Friday, December 31, 2010

A Whole New Thing

Ephesians 3:6 KJV
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

Scofield's Notes says,
"That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery (Rom_9:24-33); (Rom_10:19-21). The mystery, "hid in God", was the divine purpose to make of Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing - "the church, ....[I removed this segment because of its universal church doctrine].... (1Co_12:12); (1Co_12:13), and in which the earthly distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears; (Eph_2:14); (Eph_2:15); (Col_3:10); (Col_3:11). The revelation of this mystery, which was foretold, but not explained, by Christ (Mat_16:18) was committed to Paul. In his writings alone, we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church."

The first half of the book of Ephesians is taken up with this doctrine of unity among believers in a local church. The modern practice of having a church for every nationality is completely unbiblical and tends toward a universal church mentality; "Since we belong to the 'true church' we need not concern ourselves with working out the mystery of fellowship in a local congregation of diverse believers." We need to return our churches to a "melting pot" mentality where everyone is welcome because in the Lord we are "a whole new thing."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

He Is Our Peace

Ephesians 2:14 KJV
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

He is our peace. And how we need peace in our world today. The peace spoken of is between believers of different cultures; namely the Jews and the Gentiles, but the same peace ought to create peace among all believers, regardless of background, culture, class or race.

Jesus Christ brings peace among people groups,
By breaking down the wall between us
I see this wall as the prejudice that separates people groups. Through Jesus Christ those prejudices are broken down. We see people not as from different people groups but as believers in Christ, therefore brethren in Christ.

By abolishing the law of commandments contained in the ordinances
The Mosaic Law is no longer relevant either for the Jews or the Gentiles. Insisting on any practice of them only serves to continue the differences between peoples.

By making of two one new man
In this passage that "new man" is the church. We come together into the same church and become a new person. Together, members of the same church, though having varied backgrounds and tastes find common ground in the cause of their church.

By reconciling both unto God
The enmity slain is the difference in fellowship with God. The woman at the well brought up those differences. "We worship at this mountain" she told Jesus, "But ye say in this place God is to be worshiped." Jesus' response was that a time is coming when we worship at neither mountain but in Spirit and in truth.

By preaching the same peace to those far off and those nigh
This is illustrated in the book of Acts with the same ministry of the Holy Ghost in the Jews of Acts 2, Samaritans of Acts 10 and Gentiles in Acts 19. The message of salvation is the same to every race, culture and people group. The result of salvation is the same to every race culture and people group. Therefore there is no real difference between any race culture or people group.

God give us peace.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When God Wraps It All Up

Ephesians 1:10 KJV
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

The word gather is always a reminder of the rapture of the saints. But this passage obviously carries with it more than that, though the rapture would certainly be included.

This gathering seems to be the conclusion of all things: we might use the phrase today, "When God wraps it all up."

• It will happen in the dispensation of the fulness of times.
• It will be the specific work of God and
• It will all come together in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Doubly Crucified

Galatians 6:14 KJV
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Matthew Poole paraphrases this verse
"I care no more for the world than it careth for me; the world despiseth and contemneth me, and the doctrine of the cross which I preach and publish in it, and I contemn it, with all its vain pomp and splendour."

And Gill says
"…so that he feared not the worst men, and things in it, any more than he would one that was fastened to a cross, or dead; since Christ, by his crucifixion and death, had overcome the world, the prince of it, the men and malice of it, the sin that was in it, and had made him more than a conqueror also; his faith in a crucified Christ overcame the world…"

The Christian has no need to be angry or bitter towards the people of this world, but neither should we be fascinated and allured by it. We have such better things to look forward to. The sooner we see ourselves as having crucified the world to us and us to the world, the sooner we will be ready to pitch our lot without reserve onto the things of Christ.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Faith and Love

Galatians 5:6 KJV
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Circumcision in the passage is, as I understand it, representative of man's efforts toward earning righteousness by the Law. The Word of God says that when we are in Christ such efforts avail nothing. They are ineffective as a means of earning righteousness before the Lord.

What is effective is faith; and this text says faith works by love.
• The love of God in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
• Not that we loved God but that He first loved us and gave himself to be a propitiation for our sin.
• The love of God that constrains us to preach and urge sinners to trust Jesus Christ.
• Love that motivates our ministries.

Faith working by love: that availeth much.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Too Many Servant Saints, Not Enough Son Saints

Galatians 4:1 KJV
Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

This verse is reminiscent to 1 Corinthians 13 "putting away childish things." The believer is encouraged to reach past such childish things as sign gifts and, in Galatians, works of the Law and flesh for righteousness.

As sons of God we are to mature and grow into perfection through the work of the Holy Spirit in us. God has done that work in saving us but, if we continue to trust in
• Our own flesh
• Our own thinking
• Our own goodness
to establish our righteousness then we differ nothing from the servant.

There are far too many servant saints and not enough son saints these days.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We Continue The Way We Began

Galatians 3:3 KJV
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

We continue the way we began; in the Spirit and through the hearing of faith.

The issue in Galatia was the Jewish law. They began their Christian life in the Spirit by the hearing of faith. But they had been beguiled and were attempting to reach Christian perfection and maturity by the works of that Law, in the power of their flesh. Paul proclaims, but in logic fashion that we are perfected the same way we began, in the Spirit and by the hearing of faith.

Our issue today is not so different. Well meaning (I suppose) people urge Christians to spiritual maturity by forcing upon them their own brand of Law.
• Dress a certain way
• Raise your family a certain way
• Behave a certain way
- the way we tell you, and you will be perfected.

The truth is they merely want people to conform to their standard. It is all of the flesh.

I believe in standards, I believe that Christians should grow into separation from this world. But we must not allow ourselves to make those standards the means of perfection; that only comes as the Spirit ministers to the hearers of faith.

• Standards
• Separation
• Conformity to Christ
are the by-products of perfection and not the other way around.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Rebuilding What Should Remain in Ruins

Galatians 2:18 KJV
For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

The apostle is speaking specifically about the Old Testament Law.

His concern is that if after destroying the Law for righteousness by coming to Christ, he would begin again to practice that same Law as a matter of righteousness he would be rebuilding what he had destroyed and would be in transgression in doing it.

He was especially concerned because such activity could lead to some other person believing that trusting Christ was vain and he should seek righteousness only through works of the Law.

Oh how many there have been who, having met Jesus Christ and turning to Him have, some time later, returned to build again those fleshly works which they once destroyed.
• Some in returning to their former sins
• Some in returning to former practices
though not sin in themselves, become sinful because they draw them away from that which is godly.

How often too their return has led to the downfall of those they love and who love them; children and grandchildren, who follow them in the sin but never have faith in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Grace of Christ

Galatians 1:6 KJV
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Scofield's note are good.
"The test of the Gospel is grace. If the message excludes grace, or mingles law with grace as the means of either of justification or sanctification, (Gal_2:21); (Gal_3:1-3), or denies the fact or guilt of sin which alone gives grace its occasion and opportunity, it is "another" gospel, and the preacher of it is under the anathema of God."

