passed, gone, over.

Today we will have an opportunity to speak about the Lord and perhaps today Christ will manifest Himself in some great way in our services. It could be that only a handful of those who are here will recognize Him. It might be that none do, but whatever happens today for the glory of God is over once it’s over. We will never be able to recover this day's worship again.

May we, come with our eyes open, and our hearts warm, listening for the sweet voice of our Saviour.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sovereignty Demonstrated on the way to the Cross




Luke 23:28-31 KJV
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
For, behold, the days are coming, in the which shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?


This whole text is intriguing to me, not just in the sense of what Jesus said, but that he had the composer, the wherewithal, and even the liberty of the Romans to say it.

The situation must have been energy packed, I imagine. It is, at least in my mind, difficult to see this as a slow paced chain of events. Once the order had been handed down for His execution, and having two others already scheduled for crucifixion, I expect that this whole series of events began to happen rather suddenly.

With the crowd pressing in on the prisoners, and with the soldiers compelling Simon the Cyrenian to bear the cross of Christ, the soldiers could not have been that happy about things. So for them to suffer Jesus to turn to the great company of people and speak to them at all is difficult to conceive in my mind.

And then Jesus, being
As weary
As beaten, and
As harried
As He must have been at that moment; for Jesus to speak words which are at the same time,
Compassionate
Prophetical, and
Intensely profound
This it tells me that Jesus is in complete control of this whole situation. On the surface this may appear to be a poor man being hurried to His death; but in reality this is our sovereign God tactically defeating the forces of sin, death and hell.

Thank God that He was willing to endure the cross for our salvation.

Friday, December 08, 2006

What Grace!


Proverbs 8:30-31 KJV
Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.


There can be little doubt that this passage is a portrait of Christ and His relationship with His Heavenly Father. It has been a blessing to me now for a few weeks to meditate upon the things that please God.

The Bible says God is delighted in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is His daily delight, and Jesus rejoices always before Him.

God delights in working alongside His Son, not only in the creation of the world, but also in the redemption of man. Nothing comes as a shock or surprise to the Lord and since God is sovereign, no one can make God do anything He is not pleased to do. Whatever God does is His pleasure to do it.

With that in mind, one could deduce that it was God's pleasure send His Son to this earth, and it was Christ's pleasure to die for lost sinners. God delighted in His sacrifice so we could be saved. Not that the experience was pleasant, but He was not forced to do it and was delighted to do it for the benefit of mankind.

What grace!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Unto God


Job 5:8 KJV
I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:

Someone described the book of Job as an intense argument between Job and his friends. As is the case with most arguments, both parties were in the wrong in some respects. Also both parties were in the right in many respects.

We might picture this thusly; Eliphaz has come down pretty hard on Job in the preceding verses. Now, with a little of the adrenalin worked off, and wishing not to condemn Job but to encourage him to make some things right, Eliphaz softens his voice and begins to plead with Job.

Eliphaz is certainly in the right in verse 8. Regardless of the cause for Job's condition (which Job rightly maintained was not because of some sin he had committed) the best course of action would be to "seek unto God and unto God... commit my cause."

Whatever our circumstances this one truth will take us far; unto God commit our cause.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Not Dead But Living


Luke 20:37-38 KJV
Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.

These verses came alive to me a few days ago as I was meditating on the Scriptures and considering the fact that I have to see a cardiologist in the next few days about some blockages....

It occurred to me no one who has died in the Lord is dead. God is not the God of the dead, but the living.
Abraham is not dead, but living
Isaac is not dead but living
Jacob is not dead, but living
Moses is not dead but living


Then I got to thinking about some dear friends of mine who have died.
Ed Jasper is not dead, but living
Bob Ochs is not dead, but living
Roy Cripe is not dead, but living
Ted Bellingham is not dead, but living
Pete Briones is not dead but living
Kathy Farinella is not dead but living
Heather Oliver is not dead but living
Ron Woods is not dead but living
Gary Prisk is not dead but living
On and on the list could go.

Some time ago a friend of mine, my age, had a heart attack and had a stint placed in his heart. He got out of the hospital concerned that he had not been faithful tithing and purchased a life insurance policy on himself naming the church as the beneficiary. At first I thought he was over reacting. He after all recovered nicely. I now understand his reasoning though. For many years now I have known that my family history made the likelihood of heart disease possible. I have joked around about it for the last 20 years. Having it now developing into a reality has sobered me up a little.

I know that doctors perform procedures to repair blockages routinely these days. I know I am in all likelihood going to be fine and live another many years. Still there it is very comforting to know that should I join the numbers who have already gone, I won't be dead, but living.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Charging God Foolishly

Job 1:22 KJV
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Gill says, "...did not arraign his wisdom, nor charge him with folly; though there might be some things he could not account for, or see into the reasons of them, he knew the Lord could; he considered that he was a God of knowledge, the only and all wise God, and did all things after the counsel of his will, and to answer the best ends and purposes, and therefore he submitted all to his wisdom; nor did he himself speak foolishly of him, arraigning his justice and holiness, as if he had done wrong to him; he knew there was no unrighteousness in God, nor in any of his ways and works, and that he had a right to do what he would with his own, to give and take it away at his pleasure..."[1]

One of the most common things I think I have heard whenever I have attempted to use Job's story to comfort a hurting person is that Job was an unusual character and, "Just because God helped him through his troubles does not mean He will help me through mine." We are so prone to think of the Bible characters as somehow superhuman. But I can't help but think that Job was not much different than we are today, with the exception that he did not charge God foolishly.

