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.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Refiner's Fire

Malachi 3:1-3 KJV
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

The chapter seems to be a mixture of both the first and second coming of Christ.
• There are references to John the Baptist, and their delight in His coming. But then
• There are also references to His sudden coming and his being a refiner's fire and purifying the sons of Levi.

In many respects Christ's first coming was a refiner's fire. Though it was not warlike and violent it did separate those who would come to Him by faith from those who only desired a victory of religion over other world interests.
• Jesus did not bear a sword when He appeared the first time but He was a swift witness against evil of every sort.
• In His first coming Jesus did not ride out of Heaven but He was lifted up on the Cross.

And that one event destroyed forever Satan's hope of victory through death and sin.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Never Forget, Never Doubt

Malachi 1:2 KJV
I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,

I remember telling my son one time that I was proud of him and his response was, "Why?" It took me aback because I was not fully prepared to answer. I have already told my grandson, Joshua, that I love him and he has responded, "Why?"

But this text has a different spirit to it. In this text the Lord is challenging them because they did not believe He loved them. JFB has insightful comments on the passage.
"In painful contrast to the tearful tenderness of God’s love stands their insolent challenge. "The root of their sin was insensibility to God’s love, and to their own wickedness. Having had prosperity taken from them, they imply they have no tokens of God’s love; they look at what God had taken, not at what God had left. God’s love is often least acknowledged where it is most manifested. We must not infer God does not love us because He afflicts us. Men, instead of referring their sufferings to their proper cause, their own sin, impiously accuse God of indifference to their welfare…"

How important it is to forever remember God's love; even in the midst of affliction. The marks of God's love are not good things and ease in this life. The marks of God's love have to do with His efforts to bring us to Christ and to Christian perfection.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It Is My People

Zechariah 13:7-9 KJV
Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.



The text has to do with Jesus Christ's coming and crucifixion. The Bible says that afterwards God will divide the people world into three parts; two thirds will be cut off and die, the remaining third will go through the fire. Of that remaining number God says "It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God."

That division into thirds is not necessarily equal divisions and it is reminiscent of the New Testament "Jews, Gentiles and the church of God."
God's people claim Him as well as His claiming them and
God's people pass through fire today, suffering for their faith and seeing their faith refined and developed through testing but
God's people remain. Though the minority, though tried, they remain while the others are cut off and die.

Testing and fire is difficult, but it produces good things in our lives and is much to be preferred over the alternative.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Who Is "His"?

Hebrews 4:10 KJV
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

How important a small word in the Bible can be! And some presume to toy with them, changing them to suit their own wishes.

There are three possibilities as to who is "his."
It could be man
A man rests when he has finished his work.

It could be God
In this case it would be a reference to creation.

It could be Christ who has finished His work and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
The context is Joshua (here called Jesus, which is the Greek form of Joshua) who, having led the people across the Jordan, did not provide them rest but rather battle. Israel did not find rest in Joshua. Jesus Christ however does give rest. It is not a rest of the flesh but rest from the enmity between the sinner and God. When we enter into Jesus Christ we find rest and peace with God. In the world we have tribulation. But in the Lord we have ceased from our own work to please God.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Prisoners of Hope

Zechariah 9:12 KJV
Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;

The phrase is a poignant one to be sure. JFB says this is written many years after the previous chapter and accounts for the shift in circumstances. Alexander the Great is the dominant personality, followed by the division of his leadership and the resulting oppression of Israel by the Grecian rule. Israel is once again enslaved, though in their own land.

And in this position of affliction God offers a promise to the Jews;
• A promise of peace and greatness
• A promise of a kingdom

It's been a promise they have heard before. It's a promise they have heard over hundreds of years of suffering. Each new circumstance, it seemed, brought with it, not a kingdom, not even relief, but a renewed promise: someday they would have a kingdom.

They were in fact prisoners of that hope. It kept them going despite all else. Regardless of the severity of their trials, through years and years of varying afflictions they could not let go of it. It is the inspiration of such portrayals of the Jews as the father in Fiddler on the Roof. He could not let go of, he was prisoner of his hope.

