Friday, July 31, 2009

Who Is Suffering For Christ's Sake Now?

Philippians 1:29 KJV
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
So here is the question that came to my mind today; "Who is suffering for His sake now?"

This passage must not be meant to apply only to pastors because Paul plainly addressed this letter to
Philippians 1:1 KJV
... all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

So if we were to read this passage in strict context it wold mean that it is given to the saints first, and then the bishops (pastors) and deacons not only to believe but to suffer.

I wonder if many pastors and deacons suffer these days for Christ's sake. At least here in America the last thing we think of when we think of a successful pastor is of a suffering man.

Today's successful pastor
Lives in a nice house
Drives a new car
Leads a large congregation and
Has followers (in some cases) world-wide
What has he sacrificed for Jesus Christ? Woe to the pastor of our day who has mingled the ministry with the rewards of worldliness!

And then there are the deacons. In our world the deacons tend to be more like the successful business men of the congregation whose job it is not only to counsel but to supervise the pastor in the performance of his duties. Little is known today of deacons like Stephen and Philip.

But the question must be put first and foremost, not to the pulpit but to the pew. It is to them Paul's address is primarily given. Who among the saints of God is suffering today? I do not mean suffering from ill health or suffering because of the poor economy. I mean suffering for Christ's sake.
Who is it that is giving of their treasures more than the budget can afford because the need of lost souls is so great?
Who is enduring hardships rather than enjoying their comforts so that the name of Jesus is proclaimed?
Who is turning down promotions that would require more time at work and less time in the Lord's vineyards?

There are some. I do not mean to imply otherwise. But Paul says this is God's will for all the saints.

Who will hear his words and step up to this plate for Christ?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Godly Grandfather's Influence

2 Chronicles 34:1 KJV
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years.

Josiah is an example of the positive influence a grandfather can have on a youth. Josiah's grandfather, Manasseh, was evil in the early years of his reign. However God got hold of his heart and he repented. His last years as a king were godly years.

When Manasseh died, his son, Amon, ascended to the throne. His reign was evil and short lived. His own servants conspired against him and killed him after only two years on the throne. Josiah was only eight when he was crowned. He would have only known his grandfather six years and even then would have only remembered maybe two of those six. All he would have known of his grandfather Manasseh was those years he was humble and godly. When his father died, Josiah followed the example of his godly grandfather rather than that of his wicked father.

It is never too late to repent of sin and
We can never underestimate the power of a positive testimony on others (even the very young.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christ and His Church

Ephesians 5:25-27 KJV
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

I had never owned a Scofield Reference Bible until this year. I have seen them and have never cared for its universal church remarks. However, I am finding that there are some other notes that are quite good.

These are his remarks concerning Christ and His church...
"Christ's love-work for the church is threefold: past, present, future:
Past; For love, He gave Himself to redeem the church (Eph_5:25);
Present; In love, He is sanctifying the church (Eph_5:26);
Future; For the reward of His sacrifice and labour of love, He will present the church to Himself in flawless perfection, 'one pearl of great price' (Eph_5:27); (Mat_13:46). "

I have long felt that too many times we read this text and so focus on the husband wife relationship that we de-emphasize the Christ and His church relationship. Scofield did not make that mistake.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Worthy Walk

Ephesians 4:1 KJV
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Ephesians 4:17 KJV
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,

Gill says
"Now to walk worthy of it, or suitable to it, is to walk as children of the light; to walk in the liberty wherewith Christ and his Spirit make them free; to walk by faith on Christ; and to walk in the ways of God, with Christ, the mark, in their view, and with the staff of promises in their hands; and to walk on constantly, to go forwards and hold out unto the end."

But it occurred to me this morning that a worthy walk would be not to "...walk as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind."

A worthy walk is unique and different than any that men have devised. It is a walk that is obedient to the Lord regardless of what men may think of it. It is a walk that is based upon the Word of God and upon the Lord's providence in discovering to our minds what that Word means.

May God grant me that walk.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Glory In the Church

Ephesians 3:21 KJV
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
I find three things of note here

Who is to receive glory
Unto Him be glory.

