Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Words Do Good

Micah 2:7 KJV
O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?

One of the true tests of the child of God is that the Word of God does them good. There are in the Bible
Words of warning
Words of instruction
Words of encouragement and
Words of promise

They all do good to the Child of God. He or she finds blessing and help in their lives.
We find blessing in the warnings as coming from a loving Father who desires our best
We find blessing in the words of instruction as being infallible and without question the right course for life
We find in the words of encouragement that very thing they offer and we find in the words of promise hope for the future, knowing they spring forth of a God who is perfectly capable of keeping all He has promised.

Now the man who does not know God has no such comfort from the Bible.
Those promises means little to him
Those encouragements are a mere joke to him
Those words of instructions are ignored by him and
Those words of warning are an offense to him.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Better Promises

Hebrews 8:6-8 KJV
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

God examined the promises associated with the Old Testament covenant and found fault with them. So God has given us a new covenant that includes better promises.

Better than being a great nation
Better than having a great kingdom
Better than having good leaders

God has promised us
To be in the likeness of Christ
To be joint-heirs with Christ
To dwell in the same place as Christ
To inhabit the very righteousness of Christ

And these are promises not negotiated by our good deeds, but by the goodness and grace of Almighty God.

What a blessing!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Man With the Promises

Hebrews 7:6 KJV
But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
The Bible says of Abraham that he was the one "that had the promises." Abraham was not greater than Melchisedec, the priest to whom he paid tithes, but Abraham was, without question, a great man in that he "had the promises."

And I cannot help but want to thank God today for those promises that we too have.
We have the promise of salvation in Christ
We have the promise of closeness to God the Father
We have the promise of cleansing from our sins
We have the promise of an infallible Bible
We have the promise of a home in heaven
We have the promise of rest and peace with God

Abraham, the man with the promises, was blessed of the better. And we, who possess so many promises, are also a very blessed people.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

God Is Not Unrighteous

Hebrews 6:10 KJV
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
It has occurred to me that this chapter has to do, not with losing one's salvation, for that can never happen, but of the doctrine of perseverance. The truly born again will demonstrate that new birth by the fact that they do not "put Him to an open shame." God's children
"drink in the rain"
"bring forth herbs" and
"receiveth blessing from God"

False professors, however, bear thorns and briers and are, in the end, rejected and burned.

Then the writer says, "....beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation..."

Of those who are saved the Bible says, "...God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His name..."

What a blessing it is to know that God has never forgotten.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Would Rather Be Gracious

Jonah 4:2 KJV
And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

Here is an incredible thing; Jonah is angry at God for being too gracious and merciful. Jonah's preference would have been that God kills the Ninevites. And Jonah said his sole reason for fleeing to Tarshish was because he knew God would be gracious and merciful to them. He knew God to be
Slow to anger
Kind and
That He would repent of evil

And that is the last thing Jonah wanted God to do for these people.

As a preacher, I would rather be known for being gracious, kind and slow to anger rather than quit to wrath and judgment. And I have upset some folks over the years because I did not deal with people either as quickly or as aggressively as they would have liked me to.

If people are going to be angry with me; I would like it to be that I have some of the qualities of godliness.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Work at Rest

Hebrews 4:11 KJV
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

This passage always causes me to pause. We are to labor to rest. We are to work at resting. The rest and peace and comfort of God does not come through laziness and by accident. It is something we must choose and pursue. In that light I see three tools to move me toward rest:

The Word of God
vs 12
If I am to have rest I must be in the Word of God. And I must be in it consistently enough that it can do its work. I must not look at a few of my favorite verses and call that good enough. I must be in the Word of God, cover to cover, regularly.

A dogged persistence
vs 13
I have learned that when I begin to lose that rest of God, the last thing I want to do is hold on. I want to quit what I do that is right. I want to go to sleep and stay there. God's Word says what I need to do instead is to hold fast.
Hold fast my Bible reading
Hold fast in prayer
Hold fast my church attendance
Hold fast my service to the Lord

Don't lose hope and don't let go. Keep on and God will give us the victory

The throne of grace
vs 16
If I am to have rest in my life I must find it at the throne of Grace. I must live at that throne and only make forays into the world to win souls and give witness of Jesus Christ. If I am to have rest I must obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Hebrews 3:13 KJV
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

I see in this the importance not only of faithful church attendance but of a regular, consistent and even daily fellowship with people of the faith and especially with the people of our own church.

