Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of the Year

My family has ended the year in a blur of activity. December 29th marked the 25th anniversary of my ordination into the Gospel ministry. It has been a huge joy to have served the Lord these many years and I trust the Lord will allow me to continue to do so for many more. I have heard of some now who have felt as if the ministry has been a burden to them. They have changed the way they do ministry because it was so hard on them to keep the old paths. I have found my greatest joy in preserving the paths of those who have gone before me rather than wresting a ministry and twisting it into something new and strange.

This year, December 29, my oldest son, Bohannan was ordained into that same Gospel ministry. It is my prayer that he will have the grace to continue in the course which was set for him, not by his father, nor by those who sat on the ordaining council, but by our forefathers in the faith, yea, even Jesus Christ Himself.

Christmas morning we received word that my wife's dad was forced to make a very difficult choice. He required a life-saving surgery, but in the end, doctors told him he could not survive that surgery. He elected to discontinue dialysis treatments and to let his body die. My father in law drew his last breath near 10:00 pm December 27th. My wife was among those at his side. His funeral will be on January 6th, 2009.

I also received word Christmas morning that my great uncle, Larry Williamson had died that morning. Uncle Larry was as joy filled and kind of a man as I have known.

Amid it all, we had more snowfall in our neck of the woods than is normal and life slowed to a crawl pace because of it.

I was able to continue my daily walks with the Lord but was not able to record them on the blog as regularly as I like.

The Saddest Saint in the Scriptures

Genesis 19:14 KJV
And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

I am calling Lot "the sorriest saint in the Scriptures." The Bible says of him,
2 Peter 2:8 KJV
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

So I know these two things about him;
First, he is a righteous man. Not in his actions, but in the sense that God had justified him.
Second he was vexed in his soul day by day.

He is, in our terms, a Christian. But he is a miserable Christian. Every day is a vexation and misery to him.

He had traded the power of God in his life for the ability to be an influence in Sodom. And in the end, he had
No influence over Sodom
No influence (power) over his sons in law
No influence over his wife and
No righteous influence over his surviving daughters.

He thought he wanted the wealth and prosperity of the well-watered plains. He thought he wanted the prestige and prominence of sitting in the gate of Sodom. But it was not as grand he thought it would be and, even sitting at that gate, he was vexed, filled with sorrow and emptiness, and died alone frightened and no doubt ashamed.

Can a man be saved and choose the filth of this world? Apparently. But it is not worth it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Even There

Revelation 3:4 KJV
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

I focused my attention on those words, "even in Sardis." The only good thing I can find that the Lord said about this church is that there were still a few names there which were not defiled.

The Word of God makes the church in Sardis sound like it was in the most awful of state. It had the name of a church "that thou livest" but it was in fact "dead."

But in this most terrible situation, God said there were some who had not defiled their garments. While there is such a thing as the importance of our corporate testimony as a church, and if a believer has the option he should unite himself with a church that has a living testimony, still, each of us are responsible for our individual testimony. We might look within our church and find people who are not living for the Lord. Yea, it could be our church as a whole has taken a course that is contrary to the Lord. Still, each Christian may stay undefiled and is held accountable to do so.

Our days are growing evil. I do not know that we will be raptured to heaven in my lifetime, but it certainly appears like that could be the case.
Evil men are waxing worse and worse.
Christianity is turning less and less powerful as so-called churches proclaim the name of Christ but compromise with this world in order to gain the world.
The Gospel has been so distorted that even those who would be sincere students of the Bible are preaching a shallow form of Gospel.

But even in these days of evil, it is possible for a few names not to defile their garments.

O Lord, let me be one! O Lord, let the church I pastor be filled with them!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Pilgrim Character

Revelation 2:13-14 KJV
I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

Scofield's Notes say
The doctrine of Balaam .... was his teaching Balak to corrupt the people who could not be cursed. tempting them to marry women of Moab, defile their separation, and abandon their pilgrim character. It is that union with the world and the church which is spiritual unchastity. Pergamos had lost the pilgrim character and was "dwelling" "where Satan's throne is," in the world.

One of the most dangerous things that can happen to us as Christians is that we can become comfortable in this world. We have reached a level of acceptance by our world and for the most part, so long as we are not too aggressive, the world lets us alone and tolerates us. We are able to win enough people to our viewpoint that we have constructed some pretty nice places of worship and put together a pretty decent living wage for a fairly large number of Bible teachers. And we feel like we have achieved some level of success as evangelizers in this world.

