Saturday, May 31, 2014

Christ Sanctified

John 17:19 KJV
And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

We generally think of sanctification as the process whereby the Christian becomes
  • Less like this world and more like the Saviour,
  • Less attached to this life and more consecrated to the next,
  • Less subject to the sin nature and more subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit's prompting
In none of these could Jesus have needed sanctification. This leaves us wondering in what ways Christ may have sanctified Himself.

The first proposition is that He sanctified Himself in the sense of a minister and servant; having left heaven to shepherd His sheep. In this manner Christ serves as the prime example to those in ministry. We consecrate (sanctify) ourselves to the work of the ministry after the manner that Christ consecrated (sanctified) Himself for that same work. We learn the ministry by following His lead.

The second and more likely, given the context, is that Christ sanctified (consecrated or gave) Himself to die on the Cross, without which none of His disciples could have been consecrated (set apart) as God's own. Jesus sanctified Himself to become sin for us son that we might be sanctified as the righteousness of God in Him. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

God Loves You

John 16:27 KJV
For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

The Father Himself loveth you…
Not vicariously through some other source:
  • Not through Jesus Christ
  • Not through the Holy Spirit
  • Not through your family and loved ones
  • Not through your pastor
It is God the Father Himself that loves His own.

Jesus loves us, the Holy Spirit, I am confident, loves us. Our family loves us and our pastor loves us. God sheds His love abroad through others; but that is not to say that is the only way He loves us. If there were no other human being who loved us we would still be assured that God the Father Himself loves us.

We are too prone to turn everything into religious idolatry. We are too quick to make our faith about others. "If God loved me…" we reason, "He would surely send someone to love me." We expect, demand the time and attention of others believing that it is their duty, as vessels of God, to give us that attention. At some point our faith stops being in God and rests in the time, attention and ministry of others.

True faith in God finds joy in God alone.

True faith is blessed by knowing that the Father Himself loves us.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Non Christian Religions

John 15:23 KJV
He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

The relationship between Jesus and God the Father is such that, to hate, and I would suggest to in any way belittle, make light or alter the person of Christ, drastically dramatically and irreconcilably changes one's own relationship with God the Father. This is the problem with religions such as:
  • Mormonism
  • Jehovah's Witness and
  • Islam 
In each case the religion insists they have a strong relationship with God the Father, and do not deny some relationship with Jesus Christ, but only claim that He is of less importance to them than the Father.

  • Mormons claim Jesus is a created being and the brother of Lucifer
  • Jehovah's Witnesses claim Jesus is a god but not the God
  • Islam claims Jesus was a great prophet but behind their prophet Mohammed 

In every case, this denigration of Christ damages one's relationship not only with Christ but with His Heavenly Father. One may not choose one over the other. The heresy of the modalist, who would elevate Christ and deny (or make little of) the other Persons of the godhead, is no greater than the heresy of the other, who would elevate the Father and deny (or make light of) Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What To Do in the Valley of Tears

Psalms 84:6 KJV
Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.

Years ago I read a sermon, based out of this passage, which urged that, when going through a time of sorrow, do something so that the next person in the same circumstances might find comfort.

The word Baca means tears.  Some have suggested that there may have been a valley named Baca, so named for the lack of water there. Whether such a suggestion has merit or not, it is certainly true that most people endure some valley of:
  • Tears
  • Sorrow and
  • Lamentation
in their lifetime. When those valleys happen, and for however long they might last, the most profitable thing we can do is to turn the focus off of our own troubles and attempt to do something to help others.

It is akin to the words of 1 Corinthians 1:4 "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." We can bemoan our sorry condition or we can try to use it for the good of others.

In some respects we could look at all of life as a valley of Baca.
  • The earth is cursed
  • We are born dead in trespasses and sins and
  • Once saved, are aliens and pilgrims on the earth
Every day, through ministry, prayers, our conversations with others, in taking leadership, in serving country, or in writing materials that may be read generations later, we have opportunity to make things better for those who will walk in this valley of tears called life later on.

