Sunday, May 31, 2009

Salvation

Romans 1:16 KJV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

What a marvelous thing it is to be saved! I was much blessed this morning by Scofield's notes on this verse....

....... Salvation is the great inclusive word of the Gospel, gathering into itself all the redemptive acts and processes: as justification, redemption, grace, propitiation, imputation, forgiveness, sanctification, and glorification. Salvation is in three tenses:

1 The believer has been saved from the guilt and penalty of sin (Luk_7:50); (1Co_1:18); (2Co_2:15); (Eph_2:5); (Eph_2:8); (2Ti_1:9) and is safe.

2 The believer is being saved from the habit and dominion of sin (Rom_6:14); (Phi_1:19); (Phi_2:12); (Phi_2:13); (2Th_2:13); (Rom_8:2); (Gal_2:19); (Gal_2:20); (2Co_3:18).

3 The believer is to be saved in the sense of entire conformity to Christ. (Rom_13:11); (Heb_10:36); (1Pe_1:5); (1Jo_3:2).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Our Shield

Proverbs 30:4-5 KJV
Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.


And what a shield we have when we put our trust in Him!

He has ascended up into heaven and descended
He has gather the wind in His fists
He has bound the waters in a garment
He has established all the ends of the earth


Surely the man who is behind this shield is safe from any threat, human or otherwise.

But notice, we are given the means by which we place our trust in Him. It is through the Word of God. Man's trust in God is not something he can devise on his own. God has given us His Word to
Tell us the position man has before God
Tell us who God is and what His expectations are and
Tell us the way to be reconciled and find salvation in God

Friday, May 29, 2009

The True Test of Friendship

2 Samuel 20:2 KJV
So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 19:41-43 KJV
And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all David's men with him, over Jordan?
And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, Because the king is near of kin to us: wherefore then be ye angry for this matter? have we eaten at all of the king's cost? or hath he given us any gift?
And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.


When David returns to Jerusalem after having defeated Absalom's revolt with the ten tribes of Israel he returns with his brethren of the tribe of Judah. This thing upsets the people of Israel. They claim that they have as much reason to have wanted to welcome him home and celebrate his return as anyone else. They even claim to have more right to have honored David because there are ten of their tribes compared to Judah’s two. My how they wanted to prove they were loyal to David.

But the true test of loyalty and friendship comes not during the times of victory but during the times of trial. David had every reason in the world not to trust the ten tribes. While he led them as their king without partiality, these ten tribes turned against him every time the chips were down. They eventually rebelled completely against David's successor, Solomon and were decimated by the Lord through the Assyrians.

Over the years I have had many people tell me they loved me they supported me and that they believed me to be a man of God. Many of those were very vocal about it, sending me cards and e-mails and other trinkets to demonstrate their sincerity. Some of the most vocal eventually abandoned me. True friends don't have to keep telling you they are your friends. True friends are there when you need them.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bowing To His People

2 Samuel 18:4 KJV
And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.

What a lesson in humility is here. King David could have commanded his armies in battle and indeed had done so successfully many times. It was the manner of kings in those days to fight alongside of their men.

As king, David also had authority to override these wishes of his people. Especially in this battle, David had an interest in the outcome; not only in that they win but that they do so without costing the life of Absalom.

Yet David condescended to the wishes of his people in this case.

All of us would do well to be sensitive enough to listen to those around us. We may not always feel like we can bow to their wishes. Indeed, if a leader did it every time he would be no leader. But to be humble enough to listen to the people around us and not shut off their desires out of hand; to listen and discern if their desires are of the Lord in each case: that is always wise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thank God For Ittai

2 Samuel 15:21 KJV
And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.

David is facing maybe one of the toughest days of his life. Not only is his country in civil war, but the commander opposing him is his own son. As David flees for his life he learns who his real friends are. There is one man who, though having no reason to be so loyal to David, expresses this loyalty anyway. Though David lost many friends that day, he also discovered one.

In the battles we face as believers in the Lord's army, we lose many friends.
Some move away
Some succumb to death
Some turn against us


But my experience all these years has been that God often gives new friends in those difficult days. There might not be as many new friends as we have new enemies. We might find ourselves, as David did, surrounded by far fewer companions than we once had but, if we will allow those friends to be a blessing to us, if we will rejoice in them instead of fixing on the losses God will sustain us through hard times.

