Friday, April 30, 2010

Grace, Grace

Zechariah 4:7 KJV
Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.

Zerubbabel, as a type of Christ, lays the last stone completing the Temple. The picture is of Jesus Christ, bringing the last soul possible to the saving knowledge of the Lord.

As he brings this stone he shouts and cries, "Grace, grace unto it."

The marking characteristic of Jesus Christ is grace. He gives freely and He gives to those who are so undeserving of His gifts.

• His message is a message of grace
• His identity with man is all of grace
• His sacrificial death was a gracious act
• His calling of the sinner is grace
• His preparing a heavenly place for us is gracious
• His promise that we will be with Him is of grace

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Again

Zechariah 2:12 KJV
And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.

Jerusalem, chosen of God to be the center of true worship and the source of blessings for the world around, had been set aside. After the destruction of the city by Babylon and even after the Jews returned some 70 years later, still Jerusalem has never recovered to anything near her former glory.

• She is half occupied by Muslims today
• She is the site of terrible controversy
• She has almost no friends in the world and those who were friends are pulling away

But God is not finished with Jerusalem and in the end of God's plan will possess a glory that makes those days under David and Solomon pale. "The Lord...shall choose Jerusalem again."

We have days as believers when we likely feel as Jerusalem must. We remember when we first got saved and we remember the joy, the sense of victory, the glory of our first few steps in the Christian faith. But then the attacks of this world come upon us. We learn that God's intention is not that we experience wealth in the world, but in the world to come, and we can wonder if God has left us to our own stumbling.

Never fear, dear Christian. God will choose you again. God has not forgotten us. God has not set us aside. God has not left us or forsaken us. God's plan for us is that we bear in our bodies the dying the Lord Jesus Christ today. But there will come that day when Jesus Christ will come in the clouds to call us to heaven with Him. And then, what joy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fervently ...in Prayer

Colossians 4:12 KJV
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

I am encouraged today to be in much prayer for my church and for those whom the Lord has been so gracious as to have some place in my life. Epaphras was a fellowprisoner with Paul and was a minister to the church in Colosse, perhaps their pastor, now imprisoned. Yet still, even in a prison cell, his ministry toward them could not be stopped.

Gill says,
"...in all his prayers, which were many and frequent, he never forgot his dear flock at Colosse, of which he was pastor, but strove with God for them, even to an agony, as the word signifies; he wrestled with the Lord as Jacob did, nor, as he, would he let him go without a blessing for this church; he was incessant, importunate, and fervent in prayer for them: and what he prayed in particular for them was...."

...that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

I can see that in two lights
First, he prayed that his congregation may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God

Second, his prayers enabled them to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

It is no small thing to pray. Epaphras understood that and gave himself the more fervently to prayer, knowing that his prayers would make that difference in their lives.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dead?

Colossians 3:3 KJV
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Now here is an interesting and powerful thought. The Bible says I am dead. Taking the Scriptures as a whole I know that I was once dead in trespasses and sins. When I came to Christ I was born again and my spirit was quickened and made alive. Now that I am saved I am again dead and my life is hidden with Christ in God.
• I was dead
• But now I am alive
• To die again so that
• Death cannot reign in me

Now practical application of this truth is evident in the passage; being dead we would have no interest or affection for earthly things.
• Summer, winter
• Heat or cold
• Wealth and power
• Fame and influence

None of those things concern the one who is dead.

It is obvious this death is of a peculiar kind because it is the one who is dead who is told to "set your affection on things above." This is not the sort of death that leads to absolute powerlessness. This is the sort of death that leads us to exercise ourselves in one direction alone; a direction that is heavenward and away from earthly.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Warning About The Show

Colossians 2:23 KJV
Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

The Word of God cautions us as well as warns us against a kind of religious faith that copies Christianity and in some respects will appear to be a wonderful form of Christianity. They will indeed have a show of
• Wisdom
• Worship
• Humility
• Temperance and
• Discipline

But it will not be of the Lord.

Too many have been led astray and swept from the truth by following movements and religious leaders and others who appear to have all that is really spiritual.
• They appear to be wise and well educated
• They appear to be reverent and worshipful
• They appear to be humble, modest and in some cases even disciplined physically


But it is all a show. It is no substance. It is designed to bring in the followers, but once they have them, they lead them down a dark path.

