Saturday, December 31, 2011

Treasures of the Heart

Matthew 12:35 KJV
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

A couple of weeks ago my son, Caleb, brought a message out of the book of James on the tongue. He reminded us that James says the tongue can no man tame. Then he said that is because the tongue is merely a symptom of something deeper; the way to tame the tongue is to change the heart.

Our heart, what we love, is key to Christlikeness and spiritual growth. If a man never changes those things he loves he will never change at all. Our heart not only transforms our tongue but our very being. No wonder God deals so much with our heart.

And no wonder God urges us to guard our heart, watch over our heart and keep our heart. Those things we put into our heart will determine the affections of our heart so we must be ever vigilant to see that good things go in and not evil.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Commands

Matthew 11:1 KJV
And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.

Jesus commanded his twelve

We are such a fragile society today that the whole concept of being commanded can offensive to us we don't like being told what to do.
• We don't mind (sometimes) instructions
• We will sometimes accept suggestions and advice
• We would maybe be all right with a commission
But the very word, command, sounds like we have no options we either do or disobey.

And who would we believe has the right to call us disobedient?

But Jesus commanded His twelve. He placed upon them duties He expected them to perform.

And as shocking as it is to people in our society, that is exactly how we ought to view the instruction of God's Word. No, we do not have to obey to be saved. But we who are saved have to obey to be obedient.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why Dress Standards

Leviticus 16:4 KJV
He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.

God gave Aaron specific instructions concerning the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement; all the way down to the clothing he was to wear. It is significant that the Lord chose to set these instructions in the context of the death of Aaron's two sons who had offered strange incense in the tabernacle. God's instructions are to be meticulously carried out. We are not to be as casual with His Word as Christians have come to be in this day.

I want to take this opportunity to outline what I see to be the biblical precedence for Christians and clothing.

First, I see all Christians as priests today.
The pastor is not the only priest in the church, as some people seem to think. Every Christian should view themselves as a priest unto the Lord.

Second, the Old Testament priests were assigned not only duties but specific clothing they were to wear when going about those duties.
A Christian should view himself as a priest, responsible for some duty or ministry in the house of God and see that he dresses appropriately for that duty.

Third, culture may allow for some variations
But the idea of dressing casually in the presence and service of the Lord to make people more comfortable is definitely unbiblical. A person's attire as a priest ought to be fitting for his role. And a priest's attire while in service ought to be formally more so.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

If the Leprosy Be Healed

Leviticus 14:3 KJV
And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper;

If the plague of leprosy be healed

I cannot imagine the relief a person must have experienced if their leprosy healed. It was such a devastating illness, requiring complete separation from the camp.
• Your family
• Your friends
• Your livelihood Your companionship
All of it was gone.

The priest, who had no cure, could only diagnose the disease and condemn the victims of its grip to isolation for the remainder of their lives. He could afford them no mercy. Leprosy was too dangerous. He had to do the hard thing and make the diagnosis and demand the infected be removed outside of the camp and to constantly pronounce to those who might come near that he was unclean. And then, to discover one day that the leprosy is gone! It must have seemed to the victim to be the greatest of all miracles; God given indeed.

Leprosy is not handled in the same way today and is, as I understand it, a very manageable disease. But I can see why God's Word uses it as a type of sin and why God includes chapters thirteen and fourteen in the preserved Word of God; because this is the same type of relief and miracle those whose sins are forgiven in Christ should experience.

The worst of all afflictions is sin. The disease is spread so thoroughly that there is none righteous, no not one. It infects our loved ones, our friends and every person we meet. There is no cure on this earth, the best that anyone can do is pronounce the disease and condemn the afflicted. And we must not be gentle with sinners because sin, when it is finished, it bringeth forth death.

But many have been set free of their affliction.

Not because of any righteousness they have done, but by the goodness of God, Christ came into this world
• He paid the penalty of sin
• He met the righteous demands of God
• He offers healing to all who trust in Him

That is a miracle of God indeed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Proper Christian Practice

Leviticus 12:8 KJV
And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

The Lord gave the command of the sacrifice for the birthday of a child. But then the Lord made a provision for those who could not afford that sacrifice. Even in the Old Testament God made a way for grace.

I can see someone figuring out the loophole and, though they could afford the full sacrifice, they gave the lesser so they could keep the greater for themselves. But God could see that far better than I can and He still chose a way of grace. There are always those who abuse grace but grace is still the rule of God. Old Testament or New, age of the law or this church age, the rule of God is grace.
• Of course there will be those who abuse it and
• Of course they that do so are outside of the blessing of God
But to practice precise faith for any motive other than love for God is contrary to the whole purpose of His plan for the ages.

Those churches who impose strict standards on their congratulations think they are doing God service but in reality they are breaking the very heart behind God's plan. If He had wanted people to obey Him and follow and worship Him out of coercion,
• He could have kept the serpent from the Garden
• He could have killed Adam and Eve and started over
• He could have stayed the Jews in the wilderness and begun again with Moses
God could have forced all men to bow and worship Him. He has elected instead to offer grace.

I am sure that the multitudes who take advantage of God's grace will come to a time when they regret it. Either they will find that they were never saved in the first place and the fact that they did not have the heart to obey the Lord out of sheer love for Him betrayed that truth. Or else they will stand before God saved, yet so as by fire and will suffer both loss and shame.

The proper Christian practice is grace. The right Christian attitude is always grace. There will be huge disappointments when exercising grace because people will fail. But giving them the choice between right and wrong is the only real way for them to know where their true spiritual heart lies. A church might be able to force or coerce them to behave as a Christian, but that in no way proves they are Christians.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Put Difference

Leviticus 10:10 KJV
And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;

Nadab and Abihu offered the strange incense and died. But Aaron and his other sons were busy in the ministry of the Lord. So Moses urged them to let others deal with the bodies and let the people mourn their deaths; but they were to remain faithful to the Lord. And they were to do so to teach the people the difference between holy and unholy, clean and unclean.

Whether I was taught it, or came to believe it instinctively, I am persuaded that the same thing is true in ministry today. While there are some exceptions, demonstrated near the end of this chapter, a preacher can't allow personal drama to draw him away from God's calling and duties. I can't let family or personal crises pull me away or prevent me from the ministry God has placed me in. Someone has to demonstrate to the world a sort of commitment to the things of the Lord that is unwavering and that sees the Lord and His work as above all else in the world.

Let that be me.

And let my children follow me.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Judgmentalism

Matthew 6:8 KJV
Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

One of the quickest criticisms people will have against Christians is that we judge those who are not like us. Sometimes they will point out that Jesus was not so judgmental but ate with sinners. The fact that He ate with them in no way implies that Christ was supportive of evil or sinful habits. Jesus taught the believers not to be like the Jews and their proud religion or the heathen and their vain religion. In either case Jesus had judged and in each case Jesus called for a separation.

It is impossible for a believer to see the world through the eyes of the Bible without making some judgment. We would never be able to follow Christ without seeing that which is opposed to Christ. But how do we reach those people for Christ who recognize we have judged their life and habits as sinful?