What contentment might come to our souls if we could, like Job, "...consider that...God...to answer the best ends and purposes...." What God does is good and right and the very best, even when it seems to hurt us very much. Job did not accuse God of wrong in the troubles Job faced. He admitted not understanding and he got out of sorts with his misguided friends, but he never blamed God nor did he try to place any fault upon God for his troubles.

Lord, help me to be so wise.

[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sorrow to Joy

Esther 9:22 KJV
As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.

Sorrow to joy
Mourning into a good day

God is able to do above anything we could possible expect. I was thinking about Mordecai and Esther when the news came out that the Jews would be destroyed. Mordecai did what he could, he fasted and prayed and got in touch with Esther. Esther then did what she could; she asked her people to pray and she approached the king. But I wonder if either really thought the Lord would do what He did on their behalf. God not only destroyed their enemies but used the armies of Babylon to help them do it!

We sometimes face things that look unbelievably impossible. We do what we can do and we appeal to the Lord for the rest, but we often wonder if the Lord will do what we ask. Most of the time we must console ourselves in the fact that God will use even the bad things for good. Israel had to do that too, for seventy years of captivity and for nearly a year waiting to see the outcome of Haman's orders.

But praise the Lord that God has great things planned for His people. We may have sorrow now, we may have mourning today. But God will turn our sorrow to joy and our mourning into a good day.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Heart

Proverbs 3:1 KJV
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:

God wants us to keep His commandments not only in the flesh, but also in the heart. I am reminded of the story of the little girl standing in the car seat. Her dad tells her to sit down but she does not, her dad tells her again and this time says, "If you don't sit down I will stop the car and spank you." The little girl sits down and they continue on their journey. After a moment or two the little girl looks at her dad and says, Daddy, I am still standing inside."

Some people do the right things but they are still sinning inside. True worship begins in the heart and manifests itself on the outside. So I need not only to guard my heart but I need to watch my heart and be sure that my service of the Lord, my worship, my actions are a reflection of a heart that is right with God first. If my heart is right, the deeds on the outside will be fine.

Friday, December 01, 2006

His father saw him

Luke 15:20 KJV
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

As soon as the son began his trip home the father began His trip toward the son. We can never get so far from God that He won't immediately and compassionately come get us from whatever state we have fallen into, if only we will see that our sin is our own.

Gill says, "his father saw him; he saw him when in the far country, spending his substance with harlots, and in riotous living; he saw him when among the swine and husks; he saw him when he came to himself, and all the motions and determinations of his heart; he saw him in his progress towards him, and looked upon him with an eye of love, pity, and compassion, ...."[1]

See God watching this one through the whole process of sin.
See God painfully grieving over each wicked choice the son makes but carefully avoiding the urge to help him too soon. Then
See the Lord as soon as the son turns toward his father racing to the young man's aide and throwing His arms around him.

What a gracious God we have.

And what grace it compels us to have in response.
No sin is so grievous that we ought not forgive
No offense is so terrible that we should not forget
No act is so heinous that we ought not express compassion

If only the sinner will come to himself and confess his sins. We can help the one back who begins the trip themselves.

[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

...That My house may be filled.

Luke 14:23 KJV
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

I wonder what God thinks of church houses that are not filled with people ready and willing to hear His blessed Word?

The parable makes it clear that God's desire is to see His house full. On first look one might think that refers to heaven, and if that is the case then we have a little bit of an out.
First, we do not know how full or empty heaven will be. We don't take a survey that we can see with our eyes. We don't have any physical evidence one way or the other how many are saved through the ages.
Second, ours is only a small part of the equation as to how many actually might be there. We can spread the blame on others, in lands where there are fewer missionaries, in cultures where very few get saved, in places where someone else is responsible, maybe they have dropped the ball.

But it is also true that the house of God is a reference to the local church and in that case we are confronted week after week with the fact that our God is not pleased to see empty seats in His house whenever the Word of God is fed.

The parable lays some of God's displeasure on the shoulders of those who refuse to come in. But it lays all of the responsibility to fill the seats upon we who are His servants. We are to "compel them to come in." We are to do whatever it must and we are to go wherever we must to find somebody who will take that empty chair.

God does not give ever house the same number of chairs, but God does expect that what chairs we have will be filled.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"...journeying toward Jerusalem."

Luke 13:22 KJV
And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.

I loved the phrase, "...journeying toward Jerusalem."

Jesus was on His last trip to Jerusalem. He was on His way to the cross, and on His way, He visited cities and villages teaching the Word of God.

