Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Earthen Vessel

2 Corinthians 4:6-8 KJV
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;


The Apostle is speaking about challenge of the flesh that is distraught but the spirit that is filled with the power of the Holy Ghost.

I am reminded of Spurgeon once again who said that depression is the lot of the preacher because God will not share His glory. Spurgeon must have picked up something from Paul right here. This is where Paul describes the battle within his own soul; on the one hand, troubles perplexed, persecuted, cast down, and dying but at the very same time continuing on for the Lord to show that the power of God is not in this human vessel, but in what it contains.

The point is to keep on for Christ. This earthen vessel does get cast down, but it does not have to be destroyed. Get up each day and serve Christ. Though the flesh is weak, God's power will accomplish mighty things.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Baali to Ishi

Hosea 2:16 KJV
And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.

This context is speaking about Israel as a nation but I think there is also an application for the Gentiles too. The Lord is speaking about doing a work in the midst of this people so that they go from calling God "Baali" to "Ishi."

Now, the term Baali sounds to near to Baal or Baalim for my taste. Baal and Baalim were phonecian gods. The were the idols of pagans. The term Baali is not connected to those false gods with the exception of the similarity in sound. It is a word that means "Lord." The term Ishi means "man or husband." So the Lord simply said to Israel that He would do a work in them so that they progressed from calling God Lord to calling Him husband. They would go from formal (forced, mechanical)worship to having a real, living and soul stirring relationship with God.

I can't help but see that the same need exists today. Too many who are unbelievers have heard of God but do not have a relationship with Christ. They are outside of the faith, outside of the new birth and therefore outside of Christ's church which is His bride.

And too many Christians have a mechanical relationship without a living relationship with Christ. I do not want to imply that everyone whose relationship with the Lord does not meet my own criteria is lost, but I am suspect of any sort of Christianity that is a must do sort and not one that has so changed the heart that our love is to live for and please the Lord.

This is a work that only God can do. No man can choose to love God. We love Him because He first loved us. May more and more bath in the love of the Lord and find that His loving them brings them to Love Him.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Always?

2 Corinthians 2:14 KJV
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

It is not that everything had been easy on the Apostle Paul. On the contrary, serving Christ had been the source of incredible pain, physically and emotionally. So this text should not be read to mean that Christians should always have visible and worldly types of victories in their lives. But Paul did say that God always causes, not just himself but "us" Christians, to triumph in Christ.

The work that the Christian does can seem small in contrast to all that is in this world, but that is a matter of relative position and not real truth. The sun appears little when we place our hand in the sky and can cover up the sun, but that is only because our hand is so much closer to our face than is the sun. We know the sun to be much larger than the planet we live upon. So the things of this world can appear grant, powerful and impressive while eternal things appear minute and trifle. It is only a matter of our position. And our position will change. Six thousand years of human history have demonstrated one indisputable truth; no one stays here. Every human being will face death and it is only after that we can know the real worth of our life's effort.

I'll trust the Bible. I will keep on living for the Lord and accept what might seem like such little victories here on earth as being huge triumphs when everything is said and done.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

By Faith

2 Corinthians 1:24 KJV
Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

In my mind a company of soldiers appeared as I considered this passage. Soldiers can be in the battle for any number of reasons.
Some are there because they have been drafted
Some are there because it is expected of them
Some are there for a start in life
Some are there for the discipline
Some are there Because it was there or jail
Some are there because it is the only way they knew to earn a living and
Some are there because they believe in the cause

In Christ's army, the only true soldiers are there because they have a conviction. They stand where they stand by faith.

This is not to say there are some in Christian formation who are there for the wrong reasons. Just about all of the ones I listed above may be translated into some form of spiritual application. Here is the thing though, in the Lord's company only those who stand by faith are truly standing.

You can't be taught to stand (as in boot camp),
No man can force you to stand.
There is no captain over you who is capable of making you into something you are not. (with of course, the exception of Jesus Christ)


Only one thing makes a soldier for the Lord, that is faith.
You either believe to the point of a dying conviction or you are not in this company.