First, by clearly differentiating between there life and habits and their being.
We must truly love people.

Second by being honest.
We do judge particular habits and activities as well as certain opinions and worldviews.

Third by being certain that the basis of our judgment is the Word of God and not a mere opinion.
Our opinion, even if held by the majority of our same faith, is merely opinion unless it is the teaching of the Bible.

Fourth, by pointing out that God's ways are always higher and better than our own.
We must constantly point people to a way and a thought that is much higher than their ways and thoughts and even our ways and thoughts. If we are following God's ways and thinking God's thoughts, then it is not our opinion and we must help them see that.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rejoice

Matthew 5:12 KJV
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad….

• No matter what the circumstances
• No matter the suffering
• No matter the world issues

The Christian attitude is a rejoicing spirit.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Only Thing Satan Cares For

Matthew 4:9 KJV
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Satan had but one concern with Christ; he wanted His worship.

He would have given Him all he had in this world
He would have abandoned His claim to
• Kingdoms
• Riches
• Authority
• Power
• Honor
• Masses of people

Satan's only concern was that he be worshiped.

He sought Christ's worship and having failed to receive it, we can be assured he seeks that worship of us. We can also be assured he will spare no expense and give us anything and everything we desire in order to receive it.

My suggestion is that it is the first thing we must deny him.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Old Fashioned Pastoring

Matthew 3:3 KJV
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

I read the other day another writer calling for some "old fashioned" pastors. The author did not give much of a definition of what that would be except to say we needed them and it might mean something different to different people. Being "old fashioned" is not necessarily positive.
• Some "old fashioned" pastors were holy rollers
• Some were little better than purveyors of snake oil
• Some "old fashioned" pastors led their people to persecute those who disagreed with them
Old fashioned is not a virtue. Back to the Bible is.

And we can't get back to being an old fashioned Bible preacher any more than being a John the Baptist preacher. Some, even in the Baptist schools, have swallowed the Protestant view that John the Baptist is in spiritual limbo; neither a full fledged Old Testament prophet nor a legitimate New Testament preacher. I disagree. Mark chapter one says, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.... John did baptize… and preach." The New Testament gospel begins with the preacher John. Therefore John becomes the example of old fashioned preaching.

And all four gospels quote this Old Testament prophecy as applicable to the preaching of John the Baptist. The "old fashioned" preacher I am looking for calls for people to prepare and make straight the way of the Lord. The work the Lord does in a life is His own. No man can make himself fit for Christ. But a man can prepare himself for the work Christ does.
• Through the cultivation of the Holy Spirit
• Through the preaching of the Word of God
• Through the humility of the heart
a man may prepare for the Lord's work in his soul.

There is too much haughtiness among men. There are too few preachers who will confront the worldliness and self love of people today. There are too few preachers who will make hell hot and right at our toes. Too much preaching caters to the self love among people. It appeals to and feeds the human nature. Granted, it might gather a group, but they become no true congregation; they are all about self.

I am all for some old fashioned preaching and pastoring but I believe we need to define that and I believe it is best defined by the example of John the Baptist.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Wonder What He Said

Matthew 2:16 KJV
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

The evidence of the text indicates that the wise men did not come to the stable the night of Christ's birth but much later. By the time they got there
• Jesus was a child, not a babe
• Jesus was in a house
• Herod had inquired of the wise men what time the star appeared to them and, when they did not return to tell him where Jesus was, he killed all the children of Bethlehem two years old and under, according to the time the wise men said they had seen the star.

So Jesus was likely two years old. And since a child begins to speak at about one year old, Jesus could very likely speak by the time the wise men arrived.

One of the men of the church I pastor remarked to me just last Sunday, "I wonder what Jesus said to them?"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Greatest Sin a Preacher Can Commit

Leviticus 4:35 KJV
And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

The priest of the Old Testament was as prone to sin as any man in the congregation and therefore provision was made for a sacrifice for his sins.

How much different it is from our Lord who, though a priest, became our sacrifice rather than having to have His own sacrifice. And what a shame it is when men become so wrapped up in a religion that they only see the minister, who is always a sinner, rather than the Lord, who is the forgiver of sin.
• Sometimes it is the congregation who elevates the preacher much too highly.
• Sometimes, too often, it is the preacher who sees himself as the intermediary between Christ and man.

The responsibility over the flock is not the same as ownership of the flock. Stewardship is not the same as mastery. God's people must be free to see Christ. The preacher's task is to bring his charge; the congregation of the Lord, to green pastures and then get out of the way so the congregation may be fed of Christ.

Perhaps the greatest sin a preacher can commit is to place himself between the Lord and His sheep.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Water

Revelation 22:1 KJV
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

The Bible both begins and ends with some description of a river or rivers.
• Rivers flowed through and framed the garden
• A river divided the Promised Land from the people of God and was parted for Joshua
• Naaman was told to dip seven times in the Jordan River.
• Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan
• Jesus offered the woman at the well and river of life and
• Revelation 22 says there is a pure river flowing from God's throne.

Water is, as much as any part of our being, the foundation of life.
• Our bodies are made mostly of water
• Water is still a major form of transportation
• Battle are still fought on the water and
• Water still has the power to destroy cities, has done so several times in the last few years.

God has sovereign control over this life giving commodity both now and it eternity.

And it leads me to trust in and look toward Him alone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reflectors

Revelation 21:18 KJV
And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

Not too many months ago my wife and I took the tour of the Seattle underground. To be honest I wasn't that impressed. It is dirty, musty and the guides felt a need to behave just a little bit seedy because that, they say, is the historical persona of Seattle. But history is always interesting and there were some interesting lessons learned

At one point in the tour we were under the sidewalks of the city and the guide points out these pieces of colored glass with built in reflectors. There was a time when what happened under those sidewalks was as active as what happened on the sidewalks. Having no electricity, the colored glass pieces embedded in the sidewalk, and coupled with the reflectors provided the lighting for the underground life.

It was only recently that I was made aware that nearly all of the materials used in the New Jerusalem reflect light. The gems, the gold, the pearls and the glass are all enhanced as they react to light. The Lamb of God is the light of the city, and that will be unbelievably glorious but as the city itself reflects His light, how glorious this place must be.

How I long to be there.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Moses Did Look

Exodus 39:43 KJV
And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.

When they had finished the work Moses looked at it.

First, Moses had to know the Word of God.
His duty was not to build the pieces to be used in worship; others were gifted of God to do that work. His duty was to know what God had said.

Second Moses had to inspect the work of men.
I notice that even though he didn't know how to do the work and even though others were gifted of God he still authoritative inspected their work.

Finally Moses judged the product according to the pattern of God.
His task was not to please the workers but to ensure that the work was pleasing and in compliance to God's Word

So is the duty of the preacher today. His is not to do all of the work or even to know how to do all of the work. His job is to thoroughly know the Word of God. And then his duty is to keep an eye on the work of the church he is to oversee. The assignment is not to make everyone enjoy their work or even to let them feel they are in charge of the piece of the work they are gifted in. His assignment is to carefully look at the work and see that it is in allegiance to the Holy Word of God.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Amen; Alleluia

Revelation 19:4 KJV
And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.

