Thursday, December 31, 2009

For

Isaiah 9:6 KJV
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Sometimes we see those well known verses in the Bible so clearly that we fail to see those other verses that are in their context. I noticed this morning that there is in this chapter a growing promise that climaxes with vs 9-10

For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden
Vs 4
Of those that have been in darkness. What an amazing act of grace that the Lord Jesus Christ was raised, not in the middle of Jerusalem, but in the area of the northern kingdom.

For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise
Vs 5
He broke the yoke and eased the burden and confused the enemy of His people.

For unto us a child is born
Vs 6
And He did it all through a child. He is not any child, I'll give you that. He is Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God.....

Christ is the answer to the dimness and darkness of this world
Christ is the answer to the burdens and bondage of this world and
Christ is the answer to the battles and enemies we have in this world

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Bottom Line

Luke 17:5 KJV
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

This is perhaps the purest prayer any believer can ever pray. I notice

The ground for it
Vs 1-4

Jesus had just instructed them that they were to forgive those who trespass against them as many times as they trespass against them. Human nature tell us the difficulty of the command and thus they ask, "Lord, Increase our faith."

The encouragement toward it
Vs 6

The power of faith is virtually unlimited except for our ability to possess it. It is as if the Lord answered their request for increased faith by saying, "That is certainly a worthy request."

The bottom line concerning it
Vs 7-10

This parable comes back, not to the subject of faith, but to the subject of forgiveness. As powerful as faith is and as much as the disciples of Christ need that faith, the bottom line is, we just need to do what is our duty to do.

We are told to forgive.
It may be difficult
It may be distasteful to us
It may be the last thing we think we should do


But the bottom line is that Jesus told us to do it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Lord Himself

Isaiah 7:14 KJV
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

The coming of Christ was not something that men asked for or could have dreamed up. It was "the Lord Himself" who gave us Christ.

Truly the coming of Christ is
Ephesians 3:20 KJV
..... exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

The grace
The love
The longsuffering

Of God that is demonstrated in His planning and giving His only begotten Son that men would have opportunity to be saved is remarkable in the extreme.

Heavenly Father, I am without words to give praise to You for this unspeakable gift.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wild Grapes

Isaiah 5:2 KJV
And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

I one time heard a pastor say that his pastor's last advice to him before he took a pastorate was "Just don't be a wild grape" and referenced this passage. The problem with counsel like that is that it is open to a pretty broad range of interpretation. I personally believe that young pastor is a wild grape, ignoring the cause of Christ for his own advancement. Just what is this wild grape of the passage?

The wild grape is not what the master desired
Our task as believers is not merely to be, not merely to be active, not merely to do.
We are to be what God creates us to be
We are to be active about the work that God ordains and
We are to do things in obedience to His Word


The wild grape is bitter and useless as a fruit
The wild grape merely gobbles up the resources and choke out the potential for the good fruit. The wild grape leaves a bad taste in the mouth and makes the fruit of the vineyard that much less desirable to others.

The wild grape may produce much, but it has no profit
Like those whose reward is wood hay and stubble, though the wild grape may fill houses full of people and make much ado about their achievements, what they have produced is worthless and they will suffer loss at the judgment seat of Christ.

We do not need to drive to accomplish anything. What we need to do is simply let the Lord work us in His own vineyard until He is able to produce from us that fruit which pleases Him. Anything else will just turn out bitter.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It Shall Be Well

Isaiah 3:10 KJV
Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

Gill says,
"The Lord always has some righteous ones, in the worst of times, whom he can and does distinguish, single out, and take care of....."

This word of encouragement ought to be on the lips of every believer today. Though our times may not be as terrible as things were in Isaiah's day, still they are are not moving toward better times but worse. Though there has been a kind reprieve in of Christian suffering (at least in the United States) we should not expect it to become easier to be a Christian.

  • Evil men will, as the Bible foretells, wax worse and worse.
  • Unbelief will become more and more dominant.
  • False Christs and false prophets will rise in greater numbers and
  • False believers will be the result

Through it all we have this comfort to all genuine believers, "it shall be well with him." God will distinguish, single out and take care of His own.

For a video version of this post click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLDpBpELv7c


Saturday, December 26, 2009

An Invitation

Isaiah 2:5 KJV
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Every Christian ought to be heard making this invitation to the souls of men and women around them.

O house of Jacob
It is a specific invitation. It calls on a name. I know that the house of Jacob refers to all of Israel. But this name is personal. Let us be personal with people. Let us get to know them and give them personal and thus more compelling invitations.

Come ye
Not just "go ye" as in "this is something you should do", but "come ye" as in "with me."

Mike Riggs was the man who brought me to church. Mike was not content merely to invite me. Mike came and got me and drove me to church.

Let us walk in the light of the LORD
Let's do more than just go to a service and put in our time. Let's make this our way of life. Let's let the LORD illuminate the path of our feet and let us walk in that well lit path together.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Striving Versus Seeking

Luke 13:24 KJV
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

I am looking at the difference between striving and seeking.

Jesus said many would seek but only a few will find salvation.

The word strive means to struggle, contend or labor fervently.
The word seek means, positively, to worship or negatively to plot or desire.

Salvation is more than a worship experience
It is more than a desire
It is more than a plot or plan

While there is no work involved in being saved, it does not come by wishful thinking or the cunning of religion. There is a struggle involved. A man ust wrestle with his sin. He must realize the awful condition his sin has left him in and he must through faith that only God can give him become convinced that only through Christ is salvation to be gained.

Churches are filled with people who want to be saved, want to go to heaven, but their desire will not be fulfilled. They have worshiped, they have plotted, they have hoped in salvation, but they have missed Calvary.

John 10:9 KJV
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Father, let us see Calvary.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What We Should Speak Of

Song of Solomon 6:1 KJV
Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.

There is a change in heart toward the bridegroom among the daughters of Jerusalem. As soon as the bride begins to give witness to the character and beautify of the bridegroom those daughters of Jerusalem also ask to seek Him.

Prior to this they persecuted the bride and despised the groom.

Our place as Christians is not to speak about
How well we have it as believers
How wonderful it is to be chosen
How great are the Lord's promises to us


Our place is to speak of the glory and honor and majesty and beauty of the Lord. When we do that others will be interested in seeking His with us.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More Than Science Can Suppose

Luke 11:2 KJV
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Scofield's notes were particularly encouraging this morning:

"In the Sermon on the Mount Christ had announced the new basis of prayer, namely: relationship. The believer is a child of God through the new birth.

The clear revelation of this fact at once establishes the reasonableness of prayer; a reasonableness against which the argument from the apparent uniformity of natural law shatters itself. God is more than a Creator, bringing a universe into being, and establishing laws for it; more than a decree-maker determining future events by an eternal fiat. Above all this is the divine family for whom the universe with its laws exists.

When ye pray, say, Our Father." What God habitually does in the material universe concerns the reverent investigator of that universe. What He may do in His own family concerns Him, and them, and is matter for divine promise and revelation. Science, which deals only with natural phenomena, cannot intrude there."