The deceitfulness of sin is so powerful that without almost constant exhortation, encouragement and correction any one of us is likely to
Give in to sin and having done so
Be deceived by that sin so that
Our hearts turn hard and cold against the things of God

It is not merely enough to spend a couple of hours a week in church services. We need to have daily contact with our brothers and sisters in Christ so that
We are warned about sin before we taste it
We are turned from the sin before it can deceive us
We are helped to walk with God before our hearts get hardened

Our doom is spelled out whenever we decide we are strong enough to walk with God without the aid of others.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Least Grain

Amos 9:8-9 KJV
Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.
For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.

I love the assurances of mercy that are sprinkled throughout the Old Testament. Israel's sin was apparent and God would not ignore it. Still, God has every intention of keeping His promises to that nation. Though they would be sifted in the sieve of troubles, God said that every grain of good wheat would be kept.

And so it is in our lives today. God allows troubles to come but those troubles are not designed to utterly destroy us but to refine and purify us. They are designed to blow away the chaff in our lives so that when God is finished all that remains is the grain.

I am reassured by the fact that almighty God is well able to keep us and preserve us. Though it may seem as if the sieve itself will destroy us, God's Word on it is that even the "least grain" will not fall upon the ground.

I'll take God's Word on that!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Preacher's Heart Is Always for Good

Amos 7:8-10 KJV
And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:
And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.
Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.

It is so often remarkable what people will remember and what they will forget. Twice previous to this, Amos had prayed and God had repented to destroy or judge Israel:
Amos 7:2-3 KJV
And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord GOD, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD.

Amos 7:5-6 KJV
Then said I, O Lord GOD, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.

But when Amos gave the message of the plumbline, Amaziah took offense and said Amos was out to get Israel.

A preacher's heart, as is the Lord's is never to "get" anybody. The desire is always for the good of people. But good can only eventually happen when people repent of their sins and turn from them to the Lord. That requires, first that they are warned (that is the preacher's task) and secondly that they be chastened (which is God's place). Israel will eventually be brought into an eternal fellowship with Almighty God. Unfortunately, multitudes of souls will be suffering in eternal hell because they did not turn when they were warned.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Seek Him

Amos 5:4-6 KJV
For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.
Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.

Amos 5:8 KJV
Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:

Amos 5:14 KJV
Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.

God says in Hebrews 11:6 KJV
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Our church theme this year has been "Diligently Seeking Him" and I have striven to make it more than a mere slogan, but the thrust of my preaching all year long. That is why I have been amazed, as I have read my Bible this year, how often the subject of seeking the Lord may be found.

The encouragement to seek the Lord is clearly here and
The reward of seeking the Lord is plainly written

So why is it God must say of us, Romans 3:11 KJV
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

My prayer for our church is that we would heed the encouragement and press toward the reward and, as Amos urges us, “Seek Him that......The Lord is His name."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Heretick

Titus 3:10-11 KJV
A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

These are very strong words coming from a man who had just said
Titus 3:2 KJV
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

As gentle as we are to be as believers, there are those we must have no fellowship with.

The word heretic in the earliest days meant someone who is self-willed. This is one who does as he chooses. Over the course of time, it has evolved to mean someone who holds doctrinal positions contrary to that of the church. Let's just stick to self-willed; a heretic does as he wants regardless of the teaching of his church.

The word reject means, "beg off" or "have nothing to do with." This one who does as he pleases and has been warned about his error should be shunned. Gill says, "...have nothing to do with him; have no society with him; admit him not to private conversation, and eject him from church communion..."

The word subverted means "to pervert" again Gill says, "...overturned and demolished; he is like an edifice, that is not only decaying, and falling, but is entirely everted, and pulled down; so that there are no hopes of a restoration or recovery..."

It is my conviction that great damage has been done to the purity of our faith by those who refuse to practice this. We have gone so far that we have "self-willed" preachers who ignore clear teaching in the Bible so they may continue to teach and preach and they are not only not rebuked, but Christians still flock to their congregations, having no discernment of right.