The celebratory nature of this chapter cannot be overlooked, but what is often overlooked is the reason for the celebration. Of course there is the word about the marriage of the Lamb and that His bride having made herself ready. But we must not ignore that the celebration is also because God had judged "the great whore" and that Jesus would return to "judge and make war."

• Who but God knows (and I know He knows) how many souls are judged as a part of that massive religious institution that has, throughout these several thousands of years, persecuted those who have worshipped God in spirit and in truth?
• Who but God knows (and I know He knows) how many souls are to perish as Christ makes war on that political system that torments the believers in the Great Tribulation and refuses to bow to the Kingship of Jesus Christ?

Souls die and will perish forever in the lake of fire and brimstone and yet heaven is shouting "Amen; Alleluia!"

The matter is about the glory of God. And when He is glorified, whether through some miracle of His grace or some demonstration of His holiness, the saints of God rejoice.

The Word of God is plain on this subject;
• No one loves the souls of those who perish in hell more than God
• No one grieves their loss more than does God
But heaven rejects the notion that the loss of those who reject God is reason to refuse God His due worship. That those who reject Christ are judged is reason in itself to celebrate; not in their judgment but in God's righteousness in judging.

I am convinced that even those in hell bow down and glorify God as they see God is glorified in their judgment.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's About the Heart

Exodus 35:35 KJV
Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.

Over the years in the ministry I have met many skilled people. Some those skills cover the gamut:
• Carpentry
• Decoration and design
• Teaching
• Maintenance
• Art
• Computer skills and
• Etc.

But there is a difference between having a skill a person may use for income or recreation and having a gift a person may use for the Lord. That difference is heart. Exodus thirty five is all about the work of the Lord and it is all about those skills necessary to accomplish that work. But throughout the chapter it is more so all about the heart. Bezaleel, Aholiab and the women who sewed were given more than a skill; they were given the heart to use that skill for the Lord.

And God make their tribe increase.

We need more today whose heart is to see their skills used in the work of the Lord.

Some will do what needs to be done,
• If they are asked and
• If they have time and
• If they see no way around it

Some will
• See what needs to be done
• Make the time to do it and
• Can't be talked out of it
Because it is in their heart.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

They Put Off Their Ornaments

Exodus 33:4 KJV
And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.

• Having heard that God would not go with them
• Having learned that they would be on their own
• Having heard such evil tidings
the people put off their ornaments, yea God commanded them to do so.

There are times in life that being dressed up and decked out is absolutely inappropriate. There are times when the circumstances dictate not only humility of heart but of appearance and demeanor. Learning that we have lost the presence of the Lord would be chief among them.

We live in such a smug time: people have no fear of God; denying the existence of God or what might be worse, denying that, if He does exist, He has any right to authority in their lives. Satan surely looks like he has gained the upper hand. These are days when believers ought to put off our ornaments and pray.

But I have read the end of the book. I know that all of this is in the plan of God and that Satan ends up loser. I will put off my ornaments for now, but I am keeping hold of them because I expect a great day of celebration when Jesus comes again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

From the Mountain Top to the Ground Below

Exodus 31:18 KJV
And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Exodus 32:1 KJV
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

What an amazing contrast between the last verse of chapter thirty and the first of chapter thirty one. We travel
• From the top of the Mountain to the ground below
• From one man meeting with God to the crowd of men blaspheming Him
• From Moses receiving the Ten Commandments to Israel breaking them

And how often is that same chasm of contrast an illustration of our own spiritual experience! We who are the children of God so often betray the basest elements of humanity.

May God grant us to live more consistently what it is God has done in our souls.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Phony Smell

Exodus 30:37 KJV
And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.

After God had given instruction concerning the perfume to be used in the tabernacle He then warned that no one was to create a similar perfume for other uses. God said that the one who did should be cut off.

The worship of the Lord is a sacred and holy thing. It is not to be toyed with and recreated and made to fit the way we feel. It is not to be copied and imitated.

And those who choose to make for themselves their own place and style of worship, even if it looks and "smells" like the real thing, are to be cut off; we have no fellowship with them.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

See and Hear

Revelation 14:6 KJV
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

This chapter is about sights and sounds. Christians are to be an aware people. We are to see and hear the things God is doing in the earth.

In the midst of the chapter are three angels, messengers, which seem to be separated from the rest.

• The first bears the message of the Gospel.
• The second bears the message of victory Babylon pictures worldliness.
• The third bears the message of separation.

Christians look and act differently than others. When a Christian has heard and responded to these three messages he can then see that God's plan for mankind is wrapping up. He is spared from the sickle of God's wrath and is gathered to God in the sickle of His harvest.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Standing On The Sand

Revelation 13:1 KJV
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

All of the writers are quick to note that the sea is representative of the troubled masses of people. It seems to be used that way throughout the Bible. During the Tribulation that sea will be most troubled. And so the beast that rises out of it should be viewed as a man who, though in the midst of the mass of humanity, rises to be seen by all in the masses.

I don't have any trouble with that. Very frequently and most recently, a particular man whose name was nearly obscure and was certainly unknown to me, rose out of the sea of American politics to become President Barak Obama. That he won the election was astonishing to me because he came out of nowhere to become the leader of the free world.

Back to the text.
While the sea is troubled and the beast rises from it, John said he stood on the sand of the sea observing. His was of course a vision but it represents a safe place in the troubles of this world. The Christian is unique in this world in that, though we are still in the world we are not of the world. Though we may be in some manner impacted by the world, as the sea impacts the sand, we are not of the sea any longer. We are observers of the sea. We stand in a safe place in Jesus Christ and watch the events of the world unfold.

And we pray

And we work to rescue some from the sea onto this safe place.

Sand is unstable in its own right, though not as much as the season. But we who stand on the sand the sea are assured that underneath there is a Rock. And on this Rock we shall never be moved.

Friday, December 09, 2011

War In Heaven?

Revelation 12:7 KJV
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Things are never as simple as we tend to try to make them. Here stands what is in our minds a huge contradiction - war in heaven. Neither can we reason this away as something other than heaven as the throne of God. Michael does not as some have suggested, represent the church and the dragon and his angels represent ancient Roman oppression and persecution. The war is in heaven and between Satan and his angels versus the angels of God in heaven. Conflict invades that place of perfect peace.

This is not to say that God is not sovereign and could not have prevented it. Surely He could have prevented the conflict as easily as He prevailed in the conflict. This is a demonstration of the lengths God will go to develop man into that creature who worships him in spirit and in truth. Nothing is so "sacred" to God that He will protect it against saving His people; He gave His Son for our salvation, His throne would then be a small thing to give so that His saints be protected from Satan's spoiling work. God allowed for Satan. God allowed Satan to violate the sanctity of His throne so that His eternal plan for mankind could be carried out.

