Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nevertheless I will


Ezekiel 16:60 KJV
Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.

Chapter 15 likens Jerusalem to a vine tree that is worth nothing but to be burned
Chapter 16:3-14 likens her to an abandoned child left for dead in the open field
Chapter 16:15-58 liken her to a harlot, who has slept with every wicked person in the vicinity

God's warned of terrible judgment to come, both on Jerusalem and on her lovers (the nations around her whose false gods she had worshiped and whose strength she had leaned upon). But then God said, "Nevertheless I will...."

What a blessing to know that God will remember His covenant with us. What a blessing to know that, while God must and will chasten sin, nevertheless He will not abandon His own people. He will remember His promises to us and will establish us with Him forever in eternity.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Not Without Cause


Ezekiel 14:23
And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings: and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord GOD.

God is never without cause for all that He does.

We oftentimes have a very difficult time seeing that. We look at everything through the eyes of
1. Our own comfort
2. Our lack of knowledge
3. Our sinful nature

And because our vision is blurred by these things we cannot often see why God does what He does.

We are tempted to question His wisdom and goodness
We sometimes think that those who do not try to worship the Lord have it better than those who do try to live for God


Quite simply, our vision is blurred. We do not see right.

Last night I was meditating on a counseling meeting I had. As the person questioned and challenged the counsel I thought to myself that they should not question, they should just obey. That is faith. But how often do we question and challenge God in our own lives? Trusting God means coming to the place where we do not ask Him why things must be as they are, but simply lean on Him and obey His Words.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A little sanctuary


Ezekiel 11:16 KJV
Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.

There is no way I can read this an believe that God is only a "little sanctuary." Wherever God is, God is great. However, sometimes we think God's greatness means what God does has to be big.

I imagine these Jews, broken and destitute, judged of God and captives in another land.
They are humbled
They are discouraged
They realize how they have dishonored God in their past.

And in the midst of it all, God gives them a sanctuary.
It might have been for them a secret gathering of a handful of Jews.
It might have only been the ability to quietly pray to the Lord as a family
It might be that they did not even have a copy of the Scriptures they could read and so they would have to teach each other what they could remember.


But through all of that, there was peace and hope and comfort for the soul.

I know believers who survived being in the German concentration camps speak in terms like that
I know that Christians who have been prisoners of war use terms like that.


Our God's greatness is bigger than large cathedrals and church houses. His greatness is so big that He is a sanctuary to those who seek Him regardless of how beautiful the edifice or how large the gathering.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Our responsibility for sin


Ezekiel 9:9 KJV
Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.

There is a sin involved in lack of faith.
There is sin involved in simply saying that God has forsaken us and that God does not care.
There is sin in denying that God either knows or that He cares.


But there is another sin implied in this passage; that being the sin of denying our own responsibility for sin.

God had sent the kind of trials Israel was enduring because of their own sin. God was moving His glory from their nation, and they were blaming God for that. They refused to see that their own sin was the issue and not that God was either forsaking them or that God did not see their trials.

God is not unrighteous to judge us for our sins. To feel like we are forsaken as God chastens us is no fault of the Lord and is even a sign of God's loving-kindness. It is only through those times of chastening that He moves us toward righteousness.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Great Sin


Ezekiel 9:9 KJV
Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.

God said that "...the iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great." We might be tempted to try to put together a list of the most horrible sins we imagine today. We would likely include on a list like that the sin of murder, genocide, rape and etc. But God said that the city was "...full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not." The great sin God referred to was only that of denying God's care and knowledge about what is happening on this earth.

