Wednesday, December 31, 2008
This year, December 29, my oldest son, Bohannan was ordained into that same Gospel ministry. It is my prayer that he will have grace to continue in the course which was set for him, not by his father, nor by those who sat on the ordaining council, but by our forefathers in the faith, yea, even Jesus Christ Himself.
Christmas morning we received word that my wife's dad was forced to make a very difficult choice. He required a life saving surgery, but in the end, doctors told him he could not survive that surgery. He elected to discontinue dialysis treatments and to let his body die. My father in law drew his last breath near 10:00 pm December 27th. My wife was among those at his side. His funeral will be January 6th, 2009.
I also received word Christmas morning that my great uncle, Larry Williamson had died that morning. Uncle Larry was as joyfilled and kind of a man as I have known.
Amid it all, we had moe snowfall in our neck of the woods than is normal and life slowed to a crawl pace because of it.
I was able to continue my daily walks with the Lord, but was not able to record them on the blog as regularly as I like.
And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.
I am calling Lot "the sorriest saint in the Scriptures." The Bible says of him,
2 Peter 2:8 KJV
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
So I know these two things about him;
First, he is a righteous man. Not in his actions, but in the since that God had justified him.
Second he was vexed in his soul day to day.
He is, in our terms, a Christian. But he is a miserable Christian. Every day is a vexation and misery to him.
He had traded the power of God in his life for the ability to be an influence in Sodom. And in the end, he had
No influence over Sodom
No influence (power) over his sons in law
No influence over his wife and
No righteous influence over his surviving daughters.
He thought he wanted the wealth and prosperity of the well watered plains. He thought he wanted the prestige and prominence of sitting in the gate of Sodom. But it was not as grand he thought it would be and, even sitting at that gate, he was vexed, filled with sorrow and emptiness, and died alone frightened and no doubt ashamed.
Can a man be saved and choose the filth of this world? Apparently. But it is not worth it.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
I focused my attention on those words, "even in Sardis." The only good thing I can find that the Lord said about this church is that there were still a few names there which were not defiled.
The Word of God makes the church in Sardis sound like it was in the most awful of state. It had the name of a church "that thou livest" but it was in fact "dead."
But in this most terrible situation, God said there were some who had not defiled their garments. While there is such a thing as the importance of our corporate testimony as a church, and if a believer has the option he should unite himself with a church that has a living testimony, still, each of us are responsible for our individual testimony. We might look within our church and find people who are not living for the Lord. Yea, it could be our church as a whole has taken a course that is contrary to the Lord. Still each Christian may stay undefiled and is held accountable to do so.
Our days are growing evil. I do not know that we will be raptured to heaven in my lifetime, but it certainly appears like that could be the case.
Evil men are waxing worse and worse.
Christianity is turning less and less powerful as so called churches proclaim the name of Christ but compromise with this world in order to gain the world.
The Gospel has been so distorted that even those who would be sincere students of the Bible are preaching a shallow form of Gospel.
But even in these days of evil, it is possible for a few names not to defile their garments.
O Lord, let me be one! O Lord, let the church I pastor be filled with them!
Monday, December 29, 2008
I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Scofield's Notes say
The doctrine of Balaam .... was his teaching Balak to corrupt the people who could not be cursed. ....by tempting them to marry women of Moab, defile their separation, and abandon their pilgrim character. It is that union with the world and the church which is spiritual unchastity. Pergamos had lost the pilgrim character and was "dwelling" "where Satan's throne is," in the world.
One of the most dangerous things that can happen to us as Christians is that we can become comfortable in this world. We have reached a level of acceptance by our world and for the most part, so long as we are not too aggressive, the world let's us alone and tolerates us. We are able to win enough people to our viewpoint that we have constructed some pretty nice places of worship and put together a pretty decent living wage for a fairly large number of Bible teachers. And we feel like we have achieved some level of success as evangelizers in this world.
But we, in so many respects, lost our pilgrim character. O Lord, help us to repent and return to being simple strangers and pilgrims in this world!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
"And I turned to see...."
I long to see souls turn to see Jesus Christ.
This may have been a natural reaction.
There is a voice from behind and it is addressing you. Your natural inclination is to turn
This may be a reaction of shock
The voice of Christ, the Bible says was as the sound of many waters. That would startle and turn us.
This may be the spiritual reaction
John was "in the Spirit." He was listening for that voice. He was prepared for it.
Whichever is the case, being turned he saw Christ. What a need there is today for souls to turn from their sin, turn from the self interests, turn from the business. Turn from the prejudices. Turn from the preconceived ideas about religion. And see Jesus Christ.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
It is interesting to me that, had Lot chosen the other land, beside where Sodom and Gomorrah was, Abram would have taken the land Lot chose and Abram would not (at least I think I can presume) have sinned in doing it. The trouble was not the location. The trouble was a heart problem.
Lot made the choice he made selfishly and soulishly. He saw fleshly benefits in the east and made his choice for those benefits. And doing so, it vexed his righteous soul.
When will we ever learn to live on choices that are based on spiritual principles and the leadership of the Lord? Following the the saint of God may live anywhere and be blessed and used of God. Following the flesh, the carnal person can find trouble and vexation any where in the world, and the best of locations can be the source of their undoing.
Friday, December 26, 2008
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference:
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
It seems to me that it is very difficult to keep a balanced Christian life. We either focus so much on our relationship with Christ, that we neglect any service to others or else we focus so much on our duties and service that we forget to walk with Christ. While Mary chose that more needful thing, to sit at Jesus' feet; what Martha did was needful too (just not as needful).
So Jude ends with seven duties for the saint:
1. Build yourselves up on....faith
2. Pray in the Holy Ghost
3. Keep in the love of God
4. Look for the mercy of our Lord
5. Have compassion on some
6. Save other from the fire
7. Hate even the garment spotted by the flesh (this means being afraid that as we strive to help others, we don't get carried away in their sin ourselves.)
The duties encompass both things that have to do with personal spiritual growth as well as things that have to do with ministering and serving others in the name of Christ.
Four of the duties could be considered "Mary type"
Two of the duties could be considered "Martha type."
The final duty is "Mary type" in the performance of "Martha type."
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
The Apostle John, here toward the last years of his life, does not address himself as an apostle, but merely as the elder.
There comes a point in a man's life when he realizes his title means very little. What is most important is how he has lived his life and what he does with his life. John, it seems to me, had come to the place where he was more about who he was in Christ than what he was in relationship to church leadership.