And so should be the Christian our life is to be lived in hope. Regardless of the tragedies of circumstance, we are bound by our hope to look up and keep on in the name of Christ. As the redeemed of the Lord we are prisoners of hope.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Safe and Secure

Zechariah 8:4 KJV
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.

The prophecy takes place in Jerusalem as the Jews returned after seventy years captivity. They city had been made a shambles those seventy years earlier. I can only imagine what desolation it must have been in after all of that time.

God's promise to encourage them has yet to be fulfilled completely. He says there will be a day when elderly walk the streets safely and children play in the streets securely. The promise is of the Millennial Kingdom.

And then God says this, if this promise is marvelous to you, if you just can't believe it, rest assured, I will save may people.

The elderly can't walk our streets safely and children can't play in our streets securely even now. And it shows no signs of getting better. But God is faithful. And His promise to Jerusalem has implications for people of all nations. Though this world is not getting any better, there is a time coming that will be the best.

It is that time I live for.

Monday, October 24, 2011

When Life Is Uncertain

Hebrews 1:11 KJV
They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

Matthew Poole says, "His permanency is proof of his deity."

Consider whichever of that which is created; none remain without change.
• Material things such as clothes all grow old with use and change until they must be cast out
• Man of course grows old and dies
• Certain angels left their first estate
• Even the earth and the heavens, which were considered the highest of the creation will be changed in the end
But Jesus Christ never changes or fails. This is offered as proof of His deity and serves and a bolster for our confidence in Him.

When life is uncertain, and it will certainly become uncertain, we have this solid rock; we may trust Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Joshua/Jesus

Zechariah 3:4 KJV
And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

Joshua is seen
• First in filthy garments
• Then in a change of raiment
• Finally with a fair mitre

Joshua was the high priest when the Jews returned to the Promised Land. The filthy garments represented, not his personal sin, though as a man, his was included, but the sin of Israel.

• The change of raiment represented righteousness placed upon him.
• The fair mitre indicated the crowning glory of the office he held and
• The garment that represented that office.

The name Joshua is the Hebrew version of the very name of Jesus. While Joshua was a historical figure; real and literal, he becomes a type of the soon to come Messiah:

The filthy rags indicated that Jesus became sin for us.
In His thirty three years he was tempted of the devil and accused by those around him. He was tried and crucified with common thieves.
The change of raiment is a type of His resurrection.
He arose victorious over our sins and presented Himself alive for forty days.
The fair mitre represents His ascension into glory.
That Christ is today at the right had if the Father is the proof that His work on the Cross was accepted and effectual.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don't Forward Their Affliction

Zechariah 1:1 KJV
In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,

The way I understand this passage is that God's displeasure toward the heathen is such that, though He used them to chasten Israel, they saw they took there oppression too far, they "helped forward the affliction."

The phrase is an intriguing one to me. How often do we forward another's affliction?
• Sometimes we might forward it through thoughtless means, maybe not intending to hurt, but not considering how our words or actions could hurt.
• Sometimes we might forward affliction through "omissive" means not taking the time to pray for or otherwise minister to the afflicted
• Too often we help forward the affliction through callous means seeing another in affliction and taking advantage to hurt them all the more.

The sore displeasure was upon tje heathen for such. And while we who are the children of God live in His pleasure through Christ, we still battle the failings of the old man. God help us recognize thus evil within us and put it to death.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Hope Is Not In the First Glory

Haggai 2:3 KJV
Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?

Though the prophet had encouraged the people to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem he could not prevent them from noticing that this temple was nothing like the previous one. The ravages of years of wars and constant scavenging of the treasures (even before the captivity) had stripped it of its former glory. What they had now constructed was a building but it was not a palace.

So the Lord's word to them here is that their hope was not in this building. Their hope was in a future work of God. They were to continue their work in the Temple; they were to remain faithful to worship God in the Temple, but they were not to place their expectations in the Temple.

I suggest that this parallels what has been Christian history. The beginning of the history of our faith is indeed glorious, though not wealthy. Our faith is built upon Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone and the apostles, who turned the world upside down in their lifetimes. Though they were all martyred, even that speaks of heroism - glory.