It is the Lord that is to be glorified. It is the Lord that is to be named and uplifted and magnified and spoken of. It is the Lord that is to be the focus of our attention.
Unto Him be glory

Where He is to receive glory
" the church"There are two ways to view the church; as a place and as a body. While I do not believe it is proper to think of a church as a place, if we do take this view then the place where Christ ought to be glorified is in the church. If we see the church as a body rather than a location, then it follows that the function of this body is to bring glory to the Lord. We give that glory in the power of Christ Jesus and as a result of the work of Christ Jesus in saving us and forming us into that body.

When He is to receive glory
"Throughout all ages, world without end"
Every era of Christian history has had reason to bring glory to the Lord by Christ Jesus. Some eras have been more difficult than other eras. Some eras have struggled through unique trials. But Christ's churches in every era have had reason to glorify Him. The church will, in truth, glorify Him not only in this world but in that world that will have no end.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Without Appreciation

2 Chronicles 23:11 KJV
Then they brought out the king's son, and put upon him the crown, and gave him the testimony, and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, God save the king.

Joash may be the sorriest King that Judah had. After six years of reign at the hand of his wicked grandmother (who slew all of his brothers and would have killed him too had she known he was alive) Jehoiada the priest reveals that Joash, the only remaining seed of David and Solomon's royal line is alive. Jehoiada, the High Priest, had hidden him in the house of God six years until he was seven years old when he revealed him and the leaders of the country anointed him king. Joash did right and led the country well until Jehoiada died. Then his true colors came out. He lifted himself in pride and sought after other gods. When Jehoiada's son openly condemned the wrong of Joash and the people, Joash led the people to stone him to death.

This man, who was given the chance to be a great king in Israel was slain by his own servants and, because of his wickedness, was not allowed to be buried with the kings (that privilege was reserved for Jehoiada.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Ages To Come

Ephesians 2:7 KJV
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
The blessings that God has given the believers are to our ours "in the ages to come." His glorious and exceeding riches are as sure as the breath we breathe, but they are reserved for us in the ages to come.

This is why we wonder why God doesn't seem to bless us as we desire.
This is why it appears that those who are the most worldy are rewarded while the Christians who strive to know the Lord seem like they don't do as well.
This is why promises we se in the Word of God do not appear to be ours as we would love for them to be.

This is why things we proclaim to be true and believe to be true do not seem to be true today.

These exceeding riches do belong to the believers but we receive them, not now, but in the ages to come.

Those Christians of centuries ago understood that. They were willing to endure terrible suffering even unto death because they looked for promises that await them in a future home and not in this lifetime. Christians today would be much more faithful to the Lord if they too sacrificed today for the ages to come.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Saints and Faithful

Ephesians 1:1 KJV
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

The Bible addresses two classes of people here
The saints
The faithful

Albert Barnes comments that the book of Ephesus was written both for the saints in Ephesus and for those other faithful believers in places besides Ephesus. The book, as with all of Scripture, is intended not merely for the original readers but truly for all who will believe hereafter.

As to the term saint John Clarke says,
"...saint appears to have been as ordinary a denomination of a believer in Christ in those primitive times, as the term Christian is now. Yet many had the name who had not the thing."

How sad it is that there are those who claim something with the Lord that they do not genuinely possess. May the Lord open the eyes of the blinded that they may see they are not whole. May God cause them to see that they need the Great Physician!

Of the faithful my New Pilgrim Study Bible says,
"...Faithful in Christ Jesus is another way of describing the Christians, for they were people who had trusted or had faith in the Lord."

To be faithful speaks more of who we have faith in than it does of our own character. I ought to be faithful as a believer. But it is much more important that my faith is in Christ than it is that Christ can have faith in me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

To Teach in the Cities

2 Chronicles 17:7-9 KJV
Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, even to Benhail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah.
And with them he sent Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobadonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests.
And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.

I am not aware of any organized effort to instruct Israel prior to this account. My understanding is that although the priest dwelt in cities scattered throughout the land, their only true ministry took place during their rotation for service at the Temple. Synagogue services did not begin until sometime during the captivity. There are times when all of Israel gathered together in one place to hear the Word of the Lord, and I do believe that there were likely prophets scattered throughout the land serving in a capacity similar to that of a local pastor. But to have teachers dispersed through the land; this appears to be a brand new thing, unique perhaps to the reign of Jehoshaphat.