I noticed something in reading this time around that I am not sure I have meditated upon previously. The passage teaches us to dig a well but it is later rains that fill it up. The man passing through the valley has no power to and is not responsible to put the water in the well. He only makes a place for the water to reside.

  • My job is not to bring actual comfort to another. I can only rarely and temporarily do that anyway. My job is to prepare a means for the comfort to be delivered.
  • My job is not to save a soul from hell. My job is to tell them the gospel and it will be a God who saves them.
  • My job is not to illuminate a listening congregation to the truths of the Bible. My job is to open the Bible and preach what I am learning, all the while believing God will illuminate the hearers as He pleases.
  • My job is not to tell jokes and make the hurting one laugh.; My job is to be there and let the love of God spread from my heart to theirs.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Judas had a Father

John 13:26 KJV
Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

I am aware of at least two other verses that identify the father of Judas Iscariot:
John 12:4 KJV
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,

John 13:2 KJV
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
I realize that the practice of giving the father's name was for the purpose of clearly identifying a person. In this case it has the second effect of personalizing Judas and bringing attention to others who were hurt by his betrayal and suicide.   

Judas Iscariot had a father.

Imagine the pain that the family of Iscariot must have endured at the news of all that had happened resulting finally in Judas' death at his own hands. Whether they were a believing family or not we will never know.
  • If they were they would live the rest of their lives knowing that his suicide prevented him from ever reconciling with his sin
  • If they were unbelievers they would have seen his final three years as a tragic waste

Parents never quit loving their children the way they did when they were little babies in the home. Whether the child is 15 or 50, Mom and Dad still sweat over them and desire the best for them. The adult child is no longer under parental protection which just compounds the anxiety for them. They love them as if they were still babies only now they have no real means to help them.

True is Proverbs 10:1 KJV

The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Better to Suffer

John 12:4-6 KJV
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

Judas was a devil and a thief. He was the one to betray Jesus and Jesus knew it was so. Yet Jesus suffered Judas to stay in the twelve and called him friend to the end.

We don't have to fix every problem person we have among us, nor must we cast them aside. God knows about them and knows how to deal with them. Who knows how many stands of wheat have been destroyed because, in our humanity, we thought they were tares? Better it would be to suffer wrong than to ruin one whom God was molding. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Work While We Have Life

John 11:9-10 KJV
Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

The raising of Lazarus approaches the end of Jesus' life. His period of popularity has come and gone. At this point, any trip to Jerusalem seemed dangerous, as the Jews were seeking opportunity and means to take Him. No doubt the Apostles had heard rumors concerning the Pharisees wanting to have him killed. Lazarus' illness didn't seem like a sufficient reason to risk life and limb with a trip so near Jerusalem. Jesus' parable then is intended to teach that we work so long as we have life. It was, as it were, His eleventh hour. But He was still alive and, so long as He was alive, He had work to do.

We tend to justify a man slowing down toward the end. We account that he deserves a rest. Not so Jesus and not so the servant of Christ. While we have life and while we have breath we have means to serve. Let us therefore serve. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Shepherd and the Door

John 10:1 KJV
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

The meaning of the verse is not speaking of those who try to be saved some other way than Christ, but of those who try to shepherd the people of a God some other way than Christ. It it speaking of those who:
  • First, are not sheep of this fold
  • Second, are not sent of God
  • Third, are not sensitive to the care of the sheep but whose purpose is their own advancement 
Jesus is both the true shepherd and the door by which others enter into the cadre of Shepherd's. Since the beginning of the faith people have entered into the ministry of the shepherd through some other way than the door of Christ:
  • They have entered through the door of influence
  • They have entered through the door of parentage
  • They have entered in through the door of education
  • They have entered through the door of charisma

Truly none of these were doors but breeches in the walls of faith, places where the will of men wore weak the walls of genuine faith. Christianity, in many quarters, has very little to do with Jesus Christ and much more to do with the machination of religion.

