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Sermons & Devotions

 

Grace: It’s Meaning and Source

Grace: It’s Meaning and Source By Jim Foley
Country Baptist Church   Text: Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  If you are a Christian there are words that you have been familiar with all of your Christian life. Many of them are more or less taken for granted; we just don’t dwell on their meaning. As Baptists this word, “grace” is a fundamental of the faith and often used in sermons and lessons.  You seldom go to church without hearing this word mentioned, but how many of us really know what it means? There is probably no other word in Scripture that is so poorly understood. There are a great many people who have received the grace of God into their hearts, but who, if they were asked what the word means, might be troubled and confused and unable to define it.  The plain meaning of the word “grace” is unmerited mercy. Though this is the plain meaning there is so much more that goes into not only the meaning in its positive nature, but also in its negative nature.  Let’s examine this term unmerited mercy. The word, mercy, speaks volumes about its nature. For mercy to even exist there must be an entity higher than the recipient of this mercy. In our case this entity is the Almighty God that spoke all things into existence. He is all powerful and able to accomplish any thing he desires.  Ro 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
  The source of Grace: 

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. Joh 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.  The highest manifestation of this grace was when God gave his son to save this lost world. The very fact that God chose to save an undeserving world speaks volumes. He certainly didn’t have to do it and there is no force that could make him do it. He did it out of love. He did it because he is a benevolent, righteous and loving God. In this respect his benevolence, righteousness and love can only result in grace. An illustration could be made in this way; H2O is water, it consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. H2O always produces water; it is chemically impossible for it to produce anything else. Grace is this way, it is impossible for the actions of God to result in anything but grace; it is an integral part of His nature.  The positive nature of grace is that it is a gift. The last clause in Eph.2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: as such Scripture declares plainly that grace is a gift. A gift is freely given, it cannot be earned, nor can it be given as a reward for good deeds.  Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  God deals with man in grace, he has from the very beginning.  Adam is a case in point; there was no sign that Adam recognized his lost condition, no cry for mercy and pardon, and certainly no confession of sin. Yet God sought him out specifically that he might bestow his grace upon him. He met Adam, as he does all mankind, in his lost and ruined condition. He bestowed upon Adam the promise of a coming redeemer, Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Notice that he did this without Adam asking for it, or even recognizing that he needed it. This is grace. Grace then is unconditional; God bestowed his grace on Adam in his ruined condition.  For six thousand years God has been trying to show mankind this great and glorious truth; that he wants to deal with man in love and grace. He expects no payment in kind, he requires no attempt to clean up our life, as a matter of fact to even make an attempt to clean up our life in an attempt to merit God’s favor is an insult. God said his grace is a free gift. To even think that there is anything we can do, or can take the place of what God accomplished in Christ is the same as saying to God that His sacrifice was not sufficient.  By grace God devised a scheme of redemption for fallen man, justice never would and reason never could. No sinner would ever have sought out God; just like Adam, he sees no need simply because he doesn’t even recognize his lost condition. It is always God that seeks out fallen man, never the other way around. Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. Nowhere do we read that he came to save those that were looking for truth and pardon. This is what the Scripture means when it says that we are blind.  There is a special aspect of grace that is both sobering and enlightening. First, God has provided his grace to all mankind, even to those who do not know of it and even those who will never accept it. This special aspect of grace is faith. It is only by faith that we can apprehend grace for ourselves. This faith is unique in itself, for it is not our faith. The scripture affirms that the faith to believe is the faith that Christ bestows on every believer. It is his faith, not our own, for in the first place we have no faith other than that which a holy, just and righteous God has provided. Notice the grammar in the last clause of our text in Eph. 2:8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Grace is the object, but faith is the vehicle that allows us to arrive at the object. The scripture affirms that this vehicle, faith, is the gift of God.  We think of the Apostle Paul in respect to unmerited mercy. Paul had never done anything that could rise to the place where he could merit God’s mercy. He had kept the law as best he could as a Pharisee. He had done everything he possibly could against Christ and the church.  But when Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, he met him in pure grace. This concept is brought home all the more clearly in Jesus’ question to Paul where he asked, “why persecutest thou me”? Paul was in active opposition to God and his grace when he set out to kill or imprison all who professed faith in Jesus.  God’s grace shines through even more clearly when we understand that God dealt with Paul in the condition he found him in. He was, at this point in his life, a God hater, even though he thought that what he did, he did in the name of God. God was using the witness and lives of the Christians that Paul persecuted as a preparation against Paul’s day of mercy and pardon. This is what God meant when he said to Paul: “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”  This is a reference to the practice of ox drovers who would use a long pole with a sharp end to “goad” the ox in the direction the drover wanted it to go. God had been “goading” Paul in the direction he wanted him to go. The witness of those that Paul persecuted was what God used as a goad. Though Paul had done nothing to merit God’s grace, still God provided it and brought Paul to the realization of the truth of his word.  What can we say about works before justification, or works for justification? Simply this; what we would call good works before justification are not pleasant to God. This is because they do not spring from faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men able to receive grace. Think with me, good works conducted to merit the favor of God have not been done according to the way God has designed his grace to be given; therefore they have the nature of sin, because “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”.  The thought of the God of all heaven and earth freely providing grace to those who do not deserve it is almost beyond our comprehension, it runs counter to everything we are conditioned by our fallen nature to believe. How sad it is to come to the understanding that there are multitudes that will never avail themselves of the grace that God has willingly and loving provided for every person who has ever lived on this earth.  This is what is meant by God when he says in his word that “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The free gift has already been provided; the only requirement to laying hold of eternal life is simply to take the grace that God has already provided.

Jim_Alaska

Jim_Alaska

 

Acts 15:12-41 We are David's Tabernacle (and Resolving Issues Between Churches) By Pastor John Young

Confusion on who and what the Church is in this day and time abounds. We believe the Church is not an Israel of any type and that Church and Nations have always had separate functions in both Old and New Testaments. In the last sermon (on Acts 15:1-11) we showed how we are not Israel. In previous sermons we showed how the New Testament Church is an extension of the Old Testament Melchizedek Priesthood, now with Christ as it's High Priest, in Heaven, before God's throne. In this sermon we also show how James uses Amos 9 to show that today the Church is like David's Tabernacle. In the Old Testament, Israel and Church were in fellowship but when the New Testament came and Christ was anointed king, the Nation rejected Him but the Church received Him. This same picture is found with King David. After God, rejected King Saul and had David anointed King, King Saul and the Nation sought David's death. In seeking David's death, King Saul turns against the Tabernacle (Israel's church) by having the Priests of Nob and their families killed (1 Samuel 22). The surviving priest, Abiathar, fled to David for protection and remained separated from the nation until David was received by the nation. James makes it clear that today the Church is with Christ and the Nation is separated from Christ and His Church. We understand from scripture that Israel is separated from Christ, with the world, into the Spirit of Anti-Christ. We also show how the Church in Jerusalem, predominately Jewish in faith and nationally Israelite, reconciled their doctrine with these understandings of separation of Church and State and how in order to be a peace with other churches, particularly those churches of the Gentiles and other nations, wrote letters clearing up and resolving the errors and the unsettling doctrines their members had started to spread. Lastly we are shown the divisions of ministry between Paul and Barnabas because of personal differences. In all this we are given a template for resolving issues between Churches and Ministries, either how to resolve them or how to continue on with ministry without resolving our differences. We show how the resolutions are not based on "forcing" our will upon each other other but rather on mutual cooperation and in the template of Matthew 18, where Christ teaches us how to deal as equals with our brothers. Showing If a resolution cannot be made then we are to separate in peace until it one day it can be made. All the while the primary goal is not to harm and keep pure the gospel ministry, in spite of any unresolved personal differences. Preached: August 5, 2018 Sunday Night. By Pastor John Young, at Edgecliff Baptist Church, Spokane Valley, WA. https://www.facebook.com/EdgecliffCBC/ (Please like, share, and subscribe to the channel for more Bible Sermons!)
   

John Young

John Young

 

Acts 15:1-11 We are NOT Israel (Separation of Church and State) Whole Bible Baptist Preaching

Often we hear many say that the church is the true Israel and Christians are the true Jew. While there is an interconnected relationship between them in God's service, Acts 15 makes it clear these are separate and distinct Institutions of God. Failure to keep Israel and Church separate will ultimately lead to compromising the Grace of God given towards the Gentiles and Church, which are in Christ, apart from the Covenant Nation of Israel.

Acts 15 shows certain men, Judaizers, who believed Christian salvation was only for those in the Convent Nation of Israel, by the circumcision of Moses and fellowship with God by keeping the Law of Moses. Paul, Barnabas, Peter, and James, knew that the Covenant of Israel, that the Jews, kept was separate and distinct form salvation and the other nations were never under obligations to keep that Covenant and after much discussion the Jerusalem church agreed with this understanding. In this sermon we show why we stand for a clear separation of Church and State Covenants in both Old and New Testaments. Particularly that Israel is not the church and Gentile Christians are not Jews unless they enter into the Covenant of Israel by the Law. We also show how the errors of Keeping the law "for salvation" or "to keep salvation" or "to keep in fellowship" or to "prove our salvation" are derivative of this error of the believing Pharisees. Rather we show how living by true FAITH is better than any LAW. We also give the example of Paul the Apostle to show that he kept the covenant of his own Nation of Israel, as an obedient Jew, even while teaching the gentiles were under no obligation to do so. We also show also show how James, Pastor of the church in Jerusalem, supported this practice of Jewish obedience to the covenant, while supporting the freedom of the Gentiles not to be. Preached: July 29, 2018 Sunday Night. By Pastor John Young, at Edgecliff Baptist Church, Spokane Valley, WA. https://www.facebook.com/EdgecliffCBC/
(Please like, share, and subscribe to the channel for more Bible Sermons!)  

John Young

John Young

Sermon on Depression

Sermon on Depression - Lighthouse Baptist Church: San Diego, California. I have had the privilege of hearing Pastor Doug Fisher preach on numerous occasions at The Summit at Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin, NJ. There has been many messages that he preached that has helped me as a pastor and issues that we were dealing with in our church.  

BroMatt

BroMatt

 

Leviticus 20 - Giving Seed to Molech (Penalties for Abomination)

Leviticus 20 gives the Penalties for committing the Abominations listed in Leviticus 18. The primary sin from which the rest flows is the abomination of "whoring with Molech". This basically was the giving of their new born babies to be killed by burning over a fire on the hands of a metal Idol called Molech. This evil practice was done by people who wanted to get rid of their unwanted children in exchange for the idol to give them good crops. This practice was popular with promiscuous men who did not want the responsibility for the child or mother. God commanded the most severe penalty for such whoremonger. Not only was Molech outlawed any man spreading his seed in the land and giving it to Molech was to be put to death and if he was not then wrath would also be against his family and nation. In this sermon we see how allowing such men in the land will result in and lead to the other societal abominations as well. This chapter deals with the penalties for molestation, fornication, adultery, hatred of parents, homosexual acts, bestiality, and witchcraft. In this sermon we explain how each nation has a duty to keep the whorish men of Molech from destroying their land or the land will spew us out and God's wrath will be on our nation. Preached: April 29, 2018 Sunday Morning. By Pastor John Young, at Edgecliff Baptist Church, Spokane Valley, WA.    

John Young

John Young

 

Leviticus 18 - Social Abominations God Hates (A baseline for Nations)

God is long suffering and forgiving towards sinners, giving them many opportunities to repent and do right. However, God lets us know that there are certain immoral actions that cannot be allowed to continue openly in a just society. In Leviticus 18 God explains the baseline moral requirements for the nation to be allowed to remain in His Holy Land. In this sermon we show the moral sins God particularly hates. Including Abortion, Infanticide, Incest, Molestation, homosexual acts, Bestiality, and etc. The passage explains that if they are not put away from the people then God will visit the iniquity of these sins on us all and the land itself will "vomit" them and us out of it. We also deal with the Sodomite Agenda to deceive society in these matters. Attempting to make these things acceptable in our land. Preached: April 15, 2018 Sunday Morning. By Pastor John Young, at Edgecliff Baptist Church, Spokane Valley, WA.
   

