Monday, January 31, 2011

What Grace Teaches

Titus 2:12 KJV
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

What grace teaches...

• Deny ungodliness
• Live soberly
• Look anxiously

Grace is not the great out for sin. It does not license our worldliness. Grace isn't our chance to get away with anything. Grace teaches us responsibility and separation.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Preaching

Titus 1:3 KJV
But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

Through preaching...

We know that it is through preaching that God has been pleased to save them that believe.
Here it is made clear that God has elected to use preaching to make manifest His Word.

Preaching, though not mentioned by name, must be what the Word means in verse nine,
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Preaching
• Encourages
• Illuminates and
• Sharply rebukes.
Preaching is the tool God gave the church to construct the building of His ministry.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Alexander The Coppersmith

2 Timothy 4:14 KJV
Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:

The apostle was certainly a man acquainted with hardships.
• He had early in his ministry felt the sting of betrayal by Mark.
• Later a contention with Barnabas over Mark led to their split.
• All through his ministry he had suffered accusations and
• Nearing the end of his life he was deserted of all but a few.
That Paul was grieved is obvious in that he names people who had hurt him one by one.
That he needed friends is obvious in that he mentions them as well.

He was not soft hearted in the he pronounced judgment upon Alexander, who was the professed believer of Acts 19, now doing damage, perhaps even testifying against Paul in court. He also warned Timothy concerning him. He sounds like David who, though he had withheld judgment upon men like Joab, warned Solomon not to trust him.

But that Paul was obviously not bitter is evident by the tenor of his words. He was filled with the assurance of a crown in glory and felt the Lord's presence even in his loneliness.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Continue Thou

2 Timothy 3:14 KJV
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

Paul told Timothy to stay with what he had learned from him. And that despite the fact that:
• Timothy was his own pastor by now
• Paul appears to have failed, being in a prison awaiting execution
• Timothy had been instructed by others previous to Paul, including his mother and grand mother.

Still Paul insisted that Timothy was his son in the faith and urged Timothy
• Not to change
• Not to grow beyond
• Not to move away from that which he had taught him.

The modern love of self and hatred of authority.
The modern push to be known, big and impressive

Has wormed its way even into the hearts of those who claim to be servants of Jesus Christ. And I fear it will be the undoing of the faith. No longer will young men take up the cross of Jesus Christ. No longer will they stand next to a preacher who invested his life in them. Today they look for the newest teacher who can show them how to be big, popular and new.

No wonder Jesus lamented
Luke 18:8 KJV
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Proof

2 Timothy 2:19 KJV
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

The foundation of God standeth sure. Despite the onset of apostasy and heresy, still God's work is sure and its foundation solid.

It has this seal; "The Lord knoweth them that are His."
God has no trouble discerning between the wheat and tares, the sheep and goats. I do not have to concern myself with such matters. God has them covered.

The response to God's seal is thus, "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
And so is the call of every preacher. If you claim to belong to Christ; if you give His name as your own, then depart from iniquity. Do not claim do be a Christian and continue on in a life of sin. Do not excuse it away, do not ignore it in your life and do not grow angry at the preacher for giving you the Word of God. Depart from iniquity. Quit it, turn from it.

So your claim to that name will be proven.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Not Ashamed

2 Timothy 1:8 KJV
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

2 Timothy 1:12 KJV
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

2 Timothy 1:16 KJV
The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:

The word ashamed seems to be a theme of Paul in this chapter
• In verse 8 he admonished Timothy not to be ashamed of him
• In verse 12 he is not ashamed of his own afflictions
• In verse 16 Onesiphorus is not ashamed of Paul and his chain

Suffering is a part of the duty of the believer. This world's natural disgust with the faith of Christ gives rise to often and sometimes intense conflict between our faith and the world's ungodliness. When such conflict arises it is certain that, in this world, the believer will appear to come out the loser. Paul was, after all, in a prison cell awaiting execution.
• Paul declares to us that he is not ashamed of his circumstances. He knows who it is He has believed.
• He cites for us the example of one who was not ashamed and
• He encourages us through Timothy not to be ashamed either.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Who He Is

1 Timothy 6:15 KJV
Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

The grammar of the passage probably demands that the text be interpreted, "in His times He shall show (appear - and He is) the blessed..."