Paul calls the gospel here, "the grace of Christ." Grace is the gospel. A gospel that is anything other is another gospel and accursed of God.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Not Just For Appearance

2 Corinthians 13:7 KJV
Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.

Paul makes two appeals:
First He prayed they would do no evil.
He says that this desire is not for appearance sake. He is not trying to paint a sepulcher. His desire is that they be truly honest in their walk with the Lord.

Second he wished for their perfection.
And just after instructs them in fact to be perfect. Christians can mature and grow and be, though not sinlessly perfect on this earth, practically perfect in their relationship with God and man.

We will still be thought of as "reprobates" by the lost world and by those whose lives come under conviction because of our light. But we must not allow ourselves to settle for anything less than our perfection.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In These Cases, Forbear

2 Corinthians 12:6 KJV
For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

Paul said that there was a time that even saying the truth might would be unwise and therefore he would forebear. To tell the truth in this case would appear to puff himself up and make him appear the fool.

There are times when forbearance is called for. Times when speaking all the truth would not give the result of glorifying the Lord.
• When the person you speak with will not receive it as truth
• When your authority in the matter or on these circumstances might be in question
• When though you know the truth you are not able to support the truth with real evidence
• When speaking the truth would tend to puff you up in the sight of others
In those cases and others it would be best to forebear though you know the truth.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Robbery

2 Corinthians 11:8 KJV
I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.

Paul admits that when he worked among the Corinthians, though they were in a richer city, he did not take wages of them but "robbed other churches." This is not meant in the criminal sense but as a matter of illustration. Paul received gifts of support from those churches he had founded, and perhaps some others to.

Now he speaks to the Corinthians and reminds them - though the laborer is worthy his hire, he did not require it of them. He said he would continue his practice, making evident that it was neither criminal nor unethical. But it does emphasize a point; those who live off of the gifts of others should not expect that those gifts are theirs to do with wantonly.
• Those who accept gifts for their ministries
• Those who ask for gifts for various purposes, even
• Those who receive gifts to meet personal needs ought to view those gifts as "robbery."
Some other need has gone unmet because the money was given to them.

It is an enormous sacrifice that others would give. That should never be taken for granted.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

When revenge is all right.

2 Corinthians 10:6 KJV
And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

The word of God says that revenge belongs to the Lord. We never have a right to get even with our enemies but are told to bless them and pray for them.

It's a challenge for us because we are so often injured, and for so many things.
• Sometimes just because we are in the wrong place when an event happens
• Sometimes because we are vulnerable
• Sometimes because we are Christians

This world is filled with people who make offenses. And so often they appear to have gotten away with it. It would be easier maybe for us if we could see them hurt for hurting us. Sometimes we just can't. So faith must step in. We must recognize that God is in control.

But there is one time when revenge is all right. It is all right to revenge disobedience with obedience. That, we should be ready always to do.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Unprepared?

2 Corinthians 9:3-4 KJV
Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:
Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

The Apostle had used the Corinthians as an example to provoke others in giving. As many other things that needed correcting, they were this - willing and generous givers.

But "things" had happened since Paul last witnessed their generosity.
• He had written than stern letter.
• They had repented
But who knew what changes may have taken place in the church.

So Paul thought it wise to get them ready so they would not be caught unprepared when Paul arrived to take up their offering.

Being a prepared people is a wise thing.
• Prepared for our church services
• Prepared in our Sunday school classes
• Prepared so far as having the facility ready
• Prepared for missions conferences and revivals
• Prepared in our home life
• Prepared for the return of Jesus Christ.

Paul tells us what he did to make them ready. Those same things may be helpful in our own preparedness
Paul gave them some personal encouragement
He did not want them to be ashamed should Paul and his company arrive and they be found unprepared. He encouraged them to be ready

Paul sent them some previous recruitment
Sent ahead "the brethren" I suppose with this letter and also with some instructions to help them get prepared.

Paul showed them some spiritual enlightenment
Paul reminded them of the law of sowing and reaping and pointed out that giving was to be done cheerfully and as God had prospered each person.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Giving

2 Corinthians 8:1 KJV
Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

Sometimes remembering the most basic of principles is very helpful. Scofield's notes says the following concerning 2 Corinthians 8-9 and giving:
"In 2 Corinthians 8-9, the apostle sums up the Christian doctrine of giving. It may be thus summarized:
(1) It is a "grace," that is, a disposition created by the Spirit. (2 Cor 8:7).
(2) In contrast with the law, which imposed giving as a divine requirement, Christian giving is voluntary, and a test of sincerity and love. (2 Cor 8:8-12); (2Cor 9:1); (2 Cor 9:2); (2 Cor 9:5); (2 Cor 9:7).
(3) The privilege is universal, belonging, according to ability, to rich and poor. (2 Cor 8:1-3); (2 Cor 8:12-15); (1 Cor 16:1); (1 Cor 16:2).
(4) Giving is to be proportioned to income. (2 Cor 8:12-14); (1 Cor 16:2). The Old Testament proportion was the tithe, a proportion which antedates the law. (Gen 14:20).
(5) The rewards of Christian giving are:
(a) Joy. (2 Cor 8:2).
(b) Increased ability to give in proportion to that which has been already given. (2 Cor 9:7-11).
(c) Increased thankfulness to God. (2 Cor 9:12).
(d) God and the Gospel glorified. (2 Cor 9:13); (2 Cor 9:14)."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Comfort

2 Corinthians 7:6 KJV
Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;

It is given almost as a name for God, certainly as a description. God comforts those that are cast down.
• It is His nature to do so.
• It is the consistent quality of the Lord.

Since we may all be cast down through different circumstances the type of comfort might be different for each of us. In this case Paul was comforted be the coming of a friend. Titus' presence brought comfort. But Titus also brought word of the testimony and response of the Corinthians to His first letter. Hearing of how well they received his rebuke that they had repented had brought great joy to him.

Depend upon this; God comforts the cast down. If you are now downcast, and you have trouble finding God's comfort, look for it in some small way, some way that your troubled heart might have a difficult time seeing. It is a promise, a sure thing: God has comfort for you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Will We?

2 Corinthians 6:11-12 KJV
O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.
Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.

The apostle expresses his love for the Corinthians by saying his mouth was opened unto them and his heart was enlarged.

He said they were not straitened (restricted, a narrowing) in the apostle but they were straitened in their own bowels. Any tension in their relationship was their own doing and the result of associations that were not right for believers to have.

Paul's appeal was that they become enlarged toward the things of God. And they could do that if they would make a break from
• Ungodliness
• Worldliness and
• Wickedness

Paul thought of them as dear children. But Paul was consistent with what and who he had always been; a man of God.

His arms were outstretched. His heart was willing; it was up to them then. Would they break the yolk with unbelievers and be received?

Will we?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nathan

1 Chronicles 17:2-4 KJV
Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee.
And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying,
Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not build me an house to dwell in:

Nathan's position before the king must have been a powerful one. Few people have the spiritual ear of a leader in the manner Nathan did of David; and the prophet's office was a unique one in that day anyway. The prophet's word was taken as truth. If a prophet ever said something that did not come to pass he was to be considered a false prophet and stoned.

