Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rebellious Children

Isaiah 1:2 KJV
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.

The emotion of the Lord in this passage is powerful. These were His people, His children.

He nourished themCreated them, gave and sustained their life.
As a parent who remembers the day of a child's birth and reflects on the investment of resources to meet the needs of the Child, God recalls How He had nourished Israel
With material needs in the wilderness
With food and water in miraculous ways
With protection from the enemies

He brought them up
Which has to do with raising and training. The nourishment would be more the physical type of resources necessary to maintain life. This has more to do with the training and development necessary to direct that life in the right ways. God not only met Israel's physical needs through those years, but He also gave them training and direction
Through the Aaronic priesthood
Through the leadership of Moses
Through the giving of the Ten Commandments and the OT law
Through the latter prophets
Through Kings David and Solomon and their contribution to the Word of God

And yet God says of Israel, "they have rebelled against me."

It is a sinful people laden with iniquity, who turn from those who have nurtured and brought them up.
It is true of those who rebel against the Lord
It is true of those who rebel against their parents and
It is true of those who rebel against spiritual leaders God has placed over them.

In some cases they style themselves to be leaders in their own right, believing that following God is turning from those God has placed in their lives to lead them. Sometimes those who have influenced us have made mistakes. And sometimes we must choose to obey the Lord rather than men. But when that means turning away from those who have taught us, it is a dangerous road to say the least and one to be traveled slowly, carefully and with great hesitation. It is never one to take with glee and exhilaration.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Make Haste

Song of Solomon 8:14 KJV
Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
Once again I am using this book of the Bible in the context that is most accepted among the believers; that it is a metaphor for Christ and His church.

In that context it is the bride, the church, that cries out this last plea, "Make haste, my beloved...."

And that is the prayer and cry of my heart today; that Jesus Christ would make haste

Make haste that the companions hearken to thy voice
Make haste that I hear of it and
Make haste to come again

The hope of the Christian is not that we will have a world revival and not that our governments will become better. The hope of the Christian is not for the right man to be elected this fall. The hope of the Christian is for Jesus Christ to come again.

Until that day we are to work for the Lord and
Until that day we are to watch for the Lord

But that day is the day of hope for the saint of God.

Make haste, my beloved Jesus. Make haste and come for us. Make haste and take us to Your heaven. Make haste and come quickly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Him Whom My Soul Loveth

Song of Solomon 3:1 KJV
By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.

The phrase "him whom my soul loveth" is found several times within this chapter. The story is believed to be concerning Solomon and his bride but it has long been taken as a metaphor of Jesus and the church. In that setting, the speaker here is the bride, the church and "him whom my soul loveth" in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Two things....

I wonder how dearly and deeply we love the Lord Jesus Christ?
My heart's desire is that I would love Him that deeply and that I would be able to both communicate and pass on that type of love to those I am blessed to pastor.

The phrase "I sought Him" is found two times in this verse.
If we love the Lord we will seek Him. Though there will be times when as we seek we feel as if we have not found Him if we love Him we will continue to seek.

We will seek Him at all hours of the day or night
We will seek Him about the city, in the streets and in the broad ways.
We will seek Him among the watchmen (I think this could be a reference to church)

We will seek Him without fail and
We will seek Him without fainting and
We will seek Him until we find Him

She sought Him and did find Him. So will we.

Monday, July 28, 2008

How Big is the God You Pray To?

Acts 4:24 KJV
And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

When the believers prayed, under such great distress, they based their prayers in this sure truth; God made all that is.

The One who created all is surely sovereign of all.

He made heaven
And only those that He permits will enter there. It is not a free for all where anyone and everyone can enter based upon the religion of their choice. It is a closed community and entrance is accessed through one door; Jesus Christ.

He made earth
This planet produces exactly what God has chosen it to produce and will do so as long as God chooses. This earth will survive and meet the needs of mankind as long as the Lord deems it to do so. There is no creature on this planet that God has not created, that God does not love and that God does not rule over.

He made the sea
And it meets the needs of mankind as it is mete. In the days of this writing, the sea seemed of greater importance than perhaps even in our day. It was their main means of transportation as well as a major source of food.

