Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Good Tidings

Luke 2:10 KJV
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Gill has some good words concerning these good tidings...
" tidings, that were both wonderful and amazing, … the work of man's salvation, his peace, pardon, righteousness, &c. about to be accomplished, and so matter of great joy: not carnal, but spiritual; not feigned, but real; not temporary, but lasting; even such as cannot be taken away, nor intermeddled with; and not small, but great, even joy unspeakable, and full of glory…"

But I am reminded that
They were not good tidings to Herod.
Who sought the child's death
They were not good tidings to the religious elite
Who saw Him as a threat to their way f life and most importantly, to their influence over the people.
They were not good tidings to the Romans
Who collaborated at last in His crucifixion

Truly the incarnation of Christ is good news. But that news only blesses those who submit themselves to it. To receive any sort of benefit from this news one must
  • First acknowledge that God is that God of the Bible
  • Then accept His sovereign right to reign and
  • Finally surrender our own authority to His
That's a pretty tall order for those who have come to accept themselves as gods.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Anchorage Report

I was able today to finally post my daily visits with the Lord. The last five days were spent in Anchorage, Alaska where I attempted to serve the Lord. The trip was, I believe, successful as

  • A preacher and his wife were encouraged
  • A congregation was instructed and
  • Two souls made professions of faith

Possessing "Being"

Psalms 146:2 KJV
While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

Now here is a concept that takes a wonderful turn. The Psalmist says that he will praise the Lord while he has any being.
My mind immediately sees the man who is in dire straits
The enemy is about to overwhelm him. All flesh screams out that this is a moment of pain, a moment not to praise but to plead. And yet he is determined to sing praise to his God until the enemy has expired his consciousness.

Or else the scene is of a elderly soul who has lived for the Lord now many decades
As the life ebbs from the body, what will be those dying words? "I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being."

Now here is the wonder of this passage;
The believer will always have being
Death is no end but just the beginning of life in such better conditions than are these that truly we will praise the Lord. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Separation


Psalms 144:11 KJV
Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:

David pleads that God would remove from them those
  • Who were strangers to the faith
  • Whose mouths spoke of empty and useless things and
  • Whose right hand promised falsely
His supposition was that in separating from people like this he and especially his children (speaking of the people of God as a whole) would prosper.

And here we learn the importance of separation. Not that we should have nothing to do with unbelievers or else we could not attempt to win them to Christ, but that we are careful of their influence in our lives. It is reminiscent of 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 where separation from the ungodly carries the promise of the father relationship of God. It is impossible to be friends with this world and of God at the same time. Those who are attracted to this world are missing a relationship with the Lord regardless of how strongly they insist they possess it. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Carry On

Luke 1:77 KJV
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,

Apostle John would later declare. 1 John 5:13
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God that year might know that ye have eternal life...

There is nothing greater in this world than this knowledge. Gill says of the knowledge of salvation
".. the "knowledge" of this is not merely, notional and speculative, but experimental, approbative, fiducial, appropriating, sure, and certain; and is more excellent, than any other kind of knowledge whatever... "

As the forerunner, John the Baptist first gave to men the knowledge that there was such a salvation available. It was not a deliverance from troubles in life but a spiritual salvation from sin that results in eternal life.

It is our pleasure to carry on the mission of John the Baptist in giving others the knowledge that salvation is available by the remission of sin through Jesus Christ. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Perfect Hatred

Psalms 139:21-22 KJV
Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

What a passage in the light of our current world which views most of Christianity as a hate group. Especially are the fundamentalists, who are merely honest believers, classified as radical and militant extremists. The only people in the world that the world permits hatred of are these fundamentalist Christians. Though they might deny it, their true hatred is for God, who gave us our Bible.

But God tells us of a perfect hatred. It is hatred of those who hate God. It is a perfect hatred not only because of the object of the hatred but the attitude and activity of this hatred. This hatred creates grief in the heart. The point of this hatred is not the death of the one who hates God but his conversion. We weep over our enemies; not that they are our enemies and oppose us, but as the enemies of God they are destined to such terrible judgment.
  • We would see them spared
  • We would see them rescued from their certain condemnation
  • We would see them saved

It is the world who imprisons and executes their enemies. Search through history and one learns that fundamentalist Christians have never done that, (only the kind of Christianity that the world is tolerant of did). Bible believing Christians have always reached out to rescue those who are their enemies. We do hate. But it is with a perfect hatred.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hang Up That Harp

Psalms 137:2 KJV
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.