It reminds me of Hebrews 11:6 KJV
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

God cannot be pleased without faith. When we abandon that faith, that hope, that dependence upon Him and His hand in the affairs of our life, then truly our iniquity is exceeding great.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

STAND STILL


Stand still.
A soldier has fallen to the ground today
The battlefield has had its way
He will not fight another day
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still.
Stand still and pray for those at home
And for soldiers while they roam
On foreign soil’s combat zone
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still.
That soul has now gone to beyond
To heaven’s glories or to hell’s real horrors
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still.
Stand still and thank God for His grace
You did not die in his place
That image could have born your face
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still.
Stand still and look this once more
To a far off hill on a distant shore
One there did His Father’s will
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still
Stand still and see Him on the cross
Giving all there was to give
That you and I might get to live
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still
Stand still and view that empty tomb
In it He found there was not room
So up He rose from that space
And left our sins in His place
Stand still. Stand still.

Stand still.
Stand still if you would have Him win
For you a victory from sin
You cannot earn a home on high
By grace through faith is the Father’s cry
Stand still

Stand still
Stand still come this solemn Day
You owe him that much won’t you say?
A soldier’s fallen to the ground today
Stand still. Stand still.


Marvin McKenzie
For Memorial Day Weekend
5-25-2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Brother of Low Degree


James 1:9-10 KJV
Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:
But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

I note that the one of low degree is "the brother" but the other is just "the rich." Likely James does not count rich man as a brother.

Gill's commentary concerning the brother of low degree's exaltation says he may rejoice, "…
In that high estate, to which he is advanced; for a person may be very low and mean, as to his worldly circumstances, and yet be very high, and greatly exalted in a spiritual sense: and this height of honour and grandeur, of which he may boast and glory, amidst his outward poverty, lies in his high birth and descent, being born from above, and of God, and belonging to His family; in being an adopted Son of God, and so an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ, and of the heavenly inheritance and kingdom;
In the present riches of grace he is possessed of, as justifying, pardoning, and sanctifying grace; and
In the high titles he bears, as besides the new name, the name better than that of sons and daughters of the greatest potentate, even that of a Son of the Lord God Almighty, his being a King, and a priest unto God, and for whom a kingdom, crown, and throne are prepared; and also
In the company he daily keeps, and is admitted to, as of God, and Christ, and the holy angels:
And this height of honour have all the saints, be they ever so poor in this world, who can vie with the greatest of princes for sublimity and grandeur.”[1]

There is much a man might meditate up right here. Oh the place God has given to the child of God! This world may think us low, but what wonders belong to us in the sight of our God.


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

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Settled and Fixed Points of Belief


Hebrews 13:9 KJV
Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

The context compares the doctrines of grace with those of the Judaizers who attempted to mix grace and the law. In our day there are still plenty of "divers and strange doctrines" lifted up by new and fanciful churches.

I found Barnes to be helpful today
"..... they should have settled and fixed points of belief, and not yield to every new opinion which was started. The apostle does not exhort them to adhere to an opinion merely because they had before held it, or because it was an old opinion, nor does he forbid their following the leadings of truth though they might be required to abandon what they had before held; but he cautions them against that vacillating spirit, and that easy credulity, which would lead them to yield to any novelty, and to embrace an opinion because it was new or strange......
......When a man is thrown into trials and temptations, he ought to have some settled principles on which he can rely; some fixed points of belief that will sustain his soul...."[1]

Study of the Word of God will lead a man to refine build upon and even correct his beliefs as he grows in his understanding of God's Word. However, we should be very careful about throwing away what our fathers in the faith taught us just because we haven't arrived to the spiritual place where we understand what they taught.

God help us to have some settled and fixed points of belief form which we do not waver. Then let us, from there, build, grow and develop our walk with the Lord.


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

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Be Not Thou Rebellious


Ezekiel 2:8 KJV
But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.

A person has to feel for those preachers given the assignments like Jeremiah and Ezekiel's. Basically they were told that they could expect almost no fruit from their work. They would preach because the message must go forth, but they were to preach to a people who were so rebellious there would be little response.

The warning for me comes when God points His finger at Ezekiel and says, "Be not thou rebellious..."

Just because everyone else is rebellious
Just because no one else responds to God's Word
Just because the preacher could likely get away with acting just like the rest of the people

Does not mean that is the right thing to do.

