Monday, December 31, 2007

The Proper Response

2 Corinthians 6:11-13
O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.
Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.
Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.

This is almost a conclusion to five chapters of defense of Paul's ministry before the Corinthian believers (the remainder of this chapter should also be considered in the context of this defense - Paul was telling them not to be yoked with these that falsely accused Paul, but that they should be yoked with men whose faith was like that of Paul's."

What a passage! Paul says that his heart's love for them and concern to give them the truth had not been changed by the accusations and criticisms that had been leveled against him. He had not lost any room in his heart for them, though they seemed to have lost room for him. In effect Paul begs them to open their hearts in love for Paul once again. He reminds them that they are his children in the faith and tells them that it is right to recompense Paul's love for them with reciprocal love.

When God places in the lives of people a preacher who loves them and who cares enough for them to tell them the truth, even though they are often offended by that truth; the only right response is to return the love.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Confidence

2 Corinthians 5:6
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

2 Corinthians 5:8
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

There is nothing like
Confidence
Faith
Peace

In the midst of the troubles of the world.

Paul said his confidence surrounded the fact that he knew while he was in the body and on this earth, he was an ambassador. this world is a strange place to the Christian. Its culture and its practices are foreign to us and this world is not especially kind to us. But the Christian has no reason to be beaten down and discouraged. Our confidence comes from the fact that this world is not our home.

One day, whether by death of the body or by rapture of the saints, we who are believers will depart this world and be forever with Christ. When our faith in Christ's promise to be present with Him is strong, then our confidence and peace regardless of what happens to our bodies is strong as well.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm Waiting For Jesus

2 Corinthians 4:12
So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

This chapter, and the one previous, deals with the difficulties of being in the ministry. Paul was accused and misjudged in Corinth and much of what he writes - especially in 2 Corinthians addresses that.

Gill says of this verse, "...his meaning is, ours is the sorrow, the trouble, the affliction, and death itself, yours is the gain, the joy, the pleasure, and life; what we get by preaching the Gospel are reproach, persecution, and death; but this Gospel we preach at such expense is the savour of life unto life to you, and is the means of maintaining spiritual life in your souls, and of nourishing you up unto eternal life;..." [1]

What would be the reward to the Apostle for such an exchange? Paul answers that in 2 Corinthians 4:14
Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

The reward is actually the souls of these Paul has ministered to. Though they may misunderstand him, judge him and even turn to other preachers in favor of him; one day Jesus Christ will present Paul with those he has ministered to. I do not know that we can say that Paul will be presented with these believers as his reward, but certainly that he will be presented to the Lord at the same time as these believers.

When Jesus returns all of the mess that is in this world will be brought to order. Wrongs will be righted. Misunderstandings will be corrected. Broken fellowships will be restored. Truly we can endure a great deal today if we will keep our own testimonies pure before the Lord and wait on Him.

[1] E-Sword 7.8.5, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Evidences

2 Corinthians 3:4-5
And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

Paul had defended his ministry by saying that the results of his ministry was sufficient evidence that his ministry was of God.
Those who had been saved
Those churches that had be founded
Those who had come to follow Christ through his preaching

Those were the "letters of commendation" for his ministry.

But then Paul said that even that was not the primary focus of his ministry.
His sufficiency
His faith
His confidence

Was not even dependent upon the results of his ministry. His sufficiency was entirely of God.

When a person walks with God there will be fruit naturally produced. This fruit is a sweet reward and commendation of our walk, but it should not considered essential or necessary to maintain our walk. Knowing Christ is sufficient when we truly know Christ.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Modern Object Lesson

1 Samuel 8:7-8
And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

Samuel's ministry began to deteriorate almost at this moment. No doubt he was still very influential to his last day; having great sway even over King Saul. But things changed quickly once the people had rejected God in favor of a king. At one point Samuel was even afraid to obey the Lord's command for fear of Saul's reaction to his activity.

God, I think, often uses his man as an object lesson of how this world has rejected God. The callousness of people against the church and the preaching of the Word of God is a reflection of their hardened heart to the Lord and the casual relationship of most Christians toward their pastor is a reflection of the lack of fear that they possess of God.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Whose Testimony Counts

2 Corinthians 1:12
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

Paul said that the thing that brought him joy, the thing he could rejoice over was the testimony of his conscience. He knew that he had lived his life in simplicity and godly sincerity. He knew that he had served God by the grace of God and not with fleshly wisdom.

Paul had been accused, abused and misunderstood. But regardless of all that, Paul still rejoiced knowing his own testimony.

We have little control over what others thing of us - especially what they think about our faith in Christ. This world seldom appreciates or understands God's calling on ones life. Certainly this world does not appreciate the standards and convictions against sin that God puts in our hearts. So the concern of the Christian should not be to maintain their testimony among those around them. Our only concern ought to be that testimony of our own conscience.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Pleasing the Master

Proverbs 25:13
As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.

So is a faithful messenger to them that send him

The thought struck me that this verse could be applied to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He sends us as messengers of the good news of salvation.

When we are faithful to that calling, it is as if we "refresh the soul" of our Saviour.
John 15:2
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (KJV)

John 15:8
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (KJV)

Rom 10:15
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (KJV)

God is so pleased, so blessed when we who are His serve as faithful messengers to His Gospel.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tarry a while

1 Corinthians 16:7
For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.

The heart of the Apostle is permeated through this chapter. His desire to see these believers as well as to accomplish ministry is other places is evident.

He says, ...I trust to tarry a while with you...

He wants to spend time with them
He wants to linger in their presence
He wants the chance to teach them and to fellowship with them.

As I write these words I am on my way to see my parents for Christmas. It will be a short trip as I have to come home right after. But there will be time we spend just “tarrying” together. We won’t have anything to do – we will just be together. I love it because I love my parents. Such love ought to be present among God’s family in the local church.

Sometimes the Lord does not permit such tarrying. There is work to be done and often the work forbids spending much time in tarrying together; but the heart's desire is still there.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

So Ye Believed

1 Corinthians 15:11 KJV
Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

I am reminded that at the beginning of 1 Corinthians, these Christians had divided themselves over whose baptism they had. Paul here simply says it does not matter which of the Apostles preached Christ to them; Christ was preached and they believed.

My goal today is only that Christ would be preached and some would believe. The goal is not to get a following behind me. The purpose is not that some would call me a good preacher. Our only desire is that, as Christ is preached, those who hear will believe.

The Lord has chosen to use the preaching of the Gospel to bring the lost to Christ. It is His plan and His plan works as He sees fit.

Some believe - the Gospel for them is the power of God unto salvation.
Some do not believe - the Gospel to them is foolishness and a stumblingblock.