Are there leaders in the Lord's army? Yes, of course. But the Apostle tells us exactly what their position is. They have no real dominion over another soldier; their job is merely to help us in our joy in Christ.

That joy comes from a close and pure walk with Christ.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

He Worketh the Work of the Lord

1 Corinthians 16:10 KJV
Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.

Paul had told them in 1 Cor 4:17 that he had sent Timothy to them, but here Paul makes his coming sound uncertain. Paul had undoubtedly commissioned Timothy to visit a number of churches on this trip and, given the days in which they lived;
The general danger of travel
The risk of falling among thieves and
The danger of capture by those unfriendly toward the faith
Paul's words carried with them a certain degree of question. And why not?
James 4:15 KJV
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

The Christian ought to live in a state of "if." We are servants of the Lord and His will is oftentimes unique for our own. Even the best of men mistake what would be the will of God and even the best of men are hindered from their own plans as was Apostle Paul on more than one occasion.

Paul gives this testimony of Timothy, "he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do."

John Gill says of Timothy
"though he was not in so high an office as the apostle, yet he was
called to the same work of the ministry, was
engaged in the same service of Christ, andwas
zealous in promoting the same common cause, interest, and kingdom of the Redeemer, and
faithfully preached the same Gospel as the apostle did"


Timothy's position was not the same as the Apostles, but work was the same. This is what makes a local church dynamic and effective for the Lord; we can't all have the same position, but if we will do the same work - under the direction first of the Lord and that as following His pastor, we can make a difference in the world for Christ.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Gospel

1 Corinthians 15:1 KJV
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

We are so often given to defining the Gospel out of this passage of Scripture. And I am sure that is accurate and fine. However I believe we often stop too short of the Gospel. Most of the time we define it as the
Death
Burial and
Resurrection of Jesus Christ

But the chapter never really gives us a clear closing of the gospel after the resurrection. The gospel also includes:

That He was seen of men
That He ascended to heaven
That the saints will be changed either by resurrection or rapture and
That this is the victory of the believers

The good news of the Gospel is the final victory through Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Would the Lost Think?

1 Corinthians 14:23 KJV
If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

Here is an interesting passage and one that I doubt many of us really even consider putting into practice. We who are independent Baptists disdain the concept of preparing planning and conducting church services with the lost or unchurched in mind. The current movement that advocates surveying the unchurched in an area to find out what sort of church they would attend if they did attend church and then basing our church format on the message of that survey is completely repulsive to us.

Neither are we in favor of those we label as progressive because they make the services modern and comfortable to the unchurched and lost by
Dressing in more casual ways
Using more contemporary music and
Preaching messages that have to do with the focus of our day rather than on the Word of God itself.

I agree. Our goal is to bring the lost and unchurched into our community, not to change our community to fit theirs.

Still, there is sound wisdom for us in 1 Cor 14:23. When the lost and unchurched do attend our services, would they have any idea what we are up to?
If a person who has no concept of church at all visited our church, would they be completely lost?

The key to making them more welcome in our church is not to change our church to fit him. The key is to be sensitive toward him when he is there.

Are there people in the services who would guide them through the service?
Is the service conducted in a manner that is easy to follow for a visitor who is unlearned in our ways?
Are there things in our services that have slipped into our own traditions but that are plainly disorderly to an unfamiliar observer?

When the unlearned and unbelievers come in to our services they should hear the truth and witness worship that is uncompromised by this world and untouched with modern culture. They should experience something in our services that is totally otherworldly. At the same time, they should also witness a service that is orderly, understandable and beneficial to even the most unlearned of attendees.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Is Charity All That?

1 Corinthians 13:1 KJV
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

As I write this I am in Oklahoma City attending and preaching at a conference for Pastor Rick Carter and Beth Haven Baptist Church. Pastor Carter wrote the material for H. elping O. thers P. ut off E. ntaglements Addiction Recovery Program. I am here preaching at their first annual H.O.P.E. conference.