John Young

John Young

 

The LORD was with Joseph

“The LORD was with Joseph” Genesis 39:1-6 Genesis 39:1-6, “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, brought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down hither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptians house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not aught he had, save the the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.” Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” Joseph had faith and loved God. Joseph was a “good man” and righteous in his heart and in his relationship with God. God allowed the evil actions of his brothers in order to test Joseph and to prepare him for the responsibility to rule Egypt. Therefore, the steps of the good (in the sight of God) man, in any generation, in any country, in either the Old or New Testament dispensation, are ordered by the LORD. Psalm 17:3, “Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.” When Joseph was a slave, God tested Joseph to see if Joseph loved, and trusted in God, with his heart. Joseph, like Job, had integrity... Joseph was determined not to transgress God and His ways. Like Job, Joseph was upright, feared God, and hated evil. Job 1:1, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” One of the highest respected men in the Chinese church in China, Wang Ming-Tao says, “Those whom God uses, who can be used by God, must be of noble morality and conduct, and a good reputation among men. God is a holy and righteous God, He will only use those men who are also holy and righteous men.” 王明道說「神所要使用,能使用的,也是高尚的德行和好名聲的人。神是聖潔公義的神,他所要使用的人也是聖潔的人。」1 Free translation by the author. If we are to walk with God then we must be in agreement with God and His ways. The ways of the world are not in agreement with God and we must be separate with the ways of the world. 2 Corinthians 6:14 & 15, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness: and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” The false gods, idols, and beliefs of the false religions of this world, have no place in the life of the individual who wants to walk with God. 2 Corinthians 6:16 & 17, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” The world is an harsh environment for every saint. Like Joseph, we need to keep ourselves separate from the evil things of this world and walk with God. Joseph is an example to the Christian who desires to serve the Lord in a harsh environment. Joseph felt that he was serving God whether in his father's house, among his deceitful brothers, in the hands of an Egyptian master and under the authority of the king of Egypt. The Lord Jesus said, Luke 19:17, “And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” Every Christian can examine the example of Joseph and Job and serve the Lord Jesus as a servant in any occupation and the Lord can be with you. The LORD was with Joseph Joseph had a good relationship with God. Every day, Joseph walked with God. Even in the times of his distress Joseph walked with God. Like Job, Joseph separated himself from the sinful habits and ways of this world and walked with God. Joseph is an good example to the Christian. If we want to have a good relationship with God, and have God with us, we need to hate evil and not transgress the ways of God. As the LORD was with Joseph, the apostle Peter states, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Acts 10:38 Joseph was an example of the Lord Jesus Christ. God prospered Joseph and his work Joseph walked with God. Because Joseph walked in the ways of the Lord, separated himself from the evil ways of this world, God blessed him, his work and his relationship with other people. God wants to prosper the Christian. 3 John 2 and 3, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest proper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.” Please notice, we need to walk in truth. We need to walk in truth in our talk, our character, and in the doctrines of the scriptures. God is willing to help us spiritually, mentally, in our family life and in our work. God wants every Christian to be stable. Colossians 2: 6 & 7, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Joseph was separated from the evil things in this world, walked with God, and was established in his conduct, and in the truth. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand Joseph was completely trustworthy with the physical possessions of his master. Joseph did not steal, did not pilfer, did not miss-use, and did not cause any harm to the physical goods in the house of his master, or under this direct control. Joseph was faithful in all that was under his authority. Joseph is an excellent example for the saint who works for other people in any occupation. Every Christian in any endeavor of work; whether in a factory, a business, a store, an office, a government bureau, the military, and in other occupation, should be the most trustworthy individual the boss has. Joseph was a goodly person and well favoured. Remember Psalm 37:23? “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” We need to learn how to be good in our conduct. In the eyes of the world, in the eyes of his Egyptian master, Joseph had a strong testimony. The character of Joseph was like the character of the Lord Jesus. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Luke 2:52 Lastly, Paul the apostle stated that the man who is the bishop, or elder, or pastor, of the church, should be of likewise character and conduct. “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the the snare of the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:7 1Wang Ming Tao, Treasuries of Wang Ming Tao, Volume II The Hard Road, (Touliu, Taiwan: Conservative Baptist Press, 1996), Page 314. 王明道,王明道文庫,第二冊,小徑(臺灣台中:浸宣出版社,1996),314頁。

Alan

Alan

 