But in either case, God is glorified in the preaching.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hannah Didn't Always Feel This Way

1 Samuel 2:1 KJV
And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

This has to be kept in the context of chapter one where
Hannah could have no child
Hannah was provoked by an adversary and
Hannah was
Grieved in the heart
Bitter in the soul and
Sorrowful in the spirit


But God turned all of that around so that in chapter two she prayed such praises to the Lord as this!

Few people live in this world without times of great heaviness and sorrow of heart. Some have lives that are deeply wounded year after year with little relief. The faith of the saint is that there is a day of rest for us all. Every believer will give praises to the Lord just as Hannah did; if not on this planet then in heaven. And I suspect that those believers who remain true to Christ through a life of difficulty will be able to give greater praise to the Lord then than will those who have had much of their reward here on earth. Nothing would make heaven sweeter than the bitter taste of the pain of earth.

Hang on to Christ! Though grieved, bitter and sorrowful, rejoice in the LORD.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Faith, Hope Charity

1 Corinthians 13:13 KJV
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

If everything else is childish and will vanish, Paul says there are three Christian qualities that still abide

Faith
The word means persuasion.

It is our constant persuasion that our God is and
That He is sovereign
That He is the One God and
That His Word is true

Hope
The word means anticipation.

This is our expectation that God promise of eternal life in Christ will one day be fulfilled. Though this world is cruel and Christians don't fit well here; God's promise and our hope, our anticipation is that one day we will go to dwell with Christ in a place where we are far more suited.

Charity
The word means benevolent love.

Paul says this is the greatest of the three.

And no wonder;
Matt 22:37-40
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
(KJV)

We could not fulfill these greatest of all commandments without faith and without hope. But we have not brought forth the fruit of faith and hope without charity

Thursday, December 20, 2007

God's Kindness

Ruth 1:20-21 KJV
And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?


Ruth 2:20 KJV
And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.

Naomi went from terrible depression "...the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me." To great joy "...Blessed be he of the Lord who hath not left off his kindness..."

No doubt life will hold some of both for us. There will be those times when we think God has dealt pretty harshly with us.
Sometimes it will be really the result of our poor choices.
Sometimes it will be the attacks of the devil and
There will be other times when it will be God himself proving us in our faith so that we grow.

In all of those times we will do better through them if we will lean on the Lord and remember that they all come to an end. We will one day again, and likely soon, experience the great kindness of God and realize that even that which was so hard on us at the first was really only for our blessing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tarry One for Another

1 Corinthians 11:33 KJV
Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

John Gill said, "....the apostle's view is to promote unity, Christian respect, and brotherly love in the ordinance; ..."[1]

The context has to do with the Lord's Supper and with a meal the churches would generally partake in at the same time. Corinth was a divided church with several groups believing they were better than others and therefore not demonstrating respect and unity, even in these meals.

But I got to thinking today that it would not be wrong for we, who are the children of God to learn to "tarry one for another" in a variety of ways within the work of the Lord.

We might tarry one for another in Christian care, waiting on one another in times of need
We might tarry one for another in earnest prayer, seeking God's favor in their lives
We might tarry one for another in simple kindness, expressing thoughtfulness
We might tarry one for another in conversation, taking time to listen to one another.

We are too busy today. We seldom tarry for anything.
We want our fast food fast
We want our streets to be highways
We want our internet to be high speed
Too often we want our relationships to be quality without quantity
And it just does not work that way.

[1] E-Sword 7.8.5, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Give None Offence

1 Corinthians 10:32 KJV
Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

1 Corinthians chapters 8-10 connect very closely and should probably be interpreted as a whole unit. The context has to do with idolatry. Believers know that there are no other gods and our conscience can be clear in knowing that nothing we do can make them real.

On the other hand, there are others who believe in those false gods. While our actions cannot make those gods come to life, we can be a spiritual stumblingblock to those who believe they exist. This chapter gives us exactly the means not to be offensive to either Jews, Gentiles, or to the Christians. We must simply be gracious.
We do not have to do things that are offensive to the Jews just because they do not believe what we believe about Christ.
We do not have to fly in the face of the Gentiles just because we believe their practices are ungodly.
We do not have to be careless around Christians just because we know we have liberty in Christ.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6 "why do ye not rather take wrong?"
Thoughtfulness
Graciousness
Consideration
Of the people you are around goes along way in not being offensive.

Not that we can do that perfectly. Paul's practice of this very principle had much to do with his capture in Jerusalem when the Jews there misunderstood his associations with Gentiles to mean he would bring one into the Temple. He was never able to convince them that he had not done that and they ended trying to assassinate him. Still the principle is true and every Christian ought to learn to practice it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Long Term Goals

Proverbs 17:24 KJV
Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.

This verse reminds me of
Matthew 6:34
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (KJV)

While long term goals are not necessarily an evil and the wise person puts stock in his eternal future at the very least; yet there are those whose chase for the future and it rewards miss the hand of God in their lives right now.

Several years ago I was in a store with my family. A Christian lady we knew was attempting to witness to the manager of the store and when she saw me she introduced me to the manager. As I briefly spoke with him he said that he was too busy to concern himself about spiritual things. He said he was 29 years old and had to devote himself to earning enough for a good retirement.

Such foolishness will neither meet the need of the hour nor will it secure the future a person really wants; especially when it has to do with eternity. A fool’s eyes look too far ahead. He does not see what God is doing in his life at the moment. Too often “Jesus of Nazareth passeth by” and he has missed perhaps his one opportunity to meet Him.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Incorruptible Crowns

1 Corinthians 9:25 KJV
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

Our world makes heroes of those who have attained masteries in this life.
Some have mastered their bodies in athletics
Some have mastered their minds in academics
Some have mastered their finances in economics
Some have mastered their emotions in theatrics
Some have mastered troops in military tactics

And on we could go with worldly masteries and crowns.

But the Bible is correct when it says these are corruptible crowns. Even in those that crowns that have some merit are at the very best temporary. I have recently read of a world renowned pole-vaulter from Washington State whose accident in 1963 left him paralyzed. Despite his past heroics on the field of sport, a Google search of his name found him buried in the names of others. He wasn't even the first person with his name that has had a spinal injury.

Paul encourages us to strive for masteries and crowns so much better; better in many respects, but among the top must be that they are eternal.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Who Correction Grieves

Proverbs 15:10 KJV
Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.

Proverbs 15:5 KJV
A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.

Proverbs 15:12 KJV
A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.

Proverbs 15:32 KJV
He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.

There is a direct correlation between accepting correction, instruction and reproof and the rebellious. The very ones who must be correction are the ones least likely to respond to it.

All of us, of course, must be corrected from time to time. People whose hearts are tender toward the things of the Lord also a tender toward such correction. They see it for what it is and, while I do not say they enjoy it, they do appreciate the purpose behind it.