He may have come to this place many years previous to this, I don't know. But he had gone from being one of "the sons of thunder" anxious to strike down anyone who did not follow. To being simply "the elder" the old man.
I want to be in the spiritual place where what matters is my walk with Christ, not my position of authority over others.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
John loves "in the truth."
There is a love we ought to have for all people; but genuine and Christian love is "in the truth." We love them for our mutual love of the truth.
John writes "for the truth's sake."
Which should be the motivator of every Christian action.
Grace mercy and peace come from God the Father and Jesus Christ "in truth and love"
I am going to receive these treasures from the Lord as I find them in the Word of God, which is the truth.
John rejoiced in those "walking in truth."
We are not servants of the Lord vainly. We desire to see souls grab the truth and walk in it.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
So much focus is placed upon verse 7, the truths that are found in it and the fact that the verse is deleted from the other versions, that I do not know that enough time is spent on verse 8.
The context begins to flow in verse 5 with the words, "believeth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." and continues at least to vs. 13 and the words, "that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."
In between the Bible gives us the record of
The Word and
The Holy Ghost
These three are one God. And these three confirm to us that we "may believe on the name of the Son of God.
And the Bible gives us the witness of
The water and
These three agree together and once again confirm Christ as the Son of God.
The Spirit speaks of the witness of the Spirit of God in our soul as to the truth concerning Christ. God places within us HIS confirmation that Jesus is the Son of God.
The water speaks of Christ's baptism. Though He did not need to be baptized to go to heaven, His baptism offered the testimony of
John the Baptist, who had come as Christ's forerunner
Jesus Christ Himself who said "thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."
The Spirit of God Who came as a dove and lighted upon Christ and
God the Father, who testified "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
The blood then speaks of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
The testimony of His crucifixion was so powerful that the centurion, who had undoubtedly witnessed the deaths of countless men, said "Truly this was the Son of God." and
The testimony of the empty tomb after Christ's resurrection offers irrefutable evidence that Jesus Christ is God in flesh.
Monday, December 22, 2008
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Albert Barnes says
John here, doubtless, refers to himself, and to those who taught the same doctrines which he did. He takes it for granted that those to whom he wrote would admit this, and argues from it as an indisputable truth. He had given them such evidence of this, as to establish his character and claims beyond a doubt; and he often refers to the fact that he was what he claimed to be, as a point which was so well established that no one would call it in question.
What has happened in our day when so few are willing to believe a preacher is "of God" and there is such uproar when a preacher would claim to be?
It seems to me that the people of the church want to believe that a pastor is just guessing about
right and wrong
good and evil
righteousness and wickedness
And they are therefore under no real obligation to hear him. The preachers of the past would not have tolerated such. Apostle Paul's authority was questioned, but he refused to be still about it. He expected, as does Apostle John here, that his position before the Lord be acknowledged.
A pastor today is not all powerful nor is he infallible. But neither were the Apostles of so long ago. But they were "of God." And while there are false teachers today just as there were in those days, there are preachers today who are just as much "of God" as were those of Bible days.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
Cain said that the punishment was greater than he could bear. Part of that punishment was that God, "hid His face" from him.
The greatest curse that a man can experience is the curse of having nothing to do with God.
There are two consequences to this curse that still impact our lives today.
One, man does not have same communication with God that he had at one time.
Even after Adam and Eve were driven from the garden, God still spoke with Cain personally with him. That was no longer the case after the murder of his brother.
Two, Cain likely no longer was motivated to seek the Lord.
God's Word does say
Romans 3:11 KJV
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Because of Jesus Christ, the Lord is come to seek and to save the lost. A way to God has been opened through Christ. However, God's face is still hidden from most people. The god of this world has blinded their minds and they do not or will not see God.
Lord, open the eyes of the blind.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
Sometimes the vagueness of a passage of the Bible gives us options of interpretation, each one having some significance and help to us in our walk with Christ. I see benefit in exploring every possible option of interpretation as long as we remember that these are options and that we may not hold to any one of them too dogmatically.
This is one of those passages whose interpretation is vague enough that good students of the Bible come up with a few different understandings. I was curious this morning how the love of God could be perfected.
First, this does not mean that God's love has degrees of perfection and maturity.
God is love. All His love is perfect love. It needs nothing to build it. It can ever be greater than it already is because it is the source of all love. God loves because He chooses to love and not because any of us can earn his love.
Gill says this is referring to man's love for God, which does need perfecting.
Our love for God waxes and wanes with circumstances of life. We might grew deep in our love for God during a time of crisis and we know we have nowhere else to turn, but when things become better in our life, we slide back into the rituals of life and religion. Or it might be that during a particular time of real blessing we reach out to the Lord in gratitude, but when a tragedy happens we might recede into ourselves and our relationship with Christ grows dim. When we keep His Word our love for God becomes more even and level keeled.
Clarke says the love of God is perfected in the offering of Jesus Christ.
Not that God's love for us has grown more intense since Jesus became a man, but that love has been expressed in its fullest sense through the incarnation.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
God's people, the Bible says, speak often one with another. What an important concept this is.
It is important for our mutual encouragement
It is important for our growth in the things of Christ
It is important for our victory over sin
As busy as life is in our day, speaking often with our brothers and sisters in the Lord is becoming more and more of a challenge. But it is a challenge that must be surmounted.
We must speak often with one another at the church house
We should speak often with one another in perhaps the forms of letters and phone calls
We should speak often with one another in personal visitations
As much as this world draws us away from Christ and those things that tend to godliness, it is the most important thing in the world that Christians spend large amounts of good time together.
May our Lord help it to be so in our congregation!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Peter refers to the writing of Apostle Paul and admits that there are some things in the Word of God that are "hard to be understood." He is not denigrating the Word of God at all, but he does cite for us a danger. When parts of the Bible are difficult to understand.
Unlearned men may draw erroneous conclusions from them and, worse
They may lead others away in their errors.
Albert Barnes comments,
The evil here adverted to is that which arises in cases where those without competent knowledge undertake to become expounders of the word of God. It is not said that it is not proper for them to attempt to become instructed by the aid of the sacred writings; but the danger is, that without proper views of interpretation, of language, and of ancient customs, they might be in danger of perverting and abusing certain portions of the writings of Paul. Intelligence among the people is everywhere in the Bible presumed to be proper in understanding the sacred Scriptures; and ignorance may produce the same effects in interpreting the Bible which it will produce in interpreting other writings.
