Monday, March 31, 2014

The Way of the Lord

Job 28:7 KJV
There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen:

Job 28:23 KJV
God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.

I am reminded of Isaiah 55:5-8. The way of the Lord is higher than man.
  • It has never been seen by the fowl or trodden by the beasts
  • It cannot be purchased with the riches of this world
  • It cannot it be located with much education and learning
It is a wisdom that belongs only to God and can be gotten only by coming to God.


Oh that men would seek the Lord rather than the things of the world! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

If Only He Had Known.

Matthew 24:43 KJV
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

If only he had known.

So often is this true:
  • If only the man had known, he wouldn't have run that red light
  • If only henbane known he wouldn't have gone to that bar
  • If only he had known he would have taken his kids to church
  • If only he had known he would have paid more attention to his wife
On and on we could go with the list of what people would or would not have done if only they had known the negative consequences to their actions, or lack thereof.

The thing is, we do know.
  • We know running a red light is dangerous
  • We know drinking alcohol leads to no good
  • We know children (adults too) do better if they are seriously involved in church
  • We know marriages require time and attention
We know. We just deny that we need to worry about them for ourselves.

We know right. We just don't want to do it.

We know wrong. We just don't like rules. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Gold

Job 23:10 KJV
But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

I marvel at the faith Job demonstrates. In the midst of such terrible affliction he testifies he can't seem to find God:
  • He is not before him
  • He is not behind him
  • He is not at the left hand
  • He is not at the right hand
This is a time of terrible darkness. He wishes he had never been born.

But then he declares this affirmation; "He knoweth the path that I take. …"
Job could not see God but he was sure God saw him.  That really is the more important part. It is the difference between a child holding his father's hand versus the father holding the child's hand.

"When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
That would have been a tough truth to cling to right about then. But Job was settled on it. This trial would end. He would come forth from it. It would not last for ever. And when it was finished he would be far better because of it.

We know the end of this story and we know that this is exactly the way he ends. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Subtle Error of Job's Friends

Job 21:34 KJV
How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood?

The thought occurs to me that Job's friends answered Job much like Eve answered the serpent. Her words were not necessarily opposed to the words of God, but they weren't accurate either. One can find God's Word in her response but, when careful examination is made, we find that she both added to God's Word and injected a measure of judgmentalism that wasn't intended by God.

Job's friends spoke basic truth. Sometimes we read their words and have trouble seeing anything other than the truth in them. But Job insists there is falsehood in them, and he would know better than us. The falsehood exists:
In the attitude in which their words are given
These were meant to
  • Accuse
  • Demean and
  • Judge
Job. Though they had no evidence of wrongdoing or sin in the life of Job, their arrogance could not conceive of any other explanation for his suffering.

In the lack of balance in their words
Like Eve, they added to what was known of God a harshness that doesn't exist in the Word of God.


We must be careful that we are not guilty of the same error. When we apply God's Word in a tone of harshness and judgmentalism we turn the truth of God's Word into a lie.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Comfort Trap

Matthew 21:15 KJV
And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,

The word wonderful is used slightly different in our day than is was here. We think of wonderful as being extraordinarily good. In this case the word refers to the wonders or miracles that Jesus did. The chief priests could call them wonders, using the term to refer to His miraculous deeds, but they did not view them as good. 

But we live in this present generation and we think of the term, wonderful, differently. Without detracting from the original meaning, and the teaching it brings to us, I can see value in reading this word with our present understanding. After all, the God who declares the end from the beginning knew how we would come to think of the term. 

Now consider this then; Jesus did many extraordinarily good things. Even owing to the difference in word usage, we cannot look at His ministry that day and not see it was extraordinarily good. It was so good that the children were crying out and praising God because of it. It was extraordinarily good. But the chief priests and scribes ignored the goodness of these deeds to focus only on the impact they would have on their own religion.

It is too easy for us to get into that same trap.
  • We have made plans. 
  • We have established patterns. 
  • We have assumed positions we are comfortable with
And Jesus, even if He does extraordinarily good things, sometimes threatens to demolish what we have come to depend upon. 


