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