Lord help us to be gentle and meek and speak well of men. But teach us at the same time to be soldiers for the truth.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sound Doctrine

Titus 2:1 KJV
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

Titus 1:9 KJV
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Titus chapter one says the preacher must preach sound doctrine. Chapter two says he must also preach things that "become" sound doctrine. The word "become" means in the Greek to "tower up" or to make something conspicuous and comely.

It is not only important that Christians believe the right things, but it is also important that they behave in a way that makes what they claim to believe look appealing. Woe is the day in which we live where almost anything passes as appropriate behaviour for a Christian! We have drinking, immorality, immodesty dishonesty and a number of other sins openly practiced by people who claim to be Christians. We have rebellious children, lustful husbands, and wandering wives, all telling us they believe Jesus is their Saviour. It ought not so to be.

And it follows (and is the point of this chapter) that the preacher must not only preach messages of theology and doctrinal truth but must then also bring instruction to his congregation concerning proper behaviour of the child of God.
He is to preach to the aged men
He is to preach to the older women
He is to preach to the younger men and women

No one is to be left out. No age group, no social class is to be excluded. His task requires he not only preach doctrinal truths but that he also instruct the members of the church how to behave in a manner that is becoming to his message.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Does Our Life Support or Deny Our Profession?

Titus 1:15-16 KJV
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

I do not know how a person would get around this clear teaching of the Bible. It is possible for a person to profess a relationship with God, but for their lifestyle to tell a whole different story.

The context is speaking of those giving heed to Jewish fables (vs 14) but the application can go far beyond that. The apostle also speaks of the Cretians who are "alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies."

Here is the Bible fact; those who know God live in a way that supports their claim that they know God. There will be a demonstration of godliness that, rather than denying their claim, gives testimony to the truth of their claim.

Are Christians sin-free? No! The Bible is clear that Christians will fall, fail, and in other ways, sin. There is plenty of evidence of New Testament era Christians with all sorts of personal problems and sins that caused shame and reproach to the work of Christ. So I am not implying nor is the Bible teaching that a Christian must be or can be sinless. But a Christian's life ought to bear testimony of the faith they claim to possess. And when a man's works deny that he knows the God he claims, he must be warned and rebuked sharply concerning that.

Monday, November 17, 2008


2 Timothy 4:2 KJV
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

My thoughts today are on the word "instant."

That we are to preach the word is understood.
That we are to do it both in season and out of season (when it is convenient and when it is not) seems easy enough to comprehend.

But the word "instant" is used in an unusual way for our modern language and I suggest that most of the time we assume an understanding of the word because of its context. We usually say it means something like, "be ready to preach all of the time."

Strong’s Concordance says the Greek is
From G1909 and G2476; to stand upon, that is, be present (in various applications, friendly or otherwise, usually literally): - assault, come (in, to, unto, upon), be at hand (instant), present, stand (before, by, over).

Smiths Bible Dictionary says
Instant, In the Authorized Version, means urgent, urgently or fervently,

Webster's 1828 Dictionary says
1. Pressing; urgent; importunate; earnest.
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. Rom 12.
2. Immediate; without intervening time; present.
Impending death is thine and instant doom.
3. Quick; making no delay.
Instant he flew with hospitable haste.
4. Present; current. On the tenth of July instant.

Clarke's Commentary says,
Wherever thou meetest a sinner, speak to him the word of reconciliation. Do not be contented with stated times and accustomed places merely; all time and place belong to God and are proper for his work. Wherever it can be done, there it should be done...

My conclusion:
Be fervent - filled with passion
Be urgent - recognizing the danger to those who do not heed the message and
Be quick - preaching without hesitation

Sunday, November 16, 2008

No Saviour Beside Me

Hosea 13:4 KJV
Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no God but me: for there is no saviour beside me.
Unlike the majority of the tribes of Israel, Ephraim was born in the land of Egypt. God was not just the God that brought him out of Egypt; God was his God from his very beginning. Ephraim's father, Joseph was the most faithful; it appears to me, of all of the sons of Jacob. Ephraim would surely have been taught to know the Lord God from his childhood in Egypt.