Those who rebel and buck against such correction also have no heart toward the Lord. They view authority as an awful thing and that ultimately even means they view God as awful. They might attend church and speak kindly of the Lord - so long as the subject is on the kind things the Lord does - but when the subject is on judgment, especially when that judgment comes too near their home, then they stiffen their necks.

But hard hearted and stiff necked or no, the end is still the same. "he that hateth reproof shall die."

Friday, December 14, 2007

There is But One God

1 Corinthians 8:6
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

This declarative statement is made in the midst of a lesson concerning the view of the lost about idols. Paul says that we Christians know there is but one God and one Lord Jesus Christ. We know that the idols are in and of themselves nothing and that the devils they represent are powerless in contrast to the Lord.

But the truth is, just because we know this does not mean everyone knows this. The lost, the idolatrous, give credence and authority to these idols by their worship of them. We Christians must not embolden their worship through our own liberties.

This passage is not addressing worldliness
This passage is not addressing standards among Christians
This passage specifically addresses idolatry - false worship.

Just as in Paul's day he would not eat meat sacrificed to idols (even though he could have - it is only meat) because it emboldened a lost person to eat that same meat as a form of worship to idol, I must not yolk hands with worshipers of other gods - even for good purposes (such as political causes) because it lends credibility to those false doctrines in the eyes of the undiscerning lost.

Our nation's leaders (and many of our spiritual leaders as well) are making a horrible mistake in pandering to the worshippers of false gods in Islam and Mormonism.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Walking with Wise Men

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

This small passage has about as much to say on the subject of successful living as anything ever written.

There is a word about separation.
None of us are ever wise to make close associations with people who are foolish:
Foolish in attitude
Foolish in actions or
Foolish in faith - the fool hath said in his heart there is no God.
I have known a number of people whose greatest downfall was that they refused to see the damaging effects their poor choice of friends had on them. They were not being helped by their friendships, and neither were they helping their friends.

There is a word about fellowship
"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise."

That implies that
I have the discernment to see who is wise
I have the character to the wise would want to walk with me and
I have the discipline to walk with them.


Walking is exercise. It requires energy and stamina. It will not happen accidentally. There is purpose here. There are choices being made.

There is a hint about faith
The wisest of all men, and the One Whom Proverbs generally refers to as wisdom, is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wise men walk with wise men. The wisest men walk with Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Abide With God

1 Corinthians 7:24 KJV
Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

The context is speaking of two stations of life a person might find themselves in
Whether a person is married or single
Whether a person is a freeman or servant


Whatever station of life we find ourselves, it is in that station we ought to abide with God.

This does not mean that our station cannot change in the course of life or that we can't do things to improve our station. Paul says, "if thou mayest be made free, use it rather" and "But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned."

The gist of it is that we can abide with God, glorify God and rejoice in God in whatsoever state we may currently be in.

Joseph was able to abide with God
As the favored son of his father
As a slave in Egypt
As a prisoner in an Egyptian cell
As the leader of the nation

The point is that we choose to abide with the Lord regardless of the station. If we can improve our circumstances: wonderful. But if not, and until then, we need not fret and pout. God is still on His throne and can bless and use us in our circumstances; maybe even better in our current circumstances than in any other.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One Spirit

1 Corinthians 6:17 KJV
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

These are the words of Albert Barnes on this passage; ".... in a sense similar to that in which a man and his wife are one body. .... there is a close and intimate union; they are united in feeling, spirit, intention, disposition. The argument is beautiful. It is, “As the union of souls is more important than that of bodies; as that union is more lasting, dear, and enduring than any union of body with body can be, and as our union with him is with a Spirit pure and holy, .... The union with Christ is more intimate, entire, and pure than that can be between a man and woman; and that union should be regarded as sacred and inviolable.” O, if all Christians felt and regarded this as they should, how would they shrink from the connections which they often form on earth!”[1]

Barnes words about the union of the spirit being united in
Feeling
Spirit
Intention and
Disposition

Speaks to me. How I long for such a relationship with my Saviour that what God thinks, feels, and wills is all and all to me.

[1] E-Sword 7.8.5, Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes (1798-1870)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Righteous Acts of the LORD

Judges 5:11 KJV
They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates.

Barnes Notes says
"The sense of the King James Version is that, whereas formerly they could not go in safety to draw water from their wells, but were shot at by the archers of the enemy, now they were delivered from such tumults; and standing round the wells in security rehearsed the righteous acts of the Lord in delivering them, …”
Then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates - Israelites, who had hid themselves in caves and deserts, could return in security to the gates of their own cities for justice, or commerce, or to dwell there, now that the Canaanite was subdued."[1]

Today is Sunday and people are preparing right now to attend church - a place where they draw water. People of many different ages and backgrounds will congregate around the Word of God and we will rehearse through song, testimony and preaching, the righteous acts of the LORD on our behalf. We will rejoice in our blessings, especially that of being able to freely gather at this place to meet with the Lord.

Our God has been so very good to us. We have liberties of worship that were completely unheard of for centuries. We have deliverance from sin that is found only in the person of Jesus Christ. We have assurances of salvation that are as sure as God is.

So let's get together at the place God has given us to draw water. And let us rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD.

[1] E-Sword 7.8.5, Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes (1798-1870)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Day Shall Declare It

1 Corinthians 3:13 KJV
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

John Gill says of the day mentioned in this text, "meaning not the day of judgment, though that is often called the day, or that day, and will be attended with fire, and in it all secrets shall be made manifest; but the apostle intends a discovery that will be made of doctrines in this world, before that time comes: wherefore this day rather designs a day of tribulation; as of persecution, which tries men's principles, whether they are solid or not; and of error and heresy, when men are put upon a re-examination of their doctrines, whereby persons and truths that are approved are made manifest..."

I read this morning in the Judges 3:1 KJV
Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan;

God left these Canaanite nations to prove Israel. They served, if you will, as a day of judgment. So in our day there is also for us all a day of judgment when our faith and our labor for God is tried as to what sort it is. Christians in our day have followed after many men whose work appeared magnificent, but whose day had not yet come. Over and over we hear of so-called heroes of the faith, who have gathered large followings, but in the end have proven themselves to be builders of wood hay and stubble.

This is why none of us can afford to put much stock in men. We have our leaders to be sure, but our first loyalty must be to the Lord and to His Word. We must let our faith stand in the power of God and not in the wisdom of men, or it will not pass the proving of fire.
We must be Christians.
We must be disciples
We must have our eyes upon Jesus


Only then will we ourselves find our work is the right sort when it passes through the fires on that day.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Power of God

1 Corinthians 2:5 KJV
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Gills says
The Spirit of God directed him, and he under his influence chose, and by his assistance pursued this way of preaching, with this view, and for this reason, that faith in Christ, and in the doctrines of his Gospel, which comes by hearing, might not be attributed to the force of human eloquence and oratory; or stand upon so sandy a foundation, as that which might, if that was the case, be puffed away by a superior flow and force of words;

Too much of today's ministry appears to me to be built upon the sandy foundation of richs and drama. People are enticed by the glamorous, gawdy, and appearances of success some so called ministries flaunt. My assumption, and the claim of some, is that by flocking to these sorts of ministries they hope to share in that same glamor and success.

