Friday, October 31, 2008

If This Is True

Colossians 3:1 KJV
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Verses one through four of Colossians three deal primarily with a spiritual truth concerning Jesus Christ. The word "if" should not be understood to mean that the Apostle questioned the faith of these believers, but rather that he assumes their faith and springs from there onto certain responsibilities and reactions that should come as a result of it.

Of interest to me today is the emphasis on their personal responsibilities.
They should seek things above
They should set their affections
They should mortify their members
They should put off all these
They should not lie to one another
They should put on the new man
They should let the peace of God rule in their hearts
They should let the Word of Christ dwell in them richly
They should do all things in the name of the Lord
They should submit to their husbands, love their wives and obey their parents
They should do whatsoever they do heartily as to the Lord


We must not assume a posture of laziness expecting that if God wants these things in us He will have to do them in us Himself. We, who are risen with Christ, must take the initiative. God's Word expects it of us.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Great Conflict

Colossians 2:1 KJV
For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

The word conflict has as its roots the place where men would assemble for a contest. It carries the implication of anxiety and effort. If the ministry is anything, it is a context, a conflict, an effort that produces much anxiety.

This conflict was focused in three different directions:
For you
For the Colossians, for those he was presently ministering to.
For them at Laodicea
Which most likely means the Christians there.
For as many as have not seen my face in the flesh
The students of the Bible believe this to be Christians in areas Paul had not gone. I prefer to see the phrase "as many as" to include not just Christians, but lost men and women as well.

This conflict had as its goal, "... the acknowledgement of the mystery of God and of the Father and of Christ."
The conflict was that souls, and not just a few, would come to a rich and full understanding of spiritual truths that would reveal to them the mysteries surrounding the Godhead.

Let me never be satisfied with simply filling a house with people.
Let me never be content with merely having a peaceful existence with the congregation in the church


Let me strive to the point of conflict that each and every one of them grow spiritually and reach out evangelistically to "...as many as have not seen [our] face in the flesh."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Life's Labour

Colossians 1:29 KJV
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

Twice in this passage Paul is said to work and twice in this passage God is said to work. Thus the balance between what only God can do and what God expects us to do.

The work that Paul did was preaching and teaching in order to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Gill says of the labour that it means, " In the word and doctrine, by preaching Christ, warning sinners of their danger, teaching them the way of salvation, and their duty..." and of striving that it means, "...in his prayers, earnestly entreating of God that he would succeed his labours, and bless them to the conversion of many..."

The scope of Paul's work was inexhaustible.
That he says "every man" indicates the scope of the labour and strivings. Paul was not satisfied with anything less than all. Sense we know that he did not win every man to Christ, his work must have left him, as the Greek word for labor implies, fatigued. His work would have never been done. He could never have claimed he had won them all; and when he had won them he certainly could not claim that they were perfect in Christ Jesus.

The fuel for Paul's work was God Himself
He saw the work he did as being the work that God was doing in himself.
A setback in the ministry would be considered a lesson from God to perfect Paul
A victory in the ministry would be the obvious blessing of God upon those whose lives were touched by God through Paul

In other words everything that happened, both pleasant and not so was God working mightily in him both to his own growth and to the growth of others.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

For His Name's Sake

Ezekiel 36:20-23 KJV
And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.
But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.


I am reminded that Jesus said
John 14:13-14 KJV
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.


Israel had never really lived up to the name of their Lord. Even in their most glorious days there was unbelievable sin; and there were very few glorious days. But God made this promise; He said He would bless Israel, not for their sakes but for the sake of His own holy name.

And that is exactly where I want to learn to live today. I want to live in the promises of God for His name's sake and not for any good deed I and the people I live with may be able to do.
I want to lean on His holy name
I want to trust in His holy name and
I want to pray for the sake of His holy name

Monday, October 27, 2008

What Paul Had Not Attained

Philippians 3:11-13 KJV
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: ...


