Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is This Shocking?

Mark 14:71 KJV
But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

Peter's response to those who recognized him as a disciple of Christ is so well known that it would not be too difficult to pass over in our reading. But when one considers it, it seems shocking. Peter was the most outspoken of Christ's followers by far. He was one of those three inner circle disciples and he was the most adamant that he would die with Christ before he would deny Christ.

And yet here he is. With Christ just feet away in the midst of the battle for the souls of men, Peter was outside cursing to prove He had no relationship with Jesus.

Peter's failure should be a stern warning to all of us. The key to our faith isn't found in our loud and confident outbursts of belief and fellowship with the Lord. The key to our faith happens when the rug beneath our faith is pulled away. When we remain faithful
even then we have a faith that will get us through.

The good news is that though Peter failed this test, God was not through with Him. Before his life was finished Peter came to the sort of faith that preserved him through jailings and near execution. Finally tradition says he was executed for his faith and remained faithful and true.

We never know if our faith is what we believe it is until we have been tested. In testing we learn our weaknesses but we also find Christ's strengths.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Our Wisdom is Only God's Word

Deuteronomy 4:6 KJV
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

The wisdom of Israel was the statutes and judgments God gave them.
Of all the nations in that time none had a system of statutes and judgments similar to what God gave Israel. These laws and judgments and statutes separated them and set them apart from every other. Others would eventually follow their example and copy the system they had been given by the Lord until, in our day, many people question whether it came from Israel at all. When our country was founded those men charged with forging out our constitution referred time and again to the Old Testament law as a source of instruction and direction. America is not the second Israel, but we do have a heritage built on the Bible.

But Moses told the people to take heed that the wisdom they saw God give them became removed from their hearts. And that is what is happening in America today. The wisdom that has so impressed the world has now become despised around the world. And no wonder. Our own countrymen don't love the wisdom of the statutes and judgments of God.

We have got to turn our children back to the Bible. We have got to give them a love for God and the things of God if we are to ever see our country once again be the beacon of the world. Power built on borrowed money and technology based on foreign engineering will not sustain a nation as a super power. Only God can do that.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Source of Our Errors

Mark 12:24 KJV
And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?

The error of the passage has to do with the resurrection. These Sadducees were not really asking about what happens to the wife after the resurrection. They did not believe there would be a resurrection and asked the question to demonstrate what they thought was the obscurity of it. Their error is only one of an innumerable combination of errors people make, both spiritually and otherwise. And the source of their error is the source of all error, which comes from one of two streams:

They did not know the Scriptures.
Many errors of man happen as a result of not knowing. If we do not know what God has said, if we do not know the warnings of the many dangers in the world, if we do not know the instructions God has given to avoid those dangers and safely pass through life on this earth, how can we help but error? It becomes us then to learn the Word of God. It becomes us to read the Bible for ourselves, to study it and to faithfully attend church services where the Bible is taught and preached.

The second stream of error comes from not knowing the power of God.
Many are those people who, like the Sadducees, have studied the Bible but fail to grasp it because they do not believe the message of it. They know what the Bible says, they just don't believe in a Christian who saves, a life in heaven or hell, or a God who is interested in our choices today.

This error is not merely the one of the atheist or skeptic; plenty of Christians, in fact all Christians to some degree have error in their lives because they either do not know what the Bible says or else they do not believe it. It might be concerning tithing. It might have to do with some sin. It could be a habit they enjoy but Scriptural principles would caution against. It might have to do with a ministry or some other simple instruction in the Bible that they have not been compelled to obey. And in their not believing that obedience would be best, they go on in error.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Responsible For God's Dwelling

Numbers 35:34 KJV
Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.

What a thought, that the Lord dwells among them.

This would be a privilege beyond imagination. There would be comfort in the knowledge of the presence of the Lord. To know that there is peace between a people and God is the highest of all earthly blessings.

