Thursday, August 31, 2006

Them That Seduce


1 John 2:26 KJV
These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.
Here is a simple warning that we who are the children of God need to consider more. There are those:

  • Who would seduce us
  • Who would turn us away from the truth
  • Who would lead us into their own pernicious ways

Not everything that appears to be of the Lord is.

  • Those that seduce would lead us into darkness (vs 9-10)
  • Those that seduce would lead us to disobey God's commandments (vs 4)
  • Those that seduce would cause us to hate the brethren (vs 9-11)
  • Those that seduce would get us to love the things of the world (vs 15-17)
  • Those that seduce deny Jesus' rightful place in our lives (vs 22-24)
  • Those that seduce are liars (vs 4; 21-22)

We must not be naive concerning this seduction.

Satan may be subtle in our day but he is no less dangerous. It is a blessing to know that no true Christian can be completely seduced, but as John Gill says, "...not that they were actually seduced and carried away with the error of the wicked; for though God's elect may be staggered and waver, and be tossed to and fro by false teachers, and their doctrines, yet they cannot be totally and finally deceived..."[1]

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

When God Becomes Thine Enemy


1 Samuel 28:16 KJV
Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?

The theology of the Old Testament and the New Testament is different enough that it would be unwise to make too strong of applications of this passage to life today.

First, it is questionable if Saul could be considered "saved." He was selected to be the king against the protests of the prophet. It was not the will of God for Israel to have a king; at least not at this time. Saul was

  • Almost immediately disobedient to the Lord
  • Plagued by an unclean spirit and
  • Bent on jealousy
Hardly the testimony of a godly man.

Even our text today has him before a witch; so desperate was he to have his way that he was willing to go that far in finding the information he wanted.

But still, the Bible does say that God gave him a new heart. So it is not unwise for a Christian to pay some heed to this man's character lest we mimic it.


  • A Christian can never lose his salvation
  • The Holy Spirit will never depart from a child of God
  • The believer can never be separated from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus

But

  • The Bible does say God chastens His children and
  • The Bible does say there is a sin unto death
  • Friendship with this world is enmity with God

Here is my point. I never want to be in a position where the Lord is on the other side. I want to diligently guard my walk and examine it so I stay on the Lord's side of things.

What a terrible place, "…the Lord is departed from thee and become thine enemy."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hastening..the day of God


2 Peter 3:12 KJV
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
John Gill's commentary says, “...the coming" of this day saints should be "looking for" by faith; believing that it certainly will come, since the patriarchs, prophets, Christ himself, the angels of heaven, and the apostles of the Lamb, have all declared and asserted the coming of this day; and they should look for it, and love it, as with the strongest affection for it..."

Albert Barnes Notes says concerning the term hasting, ".....The state of mind which is indicated by the word is that when we are anxiously desirous that anything should occur, and when we would hasten or accelerate it if we could. The true Christian does not dread the coming of that day. He looks forward to it as the period of his redemption, and would welcome, at any time, the return of his Lord and Saviour. While he is willing to wait as long as it shall please God for the advent of His Redeemer, yet to Him the brightest prospect in the future is that hour when he shall come to take him to Himself."

I love that phrase, "... to him the brightest prospect in the future is that hour when He shall come..." O how the Lord has taught me in these last many days to eagerly await His coming.

Even so come quickly.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Heresies


2 Peter 2:2 KJV
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
If we consider heresies as Strong’s defines it, "a choice that leads to disunion" then a heresy isn't always something that is doctrinal. Webster's 1828 dictionary defines a heretic as, “a person....who holds opinions repugnant to the established faith...."

These types of heresies might be the more dangerous because they are not necessarily attacks against doctrines like the deity of Christ, but maybe diversions from the traditions we believe we have received from Paul. Issues of lesser doctrinal importance can be nonetheless repugnant to those who strive to walk closely to the Lord, yet the compromises would likely be popular with those who like their faith a little more watered down, more palatable, more agreeable to a worldly sort of Christianity. That may be why, "...many shall follow their pernicious ways."

The shame of it is that the way of truth is evil spoken of because of these heresies. Mind you, the Bible does not rest the blame on those who plant their feet and refuse to budge on the truth, but on both the false teachers, who stray from those established positions of the faith, and their many followers.