But then came the declension. Corruption invaded the churches as the apostles said it would and indeed, as it had already done even in their day. Years and years of ungodliness resulted in most eyes being fixed, not upon the glorious Saviour, but in the superficial glory of buildings and monuments of stone, stucco and mosaic.

In the midst of all of this there has been a movement of God.
• It has never built great structures (though even the flesh has gotten into it so that some have become much too preoccupied with large buildings)
• It has never seen huge masses (though again the flesh has caused some to believe that the sign of God's blessing is large attendance)
• It has little of what the world would call glorious.

And God has a message for that church: its glory is still future. Though it cannot compare today to the monuments to men, when it stands before the Lord its glory will exceed the sum of all that man has accomplished. Truly the work of man already has its reward. I would rather hold out for the one that is greater, that is heavenly.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Talk and the Walk

Titus 1:1 KJV
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

The talk and the walk
• There is too much profession without an equal walk in today's Christianity.
• There is too much approval of lifestyles that are a denial of real faith.
• There is too much separation between belief and behavior in Christian circles today.

These words of the Apostle make it clear; God expects of faith to flesh itself out in our works.

  • We are saved by faith without works
  • But faith without works is dead

These two Biblical truths are not contradictions but compliments. Saving faith leads to Christian good works.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Superficial Revivals

Zephaniah 1:1 KJV
The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.

Scofield reminds me that Zephaniah's ministry was under the days of King Josiah and the revival which he led. But Scofield comments that even though there was change, it was a superficial revival and Zephaniah and Jeremiah both pronounced judgment regardless.

Sounds to me a lot like the old Baptists who
• Would not participate in the famous revivals of the past
• Were wary of the evangelists behind them and
• Continued to preach messages of warning and judgment despite them

Perhaps all such revivals have been shallow and more a reformation of behavior than a turning to Christ. I realize some will point out the good that was done in them. And some will be threatened because they lean on past revivals for their hope of a future one. But my hope is in something far more sure. My hope is that hope which God's Word gives us. My hope is in Christ's soon and promised return. Until that day I will preach
• God's judgment upon this world
• God's mercy upon those who trust in Him and
• God's reward a heavenly and not earthly one

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Assurances

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;

The concern of the passage is that Timothy would continue in that which he had learned. The concern is a valid one in that so many are more than pleased to take off in a different direction; to stray from those things they have learned.

My emphasis just now is on that word assured.

Timothy has learned some things from some very prominent people:
• Paul, of course, but also from
• His mother and grandmother

The key is not that he was taught from them. The key is that he was assured of them through the Scriptures.
• It is the Word of God that gives assurance
• It is the Word of God we must learn
• It is the Word of God we must continue in

Monday, October 17, 2011

Three Impossibles for God

2 Timothy 2:13 KJV
If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

JFB Commentary writes that there are three things it is impossible for God to do;
• To die
• To lie and
• To be deceived

It goes on to say concerning this verse that though men deny Him; though they would claim a sort of salvation that circumvents Jesus, He cannot but deny them that deny Him.

• It is meant as a warning to the spiritually foolhardy not to continue in false security and
• It is meant as a comfort to the believer that his faith will be vindicated by and by

Though that vindication tarry, wait for Him.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

That Good Thing

2 Timothy 1:14 KJV
That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

The good thing that is being referred to is the Word of God,
• Committed unto Timothy through the teaching of the Apostle
• Committed unto him through the Word written and delivered to him, and
• Committed unto him to preach to others also

We have a good thing when we have the Word of God. Not just good in the sense of pleasant to read and better than others like it, but good in the sense that Moses' parents realized he was "a goodly child." Good in the sense of having a supernatural purpose.
• This good thing must be preserved
• This good thing must be proclaimed
• This good thing must be passed down to those who come after us

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Science Falsely So Called

1 Timothy 6:20 KJV
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

I listened to a brief interview on the radio with two men who recently wrote a book attempting to reconcile the two supposedly opposing world views of science and spirituality. The man representing spirituality was not a Christian but someone involved in an eastern religion of "consciousness."