But it is not without responsibility. Because God dwelt among them they must not allow the land to be defiled. God did not promise them that the land would be trouble free. Indeed, He indicated that there would be deaths by both murder and manslaughter. He said there would be a spirit of revenge built into the people and provision must be made to deal with it all. The answer was not to create a perfect environment; the answer was to handle those problems in an appropriate way.

God dwells with the believer today in a manner that is even above that promised to Israel. But we too have our troubles.
• We have troubles in the flesh
• We have troubles in the family
• We even have troubles that arise in the church
The answer is not to try to find some sort of faith without problems, that doesn't exist. The answer is to handle it biblically and to handle it so the land is not defiled.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Who Are These "gods"?

Numbers 33:4 KJV
For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments.

The Bible says that when God plagued Egypt so that they had to bury their first born, God did that to Egypt and to Egypt's gods. I was interested in that because I do not recall any of the plagues being specifically upon the deities of Egypt directly. Certainly several of the plagues were in reference to their worship of the Nile or to their god of the flies, and there was the direct challenge of the Egyptian magicians to counterfeit the plagues. But nothing was overtly an attack upon their gods.

So in reading I found three courses of thought how the death of the firstborn could have been against their gods:
First, the Jewish Targum of Jonathan, according to Gill, says that with the death of the firstborn was also the destruction of their idols.
The golden ones became molten, the wooden ones to ashes, their earthen ones diminished, their strong ones mutilated. I rather think of the Jewish Targum as similar to Catholic tradition; fantastic and absolutely unreliable.

The second and third appear to me to have more Scriptural validity.
Second, the gods referred to could be the rulers and great men of Egypt. The word of God does make reference to the great men, whether in wealth or stature as gods. This then would mean that the plague upon the firstborn included all of Egypt, not just the average citizen. Greatness, wealth, power neither physical nor political protected them from the plague.

Third, the plague also included the death of the firstborn among their animals, which were worshipped as gods.
The Bible isn't difficult to understand if only we will consider and study.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bargaining Not Advised

Numbers 32:19 KJV
For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward.

The two and half tribes got their way, but I don't believe it was because it was the will of God. I believe it was because God allows our free will. These two and half tribes bargained with Moses for their way. And, though for a time they appeared to be sincere, you hear nothing of them after a time. Their land was always more known for the heathen there than for God's people. The names of the tribes are not forgotten but there is nearly no reference to their part in Israel history.

I have known who knows how many Christians who bargain with God between His will and theirs. If a person insists, as these two and half tribes did, upon their own will God will not prevent them. But this should not be taken as the approval or the will of God. His will is plain. When we bargain with God for our own will, we may for a time make a pretense of following the Lord but that will eventually fade and we will end up where we wanted to be; in the center of our own will and not that of the Lord.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Don't Need Much to do Much

Mark 8:19-20 KJV
When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.
And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.

There is nothing in the Scriptures that is there without purpose. And when something is repeated in the Bible it is generally of great importance. So that Christ performed a very similar miracle twice is very significant.

In the first place it teaches me to study the events of the Gospels carefully.
There are a number of events that are repeated in the various Gospels. But there are some events that were repeated by the Lord. A variation in the event could be because it is a different event or because it is the same event seen through different eyes.

Secondly there is the issue of feeding the multitudes.
I am reminded that God can take care of me. Though I may have few resources in this world, yet God is able to meet my needs as He pleases.
And I am reminded that I need little of this world's resources in order to make a difference in this world. I only need to be willing to let God bless what I do have and give it away in an orderly fashion. He will take it from there.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

His Care to the Last

Numbers 27:16 KJV
Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,

Moses was about to be gathered to his fathers. Because of smiting the rock rather than speaking to it, Moses' time was finished. Aaron had already died for the same sin and Moses is now to follow. He will not enter into the Promised Land. But Moses' concern was for the congregation and not himself. He would not leave the congregation without a shepherd.

In this, as well as in many aspects of his life, Moses is an example for pastor today.
• Moses was not a perfect man as this very passage reminds us. But
• Moses was quick to go to God for direction
• Moses was faithful to his calling over Israel
• Moses was loyal to his congregation even while they were dying in the wilderness and
• Moses would not leave them without care. His heart was for their welfare to the end.