We too are on a journey that will end with our going off into eternity. Along the way there are two keys that need to be gotten;

First, that we know where we will end when we reach our final destination; heaven or hell. The journey of life is far too short to put this off very long. Just this week I heard of two teenage boys who died while doing the simple task of checking a power generator their family had set up in the household garage due to a power failure. The boys had no idea they were on the very last leg of their journey. Where did their journey end them?

Second, having secured the key to eternal life in heaven our next great cause ought to be to give that key to as many as we possibly can as we pass them on our journey. The great thing about the key is that it will work for all and that we can never make so many duplicates that it won't open the door to eternal life. Copies of copies of the key that leads to eternal life are just as effective as the very first key.

Jesus journeyed on His way to the cross where every soul that comes to Him may find salvation. As we journey, let’s take all we can to that very same Cross.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christ's Ministry Straitened

Luke 12:50 KJV
But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!

The baptism Christ refers to is His death on the Cross. Most of the commentaries make it as if the Lord were saying that He was in distress about the suffering He was about to endure. The thought occurred to me though that what He is saying is that his ministry was bound (the word straitened means held together, compressed, arrested) until the great work of the Cross was accomplished.

Christ told the disciples that it was expedient for them that He would go away because if He left, He would send the Holy Spirit.[1] Jesus also told them that they would do greater works then He Himself had done after He was gone away. [2]

Truly Jesus' ministry was
Hindered
Limited
Straitened
Until after His death burial and resurrection. Whatever Jesus did prior to that event was miniscule compared to the great work that would be done after.

It was through the death burial and resurrection
Sin was forgiven
Souls were reconciled to God
God was justified in forgiving sin
The wall was broken which separated man from God

If there had been no death, burial and resurrection the miracles and even the sinless life of Christ on this earth would have served no lasting purpose. We needed more than to see the character of God the Father through the Person of Jesus Christ the Son. We needed a way to get to the Father and that was only accomplished through His death burial and resurrection.

He really was "straitened" until that baptism was accomplished.

[1] John 16:7
[2] John 14:12

Monday, November 27, 2006

Guard the Eye

Luke 11:34 KJV
The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

Psalms 119:105 says
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (KJV)

The way to get light in my body is through the proper use of my eyes. If I keep my eyes focused in the right place, upon the Word of God and upon the Lord Jesus Christ I can expect that light will shine through my life and give me guidance and direction in the decisions and issues of my life. If on the other hand I allow things to come through my eyes and into my soul that are evil and dark,
Forms of entertainment that are worldly
Thoughts that are less than good lovely just pure and or good report
Conversations that are questionable in character
I may expect that such darkness will cloud my path and hinder making good and wise decisions.

So I want to keep my eye single (the word means folded together, simple). I want to make sure I have singleness of purpose in pleasing the Lord in my life. That simplicity will give me direction and light.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The good part


Luke 10:41-42 KJV
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.


One thing is needful.

We get so caught up in our busy-ness; even about the things of the Lord.
· So caught up in our ministries
· So caught up in our doing
· So caught up in our responsibilities
· So caught up in our friends family and other people
That we often excuse ourselves from not doing the one thing that is needful; to to sit at Jesus' feet and hear His Word.


I sometimes think that someone has to be cumbered about with serving so others can sit at the feet of Jesus. That might just be human logic. Maybe we have become Martha’s without knowing it. Maybe we have elevated the service of the Lord to such a height that fewer than should get to sit at His feet and hear His word.


That is the good part.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Wrought of God


Nehemiah 6:16 KJV
And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.

One of the greatest needs in our world today is a work that this world perceives to be wrought of God.
Too much is done in the power of the flesh.
Too much credit is given to men, even great men, which should have gone to the Lord.


It is not that Nehemiah and his men had done nothing. On the contrary, their dedication is remarkable. Nehemiah's
Burden
Vision
Organization

All are manifest in the rebuilding of the walls.

The determination
The courage
The insight
Demonstrated by Nehemiah and his company cannot be denied. But when everything was said and done, the thing that cast down the adversary was not what Nehemiah had done but the work that God had wrought.

So I am not asking people to stop working for the Lord.
We need soul winners
We need bus workers
We need Sunday school teachers and
Nursery workers and
Choir singers and
Maintenance and janitorial workers

But along with all of that...we need God to work in such a way that men know the work was wrought by God.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Great and Terrible

Nehemiah 4:14 KJV
And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

How not to be afraid of the adversary; "...Remember the Lord which is great and terrible..."

The word great means great in any sense;
Older
Louder
Longer
Higher
Nobler
God is greater than we are and greater than our adversaries in any view we might take.
There is nothing our adversary can do that he can do better than God.
There is no power our adversary might have that is more powerful than God.
Our adversary has
No supply
No weapon
No resource
No wisdom

Nothing greater than God.

The word terrible means to frighten.
We have every reason to fear the Lord and the Lord has every reason to frighten our adversaries. As we fight for our brethren, our families and our home God will see that our adversaries know He is great and terrible.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Where Our Rewards Are Supposed to Be

Luke 6:23 KJV
Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

This is an abbreviated version of the beatitudes of Matthew 5. What struck me this morning is how God says we can be blessed (or happy - have a reason to rejoice) really only when we are poor and hungry and weeping and hated and separated.