And this God, who had been Ephraim's God from the first, told them,
thou shalt know no God but me
There were dozens of gods people followed in those days. And perhaps there are hundreds more in our day. We may not use the same names for them, but they still exist.
The sun god who keeps people out of church on nice days
The snow god, who keeps them out for ski trips
The river god, who can keep them out fishing
The gods formed by men's hands, that must be washing and waxed on the weekends
The god of prosperity that requires men worship it seven days a week, so there is no time to worship the Lord.
And on we could go with the false gods of this world. God says we are not to know any God but Him.

for there is no Saviour beside me
God provides the best of reasons for this command; there is no Saviour besides Him.
No other religion
No other activity
No other dedication
No other interest

Is able to save a man's soul. God's desire for us is for good, always for good. He does not command us to remove anything from our lives that are good for us but expects us only to follow His guidance for our best.

The reasoning of our minds and the pressures of this world seldom can understand God's intention and heart. Just as Eve came to believe, through the serpent's influence, that the fruit God had withheld from them, was to be desired, Satan's influences in the world today also bring us to believe those things God restricts us from are good to be desired. Don't you believe it! God's only intention is for our good and our salvation.

Proverbs 16:20 KJV
He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.
The man who will trust in the Lord will always be a happy man.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Them That Are His

2 Timothy 2:17-19 KJV
And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Just a couple of observations
There were, in that early church, already some who twisted and made the whole thing look horrible.It is not impossible today to meet people who want nothing to do with Christianity because of those whoa re a part of Christianity. It seems too bad to me that the church is not able to prevent people like Hymenaeus and Philetus; but if the church under the leadership of men like Paul was not able to prevent them, neither will we. And since the Lord did not prevent them - and He is well able, then perhaps there is more good done through the controversy o them that we suppose.

Sometimes the simplest of principles are often overlooked.Gill says of the phrase "overthrow the faith of some" that it is, ".... of nominal professors of religion; not of true believers, for true faith cannot be overthrown..." That is a true statement and we get really messed up theologically when we forget it.

"...the Lord knoweth them that are His..."What a comfort those words bring to my mind! To know that the Lord knows whether I am His or not; wow! What a blessing! But those words also have a certain terror too. The Lord also knows them who say they are His, but are not.
He knows the pretenders.
He knows the deceived.
He knows those who believe they belong to Him because of some good or religious deed they have done.

To be His: that is the true test of faith. And those who are His cannot be overthrown though they surely will be tested.

Friday, November 14, 2008

God's People Cannot Rejoice

Hosea 9:1 KJV
Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.

God's people are not as other people. The people of the world; those who are unsaved, will sin and rejoice in their sin.
They will find pleasure in things that are completely wicked.
They will ignore the pangs of guilt until those pangs no longer exist. and
They will often not only find pleasure in such sin, but they will profit in it.

Not so the people of God. While we do rejoice and find joy in Jesus Christ,
We rejoice that our sins are forgiven
We rejoice that Jesus loves us
We rejoice in the blessed Word of God.

We can never rejoice in our sin.
It chastens us
It convicts us
It condemns us

And when we ignore those pricks of conscience rather than finding profit, we find our God refuses to allow us any pleasure or profit from it.

We have, and will always have, only one option; return to the Lord. (Hosea 6:1)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Power of the Illustration

Hosea 7:4 KJV
They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.
After I finished preaching last night my wife told me she liked those messages best where I use illustrations. She jabbed just a little about the fact that I don't always use them. My reply was that I only use illustrations when the Lord gives them to me; I don't go searching for ways to make them up.

This morning's Bible reading brought me to this passage where our God uses an illustration to make his point. In fact, a large number of the prophets brought their messages by way of illustration. And this illustration illustrates both the strengths and the weaknesses of illustrations.

Of course, the strengths of using illustrations to reinforce a message are obvious. People are able to picture the truth through the familiar. I used an illustration in my message from Hebrews 6:17-20 last night with a boat being anchored. The boat is our hope of eternal life. The anchor is Jesus Christ who has already entered into heaven. The boat is fastened to the anchor by not one, but two immutable ropes; the promise of God and the character of God (He cannot lie). In my mind's eye, I can immediately picture that boat, the two ropes extending from it into the waters of life and reaching all the way to the anchor now firmly fixed in heaven.