We must learn to depend upon the Lord and not those things we are familiar and comfortable with. Let us go forth, without the comfort of the camp, to follow Christ. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

No Need to Stand Idle

Matthew 20:2 KJV
And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

Matthew 20:4 KJV
And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

Matthew 20:7 KJV
They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

There is no need for any Christian to stand idle. The Lord calls us all into His service and fields. There is work for each of us to do as witnesses in the harvest fields of Christ. We can be sure that He will reward us with whatsoever is right. The only ones who were disappointed were:

  • The ones who had an expectation before they began
  • The ones who negotiated with rather than simply trusting the Lord
  • The ones who watched what others were getting rather than focusing on what God was giving them

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What Do We Get?

Matthew 19:27 KJV
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

Peter's question is directly related to the previous teaching that salvation is an impossible thing. Jesus said that the rich hardly enter into the kingdom of Heaven and that it is easier for a camel to through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Astonished, the disciples could not reckon how any man could be saved.  Jesus' response was that it is impossible for men to be saved, but God does the impossible. 

Peter picks up on this and asks, in the light of the God who does the impossible, what shall be the reward of these who had left all and followed Him? (Remember that was His instruction to the rich young ruler - he had left sorrowful, they had not.) The implication is that the stipend for forsaking all to follow Jesus is a treasure of impossible proportions:

  • There is a throne
  • There is authority
  • There is a reward and
  • There is everlasting life

Monday, March 24, 2014

What a Question!

Matthew 18:1 KJV
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

What a question!

These are the men who will one day be the foundation for the Lord's church. These are the men who walked with God every day and yet, in personal times together their concern was which one got to be the greatest. 

That this was an obviously errant concern becomes apparent by the Lord's teachings that follow. And that the spirit of much of today's Christians is off track, concerned about greatness and who has it is obvious from the offerings of most Christian periodicals. 

The issues that ought to concern us and those the Lord offered to them in response to their question are much different:

  • Child like faith
  • Avoiding offences
  • Seeking the lost and
  • Forgiving others

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Worth Standing For

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.

There are some things not worth standing for. 

Concerning the Temple Tax the Lord emphatically said that He was free from paying it (and implied the same for Peter- they were not strangers to God but children). But then Jesus instructed Peter to pay the tax "lest we should offend them".  He did not have to pay the tax but this was not an issue worth standing for. 

Sometimes we get the idea that every issue of right is an issue worth living, dying, going to jail or offending others. After all right is right; anytime, every time. That is true. But to offend, to do battle to take a stand over some issues tends to distort what is the more important issue which is the soul of lost men. 
  • To fight over a political issue
  • To fight over an authoritative issue
  • To fight over a tax issue, is some cases
  • To fight a moral issue
is to lose sight of the soul issue. 


To seek and to save the lost; to glorify God by preaching clearly His Word. These are the issues worth standing for. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Talk Show Faith

Job 17:12 KJV
They change the night into day: the light is short because of darkness.

This passage reminds me of those who call evil good and good evil. Job says that his friends claim that daylight and prosperity and good things are just around the corner when in truth the darkness of God's judgment is coming on fast. 

They remind me of the talk show hosts who claim that hard work, capitalism and conservative politics can make everyone in the United States prosperous. I realize they are merely entertainers. Their particular brand of entertainment is to tell their audience what they want to hear; namely that liberals are evil and America is still the land if opportunity and promise. But the fact is America, like the rest of the world, is dangling over the precipice of the judgment and wrath of Almighty God. We may have a few more hours of daylight. There might me another wave of prosperity and opportunity. But we should never lose sight of the Bible teaching that the wrath of God "abideth" upon men who hold the truth of God in unrighteousness. Judgment is nearing. Repentance is necessary. We don't need to change our politics; we need to change our mind and heart about God. 