Best We Can With What We've Got

Every year my wife and I are in a Campmeeting in West Memphis, AR. She teaches the ladies and girls 2-3 mornings of that meeting. This is ONE of the lessons she has for this year. I know it's long but think it can be a blessing.   We’re Going to Do the Best We Can with What We’ve Got I sat across the table from my mother, many ….MANY… years ago, as a young bride, and poured out my complaints about how difficult it was to fix up and decorate the tiny apartment where I had recently moved. She sat there, with her blue eyes sparkling in amusement, and took in every word. Finally, she started smiling….and the smile turned into laughter. I was insulted. I don’t like being laughed at when I whine, I want sympathy. (My mother was never very good in the sympathy department.) When I got past the peak of my indignation, she began to explain to me the reason for her amusement. “I was remembering a funny experience from my own life,” she said. “I was a young military bride; it was right after the end of WWII. We reached our new duty station, and I was so excited to be starting my new life with my new husband! But we had a huge problem. Housing was very hard to find. All the men coming back from the war and families relocating made housing around the military bases scarce. Finally, we took the only thing that was available. A man had renovated a poultry house and made it into apartments. The ceiling was so low, that your dad had to stoop over to walk around the room. The floors were concrete and the walls were so thin you could just about sneeze through them. But you know what? It is amazing how cute you can make a chicken coop with a little love and ingenuity.”   Her lesson rang loud and clear. You take what you have, and you do the best you can with it. Whining doesn’t change what we have. The only thing it does is add a sour note of impossibility to our circumstances that doesn’t necessarily have to be there. That was the beginning lesson…a lesson I have had to learn over and over again throughout my Christian life. It is amazing how many ways God has taught me this same lesson. It has stood me through every trial and hardship in my life and I feel like the Lord would have me share what I have learned with you.   This devotional is probably going to be more personal than any I’ve ever given. I don’t usually like to talk about myself, and I really struggled with this lesson because it is so personal. I never want anyone to get the idea that I am talking about myself to lift myself up in any way. But I learned a valuable lesson from Sister Tanya Blankenship. If you don’t know who she is, she is the wife of Steven Blankenship, who is a minister to juvenile delinquents. He preaches in juvenile prisons across the country and operates the Marvelous Grace Girls Academy for troubled teenage girls in Pace, Florida. Sis Tanya was referring to Alisha, and not myself with what she said, but the Lord really spoke to my heart through it. I don’t remember the exact words she used, but it was something to this effect: “God allows us to go through some things in our life, and gives us the strength for the battle, and the grace to forgive, to grow and to be stronger. But those lessons are only of real benefit when we use them to help others who are needing growth, help and healing.” God allows us to go through some things, sometimes, so that others may learn. 2Co 1:3-4 - Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 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. I’m going to be sharing a lot of small stories from my life, not so that you might look at me – but at the God that I serve. Everything that the Lord has seen me through, He can also see you through, and much more. There is no way that I could cover it all. I probably could double the stories I will tell here, but I think these are the ones God would have me use. The little lesson that my mother taught me finally became a theme in my life, and my children, and a lot of my students over the years, have heard it so many times that they could quote it to you in their sleep. I summed it up this way: “We are going to do the best we can, with what we’ve got.”   The dear lady from our church meant well. She really did. She insisted that she go with me to see the remains of my home. She told me that even though I told her I was fine, it would all hit me when I saw it, and I would need her emotional support. I thought maybe she might be right. I was a new bride. All my wedding gifts and the sweet, newly purchased things for our home were gone. We’d only been married 5 months when the explosion of a gas tanker next to our house took it all. I walked toward the burned-out rubble, and I honestly, for a moment, felt guilty that I was disappointing the dear, helpful lady, but I wasn’t devastated. I wasn’t particularly happy to see the blackened mess with the 3 huge holes burned all the way through the exterior wall – but God’s peace had flooded my heart, and I walked up to it without a tear, and began to search through the ashes for anything that might still be usable…. How do you react when God takes something away? Now some people might tell you, oh, honey, God never takes things away. Ohhhh…yes’m He does! Sometimes He takes things away because they are a hindrance in your life. Sometimes He takes them away because He intends to give you something better. Sometimes He takes them away because you need to grow in faith and grace. But He does, sometimes, take things away that we have pretty much set our hearts upon. What do you do? You do the best you can with what you’ve got. You take the situation in hand, for what it is with all the good and bad that it contains, and you deal with it. Do you get mad at God, because you had your little basket all fixed up the way you wanted it, and He messed it up? 1Co 6:19-20 - What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. Rom 12:1-2 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. When the Lord Jesus Christ saved our unworthy souls, He purchased us unto Himself. Lock, stock and barrel. We belong to Him. He has the right to do with us as He pleases. Now, our modern, independent American mindset doesn’t like that idea very much. We might repeat it like a parrot in rhetoric, but when it comes down to where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, we don’t like the idea of turning our whole lives over to God. We seem to get the idea that He’s going to mistreat us. He won’t. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine, and He only plans for your good. You can trust Him. You can trust Him with your possessions, with your future, with your marriage, with your children, with your church, with your finances. You can trust Him. Never, ever will you be more fulfilled and content than when you turn yourself over, completely, to the Lord as a living sacrifice. Notice in the Scripture that this is something that we must do..it is not something that God will make us do. The sacrifice here is like all sacrifices - willingly offered. He said, “I beseech you” (I’m asking you, earnestly, almost begging you, because this is for your good – for the best that God has to offer you.) “present yourselves” (you give the sacrifice, willingly, without being compelled. It is a conscious choice that you make to give yourself over to God with all that you have and all that you are.) 2Sa_22:31 - As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him. Psa_9:10 - And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. When you give yourself to God, the peace that floods your soul in times of troubles and heartaches is not describable to anyone. It is a special touch that comes from the Holy Spirit of God. I have tried, many times, to describe it this way: “There is a place in the lowest of valleys, where the hand of God is more real, and the touch of God more sweet than at any other time and place…but you must walk through the valley to feel that touch – it doesn’t come on the mountain top.” We can choose to walk through the valley, kicking and struggling the whole way – fighting against the path that God has chosen for our lives. Or we can bow our heads, reach for His hand and allow the comfort that He gives to flood our souls. The choice is ours, and it is a choice between struggle and surrender. You will still go through the heartaches and troubles. But it is your choice as to whether you go through them with the peace of God or without it.   As I headed down the road, in my old clunker car, it decided, once again, that it was tired and needed a rest. I managed to get it to the side of the road. I sighed as I looked at my children. All 5 of them. My oldest daughter – then about 9 years old – looked at me with a worried expression and said, “Mama, what are we going to do?” My response was immediately, “We’re going to do the best we can with what we’ve got.” She looked confused for a moment and said, “Mama, what have we got?” I said, “Feet. Let’s walk.” How do you treat life’s irritating moments? Do you blow up in anger at things that can’t be avoided? Or worse yet, do you take those things, those little irritations, out on your husband and children, or even your brothers and sisters in Christ? We have such a tendency to be creatures of the moment, don’t we? We make snap judgments. We let our tempers flare and our bad attitudes show. Even the smallest of life’s irritations have the possibility of teaching our children, and those around us the grace of God. Or the opposite, if we allow our flesh to control us. Php 2:14-15 - Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; If I had fumed and fussed and cried and belly-ached at that car, it still wouldn’t have gone down the road. I would have still been in the same situation, except that now I would have displayed a lack of trust in the Lord and a poor testimony in front of my children. They, more than likely, would have started crying as well, and then I would have reaped the due reward of inflicting my bad attitude on them, as they returned in kind. If we would learn to take life’s small irritations as an opportunity to shine as lights in the world, how different would our attitude be toward those unexpected moments? Let’s strive to learn to laugh, and say, “Well, praise the Lord! What’s the best way to handle this one?” Gal 5:16 - This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. It’s so easy, isn’t it, to let the flesh control our response to the situations that arise in our lives? If instead we will do the best we can with what we’ve got, it will mean using every situation as an opportunity to be a good testimony for the Lord. Sometimes that means controlling our anger when it wants to flare. Sometimes that means consciously putting down our fears. Sometimes it means shutting our mouths when we want so badly to put in our two cents worth. (Hang on to your two cents, sometimes we can’t afford what it purchases.)  How do we walk in the Spirit? #1 It is IMPOSSIBLE to walk in the Spirit if you do not have a regular time of personal devotion. Pray. Read and study your Bible. Meditate on and memorize the Word of God. There is no getting around the truth that if you do not walk close to God in your personal life, your public life will be a mess. #2 Pay attention in church. So many people sit in church and have no idea what the preaching was about, because their minds are a million miles away. Go to church with a bucket instead of a pitchfork. My pastor of many years used to say that some people come to church with a bucket and some come with a pitchfork. Those with a bucket are hungry for the word of God and want what God has for them in the service. Those with a pitchfork are grabbing the preaching and pitching it over their shoulder because they figure that it’s not for them, it’s for the guy sitting behind them. #3 Use every opportunity that you have in your life to be a witness for the Lord. Lost people are all around us. Our testimony – at all times – is vitally important. Saved people need to grow in grace and knowledge. When you have that knowledge, it is given to you to share, not to sit on. When we walk in the flesh, even in the minor situations of our life, we are not walking in the Spirit. And when we walk in the flesh, we have no idea how much damage we might do.   We walked into the little country church, happy for the opportunity to minister, and heard, to our delight, that they planned a dinner on the grounds for the anniversary Sunday where my husband had been invited to preach. We had been struggling financially for quite a while, and the prospect of a church dinner sounded wonderful after months of beans and cornbread. As the guest preacher’s family, we were ushered to the head of the line. My little daughter looked up at me with a happy smile as she surveyed the table in front of her, and said, “Look, Mama! Meat!!” What do you do in life’s embarrassing moments? Do you lash out at the one who embarrassed you? Do you get angry and let your temper, and your tongue take over? Or do you do the best you can with what you’ve got? Nothing riles up our tempers faster than being embarrassed, does it? That’s pride. Pride makes fools out of us very quickly. Not only that, God hates pride. It is never the best way to handle a situation to bow up in pride. Pro_13:10 - Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom. Let your pride flare, and you will almost always find yourself in an argument of some sort. And you will almost always be in the wrong. Pro_29:23 - A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. Let your pride flare and you will almost always find yourself landing flat of your back, wondering how you got there. Pro_16:5 - Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. An abomination! A promise of punishment! We should be frightened of pride! If you ever want to look like a complete fool, let your heart swell up with pride. What are we really? Nothing but what the Lord has done. If we have any abilities, if we have any worth – it is because of what the Lord has given and what He has blessed us to be able to do. Give all the glory and praise to God for who He is, and what He has done in your life. Then when those embarrassing moments catch us off guard, we won’t be so quick to respond in pride. When someone ridicules you, or accuses you falsely – that hurts, doesn’t it? When someone seriously tries to do you harm for their own gain, it’s sometimes devastating. When you try to minister to people and they turn on you, not at all understanding that you are striving for their good to the best of your ability – how do we respond? Pride has no place in those situations, but a lot of times, that is our reaction. I could give you story after story of those situations in my life….but, why be depressing?! What do we do when it happens? It will! People will be people, and as people we don’t always act right, do we? Yet, we expect other people to always treat US with love and kindness, because after all – we are…us! That’s pride. During a particularly trying situation in my life, where I felt like I was always coming out at the bottom, looking like a stray dog, God gave me this quote by C.H. Spurgeon. When I first saw it, it was like a pressure valve suddenly released, I laughed and laughed. Then I wrote it in the front of my Bible. I refer to it often. “If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, for you are worse than he thinks you to be.” That kind of kicks pride in the head, doesn’t it? Doing the best you can with what you have means leaving pride behind and approaching each embarrassing or demeaning situation with the idea that God always treats us better than we deserve. Psa 118:6 - The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?   I stood at the side of the little steel crib, looking at my beautiful blonde-haired baby boy, only 5 months old, gasping for every breath under the oxygen tent, the heart monitor going crazy every time they tried to give him medication for his breathing. The love, and peace of God flooded every part of my being. I felt so blessed. I had so much more than the poor little mom on the other side of the room. My Lord to comfort and guide, and the constant love and support of my husband. That poor lady didn’t understand. She approached me and asked, “How long have you been married?” 10 years, I replied. “That’s crazy, she said, you and your husband seem like newlyweds.” “We really need each other right now,” I said. “Yeah, I could use some support, too.” Was her reply. Her husband was very seldom in the room. When he was, they fought constantly. They blamed each other for everything they could think of, and it usually ended with him storming out of the room to “get a cigarette,” from which he didn’t come back. How do you react when life doesn’t go your way? Do you lash out at those that are closest to you, and look for someone or something to blame? Or do you turn to the One who can give peace and comfort? Doing the best you can with what you’ve got sometimes means approaching the hardest times of life with the best attitude that you can muster. Sometimes life really hurts. Sometimes the hurt is nearly unbearable. Resorting to blaming others when you are hurting is not doing the best you can with what you’ve got. The blame game won’t make you feel better. In fact, it will only make you feel worse. Turn instead to the Lord and allow Him to pour the balm of Gilead into your soul. You will find that you really can do the BEST you can with what you’ve got. Col_3:15 - And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Again, ladies, the peace of God is your choice. You make the decision as to whether you will let God minister to your soul, or whether you will arm yourself with the flesh – and your mouth – and try to go it alone. Someone always gets hurt when we do that. I have seen families split up and spend the rest of their lives hating each other because of something that was said or done during a crisis in their lives. Why? No one accepted God’s peace, and instead they lashed out at one another in their hurt or sorrow, not considering the hurt and sorrow of the ones around them. I have stood beside those little steel cribs in hospital rooms more times than I can count. I have nearly lost all 5 of my children at various times of their lives. My Daniel more than a few times. The love and peace of God has been my sustaining power. I don’t know how other people go through such things without God to grant them peace. I wouldn’t even want to try. Luk_6:31 - And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. We recognize this as what the world calls, “the golden rule.” Much quoted, almost never practiced. But if we would! If we would consider before we speak or act, “Is this the way I would want them to treat me, if I were them, and they were me?” Then we would begin to do the best we can with what we’ve got. And everyone’s life, our own especially, would be better for it. Because, ladies, although you cannot control how other people act, if you will control how you REact to their behavior, you will find that you will have a lot more peace in every situation.   There just wasn’t enough money. We weren’t going to make it. It was fine when we had purchased our little dream. We had a beautiful place out in the country with our very own mobile home….well, at least we were paying for it. Lots of space for the kids to run, not too many neighbors, a place for a garden. We had plans to build a deck….Then the kids started to get sick. Really sick. The list of specialists kept growing. Hospitalization after hospitalization after E.R. visit after E.R. visit. It was okay, we were holding our heads above water, until my husband was layed off from his job. Oh, he found work right away, but the insurance was gone. The new insurance company refused to cover the kids. Pre-existing conditions. (We had no idea, back then, that such a thing as Medicaid even existed.) The medical bills mounted up..and up…and up. We finally conceded defeat. We turned our little dream back over to the mortgage company and packed up what we could in our car. We lived in a garage apartment attached to my mother’s home for 6 months…until our 5th little one was born. What happens when your dream crumbles? What do you do when finances are hard…not a little bit hard, but really hard? There are more divorces because of financial difficulty than any other reason. Families split up. Attitudes flare up. The blame game begins. “If he would work harder.” “If she would slow down on all the spending.” “If he wouldn’t buy unnecessary junk.” “If she would get out and get a job.” Marriage is a team effort, ladies. It takes a lot of work on both parts to make the everyday, in and out, of a marriage work. You can’t work against one another and expect your marriage to last. You need to do the best you can with what you’ve got. Now, I’m not saying that when a marriage is bad, that it is automatically the woman’s fault. No, not at all. But I am saying that no amount of nagging on your part is going to change your husband. You need to do the best you can with what you’ve got. I don’t envy you that task if your husband is lost, but there is a biblical method for you to follow. Not an easy road, by any means, but it is the road that God says you are to follow in the hopes that your husband will be saved. (Remember that he has a free will – you can’t force him to turn to the Lord any more than anyone could have forced you to be saved.) That plan is mapped out in 1 Peter 3:1-5 There’s a lot in that verse. If we were to stop and cover it, it would take a whole lesson to give it the time it deserves. But if you have questions about it, I’d be happy to sit down with you and go through it together. For those of us whose husband is saved, we have the open opportunity for the most blessed relationship in the world. Our marriages are a picture of Christ and the church! What are we doing with the opportunity? Are we doing the best we can with what we’ve got? Do we seek to make our marriage a testimony to the world of the grace and power of God? Or do we deal with our marriage selfishly, as though the sole purpose that our husband has on earth is to meet our needs and satisfy our whims? Do we whine, coax, threaten or manipulate when things don’t go our way? Do we consider our marriage a team unit? Or an opportunity to be queen supreme? 1Pe_3:8 - Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: This passage of Scripture is referring to the marriage relationship…look it up and check the context. There’s a lot to work on in our lives just following this one simple verse in our marriage relationships. Have compassion on your husband. Love your husband, not just as a marriage partner, but as a brother in Christ. Be pitiful to your husband (understand his shortcomings, don’t blame, seek to be there when he needs you – when he’s weak, lift him up, don’t tear him down.) Be courteous (He’s not an old shoe. He’s to be reverenced and honored by you more than any man on earth.) No amount of dreaming and wishing on your part is going to fix your finances when they’re hard. No amount of pride and temper is going to fix rebellion in your children or pressure from extended family. Doing the best you can with what you’ve got in your marriage is understanding that you are a family unit, a team - not adversaries. Work together at making it work. Put God first. Always first. If God is first in your marriage then no matter how hard the rest of life becomes, you will make it. Pro_14:1 - Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.   First, she had COPD. We sat and talked it over. It was incurable, but possible to live with. Then they found the cancer. What had been a shadow on the first scan showed up the size of a walnut on the second, the size of an orange on the third – within a year. When they could get her stabilized, they would consider surgery. They never got her stabilized. 6 months after they found the cancer, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. She gave up. 3 days after that diagnosis she died. My mother was as dear to me, her only daughter, as a mother can be to a child. She’s been gone now for 13 years, and I still miss her every day. You will ask me, was she saved? My answer will be – I don’t know. All I can do is hope so. I witnessed to her, left her tracts to read, I prayed and prayed. I know that she had, some “experience” in the hospital just before her death, that she tried to explain to me, but didn’t know the terminology to describe. What happens when grief knocks at your door? I grieved for my mom. I remember going to the doctor, just a couple of days after the funeral. I walked down the hospital halls, where I had almost lived in the months prior to her death. All the memories were already flooding over my very unstable emotions. And then my doctor – who was also her doctor – greeted me with, “I’m so sorry about your mom.” I broke down and cried, right in the doctor’s office. And then I was angry with myself for crying and cried because I was crying. He sat there sympathetically and wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant. On the way home, I kept staring at the prescription and praying. “Lord, am I depressed?” “Do I need that?” “Is this even right for me to take?” I stopped at the pharmacy and filled the prescription and then I stared at the bottle. “Isn’t grief a part of life?” “Didn’t you promise that if I turn my grief over to you, you would be my comfort?” The determination struck my heart to give it to God, and the peace of God began to creep into my soul. The pills went down the drain, and I began to heal…little by little, the way real healing happens. That lesson was well learned. It has taken me through many, many periods of grief that have followed. Joh_14:27 - Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Php_4:7 - And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. The peace of God will keep your heart. It will keep your mind. But there is a condition to that peace. It is in the verses before Php 4:4-6 - Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. To do the best you can when life hands you grief, first you must rejoice in the Lord – alway. Not when you feel like it or when things are going good, but alway. To do that we have to stop and consider the Lord in every situation of our lives. He’s good all the time, even when our circumstances are bad. Then we must let our moderation be outwardly seen by everyone around us. What is moderation? It is not running to excess in anything. It is having control over our tempers, our emotions, our desires and our passions – in other words, not being controlled by the flesh. Then, lastly, we need to pray about everything. Not just the big things, but the little things as well. When we do these things we have the promise that follows – that God will keep our hearts and minds. Doing the best you can with what you’ve got in the matter of grief, means that instead of being ruled by the grief, we allow the peace of God to rule in our hearts.   One month after my mother died, my husband headed out from where we had taken shelter at the church, with 2 of the boys, to see what kind of damage there might have been.  When he returned I turned a questioning look his way, really expecting an “all is well.” It had always been well in the previous hurricanes. He shook his head.  “We’ve been here before. I think this left more useable stuff than the fire, though.” Weeks later, still without power, tired from the work of tossing out destroyed furniture and carpeting and scraping sodden sheet-rock out of the shell of our home, our family sat on the steps in the evening, ate another MRE and sang together, rejoicing in the goodness of God. Why? We were safe. We were together. We had our love, our family, our God. I remember laying in the bed that the red cross had purchased for us, (We had forsaken the crowded, damp little fema camper and moved back into our roof-less house, it was more comfortable.) I watched the blue tarp over my head pop up and down in the wind and felt such an incredible sense of peace and well-being. Then I laughed at myself for feeling so comfortable.. A member of the church came by during the next tropical storm. We greeted him at the door with a smile, chided him a little for running around in storms, and invited him in. He sat in the livingroom with us and watched the tarp blow up and down and looked around at the bare plywood floor and the wall studs and rafters that made up what was left of our home, and said, “This is nice, do you always decorate in 3rd world?” My husband owned an electrical business. He worked from before sun-up to after sun-down five days a week, after the storm, trying to rebuild electrical services for people. While he worked, he listened. “I’m so devastated!” “I just can’t understand why this has happened to me!” “I don’t know how I’m ever going to make it through this!” “This is horrible!” He would always ask them, “Is your family ok?” “Oh, yes, they’re fine, but we lost….” And they would go into a list of cars, boats, house, furniture, etc.” One lady became infuriated with him because he wasn’t sympathetic enough to suit her and snarled, “Well, easy enough for you to have no worries, when you haven’t lost everything!” … and he smiled, and spent his Saturdays trying to rebuild our own home … What made the difference? We’re going to do the best we can with what we’ve got. What do you do when you lose your material possessions? Understand that we had worked for and loved and purchased that little home with all the intention in the world of staying in it for the rest of our lives. (We had actually built the deck on this one!) We were content. We had our home, our church, our ministry, our business venture. Everything was fine. We didn’t necessarily need for God to come in and upset our apple-cart! Within a year’s time, the only thing we had left of that list was the shell of our destroyed home and the business.  We could have gotten angry with him. And what good would that have done? I have never understood why people get angry with God when things happen in their lives. “Why me?” “Why is God doing this to me?” And then they walk away from the Lord, like they expected life to be a bed of roses because they honored God with the privilege of saving their souls. Like God owes them something. My question is, “Why not you?” What makes you so special that you should be exempt from hard times? Joh_16:33 - These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. He didn’t say, in the world you will have it easy-peasy and life will be just great. He said you will have tribulation. That’s when you look to Him for comfort and guidance, it’s not when you decide to blame him and throw a temper tantrum like an undisciplined child. How are we supposed to respond to the troubles in our lives? How do we do the best we can, when what we’ve got is tribulation? Rom 5:3-5 - And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Realize 3 things about tribulation. #1 – it’s working in your life to make you a stronger Christian. #2 – It’s building patience and experience so that you might be a help, encouragement and an example to others, #3 – it’s an opportunity to see God work, bless and give you the peace that only He can give. Tribulation is not a curse. It’s a blessed working of God in your life that will make you stronger, give you assurance of the love of God, and make you able to be a blessing to others around you.   Daddy was alone. Mama had been his caretaker, ever since he had the stroke, 17 years before. She was gone now, and I spent my time divided between caring for him and my own home. Oh, he had my brother – but my brother was an addict, and very unreliable. Now I had a huge difficulty. God had called my husband away…1,500 miles away to be exact. I was ready, willing, and eager to go…but what about Daddy? I sat beside him, and begged him to come with me. “NO! Kansas is cold.” He would not be convinced. I began to pray, “Lord, I’m willing to go, and I will go, as you have called. Please, Lord, take care of my Daddy.” And God answered my prayer in the person of a family friend who willingly took him in. That answer to prayer opened the door to my daddy’s salvation at 82 years of age. What do you do when duties conflict? You do the best you can with what you’ve got. I had a responsibility to my daddy. The command to honor our parents doesn’t end when we are grown. But my greater responsibility lay in obeying the call of God that had been placed on my husband’s heart. As I obeyed the Lord, He took care of the rest. Sometimes doing the best you can with what you’ve got means making hard, really hard decisions. Sometimes those decisions will tear your heart out. But choosing to follow and honor God with your life is always the right decision. The Word of God has to be our constant guide. DO NOT follow your heart. That’s the worst advice you can ever give a person. Your heart will deceive you. It will convince you that wrong is right and right is wrong. Jer_17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Pro_28:26 - He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. We can’t trust that heart. What do we trust instead? When life gives you difficult, heart wrenching decisions, what do you do with it? Trust the Word of God. If you trust your emotions, you will almost always fall prey to the devil. He loves it when we become hyper-emotional. We’ve played right into his hands when we do. Let the word of God be your guide, always, and you will find that it’s much easier to do the best you can with what you’ve got, when life’s decisions are hard to make. As I said, there’s more…..but this is enough. Ladies, do the best you can….by the power of God, by the grace of God with the help of God, the peace of God and the word of God, do the best you can with what you’ve got.    

OLD fashioned preacher

OLD fashioned preacher

 

Analyzing the Chinese word, 'Righteousness.'

