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)