Now here is a powerful thing. Paul said he did not count himself as having attained unto the resurrection of the dead. Gill says of this comment,
"Not in a figurative sense, the resurrection from the death of sin to a life of grace, of which Christ is the efficient cause, for this the apostle had attained to; unless the consummation of
that spiritual [sense] life, in perfect holiness, should be intended, than which nothing was more desirable by him;
nor in a representative sense, for this also he enjoyed in Christ his head, being risen with him, and in him, when he rose from the dead;
but in a literal sense and designs .... the special and particular resurrection of the righteous, the better resurrection, which will be first, and upon the personal coming of Christ, and by virtue of union to him, and in a glorious manner, and to everlasting life and happiness: and when the apostle says, "if by any means" he might attain to this, it is not to be understood as if he doubted of it, which would be inconsistent with his firm persuasion, that nothing should separate him from the love of God, and with his full assurance of faith, as to interest in Jesus Christ; but it denotes the difficulty of attaining it, since through various afflictions and great tribulations a believer must pass, before he comes to it; and also the apostle's earnest desire of it, and strenuous endeavour for it; not caring what scenes of trouble, or sea of sorrow what fiery trials, severe sufferings, or cruel death he went through, so be it he obtained as he believed he should, the glorious and better resurrection ....

To his dying breath Paul lived running for the prize. The Word of God makes it very clear that he knew he was saved. But he never quit running less what he knew to be true was the deception of his heart. Christians get back up with they fall. Christians do not shrink from the trials of Christian life. And when they do, they have reason to wonder if they have attained unto this resurrection of the just.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Likeminded

Philippians 2:19 KJV
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.

Philippians 2:25 KJV
Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

Paul worked with a number of very good men: Barnabas, Silas, Luke and Titus, among them. But among those that Paul worked with perhaps none were closer than the two mentioned here.

Epaphroditus
Besides those wonderful things Paul says of him in verse 25 he makes this statement concerning him in verse 30, "...for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life..." What a friend and what a servant of the Lord was this man!
It is interesting that Paul says the work of Christ was "to supply your lack of service toward me." There is a relationship between caring for a man of God and service for Christ.

Timotheus
Of all of those that served alongside Paul, none were quite like this one. Paul says of him,
Philippians 2:20 KJV
For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

There were some great men who had labored alongside him but of only this one could Paul say that he was likeminded. A preacher would be fortunate to have just one man like that his entire ministry. I have had several men who have surrendered to preach under my own ministry, but to date, I could say of none that they are likeminded. They are all good men, but they have gone their own ways. That is, with the exception of my own two sons; Bohannan has just begun to pastor a church and Caleb is just now taking the responsibilities of my assistant pastor. How I pray that, come the end of my life, I will be able to say even as I do now, that no one is as likeminded to me as they.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Striving Together

Philippians 1:27-28 KJV
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.


I see several things in this verse and the ones following it.

There is unity
"one spirit, with one mind"

There is an enemy
"in nothing terrified by your adversaries"

There is a strategy
"striving together for the faith of the gospel"


There is a victory
"to you of salvation and that of God."

Friday, October 24, 2008

And How I Do

October 24, 2008

Ephesians 6:21-22 KJV
But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.


Paul was concerned that the faithful believers in Ephesus know his "affairs." He knew that they would be concerned about how he was doing and sent Tychicus for the purpose of telling them "how I do." And Paul said that he knew the news would "comfort [their] hearts."

God's faithful care about those who minister to them.
They are genuinely concerned about how they do
They would welcome news about their affairs and
They would be comforted by that news


I wonder if we should not be more concerned about those who do not seem to really care how the preacher is doing?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ezekiel 28:12 Who Is The King of Tyrus?

Ezekiel 28:12 KJV
Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

I have always been taught, and after attempting to carefully consider it in its context, see no reason to question it, that this passage is in reference to Lucifer. The things spoken of this king of Tyrus could not be true of any human being.

But it appears to me that the type can be taken further than merely this one passage.

Chapter 26 introduces Tyrus as an oppressor of Jerusalem.
Satan has always had as his primary target, the nation from whom Christ came.

Chapter 27 speaks of the isle of Tyrus
As much as mankind has loved this world and received our merchandize from it; as much as we have been inspired by its beauty, still this world is a place destined for destruction.

Chapter 28 begins by speaking of the prince of TyrusWhich sounds like a reference to the Antichrist who will one day come.

And now we have the king of Tyrus
Who is a figure of Satan

So the context makes this passage a good figure of Satan and his system.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Alienated

Ephesians 4:18 KJV
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

What a devastating predicament to be "alienated from the life of God." I take that to mean both, not to have eternal life and not to have access by faith to the grace offered by the living God.