Clarke's commentary says,
“To teach in the cities of Judah …
In these verses we find a remarkable account of an itinerant ministry established by Jehoshaphat; and in this work he employed three classes of men:
· The princes.
· The Levites.
· The priests.

We may presume that the princes instructed the people in the nature of the civil law and constitution of the kingdom; the Levites instructed them in every thing that appertained to the temple service, and ritual law; and the priests instructed them in the nature and design of the religion they professed. Thus the nation became thoroughly instructed in their duty to God, to the king, and to each other. They became, therefore, as one man; and against a people thus united, on such principles, no enemy could be successful.”

We can never underestimate the value of regular consistent and well rounded instruction; especially in the things of God.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Live and Walk in the Same Spirit

Galatians 5:25 KJV
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

This verse almost serves as a summary of the entire book. If it is true that we live in the Spirit, that we are born again and have that eternal life that is the promise of God for all true believers; if this is true of us then the next spiritually natural progression is that we would also walk in that same Spirit. The Spirit that gave us life will also be the Spirit that directs and guides our life.

This appears to me to include both the doctrines of justification (living in the Spirit; being born again) and sanctification (God's continued work in us as we dwell upon this earth). The one who has been made alive will find they are compelled by the Spirit that gave them life to walk in the way that leads to life.

Now the question comes, how much of self will and human resource leads to the second of the two? Is it possible that I, having begun life only in the power of the Spirit of God, can continue in that life by my own will? I think not. This verse does not tell us to determine to walk in the Spirit. It tells us that the Christian walk must be in the Spirit and not the flesh.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You Should Know

2 Chronicles 13:4-6 KJV
And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel;
Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?
Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord.

This is quite the picture to me. Abijah is the son of Rehoboam, the grandson of Solomon and great grandson of King David. It was during the reign of his father that Jeroboam led ten of the tribes of Israel to rebel against the kingdom God had established in the house of David. Now, as Abijah takes upon the rule of the smaller but more obedient southern kingdom, he seeks to bring the northern tribes back under the throne of David. He stands in a place for all to hear and makes this statement, "Ought ye not to know....?"

There are some things that people need to know whether they want to know it or not. There are some things that people would have once acknowledged but have now strayed so far from that it is as if they never knew them. Every Christian needs the boldness in Christ to tell people "There are some things you ought to know"
Some things you ought to know about the Word of God
Some things you ought to know about God's plan
Some things you ought to know about right and wrong
Some things you ought to know about heaven and hell

We do our world no good to withhold from them things they ought to know just to keep our peace with them.

Let's let the world know what they ought to know; not out of enmity and spite, but out of love for them and desire to see them reconciled to God.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Oldest Old Covenant

Galatians 3:17 KJV
And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

The Old Testament is sometimes called the old covenant, and the New Testament, the new covenant. (See Hebrews) but today I am calling the promise of salvation in Jesus Christ the oldest old covenant, because this text declares it was "of God in Christ" before the law. The Old Testament law is not first and then the New Testament truth a development after it. The promise of saving grace in Jesus Christ was first. The Old Testament law was merely apart of God's plan to bring that promise of grace in Christ to full effect.

God's grace has been the overwhelming principle in His dealings with mankind throughout the history of man. Christ has forever existed and His plan to live righteously and die vicariously has been His intention before the foundations of the world.

Praise God for such grace!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Seek To Be Justified

Galatians 2:17 KJV
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

This passage is a little challenging. Scofield says that the "we" the verse refers to are the Jews. He says this verse means that a saved Jew places himself once again under the Old Testament Law, he behaves as if he is still an unjustified sinner.

The phrase that catches me is this, " to be justified by Christ..."

So many seek to be justified by good works.
By church attendance
By keeping the Ten Commandments
By obeying their church's rule
By being baptized

To be justified is to be cleared of all charges against us and to be given the righteousness of God. This justification is found only in Christ.