But this is also the weakness. I am able to picture that because I have been in a boat that had two ropes fastened to the anchor in a strong current. It would not be impossible that there is someone else who has no experience in a boat and who is therefore not so able to picture it. Our text gives the illustration of a baker who has kneaded his bread and is now letting the leaven raise it. While I can make that picture in my mind, I have to study the text better to tie it together with the lesson that the kings and princes are all adulterers. An illustration is only effective on two conditions;
That the hearer already understands the connection or,
That the hearer is willing to research to make the connection.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Return Unto the Lord

Hosea 6:1 KJV
Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

Just a few observations
First, the Word of God makes no bones about the fact that God tears and smites. There is
No shame
No embarrassment
No justification of it

It is simply a fact in the Word of God. Our God has torn His people.
In many cases, he does it as a form of chastening. Judah's captivity in Babylon is just one example of that. In other cases, God has torn to prove His own glory. Job is a case in point. Job was smitten, I know, by the hand of Satan, but God absolutely allowed it to happen. We do ourselves no real good to try to hide or explain away these facts. Our God is God. If He chooses to tear, He is righteous in doing so.

Second, the Word of God says the same God who has torn, also heals and binds us up.
Some people stumble at this and cannot conceive of a God who would do both, let alone do both and still be all good and all righteous. Attempting to apply our standards of goodness and righteousness to God is to usurp the role of God. God is good and God is righteous because He said He is. He is the standard by which we measure goodness and righteousness or else we have made ourselves God above Him.

Thirdly, we are called upon to return to Him in either case.
Are we in a time of healing and blessing? Let us come to Him with thanksgiving and rejoicing. Are we in a time of trouble and heartache? Let us come to Him and seek healing and anointing and a binding up of our wounds.

The right answer in life is always, "Come, and let us return unto the Lord.."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Blessing of Reproof

Hosea 4:4 KJV
Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.
Barnes Notes say,
...God had made it a part of the office of the priest, to “keep knowledge” Mal_2:7. He had bidden, that all hard causes should be taken “to Deu_17:8-12 the priest who stood to minister there before the Lord their God;” and whose refused the priest’s sentence was to be put to death. The priest was then to judge in God’s Name. As speaking in His Name, in His stead, with His authority, taught by Himself, they were called by that Name, in Which they spoke...

It is uncanny to me how much our generation appears to be like the Jews of the later part of the Old Testament. There is
The same spirit
The same arrogance toward God
The same rebellion against he man of God and
The same distrust caused by so many wicked men pretending to be men of God

God had designed that the priesthood has authority but this generation had come to the place where they rejected that authority and would strive with the priests in their judgment. In our day it seems like a pastor has no authority. The people are so willing to reject his word and other churches are so quick to accept them into their church as a blessing of God, that no one is really held to any account.

At least one way to understand this verse is that God told the prophet to refuse to reprove people for their sins because they would not receive it anyway. The lack of reproof is seen in this light as a curse. It is not a good thing when God will not let His preacher confront his people for sin. It is a blessing that God gives us a preacher with authority and who may reprove rebuke and correct us.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Abide Still

1 Timothy 1:3 KJV
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

Paul had previously sent Timothy on to several other cities for various ministries. But here in Ephesus, Paul asked a new thing of Timothy; he asked that he would stay there and continue on in the work at this one location.

There comes a point in a person's life where God will likely have them to "abide still." They have moved around enough. They have tasted the waters of different streams enough. It is time for them to settle in a do a work for God.
This is true of a physical location
This is more true of sound doctrine

There comes a point when we must stop toying with the winds of doctrinal change tat blow all around us and where we settle in and abide with "no other doctrine." Not that it was ever safe to experiment with such things but, given the nature of the flesh, so many feel like they have to find out what is out there before they settle in with what is sound. So if a person must flit around in the early days, there is still a place where they must settle in and stay with sound doctrine.

There is no virtue in gadding about through life. Abide still.
Abide still in an occupation that is honorable and provides for the family
Abide still in a local church that opens the Bible and honestly calls on its members to heed it
Abide still in the doctrines of our forefathers and in the practices of sound Christianity

These are the things that lead to stable consistent and Christ honoring spiritual growth.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Be Honest With the Bible

Daniel 11:20 KJV
Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
I read this passage on the Sunday following the elections and was reminded of how important it is we are honest with the Bible. The winners of both the presidential and gubernatorial elections this year are both raisers of taxes. And in my imagination, I can find these elections in this text.