Would to God Christians would become more prudent and discerning. Would to God that believers would see the value of local church ministry as a means of protection from those who would lead astray the people of God.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Lord Will Not...

Zephaniah 1:12 KJV
And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.

Perhaps one of the greatest sins any man can fall into is that of not expecting God to do anything. It may be that we don't call the work of God evil; just that we don't think God works much if at all.
• We don't expect that He will come again
• We don't expect that He will judge sin
• We don't expect that He will reward the righteous


Even Christians can fall into a trap of complacency about the working of the Lord. We just don't expect Him to answer our prayers
• We don't expect Him to honor our service in church
• We don't expect that there is any chastening for our unfaithfulness


It was likely in Zephaniah's day, that the work of God among the people was not as apparent as at other times. We do know that those times of great miracles came in waves and not all of the time. It could certainly not be said that they were always seeing the sick raised to health and God speaking to them from burning bushes. While there was always someone preaching the Word of God it wasn't that there was always someone receiving brand new revelations. We walk by faith and not by sight. If those powerful types of miracles happened on a daily basis we would be walking by sight and not faith.

Most of what God is doing, good, or evil (as in the sense of reward or judgment) happens in an unseen and spiritual realm and not in the obvious and visible world. In order for us to expect God to do god and evil we must do so by faith and look for it in unseen ways and in eternal values.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Old And New Testament Prayer

Habakkuk 3:1 KJV
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.

Scofield's Notes says of this passage
"Prayer in the Old Testament is in contrast with prayer in the New Testament in two respects:
(1) In the former the basis of prayer is a covenant of God, or an appeal to his revealed character as merciful, gracious, etc. In the latter the basis is relationship: "When ye pray, say, Our Father" (Mat_6:9).
(2) A comparison, for example of the prayers of Moses and Paul, will show that one was praying for an earthly people whose dangers and blessings were earthly; the other for a heavenly people whose dangers and blessings were spiritual. "

I want to introduce then
Colossians 1:10 KJV
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Paul's prayer for these believers was in part
• That they would walk worthy of the Lord
• That they would be fruitful in every good work
• That they would increase in the knowledge of God

Those are the kinds of prayers we find repeated throughout the New Testament. Not that it is wrong to pray for, "earthly people whose dangers and blessings were earthly" but that we would find ourselves praying more and more for, "heavenly people whose dangers and blessings were spiritual."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Circumcision

Philippians 3:3 KJV
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

The Word of God here defines the circumcision, true Israel, the children of Abraham by faith. We are given three characteristics of this circumcision:

Worship God in the spirit
This absolutely cannot be accomplished unless that spirit has been quickened in the new birth. A prerequisite to true worship is that the worship be offered by one who has been born again. Then, this worship is to be offered, "with much attention, diligence, and fervency; or in a spiritual manner, in opposition to the carnal worship of the Jews, and the bodily exercise of formal professors...." (Gill)

Rejoice in Christ Jesus
True believers joy in Christ. They enjoy knowing the Lord. They rejoice in what He has accomplished for them. They love His name being lifted up. They enjoy the things that please the Lord. They cheerfully reject the world in favor of the things of the Lord.

Have no confidence in the flesh
Just as we are saved through faith, so we are to live by faith and walk by faith.
The flesh cannot save and neither can the flesh live for or serve God. The flesh has no talent or ability that will do in Christian life or in the work of the ministry. True believers know to count all their fleshly talents as dung in favor of the power of Christ's resurrection

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Working Out

Philippians 2:12 KJV
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Gill says of the phrase, work out your own salvation'
"....which is to be understood not in such a sense as though men could obtain and procure for themselves spiritual and eternal salvation by their own works and doings; for such a sense is contrary to the Scriptures …. and is also repugnant to the perfections of God, as his wisdom, grace, and righteousness; for where are the wisdom and love of God, in forming a scheme of salvation, and sending his Son to effect it, and after all it is left to men to work it out for themselves? ..... Moreover, was salvation to be obtained by the works of men, these consequences would follow; the death of Christ would be in vain, boasting would be encouraged in men, they would have whereof to glory, and their obligations to obedience taken from the love of God, and redemption by Christ, would be weakened and destroyed..."