Not to worry though. In the eternal state where there is no more sun, moon, sea, death, neither will there be war.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

No Mention

Exodus 23:13 KJV
And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

God commanded the Israelites not to be circumspect concerning his commandments and to not even mention the names of the gods of the pagan.

Concerning circumspect
The idea is meticulous attention to the details. It is outright obedience. The Jews were never to be casual concerning obedience but specific and formal.

Concerning the other gods
Gill suggests that they were to regard the gods of the land with detestation and abhorrence. It was greater than merely ignoring them; the concept of idolatry was to be despised.

We live in a different era and the details of the Law have been nailed to the cross with Christ. Still there is a message here for the Christian faith is taken much too casually these days. Too little attention is paid to the finer details of the faith. We spend too little time carefully considering our faith and Christ's place in our lives.

As to the idols, American Christianity now embraces just about anything that is religious. We no longer believe it is appropriate to detest false gods, so much so that we welcome false doctrine and practice into our midst with zeal. I am not suggesting we attack or abuse or in any way express hatred for people who are involved in idolatry and false doctrine, but I do suggest we man up enough to fight the false doctrine and at least express our disgust for it by having nothing to do with it. Isn't that the message of 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 KJV?
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Again

Revelation 10:11 KJV
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

The Apostle John's days upon this earth were drawing to a close. He would not be physically present to preach the Word too many more days. This then gives rise to the view that this next prophecy of John would be of a different sort. And since the chapter speaks of the little book which John ate, it is not difficult to deduce this next prophecy would be through his written revelation.

A preacher may preach the Word of God and have an impact. But he may extend his ministry to many others and into generations to come through the written word. In this day, with the World Wide Web and the availability of the Internet nearly globally, a huge, even missionary impact is possible through a different soft of "prophecy"; the written word. Preachers of years past used their written word to evangelize and instruct. For a time it seemed that few preachers saw the need to record what the Lord had taught them and thus preach again to a different congregation. I personally lament the shortage of writing of Baptist pastors of the last century or two. Today, a new venue has given rise to a resurgence of writing which, should the Lord not return in our generation, means we have preached again to the generation that follows.

We must step forward and use it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

We ARE That Treasure

Exodus 19:5 KJV
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Though this verse speaks of Israel and gives them the condition of obedience, the same truth is applied to the Christian on condition of faith in Christ.

A man might have in his possession any number of valuable assets. They could be tools, they could be mementos or they could be keepsakes. But among all of his possessions there might be one valuable that, for whatever reason he has, is his most cherished treasure.

God owns all that is by virtue of creation. Though some may deny His possession and resist it, still it is His. Even Satan is the possession of the Lord and will be done with as it pleases God. But then God has a peculiar treasure among His treasures; in the Old Testament God laid upon Israel a condition; "If ye will obey". The New Testament does away with the condition and declares as a fact that the believer is a peculiar treasure to the Lord.
• We are that treasure because we are in Christ
• We are that treasure because of our love for the One God loves
But we ARE that treasure.

God so loved the world but even more so loves the saved.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Then We Trust The Lord

Exodus 17:8 KJV
Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

So much happened to Israel so soon. Long before they reached Mt Sinai they faced the attack of Amalek. They had no instruction in an army yet. There were
• No generals
• No captains
• No soldiers; volunteer or otherwise
They weren't even altogether behind Moses as their leader. There were just people in need of protection.

The devil is out to attack those who follow the Lord and his plan is to get them as soon as he can before they get established and strengthened in the faith. Moses and Israel faced
• Internal strife (about the water) then
• External strife (with Amalek) and then
• A more subtle destruction
as Moses' father in law recommended that Moses couldn't lead God's people alone.

Ours is to trust the Lord through all of Satan's devices.
• When people chide us for lack, trust the Lord
• When enemies attack God's work, trust the Lord
• When someone proposes a better way than God's direction, then we trust the Lord.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Tree God Showed Him

Exodus 15:25 KJV
And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

In our day salesmen and others search for those magic plants God gave Israel in the wilderness; the manna - just about anything has been called the manna. Salesmen know claims of that nature will sell a product; naturalists would love to benefit from its qualities. The tree here has been claimed as everything from sweet berry known to be in the region to a bitter bush of which is known the same. The key, I think, is that the Lord showed him. This is not natural. This is not something that the natives had common access to or we may be assured that they would have taken advantage of its quality to this very day.

That bitter waters could be made sweet through the addition of a tree, and that it would sweeten so much water as to meet the needs of this multitude and their flocks, can only be supernatural.

The Lord showed him a tree.
It becomes reminiscent of the tree upon which our Saviour hung.

There was no tree before or after like it
Though there have been many trees, and many who died upon them, none were like that tree.

That one act could save so many
Six hundred thousand men besides wives and children were all satisfied with one tree. So the souls of all men have been redeemed (though not all souls have taken delivery of salvation) through that one great act, as Christ suffered for the sins of all men.

Bitterness turned sweet through the tree.
Truly this world can seem a bitter place without Jesus Christ. The bitterness of opportunities disappointed
• The bitterness of oppression and battle
• The bitterness of consequences for sin
• The bitterness of eventual death
Are all sweetened in the promise of sins forgiven, heaven awaiting, rewards for serving and oppression avenged

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Day and Night

Revelation 7:15 KJV
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

I read this passage in my daily visit with the Lord today and the first thing that came to my mind is that we Christians have an enormous blessing awaiting us in the future. That the One who sit on the throne shall dwell among us is grace beyond.
• That we, who were created by Him should serve Him day and night is a blessing beyond fathom.
• That He, who has created us, should condescend to dwell among us; that is glorious grace.

But as I pondered further, and meditated, I remembered another passage,
Revelation 14:11 KJV
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

While the believer serve and dwells with God and night, those who never professed Christ will be in torments those same days and nights.

People put too little thought into eternal things. The average Christian today tends to think of Christianity to answer questions about family, friends and work relationships. The largest congregation in the country has a pastor who openly professes to not have either much knowledge or interest in eternal things. But the real purpose of Christian faith has to do with heaven and hell; an eternity in the presence of God, or an eternity suffering without rest.

I would suggest that the way to turn this around would be to get Christians to talk more about eternal things. I would further suggest that the way to get Christians to talk more about eternal things is to get them to think more about eternal things.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Under Orders

Exodus 13:8 KJV
And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.

While Israel left Egypt a free people, they also left a "harnessed" people.

The word can mean that they left armed for war
Which is very unlikely especially since the preceding verse clearly says God took them toward the Red Sea because they were not prepared for war.

The word can also mean by fives
This definition gets us more closely to the concept The Lord has for us. It implies orderliness. Israel did not leave in a panic, fleeing, but under leadership and with guidance in an orderly fashion. One old writer estimated that if they went in literal racks. Of five - five abreast - the column would have been at least sixty miles long. What a sight!

The word most certainly has to do with the fact that they left under orders
God led them the long way. They were led. Though they were free from Egypt they were not free to go heater skelter. God had a direction for them. God had a plan for them. And God intended them to go in company.