I am afraid that we have propagated a whole generation of pastors who, having never been properly trained in the skills of
Ancient customs, and
Unwittingly abuse the Scriptures to produce the desired influence on their followers. The goal in most churches, it seems to me, is to use preaching to get people to behave a particular way and not to give people the whole truth of God's Word.
I want to know how to properly understand the Bible and then I want to honestly proclaim that Word, regardless of the outcome.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
The day we Christians look for;
The day the Lord shall be king over all the earth.
The day there shall be one Lord and His name one.
But it's not today.
The confusion that has been created by all the different forms of worship have given rise to much evil speaking about the Lord.
2 Peter 2:1-2 KJV
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
Between the growth of heathen religions in our current world and the (maybe even worse) rise in worldly forms of Christianity, it is no wonder that there is little respect for the things of the Lord. God can barely be seen through the haze of pernicious religion.
Our only recourse today is
One, to point to the one and only living God. To move away from the worldliness of religion today and come clearly to Jesus Christ. It will be a lonely place since even fundamental Christianity is merely a business today. But it is the only way to point some to know the living God and not a church system.
Two, to wait confidently for the day promised in Zechariah. God never did promise us success in this world anyway. He gave us hope instead for a world to come.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD.
Scofield's Notes says,
The "poor of the flock": that is, the "remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom_11:5) those Jews who did not wait for the manifestation of Christ in glory, but believed on Him at His first coming, and since. Of them it is said that they "waited upon Me," and "knew."
In a world that often focuses on greatness and worldly successes, those who are engulfed in those things seldom sense what God is doing in the world. Even if they profess a godliness and even if they appear to be in pursuit of the things of the Lord, if their focus is on success and building what they can build "for the Lord" they miss God in their doing for God. The Bible says two things about those who know the Word of the Lord (not in the sense of merely being Bible students but in the sense of seeing God's hand in the breaking both beauty and the bands)
They are the poor of the flock
They will not appear to be as successful as some others of "the flock."
They waited upon the Lord
The greatest need I believe that I see in our day is for believers who know the value of waiting upon God. Sure, there are things a believer ought to be busy doing. But the trouble is that we get so busy doing those that we often miss God what God wants to do Himself. So much of what is church today has little to nothing to do with God; it is just the ingenuity, cleverness and hard work of men.
Those that wait upon the Lord are blessed to see something entirely different. They see the Word of the Lord. They see God.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;
I love this expression, "prisoners of hope."
Christians have frequently been literal prisoners because of their hope in Christ. Apostle Paul is, of course, the greatest illustration this since his case is recorded for us in the Word of God. But he is by far the only one.
James was put in prison and then beheaded.
Peter too, was in prison, but God led his escape.
John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Through the centuries thousands of Christians, some whose record is extant and others whose stories are lost to this world (but not to God) have been imprisoned and worse for their hope in Jesus Christ.
But I find in the phrase something deeper than that; we are bound by our hope in Christ. That hope constrains us into a new and different way of living on this earth. Because of our hope in Christ, we are free. But we are not free to live as we please. We are free to live as God is pleased. We are free to worship Him in spirit and in truth. We are free to over come our sin.
And because of our hope in Christ, we feel bound in this world. It is not our home. We do not belong here and we do not feel welcome here. We long for a freedom from the chains of this world. We desire, as Apostle Paul said, not to be unclothed, but to be clothed with upon with heavenly garments. (2 Cor 5:2-4)
We are in fact, prisoners of the hope that we have in Christ.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
My focus this morning is on the word "all." What an encouragement it is that we can cast upon the Lord,
Not most of our cares
Not only our spiritual cares
Not even just our most difficult cares
But all of our cares. Nothing is left out. Nothing is excluded. Any and all cares may be cast upon Him.
Casting those cares upon Him does not necessarily mean that we never have to deal with those cares. Casting those cares upon Him does not mean that there will be no consequences to those cares. It does mean that as we deal with those cares and as we face the consequences to those cares, our Father will support and strengthen us and go with us.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
I was stuck on the word "arm" in this passage. The term to me means taking up arms. There is a battle about to take place. Grab your weapons! However, it also carries with it the concept of putting on armor for protection; so the verse is both defensive and offensive.
God says one of the ways I may be armed in the battle against sin is to accept with Christ suffering in the flesh. Some of the suffering will be as a part of life on this planet.
It may be doing without.
It might be giving what we have for the cause of another.
It might be a physical ailment.
It might be some form of persecution
In whatever case, The Lord says that by taking the same mind as Christ, who suffered FOR US in the flesh, we not only protect ourselves, but we take up arms against the enemy of our flesh.
Friday, December 12, 2008
And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
Verse 13 says that God is able to keep us from harm if we are followers of that which is good. However, even those who are followers of that which is good suffer for righteousness sake and verse 17 says that when it happens, it is the will of the Lord.
God sometimes wills that Christians, even those who are following after that which is good, suffer for well doing. In some cases His will is that more suffer than that do not. For centuries those who lived the closest to the Lord suffered the most in this life. There has been a respite from that in some countries of the world but that does not mean that God does not will for some Christians to suffer for well doing or that there will not be a time when Christians suffer in a greater way than we do at present.
My challenge is to be happy in the Lord regardless. If God choose to protect me, I may praise the Lord. However, if God choose to allow me to suffer, I am still to be happy in Christ.
God's will is the key to this. I must reconcile in my mind that God's will is the principle thing. So long as God is glorified then I may be happy, no matter what may be happening to me.
This is not fatalism. This is find a cause greater than self. And when a man has a cause that is greater than himself he is always at his highest. We honor those who have suffered and even died for the cause of their country. Greater still is to do the same for the cause of Jesus Christ.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.
The context is a negative one. Their fathers had heard the Word of God, but they did not hearken to them. However, this verse says that the Word of God did "take hold" of them. And this is exactly what I am praying for our generation and for those I have the privilege of preaching to.
I am praying that the Word of God takes hold of them.
I am praying that the Word of God does not let them go.
I am praying that they are seized by the Word of God and cannot help but to think upon it and meditate over it and then let it overtake their lives.
In the context it appears to me that the idea is that the Word of God overtook them in judgment. I want to see the Word of God overtake people in righteousness.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider it.
Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.
It occurred to me that Haggai may have been the most successful of all of the prophets though one of the least known. Haggai's preached to the Jews who had returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem at the end of the Babylonian captivity. The people had not put the emphasis on rebuilding the Temple as they should have and God had withheld His blessing upon them because of it.
Haggai's charge was to stir the people under Zerubbabel to put get to work on the Temple. God was not interested; it seems to me, in the "gaudiness" of the Temple. He did not care that it was ornate, only that it was ready for the people to truly worship Him. Under Haggai's preaching Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest, and all the people got busy and restored the Temple.