But we, in so many respects, lost our pilgrim character. O Lord, help us to repent and return to being simple strangers and pilgrims in this world!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Revelation 1:12 KJV
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

"And I turned to see...."

I long to see souls turn to see Jesus Christ.

This may have been a natural reaction.There is a voice from behind and it is addressing you. Your natural inclination is to turn

This may be a reaction of shock
The voice of Christ, the Bible says was as the sound of many waters. That would startle and turn us.

This may be the spiritual reaction
John was "in the Spirit." He was listening for that voice. He was prepared for it.

Whichever is the case, being turned he saw Christ. What a need there is today for souls to turn from their sin, turn from the self-interests, turn from the business. Turn from the prejudices. Turn from the preconceived ideas about religion. And see Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Heart Problem

Genesis 13:9-11 KJV
Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

It is interesting to me that, had Lot chosen the other land, besides where Sodom and Gomorrah were, Abram would have taken the land Lot chose and Abram would not (at least I think I can presume) have sinned in doing it. The trouble was not the location. The trouble was a heart problem.

Lot made the choice he made selfishly and soulishly. He saw fleshly benefits in the east and made his choice for those benefits. And doing so, it vexed his righteous soul.

When will we ever learn to live on choices that are based on spiritual principles and the leadership of the Lord? Following the Spirit of God, the saint may live anywhere and be blessed and used of God. Following the flesh, the carnal person can find trouble and vexation anywhere in the world, and the best of locations can be the source of their undoing.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Seven Duties

Jude 1:20-23 KJV
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference:
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

It seems to me that it is very difficult to keep a balanced Christian life. We either focus so much on our relationship with Christ, that we neglect any service to others or else we focus so much on our duties and service that we forget to walk with Christ. While Mary chose that more needful thing, to sit at Jesus' feet; what Martha did was needful too (just not as needful).

So Jude ends with seven duties for the saint:
1. Build yourselves up
2. Pray in the Holy Ghost
3. Keep in the love of God
4. Look for the mercy of our Lord
5. Have compassion on some
6. Save other from the fire
7. Hate even the garment spotted by the flesh (this means being afraid that as we strive to help others, we don't get carried away in their sin ourselves.)

The duties encompass both things that have to do with personal spiritual growth as well as things that have to do with ministering and serving others in the name of Christ.
Four of the duties could be considered "Mary type"
Two of the duties could be considered "Martha type."
The final duty is "Mary type" in the performance of "Martha type."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Elder

3 John 1:1 KJV
The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

The Apostle John, here toward the last years of his life, does not address himself as an apostle, but merely as the elder.

There comes a point in a man's life when he realizes his title means very little. What is most important is how he has lived his life and what he does with his life. John, it seems to me, had come to the place where he was more about who he was in Christ than what he was in relationship to church leadership.

He may have come to this place many years previous to this, I don't know. But he had gone from being one of "the sons of thunder" anxious to strike down anyone who did not follow. To being simply "the elder" the old man.

I want to be in the spiritual place where what matters is my walk with Christ, not my position of authority over others.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Truth

2 John 1:1-4 KJV
The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

John loves "in the truth."There is a love we ought to have for all people; but genuine and Christian love is "in the truth." We love them for our mutual love of the truth.

John writes "for the truth's sake."Which should be the motivator of every Christian action.

Grace mercy and peace come from God the Father and Jesus Christ "in truth and love"
I am going to receive these treasures from the Lord as I find them in the Word of God, which is the truth.

John rejoiced in those "walking in truth."
We are not servants of the Lord vainly. We desire to see souls grab the truth and walk in it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Spirit, the water and the blood

1 John 5:8 KJV
And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

So much focus is placed upon verse 7, the truths that are found in it and the fact that the verse is deleted from the other versions, that I do not know that enough time is spent on verse 8.

The context begins to flow in verse 5 with the words, "believeth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." and continues at least to vs. 13 and the words, "that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."

In between the Bible gives us the record of
The Father
The Word and
The Holy Ghost

These three are one God. And these three confirm to us that we "may believe on the name of the Son of God.

And the Bible gives us the witness of
The Spirit
The water and
The Blood

These three agree together and once again confirm Christ as the Son of God.