He made "all that in them is."Including every leader of their day. Including those who had crucified Jesus Christ. Including those who had threatened them not to speak in His name.

In short, God is sovereign over all. He is completely and absolutely in charge.

That is the God they placed their faith in when they cried out in prayer.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

An Unlikely Gift

Acts 5:31 KJV
Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
We think of the many gifts that God has given us. In fact, I am beginning to come to the place where I view everything as a spiritual gift; nothing is done in the power of man, either me or another.

But among those gifts of God, I doubt that we would often think of repentance as one of them, yet here it is. Christ not only gives forgiveness of sins but repentance as well.

Repentance is a change of mind that will result in a change of life. It is turning from the world and the things of it, to Christ.

And we are commanded to repent.
Acts 17:30 KJV
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

However, even that is not a workman may boast in. We do not repent in our own power and of our own volition. God gives repentance as a gift.

Neither does God wink at our ignorance to sin. Repentance is still commanded of us and expected of us. This gift of repentance is available to all who will hear the voice of God and call out to Him.

Thank God for each of His gifts.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bless You

Acts 3:26 KJV
Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
This passage tells us expressly how God desires to bless us; " turning away every one of you from his iniquities."
We may speak of a number of things we think would be blessings from God
Good health
Good job
Happy family
Nice weather
A fun experience
Plenty to eat

We could go on with things we consider to be blessings, some fairly frivolous, others quite significant. But God's Word says that God sent Jesus to bless people in a specific fashion.....
In turning away... his iniquities.

My first observation
This is truly a blessing; to have our iniquities forgiven. To be turned away from them. To no longer be under the guilt of iniquity. This is a blessing

My second observation
"Every one of you" So there is no one that God would not bless in this fashion, should they receive it. Not that everyone is forgiven.
John 1:11-12 KJV
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

The offer is available to all, but not all will receive it.

My third observation
Not just forgive our iniquities but turn away our iniquities. The one is a momentary event. When God opens our heart to Jesus Christ; when we see our sin condition and recognize Christ's Gospel as the remedy and we flee to Him, at that moment we are washed, we are redeemed, we are saved from our sin. But the other, the turning away from our iniquities, is a lifetime proposition.

And I submit that it is the greatest of blessings that God does not let us go, but that God pursues after us all our life to turn us away from sin
By the teaching and preaching of God's Word
By The chastening hand in whatever fashion He brings it
By the accountability and exhortation of the church He places us within.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Day of Death

Ecclesiastes 7:1 KJV
A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
Because the life story is now told.There are no more questions about what will become of this life. Some folks who have great promise mess up really badly in the end. A preacher was beloved all across the country and considered one of the great Baptist preachers of the century. All the while, we learn now, was molesting children in his school.

Because the worries of life are over.
Toils and troubles with finances, people, governments, illness and the like are all over. Even the lost, who have no hope, see the relief when a suffering person finally passes from this life.

Gill says, "It is indeed reported of some Heathenish and barbarous people in Thrace, and who inhabited Mount Caucasus, that they mourned at the birth of their children, reckoning up the calamities they are entering into, and rejoiced at the death of their friends, being delivered from their troubles:"

Because there is a real heaven that belongs to the child of God.
And since this is a passage belonging to the believer we may safely assume the Word of God is speaking from that standpoint. The day of death is certainly not better that the day of birth for a lost man. Far from being over, his troubles, now in hell, are just beginning.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It Is Not For You

Acts 1:7 KJV
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

"It is not for you to know...."
One commentary says this was a reproof
Another says that the question was "irrelevant to both their present business and future work"

Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, we have a god complex. The nature of the fall was the desire to "become as gods knowing good and evil." It is inherent in our sin nature to believe we have a right to know. Jesus told these believers, "it is not for you to know."

Our place is to submit to the wisdom and will of the Father and, like Abraham, obey the Lord, going where God leads "not knowing whither" He leads.

We do it in our business
We do it in our spiritual lives

Sometimes we nearly demand to know or we refuse to obey the Lord.