When I woke up this morning I read this passage of Scripture and jotted down n a piece of paper, "Is Charity All That?" and left for the morning sessions. During those sessions Pastor Carter brought up the following verses:

2 Peter 1:7-8 KJV
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3:14 KJV
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

John 13:35 KJV
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Yes! Charity is all that!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Four In The Furnace

Daniel 3:25 KJV
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Three Hebrews were cast into the furnace that day but:

They were not burnt
They lost their bondage and
They were visited with a fourth Person

I am afraid that too many of us live our lives in bondage to sin and this world because we are afraid of the fire of the world's disapproval.

We don't want to stand out as different because we don't want to be called out for suffering. Consequently we spend our lives in fear of the flames of suffering and in shackles to the sins of the flesh.

The three were cast in with all that they had. As far as I can see they did not lose a thing when they walked out of the furnace.

But what is worse, many of us never know the blessing of the presence of the Lord because we will not risk ourselves in the flames.

God give us men like these in our own day; men who will not bow, and therefore men who can walk with God.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

This One Truth

Daniel 2:28 KJV
But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;

When all else is said and done the truth of this passage settles all issues; "...there is a God in heaven...."
People may argue
Christians may endure trials
Scholars may debate
Saints may suffer
But this one fact remains constant; "....there is a God in heaven..."

On that fact believers have lived and died and passed their faith from one generation to the next for these thousands of years.

On this fact we abide.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Rock That Followed Them

1 Corinthians 10:4 KJV
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

I have fallen in love today with the picture of this passage of Scripture. I see Israel in the wilderness. Before them is the pillar of fire, leading them through their experience in the wilderness. They are often taken places that they would not have elected for themselves. There are challenges. There are many times they accuse God and murmur against Moses over the way they must go.

But here the Bible says that they not only have God before them, leading their way, they have the Rock following them, pursuing after them and perhaps picking up the stragglers.

The paths we take in this world are often fraught with challenges. There are things that lead us astray and things that tempt us off the path of the Lord Jesus Christ. But God is not only before us, pointing out our way, He is behind us, seeing that we remain on that way, and putting us back on the way when we do get out of the way.

Truly God is good to us!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Miscommunication

1 Corinthians 9:21 KJV
To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

Here is portion of Scripture that has been interpreted and misinterpreted I imagine since the first time it was read. Who knows how many people have used this passage and the context in which it is found to permit unlawful and even ungodly behavior in an effort, they say, to gain souls. This is the excuse used of modernism for using almost every worldly means to identify with sin in their supposed desire to win the sinner.

And it appears to me that the Apostle knew even has he penned the words that they would be misunderstood and misused. He added in parentheses those words, "being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ" knowing that someone would say Paul was lawless in his efforts to win souls.

Communication is a complicated thing. Too many of us don't know how to do it.
We are not careful to hear the words of one speaking to us, choosing rather to plan for our next turn to speak.
We seldom listen to hear what a speaker means by what he says, but rather assign usually a predetermined interpretation to whatever he says (since we didn't really hear him anyway.)
We are too ignorant of disciplined rules of communication, having elected to take shortcuts in our education.
We are poor writers
We are even poorer readers

And the result is an awful lot of miscommunication both in written and verbal form.

What then? Shall we discontinue to communicate just we are so poor at it? Should the preacher quit his efforts to preach the gospel because so many will misunderstand his feeble attempts to declare the truth?

No sir! Paul knew there would be people who misunderstood him and others who would misuse what he had said. He said it anyway because there would be others who would read what he meant rather than making what he said to mean what they wanted. And souls would be gained because of it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This Liberty of Yours

1 Corinthians 8:9 KJV
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

I came to see the Apostle's phrase "this liberty of yours" as a derogatory statement. The Corinthians were claiming a liberty that, though technically true, was certainly misplaced in their personal application of it. It truly was theirs because it wasn't the sort of liberty the Lord had given them.