Too much of today's Christianity looks more like a fleeing mob than an organized company. Christians, even so called churches, do as they please. They find the shortest routes to their own destinations. We have professing Christians who see no purpose in organized religion, and it is no wonder since we have professing churches who see no purpose in following God's Word. What a sight it would be should all those who profess the name of Christ accept His harness, His yoke; if we all headed the same direction under orders of God.

Though I will try, I might not convince the multitudes of wild eyed professors to come under orders, but this one thing I can do: I can take His "harness" myself.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Lamb a House

Exodus 12:3 KJV
Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:

Over the years I have wondered about the various passages where a lamb or a kid is eaten by a family. I know enough about slaughter and butchering animals to know that preparing an animal from the field can be done quickly. (My wife and I have cut and wrapped a deer on our own kitchen table.)

Until this year.

July of this year the nanny goat I purchased to give milk had kids. My intention has been that the males be butchered so we could get value from the goats in that way as well as milk. Reading up on the process of butchering these goats, I learned that it is common to butcher them as early as newborn and to prepare and cook them similar to a rabbit. It is recommended that that goat be butchered before one year. My plan is to butcher at seven months. The point is this; the animal a family picked might be younger or older depending upon need; the younger the animal the smaller portion of meat, thus, for a smaller family. Also the younger the animal the more quickly it could be prepared. For me personally the problem with butchering the kids is that the younger the age the more difficult it is emotionally to kill it. One of my sons has helped skin and clean several deer taken this hunting season. He said he thought he could do it right now because he is in the "hunting mode." But otherwise not many have wanted to take part in shooting, bleeding and then butchering these animals.

And all of that brings me to Christ who was crucified at the very young age of thirty three. He was tender and innocent and completely undeserving of his death. Pilate certainly did not want to do it. The mobs had to be worked into a frenzy in order for them to demand His death.

What grace is ours that Christ, who knew no sin, should be made sin for us.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tenacious Obedience

Exodus 10:24 KJV
And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.

I had always only considered that Pharaoh's demand that Israel leave their cattle behind was a compromise to insure Israel return. There are two other possible motivations:


Pharaoh may have intended to keep the cattle in return for those of his that had died by the plague.
Often the world expects God to pay them for the consequences of their sins.
• We get a deathly illness contracted as a direct result of our sin and expect God to heal us of it
• We get in trouble with the law and then expect God to prevent the sentence
• We spend our money without discretion and expect God to meet our needs.
Pharaoh had hardened his heart against God and wanted to be compensated for the consequences.

By sending Israel into the wilderness without the cattle he would surely have been sending them to their deaths.
Without milk and meat they would have died before they met their objective. There have been times in world history, their are still places in our world, and the Bible tells us there will once again come a time when this world will no longer tolerate the existence of the believer. Oppression and persecution will not be enough, they will strive for the complete annihilation of the Christian faith.

Moses' response is the only acceptable one for the believer; tenacious and steadfast clinging to our faith and worship of the True God.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Above the Worldly

Exodus 7:1 KJV
And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

God made Moses a god before Pharaoh. The term is the plural, Elohim, which may refer to rulers and judges in the ordinary sense. Strong's Concordance says it is here used in the superlative sense.

God elevated Moses from the position of one of the Jews to a man with credentials. The miracles that were done reached a level that Pharaoh's magicians could not duplicate. Pharaoh, though still not in agreement with Moses' demand to let Israel go, yet did see Moses as more than a simple slave.

We ought never try to make ourselves appear to be more than we are. But God does lift us above the average men of the world to use us as His representatives. The Christian is not often agreed with in the world, but he is separated in this world. He is unique. He is different. And the difference is made by God, not religion.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Space to Repent

Revelation 2:21 KJV
And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

The graciousness of God is amazing.
Jezebel speaks of the lowest forms of idolatry. Verse 24 calls it "the depths of Satan."

The judgment of those involved in the doctrines of Jezebel is terrible.
But God still gives Jezebel and her children space to repent. Would to God they would do it! God doesn't fill us with false hopes of a world wide revival but foretells to us that she would not repent. I see so many who are calloused spiritually. They come to church, they hear the word of God but they leave unbroken.

The Bible says it is they who will experience great Tribulation. May God move so that her children repent even if she does not!

Risky Business

Exodus 5:4 KJV
And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.

When Moses fled Egypt he had been a member of the Royal family. After forty years of herding sheep, he returned and was identified with Israel and her burdens. He did have an audience with Pharaoh, but that did not negate his burdens along with Israel.

In returning to deliver his people
He risked his wife and children
who did not come into Egypt with him.

He risked his life
because identifying himself as Moses, even the new Pharaoh could have carried out the charges of the one before. Surely there were records.

He risked his freedom
As a shepherd in the wilderness he was no royalty but he was free. Coming into Egypt he might have been enslaved for the rest of his life.

Trusting God is risky business. And it doesn't always have the outcome one might expect. Moses questioned the Lord saying since he had come, things had gotten worse. But trusting God has huge rewards. It was because Moses trusted the Lord that a nation of people was freed to pursue God's plan for their lives. The name of Moses is remembered for ever because he trusted the Lord.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

No Pass

Exodus 4:24 KJV
And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

Moses was unquestionably called of God to deliver Israel from Egypt. He was about the business of God's call when, because he had not circumcised he son, God sought to kill him.

Too often those who are about the work of the ministry believe that, because they are called of the Lord and busy for the Lord and especially if they perceive themselves to be successful for the Lord, they begin to justify small acts of neglect and disobedience in their own relationship with the Lord. Serving the Lord is part of a relationship with the Lord so that there can be no relationship without service. But service is not the relationship and can be no substitute for it.
• Perhaps the preacher is busy about the work and neglects the raising of his own children.
• Perhaps he has allowed himself indiscretions with other women.
• Perhaps he is loose with the finances God's people have given to the work of the Lord.
Whatever the case, Moses gives evidence that God's call into ministry is no pass from personal obedience in fine details of faith.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gaius, Diotrophes, Demetrius

3 John 1:1 KJV
The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

Churches are composed of people and people are of all different sorts. The Apostle centers this epistle around three of them.

Gaius
To whom the letter is addressed. The apostle's word to him is cheerful and encouraging. Concerning those ministers of the gospel, he has received them, been charitable toward them and helped them on their way. This serves as a Biblical model for Christian care of missionaries and preachers.

Diotrophes
Does not seem to be in any authority in the church but sure likes to think of himself as such. Diotrophes casts people out of the church, probably not in any official capacity but through his a wicked demeanor in the church. The Apostle urges Gaius not to follow his example.

Demetrius
Once again does not appear to have an official position of authority in the church but is a powerful influence none the less. The most important members of the church are those who rub shoulders with others every day. The word of God being preached is powerful but only impacts the world as those who hear it obey it.

There is in every church, someone to encourage, someone to care for, someone to avoid and someone to follow.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Did the Prophecy of Levi Come to Pass?

Genesis 49:5-6 KJV
Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.
O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.