And he therefore observes that a proper sense of the passage would be,
"...employ yourselves in things which accompany salvation, and to be performed by all those that expect it, though not to be expected for the performance of them..."

I take the phrase to be interpreted by the context of Paul's presence or absence and take the passage to mean that, now that Paul is not there, they need to carry on in their life as saved creatures without the support of this preacher.

God has blessed His work with men who are both called and equipped for the work of bringing souls to salvation and encouraging and aiding them in their walk with Christ. What a help these believers are to the body of Christ. But they are not Christ and, should we be, from time to time, left without them we should realize we are still responsible to go on in the Christian conversation.

That a beloved pastor has been removed from us is no excuse to quit living as the saved
That a mature believer who has always been there for you is no longer there is no good reason to trim back your life for Christ

Too many Christians depend too heavily on another to prop up their faith and life. It is time we "work out our own salvation" and keep on for Christ.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Glorious Salvation

Nahum 1:2 KJV
God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.

Scofield's Notes says,
The great ethical lesson of Nahum is that the character of God makes Him not only "slow to anger," and "a stronghold to them that trust Him," but also one who "will not at all acquit the wicked." He can be "just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom 3:26) but only because His holy law has been vindicated in the cross.

This passage in no way minimizes
Micah 7:18 KJV
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

God's character is to delight in mercy, and as wonderful a character as that is, what makes it even more wonderful is that He accomplishes this mercy by vindicating holiness. He does not merely sweep sin under the carpet. He doesn't just ignore our sin nature. God looks full face into our sin and pours His fury, vengeance and wrath out upon it.

But not upon us; that would have spelled our eternal doom. God became one of us, a man. He identified Himself with fallen humanity in the Person of Jesus Christ and then, once fulfilling the righteousness of the Law, God poured the wrath He had reserved for His enemies upon Christ.

What a glorious salvation!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Who Is A God Like That?

Micah 7:18 KJV
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

I love this exultation of the Lord. The prophet bursts out in rejoicing toward His God and closing this phrase with the words, "...because He delighteth in mercy."

Thank God for this quality of His. God delights in mercy, in showing kindness and favor to those who least deserve it.

Thank God for His grace. It is the grace of God that provided Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for our sins so God
• Can pardon iniquity
• Can pass by transgression
• Can release His anger against the sinner

Justice could have never allowed for mercy if it had not been for this grace. Mercy would have been an injustice if God's sentence of death upon sin had not been executed upon Jesus Christ when He identified Himself with mankind.

Who is a God like this?

Where in this world will you find any other god who is both merciful and just, who is both holy and gracious, who will pass by the transgressions of sinner, but do in justly because He has Himself been judged for our sins?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Proving What Is Acceptable

Ephesians 5:8 KJV
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

Ephesians 5:10 KJV
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

Between verses eight and ten is a parenthetical sentence. It is important to be sure, and I would never want to leave it out. But there is something to be gained to see the flow of the Word of God with it set aside for a moment. The Word of God says that when we walk as children of the light we are "proving what is acceptable unto the Lord."

When the Christian walks as a Christian ought to walk, we demonstrate to the world that we approve of (one of the definitions of proving) those things that God accepts. It is a shame that we have so called Christians today who obviously do not approve of those things which God approves of and who do approve of things that God's Word declares He does not approve of. The nature of sin has so infected modern Christianity that in many cases it can no longer be called Christian.

Sin is approved of (and wantonly practiced) among many who claim to be Christians.
Righteousness is mocked by those same "wanna - be" believers.

True Christians are children of light. Let us walk as children of that light and let the world see we have proven that which is acceptable to the Lord.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Questions We Should Be Asking

Micah 4:2 KJV
And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

The passage before us is written to Israel concerning the Kingdom of Christ, still future for us all. The Kingdom will be wonderful in several respects, both for the Jews and for those Gentiles who enter into it
• Christ will be physically present
• The world will live in peace (until the last days of that Kingdom)
• Animals will not be violent to themselves or to mankind


But there is an underlying tone in the Kingdom that is not so pleasant.
• Christ will rule with a rod of iron (suggesting that it takes a "heavy hand" to restrain the sin nature that still exists in man.)
• The Kingdom ends with the release of Satan who gathers an army against Christ (suggesting that even the presence of the Lord and the heavy hand of restraining sin does not curb the nature of man.)
• Christ will destroy those who follow Satan (suggesting tears even in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.)