Not that we cannot ask
Nor is it wrong to search out a matter

2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
But after study and seeking the Lord, if God chooses not to answer, ours is still to obey and follow; trusting Him for the outcome and fruit.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The World In Our Heart

Ecclesiastes 3:11 KJV
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

My text for consideration is the phrase, "also He hath set the world in their heart." The word world can be used to refer to a great many things.

The material world: "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world."
The world system: "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life..."
The physical world: "the pillars of the earth are the Lord's and He hath set the world upon them."
The inhabitants of the world: "For God so loved the world..."

The word can also speak of something immense, without end, inestimable: "the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity."

It is in this last context the word is used in our text today. The Hebrew word translated world means, "concealed, the vanishing point, time out of mind" and it refers to eternity.

So in that context, the phrase means that God has placed within the heart of man an awareness of eternity.
We know there are things beyond us
We know there are things our minds can't conceive
We know there concealed from our eyes but nevertheless true and there
We know there is an eternity
We know there is life after death

Of course, there are those who pretend to have become educated past what they know in their heart. Their hearts tell them one thing; their educated (worldly) minds tell them something entirely different. I am convinced that for all the smoke they blow, in the end, what God has placed in their hearts is never completely squelched out. In the quiet moments; in those moments of pain and loss, the volume of the heart is turned up.

There are still others who seek for eternity in the wrong places. Satan has done his best to provide fallen man with as many substitutes for the truth about eternity as mankind might need to prevent them from finally arriving at the truth.

Thank the Lord for the Holy Spirit of God who convinces us of the truth. The mission of the Christian is simply to present God's truth about what God has already placed in the hearts of man.
Some will deny it is truth
Some will prefer a false truth but
Others will see the truth and be saved

Monday, July 21, 2008

He Saith True

John 19:35 KJV
And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

One of the most miraculous things about the apostles is that they would have this sort of confidence. John says he knows what he saw and knows that what he says about what he saw and heard and experienced with Jesus Christ is true.

I wonder how many people are not so confident. Such deception fills the minds of people today. We are influenced by such worldliness that even when we "think we do God service" so much of it is merely the wishes and whims of men.

John knew what he said was true. I see the importance of having a first-hand relationship with the Lord. As a pastor, I do not want to repeat the words of some other preacher. I can't afford to mimic or rehearse some other's work. I must hear from God personally. I must spend the time with Him to know that I have a message from Him. As church members, while God has ordained preachers to help us in our faith still. There must be that personal walk.

O Lord, grant that the people I pastor may know that what they say about you is true, not just because the trust me, but because they have personally witnessed the truths!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Are they of the truth?

John 18:37 KJV
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

The first thing that strikes the attention when I read this is the purpose for which Jesus said He came, " bear witness unto the truth." But the thing that I want to try to think about is this phrase, "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."

It seems very obvious to me that not everyone hears the voice of Jesus Christ. There are so many different views and opinions and etc about Jesus. It can even be seen in the bunch involved in His capture and trials....

Caiaphas and his crowd were blinded by their religion to Jesus Christ.Their concern wrapped up in thinking they did God service (so said Paul) was not for the glory of God, but for the good of their system. In this case, God became the obstacle to their established faith.

Judas Iscariot had walked with Christ three and a half years.
Yet he had no problem betraying Jesus with a kiss.

Pilate seemed sympathetic to Christ.
Not that he was interested in saving faith, but that he was not that interested in putting a man to death merely at the whim of the Jews.

In the end, though, none of them heard His voice.

There was one though. Peter had followed the Lord all of those years, and in a crucial moment had denied Christ. As the cock crew, Peter remembered the words of Jesus and God did something in his soul. There was a process of time that brought Peter through first his denial, then the devastation that Christ was dead, then the shock that He had risen, and finally, Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost and never denied the Lord again.

The fact is we can never make someone who is not of the truth hear the voice of Jesus. But there are some, who might have to go through a process before it bears fruit, but who hear His voice and follow Him.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Not Alone

John 16:32 KJV
Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

Here is my thought today; "I am not alone, because the Father is with me."