And God's response to the people was, "from this day I will bless you."
That is great success in the ministry.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
I have found the little book of Zephaniah to be a real encouragement to me this reading. Though it is written in a time of devastation in Jerusalem. He lives and preaches during the same time and under the same circumstances as Jeremiah, yet his prophecy is filled with encouraging words. We must never forget that, though God will chastise His people to draw them into a closer walk with Himself, still His love is His overriding character.
Now I just want to fasten a word or two on one thought in this verse; God is said here to sing. God joys over His people with singing. Our God not only listens to singing. Our God not only created the angels to be musicians before His throne and designed that His children worship Him through song; our God Himself joys over His children with singing.
It reminds me of how important singing is in worship
It also reminds me of how important that singing be the right sort and
It calls my mind to consider that when we sing in worship, He may be harmonizing with us.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.
Here is a great definition of meekness, and it is not one that is man made but that comes directly from the Word of God. The meek of the earth are those which have wrought His judgment.
The word wrought means to practice systematically and habitually (Strong's definition). Webster's 1828 says it means to form by work and labor.
The word judgment means verdict or special decree. It is the determination of the mind of God.
Therefore a meek person is one who systematically and habitually practices the mind of God until His judgment is formed in them. It does not appear to be something that happens in a moment. It is something that forms in us over a lifetime of practicing the mind of God as it is revealed to us in the Bible.
And it is this person, the Bible says, has a hope to be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk lived at the same time as Jeremiah. Jerusalem was about to be taken captive into Babylon. These would be rough and tough days for the Jews. What would be the response of the man whose faith was in God during these hard times?
Will he question God's sovereignty?
Will he challenge God's goodness?
Will he turn his back against the Lord?
Not Habakkuk! His faith was planted and would rejoice in the Lord and find joy in, not just his salvation, but in the God of His salvation.
We are living in some uncertain times ourselves, nothing, of course, like Jerusalem under siege but still uncertain times. Habakkuk tells us exactly how to handle these times. We must simply rejoice in the Lord and find joy, yes in salvation, but more so in the God that gives us that salvation.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
Here is a very powerful passage to me. God tells Habakkuk to write out his vision. And then He says that when people read it they will be able to run with the message.
That is what the Word of God does for us. As we read the Word of God and as it takes root in our souls, it gives us strength to run and it gives us cause to run. The message is so energetic. The message has such hope, such urgency; such life and vitality that the one who gets hold of it cannot help but run with it.
Now the question that comes to my mind then as to do with those who are reading the Bible but it does not case them to run. Why would that be? The only answer I know is that there is a difference between reading with spiritual eyes and ears and reading with natural eyes and ears. If a person does not live by faith, then the Word of God just will not have that same impact upon them.
Lord help us to live by faith and then run with Your message!
Friday, December 05, 2008
My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:
That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.
For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:
But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.
Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.
Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.
Verse four caught my attention. This is the "other" two edged sword of the Bible; the first one, of course, being the Word of God.
The Old Testament especially characterizes idolatry as adultery. Israel's worship of false gods was called unfaithfulness to God and so it is not too much of a stretch to view this second two-edged sword as being more than the physical lure of a strange woman. This could be viewed as the lure into false worship and placing faith in things other than the living God.
The messages of false teachers
Are powerful in our day vs. 4
Though not as powerful as the Word of God in changing lives eternally, the false teachers have a sword with which they take their own followers. Messages on self help, positive sermons designed to lift up the spirits or messages on health, wealth and prosperity are attractive to the world.
The messages of false teachers
Go down to death vs. 5
As popular as those messages are, and as large of crowds as they seem to attract, the message only leads souls to death and hell. There is no genuine salvation message. Even if they pretend to give a gospel presentation, it is a false gospel of "if you will choose Christ, your problems will be over." That is an utter lie. We do not choose Christ, He chooses us and a true faith in Christ will lead to war with the course of this world.
The messages of false teachers
Are constantly changing vs. 6
Change is the catch phrase of our day. Satan's system of religion offers any number of choices; something to appeal to every taste all so the larger numbers will fall into her seduction. Their message, their methods and their ministry styles are so malleable you never know what they will do next in their effort to win souls to their ways.
Wisdom says to stick with the old paths.
Wisdom says not to remove the landmarks our fathers have set.
Wisdom says that our goal should be to resist the tendency toward modernism and strive to bring our faith back to that of the apostles.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
This little book is addressed to the Gentile city of Nineveh about 150 years after Jonah preached there and the city repented and turned to the Lord. Here, 150 years later, the city has apostatized and God is again pronouncing judgment, but this time, there is no call for repentance, only a warning that the judgment is coming. The book could be considered one of the most direct applications in the Old Testament to the Gentile world in which we live. The Word of God has had a huge influence on the Gentile world, especially those of us with European ties. The Bible has done with us exactly as Paul had said. The Gospel came to us and we have received it.
However, that same gospel does not have the impact in our lives as it once did. Christianity in Europe and the America's has, without question, become apostatized. We have everything from the corruptions of liberalism, Pentecostalism, pragmatism, and modernism all eating away at the purity of the Gospel and it has created in the average lost man a distrust in the faith. The Word of God has been discredited by the charlatans of the faith and, by in large, even those people who do attend worship services put little stock in what is being delivered from the pulpits. We are apostate!
But in the middle of such a stern message as Nahum, there is this good news; "...He knoweth them that trust in Him."
We do not need to be disheartened. There is no reason to be disconcerted about the state of our world.
God is still on His throne.
His plan is still being worked out. and
He still knows those that trust in Him.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.
I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.
The chapter begins with a woe. This prophet is cast down by the circumstances of the world around him.
The good man has perished
Men hunt one another with a net
The prince and judge ask for a reward (bribe)
The great men have mischievous desires
The best and most upright are like thorns and
He could not trust a friend
Under these circumstances what is a man to do? These were dire times and it would be difficult to see a way out. What would he do?
The answer comes to us in verses 7-9.
He would look to the Lord and trust that He will hear
He would rise when he fell and let the Lord be the light in his darkness
He would bear his circumstances knowing that he is a sinner and
He would wait until God pled his cause and brought him forth to the light.
Our times are little different. I would be able to put faces and names to each of those circumstances described. I would even be able to plug myself in as the one who has sinned against God. Sure, our time is difficult; but the question has to be what will we do about it?