Analyzing the Chinese word Righteousness 「義的分析」 by Alan Introduction The Chinese written language is very unique. The Chinese words are called, “Characters,” and use a visual, or pictograph, series of lines, called, “strokes,” that represent a word, or a thought, or an action.   In written Chinese, we have an example of the righteousness of God through His Son, the Lord Jesus, in the word, “righteousness.” In Chinese, the word righteousness is written as, 「義」 The Chinese word righteousness is composed of two major words; the word Lamb「羊」 on the top and the word Me 「我」or Us 「我們」on the bottom. The word Me 「我」or Us 「我們」is composed of two words: the hand 「手」 and a spear「戈」   Righteousness is very important. God is holy and will not allow sin into heaven. A person needs to be reconciled to God, or to become righteous, in the sight of God, in order to escape the punishment of hell and enter into everlasting life in heaven. Before a person is a Christian in the sight of God he is unrighteous. The Apostle Paul said, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10 Therefore, in order for a person to have eternal life in heaven, in the presence of God, he must be righteous. He must have his sins forgiven.   We will analyze the Chinese word for righteousness and look at an example of how we can become righteous by God’s principles. In order to understand righteousness in the sight of God, we must turn to the word of God; the Bible. The Bible is God’s word and we can trust it. First 「羊」 A Lamb A sinless sacrifice must be made to forgive sins. And, it must be according to what God says. The Bible says that the blood of animals cannot take away the sins of mankind. Hebrews 10:4 says, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.” The animal sacrifices of the world cannot take away a persons sins. This includes the Muslims in the Middle East, and the sacrifices of the Buddhist, Confucianists and Taoists of the East. Hebrews 10:4, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” The sacrificial lambs that God required by the Jews under the Law of Moses in the Old Testament did not take away sins; they were an object lesson of the sacrificial sacrifice for sins by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. They were a guide, or a teacher, for the sacrifice of Christ. Galatians 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”   The Lord Jesus was sinless and perfect. In contrasting the sacrifices of the Jews under the Levitical law, the Old Testament, and the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus as our priest and sacrifice for sins, the author of the book of Hebrews makes this statement. “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. … For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,and made higher than the heavens. Who needed not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for his he did once, when he offered up himself.” Hebrews 7:22, 26 & 27   The Lord Jesus was sinless and totally righteous. A Chinese proverb says,「義刑於色」Translated, that means, “Righteousness manifested in one's appearance.”   Wang Ming-Tao says, “Yes, our Lord is completely holy. You can not find anything that He did without any blemish or unrighteousness. When He was on the earth no matter if it was a disciple, or if it was an enemy, including anybody else that had anything to do with Him, they all gave a clear testimony that He did not have even a little bit of sin or unrighteousness. 王明道:「是、我們的主就是那樣完全聖潔。你不能在他的身上找出一點污穢不義來。他在世上行走的時候、無論是他的門徒、他的仇敵、以及與他毫無關係的人、都證明他沒有少許的罪惡不義。」i A free translation by the author.   The Lord Jesus was like a lamb sacrificed for us. John the Baptist said, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29 The Lord Jesus died on the cross, like a harmless lamb, and shed His blood as a sacrifice.   As with the Jews in the Old Testament the eternal salvation of the soul is by the imputation of righteousness the moment a person, by faith, trusts in God. When a person realizes that he has sinned against God, and deserves to spend eternity in hell, and believes by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as his payment for sins, than God imputes, or gives, His righteousness to that individual. “For what saith the scriptures? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” Romans 4:3 Second 「我」 Me,  「我們」or Us Why did Jesus become a sacrifice? In order to redeem us. So we can obtain eternal salvation. To reconcile us to God. Before a person is saved he is a sinner and His relationship with God is severed . The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is the only way we can be reconciled with God. The Lord Jesus was sinless. He became sin for us while on the cross in order for us to become righteous.2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Third 「手」The Hand God made us. He made our hands. We can use our hands for good or for evil. God gave us the ability, the will, to either serve Him or the Devil. The decision is ours. Matthew 27:1&2, “When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontus Pilate the governor.”   Because of our sins, the hand of man apprehended the Lord Jesus Christ. The hand of man hit Jesus. The hand of man took a whip and whipped Jesus. The hand of man took a nail in one hand and a hammer in the other hand and nailed Jesus on the cross. The hand of man caused the blood of Jesus to be shed. The Lord Jesus allowed men to crucify Him so His blood could be shed for our sins.   The apostle Peter testified, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Acts 2:23 We can either use our hands for good or for wickedness. Fourth「戈」 A Spear The hand of man took a spear and pierced the side of Jesus and more blood flowed from the body of Jesus. John 19:34 says, “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” Jesus died for us! The Lord Jesus became a sacrificial lamb to die for the penalty of our sins on the cross of Calvary.   John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” We need to have a repentant heart and believe on the Lord Jesus as our Saviour! Conclusion The Lord Jesus was righteous in every aspect. When a person repents and trust in Jesus as their Saviour then God imputes the righteousness of Jesus to that person. The Lord Jesus becomes our righteousness. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”   Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary we can have forgiveness of our sins, escape the punishment of hell, and obtain eternal life in heaven. The Lord Jesus left the glory of heaven, became a man, to die on the cross as a sacrificial lamb, to shed His blood, so we could be saved and the righteousness of God imputed to us. So we can be reconciled with God.   i Wang Ming Tao, Treasuries of Wang Ming Tao, Volume II The Hard Road, (Touliu, Taiwan: Conservative Baptist Press, 1996), Page 93. 王明道,王明道文庫,第二冊,小徑(臺灣斗六:浸宣出版社,1996),93頁。

Alan

Alan

 

Genesis 37:15-36, The Spirit & the Flesh: Joseph & his Brethren

Genesis 37:15-36, “The Work of the Flesh and the Spirit in the Life of Joseph and his Brethren.” Introduction In the life of the brothers of Joseph we can see the works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21 In the life of Joseph we can see the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22 and 23 We are further admonished by Paul the apostle to walk in the Spirit. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 As we notice the fruits of the Spirit in the life of Joseph, we can notice the fruits of the Spirit in the life of the Lord Jesus. We are further admonished by Paul the apostle to consider, and follow, the examples, akin to the precepts given in the Old Testament, of the men like Joseph, Abraham, Jacob, David and the other men and women in the Old Testament as they walked in Spirit. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”1 Corinthians 10:11 The precepts, and examples, of the Old Testament saints were written for the admonition of the saints in the church in the New Testament. As we develop the story of Joseph, and see the fruits of the Spirit in his life, we will notice the attitude, the character, the will, the heart, of Joseph is of a good nature. Our walk with the Lord will develop our attitude, our character; our very being. The Willingness of Joseph Genesis 37:13, “And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.” we can see the good attitude of Joseph, “Here am I.” Joseph was willing to do all that his father Jacob told him to do. This was the attitude of the Lord Jesus. John 14:31, “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.” This is also a good attitude, or characteristic, for every Christian. God, in either Testament, wants us to be saved, and serve Him, with a willing heart. Leviticus 1:3, “If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.” The Apostle Paul stated, “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.” 2 Corinthians 8:12The concept, the belief, the doctrine that man does not have a free will, or the concept, the belief, the doctrine, of irresistible grace,is foreign to the word of God and repugnant. Even though his father, and his brothers, did not understand the two dreams, Joseph was not discouraged nor did he have a bitter attitude. Joseph determined to love God, to do the will of God, and have a cheerful attitude. Joseph did not let the world, the pressure of the world, and the attitude of the world, hurt his relationship with God. Joseph did his Father’s will Genesis 37:15-17, “And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, what seekest thou? And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed the flocks. And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren and found them in Dothan.” Joseph did his fathers will and was going to help his brothers. Even though his brothers hated him, Joseph did not hate his brothers but wanted to help them in feeding the flock. As Joseph wandered about trying to find the brethren he did not get discouraged. Joseph continued to seek out his brethren after an initial failure. This willingness, spirit, this attitude, this characteristic, is seen in the life of Christ.“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he [Jesus] should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51We need to take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus despite the hard road in this life. “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” mark 8:34 As the Lord Jesus had steadfastness in His life, so should we have steadfastness in our life. The brothers conspire against Joseph Genesis 37;18, “And when they say him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.” Joseph did nothing wrong or evil. The brothers hated Joseph for no good reason. The brothers are conspiring to reward evil for good. Proverbs 17:13, “Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.” Is not rewarding evil for good one of the works of the flesh? “… and such like.” Galatians 5:21 The rewarding evil for good is what the Jews did to the Lord Jesus. The Jews did not like Jesus, did not believe in Jesus, and rejected His doctrines. But, in spite of the evil of other people, the Lord Jesus did good works; He did not do any evil. Matthew 27:22-24, “Pilate saith unto them, what shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified, When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.” Joseph is sold to the Ishmeelites Genesis 37:28, “Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” The greed in the hearts of the brothers of Joseph led them to sell Joseph for sold for twenty pieces of silver. 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith,and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” The number of saints, and ministers, who have walked in the flesh, and loved mammon more than the Lord Jesus, will only be known until the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Lord Jesus was also sold out to the enemy by one of His brethren: Judas Iscariot betrayed, and sold Him, for 30 pieces of silver. Matthew 26:14-16, “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.” The history of the church is filled with saints, and ministers, who walked in the flesh and sold out the Lord, His doctrines, His walk, His precepts, and His church, for the coins of this life. The brothers of Joseph deceive their father Genesis 37:28, “And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their Father; and said, This have we found: know not whether it be thy son's coat or no.” One sin leads to another. First, the brothers hated Joseph for bringing their evil report to their father, then they envied Joseph, and then hated Joseph even more for his two dreams, then they wanted to kill him, then they sold Joseph, and now they deceive their father. Sin is now the master of the brothers. Romans 6:16, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; (whether of sin unto death,) or of obedience unto righteousness?) Joseph in Egypt Genesis 37:36, “And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard.” The Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar. It was Potiphar’s responsibility to protect the king of Egypt. In the Bible, Egypt is a type of the world. The Lord Jesus left the glories of heaven to come into the world as a man. Philippians 2:5-8, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Conclusion We need to have the attitude of Joseph. Joseph was very humble and willing to do the will of Israel, his father. Joseph said, “Here am I.” The Lord Jesus had a willing heart to do the will of God. Mark 14:36, “And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”    

Alan

Alan

 

Joseph and his Jewish Dreams

Genesis 37:5-11, “Joseph and his Jewish Dreams”   Joseph had faith and loved the Lord God. In the Old Testament, before the Bible was written, God spoke to men in dreams. God had given Joseph dreams. As we read the story of Joseph, we can see that Joseph was like the Lord Jesus. Joseph was a type of Christ. Joseph walked with God and had the characteristics of the Lord Jesus.   Also, Joseph is a good example for the Christian. God gave the examples of the Old Testament men and women for us. 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” The wise Christian will look at the examples of the saints of the Old Testament and use these examples to learn how to walk in the Spirit (not in the Flesh), and please the Lord Jesus. Romans 15;4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” The stories of the Old Testament saints can give the Christian hope and comfort our hearts.   Joseph walked in the Holy Spirit and had the fruits of the Spirit.Galatians 5:22 and 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Joseph and his brothers Genesis 37:1-4, “And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.”   Joseph was hated by his eleven brothers for two reasons:   Joseph told his father, Jacob, or Israel, the evil things that his brothers did. Amos 5;10, “They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.”   Most people do not like it when you rebuke them. When the pastor rebukes a sin, and people do not want to repent, then some people get mad, criticize the pastor, the church. A wise person will repent when you rebuke him. Like Joseph, and the Lord Jesus, it is the responsibility of the man of God to rebuke people’s sins. 2 Timothy 4:1 and 2, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” A faithful pastor will rebuke the sins of the people. A false pastor will not rebuke the sins of the people.   Proverbs 28:23, “He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” A faithful pastor will find good results but a false pastor will flatter people.   Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” A wise Christian will hear the rebuke of the faithful pastor. A scorner will not listen to the rebuke of the pastor.   Jacob, or Israel, his father loved him more than the other 11 brothers because Joseph was the son of his old age.   The eleven brothers of Joseph were all walking in the flesh and had the fruits of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The Dream of the Sheaves that did Obeisance Genesis 37:5-8, “And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.”   Both dreams came from God and God will fulfill both dreams in the life of Joseph and in the life of Christ. In the first dream, the brothers were binding sheaves in the field and Joseph’s sheaf stood upright and the sheaves of the brothers stood up and did obeisance. The brothers hated this dream and the interpretation. The brothers of Joseph rejected the words of Joseph.   The brothers did not like the dreams that God gave Joseph. They did not want Joseph to reign over them. The brothers did not want to make obeisance to Joseph. Therefore, the brothers hated the words of Joseph and questioned the dreams of Joseph. When a person does not agree with the pastor who faithfully preaches the scriptures, they will question the scriptures and the pastor.   Joseph’s brothers are like the nation of Israel. When the Lord Jesus came and dwelt among the nation of Israel, His brethren, the Jews rejected Him. John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”And, in the church Age, most of the Jews hate Jesus and his words.   When the Lord Jesus came the first time, the Jews also did not want Jesus to be their king. John 19:14 & 15, “And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he [Pilate] saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”   This dream was fulfilled in the life of Joseph. Genesis 42:6, “And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.”   And, this dream will be also fulfilled in the life of Christ when the 12 tribes of Israel recognize the Lord Jesus as Saviour and serve the Lord Jesus as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. tells us that 12,000 Jews from each tribe of Israel become the servants of the Lord Jesus in the 7 Year Tribulation Period.   Joseph is like the Christian who walks in the Spirit. The Christian who walks in the spirit will be persecuted, talked against, scorned, maligned, and despised by those who walk in the flesh. & Galatians 4:28 & 29, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.”   The Dream of the Sun and the Moon Genesis 37: 9 & 10, “And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren,and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?”   This dream is almost the same; but slightly different. In the first dream, only the other brothers did obeisance and in the second dream the Sun and the Moon, and eleven stars made obeisance. The sun represents Jacob, the Moon represents Rachel, and the eleven stars represent the eleven brothers. Rachel is already dead (Genesis 35:16-20). As with Job, and the other saints in the Old Testament, Jacob believed that one day that God would raise the saints from the dead.   So, this represents all of the children of Israel, Jacob, and Rachel. This dream was fulfilled in Joseph's lifetime, among his own family (minus Rachel). The second time the brothers of Joseph came to Egypt they bowed before him the second time and said that their father (Jacob), was his servant. Genesis 43:28, “And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.”   The second dream, along with the first dream, represents the whole nation of Israel bowing down to the Lord Jesus. Genesis 37:9 & 10 is the interpretation of . Revelation 12:1-17. Revelation 12:1, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”   The fulfillment of the second dream is when the nation of Israel gets saved and bows down to the Lord Jesus. Romans 11:26, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Jacob observed Joseph’s sayings Genesis 37:11, “And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” Jacob did not question the dreams of Joseph. Jacob did not fully understand them; but, he did not question them. Jacob observed them.   Joseph’s brothers did not care for the words of Joseph. The brothers walked in the flesh. Envy is a one of the fruits of the flesh as listed in Galatians 5:19-21The father, Jacob, loved the Lord. So, he observed these sayings. We need to observe the saying’s in the scriptures. Psalm 107:43, “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.”   A wise Christian will walk in the Spirit and will observe the life of Joseph.  