The Spirit speaks of the witness of the Spirit of God in our soul as to the truth concerning Christ. God places within us HIS confirmation that Jesus is the Son of God.

The water speaks of Christ's baptism. Though He did not need to be baptized to go to heaven, His baptism offered the testimony of
John the Baptist, who had come as Christ's forerunner
Jesus Christ Himself who said "thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."
The Spirit of God Who came as a dove and lighted upon Christ and
God the Father, who testified "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

The blood then speaks of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
The testimony of His crucifixion was so powerful that the centurion, who had undoubtedly witnessed the deaths of countless men, said "Truly this was the Son of God." and
The testimony of the empty tomb after Christ's resurrection offers irrefutable evidence that Jesus Christ is God in flesh.

Monday, December 22, 2008

We Are of God

1 John 4:6 KJV
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

Albert Barnes says
John here, doubtless, refers to himself, and to those who taught the same doctrines which he did. He takes it for granted that those to whom he wrote would admit this, and argues from it as an indisputable truth. He had given them such evidence of this, as to establish his character and claims beyond a doubt; and he often refers to the fact that he was what he claimed to be, as a point which was so well established that no one would call it in question.

What has happened in our day when so few are willing to believe a preacher is "of God" and there is such uproar when a preacher would claim to be?

It seems to me that the people of the church want to believe that a pastor is just guessing about
right and wrong
good and evil
righteousness and wickedness

And they are therefore under no real obligation to hear him. The preachers of the past would not have tolerated such. Apostle Paul's authority was questioned, but he refused to be still about it. He expected, as does Apostle John here, that his position before the Lord be acknowledged.

A pastor today is not all powerful nor is he infallible. But neither were the Apostles of so long ago. But they were "of God." And while there are false teachers today just as there were in those days, there are preachers today who are just as much "of God" as were those of Bible days.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

From Thy Face

Genesis 4:14 KJV
Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

Cain said that the punishment was greater than he could bear. Part of that punishment was that God, "hid His face" from him.

The greatest curse that a man can experience is the curse of having nothing to do with God.

There are two consequences to this curse that still impact our lives today.

One, man does not have same communication with God that he had at one time.
Even after Adam and Eve were driven from the garden, God still spoke with Cain personally with him. That was no longer the case after the murder of his brother.

Two, Cain likely no longer was motivated to seek the Lord.God's Word does say
Romans 3:11 KJV
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Because of Jesus Christ, the Lord is come to seek and to save the lost. A way to God has been opened through Christ. However, God's face is still hidden from most people. The god of this world has blinded their minds and they do not or will not see God.

Lord, open the eyes of the blind.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Can God's Love Be Perfected?

1 John 2:5 KJV
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

Sometimes the vagueness of a passage of the Bible gives us options of interpretation, each one having some significance and help to us in our walk with Christ. I see benefit in exploring every possible option of interpretation as long as we remember that these are options and that we may not hold to any one of them too dogmatically.

This is one of those passages whose interpretation is vague enough that good students of the Bible come up with a few different understandings. I was curious this morning how the love of God could be perfected.

First, this does not mean that God's love has degrees of perfection and maturity.God is love. All His love is perfect love. It needs nothing to build it. It can ever be greater than it already is because it is the source of all love. God loves because He chooses to love and not because any of us can earn his love.

Gill says this is referring to man's love for God, which does need perfecting.
Our love for God waxes and wanes with circumstances of life. We might grow deep in our love for God during a time of crisis and we know we have nowhere else to turn, but when things become better in our life, we slide back into the rituals of life and religion. Or it might be that during a particular time of real blessing we reach out to the Lord in gratitude, but when a tragedy happens we might recede into ourselves and our relationship with Christ grows dim. When we keep His Word our love for God becomes more even and level keeled.

Clarke says the love of God is perfected in the offering of Jesus Christ.
Not that God's love for us has grown more intense since Jesus became a man, but that love has been expressed in its fullest sense through the incarnation.

Friday, December 19, 2008

One Another

Malachi 3:16 KJV
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
God's people, the Bible says, speak often one with another. What an important concept this is.
It is important for our mutual encouragement
It is important for our growth in the things of Christ
It is important for our victory over sin

As busy as life is in our day, speaking often with our brothers and sisters in the Lord is becoming more and more of a challenge. But it is a challenge that must be surmounted.
We must speak often with one another at the church house
We should speak often with one another in perhaps the forms of letters and phone calls
We should speak often with one another in personal visitations

As much as this world draws us away from Christ and those things that tend to godliness, it is the most important thing in the world that Christians spend large amounts of good time together.