Jacob's prophecies over his sons include Simeon and Levi being bound together as the ones who had attacked Shechem in retaliation for its defiling their sister Dinah. Jacob pronounces that no honor will go to them and that they will be scattered in Israel. My interest is in Levi who, despite this prophecy, was separated by God as the priestly tribe, rather than requiring the first born of every family God took the tribe of Levi as a whole.

On the one hand I see the grace of God that one who had received such a pronouncement of doom and one who had practiced such cruelty would be set aside as God's in this way. But then, even in the blessing of being set aside, there is a fulfillment of Jacob's prophecy. They indeed were scattered throughout Israel, possessing no piece of the Promised Land as their own.

And their cruel nature is evidenced all the way through to the cross where it was Levi, the tribe of priests, who led in the mob's insistence that Christ be crucified.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christ Breaches Culture

Genesis 48:18-19 KJV
And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.

The custom and culture of the day was for the blessing to go to the first born. So Joseph brought his sons to be blessed of his father and purposely guided them into their grandfather's presence so that the elder would receive the blessing of the firstborn. Jacob, though elderly and blind, knew what he was doing and laid his hands upon them so that the younger received the greater blessing. Joseph was troubled by it and said so to his ailing father. But Jacob pacified him saying he knew what he had done.

A person might accuse me of taking a leap here but I see a break in cultural custom for what was perceived by Jacob to be the will of God and I will use this to emphasize that Christianity is not bound to operate within the confines of specific cultures but should in fact become a culture unto itself. Christianity is a culture. Christianity ought to create a brand new culture wherever it reaches.

Some will, like Joseph, be troubled by our breach in their culture. But that should not sway our direction. We follow the Lord's guiding. Ideas about faith, family, morality, appropriateness and etc. should all be influenced by our faith. These are not issues of upbringing and background. These are issues of righteousness established by almighty God. And how we interpret and apply them are not subject to the ideas of fundamentalism versus evangelicalism versus liberalism. God has spoken and our responsibility is to obey.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Magnanimous

Genesis 45:5 KJV
Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

Joseph developed in his life a testimony that is perhaps the most magnanimous in the Scriptures.
• His brothers had sold into slavery only after throwing him into a pit and debating killing him
• He had spent years as a slave and as a prisoner all because his brothers were jealous of his relationship with his father and because God had revealed to him that one day his brothers would bow before him.
I know that everything worked out for Joseph. But the circumstances he endured before they worked out were trying indeed. And that he missed his father all of those years is obvious in his questions concerning him before his brothers. Joseph requested that when he died, his bones be taken back to the Promised Land; evidence that he had not accepted Egypt as his home.

Still, he told his brothers not to be either grieved or angry about selling him as a slave. He said it was all of God. It is not, as some have suggested, that he thought they should feel some sorrow to repentance, just not overly sorrowful. He did not say that. He said that God used them to send him ahead and they should not feel badly about that at all.

We would be a whole lot better off if we would learn to not have to see the one who hurt us hurt before we forgive them or move on emotionally.
• If we would learn to trust God that He is at work
• If we would give God leave to use any method He pleased to bring us to Christlikeness and to bring glory to His own name
• If we would come to rely upon God so fully that we didn't get offended at any injustice committed against us
how much happier we would be.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mistaken Treasures

Genesis 43:23 KJV
And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.

When the sons of Jacob returned home and found the bags of money in the food sacks the last thing they thought of it as was a treasure. In their minds
• They had barely escaped Egypt with their lives
• Their brother Simeon was still there as a prisoner, and
• They were strictly forbidden to return without Benjamin
The money in their sacks was just one more reason why returning to get Simeon, and more food, was an impossibility.

But when desperation overwhelmed them and it became essential that they return, one of their first priorities was to return this money. The money in their sacks was indeed a treasure, but not the sort we are prone to think. Their treasure was not that they possessed money; their treasure was that God had intervened in their sin and had preserved their brother and a means for Israel to grow up as a people separated from this world and wholly given to God.

We often mistake our real treasures for a curse. God's purpose in our lives is Christlikeness. That purpose can often appear to bring curses rather than blessings because we tend to believe blessing is always rewarded in real and earthly time.

The best rewards will always be heavenly ones.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Faithfulness Prepares

Genesis 41:40 KJV
Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

God certainly prepared Joseph in Egypt.

• First he was over all the house of Potiphar.
• Next he was given the charge of the prisoners.
• Finally Pharaoh placed him over all of Egypt.

We never know what God might use to build in us those qualities that make us useful to His purposes and bring glory to His name. Faithfulness in all things is our place.
• Faithfulness is the key to God's purpose being fulfilled in us
• Faithfulness is the key to our finding God's blessing

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Which We Have Heard

1 John 1:1 KJV
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

The Apostle's message was a personal one concerning Christ. He had seen Him, heard Him, to touched Him, and been taught of Him. The Apostle spoke with passion concerning Christ.

In so many respects, that sort of passion is an impossibility today because Christ's physical life is not present with us today. However there is a personal witness concerning Jesus that is still true for the believer.
• The assurance of His witness within us
• The conviction of His saving us
that is something that we who have it know to be true.

That is the message we should be sharing with people around us.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Always a Stranger

Genesis 37:1 KJV
And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.

Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger. Hebrews implies that Jacob considered himself a stranger there too. Isaac was born and raised there. He never left that land his whole life and for one hundred and forty years dwelt as a stranger in the land that he might otherwise have called home.

Jacob tried to live among his kin and, although it wasn't all the way back to the Ur of Chaldees, he found he wasn't at home there either.

And so it is with the Christian.

God's call upon our lives sets us apart from this world. We are never quite at home here. There are places and there have been eras when Christians fared better on the earth, but this world has never been our home. We must learn, like Isaac, to dwell in this constant tension of being content in whatsoever state we are in, but always longing for a better, that is a heavenly country.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Don't Die Before Death

Genesis 35:28-29 KJV
And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.
And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Genesis 27:1-2 KJV
And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.
And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:

Isaac lived forty years after the mess with mixing the blessings up on his sons.
• He lived through Jacob's twenty year trip to Haran
• He lived through twelve years of Joseph's enslavement in Egypt
• He also lived to be five years older than his father Abraham was when he did
All of the grief that his family went through was, to a large extent, the result of Isaac thinking he was about to die when his death was still forty years out.

None of us know how long we will live. And it is, I suppose, wise to have our affairs in order. But much grief is caused when a person lives every day thinking that's the day they will die. Too much is lost living in fear or even anticipation of dying. Much better it is to live each day with full expectation.
• Sure, one day we will die
• Sure, sometimes health slows down how much and what we can do
But to let poor health become our identity; to let age and health concerns preoccupy our lives: that is a waste and a tragedy.

Live!