In the dark days focus on and be thankful for your friends!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't Go Back To Those Foolish Things

Proverbs 26:11 KJV
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

When I first got saved I was so excited I dove into Christianity lock stock and barrel. I came to the place where I abandoned almost all interests I had before I was a Christian and, for all practical purposes, assumed only those interests that were my pastors.

Some of my earlier interests were not wicked or worldly and over the course of time I came to a place of balance on them. I regained an interest in, for instance,
Welding. I enjoy the craft and now enjoy doing some welding in a recreational sort of way
Fishing. For a few years I was just too busy in the process of learning how to do the ministry to have much interest in fishing. However, over the years I have enjoyed getting out to fish once in a while.


The danger I think I see is that some Christians don't find a right balance. They may have swung farther than they needed to when they first became believers, but when they realize it they sometimes swing far too far back, returning to many of the follies of their worldly self.

God's Word still has standards for us
God's Word still has expectations of us

It is true that we can sometimes, in our zeal for righteousness, move further than is necessary. But it is never right for us to return to the foolishness of the world!

Monday, May 25, 2009

That's Not Glory

Proverbs 25:27 KJV
It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.

Gill's Commentary says
"....to set forth their own excellencies, to sound forth their own praises to seek honour of men, to use all methods to gain popular applause; this is not glorious and praiseworthy, but dishonourable...."

There is in men, a inordinate desire to be recognized and honored. And in some circles that desire becomes more highlighted than in others.
Politicians
Military and
Ministers
Seem especially prone to seek glory.

While I am sure it is not healthy in any realm of the world, I am also sure that it is worse when those in the ministry "search their own glory." For whatever reason, it is a line that is too often crossed that a man enters the ministry to serve others and comes to the place that he instead leads others. If he is at all recognized in his ministry he begins to believe he deserves that recognition and, in too many cases, actually demands it. It is a trap that we must recognize and do all to resist. Ours is to remain nameless so that the lovely name of Jesus is all that appears.

There is no glory, especially in the heavenly sphere, to have a name that is known in this world. History does not need to record us. All that matters is that we humbly and faithfully serve the Lord and reach out to others.

Let God receive the glory. Only that is true glory.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jesus Christ

Proverbs 24:24 KJV
He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:

In much of my personal Bible reading right now I am looking for indications, types and signs of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lately I have especially been considering the Proverbs and plugging Christ into those passages that speak of a just man, righteous man and so forth.

But then I came to this passage and I could see it apply to the lessons I have been studying for Sunday school on justification. God's problem in saving us is that He must be just in justifying the sinner. He does not simply overlook our sin. God's love for man does not supersede God's holiness and justice.

In a word, this verse details God's problem in saving the sinner; If God were to simply say to the wicked, "Thou art righteous" God's own righteousness would be impugned.

God answered the problem in the most gracious way fathomable. So gracious in fact that if a person is not struck in awe over it, he does not grasp the doom he faced if God had not answered it. God sent Jesus Christ to become sin for us. He, who had never sinned, then faced the judgment we deserved. And through Jesus Christ's sacrifice and resurrection God is now just in justifying the sinner.

Praise the Lord!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Landmarks

Proverbs 23:10-11 KJV
Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:
For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.


The following proverb forms a new whole from component parts of Pro_22:28 and Pro_22:22.:[1]

The subject of removing landmarks comes up many times in the Word of God. Deuteronomy 19:14 places a curse upon any that removed these landmarks (which marked the boundaries of a person's property). Even heathen people recognized the wrong in it. Gill says the Romans even had a god whose job was to protect these landmarks.[2]

In this case the promise is attached to the fields of the fatherless, those who would be unable to protect those boundaries on their own. God becomes their redeemer and protector.

There are times when all of us find ourselves in a position where we cannot defend what the Lord has given us.
Perhaps circumstances have left us in a position of no authority
Perhaps the power of others has overwhelmed our own
Perhaps distance has left us unable to exert our influence

For someone it might be a child who, now being an adult, we are not able to influence them as they appear to be removing the landmarks we placed in their lives
For others it might be a church we used to belong to that has turned a new direction, but we have no influence to turn it back now.