Our great need today is a call to rest in the power of God, which has little similarity to the might and power of man or man made things.
God's power overrides the shallowness of the might of man
God's power transcends the waves of profit and loss this world is subject to
God's power holds tight through the dark times of humanity

When our faith stands in the power of God our faith will stand through anything.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Lead, Keep, Talk

Proverbs 6:20-22 KJV
My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.
When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

I don't think it would be completely improper to consider the father's commandment and te law of thy mother as being literal. A child is so much better off if and when the mother and father are in agreement on the instructions given to their children and when they give them in unison and in harmony. Further a child who keeps and obeys those commands and laws will be in a much better position in life than those who ignore them.
But most students of the Bible believe that this shold be taken in a more spiritual context and that it refers to the commandments and laws of God taught to children by their parents. It is in this light I take my thoughts today.

The Word of God does three thrings for us
It leads us as we go
The Word of God, when studied well enough to be in the heat and mind at all times, is a great aide in life's decision making. No decision a person may be faced with; from the simplest and most mundane, to those decisions that press upon us and that come upon us quickly, to those decisions that change our life and sometimes our world, is excluded either in precept or in principle in the Word of God.

Truly the Word of God leads us as we go.

It keeps us while we sleep
The assurances that belong to the believer are such a comfort that the Christian can lie down in peace and sleep knowing that the Christian life is a good and right life. But more than that, God's Word literally gives us the assurance that God's providential hand will keep and protect us even as we sleep. Surely nothing can happen to the Child of God that is not supervised of our Heavenly Father. God is more than capable of preventing the thief from attacking His child in the night. And should that happen, we still know that God assumes responsibility for all things and we can lean upon Him for comfort and to find good purpose in it.

It talks to us as we awaken
The more I study the Word of God and meditate upon it through the day, the more I discover the truth of this. Often I wake in the morning with thoughts on God and His Word. Many times I awake in the morning with some piece of Scripture on my mind that I find to be a blessing and helpful to me.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Called

1 Corinthians 1:24 KJV
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Comparing this verse with verse 18 it is possible to say that the called are also the saved. It is a great comfort to know that the saved are saved by a calling of God and not of any good thing they have done; for if the saved were saved by some good work it would be reasonable to argue that some other evil work might reverse it.

What joy belongs to the believer who finally realizes that salvation is a calling of God.
It is God who convicts us of our sin
It is God who convinces us that Christ is Saviour and
It is God who places in our hearts the longing to be saved


I rejoice in the knowledge that Christianity is completely about the Lord and not about ourselves. I revel in the doctrines of God's work in the lives of men; for it is only that work that has any eternal, lasting and solid substance. Everything man does is subject to change and corruption. Only what God does is immutable and incorruptible.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Separation

Joshua 23:7-8 KJV
That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:
But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.


God did not even want Israel to make mention of the names of the gods of the Canaanites, let alone to swear by them, serve them or bow down to them. God's people are to be separate from this world.

And this is one of the most insidious problems we have as believers. The longer we dwell in this world and among the world, the more likely it is that we take a less offensive posture toward the attitudes, actions and even the idols of this world. Things that once were considered worldly and wrong are condoned by the believers and those few Christians who continue to stand against them are labeled legalists and mocked because they have a bad attitude and don't know how to reach the world for Christ anymore.

From time to time the Lord brings a revival of faith among the believers; there is a new wave of separation from the world, a fresh movement of believers who cleave to the Lord.

God grant us this wave today!

Monday, December 03, 2007

What a Testimony

Romans 15:14 KJV
And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

Even though the Apostle Paul had never met these believers and desired to meet them and impart some of what the Lord had given to him also to them, yet he said he was persuaded of them

They were full of goodness
They were filled with all knowledge
They were able to admonish one another

What a testimony and what a goal for us to have today.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Influence

Romans 14:7 KJV
For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

I spoke with a preacher friend of mine this past week. He made mention of this verse and commented that a lost parent might condemn his children to hell. The family follows his inclination sometimes to several generations. It is inestimable how much pain has been caused by just one person who refused to accept Christ as Saviour and, though they thought the decision was their own, that one choice leads to their sons and daughters refusing Christ, which leads to their grandsons and daughters making the very same eternal mistake.

On the other hand, the decision of one person to trust Christ has the potential to see untold others to the very same faith. Since our faith is shared from faith to faith; once one person believes, his influence almost surely will lead others to the same faith. It might be someone he has personally witnessed to. It might be a family member, a neighbor or a work mate. It might be someone he has never met until he went out of his way to speak to them about the Lord. And it might be someone he has personally not been able to witness to, but that he loves and God sends one they have not met out of their way to give them the Gospel.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tough Love

Joshua 17:15-18 KJV
And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.
And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.
And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only:
But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.


The children of Joseph asked Joshua for a larger portion of land and Joshua told them to take the wood country. The Children of Joseph's answer was that they had tried; the people there were to well armed and they couldn't take it. Joshua never batted an eye. He just told them they could take the land and would take it.

We like to be coddled. We like someone to tell us
Why we are right,
Why we can't do what God has called us to do,
Why we need
Another assignment or
Another place to serve or even
The chance to step out of responsibility altogether so someone else has to do our job.

What we need are some more Joshua’s who will not allow us to run, reverse our course or wimp out of our work. We need someone who will tell us
This is what God has called us to
God has given us all we need to accomplish it
Now go out and do it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Healthy Church

Romans 12:6-8 KJV
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.


This passage is in the context of a local church body. God has given to each of us differing gifts and has given them to us in differing measures.

Those gifts are
Prophesy - the gift of preaching
Ministry - the gift of serving
Teaching - the gift of explaining
Exhortation - the gift of encouragement
Giving - the gift of benevolence
Ruling - the gift of leadership
Mercy - the gift of compassion


I suspect that these seven gifts compose all that is necessary for the church to function in a healthy way. It is probable (at least when we consider our experience) that most Christians have a combination of these gifts with perhaps one gift that stands out the strongest. A church could do worse than to make these seven gifts also the seven ministries of the church. How much might we accomplish for the cause of Christ if we focused on doing what the Lord has specifically outfitted Christians to do?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Without Repentance

Romans 11:29 KJV
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

Barnes
This does not refer to man, but to God. It does not mean that God confers his favors on man without his exercising repentance, but that God does not repent, or change, in his purposes of bestowing his gifts on man. What he promises he will fulfil; what he purposes to do, he will not change from or repent of.[1]

Gill
...they are immutable and unalterable; God never revokes them, or calls them in again, or takes them away from the persons to whom he has made such a previous donation: the reasons are, because that his love from whence they spring is always the same; it admits of no distinction, nor of any degrees, nor of any alteration; and electing grace, according to which these gifts are bestowed, stands sure and immovable; not upon the foot of works, but of the sovereign will of God.[2]

This verse does not say that once we have set out to serve the Lord we can never change direction. The verse says that what God has give us, His gifts, His calling us to salvation and His guidance and direction in our lives; these things God will not repent of nor change his mind.