May our Lord help it to be so in our congregation!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hard to Understand

2 Peter 3:16 KJV
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Peter refers to the writing of Apostle Paul and admits that there are some things in the Word of God that are "hard to be understood." He is not denigrating the Word of God at all, but he does cite for us a danger. When parts of the Bible are difficult to understand.
Unlearned men may draw erroneous conclusions from them and, worse
They may lead others away in their errors.

Albert Barnes comments,
The evil here adverted to is that which arises in cases where those without competent knowledge undertake to become expounders of the word of God. It is not said that it is not proper for them to attempt to become instructed by the aid of the sacred writings; but the danger is, that without proper views of interpretation, of language, and of ancient customs, they might be in danger of perverting and abusing certain portions of the writings of Paul. Intelligence among the people is everywhere in the Bible presumed to be proper in understanding the sacred Scriptures, and ignorance may produce the same effects in interpreting the Bible which it will produce in interpreting other writings.

I am afraid that we have propagated a whole generation of pastors who, having never been properly trained in the skills of
Ancient customs, and
Sound doctrine

Unwittingly abuse the Scriptures to produce the desired influence on their followers. The goal in most churches, it seems to me, is to use preaching to get people to behave a particular way and not to give people the whole truth of God's Word.

I want to know how to properly understand the Bible and then I want to honestly proclaim that Word, regardless of the outcome.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

That Day

Zechariah 14:9 KJV
And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

The day we Christians look for;
The day the Lord shall be king over all the earth.
The day there shall be one Lord and His name one.

But it's not today.

The confusion that has been created by all the different forms of worship have given rise to much evil speaking about the Lord.

2 Peter 2:1-2 KJV
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

Between the growth of heathen religions in our current world and the (maybe even worse) rise in worldly forms of Christianity, it is no wonder that there is little respect for the things of the Lord. God can barely be seen through the haze of pernicious religion.

Our only recourse today is
One, to point to the one and only living God. To move away from the worldliness of religion today and come clearly to Jesus Christ. It will be a lonely place since even fundamental Christianity is merely a business today. But it is the only way to point some to know the living God and not a church system.
Two, to wait confidently for the day promised in Zechariah. God never did promise us success in this world anyway. He gave us hope instead for a world to come.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Poor of the Flock

Zechariah 11:11 KJV
And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD.

Scofield's Notes says,
The "poor of the flock": that is, the "remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom_11:5) those Jews who did not wait for the manifestation of Christ in glory, but believed on Him at His first coming, and since. Of them it is said that they "waited upon Me," and "knew."

In a world that often focuses on greatness and worldly successes, those who are engulfed in those things seldom sense what God is doing in the world. Even if they profess godliness and even if they appear to be in pursuit of the things of the Lord if their focus is on success and building what they can build "for the Lord" they miss God in their doing for God. The Bible says two things about those who know the Word of the Lord (not in the sense of merely being Bible students but in the sense of seeing God's hand in the breaking both beauty and the bands)

They are the poor of the flock
They will not appear to be as successful as some others of "the flock."

They waited upon the Lord
The greatest need I believe that I see in our day is for believers who know the value of waiting upon God. Sure, there are things a believer ought to be busy doing. But the trouble is that we get so busy doing those that we often miss God what God wants to do Himself. So much of what is church today has little to nothing to do with God; it is just the ingenuity, cleverness, and hard work of men.

Those that wait upon the Lord are blessed to see something entirely different. They see the Word of the Lord. They see God.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Prisoners of Hope

Zechariah 9:12 KJV
Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;

I love this expression, "prisoners of hope."

Christians have frequently been literal prisoners because of their hope in Christ. Apostle Paul is, of course, the greatest illustration this since his case is recorded for us in the Word of God. But he is by far the only one.
James was put in prison and then beheaded.
Peter too, was in prison, but God led his escape.
John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Through the centuries thousands of Christians, some whose record is extant and others whose stories are lost to this world (but not to God) have been imprisoned and worse for their hope in Jesus Christ.