In the course of the chapter Paul does acknowledge that there was nothing supernatural in the meat that had been offered to idols. It was just food. On the other hand, eating that meat as a means of the worship of those idols was a supernatural thing. Paul's concern was that when a believer, who knew that there was nothing special about the meat, ate it in the presence of a younger believer who did not yet understand these things, he would cause that younger believer to fall into error. Paul's answer was not to continue eating and teach the younger believer better. Paul's answer was to not eat that flesh in this lifetime. That's a far cry from the arrogant attitudes we find among the "more mature" brethren who tend to flaunt their liberty and prove they really don't care about the concerns of others.

Sure we have liberty. But the best and wisest use of that liberty is to bring it under submission to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For Your Own Profit

1 Corinthians 7:35 KJV
And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

This verse has an important principle in it that I think gets lost in the context many times. The Apostle is speaking on a difficult subject. What about marriage versus remaining unmarried to devote self to the service of the Lord? The subject is a complicated one and is also one that could tend to get people upset. "You mean you don't believe in marriage?" I can hear one objector saying. That is not at all what Paul is saying. He simply says that if a man (or woman) chooses to remain unmarried to devote themselves to the Lord that can be useful and glorifying to Christ. "You mean that you think a man has to be married to serve the Lord?" Another would object. But that is not Paul's command at all. The Apostle simply teaches that if God provides a godly mate, that to is useful and glorifying to the Lord.

The point is this, the intent of the preacher, of therefore of the Word of God, is for our own profit and not to be a snare in our lives. God is not trying to trap us into a lifestyle that we will not be suited for. Whether we are speaking of the subject of marriage versus single living, or full time Christian service, or committing ourselves to a particular ministry, the Lord is not trapping us into something we are not suited for but longs to place us in the spot where we will be best suited and see the most profit.

I can see someone misapplying an misunderstanding what I am trying to draw out of this principle. This does not get us out of our commitments to our church. We ought to be committed to Christ and to His work. Therefore we must be committed to a local church. It just means that the design of the commitments we make ought to be so that
We can attend upon the Lord without distraction and that
We find the ministry we are in profitable our own selves.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

As you may have noticed, the last week of walks have taken some time to post. I have been out of town preaching in another church. My wife and I enjoyed the fellowship of the pastor and his family, the scenery of their field, and the privelege to meet and minister to their congregation. Trips like that, though infrequent for me now, do help refresh and bring perspective to ministry. Praise the Lord for the joy of serving Him!

It Is Come

Ezekiel 39:8 KJV
Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken.

The context is that of the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ. The prophecy projects the kingdom past time and emphatically declares, "Behold it is come, and it is done...."

Now here is the thing, is has not come yet; it is not done yet. That day which the Lord has spoken of is still not come. Be careful of the scoffer's spirit though. Don't let yourself think God is in any way being slack. In God's eyes the Kingdom of Christ is as good as here.
It is hastening quickly
It is a sure thing


And that is true of everything that is in the Word of God. Faith sees the substance of it even though the flesh has no physical evidence of it.
God's Word is true
God's timing is now
God's work is as good as done and


God's people believe it that way.

Monday, March 15, 2010

God's Intent

Ezekiel 38:23 KJV
Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.

God's intent is both to magnify and sanctify Himself

To magnify means to make large
It can apply to the Lord in a number of ways
He will make Himself large in the sense of being seen everywhere
He will make Himself large in the sense of being wonderful
He will make Himself large in the sense of His power and incontestable might


To sanctify means to be clean
Of course, God is holy, pure and clean already. But not everybody sees Him that way.

When God is through with the ages, men will look to Him and see His holiness.

The Bible says that this magnifying and sanctifying will not be only among the Jews but in the eyes of many nations. This is my heart's prayer that Christ will be lifted up and honored and that many souls from around the world will come to know Him as their Saviour.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Am For You

Ezekiel 36:9 KJV
For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown:

The subject of this passage is twice removed from where I am today:
It is speaking of Israel
It is speaking not of the people of Israel but the mountains of Israel


Yet the theme of the passage is an encouragement to me and I believe it is not improper to apply it to myself.