Several years ago now a song became popular among my crowd that encouraged us, "Don't hang your harp upon the willow."  The sentiment of the song was good, though we have struggles we shouldn't just give up; there is reason as a Christian to have joy.

But the song is a misappropriation of this text. Nowhere are we given an indication that the Jews were wrong for their reaction here. They are not chided for hanging up their harps - not by God anyway.
  • There is no sense of rebuke
  • There is no mood written into the text to hint that this was inappropriate
To declare that they were in the wrong for hanging up their harps is to read into the text what is not there and to potentially do damage to someone who is going through a period similar to this.

American Christianity likes to practice the bravado of worldly Americanism. Just as both of the major political parties claim America's best days are ahead of us, so the popular American Christian treats the crisis we find ourselves in as something that can be easily overcome with
  • A little more prayer, and
  • A little more soul winning and
  • A little more in the offering plate

I don't know that we can't have a better day in our future than the one we have right now. But I do know that the general course of this world is a decline.
  • There is a reason to hang up our harps for awhile
  • There is a reason to be burdened and broken hearted
  • There is a reason to stop the celebration

I am not saying we must live in a state of depression. I am saying that we need to get serious about our faith. The world is sick of the fake bravado of modern Christianity. They have seen through this bravado and found Christianity to be hypocritical at best. The world needs to see
  • A faith that is real
  • A faith that is grieved as much for the sin in their own lives as for that of the lost
A faith that addresses personal sin not by judging others but by pressing ourselves toward Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cause


Psalms 135:7 KJV
He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.

The word "causeth" is in the present tense and not the past. This passage implies more than that God created the cycles of rain in nature and left them on their own from there. Men have formed that opinion because it is easier than answering to the fact that God may use each and every element in nature for His own purposes. That He causes the rain and the drought is plain in the case of Elijah's story, which is confirmed in the New Testament. God's purposes are always loving but
  • Often feel overwhelming and are
  • Seldom understood by men.
I prefer to view God the way the Bible describes Him:
  • Present
  • Aware and
  • Active
day by day. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making Plans for the Resurrected Life

Mark 14:28 KJV
But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.

The "matter of fact" nature of Christ's statement concerning His resurrection must have brought wonder as well as comfort to His disciples. Jesus made plans for His post resurrection life as if it was something like
  • "After I return from the grocery."  or
  • "After I get home from work." 
His death was not even a hiccup in His plans.
  • He would continue living
  • He would continue meeting with His disciples
  • He would continue winning the lost

And so we would be best to view our own demise. It is anything but a cessation of life. It only is life after the death event. We would do well to make our plans for after we are risen:
  • Plans concerning our relationship with God
  • Plans concerning the treasures we have laid up in heaven
  • Plans concerning those we wish to meet when we get there

For the Christian death is no defeat. It is only our step into life after we are risen. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Jesus Left Us

Mark 13:34 KJV
For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

I believe the signs of Mark 13 are best understood as belonging to those Jews who endure the Tribulation Period rather than to see them as signs of the approaching Tribulation. However it is obvious that, at the end of the chapter, the Lord returns to present day. He said that when the Son of man left He would give three things to those who await His return; that would be present day believers:

Authority
This isn't a supernatural authority or the authority to Lord over others. It is not individual authority but rather authority in the local church to preach, baptize and instruct through the Word of God. No servant should see himself as an authority but should view the authority as belonging to the church as a body.

Work
Every man has been given a work to do for the cause of Christ. If only believers could get hold of that and busy themselves for Christ instead of self.