This alienation, the Bible says is, "through ignorance" and that is "because of the blindness of their heart."

Blindness produces ignorance which produces alienation.

Concerning this blindness and ignorance Gill says,
"There is a natural hardness of the heart, the heart is naturally stony, and so it remains till grace takes away the stony heart, and gives an heart of flesh; it is insensible and inflexible, and not susceptive of any impression; and
There is a voluntary hardness of it, men willingly harden themselves against the Lord, and make their hearts like an adamant stone, all sin is of an hardening nature; and
There is a judicial hardness, which God gives up men unto; and when and where this is the case, in either sense, it is no wonder men should be so ignorant of God, and so alienated from the life of him...."


Only the grace of God is able to shine into the dark places and open the eyes of the spiritually blind. But there is obviously a personal responsibility which becomes apparent in verses like,
Ephesians 4:22 KJV
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts

So that we may not say, "I am free from responsibility for my actions; God has not opened my blinded eyes." No! Each of us is responsible to "put off.... the old man" and in doing so we activate the will of God to shine into our hearts the light that clears the blindness.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Assurance

Ezekiel 24:14 KJV
I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD.

I never tire nor find myself without need of reminders that God's Word is true and faithful. Repeated throughout the Bible are verses just like this one that
Remind us
Encourage us and even
Warn us

That what God has spoken shall come to pass.

God speaks it so often because we need to hear it so often. The assurances I had yesterday that God's Word is true, were good for yesterday but must be made fresh for this new day and for these new circumstances. What was my life environment yesterday is completely changed now that today has come. And the food that nourished my soul yesterday will not do to sustain me today.

God's Word is true. What He has spoken will come to pass. He will do it. He will not go back. We may be assured of that!

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Man in the Gap

Ezekiel 22:30 KJV
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

God said He sought for a man but found none. That is surprising since there were men like Jeremiah, Baruch, Daniel, and even Ezekiel. Obviously God was not looking
For a spiritual man
For a speaking (preaching) man or even
For a surrendered man

There were men like that in Israel. There may not have been many, but there were some.

God was looking for a sinless man
And only Jesus Christ is that man.

Too often we call for people to be spiritual.
Too often we appeal for someone to speak up and "make up the hedge."
Too often we urge someone in our congregation to surrender their lives to "stand in the gap."

When the fact is, that is not what God is looking for and that is not what is needed today. The need of today, as it was in Ezekiel's day, and as it will always be, is for Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who "taketh away the sin of the world." No other one will do. No other one will help. No other one will suffice in the eyes of God.

Let's seek Christ.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

To the Faithful

Ephesians 1:1 KJV
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

The letter to the Ephesians is written to the saints there, and "to the faithful in Christ Jesus." It is possible we assume too much from God's Word. Only the "faithful in Christ Jesus" may claim the instruction and promises of this book as their own.

They are blessed
vs 3
This blessing is in heavenly places. And that is exactly where the saint wants it. The person who would complain that these spiritual blessings in heaven are fine, but they want blessings right now just aren't saints. They might as well quit fooling themselves that they are.

They are chosen
vs 4
This is a very comforting doctrine. It means that being saved is not based on our will and skill but on what God has done in us. Thank God.

They are forgiven
vs 7
Wow! Forgiven! Sins washed away, never to be remembered by God again.

They have an inheritance
vs 11
And in that inheritance they are satisfied and for it they patiently endure.

They are sealed
vs 13
They means protected. They will never lose their salvation. God will preserve their soul until the day they are in the presence of God.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bear Your Own Burden

Galatians 6:2 KJV
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:5 KJV
For every man shall bear his own burden.

There are those who complain that the Bible has contradictions and they therefore assume that means the Bible has mistakes. This is one of those passages where there is an apparent contradiction within the very same book of the Bible. Obviously the writer was not contradicting himself. He had a point to get across and it is our place, not to criticize what he said but to understand and then obey what he said. I would suggest the same is true of any of the apparent contradictions we might find.