Our former president can be seen in verses 15-19.
He stood in a glorious land
He did his own will
He used his strength to enter in wars
His office appears to have ended with obscurity. The Republicans running for election did all they could to distance themselves from him.

Our president elect is a proponent of raising taxes. (vs 20)
But no matter what he does as president, even if he is re-elected and is in office for 8 years, he will eventually be replaced not in anger, not in battle, but be vote.

And the one to follow him will be a more vile person (vs 21)
This is the way of the world. It is not getting better but worse. I have no idea who will even run for president the next time; but I know he (or she) will not be a godly person.

But the point of all this is that this is just imagination. The passage almost certainly has nothing to do with our nation, but with the Middle East and with the coming of the Anti-Christ. We have to be very careful that we let the Bible say what it says and that we do not allow our imaginations to interject into it something that is not the intent of the Lord.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mercies and Forgiveness

Daniel 9:9 KJV
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;

While the word belongs (or belongeth) is added by the translators for clarification, I am of the conviction that it belongs in the text. That said, the theme of belonging is a focal point in this prayer of Daniel's.

To the people belongs "confusion of face...because we have sinned against thee." (vs 8) It is proper for us to rehearse both to ourselves and to the Lord what is our rightful possession. And what we deserve is always "because we have sinned against" God. Our problem is always in relation to our standing with God, not with our own selves and not with others. So it does not matter that we believe something to be all right nor does it matter that others condone our thoughts and actions. Sin is always against God so God's view is the only one that matters.

To God belongs:

  • Righteousness (vs 7)
  • Mercies and
  • Forgiveness

God is always righteous which is the basis for why our sin issue is with God. We must settle with that truth. He is right and He is righteous. Once we have come to be convinced of that, then God's Word declares God is also:
Compassionate and tender. His mercies toward us are new every morning. O how God loves His people! That does not dismiss His righteousness and justice, but it is still a very real truth. God's compassion toward us longs to reach out and embrace and bless and minister grace to us.

Webster's Dictionary says that the original meaning of forgiveness is the rejection or the putting away of the offense and the application of that is the forgiving of the offending person. The first act in forgiveness is not just a different attitude toward the offending person but the rejection of and refusal to hold on to the offense. Forgiveness requires that the offense not be taken into consideration.

God owns that type of forgiveness.

  • It is His property
  • It is His possession and
  • It is His to righteously give as He pleases

For further thoughts on forgiveness click here:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Saints of the Most High

Daniel 7:18 KJV
But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

Daniel 7:22 KJV
Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.

Daniel 7:27 KJV
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

The days described in Daniel are speaking of the Tribulation time, a period such as the world has never seen, so terrible. Much worse than the days in which we live; heads of governments much worse than we can imagine leaders of our day to be. Granted, it is a day that could happen at any moment, but it is also a day that the Christian need never fear living through.

Yet the Bible says, as terrible as those days will be, "...the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever."

The saints of the most High always have reason for hope.
The saints of the most High always have reason to look up.
The saints of the most High always have reason to focus their attention and efforts upon the Lord

For a time today, it appears that evil men possess the kingdoms of this world. But God's people will take possession of them again soon enough; if not temporarily in our age, one day permanently in God's millennial kingdom.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Interpretation Thereof

Daniel 5:8 KJV
Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.

1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Belshazzar's wisest men could, the Bible says, neither read nor interpret (or understand) the writing of God on the wall. That reminds me of the fact that God's Word, the Bible can only be received by a spiritual person. The wisest men in this world will gain nothing from the Bible if they are not godly men as well.

They could not read the writing.
A man who has no real relationship with the Lord will find he is not able to read the Bible either. Oh, he can read the words, but the motivation to spend serious time with the Bible will not be there. He may pick it up a moment or two and look at a couple of verses but that will be about all. He might try to read the Bible, but his mind will wander to other things he finds more important or interesting.

They could not make known the interpretation.When the man who has little or no relationship with God does manage to read a little of the Bible, he will find the book lifeless to him. They will be just so many words.
There will be nothing that gives comfort
There will be nothing that gives direction
There will be nothing that feeds his soul

But a spiritual man; now that is a different story. The spiritual man craves the Word of God. He esteems it better than his necessary food and when he reads it or hears it preached, it always has what he needs.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

When Understanding Returns

Daniel 4:34 KJV
And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
This is a sobering as well as encouraging chapter.