And once we have been born again (and more to the point of the book of Galatians) the one who is justified is to continue trust in the justifier, not in his own works, for his standing with God. When we see our standing with God as secure because of Jesus Christ we are free then to press ourselves in Christian service to bring honor and glory to Him.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Servant of Christ

Galatians 1:10 KJV
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

The goal of every minister of Jesus Christ ought to be to be the servant of Christ. Paul says that if he had sought to please men he could not be that servant of Christ.

Not that we have to try not to please men. This is no command to be mean spirited, brazen and obnoxious. There is little room in Christian circles for that sort of person. Paul loved people. He nurtured and cared for them as a mother would her children. That ought to be the testimony of any true servant of Christ.

Nor does it mean that we must be thoughtless of others. David seemed to be given to thoughtfulness. Time and again he sought to show kindness, first to Saul, and then to those members of his family once Saul was dead. To reach out in gentleness and kindness to others is certainly no sorry quality.

It means that the true servant of Jesus Christ seeks to please Christ. His purpose is Christ and not people. Christ will send him to people and Christ, who is Himself meek and gentle, will certainly expect the same from His servants. But the servant of Christ has as his interest, Christ. It is He that he seeks to please. It is He that he seeks to serve. Whenever we get that mixed up, we are no longer serving Christ at all, but have become merely players in the religious arena.

Friday, July 17, 2009

This Is Not Too Much To Wish For

2 Corinthians 13:9 KJV
For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.

My focus is on the phrase. "...this also we wish, even your perfection."

First thought, it is not wrong to say "I wish this would happen." Realizing of course that it would be wrong to "wish" for fleshly things, it is not wrong to employ the word "wish."

More importantly is what Paul wished for. He wished these Christians would become perfect. That is a load to ask for, but it is not too much to ask for!

Jesus said to His disciples,
Matthew 5:48 KJV
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

And Paul concluded the very chapter we are considering by saying,
2 Corinthians 13:11 KJV
Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, ...

The Bible is profitable;
2 Timothy 3:17 KJV
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

And Jesus' judgment of the church at Sardis was
Revelation 3:2 KJV
..... I have not found thy works perfect before God.

We know we cannot be perfectly sinless until we reach heaven. But we can be complete, mature and well equipped for godly living and service.

That is not too much to expect.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mount Moriah

2 Chronicles 3:1 KJV
Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

The place where Solomon chose to build the Temple was the site of two previous events in Jewish history.

First, it was the place where Abraham offered Isaac to God.
Genesis 22:2
Moriah was the most prominent of a range of mountains they called Zion.[1] Years later the city of Jebus was built on that site and, years after, was conquered and renamed Jerusalem. Remembering that God is orchestrating the movement of Israel and that He knows where the focus of His worship will be, it is not difficult to see God sending Abraham to that spot as a precursor to those sacrifices that will one day be offered in His name.

Secondly, this was the spot where the angel of the Lord appeared to David as he smote the people for David's sin of numbering them.David purchased that spot from Ornan the Jebusite and offered the sacrifice that stopped the sword of the angel. Solomon likely knew the significance of that summit and chose the spot because of it.

Every sacrifice that was ever offered on that spot would be a reminder, first of David's sin. And then every sacrifice offered would be a reminder that God provided Himself a sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac. God has now not only provided Himself a sacrifice but provided Himself as a sacrifice in Jesus Christ. Sin is pardoned and its effects stopped through a sacrifice that costs us nothing but cost God the life of His only begotten Son.
[1] (A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The International Nature of Solomon's Temple

2 Chronicles 2:13-14 KJV
And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Huram my father's,
The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men, and with the cunning men of my lord David thy father.

I am always impressed that, though the Old Testament is primarily a Jewish emphasis, and we see God's plan more fully developed in the New Testament, still there is every reason in the world for the serious student of the Bible to see, even in the Old Testament that God's plan included people of nations other than the Jews. In fact, we could say that the very Temple of Solomon was not a national but international one.

Solomon sought for and received help from a foreign king in both the supplying of materials and in the experts employed in creating the most delicate items in the Temple

Then, the skilled help that foreign king sent them was, himself, the offspring of a Gentile father and Jewish mother.

Finally, Solomon employed those strangers (count them Gentiles) that lived in the Promised Land to do the majority of the manual labor required to construct his "wonderful great" Temple to the Lord.