Natural laws mean nothing to the believer in prayer. He is beseeching
His own Father concerning things
His Father controls


Nothing is too big for God.
Nothing is beyond reason for the believer to request so long as it is honoring to God.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

That Needful Thing

Luke 10:42 KJV
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Below, the Words from Albert Barnes Notes
"From this interesting narrative we learn:
That the cares of this life are dangerous, even when they seem to be most lawful and commendable. Nothing of a worldly nature could have been more proper than to provide for the Lord Jesus and supply his wants. Yet even “for this,” because it too much engrossed her mind, the Lord Jesus gently reproved Martha. So a care for our families may be the means of our neglecting religion and losing our souls.
It is of more importance to attend to the instructions of the Lord Jesus than to be engaged in the affairs of the world. The one will abide forever; the other will be but for a little time.
There “are” times when it is proper to suspend worldly employments, and to attend to the affairs of the soul. It “was” proper for Mary to do it. It would have been proper for Martha to have done it. It “is” proper for all on the Sabbath and at other occasional seasons - seasons of prayer and for searching the word of God - to suspend worldly concerns and to attend to religion.
If attention to religion be omitted at “the proper time,” it will always be omitted. If Mary had neglected to hear Jesus “then,” she might never have heard him."

While Barnes takes religion too far, indicating that the neglect of it may lead to one losing salvation, still the truth is accurate. The neglect of those spiritual disciplines, even at the expense of worldly "necessities" is unwise and wicked. A person may trouble themselves much over the cares of this world, but in eternity it will mean nothing. On the other hand, even if we did let all worldly cares go (trusting the Lord to see to them) in eternity we will have what can never be taken away.

Monday, December 21, 2009

When He Comes

Luke 9:26 KJV
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.

Jesus said that when He comes again He will do so with

His Own Glory
Gill says,
"...in the glory of his human nature, when his glorious body, as now, in heaven, shall be seen by all; and
in the glory of his office, as mediator, and the judge of all the earth; and
in the glory of his divine nature, which will appear in the resurrection of the dead, in the gathering of all nations before him, in separating one sort from another, and in passing and executing the definitive sentence on them.... "


The glory of His Father
As the express image of His Father, His own glory and that of His Father's are the same. Yet here we see it two fold, His own and His Father's together.

The glory of the holy angels
On top of this divine glory there will be added unto it the created glory that belongs to the angels as they attend to Him.

What a sight this will be when all of this glory explodes upon the face of mankind. Those who have come to know Christ and have been thereby humbled in this world will revel in the exaltation. But those who have been ashamed of Christ, who would not submit themselves to His kingdom and His sovereign rule upon them; Such glory as that day will reveal will cause them to cower in the shadows, seeking to hide from the light of this radiant glory.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Personal Assurance

Luke 7:44-50 KJV
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.


Scofield's Notes are helpful here,
"When Jesus would justify the woman in the eyes of Simon, He points to her works, for only through her works could Simon see the proof of her faith; but when He would send the woman away in peace, He points to her faith, not her works.

His own works can never be to the believer his own ground of assurance, which must rest upon the work of Christ. "

On the subject of assurance of salvation, the only way an outsider can tell if a person is saved is by observing what they do, their works. However, when dealing with a person concerning their own salvation only one thing matters, their faith.

Personal assurance cannot and must not be built upon our own works for surely they ebb and flow and they would place our trust on ourselves instead of Christ. True assurance comes when we have heard the voice of the Holy Spirit testify to our own spirit that we are a child of God.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Surely I Know

Ecclesiastes 8:17 KJV
Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 KJV
Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:
But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

Here is the way I think I see the book of Ecclesiastes; Solomon has gone through a period of infidelity to God. Through his many wives, he has been led astray and sought after other gods. He writes the book of Ecclesiastes after he has repented of all of that come returned to the Lord. In this book he describes his thought process during those years of wandering and interspersed among this description, he interjects the thinking of a sound man.

In verse 17 he declares a fact; the wisest of men seek to find out and understand the work of God. Wisdom compels a man to seek to understand the things of the Lord, though the truth is none of us are able to fully grasp it. We get glimpses into the mind of God but we never get a firm grip of it. God is simply too far beyond us.

We do not know why good men often die like an evil man should nor do we understand why evil men often live like we believe the good men should.
We can't pretend to know why a young child will be killed and a murderer wil be set free.

Solomon admits that even in the wisdom God had given him, he still had not found out the work of God.

But he did say this much he knows (vs 12-13)
It shall be well with him that fears God and
It shall not be well with the wicked


We may not be able to explain everything. We can't always give an answer why something that is evil seems to go unpunished and those who strive to do right seem to suffer. But we can know this as fact,
It shall be well with him that fears God and
It shall not be well with the wicked


It all comes down to trusting God rather than our own observations.
It shall be well with him that fears God and
It shall not be well with the wicked

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Comparisons and Contrasts

Luke 5:11 KJV
And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

In John 6:26 KJV Jesus said
..... Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

I see these two passages for their comparisons and contrasts.

Both passages are predicated upon a miracle having to do with personal need
Both passages have the people following Jesus

The difference between the passages are
In John's passage, the people did not grasp the message of the miracle. All they saw is that Christ could provide for them; they did not comprehend that Christ could do the miracles because He is the Son of God.

In Luke's passage, however, three men, Peter, James and John, all forsook their newly successful livelihood to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. They did not follow so they could earn a better living, they had just forsaken that in order to follow. They followed because the miracle opened their eyes to the truth that Jesus was the Son of God.

Some people only want faith for what they can get out of it.
Others willing forsake all so they can have real faith.
The difference is the difference between heaven and hell.

It's Not Your Mouth or Even Your Hands; It's Your Heart

Luke 6:46-49 KJV
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.


While verse 46 is my focus this morning, it is clearly connected with verses 47-49.

Hear the accusation of the Lord; some call Him Lord, Lord, even emphasizing His Lordship, but prove that He is not really Lord to them because they do not the things which He says.

I visited a funeral today. The congregants were clearly a religious sort. They quoted religious phrases and Bible verses in such a fashion that it was obvious they had quoted them hundreds of times. Still, in their actions outside of the services it was also obvious that what they said with their mouths they did not believe with their hearts.

The only thing that saves is our faith in Christ. But the evidence of salvation comes in our obedience to His Word.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Life and Labour

Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 KJV
Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.
And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.


Perhaps Solomon could already see the direction his Rehoboam was taking in the course of his life. Perhaps Solomon already had hints as he observed his son's relationship with companions his own age that he might not make the right choices as King of Israel.

All that David and Solomon had built was effectively decimated by one decision of Rehoboam. Maintaining the kingdom had always been a fine line for David, holding together only by the choices David made. Solomon's kingdom did not seem to have as many issues, but there were potential divisions even in his day. But all that they had seen God do through them was so corrupted through sin that, before it was all over, God promised that none from the lineage of Solomon would sit on the kingdom.

There is no reason, however, to hate either life or labor if we keep it all in the proper focus. When man follows event he good counsel of the Lord, but does it in human wisdom and power, the results will be short lived. What makes the Word of God have eternal value is not that we obey it but rather that through Jesus Christ God has blessed it into an eternal future.

The fruit of our life and labor is not what will follow us on earth but what will follow us in eternity.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Genealogies

Luke 3:23 KJV
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

My daily visits with the Lord are not meant to be purely devotional. I want to learn from the Lord to be a better handler of His Word, the Sword of the Spirit. In that light I saw this in my Scofield Reference Bible today.

"In Matthew, where unquestionably we have the genealogy of Joseph, we are told (Mat_1:16); that Joseph was the son of Jacob. In what sense, then, could he be called in Luke "the son of Heli"? He could not be by natural generation the son both of Jacob and of Heli. But in Luke it is not said that Heli begat Joseph, so that the natural explanation is that Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli, who was, like himself, a descendant of David. That he should in that case be called "son of Heli" ("son" is not in the Greek, but rightly supplied by the translators) would be in accord with Jewish usage.