The obvious implication in the passage is that what we have on this earth will be missing in glory and what we do without on this earth will be ours forever in glory.

Way too much is made of comfort and success in life. The fact is life will not begin until we get into heaven and it is only that life that we should seek to promote.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Whatsoever Is Commanded


Ezra 7:23 KJV
Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?

These words, written by a Gentile king, should be the echo of the heart of every born again man woman and child.

Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven
Some of the things God commands us are completely against our nature and our own will, wishes and desires. Yet if God commands them, whatever they are;
They are good
They are right and
They are the best for us

Let it be diligently done
What we do for the Lord ought to be done
With zeal
With diligence
With heart

It is for the Lord. It should not be done sloppily and half heartedly but fervently and with every effort to do it as best as we can possibly do it.

For the house of the God of heaven
Our service to the Lord should always be done through and under the authority of and even for the house of God, which today is the local church.

For why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?
God is a God of wrath. What we do will have consequences not only for ourselves, but also on our children.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Deviseth or Directeth


Proverbs 16:9
A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Contrasting the two of these, I see first
Men try to plan things farther in advance than God might have us to. Man “deviseth his way.” He fabricates a plan for his life. He establishes goals and long term objectives. Strongs Exhaustive Concordance says that the word deviseth means to fabricate, plot or contrive (usually in a malicious sense.)


Men attempt to put together a plan that will protect them from God's plan for their lives.
We want security
We want control
We want the leadership of our own lives
And that can't come without some assurances of what tomorrow and the day after holds.

On the other hand, God tends to direct steps. With each step taken, God reveals the next step in our path of life. His word says "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."[1] Rather than plotting and planning; God appoints. We can never be certain our plans will succeed, but what God appoints is a sure thing. Security for the one who trusts in the Lord is not so much in knowing what tomorrow hold but in knowing the One who knows.


[1] Matthew 6:34

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This is What We Need Today


2 Chronicles 32:20 KJV
And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven.

I loved the partnership of this passage.

There wasn't a huge number of men crying to heaven, but there were two men; important ones, lifting up their voices to the Lord.

Just as Sennacherib taunted the Jews that their "gods" would not be able to protect them any better than the gods of other lands had protected them, even so our world taunts us that God will not be able to help us either. The world the flesh and the devil appear to be gaining ground right now. Evil men are waxing worse and worse and a Christian could despair of seeing victory again.

Assyria reminded the Jews that their king had convinced them to cast down the images of the false gods of the land. It was probable, they suggested, that those gods would now be angry and would help the Assyrians. Those of us who take stands against the many kinds of worship styles that are promoted in the world today and who see numbers of people heading to churches that are more progressive in those areas are taunted as well that it is our narrow mindedness that will be the undoing of us in these days.

But Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed and cried to heaven. That is what we need today.
We do not need new music
We do not need a better organized program
We do not need a more modern facility

We need people who will pray and cry to heaven.

God answered their prayers and Sennacherib went home ashamed and was slain by his own children in the temple of his false god.

God will answer if we will cry.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

This is an encouraging "post"


2 Chronicles 30:9 KJV
For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.

These words are a part of a letter King Hezekiah had posted, not only in Judah, where he was the king, but throughout the northern tribes of Israel, who had been under another king for generations. That, to me lends even more weight to the message that "...God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away His face from you, if ye return unto him."

Even Israel, who had for so long followed wicked kings and worshiped false gods, were encouraged that if they would just return to the Lord, He would not turn away from them. God is so loving, so kind so gracious and so merciful there is none outside of His love and none He would not receive if they would come to Him. There are those who will not come to Him, to be sure. But any who will return to Him, He will in no wise cast out.

We who are Christians should see ourselves as these "posts" who passed from city to city telling people what the king had said. Ours is to take what we hear in the house of God from the man of God and go out through the cities and through the countryside telling people what we heard. God will not turn away from anyone who will return to Him.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Walking with the wise


Proverbs 13:20 KJV
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

It is oftentimes easy for me to see the part of the verse that tells me to stay away from fools.
Teaching young people to avoid worldly friendships
Teaching young adults not to date lost or worldly people and
Teaching adults to be careful about their business and social associations

Is oftentimes the focus of preaching. No doubt it is true, when we run with the wrong crowd; we are going to get into trouble because of it.

But there is a positive spin on associations that is equally important to preach; which is that in order to grow we must associate with "wise men." Just as we are negatively influenced by the wrong people, we are positively influenced by the right people. So a wise Christian will not only avoid the influence of worldly people he will seek out and develop relationships with those who are wise spiritually and godly in nature so that they may grow is wisdom and godliness.

The doctrine of Biblical separation can be taken too far if we become exclusionary and recluse. We need the influence of the wise to make us wise.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Be Ready


Mark 14:15 KJV
And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us.