God says
"...behold, I am for you"

It is so needful in this ungodly world, for the Christian to remember that God is for us.
Yes, the world is against us
Yes, many of the people around us are against us
Yes, time and age is against us
Yes, sometimes the people we love the most are against us
Yes, the devil is against us


But God be praised, He is for us.

And that is enough!

God says
"...I will turn unto you"

True enough, before we were saved we were at enmity with God. Though God loved us and sent His Son to die for us, the ultimate evidence of His love, still it was as if His face was turned from us because of our sin. But we must remember that
It was He that sent His Son
It was He that convicted us of our sin and
It was He that gave us faith to believe

And when we did come to know Christ as Saviour, He turned unto us

God says
"...ye shall be tilled and sown."

It just means that we will be useful to the Lord. We will be Christ honoring and God glorifying.

Sure, there are times when we appear to be more like a barren wasteland, but God is not finished with us yet.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

God Caused Peace

Ezekiel 34:15 KJV
I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.

This passage brings such peace to my soul. It is reminiscent of the 23rd Psalm
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.


Oh the joy of knowing that God promises to cause His sheep to lie down and be fed. This is not what man is doing; this is what God is doing. At it is marvelous in my eyes!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Not

1 Corinthians 2:1 KJV
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

The topic of this verse is developed throughout this chapter but it will suffice for my devotional time this morning to stay within it.

It is too easy, it seems to me, to lose the focus of this message. It is too easy to be swept in to the scheme of excellency of speech and human wisdom. I have often excused it by saying that all of our preaching is foolishness to the lost so that to prefer one style of preaching over another is only "excellency of speech" relatively speaking. It seems proper that we would want to preach the word of God in the most pleasing way we possibly can so that those who listen can enjoy their experience.

I do not want to imply we ought to try to be poor speakers.

But we do too often fall into the trap of trying to be good ones rather than simply trying to be faithful ones and spirit filled ones.

More time is spent studying and preparing the message than is spent praying and seeking the anointing of God.
Preaching classes will focus on the study time, the construction of the outline and the delivery rather than on the prayer and manifestation of the power of God.


And believers heaps to themselves their favorite preachers, sometimes travelling long distances to hear one they really like while skipping the services of their local church to do it.

We have developed a taste for the "excellency of speech" rather than sound doctrine. And like we do with our taste buds, we buy what pleases us rather than what is right for us.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

That Shall Know

Ezekiel 30:26 KJV
And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the LORD.

The glory of God is not only destined to be known among the believers in Christ, but it will be as known among those who continue to reject Him to their deaths. The Bible says
Philippians 2:10-11 KJV
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


So that even those whose eternal destiny will be hell and the lake of fire will bow and confess Jesus Christ. No, it will not save them, but they will give God glory.

It is not so that faith is only a means to manage the problems of this life. It is not so that any religion is as good as the other religion so long as your religion delivers to you your needs through this life. The issue is far deeper than that. There is only one God and there is only one way to come to Him. Those who choose a different path, or who believe they need not choose a path at all, will all one day know that Jesus Christ is Lord.

I pray God I may reach many more of them to confess that today and be saved.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Right Choice

Romans 16:3 KJV
Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

I was impressed with the long list of those involved in the ministry of Christ.

They did not all do the same things
Phebe is called a servant
Priscilla and Aquilla are called helpers
Some are said to have "laboured in the Lord."

They have different commendations
Amplias is beloved in the Lord
Apelles is approved in Christ


They served in different capacities
Phebe is a servant of the church
Priscilla and Aquilla were "my helpers in Christ."

The thing that rings out to me through all of these (and there are many others here in Romans 16 I did not bring up) is that every believer can have some area of influence and involvement and be in some measure a blessing to the work of the ministry. It is just a matter of surrender. It is only a matter of doing it.