The conclusion is therefore inevitable that in Luke we have Mary's genealogy; and Joseph was "son of Heli" because espoused to Heli's daughter. The genealogy in Luke is Mary's, whose father, Heli, was descended from David. "

I don't even remember where I first learned that one of the genealogies is Joseph's and the other is Mary's but I have always just accepted that. And then over the years there have been times when as I preached I have told that to the congregation. On one or two occasions I can remember trying to figure out which one is which and having a little problem because Mary is not mentioned in either genealogy, and Joseph is mentioned in both.

Here is an explanation as to which one is which and why.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Peace, God Will

Luke 2:14 KJV
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

I want to consider for a moment the hope that exists withint the angels' pronouncement, "on earth, peace, good will toward men."

Certainly that has not been the reality of Christmas historically. Christ's entrance into this world did not bring with it peace and good will. Christ Himself was targeted for assassination as a baby and his own life was cut off at a mere 33 years of age by
An unjust government
A corrupt religion and
An angry mob of sinners

Jesus said in Matthew 10:34 KJV
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Christian history is filled with bloodshed and terror. Certainly this world has stood in opposition to the kingdom of Jesus Christ but what is worse, it does not end there. So called Christian denominations have had their own part in exacting terror, bloodshed and death upon others who professed the same Christ as they, only worshiped Him in a different congregation as they.

And then there are the false Christs and false teachers producing false professors making it necessary that even the most sincere of Christians find themselves in te same position as Jude when he said, Jude 1:3 KJV
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

This world is a mess! We are far from having "on earth peace, good will toward men."

Were the angels wrong?
Is the message of Christmas flawed?
Has God failed in answering the Christmas promise?


Not at all!
We merely need to align our thinking with the Lord's. He is not trying to make this world a paradise. He is pointing men to a paradise that is available through Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Good Tidings

Luke 2:10-11 KJV
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.


I have always been one to enjoy the Christmas season. I liked it before I was a believer, I like it more now.

I like the festive spirit that pervades the Christmas season.
I like the decorations and lights
I like the songs and carols
I like the presents and packages
I even like the bustle of the shopping centers at Christmas time


That it is also the season we remember the birth of Christ just accents the joy of all of that.

But this year in particular I have been blessed with an increased awareness of the wonder of what is Christmas.
That God became a man to dwell among us is so much more gracious than I am able to imagine. And
That He came to dwell among sinners in order that He could take away that sin is even more marvelous. And then
That He takes away that sin through His own sacrificial death; holy God dying for sinful man - I am in awe!


Truly these are good tidings of great joy!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Good News

Mark 16:6 KJV
And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

I am writing this in the month of December. Christmas is upon us and the focus (at least for true Christians) is upon the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But it is appropriate and good that the Lord allowed me to see this passage as a part of my daily visit today. As joyous and magnificent a truth as that God became man and dwelt among us is, that truth would have little bearing is it had not found its culmination in the death burial and then the resurrection of our Saviour.

"He is risen; He is not here"
That indeed is good news!

To view a video version of this blog click here: http://bit.ly/18XIqoh

Friday, December 11, 2009

Diligent in Business

Proverbs 22:29 KJV
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

The Bible says that the man who is diligent in his business will stand before kings and not mean men.

The first thing that comes to mind is that he will be promoted above the average person; the word "mean" can refer to the average.

However there is something more to this than that. The Hebrew word translated "mean" is one that is defined as "dark" and "obscure."

And then there is the word "kings" that the Bible says the diligent man will stand before. There is only one king I desire to stand before, that is before my Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ.

I see the passage then this way; the one who is diligent about the Father's business, which is prayer and the ministry of the Word, will stand before the King of Kings, Jesus Christ and not be numbered among the dark souls of this world.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peter

Mark 14:29 KJV
But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.

Much of the rest of this chapter sees Peter as a secondary figure (Jesus Christ being, of course, the central figure of the passage). I came to see Peter's role in this chapter as a summation of what is the case of many professing believers.

Peter Demanded
In this original text Peter demands or insists that his faith is strong and, should it come to pass that everyone else turns from Christ, he will not. We, of course, know that in the end this was not the case. Many people make an emphatic statement of faith. They will claim that they love the Lord believe in the Lord and have been saved by the Lord. They demand that this is true of them.

Peter Dreamed
vs 37
Though Peter's words were strong and full of supposed faith, he wasn't able to do the spiritual work necessary to sustain the faith he claimed to have. Too many people claim a faith but are spiritually asleep, failing to be faithful in prayer, Bible study and in church attendance.

Peter Denied
vs 68, 70

It really doesn't matter what a person says, what matters is what a person is. Peter proved himself to be a coward when placed in the midst of those who have rejected the Saviour.

This is the exact place where too many so called Christians are; they talk a good talk, but their lives demonstrate something entirely different than what they claim. They are at best asleep spiritually, if they have any spiritual life at all and they prove it by eventually turning against the Lord and His work.

But Peter's story does not end there.

Peter Died for Christ
I am not so much speaking about his physical death. Tradition tells us that he was crucified upside down because he did not believe he was worthy to die in the same manner as His Saviour. What I refer to is that, after the resurrection of Christ, Peter offered himself a living sacrifice for the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Someone once said it is not how you begin that counts, it is how you end. While true salvation is a work that Jesus Christ alone does in a man's soul, the tell tale sign that this work has been accomplished is not in what we say, it is how Christ has effected our lives to the end.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Strong Tower

Proverbs 18:10 KJV
The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

Gill says
By "the name of the Lord" may be meant, either the attributes and perfections of God, by which he is made known, and which are the strength and security of his people;
His goodness, grace, and mercy, are their defence;
His favour encompasses them about, as a shield;
His justice protects them from all injuries and insults;
His truth and faithfulness preserve them; they are kept by his power, as in a garrison; and
His unchangeableness is a reason why they are not consumed:
or else the Lord himself; his name is put for himself, and may be well interpreted of the Messiah, ... in and by whom God is manifested unto men as the God of grace; in whom He proclaims His name, a God gracious and merciful; whose name is in Him, and who has the same nature and perfections with Him; his name is Jehovah, our righteousness;

It occurred to me that a characteristic of the righteous is that they run to the name of the Lord for their safety. It is no mere one time thing. Of course, we must only run to Him once for our eternal salvation, but the righteous run to the Lord for everything, every day. The righteous see this world as a strange and hostile place and find reason to flee frequently into this Strong Tower. They do not pretend to be brave and they certainly do not want to either make friends with or else surrender to the ways of the world so they have just one recourse; run into the name of the Lord.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Husbandmen Judged

Mark 12:5 KJV
And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.

The description the Lord is making in this parable is chilling when we consider it. The Heavenly Father sends servant and servant, some being killed, some being beaten and handled shamefully. Jesus simply says that the Heavenly Father sent "many others."

And yet those who treated them shamefully and so brutally had so little discernment that when the Father sent his son they could not see the judgment they would face for killing Him.

Things have not changed much over the years. True, the physical violence has lessened, but the abuse of those whom the Father sends has not lessened nor has the blindness of their abusers.

People still believe they are doing God service when they do things that are hurtful to preachers and to the churches of the Lord. Woe is our state when even those who claim to be in the ministry in jure the cause of Christ for their own benefit.

Surely the Lord will destroy those husbandmen.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Believe

Mark 11:24 KJV
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Once again we see the power and importance of faith. Pat of receiving answer to prayer is simply believing that you will have the answer while you are praying.