The Biblical answer would be to do the same thing this prophet did.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
There are some things that just should never be attempted without faith! Israel crossed the Red Sea through faith and was saved. Egypt tried to cross the same Red Sea just moments after Israel did, and they were drowned. The difference, according to the Bible; was faith.
Moses attempted once to deliver Israel from Egypt and failed. Forty years later he did it again and was successful. The difference was faith.
Saul tried to lead Israel as their first king. His attempt led to the deaths of himself and his sons in battle. David stepped in as king and was very successful; to the point that one of his offspring (Jesus) will sit on that throne eternally. The difference was faith.
Paul was used of God in miraculous ways. But when the seven sons of Sceva attempted to cast out a demon in the name of "Jesus whom Paul preacheth" they were run off beaten of the demon. The difference was faith.
There is a difference between serving the Lord through faith and doing what the Bible says we should without it. There is
A difference between teaching a Sunday school class through faith and doing it without faith.
A difference between pastoring a church through faith and doing it for other reasons.
A difference between obeying the righteous message of the Bible through faith and obeying it in hopes of earning salvation because of it.
And the difference could be deadly.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
Hebrews 10:10 KJV
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
There is, in the Lord, a displeasure in the sacrifice of animals and the offering of rituals. These things can never take away sin and these things proved themselves to be ineffective in turning souls to the Lord.
God is not anxious to see another animal lose its life or the sake of a sin filled human being.
God is not interested in the blood shed of bulls and goats.
This one offering is both pleasing to the Lord and effective in taking away our sins. That is the body of Jesus Christ, prepared for Him of His heavenly Father
A literal body
A human body
A mortal body
And having that body; Jesus willingly sacrificed it once for all. There is now no need for the further shedding of blood. The offering of Christ's body pleased the Father's righteous demands against sin and exhausted His wrath toward it.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?
One of the true tests of the child of God is that the Word of God does them good. There are in the Bible
Words of warning
Words of instruction
Words of encouragement and
Words of promise
They all do good to the Child of God. He or she finds blessing and help in their lives.
We find blessing in the warnings as coming from a loving Father who desires our best
We find blessing in the words of instruction as being infallible and without question the right course for life
We find in the words of encouragement that very thing they offer andWe find in the words of promise hope for the future, knowing they spring forth of a God who is perfectly capable of keeping all He has promised.
Now the man who does not know God has no such comfort from the Bible.
Those promises means little to him
Those encouragements are a mere joke to him
Those words of instructions are ignored by him and
Those words of warning are an offense to him.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
God examined the promises associated with the Old Testament covenant and found fault with them. So God has given us a new covenant that includes better promises.
Better than being a great nation
Better than having a great kingdom
Better than having good leaders
God has promised us
To be in the likeness of Christ
To be joint heirs with Christ
To dwell in the same place as Christ
To inhabit the very righteousness of Christ
And these are promises not negotiated by our good deeds, but by the goodness and grace of Almighty God.
What a blessing!
Friday, November 28, 2008
But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
The Bible says of Abraham that he was the one "that had the promises." Abraham was not greater than Melchisedec, the priest to whom he paid tithes, but Abraham was, without question, a great man in that he "had the promises."
And I cannot help but want to thank God today for those promises that we too have.
We have the promise of salvation in Christ
We have the promise of closeness to God the Father
We have the promise of cleansing from our sins
We have the promise of an infallible Bible
We have the promise of a home in heaven
We have the promise of rest and peace with God
Abraham, the man with the promises, was blessed of the better. And we, who possess so many promises, are also a very blessed people.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
It has occurred to me that this chapter has to do, not with losing one's salvation, for that can never happen, but of the doctrine of perseverance. The truly born again will demonstrate that new birth by the fact that they do not "put Him to an open shame." God's children
"drink in the rain"
"bring forth herbs" and
"receiveth blessing from God"
False professors, however, bear thorns and briers and are, in the end, rejected and burned.
Then the writer says, "....beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation..."
Of those who are saved the Bible says, "...God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His name..."
What a blessing it is to know that God has never forgotten.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
Here is an incredible thing; Jonah is angry at God for being too gracious and merciful. Jonah's preference would have been that God kill the Ninevites. And Jonah said his sole reason for fleeing to Tarshish was because he knew God would be gracious and merciful to them. He knew God to be
Slow to anger
That He would repent of evil
And that is the last thing Jonah wanted God to do for these people.
As a preacher I would rather be known for being gracious, kind and slow to anger rather than quit to wrath and judgment. And I have upset some folks over the years because I did not deal with people either as quickly or as aggressively as they would have liked me to.
If people are going to be angry with me; I would like it to be that I have some of the qualities of godliness.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
This passage always causes me to pause. We are to labor to rest. We are to work at resting. The rest and peace and comfort of the God does not come through laziness and by accident. It is something we must choose and pursue. In that light I see three tools to move me toward rest:
The Word of God
If I am to have rest I must be in the Word of God. And I must be in it consistently enough that it can do its work. I must not look at a few of my favorite verses and call that good enough. I must be in the Word of God, cover to cover, regularly.
A dogged persistence
I have learned that when I begin to lose that rest of God, the last thing I want to do is hold on. I want to quit what I do that is right. I want to go to sleep and stay there. God's Word says what I need to do instead is to hold fast.
Hold fast my Bible reading
Hold fast in prayer
Hold fast my church attendance
Hold fast my service to the Lord
Don't lose hope and don't let go. Keep on and God will give us the victory
The throne of grace
If I am to have rest in my life I must find it at the throne of Grace. I must live at that throne and only make forays into the world to win souls and give witness of Jesus Christ. If I am to have rest I must obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Monday, November 24, 2008
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
I see in this the importance not only of faithful church attendance but of a regular, consistent and even daily fellowship with people of the faith and especially with the people of our own church.
The deceitfulness of sin is so powerful that without almost constant exhortation, encouragement and correction any one of us is likely to
Give in to sin and having done so
Be deceived by that sin so that
Our hearts turn hard and cold against the things of God
It is not merely enough to spend a couple of hours a week in church services. We need to have daily contact with our brothers and sisters in Christ so that
We are warned about sin before we taste it
We are turned from the sin before it can deceive us
We are helped to walk with God before our hearts get hardened
Our doom is spelled out whenever we decide we are strong enough to walk with God without the aide of others.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.
For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.
I love the assurances of mercy that are sprinkled throughout the Old Testament. Israel's sin was apparent and God would not ignore it. Still God has every intention of keeping His promises to that nation. Though they would be sifted in the sieve of troubles, God said that every grain of good wheat would be kept.