As the interview progressed the radio personality asked the scientist, a physicist, if he had come to believe in God. The scientist acknowledged that it is scientifically impossible to prove there is no God but then said that he definitely did not believe in the Biblical God because the Bible teaches too many things that scientists know are wrong.

I have discovered that too much of what science professes to know is not knowledge at all but theory.
They seem to begin all of their studies on the premise that the God of the Bible does not exist and try to find answers to their questions that do not include that God. They propose theories and study one another's theories. the science of today is not based upon knowing truth but knowing their own theories.

If there is a scientific fact that the Bible apparently contradicts, I would suggest that the problem is with their understanding of the Bible and not with the truths that exist either in science or the Bible.
Too many who begin by doubting the Bible have proposed what they believe are contradictions in the Bible itself. I don't pretend to have all of the answers to all of their proposed contradictions but I confidently proclaim that when God, who is, reveals all truth to us, every scientific contradiction (falsely so called) to the Bible will be perfectly reconciled.

I believe the Word of God. I believe God Himself, and not science falsely so called.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Micah's Response to His Woes

Micah 7:7 KJV
Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.

Micah begins this chapter describing the last days before the Lord comes. And what he describes sounds a lot like today:
Good men are rare
The context implies a goodness in relationship to men and not toward God. There are many today who claim salvation but can still be cruel to people.

People hunting others with a net
I see Christians who rejoice in taking members of other churches for their own rather than winning new converts to the Lord.

The best of men are like briars and thorn hedges
Those who are most admired today are also those most prone to accept the sheep of another's flock, not to mention a number of other “sharp” qualities that go without check.

Children who dishonor parents
This proves out to be true both of the physical children as well as spiritual ones.

But Micah’s fix is not sullen. His response is to look unto the Lord. And in looking he finds
• Salvation
• Victory and
• Light in the midst of the darkness

And so shall we. These are not times for sorrow and disappointment. These are days that should be given to waiting faithfully and actively for the God of our salvation.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

No Cavalry Needed

Micah 5:10 KJV
And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:

That Micah chapter five is prophetic of Christ is obvious from verse two. What is not so obvious is that the remainder of the chapter provides a description of the early years of Christianity, complete with the Apostles[1] and the missionary success of those churches.

I am sure there is a message for the Jews in this chapter, but there is also a message Christians may take to heart. And one of them has to do with horses. God says he will cut off their horses and their chariots. Israel was instructed of the Lord not to assemble a cavalry of horses and chariots; an instruction Solomon ignored. The cavalry was a symbol of power without God. In effect if they had a cavalry they did not need to trust the Lord. For the Christian this translates into anything that we might place trust in rather than God. God's promise is to strip us from false hope. God's promise is to leave us with nowhere else to lean but upon Him.

And it is a good promise because no other source can possibly hold us up.


[1] According to Jamieson Fausset and Brown, “Seven” expresses perfection; “seven and eight” is an idiom for a full and sufficient number.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No Cause for Shame

Micah 3:8 KJV
But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.

The prophet pronounced a judgment against the prophets of Israel and Judah as having no message from God and therefore being ashamed. The tool of the prophet is the Word of the Lord. If he has not received that word he is as powerless as a mechanic without a toolbox. No amount of credentials can ever replace the wrench. So the prophet may have a title, a name, a position: but without a word from the Lord he is powerless. His position only serves to highlight his lack. Not so Micah. He was truly full of power, judgment and might, and he knew it.

It is not arrogance to declare the Word if you have the Word any more than it would be arrogance for the mechanic to fix a car if he has the tools. The man with the right tools gets the job.

I spoke with a person yesterday who said when she first began attending the church I am blessed to pastor she thought I was arrogant and crazy to preach what I did. She claimed that for the first year she came to the church it was just to hear what kind of crazy thing I would say next. But then she said she came to see that I wasn't making this stuff up but that it was coming from the Bible. That Bible made all of the difference. I was not ashamed to preach and had no reason to be ashamed because I had, and still have by the way, the right tools. I have a message from God. So long as it is that message I declare then truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

First of all...