There is no possibility of human effort here
There is no hint that because we believe strongly enough we will do what we have to do in order to get what we want.

This is a condition of faith and can only be given as God grants that faith.

The possibility in prayer in enormous but
The hindrance to answer is huge


What might we see in answer to prayer if only we believed.

We cannot work up faith but
We can exercise faith and see it grow


Lord, increase our faith!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

No Death

December 6, 2009

Proverbs 12:28 KJV
In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.

The Bible gives us a fantastic promise in this verse; there is a pathway that does not include death.

We do know that Hebrews 9:27 KJV says
.... it is appointed unto men once to die....
And this death is inevitable for all but one generation of believers who will experience the rapture of the Christians to heaven.

Nevertheless there is one path with not death.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:14 KJV
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

There is just one path that leads to life. On this path the death that we must all face will one day be destroyed.

1 Corinthians 15:54 KJV
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

And we, who have trusted Jesus Christ, will one day dwell with Christ in a place where there is no death.

Revelation 21:3-4 KJV
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

The pathway thereof is strait and narrow, but well worth the walk.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Possibilities

Mark 9:20-23 KJV
And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.


There are two mental states that lead men to do almost superhuman things
First, when they have lost hope of living.
Accounts abound of the superhuman feats of men in combat. When the possibility of survival is eliminated and they almost unconsciously elect to do a mission that is improbable to say the least, and, having no hope of survival, not only survive but accomplish the improbably ( I would say impossible, but they accomplished it, proving it was not impossible).

Second, when they believe something strongly enough.
History is also filled with the stories of those men and women who have changed the course of nations, doing what most others would believe impossible, simply because they believed they could do it.

On the spiritual scale the possibility of accomplishing the impossible through faith is increased exponentially by the fact that our faith is placed, not in the man who does the work but in the God who empowers his work.

I am afraid we have lost much faith today. We have witnessed a weak and beggarly type of Christianity for so long that we have retreated into a Christianity that is built upon programs, plans and business schemes. We follow the counsel of those who have supposedly "done it" and too often fail to really look to Christ and believe Him.

What might be accomplished through a Christian who takes his eyes are off of the leaders of the world and places them solely upon Christ, our world may never again know.

God give us more men like Paul. Let us see what is possible through trusting only You!

Friday, December 04, 2009

From Whence Can A Man Satisfy These Men?

Mark 8:4 KJV
And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

The disciples saw what they considered three major concerns with ministering to the multitude;

The size of the need
There were, the Bible says, about four thousand of them. The numbers would have been daunting in most normal circumstances. That type of crowd requires considerable planning, coordination and manpower to provide for.

The limitation of resources
They certainly had not taken enough food with them to provide for a group of any size, much less a crowd as large as this one was.

The seclusion of their location
Even if they had the funding and the manpower to put together a meal for such a multitude, they were in a desert place, a wilderness. There simply was no access to enough food for this size of congregation.

On top of all of this, I see another important word in the verse, "satisfy." They realized that they were being asked to do more than pacify this crowd, they were being asked to satisfy them. They needed not just to give them a bite, but to give them sufficient.

This is a tremendous picture of the predicament the Christian finds himself in today.

The numbers of souls in need of spiritual refreshment is huge and growing larger every day.
The task of getting God's Word to them seems absolutely impossible; too much to ask of us. And we too find our resources so limited.

We have little so far as worldly wealth goes.
We are so few in number compared to the numbers of souls on the planet, and we are a fragmented and divided group, generally not willing to yoke up even with those of like faith, let alone with those of different faiths. I am not saying this is wrong. I believe in independence and separation. I am just pointing out that we are limited in our resources.

And we too are in a wilderness place.
This world is mostly hostile to our faith. We have no where on this earth to turn to find more resources and supply. We scratch out what we can, thankful for any and every provision we find. We certainly can't claim to have a storehouse anywhere nearby where we can requisition unlimited resources.

And on top of that, those we try to minister too seem to want so much more than we believe we can provide. They don't want merely peace with God. They want God to be a genie who answers their every call and gives them their every wish.

The problem seems impossible except for this one thing. We are following our all powerful God whose supply is unlimited and from whose storehouse we may requisition all of heaven. We may not see it with our eyes and we may not always see how that supply is being employed but we can trust our loving Heavenly Father that He has more than enough for those who will receive it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sage Advice

Mark 7:13 KJV
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

The context of this verse stems from the Pharisees questioning why Jesus' disciples ate without washing their hands. One of the commentaries I looked at noted that the Pharisees said their hands were unwashened, not that they were unclean. The issue being dealt with has to do with ceremonial concerns and not sanitary ones. It is obviously a good idea to wash our hands before eating. However, the Pharisees had taken this to another level. They had gone from "cleanliness is next to godliness" to cleanliness is godliness." They had made common sense equal to, and in many cases, above the Word of God.

Perhaps a good definition of a modern Pharisee is one who does the same thing, who takes what is in his opinion, common sense and supplants God's Word with it.

Perhaps he had good intention originally.
Perhaps he only meant to give sage advice and good counsel.

But his worldly wise counsel was not in the Word of God and, being accepted as wisdom and generally acknowledged by others as sound counsel, this advice, though not found in God's Word, became as authoritative as or more so than God's Word.

American Christianity has done that. We have elevated things that are not in the Word of God to the status of the Word of God. Fiscal conservatism, the American family unit (with the wife at home baking biscuits), being a republican rather than a democrat, as well as a number of other reasonable, but not biblical principles have been so elevated that many times they define Christianity rather than the Word of God. In some cases, Christians would cling to them rather than the Word of God, making the Word of God of none effect in their lives.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Teaching

Mark 6:6 KJV
And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

The impressive thing is that, though there were those who did not believe, still Jesus travelled, connected with people and taught.

I heard someone called a "people collector" today. What a wonderful characteristic to have, especially if that person collects people to hear and receive the Word of God. The work of the ministry might be described this way:

Going round about
Not sitting still, not allowing yourself to get settled but to be on the move, being where people are.

The villages
Not just around your friends and family and those you know and are comfortable with, but those in other places: small places as well as large places, not merely seeking to win the multitudes but willing to reach the one or two.

Teaching
People need to hear the Word of God, clearly presented and accurately expounded, which necessarily requires that time has been spent in study so that we may the more effectively teach.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

He Answered The Unclean Spirit's Prayer

Mark 5:12-13 KJV
And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.


Robertson's Word Pictures does a decent job of expressing the question that came to my mind this morning.
"These words present the crucial difficulty for interpreters as to why Jesus allowed the demons to enter the hogs and destroy them instead of sending them back to the abyss. Certainly it was better for hogs to perish than men, but this loss of property raises a difficulty of its own akin to the problem of tornadoes and earthquakes."

In answer to the question Gill offers these comments
"It may be asked, why did Christ suffer the devils to enter the herd of swine, and destroy them, which was a considerable loss to the proprietors? To which may be answered, that if the owners were Jews, and these creatures were brought up by them for food, it was a just punishment of their breach of the law of God; or if to be sold to others, for gain and filthy lucre's sake, it was a proper rebuke, both of the avarice and the contempt of the laws of their own country, which were made to be a hedge or fence for the law of God: or if they were Gentiles, this was suffered to show the malice of the evil spirits, under whose influence they were, and who would, if they had but leave, serve them as they did the swine; and to display the power of Christ over the devils, and his sovereign right to, and disposal of the goods and properties of men; and to evince the truth of the dispossession, and the greatness of the mercy the dispossessed shared in"[1]

And Jamieson Fausset and Brown says
"The owners, if Jews, drove an illegal trade; if heathens, they insulted the national religion: in either case the permission was just."