Probably more could be made of this than is proper. I think it was common in that culture to have a guest room and to keep it prepared in case of guests. A traveler would use a room like that just like we might use a motel.

However, the Word of God does emphasize that this house had a guest room large enough to meet the needs of the Lord and His disciples and that it was both furnished with the necessary pieces and prepared. It was ready for when they called. The upper room was not only used for the Passover, but became the meeting house for the next several weeks, if not longer. It was where the disciples were on the day of Pentecost, when they received the promise of the filling of the Holy Ghost.

Who knows when and where the Lord may choose to show up and do wonderful things? Of the many houses in Jerusalem that would have had guest chambers this one was chosen and it was ready. I want the same to be true in my life in my home and in my church, that it is ready should the Lord choose to use it for His glory.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

He Still Preached It

Mark 12:12 KJV
And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.

There are a couple of lessons I get from this verse.

First, the parable is against the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees. Knowing who Jesus was referring to gives a definite sense of direction for properly understanding the parable.

Secondly, and this is what I felt led to meditate upon today, that Jesus spake the message against them and they knew it but did not repent.

Convicting messages don't always have the result we would wished they would have.
How we would desire that those who hear the Word of God, and sense in the message something right for them, would make things right with God. Sadly, that is often not the case. Jesus preached this message. They knew it was pointed at them. But they went away and tried to trick Him.

Yet He still preached the message.
Of course, Jesus, knowing all things, knew they would not respond rightly. He still preached it.
At no time have I preached a message just to point fingers at someone, just to get back at them. I have often preached messages that are pointed and more than once knew that there would be people who head the message who would be directly impacted by the message. While I have not preached a message designed to point fingers at any particular person in the church, I have often preached messages knowing that someone would think I was preaching right at them.

If we can learn anything from Jesus' ministry it would be that faithfulness to preach the message is of far more importance than the results we get from our preaching.
Jesus did not attempt to build a crowd. He simply preached the truth in as many venues as He possibly could and He led others to do the same. The greatest ministries are not those with the largest followings. The greatest ministries are those that are completely true to the message regardless the cost and those who inspire others to be true to that same message.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Have Faith in God

Mark 11:22 KJV
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

This is an interesting response to Peter's observation that the fig tree Jesus had cursed had withered away.

Upon Peter observation and remark Jesus simply says, "Have faith in God."

1. Have faith when God does what is not understandable to us.
Jesus had cursed the fig tree for not having fruit even through the Bible clearly says that it was not the time of figs. Our Lord does things that are incomprehensible to us.

In those times, we must have faith in God

2. Have faith when God does what seems violent.
Many in our time think that the Lord is supposed to be more gentle than we see Him in this passage. Here He was, overturning tables, casting people out of the Temple and refusing to let people carry things through the temple. Could not He have been more kind? Could not He have found another way to get people to behave right in the temple?

In those times when the Lord seems more angry than men think He should be, have faith in God.

3. Have faith in God when the obstacles before you are enormous.
Jesus said if they had faith they could remove mountains. Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us that the disciples ever did that and I don't think it was because they lacked the mustard seed of faith. It was because they never needed to remove one. This was a metaphor about the types of obstacles they would face. Through faith these men did unimaginable things.

4. Have faith in God when you desire
vs 24

It is as important to believe God to give you right desires as it is that you believe God will give you the things you desire.

5. Have faith in God when you pray

Prayer is more than a poem. It is an expression of our faith that God is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Seek Him in faith and you will be rewarded.

6. Have faith in God concerning those who have offended you
vs 25

And forgive them. God saw the offense and He will work things out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Believe

2 Chronicles 20:20 KJV
And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

One cannot neglect the fact that the primary application of this passage has to do with Judah facing the battle. Jehoshaphat encouraged them to believe in the Lord who had promised they would not have to even fight this battle and to believe God's prophets who told them this would be the case. Believing these, Judah could march to the battle arena confident and expecting a great victory.

However I would think the Bible an almost fruitless book if all it did was tell me what God has done and not what God will do. The word established means "built up" and the word prosper means "push forward."

When we believe in the Lord and we believe His prophets (the preachers of His Word) we may rightly expect that God will establish and strengthen and build us up in the faith and that we will go forward, accomplishing great things for God.

The idea of "push forward" sounds to me like I should expect an effort. While God granted them this victory without their even having to fight, that was not the case in most of their battles. It would be an error to think that when we believe in the Lord and believe His prophets we will never have to fight. But we would not be wrong to suggest that when we believe in the Lord and believe His prophets we will make progress in the things of God.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Seek the Lord

2 Chronicles 15:12 KJV
And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;

While Asa's pride got him in trouble later in his life, this was a man who had a heart for the Lord and to get God's people to have the same heart. I am reminded that even the very best of us can turn from the Lord if we are not very careful.