Alan

Alan

 

It's in the Bible!

It's in the Bible! by Ronald W Robey   Whenever I mention the fact that I don't tithe, someone is sure to reply, "It's in the Bible!"   And truthfully, tithing is indeed commanded in the Bible. I do not dispute that fact at all.   However, we cannot focus on the fact that the command to tithe is in the Bible and ignore the commanded ELEMENTS of the tithe; the commanded GIVERS of the tithe; the commanded LOCATION of the tithe; the commanded RECIPIENTS of the tithe; the commanded YEAR of the tithe.   A diligent study of the Bible will reveal to the reader many precious and wonderful truths that are ignored in so many mainstream religious institutions around the world today.   There is no instruction in the entire Bible where God said that one's monetary income is to be tithed to either Tabernacle, Temple, Synagogue or Church. Even in the last place in the Bible where tithing is mentioned, (Hebrews 7:5-9) the author says that the tithes still belongs to the sons of Levi, and that the tithes are still "according to the Law.   Since the author of Hebrews reveals that tithes are still "according to the Law, it is needful to go to the Books of the Law in order to learn what they say concerning God's holy tithe. The Law states that God's holy tithe is   a) agricultural (Lev. 27:30-33   b) only required of the children of Israel (Lev. 27:34; Psa. 147:19-20)   c) only to be observed by those living in the land of Canaan (Deut. 12:1,10-11)   d) to be given to Levites, widows, orphans and foreigners; (Deut. 26:12) and even to be eaten by the one bringing the tithe. (Deuteronomy 14:22-26)   e) to be given every third year (Deuteronomy 26:12)   God NEVER amended the tithe command to say that a tenth of one's money is now required as tithe. He NEVER amended the tithe command to say tithes are to be given around the world. He NEVER amended the tithe to say that it is to be observed every week of the year and every year of your Christian life   For that matter, God NEVER said that Christian's are required to tithe at all..   Pastor's have handled the word of God deceitfully in order to teach a tithe command that is totally foreign to the word of God, i.e.; a tithe of man's monetary income,... a tithe of unrighteous mammon.   Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.   Attempting to obey the command to tithe, without obeying the other instructions connected to that command merits a curse, not favor.   Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
 

Salvation in the OT – Paul’s explanation.

Salvation in the OT – Paul’s explanation.   To begin with, Hebrews is the perfect place to find out about salvation in the Old Testament, for this letter is all about how the New is better than the Old. In fact, it is widely recognised that the key word of this letter is the word “Better”. This word is found 13 times – only Ecclesiastes and Proverbs have more instances of this word. Ecclesiastes is a comparison between the ways of the world and the ways of the Lord – so we would expect to see “better” in any list of comparisons. Proverbs is about living for the Lord, and the wisdom of God’s ways compared to the worlds ways – so again comparison would expect to see the word “Better”. So likewise, Hebrews also is a comparison – of the Old worship compared to the New worship, so the word “better” should be expected. There is much in Hebrews to examine in this matter. Heb 3:15-19 15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.   The Promised land is a picture of salvation, and they could not enter into the land because of unbelief – but it is actually more than that – it speaks of them not entering into His rest. Now, in case you would think that I am overstepping this point, see the next chapter. Heb 4:1-3 1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.   Paul says that the Gospel was preached unto “us”, as well as unto them:” It doesn’t say that it was “a Gospel” but “the gospel” – this indicates it was the same thing preached unto them as unto us – and their problem was not that they didn’t sacrifice, but they didn’t believe in faith. And there is more along these lines:   Heb 4:5 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Entering into His rest comes after the preaching, but some entered not into His rest because of unbelief. This could all be applied to simply entering into the Land, if it were not for the fact that Paul equates the gospel preached to them with the gospel preached “to us” (that is Paul and those of his time.) Heb 4:7-10 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. The key point in this section is that it is Jesus that would have given THEM rest – and that “rest” remains – the implication is that it is the same rest that is being spoken of. And an important note to this is vs 10 – “he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works”. Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; It appears as though Paul is equating the “rest” of the OT saints with the “rest” of salvation. The statement is made in: Heb 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? If perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, then there was no need of the Saviour – It is stated quite plainly here that perfection was NOT POSSIBLE by the Law. With this statement, we must come to one of two conclusions – either there was no way for them to be saved, or they were saved by a way other than the Law. Further on in this chapter we have a comparison made: Heb 7:13-25 13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. 20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: 21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) 22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Jesus was not from the priestly tribe and is therefore not qualified in that way to be a priest. But He is after the order of Melchisidech – and the important part of that is “a priest for ever”. His priesthood did not start at the cross – He was already and always a Priest. In vs 19 Paul uses the past tense to show that “the Law MADE nothing perfect” – it never did, even when they were under the Law – “…but the bringing in of a better hope did;….” And in vs 24,25 Paul makes the point that this man has an unchangeable priesthood, and He is able to save “…seeing He ever liveth…” If it is unchanging, then it is unchanging from the start, and He is a priest after the order of Melchisedeck for ever. His priesthood is for ever and is unchanging. This indicates that His ministry has always been effective, and always will be. Next chapter: Heb 8:-7 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. 6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. Paul uses the word “Pattern” here, to show that the things of the priests were a pattern, or example, or illustration, of the true sacrifice. They were not the effective sacrifice, but a picture of it. If the picture were faultless (or effective) there would be no reason for the fact. In other words, if the yearly sacrifice was enough, there would be no need for the perfect sacrifice. The Picture showed the truth that was still to come. Chapter 9 discusses that picture. Heb 9:1-8 1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. 2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. 3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; 4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. 6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Paul makes the point that the “way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest” – this is a significant statement because the word manifest means “shown or displayed” – “to be made apparent”. This word is used of something that is in existence, but is not seen. It is not used of something that does not exist yet – the way was there, it was just not clearly seen. Heb 9:9-13 9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: “Purifying of the flesh” indicates the outside – the works. “Conscience” indicates the inside – the spirit. Heb 9:14-15 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. Paul talks of the “first Testament” transgressions being dealt with by the death of the Christ. This is those under the Law were purged by the death of Christ, not by keeping the Law – which we know its true today without argument. This is not specifically dealing with Pre-Christ issues though, but generally. Heb 9:16-22 16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. 18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. After discussing the things that Moses did – blood purges sin etc – in the following verses Paul again talks about them being a “pattern”, and how the perfect sacrifice was needed. Heb 9:23-28 23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Vs 25, 26 is interesting in that it says that Christ was offered once, and that was enough. If He had to be offered every year, as with the “pattern sacrifices”, then it would have had to have been “from the foundation of the world” – but now once in the end is enough. This is an indicator of a concept of “backward salvation” if you will – Paul is indicating that this once was enough for all time, even before the event – if it had to be an annual thing then it would have to be from the beginning of time for there were those who would have “missed out” if it was only effective from the day of the sacrifice. If the perfect sacrifice was only effective for 12 months at a time, then it would have to have been done at the very beginning and every year since. But this one time sacrifice is enough and is effective for ever. Heb 10:1-4 1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. A restating of these things – picture, example, if it were perfect, then once would be enough, the picture didn’t have the power to save anyone. Heb 10:9-12 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; Take away the first – the picture of sacrifice, and replace it with the second – the perfect sacrifice. “….we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” – this “once for all” is an all encompassing phrase – it means “one time for every one”, and there is no limitation stated or implied that it is “once for everyone from now”. Add to this the statement in vs 12 “…one sacrifice for sins for ever…” – the words “for ever” again don’t imply from now until for ever, but just forever. His Sacrifice was for sins for ever, not just sins from “now on”. Heb 10:20 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; Even in this, the “new and living way” is not a brand new invention, but because it is consecrated to us “through the veil” it indicates that it is now seen by all – the veil of the Temple kept people out of direct contact, but when Christ died as the perfect Sacrifice, the veil was torn in two and people could see directly to God. The way was always there, but now it was “seen”, which ties in with ch9:8 where the way into the Holiest was now made manifest – the Holiest is the portion of the Temple concealed by the veil. The “Hall of Faith”. Heb 11:1-4 11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. 4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. The very first example of faith mentioned is that of Abel – his sacrifice was acceptable, and offered “by Faith”. His sacrifice was of a lamb – this pictured the coming Sacrifice of Christ, whilst the sacrifice of Cain did not. Cain’s sacrifice pictured man’s own work, whilst Abel’s sacrifice had the blood. How did Abel know to make such a sacrifice? We are not told, but we are told that to cover Adam and Eve’s sin, the Lord made them coats of skins: Gen 3:21 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. We have the example straight up of a death required to cover sin, and the assumption is that Adam and Eve taught their children this example. They also had the promise of: Gen 3:14-15 14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. This is a promise of Messiah, and event that He would die on the cross and be raised again – a bruised heel is rarely fatal – it is an inconvenience; it is painful; but it is rarely fatal. A “bruised head” however is a different matter. Even today a “bruised head” can be fatal, and before modern medicine it almost always was. This is a prophecy that a man would be injured but would then have ultimate victory over Satan – this is what we see in Christ – He was wounded, but not to finality – He rose from the dead. And when He did, he put an end to the efforts of Satan – Satan will never be like the Most High. And this was known by Adam and Eve, and associated with the covering for their sin which required the death of animals – you don’t get skins off of an animal without killing the animal. And Able offered a better sacrifice by Faith – by faith in God, evidenced by Able following the example given to Adam and Eve, in knowledge of the promise of victory through a son. It is somewhat flimsy to the argument of faith in Christ, but there can be no doubt that Adam and Eve were waiting for one to have victory over Satan, and the sacrifice of an animal was associated with it. Enoch pleased God and it is impossible to please God without faith – so Enoch had Faith in God – but it is not explained precisely what that faith was about. In each of these faith is evident in the works they performed -they trusted God when God told them to do something. Heb 11:17-19 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. Abraham had faith which was displayed in many ways, but in this particular one there is an indicator of something – that death and resurrection was possible. And it says that Abraham “also received him in a figure”. Received who “in a figure”? It is unclear, but it can not be talking of Isaac, because it did not in fact happen. The indication is that Abraham received God “in a figure” – He looked at the picture of Isaac dying on the altar, and was convinced that God could raise Isaac from the dead, and then realised that it was a picture – that God would die and be raised up again. (But this is not 100% clear in this). Heb 11:24-27 24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. It is interesting here that Paul says that Moses was “Esteeming the reproach of Christ” – not of God, but specifically “of Christ” – Now we know that Moses did not know the name of Jesus, but he knew about Christ, and that Christ was God. The Jews all knew about Messiah, and they all knew about the sacrifices – but not many put two and two together I guess – just as not many understand the truth of Christ today. Heb 11:39-40 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. These all “received not the promise” – that means they were expecting a promise – but which promise? They had faith, but “received not the promise”. It does not state it plainly. But there are indicators – and one of them is in the next section: Heb 12:1-2 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses? Which witnesses – these men and women just mentioned in chapter 11 – and what was common about them – they all had faith. The implication of this verse is that we should run the race in the same way that those gathered at the finish line did – they have already run their race,. And we should keep going till we finish as well. And what race are we to run? Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. What is implied here is that their faith (chapter 11) is the same faith as our faith, and our faith is looking to Jesus, therefore their faith was looking to Jesus. They didn’t know His name, but they knew about Him. He was promised, and it was the fulfilment of this promise that they were trusting in. There is no doubt that men have always been sinners – at least since Adam sinned – and there can be no doubt that there is none righteous, no not one. What is less often acknowledged is that a man can only be righteous if God makes Him so. And God did that in the OT as well as in the NT. Rom 4:6 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, God imputed righteousness to men WITHOUT works, even in the OT. There are some references in Hebrews that we have looked at that show that the OT sacrifices themselves didn’t save anyone – they have not the power to take away sins – it was faith in what the sacrifices pictured that counted. But what exactly did the OT saints have faith in? This is less obvious, in that it was not “made manifest” or shown clearly in OT times. Yet some understood it – that is clear from the words of Hebrews 11 amongst other passages. But look at: Joh 20:26-29 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. This last phrase is an interesting phrase in light of what we read about those who “received not the promise” in Hebrews 11. It says “they that have not seen” – and it uses not the future tense, but a tense that allows both past and current. “Have not” actually sits in the past tense but also applies to those who “have not yet” seen – so it could include those alive then who have not, as well as those of the past who “have not” seen – although it would be more definite if it said “did not”. But it indicates that there were some who “have not seen, and yet have believed”. There were those in the past who believed in Christ, even though they did not see Christ themselves – this brings my mind to those who were waiting for the promised Messiah, but did not “receive the promise”. They were trusting in Him, but did not see the realisation of that promise – yet they are counted as having faith. Further, Joh 1:29-34 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. This is that manifesting of the way into the holiest – the showing of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. And it is significant the way John refers to Him: “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” The people of the nation would have understood the reference. It was apparently approaching the time of the yearly sacrifice, and the people knew that a spotless lamb was to be sacrificed for the sin of the nation. We know that those sacrifices were pictures, illustration, shadows, of the truth. When John called out “behold the lamb of God”, the people would have known what John meant – that this guy – whoever He was – was the sacrifice for sin. They may not have understood it immediately, but people began to follow Him – they knew that He was the promised Messiah. People were looking for the Messiah to come. They knew about Him. They knew about the sacrifices as well. Over time and through poor teaching they had lost the meaning of these things, but it was known. They knew about Messiah, and they knew about the sacrifices, and the OT does link Messiah to the sacrifices – so the knowledge was available. They did not know His name, but they knew for instance that he would be called Emmanuel. They did not call upon the name of Jesus, but they did call upon the Messiah, the promised Lamb of God. And there is this: 1 Cor 15:3-4 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: These things were all done “According to the Scriptures”, therefore the knowledge of what had to happen was there. If it was all according to the Scriptures, then it is entirely possible that an OT person could be saved by trusting in the Messiah to come. After all, it was all written there. And of course, Paul confirmed that fact when he wrote to Timothy: 2 Tim 3:15 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Note that When Timothy was a child the only Scriptures would have been the OT, yet Paul says that was sufficient.   (I went to correct a typo and all my references disappeared - I have replaced them, so I hope they show up now!)