Preachers could do well to follow his lead.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't Dwell There

Numbers 25:1 KJV
And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.

I cannot help but think that the trouble here is that Israel abode in Shittim.
• They were, at this stage in their history, a nomadic people
• They lived in tents and were not to settle down in the desert
• Their home was in the Promised Land and they knew it but
• They have made themselves at home, and that, just on the other side of their goal

It is when we who are Christians allow ourselves to settle in to this world that we will find ourselves in the most trouble. Though we sojourn here we must never allow ourselves to take root here. Our home is eternal heaven. We know that. And when we make any part of this earth our abode, we are sure to compromise our faith.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

God, My Defender

Numbers 23:21 KJV
He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.

This is a truly interesting passage in that it shows Israel in an entirely different perspective. Remember here that Israel is condemned to wander in the wilderness until an entire generation is passed away. Their disobedience to God at Kadesh Barnea has resulted in the judgment of everyone twenty years old and above. Remember also that Aaron has already died for his part in striking the rock and Moses has been told he may not enter the Promised Land because he smote the rock. Israel has murmured against God and Moses. Israel has complained about the manna. And Israel broke the commandments of God and had gone into idolatry while Moses was on the Mount.

Yet here God declares He has not beheld iniquity nor seen perverseness in Israel.

And it appears that it is for the same reason Christians are declared justified even though we know we still sin. It is a matter of perspective.

• When dealing with Israel, God confronted their sin in order to perfect them but
• When dealing with His purpose for them God saw them as the nation He called them to be and that they will one day be.
God confronts and corrects our sin in order to make us to become what He has predestined us to be.
But relationally God already sees us as having reached that place He has made us to have.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How is it that ye have no faith?

Mark 4:40 KJV
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

The question is a probing one and demonstrates an all too true quality of our character; we are prone to forget God's hand in previous circumstances when current circumstances arise.

The disciples had had ample demonstrations of the power of Christ. He had
• Cast out demons
• Healed the crippled
• Turned water into wine and
• Etc.
Yet in this storm, they were frightened that they would perish. Christ had delivered Himself from persecutions and said that His time was not yet come. He would certainly not perish in the sea if His time was not yet come.

But still they were fearful. And I am convinced that the reason for the storm was to try their faith and test it again for its strength. Faith only grows in the storms. It can never develop in ease. The Lord must then allow for the child of God to pass through fearful events if his faith is to be increased.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Every Life Precious

Numbers 21:4 KJV
And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

A few days ago a friend of mine posted a pro-life picture on Facebook. While most of those who responded were positive, and the one post that was negative was posted in a very kind manner, still there was in that one post a doubt about the value of a human life under certain circumstances. The circumstance mentioned was a pregnancy as a result of incest. This one reasoned that certainly we would not consider that a life that should be brought into this world. Certainly it would be permissible to kill that little baby before it breathes fresh air.

It occurred to me that both Edom and Moab, though the product of incest, both grew into substantial nations. Though their conception was due to extraordinary sin, still their lives amounted to something major.

When Israel wandered the wilderness and came to the land of Edom, they offered to pay for anything they used as they passed through and were refused. In that case, Moses went around. But when they came to the land of the Amorites and Sihon refused the same offer, Israel defeated them and took their land. The difference was that, though Edom was born out of incest, he was still born a relative to Abraham. God placed value in Him. And let's not bring up why it was acceptable to destroy the one. That is an entirely different issue and has no place in this argument.

So the answer is simple; all human life has meaning and purpose. Even if that life was conceived in extraordinarily sinful or wicked circumstances, the life itself is a human life and no man has the right to take it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

He Made Himself Unclean

Numbers 19:7 KJV
Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even.

There are three people who, in this chapter, volunteer to be made unclean.
• The one who burns the heifer
• The priest who sacrifices the heifer, and
• The man who gathers the ashes of the heifer
In each case the man was clean previous to his ministry. In each case his unclean condition separated him from the congregation until the evening. To make others clean; to make a way for others to come to God, these men made themselves separated from their own.