But as I read for my visit with the Lord, I saw it in another light.
Timothy was given a charge. He is to keep that charge though it is a fight to do so, and he is to keep at it until God, in His time shall show who the blessed and only Potentate is. Though this world mocks, and being a preacher of the Word can be a battle, there is still coming that day when God will show the world the truth.

We are Christians by faith. Our eyes cannot see what our spirits know to be true. That is perhaps the most challenging thing about our life. If we had tangible proof of our faith we would have no faith. But God will show the world that this faith is true. We will be vindicated though that vindication is not our first desire.

Fight the good fight of Faith. It will be worth it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Some Men

1 Timothy 5:24 KJV
Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.

Some men...

The work of the ministry has some unique challenges.

Some men sin in such a way that it is open and not so difficult to know how to handle them.
Some are not so easy to discern.

Some men are prone to follow after sinners, while some will take up their old sins again.
On the other hand some repent in open and easy to recognize ways while other tend to be more quiet and more challenging to see what God has done in their soul.

The pastor's task is to seek the Lord and be patient with men. We are called to lead our churches. We are not charged with being God over them

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Exercise

1 Timothy 4:8 KJV
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

Godliness profits both now and hereafter.

There are only a few things that can offer reward and benefit both here and then. Bodily exercise may be a help to a persons well being now. It is for sure a good idea to take well enough care that we feel as well as we can today. But when all is said and done it will only profit us a few short years. Even the exercise itself will wear on the body and we all will eventually find ourselves in the grave.

But that exercise unto godliness; that provides benefits today in heart and soul peace and it provides benefit in heaven in the form of rewards to lay at Jesus' feet and place of service in the Lord's kingdom.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Mind To Work

Nehemiah 4:6 KJV
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.

Israel built the wall under Nehemiah's leadership despite the many obstacle in part because,

They had a mind to work.
With only a few exceptions (those nobles who put not their necks to the work) Israel accepted their task and got to work.

They worked together.
Every family took a place and did what they could.

They had a fighting spirit.
Not that they were ready to pick a fight, but they were ready to finish one if it started. God's work has enemies. Being prepared to defend the work is a part of that mind to work.

I heard the Green Bay Packer's coach, before playing in the division championship game this weekend against Chicago, say that their team had been practicing hard and studying hard and they would have to go into the game and keep working to find a way to win. That is a mind to work.

If every believer will take the attitude that we are going to have learn to the things of God and work for Him and not get discouraged, but keeping looking to find a way to win souls, then we may, with God's help end our lives saying we did what God asked us to do.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The King's Cupbearer

Nehemiah 1:11 KJV
O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.

For I was the king's cupbearer.

I am always struck by this sentence because it seems to come out of nowhere. But it is filled with meaning.

That a Jew had become the king's cupbearer is a remarkable thing and demonstrates the favor they God gave them - though a captured people - God placed many of them in places where their influence was sure to be felt.

Being a cupbearer was a lowly task
But the lowliest of tasks becomes significant if it is performed for the right audience. Can you imagine, for instance, having the duty of emptying the trash in the Whitehouse? The housekeeper in such a place is a pretty prominent job.

The cupbearer's task was a place of connection
He rubbed shoulders with the king and queen daily and very likely several times a day. He met leaders from around the state and probably around the known world of his day.

Being the cupbearer was a place of opportunity
It afforded him the chance to make such a request for Jerusalem. Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer not only led in the repair of the wall, but became the governor of Jerusalem.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

When "me first" is Spiritual

1 Timothy 1:16 KJV
Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

Paul claims that God was longsuffering toward him as a pattern of what He would do throughout the rest of the age in showing all longsuffering toward them that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to life everlasting.

Paul's reputation before his salvation was one of blasphemy and injury against the Lord and His people. Yet Christ showed all longsuffering to Him.

Paul never really lived down the things of his past,
• Rehearsing it to the Jews at the time of his arrest and
• Reviewing it again to Festus and Agrippa at the time of his defense
• He makes mention of it in Galatians
• He defends his ministry to the Corinthians who may have heard of Paul's past and had begun to question his authority and
• He mentions it again even here in First Timothy

But Paul's contention is that, though he lived with his past, God had turned that past around for His own purpose. It now demonstrates to us that the very same longsuffering Christ displayed toward Paul is available toward any and all who will believe on Christ for life everlasting.

Thank God for His longsuffering.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Seeking a Right Way

Ezra 8:21 KJV
Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.