Job's friends would have had him believe the dawn of daylight was near them. He knew that darkness was fast approaching. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Father Never Stops Caring

Job 15:10 KJV
With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.

We know that Job was a concerned and involved father. His grown children mattered to him to the extent that he offered sacrifices for them daily. His interest in their spiritual well being compounded the pain of his loss at their death. 

Here we learn that Job's own father, though aged, was still alive. Supposing that the time of Job's life was the same as that of Abraham's, it is reasonable to think of Job's father as living upwards of 120-150 years. If job had learned, as most people do, his parenting skills from his father, then it is also reasonable to assume his father was concerned for Job in his time of suffering and pain. The absence of his father from the narrative is no essential indication that his father was unaware but only that he was incapable of solving his son's tribulations. The Biblical example keeps families, especially in this era, tightly connected under the patriarchal influence of the
  • Father
  • Grandfather and in some cases
  • Great grandfather
The spiritual father never stops praying for his children. He never ceases his concern and never quits his spiritual influence over his children. He may not have the capability to protect his children from mishaps and prevent them from trials. But he offers his prayers, care and spiritual wisdom as long as he has breath on earth.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Lord Loves the Whole

Matthew 14:15 KJV
And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
Matthew 14:22-23 KJV
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

In another demonstration of how the ways of man and God are different, here we find what is a request of the disciples contrasted with what is the action of the Lord. 
The context is the death and burial of John the Baptist. It would be difficult to miss the importance of the connection between the two:
  • They are cousins
  • John baptized Jesus
  • John prepared the way fir Jesus ministry
  • John pointed out Jesus as "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world"
  • John began the very ministry of preaching and baptizing that Jesus took up
Yet when John was killed and buried, they told Jesus about it. He did not even attend the funeral.[1]

After hearing of John's death and burial, Jesus took the disciples apart but they were followed by this multitude. Jesus ministered to them but when evening began to wear on the disciples, supposing they had an opportunity here to be alone with the Lord, asked Him to send them away for food, lest they be hungry. It backfired. Jesus told the disciples to give to the multitude what they needed to eat. 

And then Jesus did the polar opposite of their request; He sent His disciples away first and was then left alone with the multitude. What He said and did we will never know this side of heaven. It seems that it was personal enough that He dismissed all of those who would be commissioned to record the life story of Christ before this last bit of ministry to the multitude.

Especially when we have been hurt in some way, we can start to think that God's concern should be all about we who are His closest followers. Here we learn that, even when we are in our most painful experiences, the Lord loves the whole:
  • Those who are only shallow followers
  • Those who only follow for what they can get
  • Those who will never leave a mark on the world, even
  • Those who will in the end reject Jesus Christ and send Him to the Cross




[1] They did have funerals and people did attend them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Blessed Are Your Eyes

Matthew 13:10-17 KJV
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

The disciples demonstrated a natural and reasonable concern that some people could not understand the teachings of Jesus Christ. Every Christian should long that every man know and understand the message Jesus came to give. How could a Christian ever be so heartless as to know the saving grace of God and not care that another does not know it?

Jesus' response to them is not what the Calvinist would have us to think; that God callously gives the truth to whom He would and denies it to those He would have to be cast into hell. Rather Jesus simply declares the fact that some will hear and receive His teachings and others will not. It is not heartless but realist. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. His love extends to all the world so that whosoever shall call upon the name of The Lord shall be saved.[1]  He would have all men to be saved.[2] But He is not stuck in a cycle of endless ineffectiveness because many do not get saved. He would have all men to be saved, but saves those men who come to Him. 

Once Jesus had given the parables the Bible says His disciples asked Him to declare unto them, or explain to them the parables. The multitudes went away but His disciples stayed for more.
  • He would have explained the parables to any who longed to understand His Word, but only did explain it to those who stayed near to hear the explanation
  • He would have taught them all, but He didn't get discouraged and quit teaching them because most went away without an explanation

I know many people I would love to see saved and growing in Christian faith. But I am not going to quit serving the Lord waiting on them. I have many loved ones I pray will be born again. But I am not going to quit trying to win others until they are born again. There are dozens of people I pray will one day be faithful in coming to church. But I am not going to quit thanking God for and enthusiastically preaching to those who do faithfully attend.