They picture Jesus Christ who
• Left the glory of heaven
• Identified with mankind
• Sullied himself in eating and drinking with sinners
• Became sin for us so much so that the Father turned His back on His own Son and then
• Gave to us, who put our faith in Him, the very righteousness which was His own.

I am thankful that the priest's unclean condition was only until the evening. When morning came he was once again clean and free to minister in the presence of the congregation. Christ carried our sins to the grave. In the morning, three days later,
• He arose leaving our sins in the grave
• He arose victoriously
• He arose gloriously
• He arose in fellowship with His Heavenly Father and
• He arose to minister to us forever before the throne

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Given a Gift to Give

Numbers 18:6 KJV
And I, behold, I have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel: to you they are given as a gift for the LORD, to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.

God gave the Levites to Israel as a gift "for the Lord." It was God's gift to them, intended to be given back in service.

That ought to be the Christian way of viewing all that the Lord gives us.

First, He gives it.
We don't get it in our own strength or wisdom or hard work. We get it from God. If it took strength or wisdom on our part it was God who gave even that to us. How much better off we would be if we saw everything as a gift from God.

Second, it was given as a gift to be given.
And especially as a gift to be given back in service for the Lord. We use those gifts God gives us in service to Him and in service for him.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Ribbon Reminder

Numbers 15:39 KJV
And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:

God told the Jews to sew a piece of ribbon on their clothing as a reminder that they were to obey the Lord and not follow after their own heart and eyes.

And we people do need reminders, don't we? Even after spending time with the Lord in the morning and evening after setting our hearts upon the Lord, once the day begins it is so easy to slip into fleshy habits of life. And even though we may have cultivated a mind toward the things of God, all it takes is a lousy phone call or upsetting conversation and our minds will be on subjects less honoring to the Lord.

We need little reminders to obey the Lord throughout the day.

Of course a ribbon of blue would easily become just a traditional thing that we would wear without giving a thought as to why. We would need some reminder to remind us to remember the reminder. But there is something else here; the ribbon was to be on all of the Jews. Every one then became a reminder to his neighbor and that is where this has New Testament and practical application. We are to exhort one another and provoke one another to love and good works. My ribbon today is my contact with my brothers and sisters in the faith. Their contact with me reminds me to obey the Lord and not to follow after my heart and eyes.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Leader's Spirit

Numbers 13:2 KJV
Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.

Twelve rulers of Israel were appointed to go into the land and spy it out. They accomplished their assignment but when they returned ten of them had focused on the obstacles and not the promise of God. Sure, they too had seen it was a good land. But they also saw the inhabitants and worse, they saw themselves as grasshoppers before them.

And their doubt spread through Israel like a plague. Before long no one, except Caleb and Joshua, were willing to obey God.

Those who hold places of leadership among the people of God must be so careful of their own spirit. If they allow themselves to ever fix on the enemies of God's will rather than the plan of God for His people the results will be spiritually devastating. Those who, for whatever reasons, can't ensure that they will spend the time with the Lord necessary to trust Him in spite of the giants of this world, ought to excuse themselves from leadership and ought to be doubly cautious that, though they have no official position of leadership, they don't inadvertently lead from the sidelines. The dangers are just too great if God's people become discouraged in His way.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Twisted Christ of Judas Iscariot

Matthew 26:48 KJV
Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

Judas had brought the multitude with swords and staves to a place he knew Jesus resorted to but the multitudes did not, and had given them a sign that the one he kissed was Jesus.

Obviously, the habits of Christ were not well known by everyone in Israel. Even those sent to take Him that night were so unfamiliar with Him that they could not recognize Him by face. I have sometimes had the impression that everyone in Israel knew who Christ was and what He looked like. That is just not the case.
• Though He had fed thousands, there were thousands more who had never left their homes to see and hear Him
• Though the Jews had sent some to catch Him in His words, some many more had never left their posts for Christ

And so it is today; though there are a variety of denominations and scattered around the world hundreds or more so called mega churches, the fact is most people have little to no interest in Christ. What they do know, if they know anything at all, is skewed and twisted. They, like the multitudes following Judas, only know what an enemy of Christ gives them. And that enemy so often cloaks himself as the friend of Christ. Most decisions made about Jesus are made from a position of ignorance or even misrepresentation.