Today is the first of our "proclaimed" days of fasting and prayer this year. Ezra proclaimed a fast in his day too.

He said he did it because he was ashamed to ask for protection from the king so they fasted and prayed to seek of God a right way for themselves, their children and their belongings. I know they meant a plan of travel, a safe passage from Babylon to Israel; but my how we need to receive of the Lord that same right way as we travel through this troubled land of life.
The way must first be a right way from God.
It is not just the way that suits me, not even the safest way. It is the way that is of God.

It is a way I must go.
The right way is an ineffective way unless it is the way I take. Before I can lead others into it, before I could possibly make a difference in any other person's way, I must be on the right way myself.

I need to bring my children on this right way.
The way is not merely personal. If I am to follow the Lord I need to do what I can to bring my family along in the same way.

The way is not merely right for my spirit and heart, but the way I must bring along my substance.
That which I possess I possess because God has provided. It must never be looked upon as secular and unrelated to the godly life. It belongs to the Lord. It must be taken the way God deems as right.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Read and Re-read

2 Thessalonians 2:5 KJV
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

Paul insists that these doctrines having to do with
• The last days
• The anti Christ and
• The timing of the Tribulation
had been taught them while Paul was still with them. But here he finds reason to tell them these things once again.

Admittedly they were under great stress. The persecution they experienced was intense and it is difficult to recall all we have been taught in times like that. So Paul reviewed it with them again.

And here is the reason we must read and carefully re-read the Bible again and again. We must hear sermon after sermon and lesson after lesson from the Word of God. The fact is we can't remember; not all of it anyway. And even what we do remember we can't always remember to apply it and flesh it out in life.

Humility calls us to review, rehearse, re-read God's Word so that we can remember.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Faith and Priorities

2 Thessalonians 1:4 KJV
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

Paul glories in the patience and faith of the believers in Thessalonica [1] in all their persecution. As he addresses other churches; as he visits and preaches and exhorts others in the work of the ministry, Paul points them to Thessalonica and, in a manner, brags about how well they are doing in the midst of their persecutions.

This would be so difficult to do. I know my own heart and I know that while I would be glad they were holding up, it would kill me to know they were facing such trial. I think it is a matter of perhaps both priority and trust.
My own priorities are too conformed to this world.
The comfort of another may be more important to me than it should be. I am may be interested in their ease to the point where I am not as interested in the work of the Spirit of God in this world as I should be.
My faith is weaker than was Paul's.
He knew God was at work. He credited this suffering as fitting them for the kingdom of God. He could glory in it because he trusted God through it.

I do not want to rejoice that anyone is ever suffering. But I do take note and ask God to make me more tuned in to His work and in my faith to trust that work.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Awake!

1 Thessalonians 5:6 KJV
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

The context implies that there are some who may be saved but who are spiritually asleep. Paul appeals to these, he had led to saving faith and established in a local church, his charge to keep, that they covenant with him not to sleep.

Of course the word is not speaking of taking rest in sleep. He must be speaking of being vigilant and sober minded in their walk with the Lord.

Some who claim salvation have no awareness of the spiritual battle that surrounds them.
• They are swept up with every wind of evil doings
• They are carried away in every tide of worldly affection
• They might be saved, it is sometimes difficult to tell, but they are like driftwood, tossed about in the waves of this sea called life.

It does not have to be! Awake to righteousness and sin not, for some have not the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. We are children of the light and of the day. We can awake.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Lifetime In a Verse

2 Chronicles 36:21-23 KJV
To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.

 
Here is seventy years, a whole lifetime, summed in just two verses. I realize that other portions of the Bible address what took place among the Jews during those seventy years, but the focus of this portion has nothing to do with one's life. Those seventy years are summed up as,
Sabbath rest for the land
This speaks of the urgency of God's truth. We must never dismiss any portion of the plan of God as trivial and insignificant. Today the Sabbath has been nailed to the Cross and is no longer in effect. Still there are pieces of God's Word that are ignored and taken lightly by so called believers. It is as if we claim the grace of God as not just an excuse but an opportunity to live casually with our faith. Would to God we would step up in our faith and live more and more for God.