Friday, May 23, 2014

This Story Isn't Over

Psalms 83:11 KJV
Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:

Because of grace, because none of us deserve the mercy of a God, because "God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"; because of these I have no good excuse to pray for the judgment of a God against anyone. But I do have precedent and promises to support the fact that no wickedness goes without judgment.

Precedent in what has happened in times before
Both in Old Testament times and New Testament times we have illustrations of God's judgment of those who stood against the people of God. During the 400 year break between the Testaments, and in our current church age, there are illustrations of the righteous judgment of God against those enemies of the gospel. Righteous men and women and children have been mistreated but those who have done the mistreating have, in many instances, experienced the awful hand of a God.

Promises for vengeance in the future
Many more believers have been abused than have a users been judged. At least it seems that way. But the answer to this is that God isn't finished yet.
  • There is still a hell to come
  • There is still a Tribulation of those on earth
  • There is a great battle of Armageddon
  • There is the judgment of the sheep and the goats before the Millennial Reign
  • There is the Great White Throne Judgment
The story isn't over. The work if God isn't finished. His promises are not through

We don't ever need to pray for the judgment of the wicked for we know that judgment to be coming. But we can pray for their salvation because we too are debtors to grace; and we can rest in God's promises. In His time things will be made right.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

God's Own Plea

Psalms 81:13 KJV
Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!

Though this verse could not be considered a prayer from God, it is certainly a plea. It expresses the heart of God toward mankind, His earnest request to us. Directed to Israel, I believe it is intended toward all mankind, as Israel serves as a representative nation for God's intended purpose for all mankind; that is to redeem and save.

There are two elements wrapped into this request:
That they would hearken to God's Word
The word hearken means to hear intelligently or carefully. There are plenty of people who regularly hear some part of God's Word.
  • It is displayed on signs, reader boards and plaques all across our country
  • There are churches of one denomination or another broadcasting their message on radio, television and the internet
  • Social media sites are filled with religious broadcasting
  • It is available both in written and audio versions on smart phone apps
The trouble today is not with lack of opportunity to hear but with the manner in which most Americans hear the Word of God.
  • It is generally heard casually, sometimes
  • It is heard as almost a form of entertainment, not infrequently
  • It is heard but unintelligently in that, while it is present, we are not paying attention to it

That they would walk in God's ways
Once hearing the Word of God with enough intelligence to understand the message, the next thing God pleads for us to do is that we would obey the message. The most earnest students of God's Word are as failingly human as most common of criminals and, thus, fail to heed what he or she knows the Word to teach.

God's plea has purpose behind it because He longs to bless those who will answer this plea. Had Israel hearkened and walked as God instructed, they would have experienced the fullest of God's blessing. As it was they refused, for the most part, to obey. They received, as a consequence, only a portion of that blessing God intended.

We cannot deny that we have been a blessed people. But our blessings have been limited in so many respects because we, at best, only hear casually what God has said and only walk half heartedly in His ways.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Can He Do More?

Psalms 78:17-21 KJV
And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.
And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.
Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;

Notice that Israel had not questioned what God had done:
  • He had given them water from the rock
  • He had given them bread from heaven
Their sin was not in attributing these to some other factor. Their sin was in questioning whether God could do more.

This is the sin of America. We attribute our founding to pilgrims and others of faith. We are quick to thank God for His hand of goodness to us in the past. We boldly ask God for His blessing and stamp His name on our buildings and pieces of money. On a personal level we will attribute to God those events of good that have happened in our lives.

But we also betray our lack of faith in doubting what God can do in our future. As we look ahead into what appears to be a wilderness, we see difficult times:
  • Fewer people who express faith
  • Economic trials and hardships
  • A growing lack of popularity in the world
  • The rise of and acceptance of none Christian religions
And we seem prone, even among professing Christians, to chose a course of pragmatism and practicality rather than one of faith and dependence upon the a Word of God. We may not question what God has done but we certainly wonder what God will do.

