Tuesday, December 31, 2013

More Important than Liberty

1 Timothy 6:1 KJV
Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

It might be a bit of a stretch to claim that verse one is a theme throughout this chapter, but it is not much of one.  That the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed is a preeminent tenant to Christian character:
·         It is more important than wealth
·         It is more important than comfort
·         It is, I would suggest, more important than liberty
The preacher who won't teach that protecting the name of God and His doctrine is paramount, and the Christian who will not consent to this teaching is proud and "knoweth nothing." 

How far we have strayed! American Christianity is so wealthy we have become intoxicated with comfort, luxury and selfishness. We have made capitalism, free market and personal liberty the gods which we serve and we arrogantly and ignorantly do so in the name of the living God. We have little care what damage we may do to others so long as we are aggressively improving our own position in this world. 

The name of a God and his doctrine; these are what we ought to be living to promote.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Living Dead

1 Timothy 5:6 KJV
But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

The Bible speaks of the unsaved person as being "dead in trespasses and sins"; alive and yet dead. But this passage speaks of one who is a believer and yet is dead while alive. In the case of the passage it is the widow who lives in pleasure. Barnes says the kind of pleasure Paul speaks of is a “wanton, luxurious pleasure, one living in unrestrained fulfillment of the flesh.” He then says there were apparently widows Paul knew personally to be living in this manner and that there have been Christians in every age that have done the same. His meditations on what it means to be dead while living are those things that interest me in this piece.

He says,
"To all the proper purposes of life she is as if she were dead. ...nothing could convey more forcibly the idea that true happiness is not to be found in the pleasure of sense. There is nothing in them that answers the purposes of life. They are not the objects for which life was given, and as to the great and proper designs of existence, such persons might as well be dead."

True happiness is not found in pleasure but in purpose. To live for pleasure is to sink deeper and deeper into the mire of living death because pleasure only lasts for a little season. Those seasons seem to be shorter as time goes on and the sense of pleasure requires more and more to pique it over time.

To fulfill ones purpose, on the other hand, leads to godliness with contentment and that is great gain.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Subjects Worth Christian Exercize

1 Timothy 4:12 KJV
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Paul's urged Timothy to be am example.  It is to be noted as much for what he did not say as what he did.
He did not tell him to be an example
  • Of education
  • Of organization
  • Of charm
  • Of professionalism
  • Of patriotism
He told him to be an example 
In word
A reference to his common topics of speech, not from the pulpit. 

In conversation
Which has to do with lifestyle.

In charity 
Albert Barnes says this is love for the brethren. I believe it is love for the church we belong to.

In spirit
Look at this as attitude. Hopefulness in Christ. 

In faith 
Knowing the doctrines of our faith and not wavering from them.

In purity
Being morally upright in thought and action 

He was to be an example not only to other Christians but to the world as to how believers ought to be. These are excellent things to exercise ourselves in. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Mystery of Faith

1 Timothy 3:9 KJV
Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

What is listed as a qualification of the deacon is not an exception for every Christian.  We ought all to hold what is our salvation in a manner that gives confidence of its truthfulness and testimony of its effectiveness. 

The mystery of faith is a reference to the gospel message.
It is a mystery because it was once hidden (and remains hidden to those who are not saved) but is revealed to the saved by the work of the Holy Spirit. 

It is held by the saved. But it may be pretended to be held by the religious.
Some claim to be Christians who do not have a true taste of Christ. Theirs is a religion of mental assent supported by their own efforts at good work. It may be reasoned that their conscience frequently testifies to them of their true condition.

The true Christian holds the doctrines of salvation with an assurance from the Holy Spirit that what is promised in the Word has been received by their soul. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sufficient Salvation

1 Timothy 2:1-6 KJV
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

I would have the reader to note the number of occurrences of that important word "all" in verses 1-6. This passage totally destroys the concept of limited atonement. There is no question but that God's will is the salvation of every man and that Christ's cross was sufficient for every man. 