I want to consider this passage under a secondary application today. Should not the Christian, in whose heart Christ already rules, be busy about asking the same questions that the Bible says the Jews, under the leadership of Christ will ask?
• Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord
• And to the house of the God of Jacob
• He will teach us of His ways
• We will walk in His paths

God grant that it be so.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mystery Revealed

Ephesians 3:4-6 KJV
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:


One of the, I think, the weaknesses of the human flesh is our tendency to lose the wonder of really wonderful things. People come to the Pacific Northwest and one of the first things they want to so is see Mt Rainier. No doubt, it is spectacular! But those of us who live in the shadow of the Mountain very often miss it's view for months on end (and not just because it is raining). We can grow so accustomed to its presence that we no longer see this magnificent creation of God.

Paul here defines a mystery, a marvel that for ages men knew nothing about, but is here revealed. Christians today dwell in the midst of this revealed mystery and, for too often, fail to see the wonder of what God has revealed to us. Paul says this mystery is, " That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel."

It was never a mystery that Gentiles would be saved. The mystery, the marvel, the wonder is that Jews and Gentiles would be fellowsheir and of the same body. The mystery is the church and its composure of Jews Gentiles, males and females, bond and free and that, in Christ we are all equal. Every time a church assembles a miracle is taking place, people who at one time in history would have been at each other's throats address one another and brother and sister. We are family.

And the mystery is that the thing that makes us one body is that we have all become partakers of His promise through the Gospel. What a privilege it is to have heard and received that Gospel. What a privilege it is to tell others that Gospel!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dead Defined

Ephesians 2:1 KJV
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins

Following this verse the Word of God gives us a description of what it means to be dead in trespasses and sins;

Walking according to the course of this world
And further, according to the prince of the power of the air. The one who is dead in trespasses and sins is characterized by two things; he does what this world does. He goes with the flow, he follows the pattern of and is conformed to this world. He thinks like the world and is fixed to the direction this world is traveling. Although he may not know it and might even deny it, the Bible says this is the course of the prince of the power of the air, the devil.

A conversation in the lusts of the flesh
The word conversation means to busy oneself and it refers to our lifestyle. The lifestyle of the one who is dead in trespasses and sins is that he is driven by the lusts (forbidden longings) of his flesh and he (eventually) fulfills the desires (lusts) of both his flesh and his mind. He is slave to his worldly cravings.

By nature the children of wrath
The one who is dead in trespasses and sins is by nature fitted for wrath and destruction. His natural tendencies are towards wrath. He is angry at the world, the people around him and his own circumstances. He has little peace in his soul because he has no peace with God. His terrestrial inheritance is doom. Unless there is a supernatural intervention, his case is hopeless.

But that is just the point. The verse says "...you...were" because they no longer are. God had quickened and made them spiritually alive. A new birth had occurred and with it a new nature with an entirely new inheritance.

What grace!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Should Not I Spare?

Jonah 4:11 KJV
And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

This passage oozes the love of God for the souls of men, even those who will likely turn against Him. Though Nineveh's wickedness was such that God was prepared to destroy it and its inhabitants, God graciously calls the unwilling prophet, Jonah to preach repentance there. When Jonah expresses his anger that God has been gracious to them God's response is to point in two directions:

There are there, "more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand...."
These are the children of the city. Though members of a pagan nation and souls who we know in looking back (and God knew through omniscience) would turn against the God their parents turned to in Jonah's day, still at this point in their lives, they are innocent, and God extended grace to them.
We are far too narrow sighted. We see things through the perspective of ourselves and often fail to see that others have a perspective too. There were children there. There were children in that city who, though their parents had been enemies of Israel, would have, at least at this point in their lives, cheerfully played in the streets with the Jews own children.
There would come a day when they would be judged for their own sins. But that wasn't this day.

"....and also much cattle"
I do not pretend to believe that the lives of the animals in Nineveh equaled the worth of the souls of the children in the city. But God did point them out as creatures not deserving the destruction that would have happened had not Jonah preached and Nineveh repented.
In my mind I came back to the animals that were sacrificed for the sins of the Jews. If God was willing to spare this wicked city at least partially for the sake of the animals that existed there, if God cared that much for those animals, did He not care as much for those creatures whose lives were taken and whose blood was spilt in the place of the Jews' sin?
It is not wrong to take the life of an animal for food, or clothing, or another need. It would be wrong to see that life as worthless.