A thought came to me this past weekend that seems to fit this question somewhat. In an evidence of the supernatural nature of the Bible, it is so simple the youngest of children can grasp its most important concepts and commands, but the Bible also contains such depth that no mortal man can ever claim to have thoroughly mastered it. We can only speculate today why the Lord would have answered the prayers of such evil as these devils. Certainly whatever Christ does is righteous. We do not question that in the least. But we cannot pretend to understand all that is behind giving leave to the unclean spirits.
What happened to the after the swine died?
Were they permitted to wander about until they had found a new person to possess?
Were they then committed to the bottomless pit?


These questions will only be answered when we enter into glory.
[1] From Gill's Comments on Matthew 8:32

Monday, November 30, 2009

He Knoweth Not How

Mark 4:27-28 KJV
And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.


John Gill says
".....this is said, not to denote that man of himself, upon hearing the word, can bring forth the fruit of grace in himself; he cannot regenerate himself, nor quicken, nor convert himself; he cannot believe in Christ, nor love the Lord of himself; nor repent of his sin, nor begin, or carry on the good work; he can neither sanctify his heart, nor mortify the deeds of the body; or even bring forth the fruits of good works, when converted. For all these things are owing to the Spirit, power, and grace of God: men are regenerated according to the abundant mercy of God....through the sun of righteousness, the dews of divine grace, and operations of the blessed Spirit, it rises up and brings forth fruit."

While we cannot make this happen in and of ourselves, it does happen. We need not fear whether God will do the work, either in ourselves or in the hearts, minds and souls of others. We must merely believe that, upon scattering the seed, God will do the work of converting. This is a matter of faith. We must not allow ourselves to worry and fret as to whether God will do His part in the conversion of souls. He, above all, is faithful and true.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Called, They Came, but they were Not All Converted

Mark 3:13 KJV
And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.

Immediately following this passage the Bible says Jesus ordained His twelve Apostles, among them Judas Iscariot, "...which also betrayed Him...."
Judas was called
Judas came and
Judas followed Christ

But Judas was not converted. That tells me that others could be called and come and even follow and obey the Lord for a time without being genuinely born again. The fact that we have heard the Word and agree with it does not necessarily mean that we have been saved. Even the fact that we have followed in some form of outward obedience is not a sure sign of conversion.
Baptism
Church membership and attendance
Sunday School teacher even
Pastor


None of those things prove salvation and none of those things ought to be relied upon for our salvation. Of course, Jesus knew from the beginning what Judas would do. And God knows today who is and is not truly converted. It is no problem for Him. The trouble comes for us who can only look on the outside. I cannot know a person's true spiritual condition except to see the fruit of their life. In that case, the only fruit that really tells the tale for me is how they end. If they are faithful to the end I may fairly expect their conversion to be true. But what about the individual? Can I, as a man, ever know that my soul in secure in Christ? I can if the Bible is true. Many Scriptures speak of the subject of assurance, 1 John 5:13 being among my favorite.

I ought not assume my salvation based upon the assurances of others.
Nor should I count my eternity upon what I have or have not done.
The truest proof of conversion is the witness of the Spirit of God to my own spirit, that I am a child of God.

This is nothing another human being can see and a person can either tell you that he has a witness in His spirit that he does not have or else he may mistake his early zeal for the Lord as that witness. But the one who is honest, quiet in spirit and listens to the Lord will know if that witness is present.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

For Us

Mark 2:27 KJV
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

I am going to accept that, from Jesus' employment of David's eating the shewbread, that this passage applies to more than ust the Sabbath, but is true in fact of all of God's law.

Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. God did not create us so we could obey His laws. God created His laws for our benefit and good. God's laws are not meant to be a burden to us, something that we fret over and stress about. These laws are meant to aide us in our lives for God. True enough, if we attempt to find our righteousness in them, we will find that this same law that God meant for good becomes a snare of slay us. However the law, properly understood and obeyed, is not mean yoke. It brings joy and comfort and grace into life.

Jesus said all of the law could be summed up in two great commandments;
Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy souls and with all thy might and
Love thy neighbor as thyself


Any thinking person can see that to obey these laws would be the greatest benefit both to the obedient one and to the world in which he lives.

Thank God for His law!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Solitary Place

Mark 1:35 KJV
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

I am at the church this morning, the day after Thanksgiving. No one else is around and the building is quiet. It is a solitary place right now.

Tomorrow morning the church will have several and varied activities taking place: visitation groups in the morning, a Saturday intensive class throughout the day, and a martial arts discipleship class in the evening. Then, just two days from today we will meet for our Sunday services. This place will be a beehive of activity. Young children will move swiftly through the hallways, a group of ladies will gather for a private time of prayer, classrooms will begin to fill with students, music will play on the pianos and over our speaker system, finally God's Word will be preached. This place, which is so silent and solitary right now will be anything but in just two days.

I am thinking today that there must be these solitary times, and significantly more of them than the busy times, to make the busy times have any meaning whatsoever. Jesus met His heavenly Father in a solitary place. How can we expect to meet Him anywhere else? Sure, there is an appropriate time for the bustle of the assembly of believers. But that assembly is oiled and made fit, through those solitary times we spend in the presence of God alone.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A New Song

Psalms 149:1 KJV
Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.

From Gill's Commentary
"...for a new mercy received, a new victory obtained, or a new salvation wrought; more particularly the new song of redeeming grace through Jesus Christ, the song of the Lamb, in distinction from the old song of Moses and the children of Israel at the Red sea, on account of their deliverance, which was typical of salvation by Christ, the oldest, being the first song we read of; but this is a new one, which none but the redeemed of the Lamb can sing; a song suited to Gospel times, in which all things are new, a new church state, new ordinances, a new covenant, and a new and living way to the holiest of all; a song proper for renewed persons to sing, who have new favours continually to bless and praise the Lord for..."

Every day the Christian has a new reason to sing unto the Lord.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Build Up Jerusalem

Psalms 147:2 KJV
The LORD doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.

Although the primary meaning is a literal reference to the city of Jerusalem and the people of Israel still the passage offers hope for Christians of our day. The Lord is busy about the business of building up a people for Himself out of the outcasts of this world. Those who come to a saving faith are seldom the notables of worldly wisdom and wealth. Most often we are those who have experienced in the deepest ways that this world is no friend to man made in the image of God.

So the Psalm offers a foundation for our prayer that the Lord would build up His church, any one of those local churches whose pastor or people might sense the urge to seek it of the Lord.

Oh Lord build up our church. Gather together in this place those who feel estranged from this world and long for fellowship with You.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Every Day

Psalms 145:2 KJV
Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.

The word bless means to kneel as an act of adoration and to either proclaim upon or desire for the glory and benefit of another. This, the Christian should do before God every day.

Every day should include some time on our knees before the Lord
Every day should incorporate some time simply adoring the Lord and
Every day should include some time when the Christian purposes to bring glory and and delight to the Lord.


While we would not be wise to spend all day every day on our knees, and we cannot give all day of every day in public acts of adoration to the Lord, we can and should live all day every day to bring glory to the Lord.

"Every day will I bless thee" my God.