What a wonderful blessing to be reminded that what God has given us in salvation will never be removed. The context surrounds God's setting Israel aside to call out a people among the Gentiles. Yet even in this God is still saving Jews as they come to Christ and God has not forsaken Israel as His chosen people. Just as God has not and will not forsake the Jews, God will not turn from those He has saved.

[1] E-Sword 7.8.5, Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes (1798-1870)
[2] E-Sword 7.8.5, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

That Sought Me Not

Romans 10:20 KJV
But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

Those that sought not and asked not refers to the Gentile people in general. Historically they were not the ones who sought a relationship with the Living God but were prone to disdain the God of the Jews, choosing rather to worship the creature; the sea the sun, various animals and gods who were half supernatural and half human.

But more specifically, this refers to me. I did not come from a Christian background. I was not looking for a relationship with God. It was all of God that I found Him.
He placed in my heart the awareness of His reality
He placed in my path witnesses who continued to present Christ to me
He placed before me not one but many who urged me to come to the Lord Jesus Christ and
He placed in my soul the faith to trust Jesus Christ as my Saviour.

It is God's grace that saved me, though I was not seeking Him. And that moves me to serve the Lord by seeking those who are not seeking Him. There are around us men, women and young people who may not be seeking the Lord, but whom the Lord is seeking Himself. They may not be asking for the Lord and we may view them and believe it is a waste of effort to tell them about the Lord. But some of those who are not looking will find the Lord and some of them who have not been asking will see Christ when we who have already found and seen, do what God has called us to do and go to those who sought not.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Of God

Romans 9:16 KJV
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

The flesh of man is far too prone to take credit for the things only God can do. Salvation, both the accepting of it and the propagation of it, is of God's mercy.

Men tend to believe that our flesh has something to do with our salvation. Since when we got saved, we willed to come to Christ, we believe that our will had something to do with our salvation when in fact we willed to come because God put that faith in us. Since when we got saved, things changed in our lives;
We were baptized
We began to attend church
We suddenly had a desire to understand the Bible
We think somehow our efforts were part and parcel of our salvation. The truth is that those changes and new desires were not our own, but a new creature God created of us.

Salvation, both receiving it, and spreading it, is not by the hard work and earnest pleading of men. Salvation is always and is only “of God that sheweth mercy.”

We must be obedient to the Lord as He leads. But we must be careful not to confuse our obedience as anything other than the evidence of God showing His mercy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Three Groanings

Romans 8:22-23; 26 KJV
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

The three groanings of this text

The whole creation groans
This world has been so racked by the throws of sin that every creature and even the world itself is off base. I heard last night that certain scientists believe that humanity has corrupted the black holes in outer space just by looking at them. They believe that by merely observing the universe mankind has somehow irreparably harmed the universe. While that seems ridiculous on the surface, the effects of man’s sin have had farther reaching impact that we care to believe.

The Christian groans.
Having gotten a taste of what will be when we are finally in the presence of the Lord, the Christian longs for the day when not only is his spirit and soul reconciled to God, but that his body will be made incorruptible too.

The Comforter groans
The Holy Spirit of God dwelling in us prays with groaning which cannot be uttered. I find great comfort in knowing that the Spirit of God is praying for those things I do not know to pray for.
Romans 8:22-23; 26 KJV
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

The three groanings of this text

The whole creation groans
This world has been so racked by the throws of sin that every creature and even the world itself is off base. I heard last night that certain scientists believe that humanity has corrupted the black holes in outer space just by looking at them. They believe that by merely observing the universe mankind has somehow irreparably harmed the universe. While that seems ridiculous on the surface, the effects of man’s sin have had farther reaching impact that we care to believe.

The Christian groans.
Having gotten a taste of what will be when we are finally in the presence of the Lord, the Christian longs for the day when not only is his spirit and soul reconciled to God, but that his body will be made incorruptible too.

The Comforter groans
The Holy Spirit of God dwelling in us prays with groaning which cannot be uttered. I find great comfort in knowing that the Spirit of God is praying for those things I do not know to pray for.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Lone Piece of Wall

Joshua 6:22-23 KJV
But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.

The image came to my mind of that one spot on the way that did not fall down flat, the house of Rehab, was actually built into that which first fell in Jericho and signaled in a distinct way God's intent to destroy everything involved in the city.

Still there was one place of grace even in Jericho, and that, upon the wall.

That lone piece of wall, still standing was
A symbol of grace to all those inside.
The battle raged out the door, but all was safe inside.

A symbol of mercy for the children of Israel
Everyone knew that those inside were to be spared. It stood out among everything else as that place where mercy lived.

A symbol of wrath for the citizens of the city wo refused to enter in.
I do not know that Rahab had told anyone else but her family about the promise made to her. But as that piece of wall stood there, some would have noticed that the battle raged everywhere but Rahab's house. Perhaps knowing that she had hidden the spies and perhaps hearing about the promise that had been made her, those who did not receive that grace and mercy would surely have been angered at her getting what they were not.

No doubt as the battle went on there were those who did not even notice that there was one piece of the wall still standing.

I am reminded of the church today, standing as a bulwark against the Satanic battles raging in the world around us. For those who come inside, it is a place of grace. For those who stand for God it is a place of mercy and peace. But without the church and in the world there are those that can't help but see the church and see the cars pulling up to attend services and
Grow angered at what we teach.
Grow angered that we have a peace they know nothing of.
Grow angered that we teach those outside face certain destruction.


Of course there are others who drive by the church today and never notice. They are so busy in their own battles that they don't see there is a place of mercy and grace. Though they face the same destruction as those who hate the church, they run headlong into their lives, ignorant of the dangers before them and of the one place of refuge that stands so obviously available to them.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ye Have Your Fruit

Romans 6:22 KJV
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

The preceding verse expresses that there is no fruit of profit in sin. Christians, who were all once lost and have been servants to sin, know this to be the fact. There is no ultimate pleasure in sin. It always leads to a bitter end. However, being saved and made free from sin, we are now the servants of God and there is fruit in this service. It is the fruit of holiness and it ends in everlasting life.

The fruit of holiness is pleasant.
It is pleasant to partake in. It is pleasant to pursue.

The fruit of holiness is peaceable.
There is no guilt in enjoying this fruit. It frees us from the service ot sin. It does not adversely affect our relationship to the Lord. It rather enhances it.