The answer then is not to back off truth lest it be evil spoken of, but stay firm on what is truth.

  • There will always be heresies
  • There will always be a larger crowd willing to follow them than truth
  • There will always be those who find reason to speak evil against the truth

Let there always be some who will stand fast in the truth.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

In This Tabernacle


2 Peter 1:13 KJV
Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;
None of us know how long we will be "in this tabernacle." Though Peter was in a position which led him to believe his life on this planet would soon be taken from him, none of us know for sure we have tomorrow. My son, Caleb, witnessed to a man just a few months ago who said that he was only 25 and had years before he needed to concern himself with eternal things. He was at work just last week when a dump truck driver had a heart attack and ran over the young man, killing him. So while we are "in this tabernacle" we need to make every moment count.

Peter said that for him, he felt like the best thing he could do with his time "in this tabernacle" was to put men and women in remembrance of spiritual truths so that when he "put off this ... tabernacle" they would still remember those spiritual truths he gave them.

As a Christian the best way I may use my time is to go over and over the things in the Word of God with those God has given me influence over so that, even after I am no longer present to influence, the truths will forever stay with them.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Chief Shepherd Shall Appear


1 Peter 5:4 KJV
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Over and over again in the Bible the appearing of Jesus Christ is the end for which a Christian is to look. This may be one of the most difficult of the spiritual disciplines; to live in view of Christ's return. Sure we say we believe that Christ could come back for us at any moment, but how often do our actions prove a life lived with that in view.


  • When Jesus comes the suffering we have experienced for Christ will be nothing
  • When Jesus comes the investments we have made in eternal things will be huge
  • When Jesus comes, the souls of those we have been blessed to see trust Christ will be the most important thing to us
  • When Jesus comes we will be exceedingly glad

The chief Shepherd shall appear.

He did not come yesterday. He may not appear today. But He shall appear. And I want to know when he does appear that I am looking.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Partakers

1 Peter 4:13 KJV
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Barnes, "That is, sufferings of the same kind that he endured, and inflicted for the same reasons."[1]

We often find that we suffering a kind similar to how Christ suffered. I tried to consider the types of sufferings common to both Christ and Christians I have known:

  • Mocking
  • Attempts to catch in words (twisting words)
  • Conspire with others about
  • Whisper against
  • Attempts to turn followers against
  • Betrayal

Then I tried to consider the reasons for this suffering that would be common to Christ and Christians I have known:

  • What we believe
  • What we have preached
  • The consequences of what we believe (how it changes our lives) and their not wanting to be changed

One cannot help but see though that our duty is not to wallow in pity for the sufferings but rather to rejoice as partakers with Christ.

The reason we can rejoice in the midst of the suffering is that it reminds us that we will also be partakers of His glory when He is comes again.

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

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ye Are Thereunto Called

1 Peter 3:8-9 KJV
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.


Barnes, "...Expecting such a blessing yourselves, you should be ready to scatter blessings on all others. You should be ready to bear all their reproaches, and even to wish them well. The hope of eternal life should make your minds calm; and the prospect that you are to be so exalted in heaven should fill your hearts with benignity and love.” There is nothing which is better suited to cause our hearts to overflow with benignity, to make us ready to forgive all others when they injure us, than the hope of salvation. Cherishing such a hope ourselves, we cannot but wish that all others may share it, and this will lead us to wish for them every blessing, A man who has a hope of heaven should abound in every virtue. and show that he is a sincere well-wisher of the race. Why should one who expects soon to be in heaven harbor malice in his bosom? Why should he wish to injure a fellow-worm?..."[1]

A person has to call into suspect the kind of Christianity we have today that does not view salvation so highly as this. That a man would imply that salvation is such a wonderful blessing that a Christian could not help but wish everyone had it only tells me that many if not most in our day do not have that type of salvation.

There is too much hurting going on in the family of God today.

  • Too much strife
  • Too much in fighting
  • Too much seeking for self

May God grant us a new awareness of the value of salvation so we see it as above anything in this world and could only wish good upon others.

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

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

He is Precious

1 Peter 2:7 KJV
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner
My thoughts went to this one sentiment in the text, "He is precious."

  • He is a treasure
  • He is of great value
  • He is the most wonderful owned by the saint of God.