 
The fulfillment of God's promise
After those seventy years God restored Israel to their land in a manner that was specific and detailed. God's promises for our future are not vague and likely to happen. They are specific and surely going to happen just as God has said. I realize that we are sometimes guilty of misunderstanding or misapplying God's promises. But that blame must be laid squarely upon our own shoulders and not upon God.
  • We may trust
  • We may believe
  • We may depend
upon God's Word and His promises, especially concerning His seed, Jesus Christ and His coming very soon.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Appointed

1 Thessalonians 3:3 KJV
That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.

The appointment of which Paul speaks might be either "appointed to afflictions" and it is true that not only the Apostle, but indeed all believers could consider themselves appointed to fill up the afflictions of Christ. Or else it could refer to the work he had sent Timothy to do among them. He said Timothy was his fellow laborer in the Gospel and had been sent to establish them and to comfort them in the faith so that they would not be moved by the afflictions they suffered.

God appoints certain ones; like Paul, like Timothy and like pastors today to
Labor in the Gospel
This would be first and foremost the work of evangelization or persuading men and women to come to Jesus Christ as redeemer of their souls.

Establish the believers
Once a person is saved our work has only just begun. We are to establish them in the faith. This is the teaching ministry where the preacher carefully and persistently shows them the truths that the Bible gives us and how they apply to personal life.

Offer to them comfort when they struggle for their faith.
All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. God has appointed us to the task of being a comfort to those who are in any way afflicted. We do that through the comfort wherewith we ourselves have also been comforted of the Holy Ghost.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Separation of Church And State Is Still Baptist Doctrine

2 Chronicles 31:9-11 KJV
Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps.
And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.
Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them,

Baptists have forever been the defenders of separation of church and state. As the years have progressed and we have lived these many generations with liberty to worship, we have also lost sight of the deep importance of this doctrine. I think mostly out of the frustration of seeing our country slip farther and farther away from those Christian principles we have all been led to believe our country was founded upon, we have begun to embrace tactics that would never have been accepted by our Baptist forbears.

In an effort to fight for religious liberty we may actually contribute to the mandate for controlled religion. Separation of church and state must be upheld among we who are Baptists. If we do not do it, it is sure no one else will.

This in no way means that there is no relationship between the faith and the work of the government.
• David was quick to hear the words to the prophet Nathan and seer Gad.
• Hezekiah met with Isaiah and prayed when Assyria threatened. But on the other side of this coin,
• Hezekiah the king was interested in the workings of the Temple and questioned the priests about the offerings that were stored up then commanded buildings be constructed to store them.
Government should never be used to force religion upon people or pay for the leaders of the faith. That should always be accomplished by the freewill offerings of the people. Neither should one denomination control the government else liberty of conscience be jeopardized. But those in government are the best leaders when they have a real a living faith in the Lord and churches should accept those commandments of the government that pertain to public safety and building codes.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Mom Gave Me Permission To Believe

2 Chronicles 29:1 KJV
Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.

Hezekiah would have been about nine years old when his father took the reign of Judah. That is old enough that he could have remembered his grandfather Jotham's heart for God. But for the sixteen years that his father, Ahaz ruled he would neither have seen the worship of God practiced or heard the Word of God preached. His father closed the doors of the Temple and for all those years the priests had not served the Lord.

Yet in Hezekiah's first year of reign he instructed the priests to restore the Temple and reorder the worship fo God. One has to wonder what influenced him to do so. Perhaps that is where his mother comes into the picture. It is significant I think that, especially in the kings of Judah, God's Word gives us the name of each king's mother. These kings of course had more than one wife so that record would be important for genealogical information, but it may be here more because of the mother's influence on their sons either for or against God.

I can remember to this day a conversation I had with my mother when I was probably in fourth or fifth grade. I asked Mom about Jesus. She told me that He was real and He was God. That conversation gave me "permission" to listen to the voice of God that had already been drawing me toward Him. I will be forever thankful for my mom and her part in my faith in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Single Sin

2 Chronicles 27:2 KJV
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the LORD. And the people did yet corruptly.

There is a hint of the repercussions of the sins of the fathers.
Uzziah, though the Bible says did right, yet sinned in his later days by offering incense that only the priests should have offered. When he grew angry at their rebuke God smote him with leprosy. Though he lived many years more, his son ruled in his place as he was in a leper colony.

When his son, Jotham, did become king, the Bible says he did right before God, just as his father did, "howbeit he entered not into the temple of the Lord." He held a grudge against the house of God and never entered it.*

Then, when his son became king, he had nothing to do with God at all; going deeper and deeper into sin the more God chastened him for his sin.