I met who I thought was the sweetest lady this week. She had a pleasant smile. She was faithful to the church services. She was involved in the ministry of the church. What was not evident from the first impression was that she was also a critical spirit and liked to poke painful jabs. First she poked at the preacher and his family. Then she poked at mine. She could have been such a blessing. Instead she was a sore in the church.

It is a choice. We can be an encouragement and a blessing, or we can be a pain in the side and a thorn in the flesh. I know which I would rather be.... do you?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Patience+Comfort=Hope

Romans 15:4 KJV
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

This passage gives us an easy to use guide for the use of the Scriptures: The Bible (especially the Old Testament) was written for our learning. Through the Word of God we gain

Patience
We see the plan of God being carried out in the lives of multitudes of believers.
We see some who were faithful but did not yet receive their promises.
We see some who were persecuted, but held to their faith.
We see believers who were rewarded for their faith and we see the ungodly judged for their wickedness.
And through it all we learn we can patiently wait upon the Lord.

Comfort
There are so many things in the Bible that deliver comfort and encouragement to the believer who has been beaten down in this world. When times are sore for us we turn to the Word of God and find reason to have joy and to rejoice in the promises of God.

Hope
Through the patience and comfort we receive from the Word of God comes hope; a reason to look ahead not with dread but with anticipation.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Simple Christianity

Romans 14:19 KJV
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

This may be as plain a teaching for the Christian as we will find in the Bible. Simple, and straight-forward, this is Christianity 101, practical application of Christian living.

We can plug this command into any scenario of life. We may rightly decide if a move will be pleasing to the Lord and wise for the Christian to perform if we answer these two questions in the affirmative:

Does our current course make for peace?
Does this action tend to edify (or encourage, build up) another?


It is that simple. True, there are plenty of things a Christian ought to want to grow in, but these two things make day to day Christian living simple.

Now if we will just apply them.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

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

Earlier Ezekiel brought up Noah, Daniel and Job and pointed out even those three men had lived in Israel, their righteousness was not sufficient to atone for the sins of the nation. Here God says through the prophet that He had searched and had not found one man in the land who could make up the hedge and stand in the gap.

Not one of those born of flesh and blood.
Not one of those who entered this world with the nature of there parents.


God sought and found none among those conceived in the sin of their parents.

But there is One who stands in the gap, One makes up the hedge. He is Jesus Christ. He is flesh and blood but conceived of the Holy Ghost and not of man. He is God become man, and being perfect sinless man, He became sin for us, who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Formula of Romans 12

Romans 12:1 KJV
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

I viewed this passage as a sort of formula this morning. I saw

The why
I beseech you therefore

Before the passage tells us the what, it gives to us the why. Why should we obey the what of the verse? The "therefore" in the verse takes us back to Romans 11 and God's work of removing Israel from the root and grafting in the Gentiles, but not permentantly removing Israel, for He will once again graft Israel back into their root in His time. And when it is all done, it will all work to the glory of God

Romans 11:33-36 KJV says
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.


Mankind will probably never comprehend the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God in salvation. The plan of God is so profound and so deep that angels desire to look into it and I believe the saints will spend eternity marveling in it.

We ought to obey the what because of the glory of God.

The how
by the mercies of God
Too much Christianity has become a work of man and not of God. We have learned too well how to perform. We have boiled the faith into a system that we are more than capable of doing. We have made our own religion.

The how of the passage is by the mercies of God. We obey the what of the passage by mercies of God. We depend upon Him and He empowers us to obey.

The what
present your bodies a living sacrifice....unto God
We give our lives wholly unto the Lord. We die to self that Christ may live through us.

Impossible except by the mercies of God.

The result will be
your reasonable service

God's leading in our lives is always reasonable and it is always in the form of service.

Friday, March 05, 2010

A Jewish Remnant

Romans 11:5 KJV
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Paul, speaking of the day in which he lived, the day of grace and the day in which God had set Israel aside to call out of the Gentiles a people for Christ. Even in this day, God had a remnant of Israel reserved for Himself.