1 Timothy 2:1-4 KJV
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

• The Apostle says that it is good and acceptable that we live quietly and peaceably in all godliness and honesty. But first, that we pray for all men.
• He says God would have all men to be saved. But first, that we pray for all men.
• It is the Lord's will that all men come to the knowledge of the truth. But first, that we pray for all men.

So then the most productive spiritual practice of the Christian is prayer.
• Before soul winning
• Before teaching the Bible certainly
• Before political activity
Would be prayer. First of all...

I do not mean to condemn any of the other activities, but I do mean to stress that before engaging in any of them we ought first to give ourselves to prayer and supplication.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The preaching that I bid thee...

Jonah 3:2 KJV
Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

Jonah's commission was to a particular people with a particular message.

As a prophet of God he had no liberty to pick and choose the message he would preach. God had a message for Nineveh. His job was to preach that message. He was not to choose which part of the message he would highlight. He was not to pick which part of Nineveh he would focus on. His task was to take the message of God and preach it from one end of town to the other.

As the pastor of Bible Baptist Church of Puyallup, I have been given a message from God - the Bible. My commission is to preach the whole thing to the whole world.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

An All Powerful and Concerned God

Jonah 1:17 KJV
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Even the most casual reader of this chapter is struck with the working of God in it.
• Jonah hears a call from God
• Jonah is in a storm of God's causing
• Jonah receives the short end if the lot
• Jonah's storm ceases when he us cast overboard
• Jonah is swallowed by a fish made just for him
There is nothing in this chapter that is possible except an all powerful and very concerned God is involved.

And that has been the rub all along. Man refuses to accept such a God. In light of this controversy Scofield has an appropriate note;
"No miracle of Scripture has called forth so much unbelief. The issue is not between the doubter and this ancient record, but between the doubter and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matthew 12:39); (Matthew 12:40). Science, "falsely so called" (1Timothy 6:20) failing to take account of the fact that it deals only with the outward phenomena of a fallen race, and of an earth under a curse (Genesis 3:17-19) is intolerant of miracles. To faith, and to true science, miracle is what might be expected of divine love, interposing God in a physically and morally disordered universe. (Romans 8:19-23)."

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Importance of Eschatology

2 Thessalonians 2:2-3 KJV
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

• As the day of the Lord is at hand
• That day shall not come

The focus of the passage is the day of the Lord. But the apostle's point is that the day hasn't come already. That seems opposite of his usual message that the day of the Lord is imminent.

There is a difference in the attitude of the one who believes that day could happen at any moment versus the one who believes it has already come.
• The one is hopeful
• The other is desperate

The Christian position concerning the day of the Lord is as important as any Christian doctrine. Eschatology, the doctrine of last things - the day of the Lord - is as vital as any truth in the word of God.

Vital enough that we must be careful that no one deceives us concerning it.

Friday, October 07, 2011

I Am One

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:

It is interesting what Paul gloried in his converts in.
• Paul's glory and joy was not that their congregation had grown
• He did not glory in that they had built a large building
• Paul's glory was not that that they had experienced some other form of worldly success
Paul's glory for the believers in Thessalonica was in their patience and faith in the tribulations they suffered for the kingdom of God.

• Perhaps we need to start lifting up a different kind of preacher and a different kind of church
• Perhaps we ought to begin writing articles about those who are sticking to the faith despite hardships in the work
I think this is the heart of the Yakima Home Missions Conference. Pastor Dave Brown, and before him, his father, Dr. Dennis Brown, have always attempted to encourage men in the ministry, both young and old, who have labored, sometimes, enduring many hardships.

I am one of those who felt loved befriended and important despite those hardships I was enduring at the time. I am one who benefitted from the encouragement of those who recognized my faith and not my material successes.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

That Day Being Jesus

1 Thessalonians 5:8 KJV
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

All year long I have been studying through the Bible with an emphasis on the light. Jesus is that light and then He commissions us as light.

So we are not children of the night but of the day; that day being Jesus.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Be Prepared

1 Thessalonians 3:4 KJV
For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

Jesus told the apostles before and here Paul told the Thessalonians before that suffering was a part of this faith. The warning was meant to prepare the believers. And it obviously worked since the faith has held true these two thousand years. But it is also obvious that there were those who did not hold true since Paul was concerned that, by some means, the tempter had tempted them.