The fruit of holiness is profitable.
In the end it leads to everlasting life.

Only good things come from becoming servants to God.

Friday, November 23, 2007

It Took Faith to Stay in That House

Joshua 2:18-19 KJV
Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee.
And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.


The thought came to me that it must have taken quite the faith to live in an home with a window on the wall. The wall's function was to prevent intruders from entering the city by force. Once the gates were shut soldiers could then defend the city from the tops of the walls. Having a window exposed to the outside would seem to me to be a weakness in the wall. Certainly to remain in the room with the window would be to be exposed to greater risk. I would even expect that soldiers would have wanted to have been in that room to guard the window from those who would enter the city through it.

Now the Jews have surrounded the city, the battle is engaged, and the rest of the walls have fallen down flat. What faith it would take to remain inside the house!

This world looks at Jesus Christ as a sort of weakness. Men and women need Christ, in their minds, who are too weak to face life and death without this sort of spiritual support. As the battles of life rage around us, who have come into Christ, there are temptations to flee. When it seems like the battle focuses on and against Christ, there are those we believe to trust Christ, but show their true faith by fleeing from Him in times of great trouble. Only those who stay inside Christ are spared. Perhaps the battles that we face have as a main goal, to find out those whose faith is in Christ and those who only claim that faith, but do not possess it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Him That Justifieth the Ungodly

Romans 4:5 KJV
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

The title of God
"Him that justifieth the ungodly"
What a name for Almighty God. He justifies the ungodly.
It is His business.
It is His purpose, yea
It is His character
To justify the ungodly

To justify implies more than that God lets the ungodly go free in their guilt. It means that God does something that pays for their ungodliness and turns them around.

The type of man
"the ungodly"
There is none that doeth good so this is an accurate type of all men. God becomes so much more precious to us when we see ourselves as ungodly. Once we have a right view of self, seeing God as gracious and kind and merciful in the next easiest step.

The reward of faith
"counted for righteousness"
Not that I am righteous in my own accord. I am counted for righteousness because of faith. I have seen myself for who I am and I have see the Lord for who He is. The natural result is that I place faith in the one whose character is to justify ones whose character is such as mine. Placing that faith in Him, He counts me righteous.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Cry of God for the Lost

Deuteronomy 32:29 KJV
O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!

This verse is obviously speaking not of Israel but of the nations of Canaan that Israel was about to dispossess. Moses, under the inspiration of the Lord cries that these people had been wise and understood and considered their latter end, what difference might have been the outcome if only that were the case.

The heart of the prophet, and the heart of God, and thus the heart of those who would be faithful to the Lord today, should be one of burden and brokenness for those who have refused to be wise in fearing the Lord. Our hearts ought to be broken for the lost.
Rather than holding ought against them,
Rather than seeking vengeance toward them

We must be heartbroken for the judgment they face.

It might make the difference in seeing some of them come to the Lord.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Patient Continuance

Romans 2:7 KJV
To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

Patient continuance in well doing

This implies that there will be little or no reward for the well doing or else there would be no need for patience.
Rom 8:24
.... but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (KJV)

Our well doing ought to be done in pursuit of the reward even when the reward seems to elude us. There will be times, and for some it might be most of the time, that we cannot see the fruit of our pursuit.
We seek, but we do not feel like we find.
We knock, but we do not feel like it has been opened.
We ask, but it does not seem like it has been given.
Patient continuance seeks still.

And we must continue in this well-doing. We must not give in. We must not quit. We must not let
Discouragement,
Distraction or
Disgruntlement

Turn us from our course of patient continuance in well-doing.

God's promise is that it will result in the reward; glory, honor and immortality, and ultimately, eternal life in the end.

Monday, November 19, 2007

They Shall Be Afraid of Thee

Deuteronomy 28:9-10 KJV
The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways.
And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.

It seems to me that our world is afraid of the believers even today.
They are afraid of our positions against sin.
They are afraid of our positions for morality.
They are afraid of our efforts to evangelize.
They are afraid of our assurance of faith.

There is no reason a Christian should be bothered by the lost fearing them. They ought to be under conviction and they ought to feel confronted by our holy walk with the Lord.

We do not have to be hateful and we should not be.
We do not have to be militant and angry spirited.


But if our faith in Christ and if our walk with Him brings conviction and fear to them, it is not a bad thing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thou Shalt Rejoice

Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV
And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.

Verses 1-11 should be taken together but for sake of space I have not included all these verses. When the Jews had gathered their harvest
They were to present a basket of the harvest before the priest,
They were to remember and repeat how God had led them out of Egypt into this good land and
They were to rejoice in every good thing the Lord had given them


This is a great way to think of tithing and the reason why we may bring those tithes to the Lord cheerfully; such tithing not only reminds us of the goodness of God in our lives today but also reminds us of what God has brought us through and where we would be without Him.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Forever Cursed, But Found in Christ

Deuteronomy 23:3-6 KJV
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:
Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.
Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.
Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.


God told the Jews they were never to forgive the Ammonites or the Moabites. They were never to be allowed into the congregation of the Jews. Israel was never to seek their peace or prosperity forever.

But Ruth was a Moabite and she was allowed into the congregation.

Moreover, Jesus has the Moabite Ruth in His genes.

Jesus not only bore our sins on His body; He bore them in His body. The DNA of the forever cursed was built into His bones and when He died on the cross, He carried those genes to the cross with Him. When He rose from the grave, He gave resurrection to those genes as well and when He ascended into heaven, He lifted those who were
Never to be forgiven
Never to be blessed,
Never to be brought into the fellowship

With Him into that glorious place.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not Disobedient

Acts 26:19
Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

Paul, it must be remembered, is making an appeal for his life. To lose this mean to lose his life on this earth. Yet Paul obviously has a deeper goal than just winning a judicial appeal. He is concerned for the souls of those who are here listening.

Paul could testify he had not been disobedient. God had given him marching orders and Paul had obeyed those orders.

I wonder how many Christians could stand before a magistrate and say, "I was not disobedient"
To God
To His Word
To His calling in my life

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Victory At Any Price is No Victory

Deuteronomy 20:19 KJV
When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:

I was drawn to consider the phrase, "...for the tree of the field is man's life..."

To be honest, I was not able to find any spiritual application to this except to see that God in mercy and in wisdom teaches that the destruction of the fruit bearing trees is a cruelty too great even in battle circumstances. If the enemy is conquered, the goal will in most cases not be the total annihilation of the people, but their subjugation. If these trees are destroyed there will be no food for the survivors. In those cases where the land might be completely overrun and occupied in the future by the victor's nation, still the produce of the land would be needed for their prosperity into the future.

This world is corrupted and even good men often do not consider the consequences of their decisions. God is teaching that victory at any price is not true victory.