In those cases it is still wrong that those landmarks be removed. We must yield ourselves to the promise of our God. His is mighty and He will plead our cause.
[1] Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, Johann (C.F.) Keil (1807-1888) & Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890)

[2] See his comments on Proverbs 22:28

Friday, May 22, 2009

Any Way We Slice This

Psalms 102:27 KJV
But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

I began to see the Lord today as without measure. In a pie graph there is a finite amount of content. The pie can be cut into various slices, but the more slices that are cut, the smaller the slices become. Our God is not like that pie graph but a line graph with neither beginning nor end. It would be impossible to even estimate a half way mark. We could never discern if we were even nearing the right of center because there is no center of the line. Consequently, no matter how many people approach God, they have not in any way limited how much access to God any other person has. No piece of the line diminished aught of the line that is all of God.

How vast
How powerful
How wise
How enduring

Is our God.

Truly Romans 11:33 KJV says
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Goodness and Severity

2 Samuel 12:9 KJV
Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

The Bible says in
2 Samuel 12:24 KJV
And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him.

But even though God loved Solomon, and ordained that he should be the next king, still, David's sin with Bathsheba (God said he despised the commandment of the Lord by taking Bathsheba as his wife) could not have been overlooked by the Lord. Certainly it was not. Besides the death of the first child born to the two of them and the family division the Bible so clearly details there is one other, not so obvious judgment. Solomon, though the next in line for the kingdom, and though offered to be the one from whose family the Saviour would come, has no blood in Jesus Christ. Jesus' step father, Joseph, was from the family of Solomon to provide the legal right to sit upon David's throne. But God had pronounced a curse upon the last king in Solomon's family that none of his children would sit on that throne. True to His Word, Mary, Jesus' mother, and the one through whom He has a blood kinship to David, traces her lineage not through Solomon but through David's son Nathan.

In Solomon we see both the goodness and severity of God (Romans 11:22). God expressed goodness in loving Solomon and anointing him king. God expressed severity in that Solomon's blood does not finally make it to the Son of God.

Truly God is gracious and good to His people. But that is no reason for us to feel free or even at ease to go on in sin. God does, for Christ’s sake, forgive us. But then He commands us to “sin no more.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kindness

2 Samuel 9:1 KJV
And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake?

Kindness is a theme in this chapter and the next.

David seeks to show kindness to the family of Saul for Jonathan's sake
David expands that to show "the kindness of God" to the house of Saul
David then seeks to show kindness to the son of the King of Ammon upon news of his father's death


Regardless of the fact that not all of David's efforts were reciprocated kindly this quality of character is one that I would love to have in my personal life. As a Christian I ought to make it my goal

First to show kindness to friends (for Jonathan's sake)
Secondly to show not only personal kindness but "the kindness of God"
Thirdly to show kindness to those who have been enemies.


The reason for showing this kindness is not so I may receive kindness in return, though that is often the case. The reason to show the kindness is because by doing so we become ministers of God to those around us. God uses us to deliver His own kindness to this world He loves so much.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

He Was Crowned With Thorns

2 Samuel 7:16 KJV
And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.

I read something in conjunction with this verse that gave me pause to think.

Scofield
".... this fourfold covenant has but one condition: disobedience in the Davidic family is to be visited with chastisement; but not to the abrogation of the covenant.
The chastisement fell; first in the division of the kingdom under Rehoboam, and, finally, in the captivities. Since that time but one King of the Davidic family has been crowned at Jerusalem and He was crowned with thorns."

That last sentence, "...Since that time but one King of the Davidic family has been crowned at Jerusalem and He was crowned with thorns."

That He was crowned, even though it was with thorns, is a much bigger event than I think we generally imagine. It was done in mockery and it was done in spite. But still He was crowned.

What a glorious prospect is ours, that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David and according to the promise of our most powerful God, will come again to reign!
What a day to look forward to!
What an event to announce!
What a joy to consider!

Monday, May 18, 2009

For His People Israel's Sake

2 Samuel 5:12 KJV
And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake.

What God had done, He had done not because of David. For though he was a good man, he was far from a perfect man. God had done what He had done for "His people Israel's sake."

These people were God's people
Neither were they perfect, but they were God's people. They were the people He had chosen for Himself. They were the people through whom He would give to this world their Saviour.