The issue is with man and not God. The atonement is sufficient for every man. But it is only effective in those who come to believe.
  • God would have all men to be saved
  • Christ died so that all men might be saved

But salvation is only granted to those who, in response to the preaching of the gospel, place faith in that saving work of Christ. 

For a related thought, click here:

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

If Paul Could Be Saved, Anybody Can

1 Timothy 1:16 KJV
 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

The apostle here sets himself before us as a strange example. Though he was the worst of sinners, even persecuting and consenting to the death of Christians, he obtained mercy. Paul says his mercy is meant by God as a kind of pattern that, if such a sinner as he could be saved, any sinner could be saved. If one as terrible as he could find mercy, anyone can find mercy. 

Albert Barnes writes, " here it means that the case of Paul was an example for the encouragement of sinners in all subsequent times. It was that to which they might look when they desired forgiveness and salvation. It furnished all the illustration and argument which they would need to show that they might be forgiven. It settled the question forever that the greatest sinners might be pardoned; for as he was “the chief of sinners,” it proved that a case could not occur which was beyond the possibility of mercy."

I suppose someone could imagine that they have committed worse sins than Apostle Paul, but God's Word sets him out as the chiefest of sinners so that the man who see himself even as the worst of sinners might see he has access to mercy through Jesus Christ. 

For a related thought, click here:

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Brothers, Even In Contest

2 Thessalonians 3:15 KJV
Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Here is an intimation of the Christian spirit in discipline. If we must
  • Rebuke
  • Separate
  • Correct
another in some way, we must not do it in an adversarial spirit but as a brother. 
  • With care
  • With concern
  • With prayers for reconciliation some day
Though there are times when a contest between brothers is essential, we ought never to forget we are still brothers. 

Another lesson clearly implied in the text is that a Christian can disagree with us, even to the place we must break fellowship, and still be a Christian. We are so prone to label anyone not just like us, and especially the one who is involved in sin, as not really saved. Truth is we just don't know that. Though the Bible clearly teaches that there are those who return to the world because they never were saved, that is not to true of everyone who falls. Some have simply slipped and need someone who is spiritual to restore them. 

General Grant and President Lincoln met near the close of the Civil War. Grant knew his capturing Robert E. Lee was inevitable. As the discussion drew near a close Grant asked Lincoln what he wanted him to do with Lee. Lincoln's reply was "Go easy on him." Lincoln understood that, though they had contested, they were still brothers. 

For a further thought click here:

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Saved Through...

2 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

Two instruments are here said to be used of God to choose us for salvation:
·         Sanctification of the Spirit
·         Belief of the truth

Truly being saved is a grand work of God in our souls. We, who have believed, find that believing was not our own but something God did in us. The Spirit of God so worked in us that, when presented with the Gospel, we believed. 

Not that we were the only ones who could have believed.
·         The same Spirit who worked in our hearts brings conviction to all
·         The same gospel message that we believed is preached to all
·         The same blood Christ shed that we might be saved was shed for all
This work is sufficient so that "...whosoever shall call upon the name of The Lord shall be saved."

But for those of us who are saved, we have the pleasure of not just being forgiven but of obtaining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

For another thought on this topic click here:

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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Vanity of the Flesh

2 Kings 7:8 KJV
And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it.

What vanity is manifest in human flesh!

Here are four lepers whose disease has left them exiled from the common people. Their circumstance is compounded by the siege on their city leaving them starving. They are in such bad straits they finally come to fling themselves on the mercy of their nation’s enemy, claiming "if they kill us we shall but die." Death has lost its sting for them.... until they discover the food and the wealth the Syrians had left behind. 