First we are to carry our own burdens
We have a responsibility and our place is to fulfill those responsibilities. We are to feed our own families. We are to pay our own bills. We are to earn our own income. On a spiritual plane, we are to follow Christ ourselves. We are to take our own families to church. We are to study our own Bibles. We are to pray for ourselves. We are to bear our own burdens. A Godly man, a person who has open eyes to the Bible gets this. He bears his own burdens.

We, who bear our own burdens are then to reach out to bear the burdens of those who do not bear their own.
We are not to complain and say, since they don't bear their own burdens, we will not help them. God's Word tells those of us who have seen our responsibility to bear our own burdens, to then get up and help bear those burdens of others.

There are some who do not bear their own burdens
Bear them fro them, Get the gospel to their families, Get their children to church. Pray for them. Even help them financially when appropriate.
There are some who cannot bear their own burdens
For whatever reasons, their burdens are greater than they can carry on their own. Come alongside them. Be there for them.

One of the burdens we are to bear on our own is our burden to bear one another’s burdens.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Keep the Gate Closed

Proverbs 17:28 KJV
Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

This is such a well used passage that it is easy for it to go unnoticed in a daily devotion. Still the truth of it is profound and the lesson of it is never learned quite well enough.

But this morning it comes alive in contrast to another verse that caught my attention...
Proverbs 17:19 KJV
He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.

Gill says of this verse that it means, ".... that opens the door of his lips...."

The man
Who opens his mouth,
Who speaks without hesitation
Who has something to say about everything and everybody

"seeketh destruction."

Seldom is damage done when we shut our lips and hold our peace.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who Did Hinder You?

Galatians 5:7-8 KJV
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.


Galatians 5:10 KJV
I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.

Paul appears not to know the names of the offenders, those who had come in and so hindered these Christians' walk with the Lord.

Ye did run well
So these were people who had lived for God. I know some in my own ministry who have run a good race of late.
They have been living for God
They have been building good relationships with God's people
They have been serving the Lord in the church


Who did hinder you...?
Someone has stepped in and hindered that walk. As in Paul's case, we might be able to give a name, but we might be wrong. Here is the fact though; whoever it is is not helping but hindering the cause of Christ. They may be persuading Christians to walk a different direction, but that persuasion is not from God.

He...shall bear his judgment
That one who has persuaded the child of God, to turn from the good race, will be judged and bear that judgment. Paul did not need to know whoever it was. God knows and God is the One who will ultimately bring the judgment.

Ye did run well, so my encouragement is to run again! Cut off those who trouble you spiritually. Remove yourself from their company and fight the good fight of fait once again!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Those That Exclude You

Galatians 4:16-18 KJV
Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

The wording of this passage leaves for a lot of "play" among the students of the Bible.

The false teachers pretended to love these people, but not for the right reasons and not with a genuine affection for them. In fact they excluded the people.
They would not have true fellowship with them
They would not let them in on their own circles of friends

They would prevent them from knowing the plans these teachers had for their ministries
And they did it so that the people could not touch the hearts of these false teachers. They did not want to be influenced by the people, therefore they kept them at arm's length, acting like they really loved them, but carefully preventing the people from growing close in their hearts.

Paul said two truths in the face of this
First, a man who tells us the truth is a friend, not an enemy
Even when the truth he tell us hurts.

Second, it is a good thing to have a passionate affection for spiritual leaders who teach you the truth.
We should be zealously affected one for another.
The preacher should have a zealous affection for his congregation and
The congregation should have a zealous affection for their preacher

And not just when he is around, but all of the time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

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.

I loved this phrase "a little sanctuary." In the midst of the trials and difficulties of life on this planet, God sets Himself up to be "a little sanctuary" for us.

In the household of a godly family
There is a little sanctuary. In this place we call home we have the love and support of people who love us and have embraced us and our God.
We come home to a praying people.
We come home to a believing people.

In our local church
There is a little sanctuary. The church is an extended form of the same thing that is at home.
Here we find friends who believe as we do and encourage us in our walk with the Lord.
Here we find family who will pray for us in our times of need

In our times of devotion
There is a little sanctuary. So
Even when we can't be at home and
Even when we are not in the church house
We may still have a little sanctuary with our God.