God's eyes must have welled in tears as the Jews slew the animals in sacrifice day after day.
• Blood was shed
• Life was taken
• Christ was remembered and
• Grace was bestowed upon man
In each and every one.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ye Which Are Spiritual

Galatians 6:1 KJV
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Gill says the one overtaken is not the lost "...because sins before conversion do not come under the notice and cognizance of a church, or are liable to its reproofs and censures....."

He goes on to say of the one taken in the fault, "...before the man is aware, through negligence and imprudence, for want of caution and circumspection, and so is carried away, either through the treachery of his own heart, and the power of corruption; or through the temptations of Satan, who goes about, and comes on the back of them, lays snares for them, and attacks them unawares, and takes all advantages of them; or by the ill examples of others, whereby they are drawn aside, and into sin."

A spiritual man is marked by three characteristics;
He recognizes those overtaken in a fault
He is not so focused upon himself that he cannot or does not see another in danger.

He seeks to meekly restore and help those so overtaken
Rather than judging and condemning he comes to the aide of those in jeopardy.

He is cautious in so doing
Because he knows that he is as likely to be overtaken as the once he seeks to aide. He is not arrogant and proud. He does not see himself as better than the one who has been overtaken. He is merely the one who is standing next to another who has fallen and therefore reaches out his hand. But he does so in such a way as to avoid falling alongside the other.

• He does so meekly
• He does so thoughtfully and
• He does so with another (vs 2)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Hope of Righteousness

Galatians 5:5 KJV
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Through the Spirit I wait for only One, that is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the hope of righteousness.

My righteous standing before God is a standing made for me in Jesus Christ.
• He paid the debt of my sin
• He provided for me His own righteousness
• He paved the way to the Father for me and
• He has prepared a place in the Father's house for me


Hope is not to be understood as a wishy-washy, I hope for this but cannot be sure I will ever have it, type of thing. Hope is to be understood as the certain procurement of those who have placed saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, the hope of righteousness

Monday, April 12, 2010

True, Timeless and Trustworthy

Amos 9:11 KJV
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:

I was encouraged this morning by the consistency of the Word of God. We have these sixty six books, written by 40 some different men over the course of 1400 some odd years, and yet they tell the same story and build upon one another so flawlessly that I can't help but believe they have but one author, God Himself.

Amos ends with a summary of God's plan for Israel, the Tribulation (Daniel's seventieth week) followed by the return of the Lord to establish His 1000 year reign and to re-establish David's kingdom.

Minor Prophets, Major Prophets, and New Testament prophecy all come together to paint the same picture. God's Word is true, timeless and trustworthy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Worst Sort of Famine

Amos 8:11 KJV
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

The worse famine the world can ever experience is a famine not of food or water but a famine of the Word of God.

Such a famine appears to be flooding over the world today. As in the day of Amos, there was no shortage of priests, prophets and ministers of the Amaziah sort, who did not know the Lord. So we have congregations large with pulpits that are filled with men whose motives have little to do with God, but are all about building their own universe, their empire, their own comfort and prosperity. That type of minister will always bring a dearth of the Word of God. They are a curse to the congregation they pretend to minister to, and am abomination to the Lord.

Amos made no pretense toward pleasing the powers that be. His only goal was to serve the One who had called him. That kind of preacher has power in prayer (Amos chapter 7) and delivers the Word of God to his land.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This Present Evil World

Galatians 1:4 KJV
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

"...to deliver us from this present evil world..."

Last weekend I preached out of 1Cor 15 on "The Gospel Paul Preached." I concluded in that message that that Gospel is of course the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ but that it does not end there. The "good news" of the Gospel is not merely what Christ did, but the purpose for which He did it. The "good news" is that this Gospel gives victory to the receiver. This verse compliments and is a companion to that concept. Here Paul makes reference to "another Gospel" which he says "is not the gospel." So there are those preaching the gospel, but it is not the same one he preached.