The statement, of course, is made by our precious Saviour. He is speaking to His very closest disciples. There can be no mistake to whom He is addressing. No one else is there. Even Judas Iscariot is gone by this time. It is Jesus and it is His eleven remaining apostles. Included in Peter, James and John; the inner circle. And Jesus says to them, "ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone..." And that is exactly what happened. Within hours the guards came, led by Judas Iscariot, Jesus was taken and the eleven fled. One of the disciples, presumably John, did go with Jesus into the palace of the high priest (John 18:15) but with that one exception, Jesus was alone to face the accusations, the mockings and the trials of the evening. Alone that is, but for the Father.

It might be important to consider the difference between the companionship of that one disciple, and the Father.

The companion is never named.
We almost always have someone in our lives who is there for us. They may be praying for us, they may be keeping an eye on us. They may be very concerned for us, but sometimes we don't know it. On the other hand, we can be assured that our Heavenly Father is always right there. He never leaves. We can call Him out by name as right with us.

The companion was as liable to the officials (and more vulnerable) than Jesus was.
Jesus could have called a legion of angels to save Himself if He chose. The companion's life was on the line just being there. God the Father, on the other hand, is invulnerable to the whims and wickedness of this world. We can call out to Him and He can help.

The companion was able to into the high priest's palace, but it is unlikely he went anywhere else.
Could he have gone back and forth to see Herod? Unlikely Was he with Jesus when He was given His cross? Probably not. He was limited in where he could and could not go with the Lord. The Father, on the other hand, was with Jesus every step of the way. During the trials, during the mockings, in both the house of the High Priest and the house of Herod. As Jesus walked up Calvary, His Father was with Him. When the soldiers pounded those nails into His hands and feet. The Father was there.

We are not Jesus, but we can experience the same assurance that we are never alone. Our Heavenly Father
Never leaves us
Never forsakes us and
Never forgets us

There is, in the account of Christ's passion, one exclamation of utter abandonment; when He cried, "My God, My God; why hast thou forsaken me?" And in that moment God the Father did, and Jesus Christ experienced, the most awesome act of grace man can ever learn of. Jesus Christ so identified Himself with our sins that His holy Father could not look upon Him. God the Father turned from Christ so that He would never have to turn from us. Our sins have been fully and finally judged in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

An Excellent Oil

Psalms 141:5-6 KJV
Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

This passage reminds me of
Proverbs 27:6 (KJV)
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

The Psalmist says those rebukes and reproofs of the righteous are “an excellent oil.”
· They minister healing and balm to the soul.
· They bring refreshment to the faith. and
· They do no harm to the relationship between the one smitten that the righteous man who has smitten him.

What a shame it is when we come to the place in our lives where there is no man who has such authority as to smite us in love. What damage we do to ourselves when we stiffen our necks at the faithful wounds of a friend.

May our Saviour make us tender and sensitive towards such rebukes that we may grow thereby.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

God's Thoughts

Psalms 139:17 KJV
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
These are the thoughts God has. The Psalmist say that the thoughts of God are precious to him.
Jer 29:11 (KJV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

That God has thoughts toward us is humbling. That those thoughts are good thoughts and not evil is supremely joyous.

John Gill
God's thoughts are infinitely beyond ours, and infinitely more valuable and more important, and are concerning our welfare and happiness:

C H Spurgeon
He thinks upon God's thoughts with delight; the more of them the better he is pleased. It is a joy worth worlds that the Lord should think upon us who are so poor and needy it is a joy which fills our whole nature to think upon God; returning love for love, thought for thought, after our poor fashion

I only know one source to learn God's thoughts; so this must be a reference to the very Word of God. And the Psalmist says from this Word he learns more of God's thoughts than he can even number. How rich and wonderful is God that He should give us this blessed book from which to know His thoughts. How we should delight in those thoughts written therein!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Longing for Home

Psalms 137:2 KJV
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
This whole Psalm speaks of Israel and their experience in the captivity of Babylon. The circumstances were the will of God. And God used those circumstances for
The good of Israel
The good of Babylon and
The good of future generations, through the prophecies that were written during that time and of that time

I see in this Psalm and in Israel's captivity a type of being Christian in our world today.