Not that our God is little. We will find one day, when we enter into the portals of Glory that this sanctuary was all encompassing and we will realize the huge help it was. This world, which seems so big and overwhelming, may appear to dwarf the Almighty. But just as a human hand may appear to block the sun because the hand is so near and the sun so far away, we know that all real life is in Christ and in the Father and this world, is truly the little one.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Man With the Linen Clothes

Ezekiel 9:2 KJV
And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.

This man clothed with linen shows up throughout this chapter and into the next. Only in this chapter he has a writer's inkhorn and in the next he is spreading coals of fire.

It occurred to me as I read this that this could be a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ. Gill's commentary agrees.

First, the man is obedient
Ezekiel 9:11 KJV
And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.

Our Saviour humbled Himself and became obedient, even unto the cross. He finished the work God the Father had given Him to do

Secondly the man is in linen
Fine linen is called the righteousness of the saints
Revelation 19:8 KJV
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

When Christ was in the grave He was wrapped in linen clothes. Thank God for His death, burial and resurrection.

Thirdly, the man had a duty
In this chapter it was to mark those who were to experience mercy. He went through the midst of the city searching for those who cried over the sins of the people. Thank God for Christ's present ministry of searching among us for those who will receive mercy.
In the next chapter He spreads coals of fire. The passage is one of judgment and reminds me that Christ will come again; the next time He comes it will not be with mercy but as a lion and having a sharp sword proceeding out of His mouth.

The time to come to Christ is today. The time to come is now. Seek His mercy while it may be found. One day there will be no mercy but only judgment

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another Gospel that is Not the Gospel

Galatians 1:9 KJV
As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

It may be surprising to some and unbelievable to others that there is such a thing as "another gospel" which Paul says is not the gospel, but a perversion of the gospel.

What may be even more surprising is that this other gospel is often proclaimed in the very same churches where the first and true gospel has been proclaimed.

It was common in Apostle Paul's ministry for some to follow behind him, come into the churches he had established, and then preach this other gospel.

In our day this other gospel has "evolved" into several different forms and is often so deceptive and similar looking to the truth that we may have a difficult time knowing which one is the true gospel. Paul said he had not received the gospel from men but directly from the Lord. That is not true of any true preacher today. He receives the gospel he preaches from Paul, just as the people in Galatia had; so that isn't how we will know the true gospel.

I got to thinking about those identifying factors of Paul's true gospel

It is a gospel of grace
And not of works. Any gospel message that adds some form of good deed to the gospel is another gospel and not the gospel. Baptism, confirmation, church membership; whatever. If a work is added to the simple Gospel it is not the gospel.

It is an effective gospel
Those who were saved in the ministry of Paul were changed big time. There is no such thing as a person who has received the gospel Paul preached and continued on in a life as before. They were never the same people. Of course the Bible does not tell us the names and testimonies of every person saved under Paul's ministry and it does not give us the specifics of but a few of them. But those people whose lives are highlighted in the Bible were changed persons after having received the gospel.

It is an enduring gospel
Paul was careful to preach that a saved person would remain saved. There is no such thing in the gospel Paul preached of someone being saved and then losing their salvation. He preached Christ would perform that good work until the day of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Our Problem is with God

Ezekiel 5:8 KJV
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations.

My text is simply, "Behold, I, even I, am against thee." God said to Israel "I, even I, am against thee."

Not the prophet
Sometimes people can make the mistake of thinking that a sharp message delivered from the preacher means he is against them. They take issue with the preacher and fail to see that his message is from God.
Don't blame the preacher for telling the truth. Our problem is with God.

Not the captor
In their case it was Babylon. Their true enemy was not, however, Babylon.
God had set His countenance against them.
God had sent Babylon to take them

We must not blame those we perceive to be our enemies as the problem. Our problem is with God. We must make things right with God.

Not the economy
Our problem is
Not the world economy
Not the job we have
Not the circumstances of the region we happen to live in.

Our problem is with God Himself! And until we will face that squarely and seek reconciliation with Him we can have no real hope of His favor and grace.

God points His finger right back at Himself and says. "Your issue is with me! You deal with me!”

Friday, October 10, 2008

Weak in Him But Powerful by God

2 Corinthians 13:4 KJV
For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

Paul was not afraid to be weak in the flesh. He was a humble man and gladly accepted the humbling of himself and the belittling of his own reputation.