DaveW

DaveW

 

Dragging dead babies !

As Solomon's wisdom is being displayed he tells the servants to bring a sword and divide the living baby and to give each woman half. As we consider this spiritually we know that Gods church is his living baby. it needs to be fed, guided, nourished, corrected,,chastened, and cared for in many other ways. To many times its is divided ( split ) for the sake of the baby that is dead. to many times Gods people give new meaning to raising the dead. a dead baby can not be helped, you cant change it, you cant correct it , it will not eat. you cant gain anything from a dead baby but a stink! however time and time again we find ourselves splitting Gods church over a dead baby! if we could only learn to let dead babys die, and put our attention on Gods living baby, how much better would our churches be in worship and service.                                                                         Pastor Coley

Joe Coley

Joe Coley

 

To much power!

Our Lord led this blind man out of town, put spit on his eyes and asked him if he saw ought. the blind man said "I see men as trees walking". now I have read many sermons and commentaries on this subject and it seems they all have one thing in agreement , that for many different reasons given our Lord was unable to accomplish the task when he first attempted it. some say because of their unbelief,others because of the area he was in......etc.If you all would bear with me a little in my folly, I heard that somewhere,lol may I suggest the one thing to consider that I found in kmow writings, and that is the possibility that our Lord gave him to much power and allowed him to see like God sees ! for the Lord indeed sees men as trees all through the word of God.God said "all my trees are full of sap" he spoke of the trees of Lebanon...he said in Eccl. if a tree falls to the north or the south ,in the place where the tree falls , there it is...... consider when our Lord touched his eyes again it was not to add more spit, rather to remove some! and would our lives not be much better off in compassion and help to one another if we could all stop once in a while and see as God sees?    

Joe Coley

Joe Coley

 

And God gave Solomon wisdom

1 Kings 4:29-34, “And God gave Solomon wisdom.” 1 Kings 4:29-34, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.”  Wisdom and understanding is very important. We need wisdom is our lives. We need wisdom to learn how to raise our family, working on our job, dealing with our neighbors, and those in the church congregation. As God gave King Solomon wisdom; so can the Lord give us wisdom. “If any of you ask wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5 James does add one thought concerning asking God wisdom that we need to consider in our hearts. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” James 1:6 & 7    “And God gave Solomon wisdom”  Why did God give King Solomon wisdom? In 1 Kings 3:5-15 God appeared to King Solomon in a dream and said, “… Ask what I shall give thee.”  1 Kings 3:5 I am going to ask the reader of this devotion to read, and consider, every word that occurs in the dream of King Solomon. God is looking at the heart of King Solomon and Solomon is speaking from his heart. In his heart, King Solomon knew that God wanted His people to walk in righteous and in truth. “..according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness...”  1 Kings 3:6 King Solomon was very humble and of a sincere heart. At this time, Solomon was 20 years old. In 1 Kings 3:7 Solomon said that he was a servant of God and was like a little child. “… and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.”1 Kings 3:7 Most people are very proud and will not follow the ways of God. Most people are unwilling to be a servant of God. Even though Solomon was king he felt that God was his king. King Solomon willingly called himself a servant. Solomon believed that he was a servant of God in order to do the will of God.  1 peter 5:5-7, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” King Solomon humbled himself. God made us. He is the King in Heaven. God is not our servant. We are His servants. God resists a proud person. One of the reasons why God does not answer a Christian’s prayer is because they are not humble nor sincere. If we want God to give us wisdom, we need to walk in unrighteousness, truth, be humble, and sincere .  1 Kings 3:9 “Discernment” ! Kings 3:9, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” God gave King Solomon wisdom because he asked for wisdom in order to discern between good and evil  and to judge the nation of Israel. Solomon did not ask wisdom for his own fleshly desires or experience. He asked God for wisdom to lead the nation of Israel according to the will of God. King Solomon was unselfish. He did not ask for wisdom to help his own desires. He did not ask for money. He did not ask for health. King Solomon loved God and loved the nation of Israel. King Solomon wanted wisdom to help him to discern between good and evil. Long before God gave Solomon wisdom, Job wrote the definition of wisdom; “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28 Most people are selfish and they do not care to help others. A Chinese proverb says, “To care nothing outside one’s window – one does not care what is going on beyond one’s own surroundings.” 俗語說「兩耳不聞窗外事」 It is the will of God for Christians to discern between good and evil. The Lord Jesus wants all Christians to discern between good and evil. The Lord Jesus wants us to discern between evil and good, right and wrong, and good and bad doctrine. Ephesians 4;14 , “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” A Christian who is not concerned about good doctrine, or is unwilling to forsake bad doctrine, is like a child who is unconcerned about the parents guidance, is deceived, and is like the waves of he sea driven hither and yonder by every wind of the heretics of this world. A lost person, or an immature Christian, cannot discern between good and evil. But a mature Christian can discern between good and evil: or judgment. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 God blessed King Solomon “And Solomon's wisdom excelled of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.” 1 Kings 4:30The East country would include Iran, India, China and Japan.  “And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.” 1 Kings 4:34 Even today, in the Western world, when a person thinks of wisdom, he thinks of King Solomon and the book of Proverbs.
King Solomon was humble, righteous, and sincere in the sight of God. He asked for wisdom to judge the nation of Israel and to learn how to discern between right and wrong. We need to have the same attitude. God can give us wisdom if it is His will. says, Proverbs 2:6, “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” 

Alan

Alan

 

Genesis 1 (Bible Primer)

Genesis 1:1
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

We will be looking at this text today. I would like to first however, do some equipping for all of us. To some this may be review and to some this is completely new. Before we get started in the first verses of scripture, I would like to look at the nuts and bolts of how we are going to understand our Bible. Further to that I think we should look at why it’s the Bible we study. How do we know its trust worthy? And then finally how do we understand it. This is to empower you all with the ability to know how to always be able to hold yourself and others accountable to the teaching they try and give you. There cannot be growth by hindering anyone from proper spiritual growth and understanding of the Bible. This is not to say that you all are interpreting scripture wrong. I have no way to know that or not, that’s why it may be review in spots for some. New information perhaps for the younger people and all around strengthening to your walk in faith.   Let us pray and Begin.
First: Why the Bible and not a different religious text?   My first stop in helping to answer this question was to turn to a big brain. Ravi Zacharias for those who don't know is a very intelligent apologist. He writes the following.   Ravi Zacharias wrote on a blog the following:   “With the numerous religions in the world, how can Christians claim exclusivity? I am often asked this question in different settings. But I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that the Christian faith is the only one that seems to have this question posed. The truth is that every major religion in the world claims exclusivity, and every major religion in the world has a point of exclusion.   Hinduism, for example, is often represented as being the most tolerant and accepting of other faiths. That is just not true. All Hindus believe in two fundamental, uncompromising doctrines—the Law of Karma, and the belief in reincarnation. These will not be surrendered. In fact, Buddhism was born out of the rejection of two other very dogmatic claims of Hinduism. Buddha rejected the authority of the vedas and the caste [sic: Ritual purities] system of Hinduism. The issue here is not who was right or wrong. The truth is that they were systemically different—both claiming rightness. Islam, as you know, is very clearly an exclusive claim to God. A Muslim will never tell you that it doesn’t matter what you believe or that all religions are true. But before we get upset with such claims, let us remember that it is the very nature of truth that presents us with this reality. Truth by definition is exclusive. Everything cannot be true. If everything is true, then nothing is false. And if nothing is false then it would also be true to say everything is false. We cannot have it both ways. One should not be surprised at the claims of exclusivity. The reality is that even those who deny truth’s exclusivity, in effect, exclude those who do not deny it. The truth quickly emerges. The law of non-contradiction does apply to reality: Two contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense. Thus, to deny the law of non-contradiction is to affirm it at the same time. You may as well talk about a one-ended stick as talk about truth being all-inclusive. Christ is either the immeasurable God or one dreadfully lost. Apply the tests of truth to the person and the message of Jesus Christ. You see not only his exclusivity, but also his uniqueness.”(http://rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/point-of-exclusion/) So where does that leave us? We must not be surprised at truth claims but we must test them before we believe them. If the test demonstrates truth then we are morally compelled to believe it. And this is precisely the point from which many are trying to run. As G.K. Chesterton said, the problem with Christianity is not that it has been tried and found wanting, but that it has been found difficult and left untried.
There is a method of testing a worldview that is attributed to Dr. Zacharias, (that I can’t seem to find a source for) called the 3-4-5 method

1) A worldview must pass 3 tests:
- Logically consistent: It cant contradict itself - Empirically adequate: It has to match what we see in reality - Existentially relevant – Its teaching must speak directly to how we live our lives.   2) A worldview must answer four questions:   Origin – Where did I come from?
Meaning – What am I worth?
Morality – Why is it wrong to do things/ or is it wrong to do certain things?
Destiny – Where am I going when I die. If anywhere.
  3) Five academic disciplines used to study the worldview   - Theology: Study of God   - Metaphysics: the study of what is real   – Just a note: Can you believe we have to talk about this now? We have masses of children who cant decide if we are really here or not.   - Epistemology: The study of how we can know things   - Ethics: The study of moral right and wrong.   - Anthropology: The study of what and who humans are.     The beauty of boiling every worldview and faith to these points is there is no need then to read every piece of literature of a certain faith. Once a worldview breaks a rule it is falsified.   For example: Islam denies the death of Jesus on the cross. Islam cannot comprehend a prophet, being killed. Therefore Jesus in the Qur'an was caught up before death and perhaps switched with someone else. All the other historical evidence shows Jesus died. Greek history, Jewish history. Therefore something is fundamentally flawed.
Now that would be a Philosophically motivated answer to the question of why Christianity. If your interested in those types of discussions, Ravi Zacharias' ministry has a ton of info and I highly encourage you to check them out.
Perhaps you feel like the late Adrian rogers and that “Philosophy is the study of things we already know… using words we can't understand.”
How about this then perhaps?   Fulfilled Prophecy as a proof of authenticity of the Bible.:   Looking just at Jesus, He fulfilled 333 prophecies from the Old Testament. Here are a few.   His Virgin Birth. (Isa 7:14; Mt 1:23)
His Bethlehem Birth. (Micah 5:2-3; Mt 2:5-6) His flight to Egypt. (Hos 11:1; Mt 2:15) His Childhood in Nazareth (Isa 11:1; Mt 2:23) His Healing ministry (Isa 53:4; Mt 8:16-17) His betrayal money by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (psalm 41:9, 55:12-14; Zech 11:12-13; mt 26:14-16, 21-25)
The betrayal money used to purchase a potters field. (Jer 18-14; 19:1-3; Zech 11:12-13; mt 27:9-10) His scourging and being spat upon. (Isa 50:6; Mt 26:67; 27:26) His crucifixion between thieves. (Isa 53:12; Mt 27:38; Mk 15:27-28; Lk 22:37) The piercing of His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Zech 12:10; mk 15:25) The ridicule and mocking as He hung on the cross (psalm 22:7-8; Lk 23:34; Jm 19:23-24) His resurrection (Psalm 16:10; Mt 28:2-7) His ascension. (psalm 24:7-10; Mk 16:19; Lk 24:51)
If one prophecy was fulfilled that would be neat. However that’s only 13, of some 300+ prophecies. Just for Jesus alone. Bearing in mind the following.

The Bible is technically 66 books not 1
Written over a period of approx 2000 years
by ~40 different authors over 3 continents from three different languages.

Keeping all consistency and free of error. Some STILL critique the Bible and say it was fabricated for gain.

1) looking at the above how on earth would that even be possible. 2) For what gain? The Bible is a book stained in martyrdom for the cause of Christ. No story of a man using God for gain ended well for that man.  
So those would be two different ways to come to the conclusion that the Bible is the true text holding Gods word. There are certainly more ways to delve into this topic, for time I will stop there. Resources if your still interested, would be places such as Gotquestions.org, carm.org, RZIM.org, answersingenesis has been delving into these things, same with places like the ICR, and creation.com lots and lots and lots.   So we know the Bible is our source for truth, how do we know we can trust what we have.
Inspiration: Crash course in Bibliology.   First thing to note: Inspiration means to be “God Breathed” therefore came straight from the mouth of God.   A few false views (there are tons):   Natural inspiration theory. This view says that the bible was simply written by “inspired men” just as anyone is inspired when they write a novel or a story   Partial Inspiration theory. As the name suggests this gives the idea that portions and parts are inspired, however others are not. The decision of what is inspired work and what is only mans words are left up to each individual interpreter.   Mechanical dictation theory. This view is that God mechanically moved the hands of the writers. No personality or person(s) distinct vocabulary or influences are shown in the text.   A Biblical view of inspiration:   Verbal plenary inspiration. That is each and every word in the Bible is the words of God. Written by men while fully keeping their own writing style, vocabulary and influences intact.   What about preservation: Here at Bethel we have made a distinction as “The King James type”. From a leadership point of view we have taken that position and while not everyone who comes through these doors as a whole may agree with the view. That is where we currently stand. So what does that actually mean? We would say that the copies from originals to English we believe to be preserved. I would personally urge you that if you hold to this view strongly like even I do myself, let us not beat people with our convictions.   More information on VPP -> From the dean burgeon society:
  What does VPP mean? “Verbal” means “every word to the jot and tittle” (Ps 12:6-7, Matt 5:18). “Plenary” means “the Scripture as a whole with all the words intact” (Matt 24:35, 1 Pet 1:25). So VPP means the whole of Scripture with all its words even to the jot and tittle is perfectly preserved by God without any loss of the original words, prophecies, promises, commandments, doctrines, and truths, not only in the words of salvation, but also the words of history, geography and science. Every book, every chapter, every verse, every word, every syllable, every letter is infallibly preserved by the Lord Himself to the last iota.