So when David communed with him about the Ark of the Covenant and it's place under curtains, it could certainly not have been taken as one friend speaking to another when Nathan told him to do what was in his heart and that God was with him in it. But Nathan barely got the words out when God came to him (that same night) and said His plan was not the same at all.

Nathan must have been humbled to return to the king and tell him what God had really said. The first time Nathan spoke from his own heart. He spoke as a man whose concern was for the things of God and whose reason believed David's desire was sound.

God is so much greater than us that we cannot afford to operate on spiritual assumptions. God's Word must be searched and we must labor that our responses and actions would be pleasing to Him.

May God keep us humble and ever searching what is true and not just what seems right.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Letter and the Spirit

2 Corinthians 3:6 KJV
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

The contrast between the letter and the spirit. The letter is obviously the Mosaic Law. The spirit:
Gives life
Vs 6

Is glorious
Vs 8

Is of righteousness
Vs 9

Exceeds in glory
Vs 9

Remains
Vs 11

Is the Lord
Vs 17

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who Is Sufficient?

2 Corinthians 2:16 KJV
To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

Who is sufficient for these things?

The apostle is glorying in the triumph of the ministry. He says they are unto God a sweet savour in Christ to both the saved and the lost.
• To one they are a savour of death unto death.
• To the other they are a savour of life unto life.

He said they were not like the many that corrupt the Word of God but preach it with sincerity.

But then he also recognizes that none of this could be true in the power of self. No one would be sufficient for these things. We must necessarily seek the Lord because we are of ourselves insufficient.

May we always and forever remember that! God uses us, even amazingly.

But it is God and not ourselves.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day By Day

1 Chronicles 12:22 KJV
For at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God.

Though King David did nothing to injure Saul, toward the end of Saul's life and then shortly after, the people of Israel began coming one after the other to follow him.

It was a long journey and a painful one no doubt. But David's faith in God and refusal to take the kingdom for himself, but to wait upon the Lord to give it to him proved to be the right move.

David did not refuse to take these men when they came to him, but I notice that he refused to allow them to do any damage to Saul. Though the accounts happened a little earlier in the history of David and Saul, twice David was in a position to kill Saul, his men wanted him to do it, but he refused to let it be done.

We never need to attack another person, even if they have gotten off course. We only need to follow the Lord for ourselves. He will bring to us those He chooses.

Trust God.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Anathema Maranatha

1 Corinthians 16:22 KJV
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

The center column notes in my Bible says, "Christ is God's final test."

The term Anathema Maranatha means, "accursed, for the Lord cometh." when Jesus comes again those who do not love Him are accursed. I take it that so long as we have breath and Christ has not come, there is the hope of eternal life for there is still time to turn to Christ in love.

But
• When all is said and done
• When life is completely finished
• When either death takes us or Christ returns to claim His own
then all who do not love Him will be accursed.

• Accursed in the final judgment of the tribulation
• Accursed in the pit of hell and finally and forever
• Accursed in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

It's A Miserable Life

1 Corinthians 15:19 KJV
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Why would Christians be miserable in this life if there were no life after?

The Apostle could not be speaking about the disappointment of finding out after we have died that there is no life after death. What was it about being a Christian that made it so it is a miserable existence except for the promise of eternal life?

Gill comments
the apostles, …. being continually exposed to hardships and persecution for the sake of Christ; were set forth as a spectacle to angels and men; were accounted the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things; and suffered many indignities, and great reproach and affliction, and that for asserting the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead; ….. all others that hope in Christ …. not only deny themselves the pleasures, honours, and profits of this world, but are exposed continually to the hatred, reproach, and persecution of it; they are chastised by God as other men are, that they may not be condemned with the world, and yet they must be condemned, if Christ is not risen; they are harassed and distressed by Satan, who follows them with his temptations and suggestions, which are so many fiery darts, which give them great pain and uneasiness, when others are unmolested by him; they groan under a body of sin they carry about with them, and desire and long to be unclothed, that they might be clothed upon with glory and immortality; and yet these very desires and earnest longings after a blessed eternity do but add to their misery …."

Some argue for salvation with this logic, "If I surrender my life to Christ and give all to him and then find out when I die there is no life after death, I have not lost anything. But if you continue to live unsaved and then find out I am right and there is an eternal hell you have lost everything." Paul did not use that line. He said that the Christian life was miserable, even most miserable, except for the hope of eternal life.

The day has changed and I understand that. The world is more tolerant of faiths of all sorts. But it could be that our modern Christianity is so far from the sort Paul preached that we are friends with the world and have no real friendship with God. The modern preacher who shuns discouragement and depression and refuses that they would be part of the true character of the Christian misses the import of passages like this.
• Perhaps we ought to be less happy with our life today.
• Perhaps we ought to yearn for something not just better, but so much better, that this life is miserable in comparison.
• Perhaps we ought to believe that life with Christ is so much better that we will gladly die to this life so Christ may live in us.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Purpose of Preaching

1 Corinthians 14:25 KJV
And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

Prophecy had taken on a new role by this time in the Bible. The preacher, though still foretelling for a time until the Bible was completed, was generally a "forth teller." In this early church those with the gift of prophecy - and I take it that churches had more than one with that gift, would be given orderly opportunities to preach. The Bibles supposes that the lost and unlearned would find their way into those services and, through the preaching; the secrets of their heart would be revealed.

Over the years it has been frequent that someone has approached me after my message and said that it was like I was looking into the windows of their home. I did not do that, but God sure did. And He used the preaching to reveal it to them.

That it the purpose of preaching.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Charity

1 Corinthians 13:13 KJV
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

I doubt that we spend enough time in this chapter.

It is a key both to ministry and to unity. The characteristics of charity, which is love, are given in such detail that any person who is aware of them and pleases to do so may learn how to love.
• What love is
• What love is not
• What love does not do and
• What love does
are all there for us to see and test ourselves by.

That this description is given in the context of the spiritual gifts is evidence that ministry must be done in love - and the very same is declared in the chapter.

Monday, December 06, 2010

The difference Between the Flesh and the Spirit in the Ministry

1 Corinthians 12:29 KJV
Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

The verse expresses a truth that becomes hard to swallow. The Spirit of God does not use us equally.
• We cannot go to school to learn how to do miracles or to be an apostle.
• We can not take a seminar to have the gift of the one conducting the seminar.

It is possible to learn in the flesh how to do the works of the flesh, but that is not the gift of the spirit and it has been the blight of Christianity for a very long time.

• Jealousy
• Division
• Power struggles
and such are the cause of ministry performed in the flesh and the continuation and even promotion of it.

It is good and right to seek to know our own spiritual gift. It is good and right to earnestly covet the use of that gift. But the truth is, if we seek most to grow in charity and hospitality for one another; that would accomplish far more and, I think, be the natural expression of our spiritual gift.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Heresies Among You

1 Corinthians 11:18-19 KJV
For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

The Word of God sets out two sorts of people who will be "among you" that is, within the church.
The first are "heresies"
The word means "choice or disunion." There are those whose choices in the their personal and spiritual lives create disunion in the church. They, because of their choices, never become fully followers of Jesus Christ. They might be believers but their choices make them to be separated from those Christians whose desire of to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The heresies may not be such as to be evidence of false profession in Christ - although that is certainly possible, but they are such as to create division in the local church.