This world can mock our relationship with ChristThey "require of us a song." They don't believe in the God of the Bible, and they mock that we believe.

Sometimes we don't feel like singing the Lord's songs. But we have to remember that God gave them to us to help us through these times of captivity in this world. The world may mock our song, but we would do best to sing them even when the heart is so heavy we do not believe we can sing them.

We must fight forgetting our true home.
The Jews were tempted and indeed some of the Jews did forget that Jerusalem was their true home. When the decree went forth and they were allowed to return, many of them did not want to go. They had made their homes in the strange land.
What a tragedy when a Christian or a Christian's children forget our heavenly heritage. May God help us to have our hearts so set on heaven that it never escapes our thoughts and our lips speak so sweetly of it that our children learn to long for it as well.

This world will have its day of justice
Sometimes we, who are strangers and pilgrims, are so mistreated. This world can be a very cruel place for the children of the king. But there is coming a day when the Lord will pour out his wrath on this world. Ours is not to gloat over that day but to remember that if it had not been for God's saving grace we would be facing that day and so - by the grace of God - do all we can to spread God's grace through this world.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Psalms 133:1 KJV
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

This Psalm was written by King David and it is an interesting one to meditate upon because David experienced very little of the unity he expresses is such a good and pleasant thing.
He was separated early from his brothers as they condemned him for challenging the soldiers to take on Goliath.
He was a part of the separation of Israel when God chose him king of Saul. David always attempted to maintain the unity of the nation but was unsuccessful
He was separated from His wife, Michal when Saul gave her to another man
He was separated from the people when he was forced to flee to Achish
He led a divided kingdom even during those years when he was king of all Israel in that the northern tribes were always ready to take up a grudge against David.
He was separated from Amnon and then Absalom

Spurgeon marks that there is no hint of bitterness in this Psalm, but all is sweet and pleasant. A person may not experience the joy of unity to be able to sing of its wonderful praises. There is wisdom in singing about that which is right even when we don't see it for ourselves. There is wisdom in singing and worshiping God concerning what could be, even when it is not yet a reality. I see in this Psalm a picture of the saint's longing for heaven. We do not yet have it, but we know it will be wonderful, and we sing glad things about it.

Perhaps only in heaven will we see this unity among brethren genuinely fleshed out.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

That We Believe and He Be Glorified

John 11:14 KJV
Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
Lazarus, with his sisters, were some of the closest people in the Bible to Jesus Christ.
Yet Lazarus got sick onto death. (Yet Jesus said is not unto death.) And not only was Jesus not there, but He did not come right away when He heard. Not only that, but He also stayed away until Lazarus had died. It was Christ's intention that Lazarus die. But it was not Christ's intention for him to stay in the grave. Jesus both promised he would rise again and then Jesus made good on that promise.
Jesus said this entire episode took place according to verse 15
And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe....
As close as we may be to Christian there are those times when we feel like we are spiritually "sick unto death." In many of those times we call out to the Lord but we sense He is so far away. We might question
  • Why He is allowing this to happen
  • Why He won't answer our prayers
  • Why He won't draw near and help us
 But His intent is that we might believe.
  • Through our spiritual illness
  • Through the death of whatever would have been our dream
  • Then through the promises of God and
  • Through His eventual resurrection of that spiritual hope
We believe and the Son of God is glorified thereby.
Illness, the spiritual kind, is never ever pleasant. But it has the potential of such great glory after a while. Oh, that we would trust in Christ in those times!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It is Jesus

John 10:9 KJV
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

I can't help but be reminded through this passage that our life's focus should be on the Lord Jesus Christ.

He is the door of salvation vs 9
He is the good Shepherd vs 14
He is plainly the Christ vs 24-25
He is one with the Heavenly vs 30

The best of pastors can only be mere hirelings. We may stick with our flock most of our lives. We may do our best to protect and feed them, but we will always be merely underlings behind Jesus Christ and we will often fail the flock. Not so, Jesus.