VPP extends past just the originals, the question is can God keep His word intact from one language to the other. Dean burgeon society like we here at bethel feel God has done just that into the English language with the KJV. There are still numerous projects to take the proper source texts and get them into other foreign languages and we should be praying for those and supporting if we can.   Now that we know why the Bible, how it got inspired, and that we have what was written from time past in our hands today. How do we understand it.   Hermeneutics:
Instead of going through every different way some people come to interpreting the Bible, lets first look at how not to do it.
Things not to do:
1-Don't make a point at the expense of a text; This is known as the deductive method, or Eisegesis we do not approach a text with our conclusion set. Emotions have a sneaky way to getting into our conclusions before we have even read the text. 2-Think not of “what does the passage mean to me”, but rather what does the passage mean. What was the author getting across, and to what people? and knowing that! What is the implication of this truth? 2a-Generally; there are not multiple literal meanings to the text.   While some few passages are indeed both prophetical and historical, we must use the principles outlined in a few moments to be sure that is what’s happening. Otherwise as a general rule plain meanings in scripture are singular in interpretation.   3- Don't spiritualize or allegorize a text. Eg: Davids slingshot that flung the stone that killed Goliath: The sling shot is the church and the rock are missionaries we send out to slay the false faiths in remote areas where we send them.   The following is not the plain sense of the text and therefore makes no sense to claim. It sounds nice to the ears, and could make any man behind the pen feel like he's unlocked some sort of new meaning. I would submit there are no new meanings, scripture is clear, literal and singular in meaning.   Through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in illumination (Think of a light bulb turning on; That is a supernatural assistance in guiding our knowledge and wisdom of a text, it is the spirit opening our eyes to see what God is saying) we attempt understand the word through:   Historical grammatical interpretation: Exegesis (to draw out)   -Literal principle: Interpret the scripture according to normal language.   -Historical context: How the people think, the politics, what was going on in that time. What was the city like, what where the social pressures, customs. Etc.   -Grammatical principle: look at the language, the syntax, the way things are arranged.   -Synthesis: Scripture interprets scripture.   -Practical principle: What are the implications of this.   We are attempting to reconstruct the setting so we can understand ancient documents. We want to drop ourselves into that time and period while knowing the customs and beliefs at the time. Then see where else in scripture we see similar things and draw out the truth from the text. Then not ask “what does it mean to me” as that could lead to all sorts of weird theology. Rather ask what are the implications of this? What do I know now that I can apply practically to my life.
I hope that helps equip you a bit more, to hold yourself, me, any teacher accountable. Its never wrong to ask “Where do they get that idea from?” and go looking.   Ok Part 2! Genesis “Book of beginnings”:   Now before we start lets ask this important question is Genesis Historical or allegory? (Biblical support for historical). It is my opinion that without taking hermeneutic jumps you must land on a literal historical view.
  1) Other authors taught a literal creation event:

Psalm 90:1-2
90 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. -------------   Colossions 1:12-17 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. -------------- Hebrews 11:3  Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.   The writing:   From one verse we can't delve to deeply into the structure of how Genesis is written, however we will see that the language it self is not written using allegorical words that imply personal interpretation. Genesis is written as a historical document. (a quick example would be the use of the word day yom followed by a number is always indicative of a 24hr period of time, which is what we find in genesis)
  Opening Genesis:   In a brief sentence I would like to echo a sentence I learned in FBI. “Genesis is the story of the beginning of the Redemption of man through the promised seed of Abraham.

Note this point: “THROUGH THE PROMISED SEED OF ABRAHAM”. We will get to this later in Genesis but it is extremely important we always remember this point. The Jewish people have been and still are apart of Gods plan. This will help you understand scripture from end to end.   “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”   First what do we learn immediately?   1) God lays out clearly summarizes what He did, and leaves no doubt of His creative work, and His alone.   In the beginning God

a) This disproves atheism. 1) because everything must have a beginning, and everything with a beginning must have a cause. A watch needs a watch maker and the universe begs for a creator. We need an un-caused first cause for the universe. This is and must be God.   B) disproves evolutionary thought: God created everything, there is no mention of a half baked creation and a period of waiting. Furthermore the Bible goes on to call everything very good at the end of creation week, billions of years of cancers and death and disease would not be a perfect creation by any means.   c) Disproves pantheism. (Pantheism identifies God with the universe. The Universe is God. This is where ideas like karma come from) we see Biblically God must be and is apart from His creation. Also God created Ex Nihilo That is “out of nothing”, not a “reconstruction of the pre existing universe)   d) Disproves polytheism. (ie many Gods)
The Bible here speaks of one God. Now just some… information on this word God I found extremely fascinating and hopefully I dont lose you but rather peak your interest a bit.   So lets pause for a second on this. We're going to get technical, so bear with me for a moment as I attempt to unpack a thought here.
It should be noted the ENGLISH word here “God” is the Hebrew word Elohim → Elohim is the PLURAL of the Hebrew word “Eloah”, the (-ohim) in Elohim makes it masculine plural. However, looking at the next word bara or “Created” is a singular verb. It is implied that the verbs / context surrounding the word Elohim define the singular use/definition of Elohim (at this time in scripture). Its not lost on theologians that this “plural” version of the word God, with the singular verb. Seems to be a blinding light towards the idea of the trinity. I will in a moment read from Adam clarkes commentary (but it should be noted now once and for all. I use a lot … A LOT of commentary’s when I teach, I do not agree with any single one of them 100%… Which kind of worries me, however feel free to check them out yourself but in all things practice solid disernment, there is only one and only one perfect Book, just know that while I use a variety of resources and I encourage everyone to do the same, I am not fully endorsing anyone. ever). Continuing on:   The original word אלהים Elohim, God, is certainly the plural form of אל El, or אלה Eloah, and has long been supposed, by the most eminently learned and pious men, to imply a plurality of Persons in the Divine nature. As this plurality appears in so many parts of the sacred writings to be confined to three Persons, hence the doctrine of the Trinity, which has formed a part of the creed of all those who have been deemed sound in the faith, from the earliest ages of Christianity. Nor are the Christians singular in receiving this doctrine, and in deriving it from the first words of Divine revelation. An eminent Jewish rabbi, Simeon ben Joachi, in his comment on the sixth section of Leviticus, has these remarkable words: “Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet notwithstanding they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other.”... He must be strangely prejudiced indeed who cannot see that the doctrine of a Trinity, and of a Trinity in unity, is expressed in the above words. The verb ברא bara, he created, being joined in the singular number with this plural noun, has been considered as pointing out, and not obscurely, the unity of the Divine Persons in this work of creation. In the ever-blessed Trinity, from the infinite and indivisible unity of the persons, there can be but one will, one purpose, and one infinite and uncontrollable energy.   I was going to quote from Keil & Delitzsch. However, while I love their commentary, it takes me about 30 reads to understand what they are getting at, So for your own clarity, they may be a resource for you to check out as well if you ever get to interesting spots in terms of language or culture in the OT. You can come back and tell me how many reads it took you! Ha!   Also let us think about the scripture “in the beginning”   If this is the beginning, this is the beginning of everything, The beginning of Time. The beginning of space. The beginning matter. (Think of energy as a form of matter)

None of these can exist without the others. Can you have, matter and time with no space? Where would you put matter? Can you have space and time with no matter (energy)? What would you put into space? How about, Space and matter with no time? Of course not. When would you put anything? All three must co instantly come into being. Not gradually but instantaneous. This can only be plausible with someone/thing outside these rules creating time, space, matter and the laws that govern how they behave. This can only and therefore demands that uncaused fist cause beginning we discussed before. Beyond our level of understanding. He is God.   In the beginning...“God” Who is God?
- uncaused first cause.   From this passage alone we can draw some simple charactistics about God thus far. As we progress through scripture we will pull out more and more and more etc. At this time, just a few things to note already.   Omnipresent → He is everywhere. Omnipotent → He is unlimited in power, and able to do anything within His nature. Omniscient → He is all knowing.
“Created the heaven and the earth”
Created once again:   This word Created Bara, in the Hebrew, is creating Ex Nihilo out of nothing. Not a reconstruction of something already existing.   The Heaven
Notice the separation between Heaven and Earth. Some say that it could be the solar systems in creation perhaps everything but the lights listed in Genesis 1:14. I personally would reserve the celestial bodies as a whole for those following verses. Perhaps we see the creation of vastness of space...and in this (to us) seemingly endless space.

then we read: and the Earth.   In the midst of all the grandeur of special creation. God creates Earth. The immediate question(s) of what is His plan? Why would He create earth? What was God doing before creation? And many more come into play and later on we can hopefully address those.   I didn’t know where to tag this in for fun so right here works, does anyone else find it neat we live in a Universe? (Uni → single, Verse → spoken sentence) “And God said…” I heard that when I was 16 and came to know God as creator and moments later Lord. It has always stuck with me I’m sure many have heard it, but I still enjoy repeating it.     What we do know and can say for sure real fast, God created earth. God created us, and we fell into sin. God in His foreknowledge saw our fall and had a solution. He would redeem His people by becoming a man, Gods Son, fully divine and fully man. Pay for the sins of those who trespassed Him. So that whosoever believes in Him/Jesus. Shall not perish in the sin they have laid on their own heads, But receive the everlasting life God graciously bestowed on those who love him.   And it all started with Creation.

Gorship

Gorship

 