The sin of Israel was challenging whether God would continue to answer prayer. Let's not let that be our sin too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It Is God's Way

Psalms 77:13 KJV
Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?

David could not be more depressed than he is when this Psalm opens:
  • He is in tears
  • He weeps through the night
  • His soul cannot be comforted
  • He hurts so badly he can barely speak
But David took steps to recover from this great depression:
  • He considered the work of God in the past
  • He remembered his song in the night
  • He communed with his own heart
  • He meditated on God's work and
  • He spoke of God's doings
As David worked out his depression, a realization, a truth became apparent to him; God's way is in the sanctuary. His point is that the house of a God, whether it be
  • The Tabernacle in the wilderness
  • The Temple in the Promised a Land or
  • The local church in the New Testament
is where believers find relief.

  • It is through that sanctuary that God will minister to His people
  • It is at that sanctuary that we shall find our answers
  • It is in that sanctuary, therefore that we must be faithful

Monday, May 19, 2014

Something Worse

John 5:14 KJV
Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

Sometimes we think that whatever trouble we have is the worst trouble in the world. Nobody has had it as bad as us. No one could ever have it worse. Once in a while, we will justify ourselves with something like, "I know others are suffering, but this is what I am going through and that us what matters to me."

Jesus said this man could suffer worse than what he had:
  • Worse than being crippled
  • Worse than vein impotent
  • Worse than being alone and helpless
  • Worse than having only one superstitious hope
There is something worse.

  • It is worse to be forever separated from God in hell
  • It is worse to lose the fellowship with God in one's life
  • It is worse to be a stumbling stone in the way of other's relationship with Jesus

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Never Again

John 4:43-44 KJV
Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.
For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

Jesus returned to Galilee and went to Cana but not back to Nazareth, His home town and where they tried to kill Him.

Nazareth is a city, but it represents people:
  • People who never got the opportunity to see Jesus again
  • People whose opportunities for grace were ended
  • People: children: sons and daughters,
whose hope for eternal life were nigh to dashed by the actions of the mob that tried to push Christ off the cliff.

God is gracious. It is impossible to say that the hope of salvation never returned to Nazareth or that the hope of salvation is ever denied a person because of some deed done. But it is also an observable fact that the actions of one person can be a powerful deterrent for another being saved:
  • A mocking friend might prevent one from coming to Christ
  • The evil choices of parents often put their children on a path to destruction
  • A spirit of division or murmuring can lead the children of Christians to choose to turn from the faith
Praise The Lord the some come to Christ despite these hurdles placed by the very ones you would think would urge them to run to Christ, many get saved. But a thoughtful person looks ahead and makes choices that remove the hurdles between their loved ones and Jesus. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Better Course

John 3:24 KJV
For John was not yet cast into prison.

John will testify that Christ must increase and he must decrease. And yet John kept at his ministry until the day he was cast into prison. The Bible nowhere says he was wrong in this, but it's result was challenging:

  • First, John decreased by being jailed and then by being beheaded
  • Second, many of John's disciples never fully became Christ's disciples
This group who said they were John's disciples continued at least until Acts 19 when Paul encountered a group of them and led them to salvation.

Any answer other than the one given in the Bible would be speculative at best.
  • John continued his ministry
  • John was jailed and beheaded and
  • Jesus carried on
I however suggest that a better course for us would be to give up any following we have and become ourselves, followers of Christ. It is very possible for a preacher, having all good intentions, to become so popular and influential that their ministry ceases to be about the Lord. It happened to John's own disciples; it happens today. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

What Price He Paid

Psalms 69:20 KJV
Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.

That this verse, and those immediately preceding and following, speak of Christ is generally understood. We have, in these verses, the lowest point in the ministry of Jesus Christ. In the distress of His passion for mankind; suffering the worst that sinful man could do, Jesus looked for someone to give comfort and found none.

John Gill describes it thus:
·         "his disciples forsook him and fled;
·         the priests, scribes, and common people, that attended him at the cross, mocking him;
·         the thieves that were crucified with him reviled him; and
·         his Father hid his face from him;
·         only a few women stood afar off and lamented."