But I find in the phrase something deeper than that; we are bound by our hope in Christ. That hope constrains us into a new and different way of living on this earth. Because of our hope in Christ, we are free. But we are not free to live as we please. We are free to live as God is pleased. We are free to worship Him in spirit and in truth. We are free to overcome our sin.

And because of our hope in Christ, we feel bound in this world. It is not our home. We do not belong here and we do not feel welcome here. We long for freedom from the chains of this world. We desire as Apostle Paul said, not to be unclothed, but to be clothed with upon with heavenly garments. (2 Cor 5:2-4)

We are in fact, prisoners of the hope that we have in Christ.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

All Our Cares

1 Peter 5:7 KJV
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
My focus this morning is on the word "all." What an encouragement it is that we can cast upon the Lord,
Not most of our cares
Not only our spiritual cares
Not even just our most difficult cares

But all of our cares. Nothing is left out. Nothing is excluded. Any and all cares may be cast upon Him.

Casting those cares upon Him does not necessarily mean that we never have to deal with those cares. Casting those cares upon Him does not mean that there will be no consequences to those cares. It does mean that as we deal with those cares and as we face the consequences to those cares, our Father will support and strengthen us and go with us.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


1 Peter 4:1 KJV
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

I was stuck on the word "arm" in this passage. The term to me means taking up arms. There is a battle about to take place. Grab your weapons! However, it also carries with it the concept of putting on armor for protection; so the verse is both defensive and offensive.

God says one of the ways I may be armed in the battle against sin is to accept with Christ suffering in the flesh. Some of the sufferings will be a part of life on this planet.
It may be doing without.
It might be giving what we have for the cause of another.
It might be a physical ailment.
It might be some form of persecution

In whatever case, The Lord says that by taking the same mind as Christ, who suffered FOR US in the flesh, we not only protect ourselves, but we take up arms against the enemy of our flesh.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Will of God

1 Peter 3:13-17 KJV
And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

Verse 13 says that God is able to keep us from harm if we are followers of that which is good. However, even those who are followers of that which is good suffer for righteousness sake and verse 17 says that when it happens, it is the will of the Lord.

God sometimes wills that Christians, even those who are following after that which is good, suffer for well doing. In some cases, His will is that more suffer than that do not. For centuries those who lived the closest to the Lord suffered the most in this life. There has been a respite from that in some countries of the world but that does not mean that God does not will for some Christians to suffer for well doing or that there will not be a time when Christians suffer in a greater way than we do at present.

My challenge is to be happy in the Lord regardless. If God chooses to protect me, I may praise the Lord. However, if God chooses to allow me to suffer, I am still to be happy in Christ.

God's will is the key to this. I must reconcile in my mind that God's will is the principle thing. So long as God is glorified then I may be happy, no matter what may be happening to me.

This is not fatalism. This is to find a cause greater than self. And when a man has a cause that is greater than himself he is always at his highest. We honor those who have suffered and even died for the cause of their country. Greater still is to do the same for the cause of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let God's Word Take Hold

Zechariah 1:6 KJV
But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.

The context is a negative one. Their fathers had heard the Word of God, but they did not hearken to them. However, this verse says that the Word of God did "take hold" of them. And this is exactly what I am praying for our generation and for those I have the privilege of preaching to.
I am praying that the Word of God takes hold of them.
I am praying that the Word of God does not let them go.
I am praying that they are seized by the Word of God and cannot help but to think upon it and meditate over it and then let it overtake their lives.

In the context, it appears to me that the idea is that the Word of God overtook them in judgment. I want to see the Word of God overtake people in righteousness.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From This Day

Haggai 2:18-19 KJV
Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider it.
Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.

It occurred to me that Haggai may have been the most successful of all of the prophets though one of the least known. Haggai's preached to the Jews who had returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem at the end of the Babylonian captivity. The people had not put the emphasis on rebuilding the Temple as they should have and God had withheld His blessing upon them because of it.

Haggai's charge was to stir the people under Zerubbabel to put get to work on the Temple. God was not interested; it seems to me, in the "gaudiness" of the Temple. He did not care that it was ornate, only that it was ready for the people to truly worship Him. Under Haggai's preaching Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest, and all the people got busy and restored the Temple.