The second are "approved."
This word means "tried and accepted." This group in the church rise to the top as Christian servants and leaders in the work of the Lord. They have been through the fires of trial and continue to grow for the Lord. They are faithful and can be counted upon in the ministries of the church. Their testimonies stand true to God even though they suffer difficulties.

The heresies that arise serve as a backdrop to illuminate and contrast those whose choices prove to be constantly for God.

I am reminded of the parable of the wheat and the tares. They both grow up together. They are both in the same field. For some time it is difficult to tell them apart. But there comes a time when those that are approved become manifest and apparent. It is obvious. We will never remove all heresy and division and people who make poor spiritual choices from our church. But we will always look for those who stand out as tried and approved before the Lord because of their very clear godly choices.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Israel's Ensample

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 KJV
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

These are two of the more well known passages in the New Testament. It is important to see them in the context of the Jews in the wilderness.

First they had huge spiritual experiences.
• The plagues of Egypt
• The Passover meal
• The deaths of all the firstborn of Egypt
• The parting of the Red Sea
• The manna in the wilderness
• The pillar of God's presence as well as
• Moses' Sinai experiences
These were a spiritually privileged people to say the least

Secondly, even after all of that with many of them God was not well pleased.
Four sins are submitted
• Idolatry
• Fornication
• Tempting Christ (provoking His anger)and
• Murmuring
The Word says all of this is for our ensamples.

And then it says, based upon this ensample, "let him that thinking he standeth take heed lest he fall" and "there hath no temptation taken but such as is common to man..."

Israel serves as an example that
• We all face the same spiritual battles, that
• Any of us could fall in those battles, that
• God has given us a way to escape and
• When in those temptations we should flee

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Difference in Response

2 Kings 22:18 KJV
But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard;

One has to wonder where Josiah got the leadership to serve the Lord at eight years old. His father was a wicked man so he did not learn it from him. But his Grandfather, though wicked most of his life, repented and served the Lord in his final years.(2 Chronicles 33:11-13) Those are the years that he may have had a chance to influence Josiah because he died when Josiah was six.

Josiah's story reads similar to Hezekiah's except he did not invite Babylon to see the kingdom. The difference is in their response to God's judgment.

When Josiah read the word of God he sent to hear what God's judgment was. Josiah heard the same thing as Hezekiah; there would be peace in his lifetime but those who followed would suffer judgment. Upon hearing that Hezekiah responded, "It is good there will be peace in my lifetime." Josiah, who heard the same judgment, set about to bring revival to his country. His desire was that others too would express a tender heart and humility toward God and would then share the same promise of blessing he knew.

I am grateful for God's mercy upon me and my family. I praise Him for His goodness to us. I now long to lead others to experience the same mercy by having the same relationship with the Lord we have.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Love God

1 Corinthians 8:3 KJV
But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

If a believer were to live with this one goal; to love God, the rest of the issues of life would care for themselves.

The chapter speaks of the one who think he knows but doesn't.
Vs 2
If he lived only to love God what he thought he knew would be trivial.

The chapter speaks of our liberty being another's stumbling block.
Vs 9
If he lived only to love God, that would be known of him and he would not as likely be a stumbling block.

The chapter speaks of sinning against the brethren (I know this sin is being a stumbling block but allow me to expand just a bit).
Vs 12
If he lived only to love God we would not so sin.

I do not mean that we live so people will know we love God. The flesh is so given to sin that that would quickly become its own evil goal; to have men know we love God even if we don't. The thing is to grow in love for God and let people see what they will.

If we really do love God, it will be known.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Men On The Wall

2 Kings 18:27 KJV
But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?

The men that sit on the wall...
What loyalty these men demonstrated when Rabshakeh terrorized them with his words.

And they had reason to fear.
• Already the Assyrians had carried the larger northern kingdom away and
• Already they had taken the fenced cities of Judah, leaving Jerusalem practically alone.

The men that sat on the wall were charged to obey the king's orders regardless. They are the ones whose duty it is to defend the people within from this powerful enemy without. Hezekiah had rebelled against Assyria and refused to serve them. But then he had tried to buy them off with the silver and gold from the house of the Lord. Now the men who sat on the wall listened as the enemy taunted them, speaking directly to them and not to their leadership.

But following their king's command they held their peace and spoke not a word.

What a blessing it is to have people who will obey the leaders God places over them and who will not engage in gossip and idol arguments with others for any reason but will stand regardless of the cost.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

High Places

2 Kings 15:35 KJV
Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the LORD.

He did not remove the high places... Some of those high places were used to worship idols but many if not most of them were used as remote places to worship the Lord.

Following the pattern of the pagans, the Jews practiced the habit of constructing these places of worship on the tops of mountains and in groves of trees. By doing so, they were directly disobeying God's command to worship in the Temple of the Lord. They said they worshiped the living God; they just did it in their own place. It is not unlike those of today who would claim to be worshippers of the Lord but forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

God speaks well of this king but reports the remission. It reminds me of Christ's letters to the churches when He writes "nevertheless I have somewhat against you..." why would a Christian settle for a relationship with the Lord where He still has somewhat against us? Why would we not prefer to remove those "high places" in our lives that are imitations of the world?

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's a Small Thing

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 KJV
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Note the progression:
• First, Paul says it is a very small thing that he is judged of the Corinthians
• Second he says he does not judge himself but
• Third it is the Lord that judges him.

If a man keeps in perspective that he is ultimately judged of the Lord then those little judgments of men will become much less significant to us.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

All Things

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 KJV
Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

I see a vertical line graph here.
All things are ours - that could be the church - preachers, the world, life and death and things both present and future (but not past) belong to the church; exist for the sake of and benefit of the church.
And the church belongs to Jesus Christ.
And Christ belongs to God.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Case For the Spiritual Preacher

1 Corinthians 2:14-15 KJV
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

1 Corinthians 3:1-2 KJV
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

The case is laid out for us as to why those who preach the Word must not only be saved but spiritual :
The natural man is lost and, though perhaps eloquent and educated, he cannot see the spiritual message of God's Word.

The carnal man is saved but his worldliness blinds him from anything but the spiritual milk.

It is only the spiritual man who is able to discern all things in Scripture. While we may enjoy the preacher who is carnal and worldly enough to "relate" to us; we might like his personability and his camaraderie, he automatically stifles our own spiritual development. He is in no position with God to elevate us to those places God would have.

The Word of God is more than a perfect book, it is a spiritual book and, while good practices of interpretation ought to be observed, the spiritual preacher will take you passed that which natural ability and skills of interpretation can get us and discern for us what is spiritual.

We need also a spiritual congregation that is able to discern when the preacher may have gone past the spiritual to the fanciful. Our world is full of so called preachers who have led huge congregations of carnal and undiscerning souls down the road of extra biblical fantasy. A spiritual congregation would reign that in and hold it in check.