What a price Christ paid for our redemption. Salvation is no cheap prize. Its value, as indicated by its price, is worthy of our giving our very lives for

  • Its cause
  • Its spread and
  • Its honor

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Truth About Darkness

John 1:5 KJV
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Scofield's notes call this "His pre-incarnate ministry" but I see it as more of a summary of His entire ministry in three verses:
The creation of the heavens and the earth
Vs 3
The creation of man
Vs 4
The incarnation of Christ
Vs 5

It would be easy to describe the whole of Jesus' 33 1/2 years on the earth in those words, And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
  • His conception was miraculous, but darkness (no room in the inn) comprehended it not
  • His business was His Father's, but darkness (even His mother)comprehended it not
  • His ministry was anointed, but darkness (the people in the synagogue at Nazareth) comprehended it not
  • His miracles bore witness of Him, but darkness (the Pharisees) comprehended it not
  • His crucifixion was substitutionary, but darkness (Pontius Pilate) comprehended it not
  • His resurrection was victorious, but darkness (the people of the world) comprehended it not

Praise the Lord! Though the majority of the world lies in darkness still, the light of the life of Jesus Christ has pierced the darkness of countless souls. The gospel message still rings out and still rings true today.

Though darkness still does not comprehend the light that is Jesus Christ:

  • Some have seen
  • Some have believed and
  • Some have comprehended

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Purely Praise

Psalms 64:1 KJV
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.

Psalms 65:1 KJV
To the chief Musician, A Psalm and Song of David.
Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed.

This Psalm, and the one before it, share the same superscript, "To the chief Musician, A Psalm and Song of David." This does not require that the two be substantially connected except that both were written by David and both are inspired by God. I however, noticed the superscript and realized a contrast between the two Psalms:
In the first, David is in need.
  • He has enemies
  • He has weapons pointed against him
  • He has multiple enemies in conspiracy
Of course David expresses faith, but he is still addressing the problem.

In the second, David only offers praise.
  • There is no mention of an enemy, though he no doubt still had them
  • There is no mention of a need, though he is no doubt still needy
  • There is a little mention of personal iniquities but it is quickly dealt with as David moves on

He only speaks of God and His qualities. He addresses
  • The power
  • The attributes
  • The works of God
He reminds himself and those who will read this Psalm, of the blessings of God; blessings that naturally drop upon the just and the unjust, and blessings upon those who approach God and dwell with Him.

Every believer ought to train himself to do what David does in this Psalm. Every believer ought to take some time to step away from personal need and concentrate on what a God has already done.

Professing or Possessing and Practicing

Psalms 62:1 KJV
Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.

My thoughts are upon just one word; truly.

Many are the people who would claim to wait upon God:
In this present day,
even though the popularity of one form of Christianity or another appears to be waning, it would still be the case that most of the people we meet in America would say that they believe they wait upon God.
·         Every President in American history has finished his speeches with those words, "May God Bless America." None have claimed abject atheism.
·         We still have "In a God we trust" stamped in our coins
·         The legislative sessions still begin in prayer

Among those who would not claim Christianity,
there would be a claim to wait upon God.
  • Islam, maybe the fastest growing religion in the world, claims to be waiting upon and following God.
  • Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses as well as Seventh Day Adventists claim the very same.

Even most people who align with no specific religion would be hesitant to say they have no faith in God.

David takes things further than this broad brushed approach. David claims that his soul "truly" waits upon God. A simple survey of his life would confirm that his faith was more than word and sentiment. David
  • Trusted
  • Depended upon and
  • Obeyed what He knew to be the will of God
He did it in good times and in bad. He did it in the moment by moment events if his life and he did it over the course of his entire life. When he sinned, he quickly confessed his sins. When he was made to reap the consequences of sin he did not blame God but praised God for His mercy.

We need a shift from professing some sort of faith to possessing and practicing true faith.