I am convinced that in our day the Jew who believes ought to come out of Judaism and align himself or herself with a local church of believers made up of Gentiles of all nationalities, baptized under scriptural authority and united for the purpose of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am dubious of so called Messianic Jewish congregations believing the whole concept to be sectarian and contrary to scriptural principles.

And there is a remnant like that; believers of Jewish descent who count that but dung to win Christ and know the power of His resurrection.

Would to God we were blessed to be used of the Lord to persuade some to do just that!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

God's Pleasure

Ezekiel 18:32 KJV
For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

Gill says of this passage,
"Which is not to be interpreted simply and absolutely, and with respect to all persons afflicted and punished by him; for he does take delight in the exercise of "judgment" and "righteousness", and "laughs" at the "calamity" of wicked men..."

It is important for us I think to see that God has no desire for any soul to die and enter into eternal hell. God does delight in justice. It is right and holy. It glorifies Him. This is not to be understood to mean that God hesitates in exercising His wrath. Not in the least.

But God's burning passion, His desire is that each soul, regardless of their current condition, would come to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved from that wrath.

How gracious is our God, whose wrath is holy and just and will without a moment's hesitation be poured out upon ungodliness, yet pleads for that same sinner to turn and rather live than die.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Not Ashamed

Romans 9:33 KJV
As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

This is a plain and simple promise and one that I know to be true through 33 years of trial as a Christian. "Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed."

There are many things a person may be ashamed of in their lives:
Opportunities missed
Words that should not have been spoken
Deeds that should not have been done


A person might look back in their life and think, "I wished I had not done that." But this I know to be true, no one ever says, I wished I had not believed on Christ. I wished I had not followed the Lord."

I can hear the cry of countless souls who, in eternal damnation, are ashamed they did not believe on Christ, but none will be ashamed they did.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I Know One

Ezekiel 14:14 KJV
Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 14:16 KJV
Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.

Ezekiel 14:18 KJV
Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.

I have always been drawn to these verses citing the character of these three men. But this morning I read it in a little different light. This morning I focused on the fact that God said that all three of these men, even though they are some of the greatest characters of the Bible, could do nothing that would avail on the behalf of others. Their efforts were only effective on their own behalf.

Now that reminds me first of all that each of us has a personal responsibility before the Lord. I cannot rest on the relationship my parents have with God, nor can my children rest on the relationship I have with the Lord. We are each responsible before God to have our own personal saving relationship and to walk with God as individuals. We must each know God's Word well enough to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience. We cannot claim ignorance. We each have the ability to learn God's Word and we each are responsible to do that.

However, I also had another thought this morning. These three men could not deliver even their own sons and daughters. Even their combined testimony before God was not sufficient to deliver another. But I know One whose righteous deeds were sufficient to deliver every soul who will eve live on this planet. I know One whose act so satisfied the holy demands of Almighty God that any who plead His name before God shall be saved.

What a wonder is Jesus Christ! That God became man and dwelt among us. That Jesus Christ fulfilled all the righteousness of the Law of God, and that He died in the place of all humanity... Hallelujah!

Monday, March 01, 2010

I Thank God

Romans 7:25 KJV
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

All I wanted to do today is simply focus on the words, "I thank God through Jesus Christ." We need to be a thankful people. We need to give thanks for
Those blessings that are ours through freedom
Those bounties that we have through our nation
Those benefits that we own through family


Every human being can be thankful for those types of things. We have reasons to be thankful on the most secular of levels and it is not improper to express thanks for them.

But on the spiritual level a Christian has so much more to be thankful for.
That God has granted grace to sinners
That God has given a sacrifice for our sins
That God has convicted us to place faith in Christ
That Christ died on the cross for us
That Christ intercedes in heaven for us today
That we have a hope for eternal life with Christ


Truly I thank God through Jesus Christ.