God is looking for someone who will follow Him regardless of the cost. One man or one woman who will seek God when everyone else stiffens their heart will glorify the Lord far more that a hundred people who claim to follow Christ but do it in a way that blends in with the world around them.

There will be heart hearted and stiff necked people until we get to heaven. O for one or two who will stand upon their feet for God in the midst of them and thereby glorify God.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why Complain


Lamentations 3:39-40 KJV
Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?
Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.


The chapter begins by admitting the difficulty the people of God were in. There is no doubt why this book would be called The Lamentations!

But in the midst of such sorrow, there is also hope. Lamentations 3:21-26 KJV
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.


As long as we have breath and life we have reason to hope and having hope we may rejoice. God's chastening hand upon us (remembering that Jerusalem was being chastened at the time of this writing) does not mean God no longer loves us but that He does love us and is bringing us to Himself.

In our times of chastening, God tells us exactly what to do, "….search and try our ways and turn again to the Lord."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ready to Vanish


Hebrews 8:13 KJV
In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

The "old covenant"
The one that God made through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
The covenant of Moses

The Bible says is old and "ready to vanish away."

Verse 7 says that covenant was faulty. It was not able to take away sin. It was not able to reconcile men with God. It was a covenant based on man's promises to obey the Lord and that was its fault. Man cannot keep that promise.

So God brought in a second "new covenant" established on better promises. These promises are all made by the Lord and not man.
God promises to put our sins as far as the east is from the west
God promises to never remember our sins and iniquities.
God promises to write His laws in our minds and heart.

And He promises to do all of this through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Over the course of the years, the Jews, and some Christians, have held on to that old covenant, finding in it some form of satisfaction concerning what they can do. God's Word says it is decaying and vanishing away.

One day men will come to understand that God's promises to us are completely based in His graciousness and not our good deeds. Then we will be free to serve the Lord for the right reasons and not to try to make Him happy with our good works.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

He That Doeth the Work of the Lord Deceitfully


May 17, 2007

Jeremiah 48:10 KJV
Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.

John Gill's comments on this passage are sufficient for much consideration; "Which is said with respect to the Chaldeans, who were enjoined to destroy the Moabites; which is called the work of the Lord, because he had given them a commission to do it; and which was to be done by them, not by halves, or in a remiss and negligent manner, but fully and faithfully; they were not to spare them, as Saul did the Amalekites, and Ahab Benhadad. This is a general rule, which may be applied to all divine work and service; every man has work to do for God; some in a more public, others in a more private way; all should be done in uprightness and sincerity, with all faithfulness and integrity: it is done deceitfully when men play the hypocrite; and negligently when they are backward to it, lukewarm in it, and infrequent in the performance of it; which brings upon them the curse of God; and which is not a curse causeless, but a legal one; and is no other than the wrath of God in strict justice:..." [1]

May our Lord enable us to do His work in
Uprightness
Sincerity
Faithfulness and
Integrity



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

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Forerunner


Hebrews 6:20 KJV
Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

John the Baptist was the forerunner for Jesus Christ. It was his duty to come before the Lord and announce His coming. John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord so when Christ arrived on the scene there were believers waiting and followers ready.

Hebrews says that Jesus Christ is our forerunner.
Jesus came before us and showed us a life of sinlessness
Jesus came before us and showed us a life of service
Jesus came before us and showed us a life of sacrifice


But then Christ went before us to the grave and showed us the resurrection. And He said "because I live ye shall live also."

And Christ went before us into glory and told us
John 14:2-3 (KJV)
...I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
He is preparing heaven so that it is ready to receive us.

Christ went before us and is now seated at the right hand of the Father and because He is there we are told in Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

What a humbling thought, that the almighty God would run before us to prepare for us a way!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

God's Word Will Stand


Jeremiah 43:2-3 KJV
Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there:
But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon.

There are at least two challenges made against Jeremiah's message in these verses;
First, there is the challenge that his message was from Baruch and not from God.
Secondly there was the challenge that the motive of the message was selfish in nature.