The Jews never should have been bothered that Gentiles visited the Temple (as they accused Paul of) the Temple was built largely by Gentiles. And that reflects the fact that it has been God's plan all along to include and employ people of every race tongue and kindred, even those whose backgrounds include mixed blood (a thing God's Word teaches should not have happened).

God's grace and love extending to all mankind is demonstrated over and again in His Word.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Faith Is Increased

2 Corinthians 10:15 KJV
Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,
Paul desired to see the faith of the Corinthians increase. More, he expressed confidence that it would happen. This chapter suggests some things that would cause their faith to increase:

A bold ministry
vs 1-2
While Paul was endued with the meek and gentle qualities of Christ, He was also bold in his ministry. There is a way to be both and their is a time to exercise boldness even if we are accused of not being meek.

Mighty weapons
vs 3-4
Paul walked by faith and expressed that those weapons which belonged to those who walk in faith and not after the flesh are mighty.

Capturing imaginationsvs 5-6
People have all sorts of inventive ideas about what is Christian. Paul casting those imaginations down and force the mind to be obedient to Christ.

An enlarged vision
vs 15-16
Paul helped these believers see that there were those in regions beyond them still waiting to hear the message that Paul had already preached to them.

Monday, July 13, 2009

In Writing

1 Chronicles 28:19 KJV
All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.

We understand that the Word of God was not yet completed in the Old Testament and that God spoke to His people in ways that are no longer employed. However there is in this verse a hint at a truth that is universal so far as how God communicates with His children. David said that the Lord had made him to understand the pattern he was to use in the construction of the Temple, " writing by His hand..."

God communicates to us that exact way right now. God communicates to us
in writing
We have the written word of God. He does not communicate through feelings, impressions, or visions. He communicates to us in writing; through His Word, the Bible.

by His handOur Bible is not the work of men's hands but is in fact the very Word of God. He moved upon men that they would write those words they did. Our Bible was not given to us by men who had educated themselves in the moral and religious systems of the world and then delivered to us their expert opinions about divine things. No indeed,
2 Timothy 3:16 KJV
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

The Bible is God breathed: every word of it.

And it is from this book we are to find the will of God for our lives and the pattern after which we are to build them.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Willing Mind

2 Corinthians 8:12 KJV
For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
The greatest offering we can give to the Lord is that of a willing mind.

The context of the passage is inescapably that of giving money, but I think the principle would extend to any sort of offering we might bring before the Lord. Certainly we do not want to lose sight of the fact that the specific context is in giving though.

Many years ago I heard a preacher say that God judges us according to what we would like to give, not according to what we have given. If a Christian would have liked to have given a million dollars to Christ, but could only give a hundred, he is rewarded for what he would have liked to have done and not according to what he actually had done. This passage bears that up.

Of course there is a proviso in this. A man may not say he would have liked to have given a million dollars and be rewarded as if he had given a million dollars if he truly had a million dollars to give and didn't. The principle is a willingness and readiness. The one who is willing and can - will.

So then comes the question; do we give willingly to the Lord? Willingly means to give according to what we have. It is giving according to the moving of the Holy Spirit of God in us. How often could we have given more and chosen not to do it?

I want to be willing to give much more than I have to give but I also want to give abundantly from what I do have to give.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sorrow, What Sort?

2 Corinthians 7:10 KJV
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
The thought occurred to me today, "What is the difference between these two sorrows, other than the results?"

To be sure, we may never know which the case in a man is except we see the results, but I wondered whether there was a difference besides the results.

Gill's Commentary says
Godly Sorrow"....a sorrow which had God for its author; it did not arise from the power of free will, nor from the dictates of a natural conscience, nor from a work of the law on their hearts, or from a fear of hell and damnation, but it sprung from the free grace of God; it was a gift of his grace, the work of his Spirit, and the produce of his almighty power"

Worldly Sorrow
"....springs from worldly selfish principles, and proceeds on worldly views; it is often nothing more than a concern for the loss of worldly things, as riches, honours, &c. or for a disappointment in the gratification of worldly lusts and pleasures"

Barnes Notes says
Godly Sorrow
(1) Such sorrow as God approves, or such as is suitable to. or conformable to his will and desires. ...
(2) such sorrow as shall be exercised toward God in view of sin; which shall arise from a view of the evil of sin as committed against a holy God. ...
(3) that which leads to God. It leads to God to obtain forgiveness; to seek for consolation. A heart truly contrite and penitent seeks God, and implores pardon from him. ...