A Command
The original command is given to the porter but is them passed down to all. We are to watch. We are to remain
  • Awake and
  • Vigilant and
  • Constantly looking for the Lord's return. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Strict Justice

Psalms 130:3 KJV
If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

Spurgeon in his "Treasury of David" uses the term, "strict justice" relating to this passage. Any honest and thinking man knows that he is a sinner, that if God were to let His hammer fall, the consequences would sweep over us as a flood. What a blessing that God's justice (and He is both holy and just) is tempered with His love. His actions are founded in holiness but always motivated by love. His purpose in justice is a loving and gracious end. If it were any otherwise, where would any of us be?
  • Strict justice would have slain Noah after his drunkenness
  • Strict justice would have destroyed Abraham over a dozen different sins

Strict Justice would have
  • Stricken Jacob
  • Let Moses die tending sheep
  • Destroyed Israel in the wilderness

Strict justice would have never allowed for a Saviour. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vanity in the Purest Sense

Psalms 127:2 KJV
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

It appears to me that some Christians apply this only to house and family. They sure preach hard on toiling in the rest of life. "Success" they like to say, "is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration." In some cases they brag about how late they are out either in the fields of financial gain or of God's service. So common is this thinking that a pastor is not thought doing his duty unless he makes himself available at all hours of the day or night. The ministry has become that place where the man of God has taken the place of God. Men, who are too busy to  have fellowship with God force those in their pastor to fellowship with them instead. Thus the minister himself has no time to fellowship with God. What wickedness we have created!

It all is the result of a lack of faith. We simply don't trust God to do as He has said so we take His Word and build our own businesses around the Bible but without God. There is just no excuse for being so busy that we can't be with God. The fact is those who don't spend time with God don't because they see no profit in it.

None of this excuses laziness, by the way. Those who walk with God will certainly learn to labor for God. But labor, without the walk, is vanity in the purest sense. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

2200 blogs written here as of today. Wow!

Expecting Sheaves

Psalms 126:6 KJV
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

One of the great nuggets of the Scriptures, we cannot help but see this as a soul winning scripture in connection with the Parable of the Sower.

The setting is almost surely the return of the Jews from Babylon. While it was a dream come true to return to Jerusalem it was no easy life.
  • The city was in shambles
  • The Temple was in ruins and
  • The land had been occupied by an enemy

There would surely be tears shed as they sowed the seed of reconstruction and re-population. But God gives them an assurance of ultimate victory. Though there would be tears, there would finally be rejoicing and fruit.

This is a soul winning promise. But it is also a believer's promise. Wherever we faithfully sow the truth of God's Word; regardless of the circumstances, the end result will be rejoicing and fruit. Yes, there will be tears shed along the way. But the outcome will be rejoicing and fruit.
  • Get precious seed
  • Go forth with it
  • Water it if you must, with tears
And expect God's eventual harvest. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Baptist Conviction

Mark 9:38-40 KJV
And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
For he that is not against us is on our part.

It has been a conviction of Baptist people since, I suppose, the speaking of these words, that a man must be able to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

We know nothing of this man. It is commonly supposed that he is either one of John the Baptist's disciples or perhaps one of the seventy but not of the twelve. In either case this one was doing what he believed was for the cause of Christ. He is not, as the seven sons of Sceva, an unbeliever using the name of Christ as a magical phrase for his own purposes. But he is, without question, lacking doctrine. Permission to continue as we are is not an endorsement to do so. That we are not forbidden to worship Christ imperfectly in no way contradicts the injunction to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

As a Baptist I stand ardently in support of freedom of conscience.
But I stand to preach fervently the whole doctrine of God's Word. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Quiet Place

Mark 8:23 KJV
And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.

I had not noticed before that, when Jesus gave sight to this blind man, He first led him out of the town.  The Bible does not tell us why. But the commentaries offer us at least three possibilities:

First it is suggested that He did this
To show He had deemed the city unworthy of such a miracle

Second they say He may have done this
To avoid exciting the Pharisees to anger any more than He already had
I cannot judge the credibility of either of these speculations but find the final one more in character with what I believe I know about Christ.

He might have taken Him outside of the town
To avoid the ostentatious nature of such a miracle in a large crowd
We have idolized bigness to the point that we don't believe that God works in the
·         Small
·         Faithful
·         Quiet
places of life.