I can certainly understand their eating enough to satisfy their hunger. I can understand why they would get something to drink before they come to their senses and realize they need to tell the people in the city. What I can't understand is why they felt like they needed to hide some gold and silver and clothing before they told them. 
These are dying men. Food satisfies a present need but wealth serves them no purpose. 
·         It won't cure their disease
·         It won't make them welcome in society
·         It isn't going to get them a better position in their life
Wealth is useless to a dying person. But they chose to hide some wealth for themselves anyway.

In the worst of conditions these men had come to a place where God could use them. They realized death was no enemy. But then some worldly trinkets presented themselves and the flesh took over and good was given up. They really only reported back to Samaria out of a sense of self preservation.

The flesh lusts for all the wrong things. Its priorities are always skewed. It seeks
·         The temporal over the eternal
·         The sense of pleasure over the sense of glory
·         The now over the future

There is so much better to be had but it can only be seen through the eyes of the spirit. The flesh must be mortified or we will waste our lives on bobbles rather than eternal treasures. 

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Normalizing Christianity

2 Kings 5:7 KJV
And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.

Within the story of Naaman:
  • The slave girl is confident in the ministry of Elisha
  • The King of Israel is at a loss as to how to help
  • Elisha is unimpressed with Naamans position but positive about God's ability 
  • Naaman is convicted their is no other God
  • His men are careful counsellors, giving him good advice
  • Gahazi is drawn into the temptation of worldly reward. 
Each of us responds to the circumstances of life and the working of God differently. This is the reason we need to establish ourselves in the reading of meditation on and obeying of the Word of God. It "normalizes" the various human responses so that, regardless of what our own tendencies might be, we behave in a way that is godly.

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Person I Might Ignore

2 Kings 3:14 KJV
And Elisha said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.

We know that God is no respecter of persons. He sees
·         The rich the same as the poor
·         The educated the same as the uneducated
·         The powerful the same as the weak
·         The king the same as the subject
The Bible says the rain falls alike on the just and the unjust. But here we find a biblical precedent for regarding the true follower of the Lord above the one who is in rebellion to God.

Jehoram was not as wicked as was Ahab his father, but he was still in rebellion against God. The prophet, though a citizen of Jehoram's reign, refused to help except that Jehoshaphat was there too. 

A preacher ought to care for the souls of every man. But there is biblical warrant to refuse ministry to the one whose design is to use (or rather abuse) that ministry while still rejecting the truth the ministry represents. 

I may regard the person of the righteous over that of the rebellious. 

For another thought on this passage click here:

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Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Bless Your Pastor

1 Thessalonians 3:6 KJV
But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:

The Apostle wrote this epistle in an effort to comfort and strengthen the suffing Christians in Thessalonica. But remember that the Apostle suffered as well. Such suffering he reminded them of in the first few verses of the chapter. He then transitioned into a passage intended to express to them how he had been comforted by news about them. Paul lists three specific things that were of great comfort to him:
Their faith
They had not abandoned either faith in Jesus Christ or the doctrines and practices he had taught them. Though the days were difficult and they might have relieved a great deal of stress if they had just bowed to the local Jews in a couple of areas, they still stood for those things Paul taught them; a much different scenario than had happened in the churches of Galatia.

Their charity[2]
I take this word to reference love for one's church[1]. Charity is used in a particular manner in the Bible, not merely to speak of a godlike love which gives expecting nothing in return, but a focused love that is directed to the Church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth.

Their desire for Paul
Paul saw this as the confirmation that the first two were real. They had not moved passed what Paul taught them but continued to embrace and grow in those things. They weren't looking for new teachers to give them something Paul had missed; they looked for Paul to give them more of what he had previously.

A preacher[3] lives to see the people in his congregation hold fast to their faith, focus their affections on the things of Christ in His church and long to hear the Word preached once again.

Wrapping it Up

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Be Bold to Speak

1 Thessalonians 2:2 KJV
But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

Paul reminded the believers in Thessalonica how he had been bold in preaching even though there was great contention there. In doing so he wanted to encourage boldness in them. These Christians had suffered and, as difficult as it was for Paul to tell them, would suffer more.