Worldy Sorrow
(1) Sorrow arising from losses of property and friends, and from disappointment.
(2) sorrow for sin or vice when it overwhelms the mind with the consciousness of guilt, and when it does not lead to God, and when there is no contrition of soul from viewing it as an offence against God.
(3) when the sorrow arises from a view of worldly consequences merely, and when there is no looking to God for pardon and consolation.

May God grant us a godly sorrow.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Christ alone

Galatians 3:24 KJV
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

I read something last night that is worth our serious examination. The author, in studying the works of the Reformers and the Anabaptists, came to see that the Reformers were true Biblicists. They produced the Bible in the language of the common people. They studied the Word of God with a fine toothed comb, analyzing and dissecting each verse into Scriptural "truths." And they argued passionately over the finer points of the truths they discovered. The creed of the Reformers truly was "sola scriptura" (The Bible alone). The Anabaptists on the other hand, while being careful students of the Bible, saw the truths of the Bible as having another, more important value than to give us "truth." The Word of God was meant to "bring us unto Christ." The creed of the Anabaptist would have been more accurately "sola Christos" (Christ alone).

The author makes this next observation about fundamentalists in our own time. The Fundamentalists would say that the Word of God is their sole rule of faith. They are fully and legitimately Biblicists. They study the Scriptures, They preach the Scriptures, they even argue over the finer points of the Scriptures. To the Fundamentalist today, (as with the Reformers of the past) their view of the Scriptures leads them to be passionate about their church (the Reformers divided into a number of church denominations). So today we have preaching that claims to be expressly biblical and we have believers who become completely loyal to their church, but we too have missed the point of it all. The point is not the church. The point is not even the Bible. The point is Jesus Christ. If we have so focused on the church and on the Bible that we have failed to see Christ, we are truly blind.

I wear eyeglasses. Now the point of the glasses is not so I am able to study the finer points of the glasses,
What types of frames I have
Whether my lenses are plastic or glass
How fashionable those glasses may be or even
What the prescription is and how accurate it is for my eyes

The point of my glasses is so I can see. If all I do is look at my glasses, I have missed the point of those glasses. I have made them useless.

So it is with the Bible. If all I do is look at my Bible. If I do not find and follow Christ through it, then I have made my Bible useless.

This is a concern that I have had for many years now. I am afraid that the circles with which I have had to do place so much attention on the church and on being expositionally accurate that they have missed Christ. I am afraid they have become the thing they claim to disdain the most, religion without relationship.

Lord deliver us!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

To Be Present With the Lord

2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Verses 1-8 of this chapter deal with the subject of death and eternity. Paul uses at least three terms to speak of his desire for heaven:

We groan (vs 2)
His desire to go to heaven was more than a passing fancy. It was more than a mere "someday I would rather go to heaven than the other place" sort of thing. Paul longed to go to glory. It was not that he did nothing in this life. Paul was busy about serving the Lord and happy to use every day of life on earth to the glory of the Lord. But his heart was in heaven and every day on earth only emphasized that desire.

We are confident (vs 6, 8)
He was confident that being in this body prevented him from being in the presence od the Lord and equally confident that being disrobed from this body would usher him into that very presence. Paul was assured of his soul's salvation and was certain that His eternal state would be with Christ.

We are...willing (vs 8)
I think I like this term most of all. Paul groaned for heaven, was confident that he would go to heaven and here willing that he could go there any moment.

I am not advocating that the Christian sit in a corner a whine about life. That was certainly not the type of spirit Paul had nor should it be the kind of mentality we ought to possess. We ought to "labour that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him." But on the other hand, I am urging that we shake off our love for the things of this life and "groan" for the day we are blessed to live with the Lord.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Earthen Vessels

2 Corinthians 4:7 KJV
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

This treasure being the gospel (vs 3-5)

God has placed this treasure of the gospel in earthen vessels that is vessels that are fragile, vessels that are flawed, vessels that are ordinary and plain. God has placed the treasure in those earthen vessels so that "the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us."