What a testimony this is though, and what a goal for the people of God to enter into a covenant, an agreement together to seek (the word can mean follow or ask but I liked the other words tread and especially frequent this morning. I want to frequent place where God is) the Lord, not just a little but with all of their heart (intellectually and affectionately) and the soul (the breath - vitality; labor)

God grant that we seek you with all of our mind all of our affections and all of our being.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It Is Nothing (for God to help us)


2 Chronicles 14:11 KJV
And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.

After having 10 years of peace, King Asa finds himself in what I think is his first battle crisis. The Ethiopians have come up against him with 1,000,300 soldiers. Asa has 280,000. So from the human standpoint, Asa is in a bad way.

His men are outmanned and his men are, if not inexperienced, at least not hardened by recent battle. Asa has but one recourse; he cried unto the Lord.

God is not limited by the things that limit us. He does not need to have many of us. Nor does he need to have the most powerful of us. To God belongs all power and authority and might. God does not need us, we need Him. And the secret to victory in our lives is to simply rest upon Him.

God, the Bible says, smote the Ethiopians so that they fled and were overthrown by Asa's men. No great explanation of how God did it. No detailed description of the battle scene itself. Only that God smote the enemy.

  • It is nothing for God to help us.
  • It is nothing for God to bless us.
  • It is nothing for God to use us.

We must just rest on Him.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Preparing Our Hearts




2 Chronicles 12:14 KJV
And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.

John Gill says of Rehoboam that he did not prepare his heart, "by prayer and supplication, and by an attendance on the service and worship of God; for though he did these things outwardly, yet not sincerely and heartily; he did not engage in them seriously and in good earnest, with affection and fervour."[1]

Barnes says, "Rehoboam’s sin was want of earnestness and consistency."[2]

Though Rehoboam did several good things, and he was God's man for Judah, still he did not "prepare his heart."

The answer to right living is to heartily and earnestly seek the Lord. It is not enough that we simply attend services and read our Bibles; it must be a hear thing.
There must be some time preparing our heart so when we pray we are genuinely seeking God.
There must be some time preparing our heart so when we read the Word of God, we are listening to His voice and not merely reading the words.
There must be some time preparing our heart so when we enter into the house of God we are already ready to receive the message as from God.
There must be some time preparing our heart so when we step into our place of service we may do it as unto the Lord.


Preparing the heart to seek the Lord may be one of the most missing elements in our Christian lives today. We are so busy we simply must have God bless us when we have the time and we do not feel like we have the time to take extra time to make ourselves "blessable."



[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)
[2] E-Sword 7.7.7, Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes (1798-1870)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

He Would Not Accept that Worship


Mark 5:6-7 KJV
But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.

I am reminded today that not all worship is godly nor is it all to be accepted. The Lord rebuked this man (really the demons in him) for their worship and refused to accept it.

Too often in our day we are only too happy to accept any and all who will come for "worship." They might have wrong motives, believe the wrong things; they might expect our form of worship to be modified some to allow for their own concepts of what is worship. But we are often thrilled just to have someone who will meet with us in worship.

Young Christians often do not discern the difference between worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in truth and simply worshipping. Sometimes new church plants are too quick to accept into their baby congregation people whose own ideas of worship are not what they ought to be. To the new pastor, just having someone to hear him preach is counted a blessing.

Not so with our Saviour. He was meticulous concerning what was proper worship and who was properly prepared to do the worshipping.

Lord help me to be more anxious to teach people right doctrine and worship than to have a lot of people who will worship alongside me, even though they do it differently than I see in the Bible.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fear or Faith


Mark 4:40 KJV
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

There is a correlation in the passage between no faith and fear. These were men who had seen the Lord do some powerful things. They had already come to the Lord in faith for salvation. (John Gill says, "…faith they had, but it was very small ... they did indeed apply to him to save them, which showed some faith in him, but then they feared it was too late, and that they were past all hope, and were just perishing...") [1]

Their trouble was that they did not see how the Lord's presence could help them in this particular crisis. This was beyond their experience. This was more than they could have ever imagined. That the Saviour could not only forgive their sins and heal the sick, but that He could calm the storms was too fantastic for them to consider. Yet He was able and He did.

Our fears will always be born from the same lack of faith. We just don't believe the Lord can or will preserve us through the various circumstances of life.

When we finally come to trust Him in all things, we will also find we have peace in our soul and no fears.


[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Noise

Mark 2:1 KJV
And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

We need some noise today. We need the presence of Jesus made know about our city so that people know where Jesus is.

We do not need much noise about who else is there. We do not need much noise about what else has been done. But we do need some noise that Jesus has entered into our presence. People need to know where the Lord is so He can preach the Word to them.

The great thing for people to hear about is not how much our missions offering is, not how many people have come to the altar, not who has preached in our church. People need to know where to find Jesus.

And the word "noised" I think is a good word for us. It doesn't have to be eloquent. It doesn't have to be educated; it just has to be heard.

Lord, give our church a zeal about the Lord so we can't help but noise it out that Jesus is with us.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wisdom


2 Chronicles 1:10 KJV
Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?

Solomon, perhaps, showed more wisdom in this request than in any of his proverbs and other declarations. Solomon recognized his need for the Lord's help, the Lord's wisdom if he were to lead these people for God.