Monday, November 23, 2009

No Man

Psalms 143:2 KJV
And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

This should be the plea of every human being. We could never be justified in the sight of God in our own goodness. We could never do anything that would redeem ourselves from the guilt of our sin.
Gill says,
"The psalmist knew he was but a man, and could not contend with God; and a sinful creature, and could not answer him for one of a thousand faults committed by him; and though his servant, yet an unprofitable one; his nature, his heart, his thoughts, words, and actions, would not bear examining, nor stand the test of the holy law of God; nor was he able to answer the demands of divine justice in his own person...."

We only have one hope, and that is that God will not enter into judgment with us. And that can only be accomplished when we hind in the person of Jesus Christ.

Thank God for Jesus Christ.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sweet Words

Psalms 141:5-6 KJV
Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

David not only says that he welcomes the "smiting" of the righteous and their reproofs but says

It will be an excellent oil.
He will receive it as it is meant, to be an ointment to aide him in his spiritual infirmities.

It will not break his head.
He knows these reproofs will not destroy him but rather minister to him.

And then he says that when those who have reproved him go through any calamity, for surely all men go through calamities and experience times when we are overthrown, he will

Pray for them.
Rather than being bitter and upset, rather than being vengeful and secretly rejoicing in their difficulties, he will lift them up in prayer.

Speak sweet words to them.
They will hear them because he has not turned himself from them. He does not avoid them. And in their time of distress he will be among those that speaking gently, kindly and sweetly to them.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Faith

Psalms 139:6 KJV
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

David says he knows something that he cannot know.

He knows truth about God.
He knows God has searched him
He knows God is acquainted with all his ways
He knows he cannot flee from God's presence
He knows God possessed his reins in his mother's womb

Yet though he knows it, he cannot attain unto it. It is above him even though it has been revealed to him.

So it is with faith. Faith knows things to be true.
Faith has researched the evidence
Faith reads the articles from those who have studied these things before him.
Faith listens carefully to the preaching and searches the Scriptures to see if these things be true.
Faith can articulate its position.

But when all things are said and done, faith still cannot attain to and say it has hold of even those truths it has discovered. God is too high, too wonderful for the human mind to ever fully attain to it. We simply rejoice that we get to know the truth, not that we have to fully solve and prove it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Perfection

Psalms 138:8 KJV
The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

This is both the expectation and the prayer of the earnest believer.

Our hope is in this promise.
What joy and fulfillment when we are finally perfected!

Our prayers are always toward the fulfillment of this promise.
We recognize our frailties and weaknesses, yea even our sins. We sense, and the more we seek the Lord the more we sense it, our unworthiness to name the name of Christ. Yet our God has promised to perfect us and to this end we do groan, longing for that day of final and complete perfection before the Lord.

And yet, at the same time, this is the battle our flesh most resists. The thing that is our soul's desire is the very thing our flesh hates. This perfection requires the mortifying of the flesh. The old man must be crucified to make way for the new man. And just as in Christ's day, crucifixion is a slow and painful process. The victim's physical pain would be forever relieved if only they would submit to the inevitable and relax but the survival instinct of the flesh will not allow that. So the victim battles for breath. Each gasp of air is painful to receive and only extends the whole experience of pain that much longer. So we would be so much better off of the old man would just surrender to death already. But he can't do that. He fights on, he struggles for life and breath and for control over the soul and spirit. It is inevitable that the flesh will be mortified when we finally stand in the presence of the Lord; still it fights on for another moment of control, of sin, of fleshly passion.

Oh for that day when I will be perfected!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Stone's Threefold Presentation

Matthew 21:42-44 KJV
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.


I thought Scofield's notes on the stone were worthy of consideration;
"Christ, as the "Stone", is revealed in a threefold way:

(1) To Israel Christ, coming not as a splendid monarch but in the form of a servant, is a stumbling stone and rock of offence. (Isa_8:14); (Isa_8:15); (Rom_9:32); (Rom_9:33); (1Co_1:23); (1Pe_2:8).

(2) To the church, Christ is the foundation stone and the head of the corner (1Co_3:11); (Eph_2:20-22); (1Pe_2:4); (1Pe_2:5).

(3) To the Gentile world-powers He is to be the smiting-stone of destruction (Dan_2:34).

Israel stumbled over Christ; the church is built upon Christ; Gentile world-dominion will be broken by Christ."

Thank God for that Rock I am blessed to build my life upon!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Before, No More Than Any Other

Psalms 132:13 KJV
For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.

Spurgeon's Treasury of David says of Zion and this verse,
"It was no more than any other Canaanite town till God chose it, David captured it, Solomon built it, and the Lord dwelt in it. So was the church a mere Jebusite stronghold till grace chose it, conquered it, rebuilt it, and dwelt in it. Jehovah has chosen his people, and hence they are his people. He has chosen the church, and hence it is what it is. Thus in the covenant David and Zion, Christ and his people, go together. David is for Zion, and Zion for David: the interests of Christ and his people are mutual."

Here is the thing most wonderful; though we are simple and mean, no more than any other, when God chose us and saved us God has done marvelous things in us.

He has captured our flesh and dealt with our sin
He has built in us the principle of righteousness through Christ and
He has indwelt us through the Holy Spirit of God

What should have been undesirable, God has desired and made His own habitation.

Thank God for His grace in our lives!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Psalms 130:5 KJV
I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

I want to deal with this verse from three angles

First there is
The active ingredient in the verse
"Wait"

The term means literally "to be bound together." I love this thought. It is more than that the Christian simply does nothing while he waits for God to act. The Christian literally cannot do anything unless God does it. He has so twisted himself up in the Lord that he is only able to perform when the Lord performs.

Secondly there is
The double statement in the verse
"I wait" "my soul doth wait"
Repetition in the Word of God is never vain and always makes he truth of the passage much more urgent. The Psalmist says that He waits. It is a statement of fact. His relationship with Christ requires that he wait upon the Lord. He also says "my soul doth wait." It tells us that this is more than mere fact. He is in agreement with God in waiting. He does not just wait because he has no choice. He waits because His soul is bound up with God and rejoices in God's plan, whatever waiting that plan requires.

Finally there is
The definition in the verse
"...in His Word do I hope."
Waiting for the LORD means hoping in His Word. We are not passive in our waiting. While we wait we learn God's Word and hope in the promises and plans of God revealed within it. His Word is our encouragement and supply during our wait.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Offences

Matthew 18:7 KJV
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

An offence is something that causes another to slip or fall. And here is what we know about offences from this one verse;

It is one of the hardships of life in this world
Even the creation groans in pain waiting for the day of redemption. One of those woes this world experiences is that it is a place of offence. The creature (being the world that God created) must grieve that it is a breeding ground for those traps that would ensnare the children of God.

It is not possible to live in this world without facing offences
The best of men and in the best of environments experience offences and temptations to stray away for Christ. It is impossible to avoid them altogether. And I would say it is unwise to live in such fear of them than we cloister up or hide away in hopes of missing them. Surely we would be wise not to run into the face of offences and temptations. But neither should we seek to avoid them to such an extent that we do not venture to do great things for the cause of Christ.

It is imperative that we who walk with the Lord not be the ones who cause those offences
It is such a terrible thing that a brother would be an offence to another brother that the passage makes it appear that being such an offence may be a sign that we are not really believers at all: the offending party faces everlasting fire.

Finally the chapter ends with a word to the offended and it is just this, forgive. Regardless of the offence and the offenders reaction to the fact that they have offended, forgiving them is the only option we have. And there is even some indication that the one who doesn't forgive isn't a true believer either.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

As Mount Zion

Psalms 125:1-2 KJV
They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.