The question is, who is spiritual? I submit that the quality of being spiritual is being unlike this world. A spirit cannot be seen or sensed in this world; it is other worldly. A spiritual person is one who is also otherworldly. The less like this world we are, the more spiritual we may be.

Friday, November 26, 2010

An Unwise Wisdom

1 Corinthians 1:21 KJV
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

I have two thoughts in reading this passage:
Our world is living in the middle of this verse.
It is too wise to know God. We even go so far as to say the same as much in saying that that people of generations ago were unlearned and superstitious. Would to God we would be less wise in the world that we might have the wisdom of God in our soul!

The passage gives us the order of God's grace.
He saves them that believe. Believing is our act; saving is His. I concur with the G. Campbell Morgan , who said this does not clear up all of the difficulties in grasping election, but it does "…place the emphasis at the right point as it reveals the reveals the fact that the responsibility rests upon those who hear…. To have heard is to have entered into the region of responsibility."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hearts

2 Kings 5:26 KJV
And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?

Elisha had steadfastly refused to take a gift from Naaman, but Gehazi could not stand it. He followed after Naaman and received what he was more than happy to give. When Elisha confronted him he did not say merely tht he caught him in the act. He did not just accuse him to lying and deception. He said that his heart went with him when he took a course of action that was opposed to that course Elisha had set.

When a person chooses to do differently than I have taught or to go in a direction different than the direction I have set for the church it is more than simple rebellion or even rejection, they take a piece of my heart.

The ministry is not a business. It is not merely people picking the church they like the best and the ministry which most fits their own feelings. The ministry is the binding of hearts together in the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a covenant. It is a union. It is a work of God upon the affections of the heart. When that union is in any way broken something more than a business association is damaged; it goes to the heart.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No Interest In This King

2 Kings 3:14 KJV
And Elisha said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.

Elijah inhabited and was a subject of the northern kingdom of Israel. But when Jehoram and Jehosaphat called for him his response was utter disregard for Jehoram, the king of that same northern kingdom. He expressed no respect for him and pointedly said that had Jehosaphat (who was the king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah) not been there he would not have acknowledged him.

While the offices of the authority in a land are ordained of God, the people of God may express and demonstrate disregard for the man in that office if he is not godly.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Not To Please Ourselves

Romans 15:1 KJV
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

We ought to use whatever strength we have to minister to the infirmities of others and not for our own pleasure. That strength may take many forms;
Spiritual strength
Which may be faith and knowledge of the Word of God. In this case we ought to search for means to share that Word with others.
Physical strength and health
In which case we may be used to care for others who have needs rather than using our health for pleasures such as sports activities and many recreations.
Financial strength
In which case we ought to use our money first to minister to our church, secondly to the poor and then to meet the needs of our family (realizing that God meets our needs and not the work).

Rather than attempting to discern who is strong and who is weak, it would be better to seek out those areas where we are strong, where we are capable of ministering to another and, rather than using whatever "strength" we have for our own pleasure, use it rather for the sake of another.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Judgment Seat of Christ

Romans 14:10 KJV
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

We shall all stand at the judgment seat of Christ.

Jesus is coming again. And in every Christian's life this truth is clear; we shall stand at that judgment seat.

Alone
• No one to excuse our actions.
• No one to condemn us for our actions.

• There will be no one else to give us approval.
• There will be no one else to put peer pressure on us.


• We won't stand there with our spouse who either prodded us to do the right thing or coerced us into the wrong thing.
• We won't stand there with our children and claim they took so much time.
• We won't stand there on the behalf of another and
No one will stand there in our place.

We will not point fingers at others and they will not be pointing fingers at us.

We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for our life.

It won't be a judgment for sin but an evaluation for reward. It isn't a day to fear but it is a day to respect and be prepared for.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Power of Humility

1 Kings 21:29 KJV
Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.

The Bible says Ahab was as wicked as any man had been. And God pronounced judgment upon him for his wickedness.

But then the Bible says that Ahab humbled himself. And God saw. Judgment was postponed because of humility. The seeds of sin had been sown and, unfortunately, they would be reaped by his children. Sins passed down to our children seldom get rooted out. Though we repent and turn, what we have planted in our kids is unlikely to be pulled without the harvest.

Still this truth remains; humility turned the wrath of God from one of the worst of offenders. Even so humility today.
• To humble ourselves
• To repent of sin
• To bow before the God who has declared it as sin
That assuages the judgment of God.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And Curse Not

Romans 12:14 KJV
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

The Bible injunction is to bless them which persecute us. But the Bible takes it further than that, the Bible says, "bless and curse not."

There may be a type of obedience to the injunction that is technical but bears a curse under the breath.
• It may be a blessing that is not heartfelt
• It may be a blessing that is not whole hearted
• It may be a blessing but with the hope of the day God heaps those coals of fire upon their head

The injunction is not to fake a blessing to them it is to be a blessing to them, love them, with a whole heart fervently. It is a blessing that is honest and truthful and with a sincere heart.

That blessing is obedience to the Lord.

Friday, November 19, 2010

All Things

Romans 11:36 KJV
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

This is a life altering verse, "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things."

The point is that all things are to glorify and exalt and uplift God. He is the focus. He alone is worthy.

Our suffering is a trite issue in comparison to Almighty God.

I have read that prior to the allied invasion at Normandy General Eisenhower was briefed on the potential number of men who would be casualties. His response was something to the effect of, "I can live with that." Not that one man's death was acceptable* but that the cause was so much greater than the price of those lives (and the impact on those that would be forever touched by the loss of those lives.)

Whatever the cost of faithful worship and fellowship with Christ, the cause is so much more worth it. "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things."

*Eisenhower made the decision and saw it through, but his words concerning just one aspect of the decision (the airborne drop behind Utah beach) hint at the stress that comes with serious consequences.

"I went to my tent alone and sat down to think. Over and over I reviewed each step, somewhat in the sequence set down here, but more thoroughly and exhaustively. I realized, of course, that if I deliberately disregarded the advice of my technical expert on the subject [Air Chief Marshal Leigh-Mallory], and his predictions should prove accurate, then I would carry to my grave the unbearable burden of a conscience justly accusing me of the stupid, blind sacrifice of thousands of the flower of youth."
http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/dahl.htm

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And He Prayed

1 Kings 18:1 KJV
And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.

1 Kings 18:43 KJV
And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.

James 5:17-18 KJV
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Elijah's prayer for rain was preceded by the Lord's promise of rain. It is not merely that Elijah prayed and God answered but that Elijah prayed according to the direction of the Lord. And even then he prayed with fervency and importunity.

• Prayer must begin with knowing the mind of God in the Bible.
• Prayer must be the expression of what we have seen in the Word. And then
• Prayer must come with the confidence that God's Word will be accomplished. Still we pray.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rebellion Leads To Destruction

1 Kings 15:8 KJV
And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead.

After Solomon died things deteriorated pretty quickly in the kingdom. Rehoboam and Jeroboam divided the land into two kingdoms and, while part of it was because of Rehoboam's foolishness, still Jeroboam was acting in rebellion. Rebellion is never rewarded and always leads to destruction.