It is our place to correct that misinformation as God gives us grace.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Uttermost People

Numbers 11:1 KJV
And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

When the people displeased the Lord so the fire came to consume them, those killed were those on the fringes of the camp. Those dwelling deeply inside the camp were safe. That goes to First Corinthians five where Paul teaches that there is a type of safety that belongs to those in the church and those cast out are delivered to the devil for the destruction of the flesh.

Practically speaking there would always have to be an uttermost part of the camp. It would not be physically possible for everyone to dwell in the middle of the camp. Even among the Lord's twelve there was an inner circle of three. But spiritually I think it is possible for every believer to live in the center of God's will and in the middle of His ministry in the church.

There are those in every church I have seen who are "uttermost parts" people. They are a part, but it is a barely attached part. And those are the people who tend to be devoured first in those times of trial in the church.
• They are the ones who are lost in a spiritual hardship.
• They are the ones whose faith gets shaken at the falling away or sin of a supposed spiritual leader.
Those in the middle of the camp; those who are entrenched in the church; those who have made the house of God their own place of residence are most often safe.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Concerning Christ's Return

Matthew 24:48 KJV
But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;

An evil servant thinks the Lord delays coming

There are a myriad of attitudes a person might have regarding the Lord and His coming
• One might view His coming as myth
• One might spiritualize His coming as being real but not physical
• One might capitalize on His coming as a means to earn royalties and sales
The passage says this is a servant, though an evil one, so it is speaking about one who claims to be saved and claims to believe in His coming which suggests a final attitude which would be
• One who claims to believe in His coming but lives as if He won't come at all

Even if Christ doesn't come in my lifetime it makes little sense to live like He isn't going to come again because regardless of when His return is, we will all give account to Him.

I want my account to balance.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Seen of Men

Matthew 23:5 KJV
But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

To be seen of men

A huge danger of the ministry is its public nature. So much of what a preacher does, he does in the sight of men.
• His preaching ministry
• His teaching ministry
• His counseling ministry
• His visitation ministry
• His comforting ministry
• His leadership ministry
Is all done before one or more.

He is likely to be praised or thanked or in some other way complimented for these ministries before the people. And when he is, is he is not mindful of it, he may be lifted up in self because of it. The constant barrage of acknowledgements that come as part and parcel with the public portion of ministry can have devastating effects as the preacher becomes more and more accustomed to accepting those acknowledgements.

The cure, in light of our Saviour's warning is simple; there must be much more that the preacher does in private than what is ever done in public. The preacher's private time with the Lord in study and in prayer, in introspection and personal examination, in humility and in meekness before the Lord must outweigh those moments in the spotlight of public ministry exponentially. We can't afford the delusion that we are somehow worthy of public acknowledgement and accolade. We cannot allow ourselves to be seduced into thinking we can handle such praise and remain in right relationship with God.

Only large amounts of time in privacy and loneliness before the Lord can inoculate the public man from the disease of the praise of men.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Put My Name

Numbers 6:27 KJV
And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. While I know we are to avoid vain repetition, I so long that this blessing rest upon the people over the which God has allowed me to pastor. I long for this blessing to be the wonderful experience of my children and grandchildren.

Now here is the culmination of it. Its result, we might say, is that in the blessing the minister has put the name of the Lord upon them.

And in this there comes real meaning to the blessing as that precious name is Jesus Christ. Whenever we are able to give a soul Christ we have surely given to them God's richest blessing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Many Are Called

Matthew 22:14 KJV
For many are called, but few are chosen.