Jerusalem is in the mountains at a fairly high elevation. The city itself encloses a number of hills or mountains within its borders including Mt Zion and Mt Moriah. And then the city itself is surrounded by other mountains even higher.

It reminds me of going up to the Mt Rainier recreation area called Paradise. Paradise itself sits at probably 6000 feet above sea level and is technically already on the slopes of Mt Rainier. But from the observation deck at Paradise a person can see he is virtually surrounded by mountain peaks, Rainier being just one of them.

God's Word says that the sol that trusts in the Lord has two characteristics:

He is like Mt Zion
And he cannot be moved, he abides forever.

So is the saved soul. He is secure; he cannot lose His eternal salvation. He will live forever.

He is surrounded by the Lord
Those mountain peaks around Jerusalem serve as a type or picture of God, who has encompassed His own. They not only are secure, but they are surrounded. They are safe in the promise that God has given them eternal life and they are established in that promise by God's almighty presence.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Lord is on our Side

Psalms 124:2 KJV
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us:

If the Lord was not on our side,
Our enemies would rise up against us
Vs 2
The waters would flow over us
Vs 4-5
The predator would devour us
Vs 6-7

But God is on our side. And because He is on our side He is our help and aide. There are enemies. There are floods and disasters. There are predators that would devour us. But thank God He is on our side. And while we face these difficulties God carries us through these.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Heart

Matthew 15:8 KJV
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

Matthew 15:18-19 KJV
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:


The issue I want to address today is the heart. John Gill says of this passage,
"...they had no true love to God, nor faith in him, nor fear of him; they were not at all concerned for his presence with them, or for communion with him, or for his honour and glory; their hearts were in the world, and after their covetousness; they made religion a tool to their secular purposes, supposing gain to be godliness; sought the applause of men, and contented themselves with bodily exercise; having no regard to internal religion, powerful godliness, or where their hearts were, so be it, their bodies were presented to God in public worship; and what they did it was to be seen and approved of men, not caring what the searcher of hearts knew concerning them..."

These people had both the talk and the walk of the believer. But they were missing the key to it all, they did not have the heart of a believer. Christianity is more than talking and walking for Christ. All of that is external and can be engineered by human means. It is the heart that is the key to all that is Christianity.

The heart is the seat of affections. The issue of faith is an issue of what we love. So the question of the sincerity of one's faith is answered not in what he says or even in how he lives, it is in what he loves. And that is nothing man can fabricate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This Desire

Psalms 119:5 KJV
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Gill says,
"The psalmist, sensible of his own inability, as every good man is, to keep the commands of God, prays for grace, direction, and assistance in it"

Barnes Notes
"Indicating the desire of the pious heart. That desire - a prevailing, constant, uniform desire - is to keep the law of God."

While the one who truly desires to know the Lord also knows his own inability to walk with the Lord, it is still his desire. His heart cries out for the wisdom, grace, strength to keep the statutes of the Lord and to obey them. He often falls (as is indicated even within this Psalm) but he is quick to beg God's help to stand again, and he is constantly seeking that direction from the Lord.

By beginning the cry with the word "O" a term denoting grief and surprise, the Psalmist indicates his cry is that much more expressive and earnest. This is no small thing with him. It is the greatest need of his life. It is his most urgent priority. Let others things fall to the wayside if need be. He must be directed to keep God's statutes.

O that we would have such urgency!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

That's Better!

Psalms 118:8 KJV
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

This is simple enough I feel like just leaving it be without comment.

What could be better?

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

Any man
For any reason

Monday, November 09, 2009

Where Is He?

Psalms 115:3 KJV
But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

I am always amazed at little glimpses in the Bible that indicate to me that things have not changed that much in all of human history.

Even in the days of the Psalmist tere were those who could not see the hand of God at work on earth.
As powerful as God had shown Himself
As many evidences as there were of God's presence
Still the majority would not believe.

So the Psalmist just says it plainly. "...our God is in the heavens..." That's where He is.
He is so much higher than the petty men and women of this earth.
He is so much more exalted than the phony gods that mankind had conjured up.

He is in the heavens!
He dwells on high.
He humbles Himself to behold the events of the earth.
That is where He is!

And "....He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased." He manifests Himself at His own pleasure. He reveals Himself to those whom He pleases.

What comfort!
What joy!
What assurance!
The God I worship is in the heavens. He does as He pleases; and He has been pleased to save me.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

How Humbling that He Has Humbled Himself

Psalms 113:6 KJV
Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!

Here is an amazing thought; God humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven
The angels
The seraphim and cherubim
The New Jerusalem

All of the wonders of heaven, in all of their beauty and all of their perfection, still God is so much above them, He humbles Himself to behold them.

And yet He also beholds the things that are in the earth.
With all of our problems
With all of our hypocrisy
With all of our idolatry
With all of our sinfulness
God beholds us!

And the premise is not that He does so out of anger and disgust. Though God is angry with the wicked every day, God's grand design and chief purpose in beholding us is that He might redeem and save us.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Greatest Commandment

Psalms 111:1 KJV
Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.

Psalms 112:1 KJV
Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.

Jesus said that the greatest of all commandments is to love the Lord thy God .....and to love thy neighbor as thyself. This principle is found throughout the Bible in various places and we ought to put much more emphasis upon it than we do.

It is the gist of the Ten Commandments, six of them having to do with our relationship with God and the other four having to do with our relationship with man. First John is packed with this principle. I placed Psalms 111 and 112 together as representing these two greatest of all commandments as well. Each begins with the words "Praise ye the Lord." From there Psalm 111 goes on to describe God Himself. It is a Psalm of praise for the qualities and greatness of the Lord. Psalm 112 to describe the man that fears the Lord. The natural reaction to the greatness of God is to fear the Lord and the natural compliment to fearing the Lord is to take note of others who do the same.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Help Me

Psalms 109:26-27 KJV
Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy:
That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.


This verse carries such a different and unique motivation for salvation. The psalmist desires God's salvation
Not so he can escape hell
Not so he can be blessed personally
Not for any selfish reasons


The Psalmist says the reason he seeks salvation is so others would know that the Lord has done it.

God's glory should be our only interest. If it glorifies God it ought to please us even if there is no personal benefit, even if it is a personal sacrifice. Men understand this. They will give their lives for the benefit of their country, and we honor that. Why should we not do the same for Christ?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Whoso Is Wise

Psalms 107:43 KJV
Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

The wise person will observe what is found in this Psalm and thereby shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord. So what is it that is found in this Psalm? I think we can break it into four pieces, all headed by the same words, "Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men."

First, we observe
God delivers the rebellious when they cry unto Him
Vs 8-14

Secondly, we observe
God saves the fools who cry unto Him
Vs 15-20

Thirdly, we observe
God saves the sailor when he cries unto Him
Vs 21-30
I believe we could consider this an appeal for the laborer of any sort. The man who works with his hands for a living has one of the most challenging passages through this life, toiling each day to make enough to provide for his family. Many times his works is dangerous, but he must do it. It is his only way of provision. That man may cry unto the LORD in his distress.

Fourthly, we observe
God turns rivers into wildernesses and wildernesses into waters
God pours contempt upon princes and sets the poor on high

Vs 31-43

I recently heard an audio accounting of the life of an English itinerant preacher from the 1700's. This preacher said that he focused His messages on "the righteousness of God in saving sinners." And he said that message found long lasting converts.

The message that must be preached today is a message of the doom that the sinner is facing and that God saves them, in a righteous manner.
He does not brush over their sins.
He does not excuse wickedness.
He suffers their judgment for them

That is the lovingkindness of the LORD.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

What Is Your Glory?