Among the battles the preacher must fight are those charges that his message is of man and not of God. This might come from a number of angles;
They might accuse that the message is just the one the preacher has been brought up with. It is the message his parents taught him or it is the message the church he grew up in taught him, but it is not a message he has received of the Lord.
Or they could accuse him that this is just the message his college training taught him. They would accuse that this is not really God's Word at all, but only what we have been trained to believe in the Bible College we attended.


The second battle that a preacher constantly faces is the accusation that his message is selfish in its motive. The preacher, they would say, is naturally inclined to preach messages on faithfulness, service and tithing for instance, because all of those messages either directly or indirectly impact the success of his endeavors. If more people are faithful, if more people work to build the church and if more people tithe, the pastor is that much more personally successful.

A preacher is just a man and is subject to the same temptations to sin as is anyone else, so he must constantly guard his heart and examine himself whether he be in the faith. But the people of God must understand that the preacher is God's man and ignoring or else excusing his message has consequences. God told the people in Jeremiah 44:28 KJV Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine, or theirs.

God's Word will stand. We had better make sure we hear it and heed it!

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Word of God


Hebrews 4:12 KJV
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

I chose to consider this verse, not just for the obvious lessons but especially today as it relates to its context both before and after.

Previously
The context has to do with the unbelief of the Jews, especially at Kadesh Barnea when they refused to enter into the Promised Land through faith in God. Ahead of them lie wonderful blessings, but there were giants in the land and they viewed themselves as but grasshoppers in their sight. They could not see the Promises of God for their sense of inadequacy and their fear of the obstacles.

The Word of God; referring to both the living Word, Jesus Christ and the written Word, the Bible reveals our unbelief. Christ convicts us of our unbelief as we open the Scripture and read.

After
The context immediately transitions to the great high priest, our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. As we sense our failings and inadequacies; as we view the giants before us and recognize we cannot overtake them, as we come under conviction of our lack of faith; it is then that we may come to the great high priest, Who was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin and find in Him mercy for our unbelief and grace to strengthen us against the obstacles.

I am reminded again of the connection between the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ and drawn again to the conclusion that both are indispensable.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

If


Hebrews 3:6 KJV
But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Hebrews 3:12 KJV
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Hebrews 3:14 KJV
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

The word "if" got hold of me today. Comparing Scripture with Scripture, which is an absolute must if we would rightly divide the Word of truth, I am convinced that once a person is genuinely born again they cannot ever lose that salvation. However, we must remember that the Scripture warns us of false professors. And there may be more of them than we expect. In the context the Scripture is using Israel in the wilderness as an example and in that example it has to be remembered that only 2 out of 2 million or more actually entered in to the Promised Land. One of the marks of the genuinely saved is that they do hold on to the end. They don't return to the wallow. They don't remove themselves from the brethren. Sure, they may backslide, but the Spirit of God will bring them back. True believers remain true believers unto the end.

We cannot hold on to the "beginning of our confidence" in our own power. That is why verse 12 urges us to "take heed" and make sure of our faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot make ourselves saved, but we can examine ourselves whether we be in the faith. We must not assume these things. Too much is at stake - our very eternities, and too many are fooled by a false assumption they are saved. We must "take heed" and examine ourselves and we must urge others to do the same.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

He took on HIm the seed of Abraham




Hebrews 2:16 KJV
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

What a humbling thought.
The Almighty God Who made heaven and earth
The One Who is the express image of God
The One Who spoke and it was so

Took on Him the seed of Abraham and became a man. He would not have had to lower Himself at all. In lowering Himself He would not have had to take the form of a Jew, or the form of a servant.

But God became flesh and dwelt among us so we could behold His glory.

Praise God!

Friday, May 11, 2007

By Himself




Hebrews 1:3 KJV
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

See the words "...by himself..."

Salvation is a work accomplished by Christ himself and with the help of no one else.