God had made promises to these people, Israel
And God will keep His promises regardless of the responses of men. May of God's promises are conditional but the conditions are well announced. None can claim they did not know they must meet those conditions. And God, even in holding the people to those conditions, is keeping His promises.

I seek God's blessing today not because I am worthy or deserving, but because of God's promises. I seek His blessings for His people's sake.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Word of His Grace

Acts 20:32 KJV
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

What a blessed thing we have in God's Word.

Paul warns the preachers of Ephesus that from their very midst would come wolves who, for their own sakes would, to the detriment of God's flock (a local church) draw away disciples after them. Such actions are devastating not both the church and to the shepherd of that church
Because people the shepherd cares for have been lost but also
Because those who have taken them were once trusted associates in the work


Besides that pain these particular servants of the Most High have the added pain of realizing they will never see Paul again.

And yet here is the conclusion of this thing; Paul commends them both to God Himself, and to God's Word which, Paul affirms, "...is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."

The Bible would build them and strengthen them and aide them in the face of the pain of loss and
The Bible would, as they preached it and practiced it in daily living, give them an inheritance with all the sanctified.


This Bible is more than mere words and information about spiritual matters. This Bible is food and sustenance. It is that which God has provided to keep the child of God until we one day stand before Him.

What a blessed thing we have in God's Word

Saturday, May 16, 2009

We Must Separate

Acts 19:9 KJV
But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

There came a point when Paul, because of the hardened hearts and vicious words of the unbelievers, separated the disciples from them.

As long as Paul could, he kept his ministry in the public forum of the synagogue. As he saw people converted to Jesus Christ in this forum, he fed them and discipled them simultaneously with his evangelical preaching. But there came a point when Paul could no longer remain in this setting. For the sake of the disciples, he moved them away from such attacks where they could be taught more fully and with less distraction. Paul maintained his outreach, but he did it in different formats; ones that did not endanger the new disciples' faith.

While we must be in the world in order to win the world, we must also maintain a degree of separation from the world. We are to be a distinct people and we need the sanctuary of the local church of God as a means to discipleship and training without the intense pressures the unbelievers sometimes place upon the faith.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Laborers Together

Acts 18:19 KJV
And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.

Thee is, from this passage through a portion of the next chapter, a unique relationship between Apostle Paul and Apollos. Though the Bible does not say they actually met together, Paul was in Ephesus briefly and, realizing that there was an open door for the Gospel there, desired to return. While he was away Apollos began preaching there. His message was not complete, but it was sincere and it was corrected as soon as he heard the "way of God more perfectly." Apollos then leaves for Corinth, where Paul had previously ministered and Paul comes to Ephesus where he is able to perfect some of the work of Apollos there, and build a much larger work as well.

Paul was able later to say
1 Corinthians 3:6 KJV
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

What a joy it is when preachers of God's Word are able to compliment and work together for the glory of the Lord!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do You Despise Him?

Proverbs 14:2 KJV
He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him.

I read recently a series of sermons from a friend of mine[1] on the subject of the assurance of salvation. He describes three types of assurance;
Private Assurance
That assurance an individual may have that they are saved
Public Assurance
The assurance that those who know an individual that he or she is saved
Pastoral Assurance
The assurance an individual's pastor might have that the person is saved

In the later two, the evidence that gives those who observe a person's life assurance that he or she is a child of God is found in the manner of life of the one in question.
Does their lifestyle match a Christian's?
Do their words support that they are Christian?
Are their activities and interests consistent with what is Christian?


This passage supports the concept that there is a type of assurance that others may have based upon a person's life. Perhaps equally importantly the passage legitimizes calling into question the salvation of a person if their life is not consistent with a believer's life.

The text says that a person who is perverse in his ways despises the Lord. Some theologies may try to teach that a person can despise the Lord and be saved at the same time. I just can't find it in the Bible. True, Christians can and do sin. We do things that are evil and wrong and that hurt the name of the Saviour. But
When a man is perverse in his ways.
When his life is consistently contrary to right and moral and all that is good.

He demonstrates that he despises the Lord. His need to is know the Lord that he may fear and love the Lord.

[1] Pastor John Waldrip, Calvary Baptist Church of Monrovia, CA

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Prisoners Heard

Acts 16:25 KJV
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

The Bible does not tell us much about those prisoners confined with Paul and Silas in this passage.
We do not know what the charges were that were laid against them
We do not know if they had been yet convicted or not
We do not know if they were previously violent people


In fact, there are only two things we do know
We know that, as Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God, those prisoners heard and
We know that when the jail cells were opened because of the earthquake, those same prisoners chose not to escape.