A preacher does his congregation wrong to lead them in ways that avoid contention for the sake of the gospel. Granted, we do not like to see people we love endure difficulty and hardship. It is in us to desire the very best for them. We love to hear of their prosperity and of their victories in the work of Christ. But we must be careful not to allow what pleases us to direct others away from what glorifies the Lord.

Encourage the people of God toward boldness[1] and away from acquiescence. God will be honored and that is our business.

Grace of Christ

To view the written version of this blog click here, http://mckenzie-visit-with-god.blogspot.com/2010/12/grace-of-christ.html

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

God Has Plans for the Living

1 Kings 19:4 KJV
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

Elijah has himself in a state where he claims that he wishes to die[1]. I doubt this or he would not have fled Jezebel. She was out to do that very thing. At any rate, Elijah is distraught. 
  • The people of Israel were in idolatry
  • Their king Was the worst one since the tribes had rebelled against the throne of David and
  • The heathen queen now sought his life
Elijah's feelings may be understandable but they are not of the Lord. God still had a purpose for Elijah in this world. 

It is not difficult to become down hearted looking at the world as it is. Heaven is our goal and getting there the sooner the better could easily become a fixation. But the fact is that we are here as long as God wills and not a day sooner or later. A person ought never to quit living[1] because we have no idea what plans God might have for us in the future. God had great plans for Elijah's future, including an awesome entrance into heaven that didn't include dying at all. No matter how terrible a day may seem the Christian should boldly move into it giving God full opportunity to make it glorifying to His name. 

We'll reach heaven soon enough.[2

[1] I mean in the sense of giving up, quitting – letting depression win. Depression happens, but we do not have to let it overcome us.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Brother, Faithful and Fellowservant

Colossians 4:7 KJV
All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:

Paul was in the habit of mentioning people by name; for good and for the not so good. A person who does that cannot highlight everyone every time or he makes no mention memorable. Paul had some incredible men working with him
  • Timothy
  • Epaphroditus
  • Silas
But here Paul singles out Tychicus with outstanding qualities. He lists three characteristics of this man that are worthy of meditation
A beloved brother
Not just a brother but beloved. I can imagine that Paul thought of every brother and sister in the Lord as beloved but in this case he says so. I think about those I have known over the years
  • Some as fellow church members before I became a pastor
  • Some as those I have pastored 
  • Some who are fellow pastors or members of other churches I have come to know well
I think I would say, with only a few exceptions that they are beloved brothers and sisters. But I can think of only a handful that I would want to single out to call beloved brothers. 

A faithful minister
Not every minister of the Lord is faithful. Some start out but somewhere along the line change the course they promised to take. 

A fellowservant in the Lord
This appears to have more substance than just both were servants of the Lord. It implies that they are servants locked arm in arm. Some serve the Lord but they serve Him independently. Others serve the Lord together with us. These are a special bunch of servants. 

A man might know many who fall into one or two of these groups. To know one who fits in all three is a joy indeed. 

For another look at this passage click here:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Worshipping God Falsely Leads to the Worship of False Gods

1 Kings 16:31 KJV
And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.

If it had not been bad enough that Jeroboam and those following served God falsely, Ahab adds to this sin by serving false gods.[1

Be sure that the one will lead to the other. They that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth. To do otherwise will no doubt lead to worshipping things other than God. 

We see it in our own national history. The founders of our country for the most part worshipped God. But they almost all worshipped him falsely. They were all participants in man made Protestant churches and they all, though becoming tolerant, if not sympathetic to the Baptists, continued in their false churches. The result, now more than two hundred years later, is that America has nearly completely abandoned even a false worship of God. Protestant churches are on the decline and have lost all influence in our national thinking. Religions that worship false gods, like Islam, Mormonism and Buddhism on the other hand are in the rise. 