And God's response to the people was, "from this day I will bless you."
That is great success in the ministry.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

God Sings

Zephaniah 3:17 KJV
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

I have found the little book of Zephaniah to be a real encouragement to me this reading. Though it is written in a time of devastation in Jerusalem. He lives and preaches during the same time and under the same circumstances as Jeremiah, yet his prophecy is filled with encouraging words. We must never forget that, though God will chastise His people to draw them into a closer walk with Himself, still His love is His overriding character.

Now I just want to fasten a word or two on one thought in this verse; God is said here to sing. God joys over His people with singing. Our God not only listens to singing. Our God not only created the angels to be musicians before His throne and designed that His children worship Him through song; our God Himself joys over His children with singing.

It reminds me of how important singing is in worship
It also reminds me of how important that singing be the right sort and
It calls my mind to consider that when we sing in worship, He may be harmonizing with us.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Meek

Zephaniah 2:3 KJV
Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.
Here is a great definition of meekness, and it is not one that is man-made but that comes directly from the Word of God. The meek of the earth are those which have wrought His judgment.

The word wrought means to practice systematically and habitually (Strong's definition). Webster's 1828 says it means to form by work and labor.

The word judgment means verdict or special decree. It is the determination of the mind of God.

Therefore a meek person is one who systematically and habitually practices the mind of God until His judgment is formed in them. It does not appear to be something that happens in a moment. It is something that forms in us over a lifetime of practicing the mind of God as it is revealed to us in the Bible.

And it is this person, the Bible says, has a hope to be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

In These Uncertain Times

Habakkuk 3:17-18 KJV
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk lived at the same time as Jeremiah. Jerusalem was about to be taken captive into Babylon. These would be rough and tough days for the Jews. What would be the response of the man whose faith was in God during these hard times?

Will he question God's sovereignty?
Will he challenge God's goodness?
Will he turn his back against the Lord?

Not Habakkuk! His faith was planted and would rejoice in the Lord and find joy in, not just his salvation, but in the God of His salvation.

We are living in some uncertain times ourselves, nothing, of course, like Jerusalem under siege but still uncertain times. Habakkuk tells us exactly how to handle these times. We must simply rejoice in the Lord and find joy, yes in salvation, but more so in the God that gives us that salvation.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Read and Run!

Habakkuk 2:2-3 KJV
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Here is a very powerful passage to me. God tells Habakkuk to write out his vision. And then He says that when people read it they will be able to run with the message.

That is what the Word of God does for us. As we read the Word of God and as it takes root in our souls, it gives us the strength to run and it gives us cause to run. The message is so energetic. The message has such hope, such urgency; such life and vitality that the one who gets hold of it cannot help but run with it.

Now the question that comes to my mind then as to do with those who are reading the Bible but it does not cause them to run. Why would that be? The only answer I know is that there is a difference between reading with spiritual eyes and ears and reading with natural eyes and ears. If a person does not live by faith, then the Word of God just will not have that same impact upon them.

Lord help us to live by faith and then run with Your message!

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Other Two Edged Sword

Proverbs 5:1-6 KJV
My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:
That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.
For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:
But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword.
Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.
Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.

Verse four caught my attention. This is the "other" two edged sword of the Bible; the first one, of course, being the Word of God.

The Old Testament especially characterizes idolatry as adultery. Israel's worship of false gods was called unfaithfulness to God and so it is not too much of a stretch to view this second two-edged sword as being more than the physical lure of a strange woman. This could be viewed as the lure into false worship and placing faith in things other than the living God.

The messages of false teachers
Are powerful in our day vs. 4
Though not as powerful as the Word of God in changing lives eternally, the false teachers have a sword with which they take their own followers. Messages on self-help, positive sermons designed to lift up the spirits or messages on health, wealth and prosperity are attractive to the world.

The messages of false teachers
Go down to death vs. 5
As popular as those messages are, and as large of crowds as they seem to attract, the message only leads souls to death and hell. There is no genuine salvation message. Even if they pretend to give a gospel presentation, it is a false gospel of "if you will choose Christ, your problems will be over." That is an utter lie. We do not choose Christ, He chooses us and a true faith in Christ will lead to war with the course of this world.

The messages of false teachers
Are constantly changing vs. 6
Change is the catchphrase of our day. Satan's system of religion offers any number of choices; something to appeal to every taste all so the larger numbers will fall into her seduction. Their message, their methods, and their ministry styles are so malleable you never know what they will do next in their effort to win souls to their ways.