And one cannot help but come to the conclusion that the reason they did not escape is because they heard Paul and Silas when they prayed and sang praises.

We can, without stretching the Word of God in any manner, view those prisoners as types of the souls on this planet. We are each of us trapped here. We have been given a death sentence; we just don't know when it will be carried out. Some of us have it a little easier than others and some of us are angrier than others. But we are all in the same earthly prison.

Inside this prison is a small group of people who have found true joy and peace; freedom despite their chains. They do not fear death but see it as the door that opens up the bars of prison and sets them free body and spirit.

Now here is the key to the passage: the prisoners must be able to hear the prayers and singing of those who have been set free in spirit, if not in body. We who have a reason to pray and sing must learn to do it in a manner that is visible and audible to the rest. Someone said recently (I can't remember where I read it) that "The gospel has never won all who had heard it, but the gospel has always won some who have heard it."

They simply must hear it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

They Followed Him

1 Samuel 27:2 KJV
And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath.

When David was forced to flee from Saul the Bible says that about 400 men, those who were in distress or in debt or discontented followed him. But these men must have developed some character over a short course of time because they followed David through some things they must have questioned.
They followed him when he refused to kill Saul and
They followed David when it appears he lost his faith and joined with the Philistines.

We know now, because we have the whole of the Bible before us, that David had neither lost his faith nor was he about to betray his God and his people. But the 600 (his numbers had grown) did not have the same advantages we do. Still they followed him.
They followed him when their own people were attacked
They followed him when he gave those who could not fight the same spoils of those who did


They could not have understood him sometimes but they did follow him and praise God for loyal and faithful followers!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rest In God

1 Samuel 26:10 KJV
David said furthermore, As the LORD liveth, the LORD shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.

This is a powerful passage and one that Christians would do well to first meditate upon and then place into life practice. David did not need to defend himself against Saul. Even when the opportunity to end his struggle against Saul so easily presented itself, still David refused.

This was God's business alone.
David did not know when
David did not know how
David did not know where

But David did know that God would deal with Saul when it pleased the Lord to do so.

God's Word is true. And that Word, both good and evil, will come to pass as God has said. I do not need to know when where or how. I only need to rest in God.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To You

Acts 13:26 KJV
Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

Paul preached this, first of his recorded sermons, in a synagogue filled with mostly Jews. But there were others there as well. Throughout the history of Israel, there were always certain proselytes, Gentiles who had converted to the faith of the Jews. So there were those Gentiles in the synagogue when Paul preached this message. And he says that the gospel of salvation that he preached was not merely for those of the "stock of Abraham" but for "whosoever among you feareth God."

The word of salvation is sent out to any and all among us
Who fear God,
Who see our sin for the wretched thing that it is and
Who recognize that our sin places us in the way of the wrath of Almighty God


God sends to each of us in that condition the word of this salvation. It is available and offered to us all.

May God grant that there will be many today who hear the word of this salvation and who freely receive it!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

When the Word of God Grows

Acts 12:24 KJV
But the word of God grew and multiplied.

Gill;
The number of those who were converted by it, and embraced and professed it, increased; otherwise the word is the same, whether the professors of it be more or fewer; and this it did, notwithstanding the persecution raised against it by Herod whilst he was living; and after his death...

Barnes;
Great success attended it. The persecutions had now ceased; and notwithstanding all the attempts which had been made to crush it .....The liberation of Peter and the death of Herod would contribute to extend it. It was a new evidence of divine interposition in behalf of the church;
It would augment the zeal of Christians;
It would. humble their enemies, and
[It] would fill those with fear who had attempted to oppose and crush the church of God.


The Word of God, as in the Bible, was not complete in the days of the Book of Acts. This is not saying that the Bible grew and was multiplied but must refer to the influence and effects of the Word of God that was available. Not all was grand in the world of Christianity then. James was killed and Peter was imprisoned. Miracles took place, but only among intense persecution; and that persecution grew, it seems, as quickly as the Word of God did.