By himself...
Speaks of His power.

There is no power greater and no other power necessary than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is in no way ever short of the ability to save, or to do whatever He pleases.
There is no number of souls so great that Christ cannot save them by himself.
There is no sinner so terrible that Christ cannot save him by himself.
There is no age of mankind so wicked that Christ cannot save sinners in that age by himself.

By himself
Speaks of our inability

Lest we somehow think we have a part in our salvation the Bible assures us that we were purged by Christ himself. Alone. We did not merit that salvation. We did not aide in that salvation. Nothing we did attracted God's attention to save us. Nothing we said and no thought we had served alongside of Christ in our salvation.

Christ purged our sins by himself

By himself
Speaks of God's plan

What marvelous grace the Father bestowed upon us that He would even consider purging our sins. Our wickedness and our rebellious nature certainly would have justified God's destruction of us all. The history of man, known of God before the foundation of the world, affirms that we tend not only to take God's favor for granted, but to do spite to it. Even those of us who have heard His call and have been drawn towards Him so often trample on the goodness of God or resist the very Word of God.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Given Unto You


Philemon 1:22 KJV
But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.

Someone said that Paul may have written this to encourage Philemon, who may have been depressed over the prospects of Paul's execution. It would sort of be like the man with terminal cancer who, in the face of his agonizing wife comforts her by saying, "Hey, don’t worry! I'm going to get over this!" They both know it is not true, but there is comfort in the words of hope.

There is debate about whether Paul was ever released from this Roman prison or not. Some believe he was and preached in Spain and the British Isles before being again captured and killed. Others (myself included) believe that Paul was never released.

As I read this, I was reminded that my Saviour said
John 14:2-3 KJV
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.


I am a prisoner on this planet. I may get to spend a few more years telling people about the Saviour or I may be very near that day when I draw my last earthly breath but in either case I trust, I have a confidence I am going to be with Christ.

And I have that confidence, not because of any good thing I do, the confidence I have that I will one day "be given unto" Him, is
That He prays without ceasing for me
That He is my advocate before the Father and
That He said He would come for me


Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Ultimate Goal


Jeremiah 32:17-19 KJV
Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name,
Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:

Jeremiah was asked to do something amazing in this chapter; God had him purchase a piece of property as a testimony that this land would one day again be the Jews.

Not that Jeremiah got to occupy the property. We know that he was eventually forcibly taken to Egypt where, from all we can find out, he spent his last days.

Jeremiah was an object lesson to the people of Israel. His rewards were never intended to be earthly and, even the price of the land though not recovered on the earth would have been restored to him many fold in glory.

God does bless His people today. In most cases God's favor upon those who call upon Him and who obey Him will follow them not only in heaven, but also on this earth. However, God's ultimate reward is not of this earth and no child of God should be cast down by those whose faith is tried in extreme ways, even if it is themselves who are the tried. Our goal is God's glory - in all things. We must carefully focus on that object or we will drift towards the desire to be blessed for blessing's sake, and not for the glory of God.

The goal must be God's glory.
In all things God's glory
In blessing, God's glory
In trial, God's glory
That focus will help us make right decisions that look like they hurt us at the first. But we can never ultimately be hurt if we do all we do to the glory of God.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

God's Thoughts Toward Us


Jeremiah 29:11 KJV
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

The wonderful thing about these words is that they were given to those Jews who had already been captured and taken to Babylon. There they were, strangers in a foreign land. They were captives; slaves. They were held against their will and their very lives were held at the whim of another.

Yet God assures them that His thoughts toward them were of peace and not evil. God had already determined what would be the outcome of their captivity and it was "an expected end." The word expected means "hoped for or longed for." The end God had for them was going to be a good one.

God's thoughts for His own are always thoughts of peace and not evil. As I heard in a sermon from David Sommerdorf on "The God of Abraham" the other day, God favors His children. As a child there are those times of discipline, correction and chastening; but they are always ordered by God to bring about a hopeful end and not a dreaded end.