In the parable, everyone was called: farmers, merchantmen, citizens, those in the highways and hedges. No one was excluded from a call. But some were not at the wedding and in every case, it was there own choice.
• The farmer put the interests of his land above the wedding and so was not chosen.
• The merchantmen put the interest of business above the wedding and so was not chosen
• The remnant put their interest in riotous living and so we're not chosen and
• The one had no interest in the wedding (and would not change his garments for it) and so was not chosen.

All are called to salvation but only those who give up themselves for the Saviour find salvation. It is freely offered and no one is excluded from the call, but that should not be interpreted as meaning it is of little worth and lacking standard. God invites all to come to salvation. But those who come must see that God's expectations are high.

Monday, January 09, 2012

He Spake of Them

Matthew 21:45 KJV
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

Jesus preached in such a way that the. Pharisees knew He was speaking of them. He did not withhold this particular message until the Pharisees were not there to hear (though He might have done that because those that the message instructed were disciples. He could have waited until the disciples were alone.) Neither did he preach the message in either such a way that it was less offensive or that the Pharisees would not perceive He spake of them.

Jesus preached what was the word of God.

He preached so all could hear and He used illustrations that any who would could understand. He did not shirk because He was afraid of the consequences. He did not see it as His job to make everyone feel good about the message. Those who would receive it, we're blessed. Those who refused to receive Him as Saviour understood perfectly the consequences of their choice.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Accusations

Matthew 20:15 KJV
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

It is the sinful nature of man to believe we have the power to know what is good and what is evil. And many often call good evil and evil good. So we come to the basic principle that God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours. I have met many who presume to judge God because He has done good to someone they don't believe deserves it. He is a just God. But He is also a good God. He has reconciled the two through the death of His own Son. In a transaction we can never completely comprehend, but only come to accept through the history of sacrifices by the Jews, God laid on Christ all of the sins of man and His (lest I say our) justice was satisfied. Having satisfied the debt of sin through Christ God is free to do good and forgive any who will seek it.

The one who chooses will never see the fairness of that transaction but will only argue in the flesh that it is unfair, or it is gruesome or whatever other objection they might have.

The fact is, God's goodness extends to any who will receive it. Those who can't accept that are - well - free to refuse it.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Amazed

Matthew 19:10 KJV
His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

Gill and Barnes both make the note that the disciples said this out of a fleshly heart. The Jewish man considered it a great privilege that he could put away a wife for any disagreeable flaw and, if a man had to be trapped in marriage to a wife who was of a disagreeable nature, it would surely be better never to marry; fleshly

Then immediately after this these same disciples rebuked people for bringing children to the Lord and they had to again be corrected for their error. They thought of children as having too little value to be a bother to the Lord. The Lord on the other hand was more than happy to give attention to the spiritual needs of the children.

The disciples were filled with fleshly traditions, attitudes and bad habits. Even at the time of Christ's crucifixion they were easily turned to go back fishing. After His death they were filled with doubt concerning his resurrection. And even just before His ascension Jesus corrected them when they asked about the kingdom.

It is so impressive that the Lord left such important work as is the saving of souls and raising up of churches into such flawed hands. The disciples did grow and mature but they were never perfect. (Though the Scriptures they penned are perfect, being inspired of God.)

And the Lord continues to use imperfect people yet today. We might wonder why and if the Lord is using such weak vessels as we know ourselves to be. But He is glorified in our weaknesses. Not that we should ignore our flaws or refuse to grow out of them, but we should certainly not allow them to prevent us from stepping out in obedience to Christ.

Friday, January 06, 2012

And the Lord spake

Leviticus 25:1 KJV
And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,

Fifteen chapters in a row Leviticus begins with words to the effect of, "And the Lord spake.."

It began to impress me in this reading that these are truly the Words of God. How important it is that we see the Bible as more than the words of man about God but the words of God to man.
• These are not the writings of religious speculators
• These are the inventions of would be spiritual leaders

When we read the Word of God we are reading the very words of God.