It is Jesus
It is Jesus
It is Jesus

Friday, July 11, 2008

Confrontational Activity

John 9:14 KJV
And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

As offensive as it was to the Pharisees that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath, it is remarkable how often He did just that. And it could not have been accidental for nothing is an accident with God.

In John 7:23 Jesus said
If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? (KJV)

He was in fact, healing people on the Sabbath day on purpose. And I see at least two reasons why He would have done so...

First, to confront the Pharisees with their misuse of the Word of God
Over and over again Jesus brought this issue to the forefront. And over and over the Pharisee would have been confronted with whether their laws were the Word of God or just their own rules.

Secondly, to force them to consider the doctrine of the supremacy of Jesus Christ.Jesus is the "Lord of the Sabbath" He is not subject to the Sabbath, He created the Sabbath. He is God. He is Master. He is the Almighty. And the Pharisees needed to know that. Not that they ever got the lesson (at least for the most part; John 9:16 does say there was a division among them concerning Christ, whether He is a sinner or not.)

Truth does not necessarily have to be received for it to still be important to give it. Jesus did not shirk from delivering the truth even though the majority of men would not receive it. Some did.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Disciples Indeed

John 8:31 KJV
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

A few things caught my attention with this;
First, this is a bunch unique to those multitudes that had followed Him and then left Him in chapter six. We get distraught when those who claim to be followers walk away, but if we are true to the Word of God, there will be others.

Secondly, and more importantly, Jesus cautioned these that believed on Him. Believing on Him was not His only criteria. He was looking for people who would continue in His Word.

John Gill has this to say
This is the true test of Christian character. ; “he that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” In this place, Jesus cautions them against too much confidence from their present feelings. They were just converted - converted by a single sermon. They had had no time to test their faith. Jesus assures them that if their faith should abide the test if it should produce obedience to his commandments and true life, it would be proof that their faith was genuine, for the tree is known by its fruit. So we may say to all new converts, Do not repress your love or your joy, but do not be too confident. Your faith has not yet been tried, and if it does not produce a holy life it is vain....

True discipleship can only be proven with testing. Until such testing, we do not know if a professor is a disciple indeed.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Our Response to the Proud

Psalms 119:51 KJV
The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.

Psalms 119:69 KJV
The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.

Psalms 119:78 KJV
Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.

The Psalmist identifies his "enemies" as "the proud." These are those who have blinded eyes to Gods truth. These are they that lift themselves up above the Lord. These are they that refuse the reproofs of the Word of God for they view themselves as above them. Anyone who attempts to submit their lives to the Lord and His Word will find that the proud are against them.

The Psalmist says the proud have
Had him greatly in derision
Forged a lie against him and
Dealt perversely with him without a cause

But in every case the Psalmist's response was exactly the same. He leaned upon the Word of God. This is exactly what the Lord did when tempted by the devil. Even when Satan used the Word of God as his tool, and the proud can often use the Bible as their weapon, Jesus continued to lean upon the Word of God. A twisted use of God's Word does not negate the validity of the Word of God. It is valid and useful to debate the Word of God with the Word of God.

He did not decline
He determined to keep and
I determined to meditate upon

The Word of God despite the attacks of the proud.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Living On The Promise

Psalms 42:11 KJV
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

This Psalm ends with the Psalmist still cast down.
He has hope
He has prayer
He even may have confidence
That he will praise God again in the future. But at this very moment, He does not have that answer.

There is a kind of Christian endurance that continues its course regardless of either circumstances or emotions.
There is a kind of Christian testimony that is only developed when we continue on even though both body and mind are attacked.

Hope that is seen is not hope. So we cannot demonstrate this kind of hope when all is well in our world. And sometimes there are those who are able to point out in us that even though our life might be troublesome, if we have the propensity to be happy anyway, and so discount the joy and hope we have because it is our nature. So God must "cast down" even our souls or emotions, and our minds to demonstrate the testimony of the grace to continue even though the body and the mind and emotion are all overwhelmed.

I shall yet”....we shall yet “praise Him....”
This is a promise that is sure and secure. I shall yet. I shall yet. Praise Him.