When Rehoboam died his son took the throne, but he did not live long and a second son, Asa, was crowned. Asa reigned many years and, it seems to me, would have had trouble keeping up with who he was fighting in the northern kingdom. During Asa's reign Israel went through at least four, (and sort of five) not kings, but royal families.

Jeroboam's entire family was murdered. Then Baasha's entire family was murdered. The nation then went through Zimri, the seven day king. For a spell the Israel itself was divided and had two kings; Tibni and Omri. Eventually they settled on Omri and his family became the royal family in Israel. But for approximately thirty years they just had turmoil. They went through kings so quickly the citizens literally did not know who their king was at times.

And such it is with rebellion. It cannot breed stability but always only destruction and uncertainty. The sin nature exists even in those who seek the Lord by faith so we are certainly not perfect and have our own struggles, but among those who rebel against God, the promise of instability, uncertainty, unrest and discontent is sure and quick.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Taste For God with a Passion for the World

1 Kings 14:16 KJV
And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.

Jeroboam wanted to hear from the man of God but did not want to obey the man of God. He had a superstitious respect for the preacher but no real heart for the God the preacher served.

This is the trouble with so many of that day, and of this; they want to hear but they do not want to heed. They have a taste for the things of God but their passion is in the world.

Unless the heart is given over to Christ no amount of preaching or teaching can turn the sin from its final outcome of death.

Monday, November 15, 2010

No Surrender, No Excuse

Romans 7:17 KJV
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

In the last half of this chapter Paul describes the war between "Saul of Tarsus" and "Apostle Paul." The battle was real and it was going on even in one used of the Lord so much as Paul. The chapter ends with Paul in defeat. The old nature is winning and his hope is not in the flesh but in Jesus Christ.

That is where every believer today ought to find themselves. We cannot win this struggle in the power of the flesh because it is in fact a struggle against the flesh.

But this war (with the flesh) must be maintained - this is no reason for surrender. We do not give in to the flesh because we cannot defeat the flesh but we mortify the deeds of the flesh more and more.

The law is not sin. Obedience to the law of Christ (as opposed to the law of Moses) is the expectation of the Father upon us. May God grant us the strength of the Holy Spirit to mortify the deeds of the flesh.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What motivates righteousness?

Romans 6:9-11 KJV
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

• We know that Jesus died and rose again.
• We know that He will never die again.
• We know that Jesus lives unto and with God.
Therefore we are to reckon ourselves dead unto sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ.

Knowing the truths about Jesus; the Christ is to consider himself in the same stead as the Lord.
• We are dead to sin.
• We have been crucified in Christ
• we have been buried with Him in baptism
• We are now dead to and free from the power of sin
• We have been raised again, out of the water of our baptism to walk in newness of life
May God grant that such newness is the truth in us.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Faith - Justified - Blood

Romans 5:1 KJV
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 5:9 KJV
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Verse one says we are justified by faith and verse nine says we are justified by His blood. I see this as a line graph where justified is the center.

On one side is God's place in justification.
We are justified, so far as God is concerned, by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. His death paid the wages of sin and satisfied the justice of God. God is just in justifying because of His Blood.

One the other side is our place in justification.
So far as our part is concerned, we are justified by faith. Faith is the instrument through which we have access to the righteousness of Christ and His shed blood.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Then Hear Thou...

1 Kings 8:32 KJV
Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.

1 Kings 8:34 KJV
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.

1 Kings 8:36 KJV
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.

1 Kings 8:39 KJV
Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)

1 Kings 8:43 KJV
Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.

1 Kings 8:45 KJV
Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.

1 Kings 8:49 KJV
Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,

It is a significant thing that Solomon began to pray a dedication for the Temple after the glory of the Lord appeared.

Once in prayer he began a theme in which he expressed various scenarios in which the people would need the Lord and call out to Him. Seven times Solomon pray, "hear thou from heaven." If the number seven represents completion then this represents every possible need a man might have. In every case the response should be to pray and in every case the answer is that God would hear in heaven and meet our need.

That is our need today: to return to God and to return to earnest and heartfelt prayer.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Inward/Outward

Romans 2:28-29 KJV
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

This has forever been a point of trouble for the Jew.
• After centuries, even millennia being trained in the importance of outward traditions; especially in that of circumcision.
• After reading of Moses' confrontation before God because his sons had not been circumcised and of Israel's mass rite of circumcision on the banks of Jordan prior to entering into the Promised Land
to now be told that the physical rite isn't as important as the spiritual one: no wonder this is hard for the Jew to swallow even today.

And though it is a genuine struggle for the Jew, it is also a representative struggle between the spirit and the flesh in the Gentile believer. Everything in us wants to keep religion in the realm of the flesh precisely because it is easier than dealing with matters of the heart.

Mind you, this in no way excuses us from deep obedience to God in the flesh. But it urges us to learn a new motive for that obedience; it is to be stirred up from the working of the Spirit of God within us. It is to be the result of a "circumcised heart" and not from the flesh's attempt to earn favor with God.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Faith To Faith

Romans 1:17 KJV
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

I am always captivated by the concept of the righteousness of God being revealed "from faith to faith."

Paul's intense desire to go to Rome and preach the Gospel was for that very reason. He knew that the sharing of his faith would spread faith from one heart and soul to another. He also knew this would not be a one way street. He knew they would mutually comfort one another in the Gospel.

The believer is wisest
• First to recognize his dependence on others of faith to encourage and increase his own
• Then to see that faith is never to be held alone but that it is to be spread "from faith to faith."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

No One Gets Away With Sin

1 Kings 2:43 KJV
Why then hast thou not kept the oath of the LORD, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?

The other day I counseled a young couple planning to marry. During the session I spoke of the importance of the vow. I reminded them that God holds us to our vows and, while it might look like a lot of people get away with breaking vows, I am sure that is not so. God will require justice at some point.

This verse, and indeed this chapter illustrate the principle. Joab and Shimei appear to have gotten away with great sins. Joab killed two innocent men and seemingly got away with it. Not true. There came a day when his sins came home to roost. Shimei was given a condition: one which he vowed to keep. But three years later he broke his oath and was required to pay.

Americans are the worst at keeping our word. We appear to be getting away with every evil imaginable. But I am sure that is not true.
• It could be that things like the economic malady we face right now is judgment from God for enabling vow breakers, homosexuality and baby killers.
• It could be they are not God's judgment and God has reserved up much worse.

What is certain is that no one gets away with sin. The lost man awaits the wrath of God. The Christian may expect to be lovingly but consistently chastened of His heavenly Father.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Direction in Decisions

Acts 27:6 KJV
And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.

The Centurion found a ship... I was thinking today of the great responsibility that lay upon this centurion and men like him. He is in charge of a number of prisoners and the soldiers who guarded them he is not only in charge of the detail, he is in charge of securing whatever passage he might to achieve the purpose of making Rome. No one has gone ahead of him and worked out the details and purchased tickets for the trip. He is on his own to make good his charge. He found this ship. There may have been many or few, we don't know.
• It might have been this ship would be his only opportunity to travel for some time.
• It might be that ships were pretty busy and not every ship would have ability to transport so large a troop.
He found this ship having no idea what would be the outcome, but being responsible for whatever it would be.