Spiritual Growth

SPIRITUAL GROWTH, AS TAUGHT BY SCRIPTURE AND THE SCIENCE OF BOTANY By Jim Foley   Text:  “…Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow”  Matthew 6:28.   INTRO:  In this scripture Jesus gives us an object lesson as to what constitutes spiritual growth, and how it happens.  Jesus made the lilies and He made me, and now he describes to me how both biological and spiritual growth takes place.  People often create for themselves a great deal of anxiety because they assume there must be some formula they must rigorously conform to in order to make themselves grow spiritually.  Spiritual growth is not a secret formula process we must discover for ourselves.      Jesus points to the lilies of the field as an illustration of how natural and spontaneous both natural and spiritual growth is.  When Jesus points us to the lilies of the field it is not simply an appeal for us to see and enjoy nature and admire its beauty.  Everything in nature, as well as in scripture, is given to teach us a spiritual truth. Natural life and spiritual life are governed, as is everything God has made, by natural law.       Now let’s take a close look at the lilies of the field, and let them teach us about growth, both natural and spiritual.  The point we must consider is not just that they are there for us to admire, but rather to consider “how they grow,” as Jesus puts it in our text.  Many Christians live with anxiety because they are trying to make themselves grow spiritually.  The lilies grow without anxiety.  Without taking conscious care or effort the lilies grow naturally into full beauty.  There is no conscious toiling to weave the tissues of their leaves.  Their complex tissues have spun themselves naturally and automatically.       Jesus follows up by implying that we care-worn and anxious people need not fret about causing ourselves to grow.  He implores us to “take no thought” about what we will eat or drink, or how we should be clothed.  We mortals create ghosts in our minds and then worry about them. We allow ourselves to be controlled by circumstances rather than allowing God to perfectly order our life.       All men and women who have just a little faith have learned the secret of a composed life in many respects, but when it comes to spiritual growth we do not seem to make the connection.  Early on in our Christian lives we settle down at times in calm trust in God, trusting Him to provide the necessities of our bodies.  Then by and by we begin to become anxious about spiritual growth, especially when someone tells us we must follow this or that formula if we are to grow spiritually.  But how do the lilies grow?  They grow by grace, and take no thought, because the growth comes naturally.  How does a child of God grow spiritually?  He also grows by grace.  Yet as we are told by others how to do this, we start fretting about it, and the anxiety comes back.  We then have transferred our anxiety from our bodies to our souls.  Then our efforts at Christian growth seem only a succession of failures.       Why does this happen?  It happens because we forget the lesson of the lilies of the field.  Strenuous efforts to grow spiritually are right in earnestness, but are wholly wrong in principle.  In both the natural and spiritual realm there is but one principle for growth.  That principle is the same for plant and animal, and for body and soul.  If we would know that principle, look again and “consider the lilies, how they grow.”  There are two characteristics of all growth.  They are: 1.    Spontaneousness 2.    Mysteriousness       First let us consider the spontaneous nature of spiritual growth.  There are three categories by which we may seek for evidence of the spontaneous nature of both bodily and spiritual growth.  The first category is Science.  We need not be a rocket scientist to understand that the lilies grow of themselves.  It is one of the most natural things in the world.  They grow automatically and spontaneously, and that without trying, without fretting about it, or without having to think about it.       Take for example a new born baby boy.   He begins growing shortly after birth without being aware of it, and is so uncontaminated by the advice of others that it is all automatic.  As he grows he eats because he is hungry, and the growth goes on without giving it a thought.  He does not fret about the condition of growth, but has a habit of eating and so the result is that growth goes on automatically and naturally.  The boy’s parents have no need to tell the boy to grow, for it is a law of nature that he will grow without having to give thought to any process.       Well-meaning people may tell us that the formula for spiritual growth is more prayer, more self-denial, more good works, etc.  These are all well and good, but are not the cause of spiritual growth, but the results of it, just as many of our activities in life increase as we grow into a greater and grater capacity for various and greater ventures.  The scientific fact is that the soul grows as the lily grows, without trying and fretting and thinking about it.       Another thing that teaches us that growth, both bodily and spiritually, is spontaneous and automatic is experience.  Getting back to the example of the boy in the above illustration that grows without taking thought, experience teaches us that he cannot make himself grow no matter how hard he tries.  Doesn’t scripture also tell us this fact?  No person can add to his stature by taking thought.  “And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?”  Mat 6:27      The Christian’s life unfolds itself like the lily of the field, from a divine germ planted centrally in his nature, and it grows as naturally as a flower from its seed.  Though this flower can be imitated, one can always tell the artificial flower from the real one.  This is the distinction between the natural growth of the Christian principles in the life of the Christian, and the moral copy of it.  The first is natural and the second is mechanical.  There are many artificial Christians marching about in society like little tin soldiers, but little tin soldiers only mimic the real thing.       In the natural world in which we live there are crystals that GROW and organisms that GROW, but there is a real and fundamental distinction between them.  The distinction is that the crystal is DEAD, while the organism is ALIVE.  The crystal increases, but the organism grows.  The organism is from within, while the crystal simply adds new particles from the outside.  This is the difference between the true Christian and the mere moralist.  The moralist’s works are all an external put-on.  The moralist’s so-called meritorious works are all external while the true Christian’s meritorious works are from an internal divine growth.  It is the distinction between the true Christian and the hypocrite.  Now the crystal may be ever so beautiful, but it lacks the vital principle of a living germ of divine life within.       Another fact that we need consider is that salvation in the first instant is never connected directly with morality.  This principle is totally foreign to the thinking of the merely religious pretender since he thinks of his put-on show of morality as earning him salvation.  It is true that salvation does demand morality, but the problem is that it demands so much morality that the moralist can never reach up to that level.  True salvation results in the perfection of the inner man, i.e., a Christ-like mind.  Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: There must first be a spiritual awakening that can only be accomplished by God, then comes the natural, internal morality. The moralist, with his external morality, may go a long distance towards perfection, at least in the eyes of his neighbors, but he can never reach true moral perfection, and so he is lost, for God demands perfection in the inner man.  Only true spiritual life in the inner man can be perfect, and that life in the inner man of all true Christians is "Christ in you, the hope of glory.  And that divine life, i.e., “Christ in you,” is the germ that sparks spiritual growth in the inner man that produces true good works.  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.  Divine life always produces good works and so spiritual growth results because God has ordained it, and those ordained good works will flow out of, and give true evidence of, that natural automatic and spontaneous spiritual growth.  Life develops according to its type and so out of the Christian’s inner man will flow “rivers of living water,” and “springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.  It will be the most natural thing in the world.       Growth is synonymous with a living, automatic process.  The Christian is a new creature in Christ Jesus, and he adds cubits to his stature just as the old man (flesh) does, naturally.  To use another scriptural metaphor he abides in the vine (Jesus), and because he abides in the vine, and not because he is toiling, but rather because he is growing, he brings forth fruit.  Fruit is always because of growth and not growth because of the fruit.  The fruits of the Christian’s character are not manufactured things, but living things that have grown from the secret germ.  In short they are the fruits of the living Spirit.       Now let’s consider the second great characteristic of growth:  mysteriousness.  The lily Jesus spoke of grew mysteriously.  It pushed up its weight of stem and leaf in the teeth of gravity.  How the flower does that, we know not, but observation tells us it does.  Along the edges of asphalt paving one often sees plants break the pavement to reach up their leafy heads towards heaven.   What mysterious force causes that?  It is God who causes it to grow.  God has put within the lily the nature to grow.  Likewise when the soul rises slowly above the world and pushes up its virtues into the very teeth of sin and depravity, and displays the very image of Christ, it is then as natural for the lily to grow mysteriously from the seed to the flower.       New Christians are often misled into believing the secret of spiritual growth is a strong will, a high ideal, a strong resolve to live virtuously, and the influence of Christian fellowship.  We allow that the growth of a lily is a miracle, but then assert that a Christian must resort to self-imposed formulas to grow spiritually.  We say the lily may grow naturally and spontaneously, but the Christian must fret and toil to grow spiritually.        A man or woman may, by hard work and self-denial attain to a very high character, but this is not spiritual growth.  If such efforts at self-improvement cause spiritual growth then spiritual growth is not mysterious.  Jesus Himself spoke of the mysteriousness of spiritual birth and growth when He said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8.  The fact that it is mysterious implies you cannot account for it on philosophical grounds such as a favorable Christian environment, charitable works, or efforts at self-improvement.  The result of such thinking produces only artificial flowers.  You can easily discern where that kind of religion comes from and where it goes.  A lot of what passes for Christianity is formed by external influences, social opinions, and the voices of the world, which may be observed and explained.  But the genuine thing comes only by the unseen power imparted by the mysterious thing we call the new birth.       True Christians stand out from among the crowd, just as a real lily stands out from all the artificial ones, because of that unseen power that produces spiritual life in them, a life totally different from that lifeless counterfeit of the self-made that call themselves Christians.       As long as anyone tries to manufacture his or her own spirituality, they can never be free from the pressure cooker of trying to measure up. They do not understand that the energies that produce spiritual growth, which results in spiritual improvement, are already there. That energy is the energy of the Omnipotent God Who fills their souls.  If they are saved, growth moves them upward just as the lily grows upwards naturally by reason of the energy to grow that is inherent in their cells.           When I was born of the Spirit of God I was hungry for the bread from heaven.  That is also the natural result of being born again.  It was a pleasure to “taste and see that the Lord was good.”  I had “tasted the good word of God” and it made me want more.  When one is born of the Spirit of God, growth is automatic.  One need not even be thinking of that or even be aware of it.  The only thing that can prevent growth in a Christian is not feeding on the word of God.  But when one is born of the Spirit of God one has a craving for the bread from heaven, and so eating and growing will go on.       When one is born again growing begins and continues.  At first he is satisfied with the “sincere milk of the word.”  I Peter 2:2.  And as he grows spiritually he automatically develops a taste for the strong meat of the word.  “Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age.”  And so his spiritual growth continues until he becomes a mature Christian.  The lily of the field grows spontaneously and mysteriously because that is naturally inherent in its nature.  I believe the Lord was pointing out to us that those born of the Spirit of God will just as spontaneously and mysteriously do the same.  Are you growing, or still working at it?              

Jim_Alaska

Jim_Alaska

 

Right in the Sight of the Lord

1 Kings 15:11-15, “Right in the Sight of the Lord”    11 "And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father. 
 12 And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. 
 13 And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron. 
 14 But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days. 
 15 And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the LORD, silver, and gold, and vessels."   The heart of King Asa was perfect in the sight of the LORD. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 All of the issues of life; eternal salvation from hell, service to the Lord, and our relationship with others, are determined with the attitude of our hearts. Like Asa, we need to have a perfect heart in the sight of the Lord.   God established King Asa   For 41 years, King Asa reigned in Jerusalem. King Asa did the will of God as recorded in the scripture. God blessed him and established him. God is also willing to establish us in our homes, our jobs, in our spiritual life is we do His will.   Colossians 2:6 & 7, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus as ones personal Saviour. As we obtained salvation by faith, after we get saved, we need to walk with Jesus by faith. The Lord Jesus is the root of the tree. A person cannot see the root of the tree. The root establishes the tree. The Apostle Paul is teaching that as we take deep root in the Lord Jesus, the Lord builds us up and establishes us in the faith. As we discover these wonderful truths, as Paul said, we need to have a thankful heart.   God uses the scriptures to establish us and to teach us His will. This includes correct doctrine, holiness and righteousness in our lives. We need to listen to and study the scriptures in order to be established.   King Asa Followed God   Asa trusted in and loved God. As King, Asa determined to fear God and do what is right in the sight of God and not man, or society. Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” When we put our trust in God, and do those things that are right in His sight, than we are safe. We have a safe home in eternity and God will protect us on the earth. The fear of man brings a snare. When a person fears man, or society, he caught in the snare of the devil. False religion is the snare of the devil.   When we fear God and trust in Jesus as our Savior then God will bless us. Deuteronomy 12:28, “Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou dost that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.”   1 John 3:22, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” When we obey the Lord Jesus then the Lord Jesus will answer our prayers.   One of the reasons why the Lord Jesus does not answer our prayers is because we miss-use His name, we say, ‘Lord Jesus,’ but, we do not do what is pleasing in His sight. We need to do what is pleasing in His sight, not ours. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”  James 4: 4   King Asa knew the history of King David and did as King David did. King David is a good example for all of us.   King Asa removed the Sodomites and the idols   King Asa was a very moral person and righteous in his authority. The physical act of sodomy is vile, unnatural, destroys society and the family. King Asa obeyed the commandment of God in removing the Sodomites and the idols from the land of Israel. “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.” Deuteronomy 23:17   Exodus 20:3 & 4 “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”   In the New Testament, we read that an idolater will not enter into heaven. Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”   King Asa removed the evil things in the kingdom of Israel. We need to get remove evil things, thoughts, beliefs, personal agendas, and desires, from our lives.   Dedication   God blessed King Asa with wealth. King Asa brought the dedicated things into the House of the Lord. Three items are mentioned: Silver, gold, and vessels. King Asa knew his wealth came from the blessings of God.   In our age, the visible house of the Lord is the local church. We need to dedicate our lives to the Lord Jesus and to the furtherance of the gospel. 1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” Every Christian needs to learn how to behave themselves in the church. The church is not an entertainment center, or a social club.   When a person loves the Lord Jesus, he will love the church. If a person loves the Lord Jesus, he will learn how to behave in the church. In a local New Testament, Bible believing, independent, fundamental, Baptist church you will find the doctrinal truth of the scriptures and practical behaviour that pleases the Lord.   The Removal of the Queen   The Queen of Jerusalem, Maachah, was King Asa’s mother. King Asa’s own mother was involved with idolatry. Because King Asa wanted to do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, instead of doing that which is right in the sight of man, King Asa removed his own mother from being Queen.   So often, in churches, in politics, in the affairs of this world, people who know to do right do not do right because they fear man and want to please a person, or an organization, or a denomination, or the lay people of the church. This was the attitude of King Saul. “And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” 1 Samuel 15:24 “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25   The Chief Shepherd of the local, New Testament Church, is the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 5:4, “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” The pastor of every church has only one person he must be accountable too; the Lord Jesus. The pastor obeys the Lord Jesus through the scriptures.   Like King Asa, good pastors will remove any false teacher, false bibles, or individuals following the gods of this world (music, methods, a denominational hierarchy, or anything contrary to scripture), from any church office. The Apostle Paul gave us an example in 1 Timothy 1:19 & 20, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they learn not to blaspheme.” The blasphemy of Hymenaeus and Alexander was a departure of the faith; they were heretics.   Concluding Thoughts   King Asa was a good king. He loved the Lord in heaven as David loved God. King Asa removed evil from the Israel as David removed evil. King Asa had a perfect heart with God. We need to have a perfect heart with God.  

Alan

Alan

 

When did the church begin?

When did the church begin?    I think we would all agree that the English word “church” originates from the Greek word, “Ecclesia”. Without going into great detail I believe that we can also agree that this Greek word basically means “assembly.” Ok, if we agree so far then we can move on to what assembly we are referring to when discussing the word, “Church.” I think it logical to begin with the promise of the church. We find the promise here: Mat. 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. In this promise Jesus defines what church he is talking about; He said it would be his church and that he would build it. If we take Jesus at his word we can eliminate any other church, or assembly, if you will. We can also affirm that his church did not exist before this because the words “I will build” are in the future tense. We find the first members of his church mentioned here” 1Cor. 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. We find that he chose these apostles here: Luke 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles. Since the office of apostle is then a “church office,” we can safely say that when he chose the twelve this is the beginning of “his church.” There are many scriptures that show that his church was in existence during his personal ministry on earth. They do not show the time of the actual beginning, but they affirm that it existed at that time. There is no scripture that comes right out and says; “The church began at this time.” There are many that think that the church began on the day of Pentecost. But a serious study will show that the church existed before Pentecost. I’ll just mention a few here. Jesus is with his disciples here as they partake of The Lord’s Supper: Mat. 26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.  30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. He sang this hymn with them in the midst of the church: Heb 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance.
Just the fact that they partook of The Lord’s Supper presupposes that there is a church in existence at this time. The authority of disciples in church capacity was placed in the church during Christ's earthly ministry. Mat 18:15.  Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. They had the church commission to preach the Gospel before Pentecost Mrk. 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Anyway, this part about the church before Pentecost is just a freebee. It doesn’t really speak to the issue of when the church was begun, but rather, when it wasn’t.

Jim_Alaska

Jim_Alaska



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    • Daniel, Thank you for bringing out Romans 5:20, "Moreover, the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Romans 5:20 was a welcomed addition to this devotion on the kindness of God. Alan
    • Good message on how the scriptures condemns our sin and convicts us of our sin, and explains how the true saint will repent of known sin in his life. 
    • Thanks for the devotional, Jim! And I stand by every word you have said. Anyone who has truly been born-again through the shed blood of Jesus Christ will in no doubt have the light of life dwelling within them -- and that light can be seen among those who they come in contact with. What grieves me is that there are so many false converts who have prayed a prayer so that they might be saved; but their sole reason for calling upon the Lord was so that they might escape hell; or they simply desired Eternal life. And what these false converts miss is genuine repentance; and turning to the Lord with a true broken and contrite spirit. Their tree is barren of any fruits of the Spirit, and completely devoid of any sort of conformity to the image of Christ. Christians are supposed to stand out above the rest of the world by their new nature being manifest in their actions; and sadly . . . there are MANY professing Christians who continue to walk in darkness and are no different than the rest of the unbelieving world -- and sometimes even worse. All of us need to do a spiritual inventory and examine ourselves if we have truly been born again (2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Pet. 1:10-11). If we don't express Divine love, then all the "good deeds" amount to nothing -- and are done in vain; because they are not done through the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 13:2). God Bless!
    • There are always unbelievers who attack the God of the Old Testament, and accusing Him of being some sort of tyrant. What they fail to realize is that the God of the OT is the SAME God of the NT. God's righteous indignation was poured out on those who hated God and despise His ways. Furthermore, we find that the more sin abounded, God's Grace also flourished (cf. Rom. 5:20) -- especially in the Incarnation of the Son of God. God less!
    • Being content with what we have is a sure sign that we are living for Christ and not for ourselves; and it's also indicative of a humble person who is aware that God is giving us what is best for us to mature in our spiritual growth.
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