Monday, July 07, 2008

He Himself

John 6:6 KJV
And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

What comfort!
What assurance!
What peace of heart!

Jesus Himself knew what He would do.

I know very few things that will happen. I know very little about what Jesus will do. But Jesus knows Himself what He will do.

This world is confusing.
The world is distressing.
This world is discouraging.

Things happen in this world that do not seem to make much sense to those of us who look at them with contemplation. There is so much that is contradictory to righteousness, holiness and to the plan of God.

But Jesus Himself knows what He will do. We can trust that. We can count on that.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Seeking Honor

John 5:44 KJV
How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
Gill says"...the honour that comes from him is, that
of being born of him;
of being a son or daughter of his, having that new name, which is better than that of sons and daughters of the greatest princes on earth;
of being made all glorious within, and clothed with gold of Ophir, with raiment of needlework, with the robe of righteousness, and garments of salvation;
of being translated into the spiritual kingdom of Christ, and made kings and priests unto God by him; of being set on the same throne with Christ, having on a crown of life and righteousness, and enjoying a kingdom and glory; being heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ..."

How deceptive are our hearts in that even we, who claim to serve the Lord and long for His honor only, have developed our own system of self honor. We become more interested in what our contemporaries in "the ministry" think of us than of whether we are doing right. We determine our course too often by what is accepted in our own circles than by what the Bible says.

Oh, to seek the honor that cometh from God only!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Conversation With a Sinner

John 4:7 KJV
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

There is a ton of great instruction in Jesus' interaction with the woman at the well. Today I am considering Christ's means of conversation and how He drew her to the truth.

First, Jesus spoke socially
Vs 7
He went to a social place and asked a social question. He asked for water. It is interesting that her first response was to ask what Jesus was doing in a place like that asking her a question like that. I wonder how often we as Christians go out of our own comfort zones to speak with sinners?

Second, Jesus spoke spiritually
Vs 10 and forward
The conversation moved from subjects of mere social consequence to subjects of spiritual nature. It is fine and good to begin conversations with sinners on subjects that are social, but we should not stay there. Jesus quickly transitioned the conversation into a spiritual one.

Thirdly, Jesus spoke scripturallyVs 19 and forward
Of course, everything Jesus said is the Word of God. But here the woman recognized she was speaking to a prophet. And the conversation transitioned again from a matter of a spiritual nature to specific matters of doctrine and Biblical truth.

While I doubt that we ever need to be too scripted in our conversations, yet to take note of this model in the Word of God, and to let it mold our conversational patterns would make a huge difference in our impact in our circles of influence.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Lord Is...

Psalms 118:14 KJV
The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

There is a natural three-point outline right here in this verse. The LORD is:

My Strength
God gives us the strength to endure those trials that are a part of the Christian life. God gives us boldness to press forward in the battle to win souls and to declare God to the nations. God gives us the power to live victorious over sins in our lives.

My Song
The reason to have joy and praise and song in our hearts is all because of the Lord.
This world will always disappoint us. There will always be trials and tragedies to deal with. The poor person struggles to eat and provide a roof over his head. Sometimes he neglects his children in his efforts to feed his children, which results in his children turning from their own father. The rich are plagued with all sorts of emotional and moral issues resulting often from the processes by which they have either made themselves rich or maintain their wealth. Their children often have difficulty justifying their prosperity, knowing they did nothing to earn it and are many times more rebellious than those who grew up with little.
But the Lord is the same yesterday and today and forever. He is always a grand reason to rejoice and breakthrough in song.

My Salvation
I think it is significant that it says, "...and is become my salvation." None of us are born saved. We must be saved. Salvation comes before the strength and the song, but salvation must happen. It is not automatic. It is not inherited. It is not accidental. When we know that the Lord has become our salvation, then there is strength and there is a song.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

THEIR Help and THEIR Shield

Psalms 115:9-11 KJV
Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.
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.

We have to be careful about applying passages that speak of Israel to the New Testament Christian, but there is in the Word of God a definite correlation as we are also the seed of Abraham. Our promises are somewhat different but God has not changed. It is interesting that the verses speak in the first person in the early part of each verse and in the second person in the last part.