A father, who in all other respects was a good king, led to the utter destruction of his grandson through a single sin.

*I acknowledge that many commentaries say the proper interpretation is that he did everything his father did, except the sin of offering incense in the Temple of the Lord. Grant me this interpretation for the sake of the point I wish to make. I take the sense to mean that he did right before the Lord as his father did, except he refused to acknowledge the place of the Temple in the worship of the Lord. That sense is upheld by the result of a son whose heart was so completely opposed to the Lord.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Danger of Blessing

2 Chronicles 26:16 KJV
But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.

Uzziah became strong and his heart was lifted up as is evidenced by;
• He presumed an authority that was not his
• He refused the rebuke that he deserved
The result was
• He lived with the judgment the rest of his life.

When the leprosy arose he submitted to the priest, but it was too late. God can heal leprosy as is demonstrated many times in the Bible. But God did not heal him. Certain things can not be reversed and I don't know that any of us know when God will root out the seeds of evil for us or when He will require we reap the crop. It just becomes us to
• Be humble before the Lord
• Serve Him as He allows and
• Obey those spiritual leaders who have the rule over us.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Let's Make a New Covenant

2 Chronicles 23:16 KJV
And Jehoiada made a covenant between him, and between all the people, and between the king, that they should be the LORD'S people.

Jehoiada, the king and all the people covenanted that they should be the Lord's people. This despite the fact that they are already
• The children of God through Abraham and in their case
• The obedient to God through David's throne.
Still, they had gone through a nearly seven year period with no king and a wicked queen. As they removed her and re-established David's throne they felt the necessity of such a covenant.

Though we are saved and even though we may faithfully attend the house of the Lord, there will come times in our lives when we need to reconfirm our relationship to Christ.
• Periods of dullness creep up in us spiritually.
• Times of dryness come when we are not where we ought to be in our walk with the Lord
and to come to the altar of the Lord and covenant once again to walk with him; that would be a grand thing.

The king got mixed up with the wrong crowd when Jehoiada died and broke his covenant. It reminds me that my associations, especially in times of change, need to be carefully watched lest I be pulled away from my covenants with the Lord.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

He Must Have The Preeminence

Colossians 1:13-20 KJV
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

This is not a long passage but it is jam packed with truth concerning Jesus Christ.
• He is the head of the church
• He is the fullness of the godhead
• He is the creator of all things
• He is the reconciler of all to God through His death, and
He is so much more than even all of that.

It is easy to put Jesus in a small corner of the faith. "Sure we know He is all of that - now let's talk about what really matters." The truth of it is that Jesus is what really matters.

The text says we are reconciled to God through Christ and holy, unblameable and unreproveable if we continue in the faith. Our message should always be one of trusting the Lord more and more and not one of living better and better.

• Sure we labor and strive
• Sure we want to grow more and more in the things of God
But we do that by coming to trust Christ more. He must have the preeminence.

Friday, January 07, 2011

That Is Peace

Philippians 4:6-7 KJV
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

There is a peace of God that passes understanding. It is a peace beyond any peace that this world could bring.
• Greater than treaties with our enemies
• Greater than the surrender in the time of war
• Greater than a time, should it ever come, when there are no more weapons of mass destruction; there is a peace
• Greater than reconciling the world's religions.
It is a peace that may abide on a man when all around him tells him to be in fear.
• The darkness of this world
• The dread of financial collapse
• The terror of impending doom
May threaten the body, but the soul is in perfect peace.
• It is inexplicable
• It makes no sense but
• It is the result of Christ's promise, "in this world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

It is a peace that the one who does not possess can never understand until he, through the means given in verse six, obtains. No one around them can know it. No one watching can comprehend it. Only those who possess it know what it is and even they may not understand it. It is useless, if you experience this peace, to try to explain it to one who is filled with care and upset that you are not. All you can do is urge them to seek it on their own. They will likely do all they can to trouble you as the disciples did to Jesus asleep on the boat. Jesus was in perfect peace and all they could say is "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" He of course did not let them perish. But neither was He careful over their circumstances. He was able to lay His head and sleep in the midst of the worst of storms.

That is peace.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

No Confidence There

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.