And so it is in our lives today. God allows troubles to come but those troubles are not designed to utterly destroy us but to refine and purify us. They are designed to blow away the chaff in our lives so that, when God is finished all that remains is the grain.
I am reassured by the fact that almighty God is well able to keep us and preserve us. Though it may seem as if the sieve itself will destroy us, God's Word on it is that even the "least grain" will not fall upon the ground.
I'll take God's Word on that!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:
And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.
Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.
It is so often remarkable what people will remember and what they will forget. Twice previous to this, Amos had prayed and God had repented to destroy or judge Israel:
Amos 7:2-3 KJV
And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD.
Amos 7:5-6 KJV
Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.
But when Amos gave the message of the plumbline, Amaziah took offense and said Amos was out to get Israel.
A preacher's heart, as is the Lord's is never to "get" anybody. The desire is always for the good of people. But good can only eventually happen when people repent of their sins and turn from them to the Lord. That requires, first that they be warned (that is the preacher's task) and secondly that they be chastened (which is God's place). Israel will eventually be brought into an eternal fellowship with Almighty God. Unfortunately multitudes of souls will be suffering in eternal hell because they did not turn when they were warned.
Friday, November 21, 2008
For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.
Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.
Amos 5:8 KJV
Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:
Amos 5:14 KJV
Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.
God says in 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.
Our church theme this year has been "Diligently Seeking Him" and I have striven to make it more than a mere slogan, but the thrust of my preaching all year long. That is why I have been amazed, as I have read my Bible this year, how often the subject of seeking the Lord may be found.
The encouragement to seek the Lord is clearly here and
The reward of seeking the Lord is plainly written
So why is it God must say of us, Romans 3:11 KJV
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
My prayer for our church is that we would heed the encouragement and press toward the reward and, as Amos urges us, “Seek Him that......The Lord is His name."
Thursday, November 20, 2008
A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
These are very strong words coming from a man who had just said
Titus 3:2 KJV
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
As gentle as we are to be as believers, there are those we must have no fellowship with.
The word heretic in the earliest days meant someone who is self willed. This is one who does as he chooses. Over the course of time it has evolved to mean someone who holds doctrinal positions contrary to that of the church. Let's just stick to self willed; a heretic does as he wants regardless of the teaching of his church.
The word reject means to "beg off" or "have nothing to do with." This one who does as he pleases and has been warned about his error should be shunned. Gill says, "...have nothing to do with him; have no society with him; admit him not to private conversation; and eject him from church communion..."
The word subverted means "to pervert" again Gill says, "...overturned and demolished; he is like an edifice, that is not only decaying, and falling, but is entirely everted, and pulled down; so that there is no hopes of a restoration or recovery..."
It is my conviction that great damage has been done to the purity of our faith by those who refuse to practice this. We have gone so far that we have "self-willed" preachers who ignore clear teaching in the Bible so they may continue to teach and preach and they are not only not rebuked, but Christians still flock to their congregations, having no discernment of right.
Lord help us to be gentle and meek and speak well of men. But teach us at the same time to be soldiers for the truth.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
Titus 1:9 KJV
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Titus chapter one says the preacher must preach sound doctrine. Chapter two says he must also preach things that "become" sound doctrine. The word "become" means in the Greek to "tower up" or to make something conspicuous and comely.
It is not only important that Christians believe the right things, it is also important that they behave in a way that makes what they claim to believe look appealing. Woe is the day in which we live where almost anything passes as appropriate behaviour for a Christian! We have drinking, immorality, immodesty dishonesty and a number of other sins openly practiced by people who claim to be Christians. We have rebellious children, lustful husbands and wandering wives, all telling us they believe Jesus is their Saviour. It ought not so to be.
And it follows (and is the point of this chapter) that the preacher must not only preach messages of theology and doctrinal truth, but must then also bring instruction to his congregation concerning proper behaviour of the child of God.
He is to preach to the aged men
He is to preach to the older women
He is to preach to the younger men and women
No one is to be left out. No age group, no social class is to be excluded. His task requires he not only preach doctrinal truths but that he also instruct the members of the church how to behave in a manner that is becoming to his message.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
I do not know how a person would get around this clear teaching of the Bible. It is possible for a person to profess a relationship with God, but for their lifestyle to tell a whole different story.
The context is speaking of those giving heed to Jewish fables (vs 14) but the application can go far beyond that. The apostle also speaks of the Cretians who are "alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies."
Here is the Bible fact; those who know God live in a way that supports their claim that they know God. There will be a demonstration of godliness that. rather than denying their claim, gives testimony to the truth of their claim.
Are Christians sin free? No! The Bible is clear that Christians will fall, fail, and in other ways, sin. There are plenty of evidences of New Testament era Christians with all sorts of personal problems and sins that caused shame and reproach to the work of Christ. So I am not implying nor is the Bible teaching that a Christian must be or can be sinless. But a Christian's life ought to bear testimony of the faith they claim to possess. And when a man's works deny that he knows the God he claims, he must be warned and rebuked sharply concerning that.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
My thoughts today are on the word "instant."
That we are to preach the word is understood.
That we are to do it both in season and out of season (when it is convenient and when it is not) seems easy enough to comprehend.
But the word "instant" is used in an unusual way for our modern language and I suggest that most of the time we assume an understanding of the word because of its context. We usually say it means something like, "be ready to preach all of the time."
Strong’s Concordance says the Greek is
From G1909 and G2476; to stand upon, that is, be present (in various applications, friendly or otherwise, usually literally): - assault, come (in, to, unto, upon), be at hand (instant), present, stand (before, by, over).
Smiths Bible Dictionary says
Instant, In the Authorized Version, means urgent, urgently or fervently,
Webster's 1828 Dictionary says
1. Pressing; urgent; importunate; earnest.
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. Rom 12.
2. Immediate; without intervening time; present.
Impending death is thine and instant doom.
3. Quick; making no delay.
Instant he flew with hospitable haste.
4. Present; current. On the tenth of July instant.
Clarke's Commentary says,
Wherever thou meetest a sinner, speak to him the word of reconciliation. Do not be contented with stated times and accustomed places merely; all time and place belong to God, and are proper for his work. Wherever it can be done, there it should be done...
Be fervent - filled with passion
Be urgent - recognizing the danger to those who do not heed the message and
Be quick - preaching without hesitation
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no God but me: for there is no saviour beside me.