James 1:5 says
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (KJV) And so it makes perfect sense that we who belong to the Lord today would spend much time seeking of the Lord, not only power for the ministry, but wisdom in the ministry.

And may the Lord grant us as favorable an answer as He did Solomon.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

How to Bless the Lord


1 Chronicles 29:11 KJV
Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.

As great of a man as David was, he was very quick to give God all the glory and praise. So much had been accomplished during his reign as king. And who could question His devotion to the Lord? Yet in the last little bit of his life David admitted that everything belonged to God and everything was the result of God. David was only a servant.

Would to God we could learn to deflect praise in the very same way!
Would to God we would shun any acknowledgement and only allow
Greatness and
Glory and
Power and
Victory and
Majesty

To be poured out upon the Lord.

Friday, October 27, 2006

David and Solomon both Humble


1 Chronicles 28:11-19 KJV
Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat,
And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things:
Also for the courses of the priests and the Levites, and for all the work of the service of the house of the LORD, and for all the vessels of service in the house of the LORD.
He gave of gold by weight for things of gold, for all instruments of all manner of service; silver also for all instruments of silver by weight, for all instruments of every kind of service:
Even the weight for the candlesticks of gold, and for their lamps of gold, by weight for every candlestick, and for the lamps thereof: and for the candlesticks of silver by weight, both for the candlestick, and also for the lamps thereof, according to the use of every candlestick.
And by weight he gave gold for the tables of shewbread, for every table; and likewise silver for the tables of silver:
Also pure gold for the fleshhooks, and the bowls, and the cups: and for the golden basons he gave gold by weight for every bason; and likewise silver by weight for every bason of silver:
And for the altar of incense refined gold by weight; and gold for the pattern of the chariot of the cherubims, that spread out their wings, and covered the ark of the covenant of the LORD.
All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.

I marvel at the preparations David made for a work that he was not personally allowed to do. David's humility before God is demonstrated in the fact that, when God told him he could not do what he wanted to do, rather than getting upset and either doing it anyway or else not helping the one that God would allow to do the task, David poured his being into supporting the one who would be allowed to build the Temple.

On the other hand, it is also a marvel that Solomon was so willing to follow his father's leadership. David, who did not qualify to build the Temple, insisted that the Lord had specifically told him what the Temple was to look like. David gave those plans to Solomon who, rather than choosing his own plans, followed those of his father.

Who knows what the Lord might accomplish through us if only we would be humble enough to accept our place in the plan of God and to welcome counsel from others God places in our lives. Too much pride exists in Christians today
Too much self exaltation
Too much jealousy and envy
Too much comparing ourselves among ourselves.


Lord help us to be humble.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Already Agreed


Matthew 26:25 KJV
Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

I know that Judas was a lost man and of him Jesus even said he was a devil. Yet I cannot help but see him in this room, filled with believers, and even thought to be one of the believers. Judas' position was one of the loftiest in that he was among the twelve closest followers of the Lord.

In this room is an intimate setting. They are removed from the busy-ness of ministering to the crowds and they are gathered together as a family would, to share in the Passover meal. In this more quiet and intimate setting the Lord began to share His burden. In just a short time now, He would be betrayed into the hands of sinners and be crucified. Judas is included into the Lord's most needful time. And Judas had already covenanted to betray Him.

I wonder how many of us
Who are saved
Who are close to the things of the Lord and
Who are liked and respected in our church
Have already in our hearts agreed on what it would take to get us to turn against the Lord or His church?

It might be if we don't get the recognition we desire
It might be if we are confronted one more time about our sin
It might be if some better program (a bigger church) becomes available
It might be if another church member offends us


And it might be that we have never really even thought about it, it is just there.

I am not sure what Judas' motive was when he asked the Lord, "Master, is it I?" But it could be that there are those of us who have not seen yet, that we are the ones most likely to turn from God. And it would be very profitable for all of us to ask the Lord to sincerely search our hearts and root out that which we would agree to turn from the Lord for so we can see it for what it is and deal with it before it happens.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The purifying work


1 Chronicles 23:25-28 KJV
For David said, The LORD God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever:
And also unto the Levites; they shall no more carry the tabernacle, nor any vessels of it for the service thereof.
For by the last words of David the Levites were numbered from twenty years old and above:
Because their office was to wait on the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the LORD, in the courts, and in the chambers, and in the purifying of all holy things, and the work of the service of the house of God;


John Gill says that the purifying work of these priest was, "to keep the house, and all the apartments in it, courts and chambers, clean, by sweeping and washing them, and carrying out all the filth thereof made by the sacrifices, and otherwise."[1]

These Levites were, for years, charged with the duty to carry the tabernacle and the vessels of worship from place to place. No one else was supposed to do that assignment, and a breach of that assignment actually cost Uzza his life. But now, times have changed and so have the needs. Once the Temple was completed the tabernacle would be dispensed with and the articles of worship would be forever kept in one place. And these men, whose assignment had been so important, were now charged with "…sweeping and washing... and carrying out...the filth..."

I marvel at the willingness of these men to have their function so changed. There is no indication of revolt or rebellion. It appears that they willingly made the changes in their duties.