So I find here an ever enclosing circle of admonition to trust in the Lord.

O Israel
This would be the household of faith, the family of God. These are those called out and chosen of the Lord. It is specifically true of Israel as a nation. But it is also true of all who have called upon the Lord as Saviour. Israel is not the only people who may trust in the Lord. I thank God that He has opened the way for people of every race and tongue to be born into His family. God is their help and their shield too.

O house of AaronWithin the people of Israel is a subgroup, the house of Aaron, the priestly family. All New Testament Christians are priests and ministers unto the Lord. But it is also obvious and true that God has called within the called, those He sets aside to minister unto the Lord by equipping and training the believers for the work of the ministry. God is their help and their shield as well.

Ye that fear the Lord
Among the people of Israel, there were those who were merely a part of the nation and those who feared and served the Lord. In our day, and among those who have called upon the Lord and Saviour there are those who are happy to live out their lives with Christ in the peripheral. But there are also those who love and fear and devote their lives to living for God. I am thankful that it is not just the full-time ministers who pour their lives into Christ, but that God has those faithful and loving believers who day after day go into the working places of the world and live out a life of christlikeness. God is their help and their shield also.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fuller Proof

John 1:50-51 KJV
Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

My attention is on the phrase in verse 50, "greater things than these."

Jesus goes on to tell us what those greater things will be. He says, " shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

These words were spoken to Nathanael (and I suppose Philip may have been there to hear them.) If Nathanael could see the angels of God ascend and descend upon Jesus Christ it would have had to have happened with spiritual eyes. The only references I can think of that would have hinted at this would be
When the Spirit of God descended like a dove at Jesus' baptism
When the angels ministered unto Jesus in the wilderness temptation
When Moses and Elijah spoke with Him on the Mt of Transfiguration

In each of these cases, it is unlikely that Nathanael would have been a witness. In one of them, it is sure that he was not.

Albert Barnes says these greater things would be a "Fuller proof, of His Messiahship, especially what is mentioned in [verse 51]"

John Gill says, "....sense is, that there would be immediately made such clearer discoveries of his person, and grace by his ministry and such miracles would be wrought by him in confirmation of it, that it would look as if heaven was open, and the angels of God were continually going to and fro, and bringing fresh messages, and performing miraculous operations; as if the whole host of them were constantly employed in such services...."

As we read the life account of Jesus Christ we too may see the angels ascending and descending upon Christ as each new event in His life gives us fresh and clearer discoveries of His person and grace. How I long for the Lord to open my eyes to see the spiritual workings of His hand, both in the Word of God and in our world today.

And I long to be able to impart that same vision to the people the Lord blesses me to pastor in this life.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Seeking God's Work

Psalms 111:2 KJV
The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.
This Psalm highlights the works of the Lord as objects of a reason for praising the LORD.

Those works are said to be
Honorable and Glorious
Verity and Judgment

Verse 2 says these works are "sought out of all them that have pleasure therein."

Those who would have pleasure in the works of the Lord seek them
In the sense of studying those works of the past
All that God has done and is recorded especially in the Bible but also throughout history become the source of study for the one who finds pleasure in them. We want to know
What God has done
Why God has done it
How God has done it and
In what ways we might apply the lessons in our own lives

In the sense that we look to see what God is doing in our own dayIt is easy to get so busy in life that we fail to observe the hand of God at work around us. Too often we misinterpret the events of our day and God's part in them.
We ascribe to Satan what God may have done or
To God what Satan has done.
We see the works of a man and say that God has done it

Or we do not acknowledge God's pat in anything we do. We claim credit for things that could not have happened had it not been for God.

The one who has pleasure in the works of God strives to see what God is doing around him.

In the sense that we long for and beseech God to work in our lives.
The one who takes pleasure in the works of God realizes that he can never be fully blessed unless God is working in him and through him. He desires not to do what he can and then feign humility in giving credit to God. He longs to see what only God can do.

And when we see God work and we have no explanation other than God has done it. We have great reason to praise the Lord.