But Paul was also not afraid to demonstrate the power of God toward people. And it appears this was something he could choose to do. He would rather not use sharpness, but was capable of it and willing to do it when it became necessary.

A man of God is a weak man.
He knows his limitations.
He acknowledges his sins.
He senses the battle in his own soul.
He witnesses those who refuse to accept his message.

But he is not a weakling and those would think that of him had better take note. He has an authority of God that he may rightfully use.
An authority to rebuke
An authority to be sharp
An authority to exercise "the power of God" toward those who will not be right with God.

And he has every right to demonstrate that power without guilt; regardless of the response of those he as demonstrated it toward.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Sat Where They Sat

Ezekiel 3:15 KJV
Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.

"I sat where they sat"

This is both the duty and the privilege of the pastor. No onther ministry has this wonderful honor to sit where God's people sit and daily serve God among them.

It is a bitter job
From time to time the soul of the pastor is so broken over the condition of the people of God that it is a bitterness to him.
He longs to see them right with God
He longs for them to walk with God
He is broken when they rebel against God

It is a heated job
There are those times the pastor must fight for the right. His spirit may become heated over the evil that he observes

It is an anointed job
In sometimes more subtle ways than that say, of an evangelist, who blows in blows up and then blows out. The pastor sits among the people. He sees their lives and they see his. His impact is seldom the dramatic sort but it comes from "line upon line" ministry.

Thank God for the blessing of sitting where they sit.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Fight Paul Feared

2 Corinthians 12:20-21 KJV
For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:
And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.


There is a type of humility Paul said we should fear. Paul actually feared that the next time he came to Corinth God would "humble" him among them. His desire was that these people would accept his rebuke and corrections and make the changes in their lives that he was preaching they should make.

As it was, they were not as Paul would have them to be and as a result Paul was not as they would have him to be. Paul had no give in this. He would not "come down" as Nehemiah said, just so there could be piece between them. Unless they repented; unless they corrected their direction Paul was sure the next time he saw them there would be "debates, envyings, wraths, strifes" and etc.

And that would humble him. His heart would be broken and depressed because of it.

O that God's people would submit to the message of the preacher! O that they would not ask the preacher to compromise his message to suit or that they would ignore the message and not turn through it!

Then the church would find the pastor as they would and he would find them as he would.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bearing the Burden of Our Fathers' Sins

Lamentations 5:7 KJV
Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.

In Israel's case, the sins of their fathers provoked the Lord to send upon them Babylon and now they had to endure the captivity caused by their fathers' sins. They were not being punished for their fathers' sins, but they were bearing the fruit of it.

That fruit came in the form of at least two things
One, they sinned in similar ways as their fathers. They had learned sin from their parents
Two, the consequences of what their parents had done was just then coming into fruition.


It is a careless and heartless parent who does not take into consideration the things their children will have to endure because of their sins.
2 Kings 20:16-19 KJV
And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.
Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?


Hezekiah's sins provoked God to send upon Israel an enemy. When the prophet announced his response was, "Praise the Lord it won't happen in my day." That is the lack of love we se in our own days. We are careless with our choices and it is our children who will bear the burden of the decisions.

Would to God we would face up to our sins and turn from them now! Would to God we would choose to bear the burden of them right now so our children and grandchilden won't have to!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Yet Will He

Lamentations 3:31-32 KJV
For the Lord will not cast off for ever:
But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.

This is a shocking passage in our current "God is love" culture. Of course God is love. But God is so much more! God is more than our minds are able to comprehend. God is love. God is intensely completely and eternally love.

That does not prevent Him from causing grief.
God is holy
God is just
God is wrathful and
God is angry with the wicked every day


I will not ignore this side of God. I will praise Him for the fullness of who He is for He is God in all He is and He is worthy of worship and of praise in all that He is.

Still I am thankful this passage does not leave us here. "...though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion..." O Lord for that compassion today!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Righteousness that Remains

2 Corinthians 9:9-10 KJV
(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)


The context is obviously speaking about giving.

And the Bible says that the righteousness produced by their gift "remaineth forever." In other words, when we give, the product of the gift can never be lost. The benefit, the blessing and the record in heaven of that gift is eternal.

Let no man say that a gift given in the spirit of the Lord has been thrown away and wasted. God has seen it. And it will produce fruit that remains time on in eternity.