We may trust our God. His thoughts toward us are good.

Monday, May 07, 2007

According to


Titus 1:1 KJV
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

Paul said his service to God was "according to" or "in order for" the "....faith of God's elects and the acknowledging of the truth...." All that the Apostle did in the service of the Lord he did so men and women would come to the faith of the elect and to acknowledge the truth of God's Word.

Paul's goals were not so he could build large churches, not so he could claim large followings, not so he could have a decent living. Paul's service to the Lord was for the purpose of bringing people to the faith of the elect; in other words, to believe what God's people believe and then to see them acknowledge the truth of Jesus Christ.

Barnes Notes puts it this way, "...God had chosen them to salvation, but he intended that it should be in connection with their believing, and, in order to that, he had appointed Paul to be an apostle that he might go and make known to them the gospel. It is the purpose of God to save His people, but he does not mean to save them as infidels, or unbelievers. He intends that they shall be believers first - and hence he sends his ministers that they may become such.
And the acknowledging of the truth - In order to secure the acknowledgment or recognition of the truth. The object of the apostleship, as it is of the ministry in general, is to secure the proper acknowledgment of the truth among men.”[1]

Before a man can be saved, he must believe the right things. After that man is saved he must be trained to acknowledge the truth of God's Word in a fashion that leads to a life of godliness.


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

Sunday, May 06, 2007

God Proposes to Repent of His Own Purposes


Jeremiah 26:2-3 KJV
Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD'S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD'S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word:
If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.

This is quite something! The almighty God of the universe here proposes to repent of His own purposes if men will turn from their evil way.

What grace God has bestowed and what weight men ought to place on hearing the preaching of God's Word. God says He will change His own purposes if men will hear the preaching of His Word and turn.

As we enter into a few days of revival preaching, may we all hearken and turn.

"Help us, Heavenly Father, to see the great importance You place on the preaching. You did not place the possibility of changing Your purposes on politics, campaigning, or any other action. You said that if men would hearken to Your preacher and turn from their evil way, you would repent of what You had purposed to do. Father give us the grace to heed this today!"

Saturday, May 05, 2007


2 Timothy 3:14-15 KJV
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The Word of God tells us we can be assured of whom we have learned the Scriptures. Timothy had learned them from his grandmother, from his mother, and from Apostle Paul. This consistent training in God's Word, from people he had known and watched, Paul said, was reason to continue in the things he had learned.

How damaging then when one who teaches the Word of God turns out to be involved in terrible sin. When a man teaches God's Word he inherently claims to be someone whose life will back up his words.

And then, concerning the teaching of a parent, Barnes says, "A child should depart very slowly from the opinions held by a father or mother; and, when it is done, it should be only as the result of prolonged examination and prayer. These considerations should have the greater weight, if a parent has been eminent for piety, and especially if that parent has been removed to heaven. A child, standing by the grave of a pious father or mother, should reflect and pray much, before he deliberately adopts opinions which he knows that father or mother would regard as wrong."[1]

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

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Lord Knoweth


2 Timothy 2:19 KJV
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Barnes Notes says, "...though some had been turned away by the arts of these errorists, yet the foundation of the church which God had laid remained firm...

This is one of the inscriptions on the foundation-stone of the church, which seems to mark the character of the building. It always stands there, no matter who apostatizes. It is at the same time a fearful inscription - showing that no one can deceive God; that he is intimately acquainted with all who enter that building; and that in the multitudes which enter there, the friends and the foes of God are intimately known."[1]

It can be a disheartening thing to see the fruits of ones labor (read that, people we have led to the Lord or people we have instructed in the things of God for some time) be overcome through the wiles of some false prophet or teacher. It has always been so that, as soon as a work is done for God, some creep in to see if they can spoil it. And it has always been so that have been successful, at least so far as the human eye can see, in that there are those whose faith is overthrown.