Barnes has a lengthy but worthy piece on this sentiment, "He is precious - ...The apostle … was stating the estimate which was put on him by those who believe, as contrasted with the view taken of him by the world. … while the Lord Jesus is rejected by the great mass of people, he is regarded by all Christians as of inestimable value:
I. Of the fact there can be no doubt. Somehow, Christians perceive a value in him which is seen in nothing else. This is evinced:
(a) in their avowed estimate of him as their best friend;
(b) in their being willing so far to honor him as to commit to him the keeping of their souls, resting the whole question of their salvation upon him alone;
(c) in their readiness to keep his commands, and to serve him, while the mass of people disobey him; and,
(d) in their being willing to die for him.
II. The reasons why He is so precious to them are such as these:
(1) They are brought into a condition where they can appreciate his worth. To see the value of food, we must be hungry; of clothing, we must be exposed to the winter’s blast; … So, to see the value of the Saviour, we must see that we are poor, helpless, dying sinners; that the soul is of inestimable worth; that we have no merit of our own; and that unless someone interpose, we must perish. Everyone who becomes a true Christian is brought to this condition; and in this state he can appreciate the worth of the Saviour. …
(2) the Lord Jesus is in fact of more value to them than any other benefactor. …What He has done pertains to our welfare to all eternity; it is the fruit of the sacrifice of his own life. How precious should the name and memory of one be who has laid down his own life to save us!
(3) we owe all our hopes of heaven to him; and in proportion to the value of such a hope, he is precious to us. …
(4) there is an intrinsic value and excellency in the character of Christ, apart from his relation to us, which makes him precious to those who can appreciate his worth. In his character, abstractedly considered, there was more to attract, to interest, to love, than in that of any other one who ever lived in our world. There was more purity, more benevolence, more that was great in trying circumstances, more that was generous and self-denying, more that resembled God, than in any other one who ever appeared on earth. In the moral firmament, the character of Christ sustains a pre-eminence above all others who have lived, as great as the glory of the sun is superior to the feeble lights, though so numerous, which glimmer at midnight….”[1]

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

For a Season

1 Peter 1:6 KJV
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
Gill, "...the character of the saints in this world is, that they are as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, 2Co_6:10 ... the cause of this heaviness is not only indwelling corruptions, the hidings of God's face, and the temptations of Satan, but afflictions and persecutions, which are here meant by "manifold temptations"; for not the temptations or to sin, are here intended, but the temptations with which God tempts and tries his people: so he sometimes does, by calling them to hard service, to do things difficult and disagreeable to flesh and blood..."[1]

Clarke, "...Sometimes there is a kind of necessity that the followers of God should be afflicted; when they have no trials they are apt to get careless, and when they have secular prosperity they are likely to become worldly-minded. “God,” said a good man, “can neither trust me with health nor money; therefore I am both poor and afflicted.” [2]

We may miss out on more of the quality of faith than we really know when we are blessed to live without the mixture of sorrow and rejoicing. I fear too much rejoicing is done in America and too little sorrowing.

Nevertheless in those times of heaviness through manifold temptations it is a source of blessing to know they are "for a season." Cycles of life continue on and those times of heaviness we know do not last long. Just as there is the heaviness now, there will come a time of uplifting soon enough.

[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, Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible, Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., (1715-1832)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Turn Not Aside


1 Samuel 12:20 KJV
And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart;

Though Israel had sinned in asking them a king instead of letting the Lord be their king, and though God had shown himself and sent thunder and rain that day, yet this was no reason to turn away from the Lord. God would not forsake them if they would not turn aside.

How often do we, when we realize we have done wrong, in self pity do worse?

The flesh, once bent on self destruction goes from one bad choice to another. The answer to break the cycle is just this, turn not aside from following the Lord. Though we have sinned and done wickedly, still, serve Him will all our heart.

God will bless such a decision, though we did wrong at the start.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Draw Nigh


James 4:8 KJV
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Someone told me the other day that nigh is nearer than near. God says "draw nigh." This is an action we can take. There are a dozen things I can't do.

  • I can't change the course of the world
  • I can't change the minds of others
  • I can't make my neighbor love me
But I can draw night to God.

  • I can approach Him
  • I can lean up Him
  • I can believe His Word and
  • I can give Him worship

And the Bible says when I do that, God will draw night to me. How I need that today!