The Gospel He preached was "to deliver us from this present evil world." another Gospel which is not the Gospel would be one that has another purpose: perhaps a Gospel that is supposed to change how we behave in this present world or even a Gospel that will change this present evil world. Both ideas would be consistent with judaistic thought.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Through Weakness

2 Corinthians 13:4 KJV
For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

"...He was crucified through weakness..."

Christ took upon Himself the weakness of the human body and it was through this weakness that He was crucified for our sins. Had he not accepted that mortal weakness there could have been no Saviour. What a wondrous thing that he was so willing.

Now Paul makes the transition from Christ to himself as a minister of God and says that the weakness he has in Christ also makes him alive by the power of God "toward you." His ability to minister to others rested in the weakness he took on in Christ.

Thank God for some who still today are willing to become weak so that, not themselves, but the power of God might live in them toward others.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sufficiency

2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I have three thoughts;
First the sufficiency of grace
It would do us very well to realize that grace is more than enough. We preach this as a truth but we don't often demonstrate it in our lives.
We want tangible things
We want to see successes
We want answers to our prayers now

Would to God we could really live under this truth, that God's grace is sufficient.

Secondly the publicity of his infirmity
Scofield's notes says, "It has been conjectured that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was chronic ophthalmia, inducing bodily weakness, and a repulsive appearance."

Scholars claim two physical infirmities of the Apostle, a twisted back and some sort of eye condition leading to near blindness and runny, eyes that would be difficult to look at.

The point is that Paul's charisma was not physical by any means.

Thirdly the power of Christ despite it
What we are in desperate need of today are for some preachers whose only power is that which comes from Christ.
Not their natural abilities
Not their inherent associations
Not their learned skills
Not their good looks and slick demeanor


We need some today whose only source of influence is the grace of God flowing through them.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

False Apostles

2 Corinthians 11:13 KJV
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

There is no question that the Apostle fought to protect those he had ministered to from the ravages of some who appeared to be ministers of God but were in fact, not. He says that there were some who appeared to be godly men, successful leaders in the work of God who were in reality

False apostles
They were not truly sent from the Lord. Their qualifications were trumped up, falsified. They played the part but they were not the real thing.
The Old Testament prophets dealt with the same problem. Almost anyone could claim to be a messenger from God. Most of the time those guys became the more popular because they were the ones that said what most people wanted to hear. Often times they even appeared to have the better credentials, having been more highly educated, or having been brought up among the royalty or having been born into the priestly family.
Still they were false.

Deceitful workers
This has to be a key in understanding them. Their motives were not pure. They were deceitful, tricky, crafty. While it might appear they were there to minister and to aide, that is merely a ruse. Their work is to draw people away from the true path of Christ.

Maliciously transformed
They follow after the tendencies of Satan in appearing to be light when they are really darkness.
They lead people away from the truth with what appears to be good, moral, decent, successful, prosperous, godly, etc.
They will look like the ones they are attempting to deceive want them to look like. And their goal is not for good, but for evil purposes.

I know Paul said that if Christ was preached, even in less than positive circumstances, he would rejoice. But he also was careful to point out that these men were not of God.

May we have preachers who will do the same today.

Resurrection Sunday

Hosea 13:14 KJV
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

I suppose the most intriguing thing about reading this verse today is the timing of it. Today is Resurrection Sunday. We observe the resurrection of our Saviour from the grave which is the moment this verse (and the parallel passage of 1 Corinthians 15) is fulfilled.

For the first time in I can't remember how many years, I will be preaching on a Resurrection Sunday. It has been my habit ever since Pastor Bill Bramblett went into evangelism to have him preach for us on this day. Most of the time we combined it as a revival meeting, but some years was just for the Sunday. Generally he and sister Pearl would have Sunday dinner with our family and we joked that we would have him on Resurrection Sunday until he was not able to preach any more. I do not know that he is completely out of the picture for future years, but it serves as a reminder to me how much I long for the promise of these passages to become reality for me.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Valley of Decision

Joel 3:14 KJV
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

I have used this passage to appeal to souls to make a decision to come to Jesus Christ. And I believe it is fine to make that appeal. However the context is quite different.

Rather than speaking of this age it is in reference to the end of the Tribulation when Jesus will sit on his throne and judge the Tribulation survivors in the valley of Jehosaphat. and
Rather than the individual making the decision, it is the Lord who is doing so, among the believers and the unbelievers.