[1] Romans 10:13
[2] 1 Timothy 2:4

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An Appeal to Seek God

Matthew 12:33-35 KJV
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

The fruit in this context has to do with the spoken word. The word, having proceeded from the heart is good from a good man and evil from an evil man. The evil man may say good words, but because it proceeds from an evil heart, it is, in the end, evil. A good man, whose heart is good, will not often say evil things, but when he does, will quickly repent and make right. Sugar doesn't make poison better but salt does enhance the flavor of the sweet. 

Now, a man cannot make a tree into what it isn't. A sour apple tree will always produce a sour apple. Neither can a man make an evil heart good. This is a work that can only be done by God.
  • Religion
  • Hard work
  • Reformation

Can only trim a tree or make a man look well on the outside. God must be at work for the tree to change and for the heart of a man to be made new.  Therefore this passage is not an encouragement to work at reformation but one that urges men to seek God. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Point of Faith is to Believe God

Matthew 11:14 KJV
And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

Jesus gives a piece of truth that the listener was likely to reject; that John the Baptist:
  • The same man who had pointed Christ out as the Lamb of God
  • The same man who had baptized so many in the Jordan
  • The same man who had stood up to the king
  • The same man who was at this time imprisoned because if it, indeed
  • The same man who would soon be beheaded

This same man was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Malachi.
  • The Pharisees commonly believed that Elijah would be resurrected to preach to them
  • The Sadducees did not believe the Scripture would be fulfilled in any real way
At any rate, John the Baptist just did not fit into their scheme of what a God should do. 

We often reject what us the truth if God's Word because we gave already decided what should be the plan of God.
  • Sometimes we want God to do something more literal, more dramatic, more obvious than He chooses to do
  • Sometimes we find God's promise difficult to receive exactly because it is so dramatic, obvious and literal

The point of faith is to believe God.
  • If He chooses to work through "moving in the tops of the mulberry trees" or a whirlwind; either is His choice
  • If He calls us to advance, risking all or if He leads us to set camp and wait on Him, either is His choice

Our place is to listen and trust and receive what He says.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Freely

Matthew 10:8 KJV
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

The disciples had been freely given both the power to do the miracles Jesus instructed and the gospel message they were to preach. They did not come by these things through any merit of their own, it was completely of God. Since they had done nothing to deserve these things they were then obligated to give them in like manner; freely and without regard whether they were deserved. 

We may apply this principle to:
  • The gospel that we have received
  • The resources God has blessed us with and
  • The health and vitality of our life

While I note that these were all directed toward the spiritual so our efforts should be toward the same, still when we view each of these free gifts from God, we find more liberality in the sharing of them. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

His Own City

Matthew 9:1 KJV
And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.

This is not Bethlehem where He was born or Nazareth where He grew up and from whence the disciple had placed Him, "Jesus of Nazareth". It was a fulfillment of Scripture that He should be called a Nazarene. But this passage speaks of Capernaum, where he had recently moved having, I presume, been invited by Peter or one of the other disciples who had been fishermen there and who owned a home there. 

This tells me that any city may be "His own city" if there be people there to invite Him in. It is not that it must be:
  • The majority of the city or even
  • The officials of the city
because neither was the case at Capernaum. It need only be that there is someone in the city who ask Him to abide with them. 

Remember that He had been forced out of the region of the Gadarenes. Though He had cast the demons out of the man in the tombs they would not suffer Him to remain with them. Even the demoniac did not invite Christ to stay but requested that he be able to go with Jesus.


If Jesus is to claim a city someone must ask Him to abide with them. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Quick to Pray

Job 7:17 KJV
What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?