Perhaps the passage gives us the two keys to drawing night to God:
First, cleanse our hands of sin.
Ask His forgiveness and turn from the sin

Second, purify our double minded hearts.
JFB says it means, "...divided between God and the world.”
I have to make a clean stand for the Lord and that, against the world.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Eben-ezer

1 Samuel 7:12 KJV
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

The Lord helped them in that:

  • He heard Samuel's cries (vs 9)
  • He thundered against the Philistines (vs 10) and
  • He enabled Israel to "discomfit" them (vs 10)

After 20 years of lamenting after the Lord (vs 2) God did wonderful things for Israel and helped them defeat the Philistines and restore their cities and regain their land from them.

Oftentimes when in the darkest hour, we cry out to the Lord, our help will come. Israel had not heard from the Lord in so long, and when they did gather to seek him, the enemy became stirred. But this time God heard and this time God helped.

  • It may seem like God does not hear today
  • It may feel like we would not deserve His help
  • It might seem like the enemies of our soul are just that much more furious against us when we want to seek the Lord

But you never know....this time might be the time when the Lord will hear and thunder and help.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Please Forgive Me While I Am Away


My wife and I will be out of town for a week and I will be away from access to the internet for the whole week. Please forgive me this and expect me back in about 9 days.

To Do Thy Will

Hebrews 10:7 KJV
Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
Clark says, "... God willed not the sacrifices under the law, but he willed that a human victim of infinite merit should be offered for the redemption of mankind."[1]

For Christ, doing the will of God meant, raised in a poor home, having His step father die while Christ was still a boy, having no place to lay His head, enduring the trials of people refusing to heed His message, facing nearly three years of plots against His life, having one of His closest friends betray Him, facing the cross to die

But it was worth it

  • He rose again
  • He paid the only price sufficient to save lost souls
  • He has changed the course of the world
  • He put away the corruptible commandment and established a new one from God
  • He sits today at the right hand of the Heavenly Father

All who call upon Him will rule and reign with Him in eternity.

[1] E-Sword 7.7.7, Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible, Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., (1715-1832)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Avoiding Conquest

Judges 18:7 KJV
Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man.

The people of Laish were Canaanites and marked for conquer by the Lord so it is acceptable within the context of God's plan for the Promised Land that the Danites would take them in this fashion.

What I found instructive for my own life though was to see what made them a target at this point. The Danites had sent out men to spy out the land and find the most desirable city to take. They selected this one for the reasons listed in verse 7. I see in the list four areas that make us vulnerable of conquest if not cared for;

They dwelt carelesslyToo many in our world live without a care concerning potential threat, especially the threat of eternal damnation. The lost man lives oblivious to the fact that he is racing headlong to hell. Sometimes a Christian will get so caught in in the present world that he loses sight of the fact that he has not laid up treasures in heaven.
Then too a Christian can live carelessly concerning Satan, forgetting he as a roaring lion walking about seeking whom he may devour.
We are told to be sober and vigilant if we would guard against conquest.

They had no magistrateWe all must have leadership in our lives. Without it we are like sheep having no shepherd and like the Jews of the days of Judges; when there was no leadership every man did what was right in his own eyes.
In our day God has provided us with spiritual leadership through our church and its pastor. What a mistake it is to suppose we do not need to heed the leadership

They had no accountability
There was no one to "put them to shame." No discipline. Without discipline the best of intentions will go unfulfilled.

They had no support
Since they were so far from the Zidonians and since they would not do business with any others, they were left there alone. No human being can do well without a strong network of support. Let our excuses be thrown aside, we must get ourselves to the house of God where we can meet Christians who are strong in the faith and be lifted up in the things of the Lord.

  • We are busy with life
  • We do require times of rest and peace

But we must not neglect our need of a strong community of Christians around us.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Other Times Before


Judges 16:20 KJV
And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

It struck me as I read this familiar passage again, how Samson kept doing the same dumb thing over and over again. The first several times he told Delilah how to take his strength from him he was able to do it without any lost benefits. But there finally came the day when he had told her what she really needed to hear and the Lord had departed.

How could Samson not have known the Lord was departed?