The God who would be merciful to future generations, and the God who teach a degree of mercy even to the conquered, is a God we may rest assured will be merciful to all those who rest in Him.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Prophet

Deuteronomy 18:18-22 KJV
I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.


Notice that the word Prophet in verse 18 is capitalized. This verse, agrees the Jewish scholars of old, is messianic. It is not speaking of just any prophet but of the Saviour.

He was raised up among the Jews
He spake what the Father gave Him to say
He gave one prophesy that is without question on fulfilled in Jesus -

John 2:19
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (KJV)

All others are presumptuous. We do not need to heed their message. We do not need to be afraid of their words. Only Christ died and rose again three days later. We are only required to those words spoken by Him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Altogether Just

Deuteronomy 16:20 KJV
That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

My thoughts this morning centered on three words in the text....

Altogether
Just and
Follow


As happens often in the Word of God, a truth is emphasized by repeating it. The words altogether and just are the same. It means right, moral, legal. There are some things that men have determined are right, but they everybody knows that they are not right. The government might make homosexuality legal, for instance, but no law can make it altogether just. God's Word urges the Christian to know the difference between those things that are legal and those things that are altogether just before the eyes of God.

The word follow means to run after, to chase or to hunt. I have in my head the careful, methodical, persistent search for that a person might have if he were hunting pheasant or quail. The birds know to hold and to hide. The hunter finds the birds only after slowly and carefully covering all of the ground. Every piece of cover is explored. every square inch of ground is checked.
The eyes are sharp, looking for the elusive creatures.
The ears listen for the sounds of the rustling.
Many birds will be flushed that the hunter is not after, still he hunts for his prey.
The hunter is not discouraged by either rain or snow, and
If he does not find a bird on this outing, he will surely go again.

Even so ought we to follow that which is altogether just.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Your God Proveth You

Deuteronomy 13:3 KJV
Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Just as the Lord proved Abraham with Isaac, God's Word says He will prove the Jews.

He would prove them with false prophets to see if they would adhere to the Word of God or go astray with fanciful visions.

He would prove them with family members to see if their first love was the Lord or their loved ones.

He would prove them with whole cities that would turn aside from the Lord to see if they would follow the multitudes or the truth.

And just as the Lord proved Abraham and proved Israel we may rightly expect that God will prove us.

Let us resolve that we will cling to the truth as it is revealed in the Word of God, and not follow the fancies of false teachers, family or the multitudes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Priorities

Proverbs 11:4 KJV
Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

Priorities

When we believe the Word of God that there will be a day of judgment and wrath then it makes perfect sense to pursue righteousness and not riches in our lives.

Just as when a man faces serious illness and no amount of money is able to spare his life, so when the Lord pours out His wrath against all those who hold the truth of God in unrighteousness, there will be no amount of money that can alleviate the wrath. God is no respecter of persons. He does not hold one up higher than another because he is wealthy, popular or has earthly power. In that day when God calls the birds to the great supper of God, they will
Rev 19:18
.... eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.(KJV)

On the other hand the one who seeks righteousness in Jesus Christ is delivered from death. Gill says, "from the curse of a corporeal death; from the power of a spiritual one; and from dying the second or an eternal one."[1]

[1] E-Sword 7.8.5, John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

We Kneeled

Acts 21:5 KJV
And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary says of this passage, "Their last farewell was sweetened my prayer." Paul had taught them to pray always and pray without ceasing. Here we find disciples kneeling on the shore in a precious mental portrait of affection not only for one another but for the God who had brought them together and made them brothers and sisters in Christ.

May we ever remember that the One who binds us together is Christ.
We may have great love an affection for one another, but that should always be tempered with a desire that the will of the Lord be done.

And
May we ever remember that Christ is the reason we are together.
So that we bring honor to Him in our assemblies.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Not For Thy Righteousness

Deuteronomy 9:4-6 KJV
Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.


This is a humbling passage indeed and can be of a great help to us in our walk with the Lord if we will heed it.

Paul said
Rom 7:18
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: ..... (KJV)

God's grace and love toward us is not because of our own goodness, but because of His own goodness. If God uses us, it is not because we have deserved to be used but because He has chosen to use us.
If we win souls to Christ
If we help sinners be converted from the error of their way
If we encourage believers in the way of righteousness

It is not because of our righteousness, but because of the need of these who do not know the Lord.

God's call into the ministry has little to nothing to do with our own goodness (though our testimonies ought to be "well reported of the brethren") but instead because God's plan has been to use we who are sinners saved by grace to minister to those who need to be saved by that same grace.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Don Richeson



We lost one of our finest this week. Don Richeson breathed his last breath on earth and took his first in glory Tuesday of this week.

Bro Don Richeson and his wife, Yuki came to our church just two years ago.

Bro Richeson was saved later in life and he knew he needed to be busy for the Lord. Not long after joining our church he retired from his job to devote himself full time to serving the Lord.

  • He enrolled in our Bible College.
  • He began coming out soul winning.
  • He had just started teaching a leadership course to our teens.

Brother Richeson was a faithful reader of my daily visits with the Lord and probably wrote more comments concerning them than any other.

The week he went to the hospital Bro Richeson preached the Tuesday night college chapel on the subject of prayer.

I am comforted knowing that this prayer warrior is in heaven praying for us today.

Power to Get Wealth

Deuteronomy 8:18 KJV
But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

The passage thought begin in verse eleven (though I found that most of chapters seven and eight could apply to this same thought). That of remembering that the Lord is the one who had blessed them in the good land. We are warned of our tendency, once having prospered, to forget that the prosperity comes from the Lord and not of our own doing.

Our cupboards are stocked
Our houses are nice
Our accounts are full

And we forget that it is all because of the Lord.

So the Bible's remedy is that we remember that it is the LORD that gives us power to get wealth.

The word here is one that means force. Strong's concordance says it also means virtue, valor, strength, ability or other types of resources. In other words, this does not necessarily mean money and it does not necessarily mean huge amounts of riches. It means that God gives us the power or means to get everything we have.

That is humbling.
We cannot claim the blessing on our own
That is also something to be thankful for.
He does not have to give us this power.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What God Wishes For Us

Deuteronomy 5:29 KJV
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!

John Gill reminds us that properly speaking there are no such "volitions and wishes in God." This passage should not be taken as to mean that God is any less sovereign. It is written "after the language of the children of men" and thus conveys to us the great heart of God that man, though a free will, would exercise that heart to fear God and keep His commandments.

What greater cause may a man give his life to than this?
What greater endeavor can a man be devoted than the one Almighty God claims He desires us to?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Judged

Acts 16:15 KJV
And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

If ye have judged me faithful


The sense of this is that he had judged her faithful. It is assumed by Lydia. However there is a lesson here that the preacher does have a certain degree of judgment concerning those with whom he works

He judges whether they are saved
He judges whether those who have been saved have grown enough to serve
He judges their maturity level in the Lord for advancements in service in the ministry of the Lord.