It seems to me like we have messed this up. We have come to the place where we follow those vessels that are not so earthen. We only want to follow the vessels that seem
to have power
to have success
to have influence
to have abilities

Too often today we are no longer following the Lord and seeking His power. We want success in our churches, we want power in our ministries so badly that we run after those men who seem to have that power and learn from them rather than from the God they claim to have gotten the power from.

I would not probably deny that they got their power from the Lord except they are too willing to allow others to imitate them in order to get the same power they have. That tells me that the power they have is a man made kind too.

When will we ever learn to trust in the Lord?
When will we finally see that worldly wisdom and influence is not what is needed today?

We need God. We need the excellency of God's power, whatever the price.

God lead us to this power!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Most Glorious Thing

2 Corinthians 3:6-11 KJV
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

The most glorious thing is of the Spirit, not of the letter
The most glorious thing is written on the heart (vs 3) not engraven in stone
The most glorious thing is the ministration of the Spirit, not the ministration of death
The most glorious thing is the ministration of righteousness, not the ministration of condemnation
The most glorious thing is that which remaineth, no that which is done away

Monday, July 06, 2009

An Open Door Left

2 Corinthians 2:12-13 KJV
Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,
I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.

Here is a very interesting piece of Scripture that shows both the humanity of the Apostle and teaches a principle concerning the work of the Lord.

Paul expressed that a door was opened to preach in Troas and goes so far to say that this door was opened unto him "of the Lord." Yet Paul did not stay to work the opportunity. His burden was to see Titus (and presumably to hear his report of how things were in Corinth). This burden was intense enough that, though the Lord had made another opportunity available, Paul could not step through it, but had to leave to find Titus.

In just the previous chapter Paul said that in making moves he did not use lightness nor did he make them through the purpose of the flesh. I do not believe we are wresting the Scriptures to claim neither did he use lightness or the purpose of the flesh in this decision. An open door, even of the Lord, does not necessarily mean that it is the Lord's will that we step through it.

No soul will go to hell because we wait on Christ. Recognizing the difference between laziness and waiting on the Lord of course, no soul will be lost because we depend upon the Lord's timing rather than rushing into everything we see as an open door of the Lord.

The key of Christian submission is simply to follow the Lord and not to allow outside pressures cause us to stray away from following Him.

"It shows that there may be cases where it is proper for ministers to leave a field of great and inviting usefulness, to go to another field and to engage in another part of the great vineyard."

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Do I Use Lightness?

2 Corinthians 1:17 KJV
When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?

John Gill references Paul's words in
1 Corinthians 4:19 KJV
But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
When Paul purposed to come to Corinth, he did so on the condition "if the Lord will..." Paul's travels and adventures for the Lord were not made lightly or in the purpose of the flesh. Sometimes Paul wanted in the flesh to go one direction but he was stopped in the spirit and refused to go.

Too many of our decisions are made in the flesh and not in the spirit, or else too many of them are made lightly, with little regard to consequences.
Too many moves are made because it appears that doors have been opened or opportunities exist.
Too many changes have been made because circumstances where we are seem to heavy to bear and "the grass looks greener" in another place.
Too often we make choices and call them the will of the Lord but we have not consulted the very tools that God has placed in our lives to help us know His will.
The reality of it is, we don't often want His will; we want God to approve our own.

God help us to honestly seek Your will before making decisions, choices and moves that will more profoundly effect our spiritual condition than we could ever know!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Died For His Transgression

1 Chronicles 10:13-14 KJV
So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;
And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.

The Bible gives us many occasions to remember that the wages of sin is death. The Bible speaks here of only one transgression ( and then adds to it Saul's seeing the witch at Endor). It is not that Saul was guilty of horrible and terrible sins that piled up one after the other. His kingdom was in fact, taken from him very early on in his reign because he had not obeyed the Word of the Lord with the Amalekites.