  • Perhaps he had assumed the strength really was his own
  • Perhaps he had grown so accustomed to getting his way that he thought even the Lord would not deny him his wishes
  • Perhaps He did not believe that his strength came from the Nazarite vow his parents had raised him in.
We see it all the time today. A person gives in to sin the first time, with no apparent consequence; the second time and the third time he appears to have gotten away with it. Over and over again he makes choices contrary to the Word of God and the things his parents taught him. But there comes the day when the protection of the Lord is in fact gone.

We must be very careful not to mistake the grace of the Lord for the blessing of the Lord. The fact that we get away with something does not mean it is right and there will come a day when God's grace ends. When that day comes, the price may be far greater than we could ever have imagined.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Power of An Endless Life


Hebrews 7:16 KJV
Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
What a wonderful thing it is to know that our priest, the one who ministers before the Lord on our behalf has the power of an endless life.

Because of that;
The ministry never changes (vs 24)
Whenever there is a pastoral change in a church there is always some sort of change in the direction or in the personality of the church. No two men are exactly the same so no two men could possibly pastor the church identically.
But our priest, Jesus Christ, has an endless life. His ministry on our behalf is unchangeable. It is constant, secure, and predictable.

He is able to save to the utter most (vs 25)
The story is told of a boy throwing starfish back into the ocean after a storm had washed them ashore. A man came by and taunted the boy, "Don't you know you can't save them all?" The boy grabbed a starfish, threw him in the water and said, "I could save that one." Jesus Christ is not so limited. He not only saves a few, He save all who come to Him.
He saves those who come to Him completely. When Peter's wife's mother was sick Jesus restored her so completely she got up and began serving. When He saves us, it is not just so we can go to heaven, but barely; it is so we can serve Him until the day we go to heaven.

He is able to make endless intercession for us (vs 25)
When I was in Bible College this truth came up over and over in class. It came up often enough that, to be truthful, I started to get a little perturbed at the school for it. "Give me something I don't know!"
But then came the day my wife found out she was loosing our second baby. I went to the Lord in prayer and among the first things that came to mind was that Jesus "ever liveth to make intercession for them." All of a sudden this was more than a theological truth, it was a practical fact and it lifted my soul into heavenly plains. What a blessing it is to know that Jesus Christ is right now making intercession for us.

Praise the Lord for a priest whose office is not through a carnal commandment but after the power of an endless life.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Immutability of His Counsel


Hebrews 6:17 KJV
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

Gill says the immutability of God's counsel appears from,
" ....the unchangeableness of his nature,
the sovereignty of his will,
the unsearchableness of his wisdom,
the omnipotence of his arm, and
the unconditionality of the thing decreed
"[1]

Barnes says that "the immutability of his counsel” means, "His fixed purpose…" and goes on to say of it, "....He meant to show in the most solemn manner that his purpose would not change. The plans of God never change; and all the hope which we can have of heaven is founded on the fact that his purpose is immutable. If he changed his plans; if he was controlled by caprice; if he willed one thing today and another thing tomorrow, who could confide in him, or who would have any hope of heaven?"[2]

God's counsel is immutable. It is unchangeable and further, needs no change. It is perfect regardless of the age or the situation. It never changes and never needs changing.

All the hope I need is found in this one truth. God changes not and His Word is perfectly adequate.

Oh Lord, help me to be faithful to Your Word.

[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)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Questioned Call


Hebrews 5:4 KJV
And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

It is surely an honor to be called of God into the work of the ministry. While our call today might not be as "provable" as was Aaron's in the since of external signs, the call is just as significant today as it ever was. The man who has no sense of call from God will not likely make it in genuine ministry. He might be able in the flesh to perform the menial tasks of the "professional" minister but he will never endure the spiritual warfare that keeps the Word of God pure and the pulpit true. Practical ministry may be possible in the flesh, but not the ministry of the soul.

And even Aaron's call was questioned by men. So take warning and care concerning our natural tendency toward rebellion against authority. We would never be able to prove he is not called of God anyway and we may be wrong. If a man is not called of God, God will reveal that soon enough. We do not need to take up His cause. We do not need to challenge a man's call.

And for those who are called, take heart when challenged.
  • Aaron was challenged
  • Jesus was challenged
  • Paul was challenged
More than likely we will be too. God will take care of His own.