The appeal here is that we ought to flee to Christ before this day takes place and we cannot say for sure when that will be. Should Christ rapture the church age believers today then tomorrow will be too late for many.

Today-now is the time of salvation. Accept his offer today.

Monday, April 05, 2010

My Reaction to Our Faith Promise

2 Corinthians 9:10 KJV
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

This is a promise that ought to be claimed.

Because these Christians had gotten some things right (a person needs to read chapters 5-7 to get the context under which Paul writes these words) Paul boldly pressed them for a sacrificial offering and then made this prayer/promise to them.
1 God will provide your food
bread for your food

2 God will increase your ability to earn (seed sown)
multiply your seed sown

This can be taken as both the ability to earn as more seed sown is going to yield a greater harvest and thus yield greater income, and the results of their gift as God would use the seed (gift) sown and multiply it to meet the needs of even a greater number. I believe it is better to use it as the ability to increase income because the third part of the promise fulfills the idea of increasing the results of their gift

3 God will make your righteous deed fruitful and effective
increase the fruits of your righteousness

Both their righteousness in the gift given and their righteousness in their service to the Lord in their own home.

I have been humbled and blessed this week as the results of our Faith Promise have been added. We have increased our promise far greater than I could have dreamed. My prayer is that God will do all of the above for the people of our church.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

I Am Not Sorry I Made You Sorry, But I was Sorry

2 Corinthians 7:8 KJV
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

2 Corinthians 7:12 KJV
Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.

Paul speaks of his first letter to the church at Corinth and points out that
Though the letter was stern and designed to confront
Though the letter had caused sorrow upon the believers in Corinth and
Though the letter had even caused Paul to reconsider if he had done wisely in writting the letter

The purpose of the letter was to show his care for those people in the sight of God. His goal was not to cause sorrow or to create a break in their ability to fellowship with one another. His goal was only to see them made right before the Lord.

Sometimes hard things have to be said and difficult meetings have to be held. Sometimes confrontation is necessary on the part of the preacher of God's Word. But his goal is not to hurt but to help the people of the Lord.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Ministers of God

2 Corinthians 6:4 KJV
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

Matthew Poole makes a statement that I want to draw upon today. He says, "ministers of the gospel are in the first place to be considered as the ministers of God; secondarily, as ministers and servants of the church..."

There is a priority that I believe a preacher needs to keep that, given the personality of the preacher may get turned around and, even if the preacher attempts to keep straight, his congregation might try to insist he get twisted. The preacher is

First a minister of God
His first responsibilities are to the Lord. He must make sure He walks with the Lord. He must make sure He follows the Lord's guidance for his life. He must make sure that the concerns of God are his first concerns

Second, a minister and servant of the church
And I see this as the organism of the local church. The preachers duties lie towards seeing that the congregation as a whole is functioning to the glory of God. He must place the congregation as a whole as his priority, not favoring one member over another, but ministering to the body more so than to the members.

Finally a minister and servant to the member
People have needs and some can assume that the pastor's duty is to meet those needs. Some will demand that the preacher serve them, even to the point of leaving the church to find another preacher who will serve them individually. The trouble is that such ministry will almost certainly lose its focus and become more man centered than God centered.

Sure we are to minister to the saints. But that ministry is best accomplished as we follow the Lord and shepherd a congregation.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

We Thus Judge

2 Corinthians 5:14 KJV
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

The apostle makes a judgment in this passage that must not be ignored. He says that is One died for all; that is the Lord Jesus Christ, if His death was in the stead of all of mankind, if Jesus died because of and for the sins of all men, then the conclusion must be this, that all men are dead.

Dead in trespasses and sins
Dead in relationship to God
Dead in a life that will go on to heaven
Dead in understanding of spiritual things
Dead in awareness to the invisible things of God


It is strange indeed to the fallen human nature that the death of one can lead to life for all who believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

But it should not be so difficult to grasp;
The death of the seed leads to the life of the plant that springs from it
The death of an animal used as meat leads to the life of the one who consumes the meat
The expenditure of energy (like a death) leads to the power (like a life) that operates our machinery


Even so, but in a much more significant way, the death of God in flesh, leads to the life of those who place their faith in Him.