Every day the centurion would be called upon to make unforeseen choices. But he is not left to himself. His decisions are all guided by one overlying principle; he is taking his charge to Rome.

None of us knows what is ahead of us. Tomorrow will present brand new obstacles and decisions will need to be made. But we are not left to ourselves in these decisions. We too have an overriding principle; stay focused on Christ. Our destination is heaven regardless of what lay ahead of me; my choices must be choices that move me ever nearer to the Lord.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Act of Giving

2 Samuel 24:23 KJV
All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.

David's sin of numbering the people had come home to roost. 70,000 people had died of the plague and the angel of death was at Araunah's threshing floor. David, seeing the angel, approached Araunah with the desire to purchase the place and it's possessions for an offering.

The Bible says that Araunah, as a king did give King David these things. It is a kingly, royal thing to give.

Not that Araunah was either a king or that he had great wealth. We see neither to be the case. But the act of giving elevates a man to another level.

Giving to the king was kingly. Giving to the work of God is godly.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

A Passion Beyond Reason

Acts 25:27 KJV
For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

This whole affair with Paul was "unreasonable" in Festus' head.
• It was unreasonable to condemn a man without seeing his accusers face to face
• It was unreasonable to condemn a man over things that have to do with faith
• It was unreasonable to send a man before a higher judge without having any real crime laid against him.

Religious people in general are an unreasonable lot. Believing things passionately is no unreasonable thing. Attempting to force others to believe, or exterminate them if they won't; that is unreasonable. It is so easy to fall into the trap of taking our passion for Christ beyond reason.

We must love even those who do not love what we love. In no other way will we genuinely win them to Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 05, 2010

True Exercise

Acts 24:16 KJV
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

Paul worked at having a conscience that was void of offence both toward God and toward men.

I am reminded of the two great commandments; love God and love thy neighbor. I see three things.
First this free conscience did not come by accident but only through exercise.
We must not assume such things but must work toward them.

Second a sound conscience must be toward God first.
It is impossible to have a conscience void of offense if there is an offence toward God.

Third Paul's conscience was void of offense even though men were offended with him.
I cannot please everyone. I can live in such a way that, though people have not understood, my conscience knows I worked at expressing the deepest love and concern for them.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

God Has

2 Samuel 22:1 KJV
And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:

The Psalm is one of praise and rejoicing but it is also a song which reflects great troubles. David indicates that
• Waves of death compassed him and ungodly men had made him afraid (vs 5)
• His enemies were too strong for him (vs 18)
• That there were men that hated him ( vs 41) and
• That he had been delivered from the violent man (vs 49).

None of these should be taken as metaphorical or exaggerations. David's enemies were too strong for him and it was the Lord who had delivered him.

What joy comes to the believer when he, without ignoring that he has faced an overwhelming battle, recognizes that; not only God can but God has delivered him.

It is one thing to hope God will. It is a whole new matter to see that God has.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Serve Now, Live For Then

2 Samuel 19:7 KJV
Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the LORD, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.

King David is well into his Kingdom. Years have passed and there has been much success as a king. Still Joab's assessment of the king's life and reign is that it has been with "evil that befell thee from thy youth until now." From a certain point of view, Joab is correct. David's life, though blessed and used of the Lord, had seen its shares of real challenges. But Joab seems to focus on that evil. He has carried bitterness to its conclusion more than once. David, though tried, seems to always bring trials back to resting upon the Lord. What is the difference?

David's heart was not on the earth. He lived for other, heavenly things and that is why he was so slow to anger and get frustrated over those things that happened in his life here.

He served where God placed him but he lived for another world.

And that is the key to blessing in this evil world, serve now, but live for then.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Name Alone

Acts 21:13 KJV
Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

Paul's overriding principle was the name of the Lord Jesus. He was willing both to be bound and to die for that name.

Over and over he had been warned and urged and some say even forbidden to go to Jerusalem. But none of those things moved him. The name of Christ was all to him.

We are too easily swayed by the press of man.
• We hear their warnings
• We heed their lessons and too often
• We head in a direction our faith would not have us to go

Paul not only was willing to be bound and die but later testified that his binding had proven to be for the furtherance of the gospel and later still, that he was ready to die for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

May our Lord give us such faith; to live for Christ - or die.

Monday, November 01, 2010

What Burden Binds Us

Acts 20:22 KJV
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:

Paul's burden for the Jews was so deep that even the sense that afflictions awaited him could not cause him to shake the urgency of the trip.

Paul seems to have known that this trip would be his last - at least as a free man. He told them he knew they would see his face no more. But his burden bound him, compelled him into the danger for the sake of these souls.

And they were not the souls of men who were completely without testimony. There is a church there. To say that our only burden should be for those who have never heard is then, not a Scriptural statement. Paul's burden was for the lost and for other saints. He raised money for those who had already heard the gospel, but were in difficult straits.

What burden for souls binds us? What concern for others compels us to hazard ourselves and give deeply of our own financial resources that others might be born again and encouraged in their walk?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Three Responses to A Curse

2 Samuel 16:10 KJV
And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?

David gave three responses to Shimei's curses:
First, this was of the Lord.
Though what Absalom had done is wrong, and though Shimei's actions were not well motivated, David was very wise to ascribe this to the Lord and to let the Lord deal with it as he pleased. Andrew Murray said that God will only bless humility and humility can only be obtained through humiliation, therefore we ought to praise the Lord for those people who humiliate us. It will lead to our eventual blessing.

Second, his curse did not compare to what Absalom had done.
Who could possibly hurt David any worse. I am not sure this would make good counseling material, but there is nevertheless a truth in it.

Third, may be God would turn that evil into good.
Should David forgive Shimei, perhaps God would do some good thing for David. David has no idea where God might eventually take this trial. If he rewards good for the evil of Shimei, he can expect that in some way God will reward to David good for Shimei's evil.

Vengeance always belongs to the Lord. We have no good reason to ever try to get even but to instead seek the Lord's will in all things. He will do what is good. Always.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Value of the Abiding Witness

Acts 18:3 KJV
And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

I see three "venues" of witness used by the Apostle in the city of Corinth:

He reasons in the synagogue and persuaded the Jews and Greeks there.
Vs 4

I see this as working with those who have some knowledge of the Scriptures, but are not born again. It is apologetic work. The point is not to introduce them to doctrines they have never heard but to direct them as to what those doctrines mean. America is filed with people who know all about the Lord but do not know the Lord

He entered Justus' house and worked with the Gentiles there
Vs 6-7

This appears to be the work of introducing Gospel truths to those who have no concept of them. This is the case of the majority of people in the world. More and more it is becoming the truth of America. We now have generations of people who have no basic knowledge of the Bible.