God's encouragement here is to remember that even though the work we have done sometimes appears to be damaged by that, the foundation of God stands sure. God knows those who are His own. He knows the ones who were not really believers and the reason their faith was overthrown is because theirs was not saving faith. He also knows those who are believers and who have been deceived by the lies of the evil one and He is more than capable of restoring them in His time.

My job is not to preserve the work of God. My job is to do the work of God. God will, by Himself, make His foundation stands sure.

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

Thursday, May 03, 2007

That Good Thing


2 Timothy 1:14 KJV
That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

In the context of the passage I expect that the "good thing" the passage refers to is the "form of sound words" or the doctrine that had been committed to Timothy through the years of being trained under Paul. Paul speaks of the gift of God which was in Timothy by the putting on of his hands (vs 6).

I think that the vagueness of the term "good thing" allows us to apply it in a number of ways
The good thing of salvation
The good thing of God's Word
The good thing of the church to which we belong
The good thing of the ministry we might have in our church


Whatever good thing God has committed to us must be kept by the Holy Ghost.
It must not be neglected
It will not do its work if it is taken for granted
It cannot grow without nurture

God has given us His Holy Ghost. His work in our lives is to help us grow and increase more and more in the things of God.

May we keep that good thing God has given us growing and increasing and abounding by the Holy Ghost which dwells in us.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Jeremiah 17:9-10 KJV
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

It is not uncommon to hear the words of verse 9 quoted. It is vitally important that the child of God comes to understand he cannot know or trust his own heart.
The heart will lead a married man to stray from his wife
The heart can lead a man to leave a good job and church for something far less beneficial to himself and his family
The heart can lead a man to sign a contract to buy a car or a boat or a number of other things that are wanton and wasteful


In a world where it is popular to advise people to follow their heart, God's Word says that the heart is deceitful, desperately wicked, and cannot be known.

But there is good news. God promises to search our heart and try our reins (that's an old English term for affections). God says He will search our heart and reins. He will find out what we want most and, balanced with the perfect will of God, He will give us a "way" that will accomplish God's will and will bring us great joy and affection.

Many years ago I met a missionary and his wife. Mrs. Konnerup gave the testimony of getting saved at a young age but resisting the surrender of her life to the Lord. She just knew that if she gave her life to God He would make her be a missionary to Africa. Finally, after years of resisting, she surrendered to the Lord. Lo and behold she married a man who was called of God to be a missionary in - you guessed it - Africa. By the time I heard her give her testimony she had spent the better part of her life on the field and her testimony was that when she surrendered her life to God He allowed her to be a missionary to Africa. God knew her heart and reins better than she did. What she was most afraid to do was what God knew she would most love to do.

I can never trust my heart and affections. They are too much influenced by the things of this world. But I can always trust the Lord to use my life in the way that will please Him most and that I will be blessed the most in.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Some Men


1 Timothy 5:24-25 KJV
Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.

This is a basic truth that is difficult to remember in the face of such terrible times as we find ourselves in: some men who are sinners, receive their judgment quickly and evidently. We see it. However some men are not judged of their sins so evidently and so quickly. It may be years before the judgment for their sins happens and it might be that we will not see their judgment in our lifetime (although we have assurance from the Word of God that judgment will come).

Similarly, some good men are rewarded for their actions quickly and evidently while others do not see their reward for perhaps years and maybe not in this lifetime. Just last month two Vietnam era helicopter pilots were awarded medals of honor for their action in combat. It has been more than 35 years ago that they made the sacrifices they did, but it was not until now. This happens in the human realm and in the spiritual realm too. God is pleased to reward each man's good works in different measures and at different times and He is equally pleased to judge sin differently as it suits His ultimate and glorious plans.

The lesson is simply to trust the Lord.

We should neither get too upset when wickedness is not judged as we see fit, nor too discouraged when good works are not rewarded exactly the way we think it ought.

Our God is still God. That means He is God of judgment and reward as well as our life and being.

We may trust Him.