God gave Nebuchadnezzar warning about what God was about to do to him.
God gave Daniel understanding concerning how best to present the interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar and then
God gave Daniel to the king to plead with him to repent before the chastening began

Unfortunately, Nebuchadnezzar did not heed Daniel's message. What a heartbreak it is to a preacher when he can see the hand of God at work in a person's life but they refuse to repent as God is calling them to do.

The preacher may plead
The preacher may express brokenness himself

But the person does not make things right with the Lord.

And then comes the day of judgment.
For Nebuchadnezzar, it lasted seven long years.

The encouraging thing was that even after so long a time, there still came that day when "mine understanding returned unto me."
I know some very dear people who have gone off in directions I have warned them about. My prayer is that, in the process of God's time, their understanding will return unto them and they will then repent. I would sure like it if it did not take seven years!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Labor in Vain

1 Thessalonians 3:5 KJV
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.

Barnes Notes (on Galatians 4:11) help explain the Apostle's words
His fears were that they had no genuine Christian principle. They had been so easily perverted and turned back to the servitude of ceremonies and rites, that he was apprehensive that there could be no real Christian principle in the case. What pastor has not often had such fears of his people, when he sees them turn to the weak and beggarly elements of the world, or when, after having “run well,” he sees them become the slaves of fashion, or of some habit inconsistent with the simplicity of the gospel?

A preacher’s joy and delight is to see souls respond to the Gospel and turn to Christ. Conversely, their dread is that those who have so turned, turn back to their old lives and prove themselves to be false professors.

The preacher is not in the ministry for the outward show of accomplishment, but for the eternal souls of men. And he has no human way to know if his work has been successful but by the faithful behaviour of his congregation.

What fear the preacher has that, after having preached the Word of God - he learns there was no true saving faith in the lives of his congregation.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lessons in Ministry

1 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV
For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

1 Thessalonians 2:10 KJV
Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

1 Thessalonians 2:11 KJV
As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
This whole chapter is very descriptive of the ministry of the Apostle and of what our ministry ought to be.

What it was notOf deceit
Of covetousness
In guile

His ministry was upfront, honest, and for the glory of God not the praise of men

What it was

His ministry was one of integrity. He lived what He preached. More; God had so changed him, he did not have to "fake it" this is what he was.

How it was
An exhortation
A comfort
A charge

We probably cannot do these well until the top two things are true of us. But this is the ministry and we should concentrate our ministry upon them.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Our Gospel

1 Thessalonians 1:5 KJV
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

Paul had ownership in the gospel he preached. He did not just say "the gospel" but "our gospel." This gospel belonged to him.
It was the gospel that had saved his soul
It was the gospel that had changed his life
It was the gospel that Christ had taught him
It was the gospel that he had preached to others
It was the gospel that others had embraced with him
It was the gospel that those who teamed with him proclaimed

This gospel was not only his gospel but
It was the gospel of those who were on his traveling team.
It was the gospel of those in the church at Thessalonica

And it was the gospel that had come in more than mere words, but "in power and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance." May God make that true of the gospel I preach today.

And then Paul said to them "we were among you for your sake." May I never forget that I come among men and women for their sake. This is not about me. It is about winning others to Christ and about ministering to the children of God in the name of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Conditional Promises

Proverbs 1:23 KJV
Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

What a wonderful promise this verse contains

I will pour out My Spirit unto you
The Spirit of God which brings peace joy love longsuffering, gentleness goodness meekness temperance and faith
The Holy Spirit of God which gives power for service and victory over sin
The Spirit of wisdom which guides and gives direction in decisions and choices through life

I will make known my words unto you
There is nothing that brings such blessing as does illumination from the Word of God. When everything else seems to be failing, a clear message from the Word of God can sustain us. The Word of God, made known unto us truly is milk, meat and better than our necessary food.

But it is necessary that we pay close attention to the condition of the verse,
Turn you at my reproof
As challenging as it is to be confronted and reproved, that is the main message of the Bible; man is a sinner and must repent of it.

God help us humbly accept His reproofs.