He abode with and worked along side Aquila and Priscilla.
Vs 3

This is the least glamorous and exciting of the three. There are less thrills, fewer risks, and you won't get your name in the Christian periodicals when working with one couple. But I point out that of the three, only in this case do we see fruit that goes on to produce fruit. Aquila and Priscilla become very useful in the work of the Lord and their names pop up over and again in Scripture.

To be sure, the first two must be done. Sowing that seed, watering and tending it, must be maintained, and in large volumes. But the rewarding work; the work that produces the most refreshing fruit, will be the work that is done over the long haul.

I notice that Paul not only worked alongside of them, but abode with them as well. It has to do, not only with being a present testimony, but developing a personal relationship. I means that Paul did more than teach them and witness to them, he became close to them.

Christians must push themselves away from just relationships with other Christians and introduce themselves into other audiences and build relationships with lost souls in order to win them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Nevermind That

2 Samuel 11:27 KJV
And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.

Our reasonings, wranglings and wrestlings to make what we do seem all right or at least covered up never really work.

David had sinned greatly and his sin was about to be uncovered. It was quite the process to get this covered.
• First his bringing Uriah home.
• Then his effort to get Uriah to sleep with his wife.
• Finally his plan to have Uriah slain in battle.

At last; success! Uriah was gone and it happened in the thick of battle. Men die in battle. It is too bad, but it is an accepted fact. This thing is done...

But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

Just for today let's never mind the consequences and follow up to this account. This is sufficient for some serious consideration.

The thing David had done displeased the Lord.

Had David gotten away with it. Had there been no other consequence, still there is this; the thing he had done displeased the Lord.

The highest sense of morality comes when just that is enough to prevent us from sinning; when it is chastening enough, to know that we have displeased the Lord.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Show 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?

It has been years, perhaps a decade, since Jonathan had died in battle along side his father.

The years had been tumultuous ones for David. Battles had been fought with the house of Saul and their followers. But now David has ascended to lead all of Israel. He is not bitter and vengeful. Neither is he forgetful. Jonathan had been a loyal friend. And David desired to show kindness for Jonathan's sake.

It is a matter of the believer's heart that he cares for the souls of others. The believer has been given a new heart and new nature; one that longs to reach out and see others blessed, even those who have done them painfully. It is in their nature to seek others to which they may show kindness.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sit Down!

2 Samuel 7:18 KJV
Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?

Concerning the fact that David "sat before the Lord," Poole comments
"....that he did not barely present himself before God but abode there for some competent time, that he might with God’s leave pour out his soul freely before him."

And Barnes says
"... Modern commentators mostly take the word here in the sense of waiting, abiding, not sitting: but sat is the natural rendering. David sat down to meditate, and then rose up to pray."

A case may be made for the use of sitting as a posture of worship before the Lord, but more importantly than the body posture is the issue of abiding. I like Poole's standard of "some competent time." One just does not meet God in a hurry. It is not God's way, and it is certainly not an appropriate spirit in man that would approach God as something to do in a hurry. God deserves and in fact, requires "some competent time" be spent with Him.

This is much if not most of the problem with contemporary Christianity. We are busy about our workings; so busy working for God that we don't have time for God Himself.

So sit down!

Slow yourself for a bit. Stop. Meditate, muse, and listen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Speaking Boldly

Acts 14:3 KJV
Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

When the word of God was preached some believed but some did not. And those unbelievers evil affected the minds against the brethren.

Paul's response?

He stayed long speaking boldly in the Lord. The boldness must not have been that he stayed because a little later he and his team fled because of the danger. The boldness must have been the message that He preached and the anointing through which he preached.

Our message is not meant to be made palatable and easy to swallow. The purpose of our preaching is not supposed to be self help and how to do it. The message is to boldly confront unbelief with the word of God. What people need is to deal with unbelief and its influence upon us.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Doctrine of the Lord

Acts 13:12 KJV
Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

Paul had preached and, being filled with the Holy Ghost, rebuked the man.

It was after this that the deputy "believed, being astonished at doctrine of the Lord."

The word doctrine means teaching or instruction. Gill says,
"...There are many astonishing things in the doctrine of faith; as the birth of Christ of a virgin; the union of the two natures, divine and human, in his person; salvation through his crucifixion and death, and the resurrection of the dead..."

What Paul had taught was the error of sorcery and the power of God over this evil and it had been backed with a "mist and darkness" falling upon the one practicing it.

Our doctrine and teaching is not meant to always be uplifting and encouraging. It is meant to confront evil and all that is opposed to God. When it is preached in that manner, men will believe, but not because of that tactics of man, they will believe because of the doctrine of the Lord.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Philistine Way

1 Samuel 6:3 KJV
And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.

These are Scofield's notes on this passage,
"The story of David's new cart and its results is a striking illustration of the spiritual truth that blessing does not follow even the best intentions in the service of God except as that service is rendered in God's way. It is a constant point of failure. God had given explicit directions how the ark should be borne (Num_4:1-15) but David adopted a Philistine expedient.

(1Sa_6:7); (1Sa_6:8). The church is full of Philistine ways of doing service to Christ. "

That our churches are full of "Philistine ways" is pretty obvious. I doubt that anyone would deny it. What we would have lively debate over is what ways are those "Philistine ways." Our churches do almost all they do based upon tradition, culture and preference. This is the way we always did it is synonymous with Scripture. I am as traditional as they come. Conservatism means that I loath change. But I wonder if we even know how to distinguish between what is God's way and the worldly "Philistine way"?

So what would be the Philistine way?
First, Scofield's word "expedient" comes into play.
The Philistine way, was the easiest way. They used a new cart so it might not be the least expensive way, but it is the way that required the least amount of research and preparation. David didn't have to find priests qualified to bear the ark, he just had to buy a cart. Flash and show, spending money for that which is impressive, displaying "bling" might be a Philistine way.

Secondly, the Philistine way could be that thing that leads to the results we want the most quickly.
Driving the cart could have gotten the ark to its destination more quickly than having men carry it. Even if our goal is a Biblical one, to use means that bring about the goal quickly rather than ones that bring them about more Scripturally would be classified the "Philistine way.

Apparently no one questioned David's plan with the Philistine expedient.

God grant that someone would take note today and begin to question whether what we do is a Philistine way, just the way we do it now, or God's way.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

These "they"

2 Samuel 3:23 KJV
When Joab and all the host that was with him were come, they told Joab, saying, Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he hath sent him away, and he is gone in peace.

The names of those who told Joab that Abner had visited David are not given. But there is no doubt these "they" caused great harm.

I doubt that their intent was to hurt David's reign or hinder the kingdom. They were just the type that likes to gossip and stir up strife. They had a bit of news and they could not keep it in. They knew Joab would be hot. This Abner had killed his brother. It was in battle, and Abner tried to avoid killing him. But Joab held it as a personal grudge.

That was evil enough; but these "they" told Joab, having no interest in it but to see the strife it would cause. What wickedness! What evil! Even if it is not meant to hurt, it is hurtful, wrong and sin.

Years ago a preacher said that one of the most important things he had ever learned was to leave something unsaid every day. The tongue truly is a world of evil and too often we use it to speak things that need not be said or to say things to those who do not need to hear them.

May God help us to bridle our tongues.