Wisdom says to stick with the old paths.
Wisdom says not to remove the landmarks our fathers have set.
Wisdom says that our goal should be to resist the tendency toward modernism and strive to bring our faith back to that of the apostles.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Lord Is Good

Nahum 1:7 KJV
The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
This little book is addressed to the Gentile city of Nineveh about 150 years after Jonah preached there and the city repented and turned to the Lord. Here, 150 years later, the city has apostatized and God is again pronouncing judgment, but this time, there is no call for repentance, only a warning that the judgment is coming. The book could be considered one of the most direct applications in the Old Testament to the Gentile world in which we live. The Word of God has had a huge influence on the Gentile world, especially those of us with European ties. The Bible has done with us exactly as Paul had said. The Gospel came to us and we have received it.

However, that same gospel does not have the impact in our lives as it once did. Christianity in Europe and the Americas has, without question, become apostatized. We have everything from the corruptions of liberalism, Pentecostalism, pragmatism, and modernism all eating away at the purity of the Gospel and it has created in the average lost man a distrust in the faith. The Word of God has been discredited by the charlatans of the faith and, by in large, even those people who do attend worship services put little stock in what is being delivered from the pulpits. We are apostate!

But in the middle of such a stern message as Nahum, there is this good news; "...He knoweth them that trust in Him."

We do not need to be disheartened. There is no reason to be disconcerted about the state of our world.
God is still on His throne.
His plan is still being worked out. and
He still knows those that trust in Him.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What Will We Do?

Micah 7:7-9 KJV
Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.
I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.

The chapter begins with a woe. This prophet is cast down by the circumstances of the world around him.
The good man has perished
Men hunt one another with a net
The prince and judge ask for a reward (bribe)
The great men have mischievous desires
The best and most upright are like thorns and
He could not trust a friend

Under these circumstances what is a man to do? These were dire times and it would be difficult to see a way out. What would he do?

The answer comes to us in verses 7-9.
He would look to the Lord and trust that He will hear
He would rise when he fell and let the Lord be the light in his darkness
He would bear his circumstances knowing that he is a sinner and
He would wait until God pled his cause and brought him forth to the light.

Our times are little different. I would be able to put faces and names to each of those circumstances described. I would even be able to plug myself in as the one who has sinned against God. Sure, our time is difficult; but the question has to be what will we do about it?

The Biblical answer would be to do the same thing this prophet did.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Deadly Difference

Hebrews 11:29 KJV
By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

There are some things that just should never be attempted without faith! Israel crossed the Red Sea through faith and was saved. Egypt tried to cross the same Red Sea just moments after Israel did, and they were drowned. The difference, according to the Bible; was faith.

Moses attempted once to deliver Israel from Egypt and failed. Forty years later he did it again and was successful. The difference was faith.

Saul tried to lead Israel as their first king. His attempt led to the deaths of himself and his sons in battle. David stepped in as king and was very successful; to the point that one of his offspring (Jesus) will sit on that throne eternally. The difference was faith.

Paul was used of God in miraculous ways. But when the seven sons of Sceva attempted to cast out a demon in the name of "Jesus whom Paul preacheth" they were run off beaten of the demon. The difference was faith.

There is a difference between serving the Lord through faith and doing what the Bible says we should without it. There is
A difference between teaching a Sunday school class through faith and doing it without faith.
A difference between pastoring a church through faith and doing it for other reasons.
A difference between obeying the righteous message of the Bible through faith and obeying it in hopes of earning salvation because of it.

And the difference could be deadly.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Body Prepared

Hebrews 10:5 KJV
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

Hebrews 10:10 KJV
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
There is, in the Lord, displeasure in the sacrifice of animals and the offering of rituals. These things can never take away sin and these things proved themselves to be ineffective in turning souls to the Lord.

God is not anxious to see another animal lose its life or the sake of a sin-filled human being.
God is not interested in the bloodshed of bulls and goats.

This one offering is both pleasing to the Lord and effective in taking away our sins. That is the body of Jesus Christ, prepared for Him of His heavenly Father

A literal body
A human body
A mortal body

And having that body; Jesus willingly sacrificed it once for all. There is now no need for the further shedding of blood. The offering of Christ's body pleased the Father's righteous demands against sin and exhausted His wrath toward it.