• Live like nothing is wrong with your body
• Live as if you age has somehow forgotten you
• Live fully each day

Don't die before death.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Like Precious Faith

November 16, 2011

2 Peter 1:1 KJV
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

The word obtained interested me. Not everyone obtains this "like precious faith."
• Some obtain a crude replica
• Some obtain what they believe is an alternative
but they are precious few who obtain this "like precious faith"; few enough that those who have it tend to be drawn to one another. This "like precious faith" is opposed and very often attacked by those who do not have it. Having gotten their own faith by their own will, they are very often prone to madly oppress and persecute those who have obtained a faith that is the gift of God and not of works.

The very word "obtained" means "to gain by lottery." It is not that those who are genuinely born again are saved by arbitrary chance. But it appears that way in the world. This gift of precious faith
• Is available to all
• It is free for the trusting
• It is sufficient for the whole world
Christ came to seek and to save the lost; any lost.

So why do so very few obtain this "like precious faith"?
• For some it is that Satan has blinded their minds
• For others it is that they have never heard
We who have obtained this "like precious faith" have the blessed opportunity to
• Pray for those who have not obtained it
• Tell it to those who have not heard it and
• Preach for the conversion of those who have been blinded against it

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Back

Well, I am back at it. You have noticed, I am sure that I have not posted by daily visits with the Lord for several days. I have been faithful to visit with the Lord but have not been in a position to post those visits.
We took the teens from our church on a camping retreat this time two weeks ago. My wife and I left from the camp so I could preach a series of meetings for my good friend, Darrin Goodrick and the Yaquina Baptist Baptist Church.
Came home from that trip and had to get busy with the messages for our last Sunday.
So, I am back and glad to be.

I trust these expressions of my personal times with the Lord will be a blessin to you.

Is That Move of God?

Genesis 31:2-3 KJV
And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.
And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.

Jacob could see that Laban's countenance had changed toward him, but he did not leave toward the Promised Land because of that. Jacob had stayed through twenty years of deception.
• Laban had cheated him in the matter of Rachel and Leah. Yet Jacob stayed.
• He had cheated him during his six years of further service. Yet Jacob stayed.
Certainly he recognized that Laban's countenance was not the same toward him but he did not leave until God said to go.

Too many times people take their circumstances to be the leadership of God. They think of them as synonymous. Because times are hard and because they believe it will be better somewhere else, they will claim that the Lord is leading them away. That is not what happened to Jacob. He stayed through the circumstances and only left when God told him to. He did not look for God to confirm what he already wanted to do. He served Laban with all his power until God told him to do otherwise.

Too many Christians today have wander lust. Believing that something has to be better somewhere other than where they are, they constantly look for excuses, opportunities or means to move somewhere else. When whatever they look for comes along they take that to be the confirmation of the Lord that it is His will. It is more likely God just giving them over to their lusts (read Romans chapter one). And in many cases they push through their own will, claiming to have God's leadership, to their own destruction or that of their family's.

The Lord does move people. But there is a difference between their being moved because the Lord led in it and their claiming God moving them when they just wanted to do it. The Biblical plan for a move begins with those God has placed over us knowing before we know that a move is coming. Saul and Barnabas did not know they would be sent out as missionaries until after those in authority in their church knew.

There is so little stability in Christian families today and much of it because there is so little stability of Christians in church. We have the notion we are free to move about the country and from church to church on a whim. The accountability for Christian growth is broken down because the authority of our local church is diminished.

Would to God Christians would stop making decisions based upon their emotions, will or circumstances and serve God with all their power where they are until, if and when God sends them elsewhere.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Faithful Creator

1 Peter 4:19 KJV
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

JFB gives a thoughtful statement at the end of the commentary this verse; "…the believer rests implicitly on the Creator's faithfulness."

The context is that of suffering in the will of God. Any suffering we endure, whether for righteousness sake or because of our own sins, even if it is suffering on the account of someone else, is by the will of God, has a good purpose and we may not see the reason for it until we get to heaven.

So we commit the keeping of our souls to God, being assured that He is faithful.
• Faithful to forgive our sins
• Faithful to keep us through trial
• Faithful to seat us with Christ in heavenly places

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Unresolved Issues

Genesis 27:45 KJV
Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?

Jacob left for Padanaram expecting that within a few days his mother would send for him and tell him it was safe to come home. Why Rebecca never sent for him is a mystery.
• Esau had said that he would kill him after his father was dead and she died before Isaac did.
• Perhaps she never could discern that Esau's anger was eased.

Jacob must have thought his trip would be more than five or six days because his trip was longer than that. Also he promised to work seven years for Rachel so he expected to stay that long.

But he would also have expected to hear from his mother and never did. And still he remained faithful. He was dispossessed of his home. He was separated from his mother and father. He was alienated from his brother. But he did not play the part of a victim. He labored and pressed toward a future.

Life sometimes brings disappointments; some of them of our own making, others of the world's making. We often live with unanswered questions. Pain may beset us for decades. The answer is not to fixate on the pain but to press forward.

There came a time when Jacob knew he had to face Esau and find a resolution even though he had not heard from his mother. But until that day he worked. He produced, he married, he had children: he lived.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lively Stones

1 Peter 2:5 KJV
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

The Christian is seen as three parts of the Lord's house

First he is one of the living stones used of the Lord to build His spiritual house today.
God's church is not made of wood and brick but of the flesh and blood of His people.

Second the Christians together are that spiritual house.
The Holy Spirit inhabits every believer but the Lord inhabits us, not as individuals but as an institution. He inhabits the corporate body. To be outside of the body is to lack the present dwelling of God.

Third the Christians are the priests of this house.
We offer up the spiritual sacrifices to the Lord. We are all the ministers and every function of the house is a spiritual sacrifice unto God.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Strangers Scattered

1 Peter 1:1 KJV
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

Because of Peter's relationship as the apostle to the Jews it is not difficult to see these strangers scattered as Jews. But the context of the book makes it clear that this refers to believers in general since they are referenced as Gentiles in chapter two verses ten and eleven. And this is a profitable way for us to see ourselves:

As strangers
We are travelers in this world. We do not fit in and would do best if we did not get too settled in. This is not our home.

As scattered
It has never been God's intention that His children huddle together into a safe group but that we be scattered amongst this world to represent and bear witness to the faith God has given us.

The calling of the strangers scattered is a challenging one. We all want to have a home. But we must take care to await the Lord's answer for that promise. We must not, as Abraham, find our own way to have what God promises.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

James; the Practical

November 10, 2011

James 5:10 KJV
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

So much of the epistle of James is of a practical nature. There is plenty of doctrine in it to be sure but the thrust is practical and down to earth. And James says the believer should take the prophets as an example. Suffering for the sake of faith had not changed in the transition between Old and New Testament. With the changes Christ introduced this remained a constant; those who opposed a pure faith opposed it violently.

The answer had not changed either. The answer for the prophet and the answer for the child of God in the New Testament is, in both cases patience in suffering.

Little has changed in our day except that we suffer so much less and we have come to expect a life of ease.

May the Lord grant that His children take seriously James' words to take the prophets as an example.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Friendship With this World Deprives Us of the Grace of God

James 4:6 KJV
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

I was intrigued at the connection of friendship with this world, envy and the transition from that to God resisting the proud and giving grace to the humble.