Psalms 106:20 KJV
Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.

The Bible says "they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox." This is a reference to Aaron's creation of the golden calf. So their glory was the thing they worshiped.

That means before they changed their glory to the similitude of an ox, their glory was almighty God. The object of our worship is our glory.

For some people, the most glorious thing about them is their house
For some it is their car
For others it would be a boat


For some people, their glory is their job; all they want to speak about is the job they have. They feel they are important because of their work.

Another person's glory is their health.
Another person's is their hobby or some other skill.

One person's glory is their family.

For another, they glory in their life experiences; vacations, trips and etc.

Another's glory is their church. I heard a preacher yesterday say "some people worship, worship."

But to glory in any of these is to accept a dull and rusted glory in comparison to the glory that belongs to the one whose life is wrapped in the worship of the Lord. The Lord only is glorious. To trust in and worship Him is to partake in His glory.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Don't Forget His Benefits

Psalms 103:2 KJV
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

This is a powerful Psalm for the Thanksgiving season in that it provides a list of those "benefits" we can be thankful to God for. The list is larger that I intend to detail right now, but I do want to give some of them as examples;
God forgives all our iniquities
God crows us with lovingkindness and tender mercies
God satisfies our mouths with good things
God executes righteousness
God will not always chide His people
God has not dealt with us after our sins
God has removed our transgressions
God pities them that fear Him


And there are tons more benefits I did not list here.

But my thought today is this; we are so prone to forget those benefits. It is a wise man who recognizes this and works at a remedy. A wise man will rehearse the benefits of the Lord.

He will be sure to record them in some way when those benefits are obvious and
He will be sure to review that record on those days when he is struggling to remember them.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Law In the Millenial Kingdom

Matthew 6:33 KJV
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

I remember being taught in Bible College that the primary application of the Sermon on the Mount is to the Jews and is an offer of the Kingdom. We of course employ many parts of that sermon to modern day Christianity;
The Beatitudes
The Lord's Model Prayer
Judge not that ye be not judged and
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God

Are all favorites of most Christians and I am not today claiming that we should not see them as having application to Christianity today. Some Christians believe this sermon to be the key to being a Christian. Those Anabaptist forefathers which eventually became the Mennonites and Amish were willing to die rather than forsake a life lived according to the Sermon's model.

But an interesting thought came to my mind as I read through the Sermon in a devotional way; could this not be the "constitution" that will be used to govern the 1000 year reign of Christ? If so, we know that we will rule and reign with Christ and that He will rule with a rod of iron. It is likely that these are the laws we will enforce in the millennium.

Once again, I am sure that there is an application for today's Christians that can be found in the Sermon on the Mount. But fresh light has been shed for me as I have envisioned those souls in the millennial kingdom needing to be reminded to pray to the Lord who is visibly before them, needing to be urged to meekness or being persecuted and literally seeing their persecutors dealt with.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A God that Forgavest Them

Psalms 99:8 KJV
Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God: thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.

Two blessings and a warning are found in this verse:

Blessing Number One
God answered them.
Speaking of Moses, Aaron and Samuel (and I think the range reaching from Moses to Samuel, implies more than just these men specifically, but the Israelites in general and, by application, to believers today as well). What a blessing to have the assurance that God answers us in our times of need and when we come to Him in prayer. Prayer is more than a religious exercise. It is communion with our Almighty God. Hallelujah it is a two way communion!

Blessing Number Two
God forgave them.
Moses Aaron and Samuel were all sinners. Good men as they were, and used of the Lord as they were, they were still sinners. But God forgave their sins. I think the context specifically means that God answered their prayers and forgave their sins.
1 John 1:9 KJV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

A warning in the verse
God took vengeance of the inventions
Those inventions being their sins. The one that comes most strongly to my mind is Aaron's sin in making the golden calf. We also know of Moses sin in striking the rock. And we know of God's judgment of each of those. Though Samuel's sins are less momentous, and his judgments not so well documented, stil that demonstrates that even in those whose sins do not appear so grievous, God still takes vengeance upon them. This too is said, not of the lost, but of the believer; even of the best of the believers. The warning is clear. Though God will always forgive us when we ask, He will also still judge our sins.

So while the believer may always rejoice in forgiven sin, he must also not think he has a license to sin.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Surrounded by the Nations

Matthew 4:15 KJV
The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

This verses, a fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1, points out that not only in the Lord's earliest ministry but also in the eternal plan of God, the Gospel was not just for the Jews but also the Gentiles.

The Bible does ay of the Lord that
John 1:11 KJV
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

His own were the Jews and He came to them first.
But He did not come to them only.

God's holy plan had Jesus Christ, from a very young age, dwelling in the midst of both Jews and Gentiles. While Nazareth may have been a strictly Jewish community, the northern regions of Israel were not. Each trip to Jerusalem would have involved some contact with the Gentile people who inhabited portions of that northern land (not to mention the Romans who had occupied Israel by that time).

And then came the early days of the Lord's ministry. Just after his temptation in the wilderness, and immediately after hearing of the imprisonment of John the Baptist, Christ moved from Nazareth to Capernaum in fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1. John Gill says of Capernaum that it,
".... was situated by the sea of Tiberias, beyond Jordan, and in, "Galilee of the nations"; the upper Galilee, which had in it people of other nations besides Jews."

So almost from the beginning of His ministry, while He came unto His own, He surrounded Himself with the Gentiles.

And the significance of that is just this; that the Gospel is for all people and always has been. God has never desired that His people seclude themselves into conclaves of their own faith but has designed that we live among the nations, witnessing and testifying that the same Christ which has given us faith can do the same for them.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Giving

Psalms 96:7-8 KJV
Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.


I find the word give three times in these two verses. The interesting thing is that it does not speak of what God gives to us but what we are to give to God. The God who owns everything expects that we, who have so little in comparison, would give to Him

Who is to give
"O ye kindreds of the people"

We are to be givers and specifically givers to the Lord. No doubt we have things backwards in our day. We call good evil and evil good. We believe God is supposed to give to us. The Bible, however, says we are to give to God.

What we are to give
"glory and strength"

Not money and offerings.
Not sacrifices and oblations
Those have their place and we are to give them as well. But what we are really to give (and we likely give it when we give those offerings, sacrifices and financial contributions) is glory and strength.

We give Him glory by proclaiming that He is glorious.
We give Him strength in the same way


But we can also give glory by behaving gloriously, by living holily and
We can give strength by giving the strength of our life in His service.

Why do we give
"due unto His name"

We give it because He is due it.
Not that He needs it. He would be glorious and powerful without us.
Nor that we can add any to what He has. We are so tiny in comparison to Him.

We give it simply because it is His due. He deserves it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Content In This

Psalms 93:1 KJV
The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.

I think it was Thomas Watson who said, "Let the Christian be content in this, that God should rule the world."

There could be
Nothing more important
Nothing more powerful
Nothing more comforting

Than to have the firm conviction that "The LORD reigneth..."

This world likes to challenge that conviction.
The strife that is in the world
The current political circumstances
The mockery of the faith in the media

All call our conviction into question

Then there are those things that come up in our own minds to challenge our conviction:
Why don't more people believe?
Why doesn't the Lord answer (positively) every prayer?
Why do God's people suffer so in this world?

These and a hundred questions like them root down to the core of our convictions and test and prove them.

But when our conviction is solid, and we have this confidence, that regardless of how it appears with the human eye, "The LORD reigneth..." there is such power that flows in through and for that believer.