When they buried Saul it was under the oak in Jabesh. The Jews custom was to bury one of their own under an oak, a symbol of their believe that, like the oak dies in winter but resurrects each spring, the one whose bones they have buried will one day spring back to life in God.

Even we who are believers sin. But our sins have been buried with Christ in His death. We still suffer physical death (a result of the sin condition of this world) but we look forward to a new and resurrected life in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though sin bears its mark on this flesh and takes its toll upon it, we will one day spring forth in newness of eternal life.

Friday, July 03, 2009


(This entry marks 1000 posts to this blog. It has been one of my real joys to have this outlet to share what the Lord has taught me in daily, consistent Bible reading. I trust it has been a blessing to those who have been reading them as well.)

1 Corinthians 15:2 KJV
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

The Apostle Paul makes a clarification in this verse that is important for us to consider regularly. Rather than giving people assurance of their salvation, Paul actually gave them cause to question their salvation. The Gospel saves and saves securely, but it saves with some exceptions. John Gill describes those two exceptions in this manner

...if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you...
it is the man that perseveres in the faith and doctrine of Christ that shall be saved; and everyone that has truly believed in Christ, and cordially embraced his Gospel, shall hold on, and out to the end; though the faith of nominal believers may be overthrown by such men, as Hymenaeus and Philetus, who asserted, that the resurrection was past already; but so shall not the faith of real believers, because the foundation on which they are built stands sure, and the Lord has perfect knowledge of them, and will keep and save them.

...unless ye have believed in the word may be heard in vain, as it is by such who are compared to the wayside, and to the thorny and rocky ground; and as the Gospel of the grace of God may be received in vain; so a mere historical faith may be in vain; this a man may have, and not the grace of God, and so be nothing; with this he may believe for a while, and then drop it: and since each of these might possibly be the case of some in this church, the apostle puts in these exceptions, in order to awaken the attention of them all to this important doctrine he was reminding them of.

Perhaps the most important part of Gills comments are, "...the apostle puts in these exceptions, in order to awaken the attention of them all..." We ought to be awakening the attention of the soul who possesses a security that he is saved without demonstrating in his life that salvation has been effectual.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Judah Prevailed

1 Chronicles 5:2 KJV
For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:)
Matthew Henry's commentary explains this verse as well as any I have seen so far. He says that the blessing of the birthright entailed two things primarily
Dominion and
Double Portion

Then he says that is was "thought too much" that any one tribe receive both of those (who would have thought it and why it would be that it should be too much now, it is not speculated - it is just obvious from the text that this is what God did)

To Judah came the dominion
It was given him by Jacob before he died.
Through Judah came King David and all of the Kings that sat in Jerusalem
Through Judah came our Saviour who will reign as "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah"

But to Joseph remained the double portion
Of the tribes of Israel, two of them belong to one of Jacob's sons, Joseph. He received two portions of property for each portion his brethren received. He has two names written in the tribes for every one name of his brethren.

God's will is still His own and He divides to “each man severally as He will[1]. Ours is to trust Him for the best use for our lives and to follow Him regardless.
[1] 1 Corinthians 12:11

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Just Ancient Things

1 Chronicles 4:21-23 KJV
The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were, Er the father of Lecah, and Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of them that wrought fine linen, of the house of Ashbea,
And Jokim, and the men of Chozeba, and Joash, and Saraph, who had the dominion in Moab, and Jashubilehem. And these are ancient things.
These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work.

The passage begins speaking about a people who are lifted up. They wrought fine linen and had dominion in other lands. But then the Bible says all of that was just "ancient things." Their children's children are just potters and dwell among the plants and hedges.

Matthew Henry says, "Those that now have dominion know not what their posterity may be reduced to, nor what mean employments they may be glad to take up with."

Despite the glorious past of Israel,
Her great leaders,
Her wealth and
Her former power

The grandchildren of some of the more prominent people are those who are now content to dwell in Babylon and keepers of the hedges of the king, rather than attempt great things for God.

While what I do with my life matters, it matters much less if I am not able to pass on my faith and convictions to those generations who live after me. I am not content to have compiled a list of beliefs my children and grandchildren can talk about as "ancient things." I long and beg God that I am able to pass those things along so that they become not ancient things, but their own things.