The legacy of Ahab was much worse than that of Jeroboam but was the result of those doors opened by Jeroboam. So too it will happen in any family. To worship God falsely will lead to worshipping false gods. That will lead to greater condemnation from the true and living God. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Casting God Behind Your Back

1 Kings 14:9 KJV
But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back:

God's accusation is that Jeroboam had cast Him behind his back. 

The fact is that this could have only literally happened to an idol. God is a spirit and is everywhere at the same time.
  • He could not have been handled physically to be cast behind the back and if He could have been
  • He would still have been before Jeroboam 

  • The metaphor was used for the benefit of Jeroboam, to help him picture what he had done. And it is a useful metaphor to describe the action of anyone who, once having heard and received the Word of God, abandons it. The backslider can be said to cast God behind his back
  • That Christian who chooses worldly things over godly living has cast God behind his back
  • The one who knows unites with an organization like the Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons casts God behind his back

The weight of this sin is seen in the consequence, the child Jeroboam enquired of died. But his death wasn't the judgment. The judgment was that his other sons would live and they, after defiling the name of God yet more, would then be judged. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Even Forgiveness

Colossians 1:14 KJV
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

I am thrilled with that word (supplied by the translators of the King James Version), “even”. We have redemption:
·         The purchase of God from the slavery of the flesh
·         The ransom paid to free us as children of the devil
·         The liberation made from the bondage upon citizens of this world
But the redemption includes much more than that; it even includes forgiveness of sins. 

The thinking Christian often finds himself in a state of bewilderment. He knows he is saved. He believes he has a home in heaven. He accepts that God loves him and calls him His child. But he  knows too well he struggles with sin.
·         It is in him
·         It catches him sometimes when he least expects it
·         It burdens him
And in some cases it creates in him a sense of impossibility; how could he be saved with such sin?

Here we have our answer. The blood of Jesus Christ not only redeems us and places us in the heavenly family but, through that blood, we have what is our most pressing need, even forgiveness of those very sins that bring us such pain. 

It is no small thing, this forgiveness of sin. It is the greatest thing having to do with salvation. 

For another thought on forgivness click here:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Free Servants

1 Kings 12:7 KJV
And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.

The counsel of those who had counseled Solomon was to serve those you lead and they will serve you as leader. This is the heart and key to any truly working relationship
·         Between a husband and wife
·         Between parents and children
·         Between pastor and congregation
·         Between teacher and student
·         Between store keeper and patron
·         Between officer and civilian 
·         Between government and citizenry
Whenever the one in leadership assumes an attitude of superiority the relationship is bound to decline.

The Bible model is of “equality in position” but “difference in office”. No one is better than the other but each has a unique role to fill. When the worth of every man is affirmed, and those in leadership see themselves as servants to those they lead (and behave as such), then those they lead may freely be subject to leadership. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

That Piece of History the World Wants to Hide

1 Kings 9:6-9 KJV
But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:
Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:
And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house?
And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil.

Man has not had the means to reverse what God said would be the fate of Israel if they turned from worshipping the true and the living God. What God told Solomon would happen if he or his sons turned to worship idols,
·         Didn’t happen immediately 
·         Didn't happen in the lifetimes of most of the offenders
but it did happen.
·         Israel was cut off from the land
·         The temple was cast from Gods sight and
·         The Jews have become a byword and derision in the world

It is historically impossible to deny the problems the people of Israel have endured. But there is one part of the prophecy everyone is still trying to deny; that is God’s participation in this trouble. If Israel has suffered the world has seen it only as a matter of unrestrained men (not unrestrained sin). No one in the world today wants to acknowledge the accuracy of the Word of God in the history of Israel because Israel is the one piece of human history that points undeniably to a
·         Living
·         Personal and
·         Interested

The God who made these promises to Solomon is alive still today. He acts in His time. Our sins may not have consequences that we recognize as immediate, but there are consequences nonetheless.

Wisdom is to fear the Lord and keep His commandments.