We believe that Christian success is measured in the size of the crowds we attract. I don't see that quality in Christ. Though He could have hung around large crowds He tended to minister to just twelve, and especially to just three of the twelve. At His crucifixion the final outcome of His ministry was one hundred and twenty. We like to pull out passages that indicate larger numbers, but Jesus just didn't spend His most important moments in the crowds.

We would do well to concentrate on what happens in the quiet moments of life and let the crowded moments care for themselves. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Thought on Man's Ways

Psalms 119:59 KJV
I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.

Barnes[1] writes that such reflection is threefold
A thought on the course of life
There is a way which each man travels.
  • It may be a way that is moral and good but with little concern for eternity
  • It may be a way with disregard for others
  • It may be a way of abandoned wickedness
A person is wise who stops to think on his ways.

A thought on the guilt of such a course
Whichever course one may find himself on, a careful examination will uncover that it is a sinful way. There can be no other because we are born with a sin nature and no one has proven any different. Though some would deny that their character is sinful every honest man will admit to gave sinned; and more often than he would want others to know.

A thought on the consequences of carrying such guilt.
The struggle of the ages has to do with these consequences. Many deny the existence of God Himself because they do not want to admit there are consequences for their sin filled way. Among those who admit the consequences there are a variety of approaches to dealing with them. Those approaches may be boiled down to just two:
  • We work for our justification or
  • We trust God because of Christ for our justification

It is good when a man finally stops to think on his ways. My prayer is that such reflection leads to Christ.


[1] I have taken his three directions of thought and built upon them my own study.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On Our Side


Psalms 118:6 KJV
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

I have heard that someone once asked President Lincoln if he thought God was on his side. Lincoln reportedly said that his concern was not whether God was on his side but if he was on God's side. I do not know if the episode is true or not but it sounds like good advice; be sure we are on God's side rather than try to get God on our side.

Yet here is King David boldly stating (under inspiration of the Holy Spirit) that the Lord is on his side. Gill expands upon that and says[1]
The Lord was on David's side
Through all that he faced as a kingdom.

The Lord is on Christ's side
As our Saviour and our Brother.

The Lord is in the side of all the redeemed
  • To keep us until that day we enter heaven
  • To stay us through the trials of Christian life
  • To use us as vessels for his purpose
I want to always seek to be on God's side. But I am also glad He is on mine.


[1] I have taken liberties with Gill's commentary and created my own based upon his.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marvelous


Mark 6:6 KJV
And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.

What a marvel that people do not believe.
Even Jesus was amazed that people who had every evidence and every reason to believe continued in unbelief. The fact is that there is no reason for a soul to be an unbeliever except for their own hardness of heart. The Lord wills that all would be saved.

He has provided ample evidences that He is the Saviour. Our own hearts tell us that we need to be saved.

Satan has blinded our minds from salvation and our own sinfulness prevents us from wanting to admit a Saviour besides one of our own making.

God has made salvation such a gracious gift that it is a marvel that we will not accept it. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

When Devils Worship


Mark 5:6 KJV
But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

I have always been astounded at this passage. Here we see the devils running to worship Christ. The common understanding is that they were compelled to come in submission to His superior power over them. Though no man could tame him, Christ had them immediately in subjection. It may be that more of those who are in church today than we care to think have that motivation rather than a more godly one.

But Gill offers some other alternatives for the man's worship of the Lord.
It might be, he speculates, that the man has his mind temporarily restored in the presence of Christ and comes to appeal for relief. Many who come to Christ do so not for the salvation that is possible but for the worldly relief. They come so close but fall short of the full potential of meeting with Christ.

And, Gill suggests, he may have come seeking that which he in fact received; not merely relief from the devils but rescue of the soul and eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Whatever the reason for his coming, the result was his salvation. And so it is with us, whatever may be our motivation for coming to worship, the devil is powerless to prevent that meeting with Christ to result in eternal salvation.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

An Evangelistic Text


Psalms 115:9-11 KJV
O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.
Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.

The Old Testament is so filled with evangelistic texts that it is difficult for one living in this era at least to miss the intent of the Lord. Never was God's plan exclusive to Israel. Always He planned a salvation to include all nations of people if they would but fear and trust the Lord. Here we find the progression:

Israel is called upon to trust the Lord
Though they have been elected of God it is not that every Jews is immediately saved. The nation has been chosen to bring in the Messiah and to demonstrate the need of that Messiah. The Scriptures are through them but they are the more responsible for them because of it.