Many today appear to believe that the sign of God's hand in a ministry is that it is large and growing and has lots of money and plenty of peace. In fact there is every chance that that in itself is the temptation Paul was concerned over. His warning was that we should suffer. When we compromise so we do not suffer we have given over to the tempter.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Pleasing God

1 Thessalonians 2:4 KJV
But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

This passage, one of the more noteworthy for me as a preacher, takes on even more weight in consideration of its context. The Apostle says in verse 2 that even after they had been so shamefully treated in Philippi; where they had been beaten and imprisoned, he said that even after such horrible treatment as that, still they were bold to preach the word in such a hostile town as Thessalonica turned out to be. When he said "not as pleasing men" he knew exactly what he meant. He meant
• Even if it meant hatred
• Even if it meant beatings
• Even if it meant stoning
• Even if it meant jail
• Even if it meant death
The Apostle spoke "not as pleasing men but God."

Monday, October 03, 2011

Knowing

1 Thessalonians 1:4 KJV
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

There are three "ing" words in verses 2-4 following the Apostle's claim of giving thanks for this church. As he gave thanks he was
• Making mention of them in prayer
• Remembering their work of faith...
• Knowing their election of God

The first is an action based upon his conviction that prayer was effectual

The second is an affection based upon the evidence of their conversion

The third is an affirmation based upon a doctrine of truth

He is speaking of election as pertaining to the church and not to particular persons in the church. No doubt there were individuals whose testimony had not gone out every where. This was true of the church as a whole but was not true of all of the members in general. Election is God's work, first in the Jews as His people and then in the church as a body.
• He has elected to cleanse and purify the church
• He has elected that saved people unite with a church
• He has elected to use the church

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Still My People

Amos 7:8 KJV
And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:

Amos 7:15 KJV
And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.

The message of Amos is a very serious one. God was finished with the northern kingdom. He would not hear the Intercession of the prophet any longer, their summer was past and they were not saved.
• They would be taken by an enemy
• Their children would be slain with the sword
• Their land would be divided by a stranger
It could not have been a worse pronouncement.

But then I noticed that not once but twice God calls these doomed people "my people Israel." God had determined judgment upon them but God had not dispossessed them. They were still His people. And so they have ever been.
• Through the millennia of sufferings and persecution
• Through the debates of Christian people concerning them
• Through their own era of disbelief in Him, even
• Through their part in crucifying Him
they have always been and shall evermore continue to be His people.

And one day God will once again pick up the pieces of Israel.
• He will cause their dry bones to come together
• He will restore flesh and sinew to those bones and
• He will breathe back into the body of Israel His very own breath of life
He has not forgotten His people.

And for we, who are neither Jews by birth nor will be here when God once again picks up Israel, there is a message of hope as well.
• Though we sense keenly our sins
• Though we yet sting over the sin the too often overcomes us
We who have been accepted in the beloved find here our hope; God will never leave us or forsake us.
• We have been called by His name
• We have been adopted as His sons
and that adoption, He will never reverse.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

A Spiritual Pursuit

Colossians 3:1 KJV
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

That Christianity is a spiritual pursuit there can be no doubt. That much of what the Christian believes is other worldly and appears foolishness to those of this world is sure. We are dead; but we are not (in the flesh.) In fact the Bible gives two sides to even that. On the one hand the lost person, though alive in the flesh is dead in trespasses and sins and the Christian has been quickened and made alive through the Holy Spirit. But on the other hand the Christian, though still possessing the old nature is dead in Christ and the life he now lives is by faith in the Son of God. The worldly would argue it is inconsistent and foolish. They would say that all hard evidence proves we both are alive right now and there is nothing to prove that there is life above.

Then there is the assertion that Christ shall appear. They would argue that Christians have been preaching that for two thousand years and it hasn't happened yet. We just keep insisting that He could appear any moment.

Christianity teaches many practical things. The majority of Colossians chapter three is occupied with them. But they are all rooted in the spiritual truths. We must be grounded in them before the practical lessons will have any purpose.