• Worship God in the spirit
• Rejoice in Jesus Christ
• No confidence in the flesh

One of those things I am becoming more and more confident of is that I cannot be confident in any flesh. The flesh will fail us any and every time.
• We cannot trust our own flesh
• We cannot trust the flesh of those who say they are in the ministry
• We cannot trust the flesh of the lost
• We cannot trust the flesh of those who claim membership in our church

The flesh does nothing good and even when it appears to have done good, it's fruit is short lived and wild.

What we can do is rejoice in Jesus Christ. All confidence may be placed upon Him.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

That Place that Stands Between Us And God

2 Chronicles 20:33 KJV
Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.

Jehoshaphat led many reforms in his country and, though not a completely perfect man, he did do what was right most of the time.

The Bible says the reason why the high places were not taken away is because the people had not prepared their hearts unto God. Even if they were under the king's leadership, doing right, they were still not right in their hearts and that meant there were things in their lives that meant more to them than worshiping in spirit and in truth.

I understand these high places were not necessarily places to worship idols. They could have been personal places of worship, as Abraham had. But God had given them new orders of worship involving the Tabernacle and later the temple. To worship God in a place other than where He instructs is to not worship Him at all.

Today it is the church. If a person prepares his heart unto God, he will have his place in a church. He may say he worships the Lord in his own way, but any way that keeps him out of a church only reveals his heart is not prepared into God.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Always, Every and All

Philippians 1:4 KJV
Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

Philippians is the most positive of all the epistles of the apostle. His experience with them is was one of closeness and love.

I see in this verse an extreme. One could almost say to the point of impossible.
• Always
• Every
• All
If it were not in the Word of God I would count it as an exaggeration.

But it is in the Word of God.

And it is a measure we fall far too short of. Paul gave himself no room for
• Error
• Forgetfulness or
• Human failure
It is impossible to misread this. He never missed a chance to pray for these brethren.

May God give us some prayer warrior like that. May we pray for someone like that.

Monday, January 03, 2011

What Happ[ened?

2 Chronicles 16:9 KJV
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

What happened to Asa? In the beginning Asa's walk with the Lord seemed so strong. His trust in the Lord in early battle was right on. He even went so far as to make a covenant that went too far; that anyone who did not seek the Lord should be put to death.

God said his heart was perfect all his days.

But then he does foolishly,
• Calling on Syria to aide him against Israel
• Trusting the doctors instead of the Lord for the disease in his feet and
• Imprisoning Hanani for rebuking him for them

What happened? The Bible does not say. But the Bible does say it happened. And that is where I find the warning for today. None of us is so spiritually strong that we can afford to believe we could not slip from our walk with the Lord. God help us keep our eyes on the Lord and look straight on trusting only in Him.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Whosoever?

2 Chronicles 13:9 KJV
Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods.

God had given very specific instructions concerning the priesthood. Aaron and his children fulfilled that role while the rest of the tribe of Levi ministered in support roles to them. The pagans were the ones who allowed whosoever would to be a priest.

Times and direction from the Lord have changed. Now whosoever will may come and be saved and all the saved are made to be priests. Still there is a principle here that is very much worth holding. Those serving in the ministry must be both called and qualified.

Paul spoke much of his calling. His was not merely a job; it was a call of God upon his life.

More and more today we have men who enter the ministry who are neither qualified nor do they want to view their office as separated and marvelous. They look like dress like, wear their hair like the rankest of this world.

Abijah was not able to bring Israel back under the Davidic kingdom, but he was not wrong in his assessment of Jeroboam. God give us preachers who will proclaim what is true even if those who hear him will not follow.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

It's Worth the Endeavor

Ephesians 4:3 KJV
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Endeavoring to keep the unity.

It is wise for us to see unity as an endeavor because even among believers things spring up and trouble us.

Unity is a effort. It is a work that must be brought forth with
• Thought
• Planning
• Organization and
• Sweat

The context is the doctrine of the church as this "whole new thing." As new people were brought into the church they were all formerly Jews and Gentiles. In each case there were some pre conceived problems surrounding their former opinions and what is now this new thing, the relationship among them in the church.

Based on the doctrine of the church then, they were urged to walk worthy - with lowliness meekness and longsuffering and forbearing, and not with vanity uncleanness and greediness.

Nothing worthwhile in life comes without a price. Even so it is with peace in the local church. If we are to have it, we will need to endeavor to get it.