Lydia was neither offended nor defensive concerning this judgment. She accepted it as a natural part of the Christian growth and she submitted herself to the authority God had invested in Paul.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Parents

Proverbs 4:1-4 KJV
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.
For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.


Solomon passed down to his children what was passed down to him from his father, David. In this chapter Solomon addresses first "children" and then, "my son." Solomon also says his father taught him as if he were "the only beloved." He was not the only child of either David or Bathsheba but he felt that way concerning the instruction.

Parents would do well to learn first to pass down good doctrine and law to their children and to do it in such a manner that all of the children learn it but each of the children learn it in a way that is unique and precious to themselves. Each child has his or her own personality. They have unique strengths and weaknesses. They learn differently from one another. Parents ought to learn what those uniquenesses are and to train each child with them in mind. That is the way each child will grow up to say I was "tender and only beloved" of both my mother and my father.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Wisest Man

Proverbs 3:7 KJV
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

The deception of the flesh is such that we can easily become wise in our own eyes. We might begin trusting the Lord and not leaning on our own understanding. But time and success too often takes over and we begin to feel like
Because of our experience
Because of our passed successes and maybe
Because of our further training

We have gained some of our own wisdom. Only evil can come from our own wisdom.

The wisest man always seeks wisdom but never acknowledges he has obtained it. His lifelong quest is for the wisdom of God and the understanding of the fear of the Lord.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hid Treasures

Proverbs 2:1-5 KJV
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

We need more than anything else to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Little else has worth unless we make these those things that have all worth.

We understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God by seeking wisdom understanding and knowledge as treasures. When we apply ourselves to these things. When we place all our efforts in obtaining them, we find a greater treasure than they can ever be in and of themselves, we meet the Lord.

No man, the Bible says, seeketh after God. We can never see the face of God (except in Jesus Christ - and He is not physically with us any longer). But we can find the knowledge of God through seeking wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Known Unto God

Acts 15:18 KJV
Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

Known unto God
There is great comfort in knowing God knows.
When all the world is in shambles.
When men and women in leadership are uncertain.
When the average citizen has no idea which is the right way to proceed or who exactly should be in office.
When we do not know what to do about our own circumstances....
God knows

His works
God is working in this world.
Sometimes we may have trouble seeing that.
Sometimes we may forget it.
Sometimes it looks to us like men and the devil are having their way.
But our God is working. Faith rests in that. Faith places its complete hope, not in man's ability to reason out a right course but in God's sovereign ability to work out His plan.

From the beginning
God has never been surprised by the actions of men. Neither Adam and Eve nor any other human being has ever shocked God with their turn from His way. God has known from the beginning every step every man would take and has orchestrated it all into His ultimate plan for glory. Men do wicked things and God refuses to interfere with their free will. But every thing they do has been known from the beginning and is incorporated into the work of God.

We walk by faith, not by sight.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thirty eight verses

Numbers 33:38 KJV
And Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of the LORD, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month.

Psalms 90:12 KJV
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

God's Word has many different ways to teach us that our life is “but a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.” Numbers 33 summarizes forty years - for all practical purposes a lifetime for these Jews because an entire generation pass away in those forty years - in just 38 verses.

All of the victories
All of the failures
All of the encounters with God
All of the miracles
All of the battles


All of it is given in 38 verses. From the greatness of the parting of the Red Sea to the sinfulness of refusing to cross into the Promised Land and Kadesh Barnea. It is all over in 38 verses.

A lifetime is over so quickly. We think the events surrounding our day to day lives are so significant. But at our funeral someone will summarize our whole life in a 10 to 15 minute eulogy. If our funeral lasts more than an hour those who attend will complain about it.

So what really matters is not at all those day to day events, no matter how huge for good or bad they seemed to be at the time. What really matters is that we apply ourselves to know God and prepare ourselves for eternal heaven.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Glad Tidings Indeed

Acts 13:32-39 KJV
And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
....
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.


These are truly glad tidings! Through Jesus Christ we are justified of all things.

There is nothing so sinful
There is nothing so wrong

That we cannot be justified of it through Jesus Christ

It does not matter how long ago it happened
It does not matter what men might think about it
It does not matter if others have forgiven us of it

Through Jesus Christ we can be justified of all things

And they are things we could not be justified of by any other means.
No amount of good works,
No amount of religious deeds
Nothing in the Old Testament law could have justified us of all things.

But Jesus Christ, through placing faith in Him all who come to Him as justified of all things.

Glad tiding indeed!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pray without ceasing

Acts 12:5 KJV
Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

The power of prayer!

But prayer
Regardless of the power of Herod. Regardless of the guards and gates. No human power is greater than is the power of prayer.

Without ceasing
Without giving up, without quitting. Without wavering.

Of the church unto God
The whole church got involved in praying for Peter.

Right now we are facing a trying situation. One of our beloved members is hanging in the balances of life and death. Doctors are near to the point of giving up. It is time for the church to step to the plate and pray without ceasing for this wonderful man.

God may or may not raise our brother back to health. But we can do him no better than to pray without ceasing for him.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cleave to the Lord

Acts 11:23 KJV
Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

Barnabas saw what had already happened in Antioch and was glad.

There were Christians who witnessed
There were lost people who had believed and turned to the Lord
There were tidings of this getting around the world


Barnabas was not there to win these people to the Lord that was already accomplished. However he did have this message and that was "with purpose of heart they would all cleave to the Lord."

The word “cleave” means "to stay, remain, stick or persevere." And Barnabas said we would do it with purpose of heart or intentionally. No one will persevere with Christ unless they purpose to do so. This world, the flesh and Satan purposefully draw Christians away from Christ. The allure of this world is powerful enough to pull away anyone who does not intentionally cleave to the Lord.

Barnabas exhorted them all to cleave to the Lord. God's desire is not that there be a few really godly Christians who keep the rest of the casual Christians from getting too far away from the Lord. God's desire is that all of us would cleave to Christ. That all of us would be holy, separate and undefiled by this world.

Any Christian can bring that kind of message. We can implore and encourage other Christians to live for God after they are saved. And it is, I think, God's design that when we come to church we do exactly that.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Commanded Us to Preach

Acts 10:42 KJV
And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

Jesus Christ commanded the Apostles to preach unto the people

They were to preach peace by Jesus Christ
They were to preach that God had anointed Jesus Christ
They were to preach all the things they witnessed Him do in Israel and Jerusalem
They were to preach that they He was hanged on a tree but God raised Him up the third day
They were to preach that He is the Judge of quick and dead
They were to preach that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins


When they preached that message they had the kind of results Peter saw when he preached it to Cornelius.

And God has commanded us to preach the same things.