The Word of God grew and multiplied as the believers became emboldened to speak it regardless of the dangers. They saw God's hand in what was taking place.
They saw it in the sparing of Peter.
They saw it in the death of Herod, no doubt
They even saw it in the execution of James

God's Word will have its effect so long as God's people speak it,

Friday, May 08, 2009

When We Choose God Over Men

Acts 11:17 KJV
Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

The Christian faith has a tradition of rejecting established religions in favor of a personal relationship with the Lord.
Abraham walked away from the gods of his fathers
The Jews were unique from the world because they worshiped the invisible God
Jesus came to lead men away from the hypocrisy of the Jew's religion turned man centered


I recently read of a group of believers who left the Mennonite church and began holding services without church authority. The Mennonite elders appealed to them to come back under the authority of the church but to no avail; this group wanted to get back to their anabaptist roots.

Already in Acts 11 the brethren of the church in Jerusalem contended with Peter for doing something that was not accepted in their circles. Peter answered with "what was I that I could withstand against God?"

While their is certainly Biblical support for following the Lord regardless of church authority, there are also plenty of reasons why we must do so, if we do so, very cautiously. I notice a few things in our text:

Peter had definitely heard from God
And not just one of these, I think it is the will of God so nobody can stop me sorts of things. Peter's meeting with the Lord should be compared to our finding direct Biblical command. If the Bible says it, we must obey it regardless of the church's objection.

Peter's experience was confirmed by others
Cornelius had heard from God personally and Peter took six brethren with him who had witnessed and could confirm God's hand. If there are no others who can confirm that the move away from current church teaching is Biblical, it is the blindness of the flesh that is leading.

Peter was challenged by the church and was able to answer those challenges.
He did not merely rebel against them. He was able to argue before them the hand of God. In his case, the church came to see the hand of God in leading him. In Christ's case with the Jews, that was not so. But in either case, the truth was presented well.

There are churches (and church systems) that get so far from following the Lord that we must leave them. But God has ordained His church and these sorts of changes must be done Biblically or we ourselves become guilty of rebellion as the sin of witchcraft.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My Body and the Word of God

Proverbs 7:2-3 KJV
Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.


The Scriptures attaches the Word of God to three parts of the human body (or rather encourages us to attach it to them);

The apple of thine eye
The apple, they say, is the pupil. We are to keep God's law as we would keep the apple of our eye. They say that our quickest reactions take place as we protect our eyes. The fastest motions in the human body and the most delicate part of our body, therefore the part we are most prone to protect are the eyes.
But more precious that our eyes is the Word of God. The diligence with which we receive it and the care with which we should protect the Word of God should be the highest priority for us. Nothing is more valuable to the believer than is the Word of God.

Thy fingers
We are to bind the Word of God upon our fingers. The first thing that came to my mind was that we write the Word of God out personally. We learn most when we engage several of our senses at the same time. If we see the Word of God, speak the Word of God and write out the Word of God it becomes more bound into our lives.

The table of thine heart
The heart is, in the Biblical language, not so much the seat of our affections as it is our thoughts. "as he thinketh in his heart, so is he"
The Word of God must be written upon our hearts so that it can never be taken from us. One day the Word of God in its paper and ink form, may become scarce and hard to come by. It has been in days gone by. But the Word of God, kept as the apple of the eye, bound upon our fingers and written upon our hearts can never be stolen from us.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Samuel's Compassion and Conviction

1 Samuel 15:35 KJV
And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

I am impressed with two things from this chapter; first that Saul's disobedience is called rebellion and likened to witchcraft. This in the face of the fact that Saul thought he had obeyed the Lord. In his mind he did what God had asked. He only kept back a few of the spoils (the very best things) and that, for the people. We live in a day when Christians believe they can obey the Lord in some part and should get credit for being obedient Christians. Most of us are more likely than not guilty of rebellion as the sin of witchcraft.

But I am more impressed with Samuel's response to all that takes place in this chapter.

First, it is obvious that Samuel has developed a love for Saul. When, in verse 11, God told Samuel that Saul had "turned back from following the Lord" Samuel was grieved and wept all night. In vs 35 Samuel mourned for Saul. Though it does not say so, I believe the passage means, for the rest of his life.

Secondly, though Samuel was obviously loved Saul, he was the man of God and confronted Saul's sin. He did not allow Saul to excuse away what he had done. He would not pretend everything was all right between he and Saul for the good of Saul's followers. He was the man of God.