Unlike the majority of the tribes of Israel, Ephraim was born in the land of Egypt. God was not just the God that brought him out of Egypt; God was his God from his very beginning. Ephraim's father, Joseph was the most faithful; it appears to me, of all of the sons of Jacob. Ephraim would surely have been taught to know the Lord God from his childhood in Egypt.
And this God, who had been Ephraim's God from the first, told them,
thou shalt know no God but me
There were dozens of gods people followed in those days. And perhaps there are hundreds more in our day. We may not use the same names for them, but they still exist.
The sun god who keeps people out of church on nice days
The snow god, who keeps them out for ski trips
The river god, who can keep them out fishing
The gods formed by men's hands, that must be washing and waxed on the weekends
The god of prosperity that requires men worship it seven days a week, so there is no time to worship the Lord.
And on we could go with the false gods of this world. God says we are not to know any God but Him.
for there is no Saviour beside me
God provides the best of reasons for this command; there is no Saviour beside Him.
No other religion
No other activity
No other dedication
No other interest
Is able to save a man's soul. God's desire for us is for good, always for good. He does not command us to remove anything from our lives that is good for us, but expects us only to follow His guidance for our best.
The reasoning of our minds and the pressures of this world seldom can understand God's intention and heart. Just as Eve came to believe, through the serpent's influence, that the fruit God had withheld from them, was to be desired, Satan's influences in the world today also bring us to believe those things God restricts us from are good to be desired. Don't you believe it! God's only intention is for our good and our salvation.
Proverbs 16:20 KJV
He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.
The man who will trust in the Lord will always be the happy man.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
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.
Just a couple of observations
There were, in that early church, already some who twisted and made the whole thing look horrible.
It is not impossible today to meet people who want nothing to do with Christianity because of those whoa re a part of Christianity. It seems too bad to me that the church is not able to prevent people like Hymenaeus and Philetus; but if the church under the leadership of men like Paul was not able to prevent them, neither will we. And since the Lord did not prevent them - and He is well able, the perhaps there is more good done through the controversy o them that we suppose.
Sometimes the simplest of principles are often overlooked.
Gill says of the phrase "overthrow the faith of some" that it is, ".... of nominal professors of religion; not of true believers, for true faith cannot be overthrown..." That is a true statement and we get really messed up theologically when we forget it.
"...the Lord knoweth them that are His..."
What a comfort those words bring to my mind! To know that the Lord knows whether I am His or not; wow! What a blessing! But those words also have a certain terror too. The Lord also knows them who say they are His but are not.
He knows the pretenders.
He knows the deceived.
He knows those who believe they belong to Him because of some good or religious deed they have done.
To be His: that is the true test of faith. And those who are His cannot be overthrown though they surely will be tested.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.
God's people are not as other people. The people of the world; those who are unsaved, will sin and rejoice in their sin.
They will find pleasure in things that are completely wicked.
They will ignore the pangs of guilt until those pangs no longer exist. and
They will often not only find pleasure in such sin, but they will profit in it.
Not so the people of God. While we do rejoice and find joy in Jesus Christ,
We rejoice that our sins are forgiven
We rejoice that Jesus loves us
We rejoice in the blessed Word of God.
We can never rejoice in our sin.
It chastens us
It convicts us
It condemns us
And when we ignore those pricks of conscience rather than finding profit, we find our God refuses to allow us any pleasure or profit from it.
We have, and will always have, only one option; return to the Lord. (Hosea 6:1)
Thursday, November 13, 2008
They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.
After I finished preaching last night my wife told me she liked those messages best where I use illustrations. She jabbed just a little about the fact that I don't always use them. My reply was that I only use illustrations when the Lord gives them to me; I don't go searching for ways to make them up.
This morning's Bible reading brought me to this passage where our God uses an illustration to make his point. In fact a large number of the prophets brought their messages by way of illustration. And this illustration illustrates both the strengths and the weaknesses of illustrations.
Of course the strengths of using illustrations to reinforce a message are obvious. People are able to picture the truth through the familiar. I used an illustration in my message from Hebrews 6:17-20 last night with a boat being anchored. The boat is our hope of eternal life. The anchor is Jesus Christ who has already entered into heaven. The boat is fastened to the anchor by not one, but two immutable ropes; the promise of God and the character of God (He cannot lie). In my mind's eye I can immediately picture that boat, the two ropes extending from it into the waters of life and reaching all the way to the anchor now firmly fixed in heaven.
But this is also the weakness. I am able to picture that because I have been in a boat that had two ropes fastened to the anchor in a strong current. It would not be impossible that there is someone else who has no experience in a boat and who is therefore not so able to picture it. Our text gives the illustration of a baker who has kneaded his bread and is now letting the leaven raise it. While I can make that picture in my mind, I have to study the text better to tie it together with the lesson that the kings and princes are all adulterers. An illustration is only effective on two conditions;
That the hearer already understands the connection or,
That the hearer is willing to research to make the connection.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
Just a few observations
First, the Word of God makes no bones about the fact that God tears and smites. There is
No justification of it
It is simply fact in the Word of God. Our God has torn His people.
In many cases he does it as a form of chastening. Judah's captivity in Babylon is just one example of that. In other cases God has torn to prove His own glory. Job is a case in point. Job was smitten, I know, by thre hand of Satan, but God absolutely allowed it to happen. We do ourselves no real good to try to hide or explain away these facts. Our God is God. If He chooses to tear, He is righteous in doing so.
Second the Word of God says the same God who has torn, also heals and binds us up.
Some people stumble at this and cannot conceive of a God who would do both, let alone do both and still be all good and all righteous. Attempting to apply our standards of goodness and righteousness to God is to usurp the role of God. God is good and God is righteous because He said He is. He is the standard by which we measure goodness and righteousness or else we have made ourselves God above Him.
Thirdly, we are called upon to return to Him in either case.
Are we in a time of healing and blessing? Let us come to Him with thanksgiving and rejoicing. Are we in a time of trouble and heart ache? Let us come to Him and seek healing and anointing and a binding up of our wounds.
The right answer in life is always, "Come, and let us return unto the Lord.."
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.
Barnes Notes say,
...God had made it a part of the office of the priest, to “keep knowledge” Mal_2:7. He had bidden, that all hard causes should be taken “to Deu_17:8-12 the priest who stood to minister there before the Lord their God;” and whose refused the priest’s sentence was to be put to death. The priest was then to judge in God’s Name. As speaking in His Name, in His stead, with His authority, taught by Himself, they were called by that Name, in Which they spoke...