And that gives a wholly different weight to them.
• This is the communication of God
• This is God's position concerning the condition of man
• This is God's perception of the nature of sin
• This is God's revelation of the eternal future and
• This is God's offer of everlasting salvation

What a privilege to possess the Word of God! And what a blessing it is to read and study it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Jesus Didn't Have To, But He Did

Matthew 17:27 KJV
Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

After Peter had told them that Jesus paid the tribute Jesus confronted him and gave reason why he (and I think the implication is Peter) were free from paying this tribute. They were not spiritually obligated to pay it.

But they did pay it.

Jesus said that to avoid offending them they would pay the tribute.

Too many in modern Christianity are focused on what they can do and what they don't have to do. They accuse those who teach standards of right and wrong of being legalistic. But their selfish desire to get their own way has blinded them to the fact that we aren't saying a person has to do these things. We are fully aware that doing faithful Christianity is not a requirement of salvation and that certain actions we encourage Christians to avoid are not "cardinal sins".
• What we are practicing is the example of our Lord, who was free from the tribute but gave it anyway for the sake of another.
• We are practicing the example of the Apostle Paul who said that to eat certain meat was completely lawful, but he would not eat it anyway so as not to be a stumbling stone to another.
Christian liberty has come to mean Christian self centeredness in our day.

And it is time we look to others and place some standards in our lives for their sakes.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

He Left Them and Departed

Matthew 16:4 KJV
A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

What an ominous phrase; "... He left them and departed."

The Pharisees had asked Christ for a sign. He responded that they had observed natural signs of the weather. He also told them that there would be no sign but the resurrection and that to seek any sign other than that would be wicked.

And then He left them and departed.

In His physical sense His leaving may not seem that significant. Jesus did not stay in one place His whole life and going to minister to another community did not mean He was finished with the one He left. Jesus did not stay all the time, for instance, with Mary and Martha and Lazarus, but when He left them and departed to another place, it was not in any way a sign of judgment against them.

But we have the full body of Scripture and
• We know that He did depart from Israel to call out his church, a unique body of believers composed of both Jews and Gentiles
• We know Jesus did leave the Pharisees and their religion
• We know that He nailed the ordinances of their system to the cross and took them out of the way

And
• We know that in some cases the Holy Spirit leaves a person and departs, never to convict them of sin righteousness and judgment again

And
• We know that that is a judgment no man should want to experience

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Jewish Traditions

Matthew 15:2 KJV
Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

I recently heard about a group of Christians who take supporting Israel to such an extreme that they view those things that an orthodox Jew or a Messianic Jew as near to Scripture. They take the position that to disagree with a Jew is the same as to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Here is Scriptural evidence that they are wrong and that even our Lord disagreed with what was their (Orthodox Jews) tradition.

The Messianic Jews today are wrong.
• They are wrong on their doctrine of the church
• They are wrong to continue in the practice of Jewish custom and traditions

It would be biblical for them to attend a synagogue on the Sabbath for the purpose of telling those attending about Jesus Christ. But to neglect the assembly of a called out assembly of born again and scripturally baptized believers in an organized Baptist Church is to disobey the New Testament.

Their keeping of Jewish tradition places them in the same school as these Pharisees who were chided of the Lord.

Monday, January 02, 2012

He Gives that We May Give

Matthew 14:19 KJV
And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

This passage models the Lord's means of providing for the needs of souls.

Christ had compassion
Though He had reason to want nothing to do with people, He had compassion upon them

Christ asked for their little
We have so little to offer either the world or the Saviour but He began his supply by taking up their little

Christ blessed the little and gave it to his disciples
The little was not their own. It was given of the ladies, but the Lord blessed it and gave to the disciples

The disciples gave it to the people
It wasn't for the disciples to keep but to give away. As they did so, the needs of the people were met and more

Sunday, January 01, 2012

I Am The Lord

Leviticus 19:2 KJV
Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

The whole of this chapter deals with things that are simple living:
• Care for the deaf
• Saving part of your harvest for the poor
• Honoring your parents
• Loving your neighbor
• Attending your worship and
• Doing your business

And in all of it;
• The religious
• The moral, and
• The civil
the underlying principle is that God is our Lord. We are to behave in every sphere of life remembering that we belong to God.