Thirdly, though Samuel mourned for Saul, likely the rest of his life, still Samuel stayed true to his convictions. He was compassionate. He loved the king. But he loved the Lord more.

God make me that kind of preacher!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

But They Did Follow

1 Samuel 13:7 KJV
And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

My focus is on the phrase that "the people followed him trembling."

They had reason to tremble;
They had rejected God in asking for a king
This king had upset their enemies
They had no weapons
The whole of the nation was not following and
This king had not yet proven himself in battle


Things could go badly for them if the Lord did not bless them.

Still, these people followed. Let's hear it for them! It is the right thing for them to do. They will eventually see victory in battle because they have followed. I salute them.

They were terrified
They were insecure
They were trembling in their boots

But they followed the king God had given them.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Is Life So Dear?

1 Samuel 11:2 KJV
And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.

What a horrible price to pay for life. The Ammonite has more in mind than merely to render these men no good to defend themselves from here on out. He specifically wants to bring reproach upon Israel. As if it were not enough that the men of this city would be subjects of another land and they would be handicapped for the rest of their lives; Nahash intends to reproach the people who have been chosen of the Lord.

And the elder of Jabesh had to consider it. Rather than standing as men in defense of their families and in faith toward their God, they apparently would have accepted this fate had not someone come to rescue them.

How terrible are the compromises Christians make today to have peace with this world.
We do spiritual damage to our families
We cripple ourselves and servants of the Lord and worse
We reproach the name of our own Saviour


We deprive ourselves of the depth of insight in the things of God all because we choose peace with this world rather than to trust the Lord.

Would to God we would stand as men for God.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Let's Not Do The Same

1 Samuel 10:19 KJV
And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands.

Christians in America may be dangerously close if not already guilty of this very sin. We have become so engrossed in our political system, so focused on who is or isn't in office that we have stopped truly trusting the Lord and have become, in some cases, more of a political action committee than a lighthouse of the Gospel.

There is certainly a place for government. God has instituted it for its specific purpose. And I am not saying that Christians cannot nor should not be involved in either government or politics. But I am concerned when we place any sort of faith in that government or in its leaders. Our participation is mere responsibility. It has little or nothing to do with influencing God's plan on the earth. God is doing as He pleases and He is placing in authority whom He chooses for the specific purpose of the times.

Our faith must be fixed upon the Lord. We must obey Scripture and pray for those in authority. We may, as God enables and leads, involve ourselves in the process of our government. But then we need to place our faith in Christ alone.

No leader or government system is to replace our devotion to the Lord.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

There

1 Samuel 7:16-17 KJV
And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.
And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the LORD.


Samuel had a circuit that he travelled as a part of his regular ministry, but his main work was done in the city of Ramah.

There was his house
This is the same city where his family was from. Samuel had lived, since his mother lent him to the Lord, at the Tabernacle in Shiloh. But evidently after the death of Eli he returned to his home town and dwelt there.

There he judged Israel
It was from this, his home, he bore the weight of his ministry. True it was that he traveled as a part of his work, but he was more well known for his ministry in Ramah

There he built and altar unto the Lord
Rather than travelling hither and yon in pursuit of his walk with the Lord, Samuel saw the benefit of faithful, consistent, dependable worship of God right where God had planted him. We went back to his roots and from there walked with God.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Chance

1 Samuel 6:9 KJV
And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us.

The people of this world tend to see things as either fate or chance. They often have a difficult time assigning anything as the will or working of Almighty God for they prefer to believe that, if He does exist, He is not interested or not capable of exercising any influence in this world.

But the true believer comes to see that nothing is either fate or chance. All that happens is the result of the sovereign work of God or the consequence of our removing ourselves from His will.

The Philistines would not have had to been chastened for having the ark in possession. Had they surrendered to the will of the Living God they too could have been blessed. Instead their reaction, when they heard that the ark was in the camp of the Israelites, chose to fight harder against them.

So it is in our world today. So many people, rather than surrendering to the Lord when they see His hand in action, resist and fight that much harder. To be sure, for a time they may appear to have gained the advantage for their hard work, but there is no winning against the Lord. Sooner or later the one who resists God's truth will come out the sorer for it.

It is no chance. It is the hand of God!