The fruit of the righteousness remains forever but the preacher does pray that it not only remains, but that it increases in its fruit.

So I am praying today that people give bountifully, give liberally and that the righteousness of their gift not only remains forever but that it increases in its benefit for the glory of God.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

God Our Recompense

Jeremiah 51:56 KJV
Because the spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the LORD God of recompences shall surely requite.

Here is a seldom used name of God. Christians like to make mention of Him as
God our peace
God our righteousness
God our provider

But I can't remember ever hearing anyone make a big deal out of the fact that God is also called "The Lord God of recompenses."

The word recompense means a reward. In the context it is obvious that this is not a favorable but rather a negative reward. Babylon, who was so used of God to bring judgment upon Israel for their sins, must not assume that God's using them justifies their own wickedness. God, through Jeremiah, promises sure recompense upon them.

And let no man think that because he has gotten away with sin and perhaps has even prospered in it, that God has somehow approved of his unrighteousness.

There is even a time to call on the Lord as our “Lord God of recompenses.”
When we feel abused and mistreated.
When we see this world’s most wicked seeming to prosper.
When the arrows of judgment are flung at us.
Then is a time to trust in the Lord God of recompenses. He will make it all turn right in His time.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Perfecting Holiness

2 Corinthians 7:1 KJV
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

I notice first
That holiness may be "perfected."
That means sort of like polished. We have it but it is not finalized. It is not a finished product yet. Our walk with the Lord, our testimony for Christ our service in Christ are all things that may be
Refined and
Polished and
Tweaked and
Adjusted and
Trimmed and
Developed
Until the day we are in the presence of the Lord.
I am not perfect and that is all right. But I am able to go on perfecting holiness in my life.

I notice secondly
That there is personal responsibility in this.
He says "let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." I must not sit idle on this matter. I have personal responsibility to cleanse myself of this filthiness. I cannot use the excuse that God has not helped me therefore it is His fault.
This is my business.
This is my work.
This is my responsibility

I notice thirdly
That I have some promises designed to motivate and aide me.
These promises spring from 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 KJV
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Gill says, "That God will walk in his temple, and dwell in his churches, be their God, and they his people, that he will receive them, and be their Father, and they his sons and daughters; which promises they had not in hope, as Old Testament saints had the promises of the Messiah and his kingdom, and as New Testament saints have of the resurrection, the new heavens and new earth, and of appearing with Christ in glory; but in hand, in actual possession; for God was really become their God and Father, and they were his people and children..."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Workers Together

October 2, 2008

2 Corinthians 6:1-4 KJV
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,


There is a subtle change that takes place between this chapter and chapter four. Chapter four is primarily about the preacher. But in chapter six, shift is from the preacher alone to all the members of the church.

First of all there is in verse one the word "together."
So now the preacher is a "worker(s) together" with Christ and with the members of the church.

Secondly there is the word "We."
Often when I preach I use the term "we" instead of "me" or "you." Most preachers do that. We are in the work of the Lord as a team.
It is not "me" versus "you."
It is not "me" or "you."
It is not even "me" and "you."


It is "we." God does not have two separate classes of Christians; some called preachers and some called laymen. We are a body. We are one.

Thirdly there is the word "ourselves."
And it is used in much the same manner as "we." It unites the members of the church with the preacher.

And in this case in means that the patience, afflictions, necessities, distresses and so forth is not merely speaking of the preacher but of all the members. We endure these things together so that we give no offence and the ministry be not blamed. God may then be glorified in us, and more souls may come to know the Saviour.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Swallowed Up

2 Corinthians 5:1-4 KJV
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.


I was struck this morning by the phrase, "that mortality might be swallowed up of life."

I believe the Apostle was speaking of the rapture. He was confident that if he died, he would go to heaven. And he said he groaned for that to happen. But then he said he did not groan so much to die and be with Christ, but that the mortality of his body would be "swallowed up" in eternal life in the heavens.

I got to thinking about that this morning and I have been asking the Lord to "swallow up" my life in the life of Jesus Christ, not only in the day when I go to heaven, but today and each and every day. What a blessing it would be to be so overwhelmed in the life of Jesus Christ that we could almost not recognize the mortal life of the one who was so swallowed up!