Chapters six and seven comprise what is Job's response to Eliphaz. But a perhaps not so subtle distinction takes place between the chapters (remember that the chapter divisions were added much later.) in chapter six Job addresses Eliphaz but in chapter seven Job is speaking in prayer to God. So sudden and subtle is this shift that, if it were not for the chapter division a casual reader might not notice it happened. 

I attended a preaching conference earlier this week in which one of the speakers transitioned so suddenly from his introductory remarks to a prayer asking for God's blessing that it took me a moment to realize it happened. This takes place here in Job and I wonder if Eliphaz and the other friends might have been taken a but by surprise too?

This seems to me to be an excellent example of how near the believer's walk with God ought to be. Should it not be that we are near enough to God that we may turn to speak to him at any moment. In the intensities of struggle we are often pressed to focus on the battle.
  • The accuser
  • The opponent
  • The aggressor
becomes the center of our attention and that focus often causes us to loose sight of God's presence.

Moses, however, when accused, knelt to the ground and immediately began to pray. His attention was on a God and not the accuser. Nehemiah, when pressed by the king why his countenance was sad, prayed to the God of heaven. His attention was on a god and not the king.
To walk with a God:
  • As Moses did
  • As Nehemiah did and
  • As Job did

That us our goal.

Jesus Touched Him

Matthew 8:3 KJV
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

John Gill writes, "This is a wonderful instance both of the grace, and goodness of Christ, in touching this loathsome creature; and of his unspotted purity and holiness, which could not be defiled by it; and of his mighty power in healing by a touch, and with a word of his mouth"

Grace
A man cast away from the rest of the world, through no fault of his own. A disease he would have much preferred to no have had left him, as Gill says, "a loathsome creature". 

Holiness
God is so holy, they say, that He cannot be in the presence of sin. Indeed our sins separated us from God; but not from Jesus. He could not be defiled even by this terrible disease.

Power

So holy is Christ that the disease fled. Rather than His holiness being infected with the disease, the diseased was cleansed by the power of holiness.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hypocrites and Heathens Pray

Matthew 6:5-7 KJV
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

No, they are not the only ones who pray. This passages is neither teaching that real Christians do not pray in public places or that real Christians only pray the "Lord's Prayer" of this text. to is teaching that real Christians can lose the point of their prayer life and turn it into something those who are not Christians can do. 
  • Any lost person can recite some words.
  • Any religious person can learn to make a fair show in public
The Christian learns to concern himself with neither. His interest is in the Lord and not in the ritual. He prays publicly when it is appropriate but his public prayer life is bolstered by his hours of prayer in his private closet. He prays importunately and frequently asks the Lord for the same thing, but his repetition is not rote. His are prayers of necessity and purpose. He prays until a God answers.


The real Christian does not need to be seen of men when he prays because he knows he has been heard of God. His prayers are specific, personal, pointed and can be answered.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Behave Like Children

Matthew 5:45 KJV
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The Bible uses the term children or sons of God to describe a variety of aspects of our relationship with God
  • We are born again as sons of God
  • We are adopted as His sons
In this case, as we imitate the character of God we take in His appearance. 


No man is saved by imitating the work of God any more than a child can become the son of a man other than his own father by imitating his actions. As children of God, however, obedience to these teachings give us the likeness of the One who has adopted us into His own household. It is not essential for the adoption but it is essential if anyone else is to recognize that we have been adopted. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Thing that I Long For

Job 6:8 KJV
Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!

Job wishes for death of which Gill says it is, "...desired by good men from a principle of grace, and with right views, to be rid of sin, and to be with Christ, yet it often is done by persons in melancholy, sullen, and humorous fits, when they cannot have what they would..."

The thought occurred to me that, though he did not know it at the time, God had every intention of granting him the very thing he desired most:
  • Blessings
  • Children
  • Health
and in the end,
  • Freedom from sin and
  • To be with a God
Circumstances can make us desperate and bring us to the point of breaking but God is at work in granting that which we earnestly desire:

  • A life well lived
  • A testimony that endures
  • A purpose for being and finally
  • A home with Him in heaven