Friendship with this world leads to lust which breeds in us envy. Envy is the reason there are wars among believers Humility in this case is the lack of envy Grace is the treasured prize of the believer (not those things that the friendship of this world covets and lusts after.

Grace is received, not to break pride (which in this passage is synonymous with friendship of the world) but after pride has been broken.

A believer must then separate from this world. Its friendship will always withhold from us the grace of God.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Abraham stood yet before the Lord...

Genesis 18:22 KJV
And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

Things were moving on. The Lord had tarried there a good while. Abraham had received word of God's promised son, not some day, but in just a year's time. He has also heard what is the Lord's intention in Sodom.

The two angels with the Lord turn and take up their journey. But Abraham stood yet before the Lord. And the Lord remained there with Abraham. The prayer of Abraham and the Lord's answer is here recorded for our benefit because Abraham stood yet before the Lord; he lingered there just a little while longer. After the meal was finished, after the message was delivered, even after the meeting was disassembled and others had gone their way, Abraham remained and so did the Lord.

I wonder how much is missed by those who never stay yet a little longer before the Lord?

Monday, November 07, 2011

To the Lord of Glory Only

James 2:1 KJV
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

I found the phrase "faith... With respect of persons" a fascinating one this morning. Worldliness promotes the respect of persons. Those who have achieved, those who have been born into, or those who have earned some sort of notoriety, wealth or success are lifted up as heroes and examples.

We do the same thing in our churches, promoting various preachers as leader of leaders or pastors of pastors usually because they have built large churches or in some other way achieved a result a number of preachers would want to achieve.

But the word of God insists that, while it is possible to have faith in Christ with respect of persons, faith in Christ is to exclude respect of persons. And it is easy to see why; Christ is the Lord of glory. His glory is so high above that of any person that it levels all men to the same playing field. In respect to Christ's glory any greatness a man may have achieved is but a bump. It is nothing. It is certainly nothing to be in awe of. Respecting persons is an evidence of having not seen Christ. It would be impossible to look into the glory of Christmas and be awestruck at a person's achievements at the same time. I live under the shadow of Mt Rainier. This mountain so towers above the others that one forgets she sits surrounded by no small mountain range. It is practically impossible to view her and see the others at the same time.

The faith of our Lord Jesus Christ is really counter to this aspect of culture. We are to refuse respect of persons, even if it is insisted upon by the religionists who surround us.

To the Lord of glory only be glory and honor and majesty and power.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Up South

Genesis 13:1 KJV
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

Abraham had been in Egypt and traveled north to reach the Promised Land, here called the South because he entered into the southern part of it.

The reference of the Bible is the Promised Land, not Egypt. Later the reference will narrow more specifically to Jerusalem and then the Temple there. Today that Temple has been replaced not, as some falsely believe, by our bodies, but by the local church.

The lesson is that the church which God places us as members of ought to become the reference point for every aspect of our lives.
When we are away we are away from our church.
When we return we ought to return towards our church.

As we consider a move, consider how it will impact our church or our relationship with it. It is the church Jesus gave himself for. It is the church Jesus will present to himself without spot or blemish. It is the church which must be the balance upon which all that is our lives rests.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Our Altar

Hebrews 13:10 KJV
We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

Gill has a great piece concerning this. Jesus Christ is:
Our altar
Upon which the sacrifice is made

Our sacrifice
Which we enjoy the benefits of both blood and flesh.

Our priest
And who has subsequently made us priests unto God. Christ is our answer. Christ is Christianity.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Faith is Thicker than Blood

Genesis 9:10 KJV
And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

I am reminded that the settlers of what became Babylon and later Iraq are originally brethren to the Jews. Years and generations cause families to grow apart. People who once grew up playing together forget their childhood enjoyment to take on differing opinions of philosophy, politics and religion and, in just a generation or so, family loyalties are forgotten.

Blood, though they say it is thick, only holds a family together for a generation. After that there has to be something more enduring.

I would propose that something, in order for that something to be enduring, it must be faith. And even then it must be a right faith. Only faith in Christ is able to cross generations, gender, cultures and even eternity to bind a family together forever. The family of God is that one family that clings together regardless of the differences time brings.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Singled Out

Genesis 7:1 KJV
And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

My thoughts span chapters six through eight of the book of Genesis as God singles out Noah from all of humanity. This isn't the first time, nor will it be the last.

Of the first two sons of Adam,
• God singled out Cain
• God the singled out Enoch and then
• God singled out Noah

God will later in the Bible
• Single out Nimrod
• Single out Abraham
• Single out Moses and
• Single out David
• Single out Job

Sometimes the Bible singles out people, but their impact doesn't seem so large as the above mentioned;
• Rahab the harlot
• Joshua and Caleb
• The woman at the well and
• The woman who gave her two mites

I note that not all of those that were singled out were positive people. But that of all of those in the world, God brought into focus, for his purposes just one person out of the blur of the millions.

God sees, I am confident, each individual as clearly as if there were no others. His eyes go to and fro beholding the evil and the good. He knows the very number of the hairs on our head and even a sparrow can't fall to the earth without His knowledge. But from time to time God picks out a person to be separate from the blur. Perhaps I want to seek the Lord so that, when he separates me, I will be in the group of the just and not in the crowd with Cain and Nimrod.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Perfection

Hebrews 10:1 KJV
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

The apostle's concern as is discovered in a number of other Scriptures is the perfection of the children of God. The perfection of the saint is also the chief work and concern of the Father and of the Son.

2 Corinthians 13:9 KJV
For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.

Matthew 5:48 KJV
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

But here we find what will not make us perfect; the law. It never has and never will. It was not given to make a man perfect but to bring a man to Christ who can and will perfect us.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sight

Genesis 3:6 KJV
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The sense of sight is one of our most precious faculties.
• To take in the beauty of the ocean waves crashing on the shore
• To gaze at the size and grandeur of Mount Rainier
• To drink in the beauty of one's spouse
Who could challenge God for giving us this gift?

But our eyes can be the most useful tool in the devil's arsenal against us. We are so quickly drawn into sin with our eyes.
• Lust
• Covetousness
• Desire
are driven by the sight

And so Job said, "I made a covenant with mine eyes... " How needful is this covenant in our day of access to every form of worldly advertisement; not to mention immodesty!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Unity is the Objective

Hebrews 8:11 KJV
And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

America loves our diversity. We brag about being the melting pot. We revel in the variety of nationalities and cultures that make up our citizenship. And for the most part America loves our almost unique liberty to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, or to refuse to worship Him at all.

I am all for liberty of conscience. I have read enough history to know we don't need any man (or government) forcing their particular convictions upon us. Our relationship with God must be personal.

But God's promise includes a day when all will know the Lord; not because He has been forced upon them but because they will have come to see Him as their God.

Until that promised day arrives it is my calling as a believer to grow in my knowledge of Him and to speak to as many as I can and tell them what I know. I am not to force my convictions upon them but I am to tell them so that they may have just and ample opportunity to know Him as well.