And what an important assignment this is! Caring for the things of the Lord; keeping them clean and orderly and well kept, is as important work of the Lord as is any other ministry in worshiping and serving the Lord.

Let us first be willing to make whatever changes are necessary to see the Lord's name glorified.
Let us not fuss and feud when we must give and change as times and needs change but happily and willingly follow God's man as he places new burdens in our lives
Let us secondly see every assignment in the work of God as vital and essential. No task, if done for the Lord is menial. Every task deserves to be done to the very best of our abilities.


[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Arise...and be doing


1 Chronicles 22:14-16 KJV
Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the LORD an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight; for it is in abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and thou mayest add thereto.
Moreover there are workmen with thee in abundance, hewers and workers of stone and timber, and all manner of cunning men for every manner of work.
Of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number. Arise therefore, and be doing, and the LORD be with thee.

King David, having been instructed of the Lord that he was not going to build the Temple, but Solomon would, had prepared, and saved and laid aside in abundance, materials for the construction of the Temple. When Solomon came to the throne, his was not to plan some more, but to "be doing." He could add to the materials his father had set aside if he desired, but he was to "be doing" the construction of this Temple.

And there comes a point in our life when it is time to "arise...and be doing." Certainly preparing is wise. Certainly saving and setting aside and planning are needful. But at some point the Lord gives us the word, "….Arise therefore and be doing..."

It could be in the area of soul winning where a person spends time in preparation, but doesn't get out there to do
It could be in the area of Bible reading and prayer where a person comes to the altar and promises God they will begin, but then fails to follow through.
It could be in
Tithing
Teaching
Surrendering
Church planting
Being the husband or wife we ought to be
Being the employee and provider we ought to be

There are any number of places in our spiritual lives where it could be applied; the preparations have been made, the instructions have been given; it is time now to "…arise therefore and be doing.."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Model Message

Matthew 23:39 KJV
For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

I have recently been in conversation with a number of pastors on the subject of preaching. The question has been, "Does the Bible teach us how to preach?" I am of the opinion that the Bible not only teaches us that we should preach but also provides for us models on what is genuine Bible preaching. I would consider Matthew 23 one of those models.

The chapter can easily be broken into
An introduction (vs 1-12)
The sermon body (vs 13-36)
The conclusion and invitation (vs 37-39)

And the sermon ends with a reminder that Jesus is coming again and eternity is the goal.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Unimaginable Promise


1 Chronicles 17:20 KJV
O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

It was with a great heart that David made this statement before the Lord. David had had it in his mind to build a house for the Lord but God's will was for that project to be deferred to David's son.

The passage is one of unimaginable promise for David's family and he recognizes it for the enormous blessing that it is. Not only would David have a kingdom, but God's plan was that David's family sit on the throne forever. This promise is ultimately fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ.

David's heart of praise rises to the Lord and he exclaims, "O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee..."
David would still have battles to fight
David would have close colleagues turn against him
David would suffer the heartbreak of children gone wrong
David would even still need to be confronted with sin
But in the end, it was of his family that the Saviour of the world did come.

And there is none like our Saviour!

What wonderful promises are ours who are His. We do not always get to build after our own heart and wishes; but God's plan for us is so much greater than we can ever dream.

Friday, October 20, 2006

After the due order


1 Chronicles 15:13 KJV
For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.

There is a difference between seeking the Lord and seeking the Lord "after the due order." Pollsters tell us of huge numbers of Americans who
Claim to be Christians and are
Active in Church or are
Sympathetic to Christian causes

And generally speaking the world of Christendom views this as a positive sign. Some churches and Christian type organizations even capitalize on this interest in the things of the Lord to build large organizations they claim are doing the work of Christ.

Sadly most of the time they are not doing it "after the due order."
They are doing it excitedly
They are doing it successfully I am even sure
They are doing it sincerely
But so often they are not doing it "after the due order." And they oftentimes appear to get away with it. David very nearly got away with this.

But when things, however sincerely done, are not done after God's due order, sooner or later the cart will shake and lives will be hurt, families will be broken, and damage will be done.

We need to seek God "after the due order” and I believe we learn a little about how to do that in chapter 16.

Seek Him with a rejoicing heart vs 10
Seek Him continually vs 11
Remember His works vs 12
Remember His words vs 12
Be midful always of His covenant vs 15
Sing unto the Lord vs 23
Shew forth (daily) His salvation vs 23
Declare His glory among the heathen vs 24
Give the Lord the glory due His name vs 29
Fear the Lord vs 30

As I review this list (and I am sure it is not complete) I can think of people who would argue that things like showing His salvation daily is just not that important.

And that is precisely our problem. Just like David, we haven't taken into account how important the Word of God really is to the Lord. We want to do things for God, but surely the Lord isn't so choosy that we have to pay close attention to the Bible in our efforts to honor Him. Surely the Lord would be so honored that we would want to seek Him that He would not concern Himself that much with how we do it.

So the first step in seeking the Lord "after the due order" is to seek out what is the due order.