It is uncanny to me how much our generation appears to be like the Jews of the later part of the Old Testament. There is
The same spirit
The same arrogance toward God
The same rebellion against he man of God and
The same distrust caused by so many wicked men pretending to be men of God
God had designed that the priesthood have authority but this generation had come to the place where they rejected that authority and would strive with the priests in their judgment. In our day it seems like a pastor has no authority. The people are so willing to reject his word and other churches are so quick to accept them into their church as a blessing of God, that no one is really held to any account.
At least one way to understand this verse is that God told the prophet to refuse to reprove people for their sins because they would not receive it anyway. The lack of reproof is a seen in this light as a curse. It is not a good thing when God will not let His preacher confront his people for sin. It is a blessing that God gives us a preacher with authority and who may reprove rebuke and correct us.
Monday, November 10, 2008
1 Timothy 1:3 KJV
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
Paul had previously sent Timothy on to several other cities for various ministries. But here in Ephesus, Paul asked a new thing of Timothy; he asked that he would stay there and continue on in the work at this one location.
There comes a point in a person's life where God will likely have them to "abide still." They have moved around enough. They have tasted the waters of different streams enough. It is time for them to settle in a do a work for God.
This is true of a physical location
This is more true of sound doctrine
There comes a point when we must stop toying with the winds of doctrinal change tat blow all around us and where we settle in and abide with "no other doctrine." Not that it was ever safe to experiment with such things but, given the nature of the flesh, so many feel like they have to find out what is out there before they settle in with what is sound. So if a person must flit around in the early days, there is still a place where they must settle in and stay with sound doctrine.
There is no virtue in gadding about through life. Abide still.
Abide still in an occupation that is honorable and provides for the family
Abide still in a local church that opens the Bible and honestly calls on its members to heed it
Abide still in the doctrines of our forefathers and in the practices of sound Christianity
These are the things that lead to stable consistent and Christ honoring spiritual growth.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
I read this passage on the Sunday following the elections and was reminded of how important that it is we are honest with the Bible. The winners of both the presidential and gubernatorial elections this year are both raisers of taxes. And in my imagination I can find these elections in this text.
Our former president can be seen in verses 15-19.
He stood in a glorious land
He did his own will
He used his strength to enter in wars
His office appears to have ended with obscurity. The Republicans running for election did all they could to distance themselves from him.
Our president elect is a proponent of raising taxes. (vs 20)
But no matter what he does as president, even if he is re-elected and is in office for 8 years, he will eventually be replaced not in anger, not in battle, but be vote.
And the one to follow him will be a more vile person (vs 21)
This is the way of the world. It is not getting better but worse. I have no idea who will even run for president the next time; but I know he (or she) will not be a godly person.
But the point of all this is that this is just imagination. The passage almost certainly has nothing to do with our nation, but with the Middle East and with the coming of the Anti-Christ. We have to be very careful that we let the Bible say what it says and that we do not allow our imaginations to interject into it something that is not the intent of the Lord.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
- Righteousness (vs 7)
- Mercies and
- It is His property
- It is His possession and
- It is His to righteously give as He pleases
For further thoughts on forgiveness click here:
Friday, November 07, 2008
But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
Daniel 7:22 KJV
Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
Daniel 7:27 KJV
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
The days described in Daniel are speaking of the Tribulation time, a period such as the world has never seen, so terrible. Much worse than the days in which we live; heads of governments much worse than we can imagine leaders of our day to be. Granted, it is a day that could happen at any moment, but it is also a day that the Christian need never fear living through.
Yet the Bible says, as terrible as those days will be, "...the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever."
The saints of the most High always have reason for hope.
The saints of the most High always have reason to look up.
The saints of the most High always have reason to focus their attention and efforts upon the Lord
For a time today it appears that evil men possess the kingdoms of this world. But God's people will take possession of them again soon enough; if not temporarily in our age, one day permanently in God's millennial kingdom.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.
1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Belshazzar's wisest men could, the Bible says, neither read, nor interpret (or understand) the writing of God on the wall. That reminds me of the fact that God's Word, the Bible can only be received by a spiritual person. The wisest men in this world will gain nothing from the Bible if they are not godly men as well.
They could not read the writing.
A man who has no real relationship with the Lord will find he is not able to read the Bible either. Oh, he can read the words, but the motivation to spend serious time with the Bible will not be there. He may pick it up a moment or two and look at a couple of verses but that will be about all. He might try to read the Bible, but his mind will wander to other things he finds more important or interesting.
They could not make known the interpretation.
When the man who has little or no relationship with God does manage to read a little of the Bible, he will find the book lifeless to him. They will be just so many words.
There will be nothing that gives comfort
There will be nothing that gives direction
There will be nothing that feeds his soul
But a spiritual man; now that is a different story. The spiritual man craves the Word of God. He esteems it better than his necessary food and when he reads it, or hears it preached, it always has what he needs.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
This is a sobering as well as encouraging chapter.
God gave Nebuchadnezzar warning about what God was about to do to him.
God gave Daniel understanding concerning how best to present the interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar and then
God gave Daniel to the king to plead with him to repent before the chastening began
Unfortunately, Nebuchadnezzar did not heed Daniel's message. What a heartbreak it is to a preacher when he can see the hand of God at work in a person's life but they refuse to repent as God is calling them to do.
The preacher may plead
The preacher may express brokenness himself
But the person does not make things right with the Lord.
And then comes the day of judgment.
For Nebuchadnezzar, it lasted seven long years.
The encouraging thing was that even after so long a time, there still came that day when "mine understanding returned unto me."
I know some very dear people who have gone off in directions I have warned them about. My prayer is that, in the process of God's time, their understanding will return unto them and they will then repent. I would sure like it if it did not take seven years!
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
Barnes Notes (on Galatians 4:11) help explain the Apostle's words
His fears were that they had no genuine Christian principle. They had been so easily perverted and turned back to the servitude of ceremonies and rites, that he was apprehensive that there could be no real Christian principle in the case. What pastor has not often had such fears of his people, when he sees them turn to the weak and beggarly elements of the world, or when, after having “run well,” he sees them become the slaves of fashion, or of some habit inconsistent with the simplicity of the gospel?
A preacher’s joy and delight is to see souls respond to the Gospel and turn to Christ. Conversely, their dread is that those who have so turned turn back to their old lives and prove themselves to be false professors.
The preacher is not in the ministry for the outward show of accomplishment, but for the eternal souls of men. And he has no human way to know if his work has been successful but by the faithful behaviour of his congregation.
What fear the preacher has that, after having preached the Word of God - he learns there was no true saving faith in the lives of his congregation.