Aaron is to trust the Lord
This being the family of the priesthood what is true of Israel as a whole is some much the more true for that tribe, taken out from among Israel to have not the land but God Himself as their inheritance. They were elected for a purpose, but they must each come to trust the Lord.

Ye that fear the Lord speaks of Gentile converts
Nearly no one questions this. But to fear the Lord in a religious sense is not the end all. It is the beginning of knowledge but only that. We come to realize our need of a Saviour in fear. We come to find our answer for a Saviour in trust.

Oh whomever, wherever, and in whatever circumstance; trust in the Lord. He is your help and your shield. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Again

Mark 2:1 KJV
And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

There is some speculation whether the house here is that of Simon Peter but there is no speculation whether the city where Christ healed the man with palsy is Capernaum. The Bible says He entered there "again". Capernaum and indeed, this very house had been the scene of more than one of Christ's visits.

There is a kind of home that invites Christ in
Those who inhabit the home welcome Him and give Him space to do as He pleases within.
·         This is the sort of home where the Word of God is heard as it's dwellers read its pages
·         This is the sort of home where conversation surrounding the things of Christ is held in free course
·         This is the sort of home where the saving Gospel might work to see a number of people have their sins forgiven

But then there is the city, whose blessing of the repeated presence of Christ is repulsed
Again Christ came and again the doubters rebuffed the work of the Lord. Capernaum will soon hear Christ's woe pronounced upon her.

And so it is with the souls of so many.
·         Again and again Christ visits them with the opportunity to receive Him as their Saviour
·         Again and again His message falls on deaf ears and hardened hearts
Sooner or later those visits cease. Sooner or later a woe is pronounced.

Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not you hearts.

Tomorrow may be too late. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's a Matter of Faith


Mark 1:1-2 KJV
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

I have been recently watching the course on World History taught at Columbia University. The professor in lecture five, states that all of the extant writings of Mesopotamia and Egypt from the Biblical era far outnumber those of the Jews contained in the Bible. He then makes two contrasts and suggests one of them as the reason we are so familiar with the Bible and not the other writings:
  • First, the Bible is collated and collected as a unit while the others are merely fragments.
  • Second, the Bible is intensely religious in nature while the others are not so much.
The professor claims that the unified nature of the Bible is what made it so appealing while the non religious nature of the others makes them sort of refreshing.

The secular world would like to simply view the Bible as an historical document and then classify it as unreliable because it is so religious in nature. What they so often miss is that the Bible is not intended as an historical document (thought archeology has always proven that the history recorded in the Bible is accurate) but as a road map that leads to peace with God.

After the finalizing of the Old Testament and at the beginning of the Gospel, Mark immediately confronts us with the fact that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament purpose.
  • He is the hope of mankind, both Jews and Gentile
  • He is answer to the prophet's message

To view the Bible as an historical curiosity may answer the curiosity of the secular mind but it is to completely miss the point of the book. To discount that generations of both Jews and Gentiles over the course of thousands of years have seen the Bible as God's message of good news is to ignore the very purpose for studying history at all; to learn from our forefathers and to build thereupon. To see the Bible through any eyes other than eyes of faith is to prove the old adage, "The only thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history." 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Iscariotic Psalm


Psalms 109:29 KJV
Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.

Gill says the ancients used to call this "the Iscariotic Psalm" as it is a pronouncement against the betrayal of Christ by Judas. We should view this not as permission to pray for the cursing of our personal enemies then, but of those of Jesus Christ.

Gill also claims that the passage may be a hint at the grace of Christ. He says this might be a prayer for their repentance rather than their demise. Certainly Christ prayed even for those who slew Him.

Christians should be forgiving people, praying for those who withstand them, seeking their blessing and trusting God for their salvation. This does not mean we haven't a reason or a right to stand for truth.
  • Sometimes a brother or sister must be removed from fellowship
  • Sometimes one must be marked as walking disorderly to the Gospel
But in every case the Christian desire should be to see real repentance and a return to the truths God has set before us.