Precious Faith

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:1-4 (KJV)

Simon Peter a very close friend of the Lord Jesus Christ as He walked, worked, and lived and died on the cross is the Spirit-inspired writer of both First and Second Peter.  He is one of the apostles of Christ.  At one time he was influenced by the devil when he told Jesus that He would not die (Matthew 16:23;  Mark 8:33).

Peter writes of the Precious Faith that we receive “through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ”; so then we must know that “Faith” also is the “Gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).  The work of faith and salvation are the gift of God.  They are in fact the same.  When you have faith in Him then you are saved.  When you are saved, then you have faith in Him.  It is the gift of God.

Paul the apostle wrote in Romans 3 that “…All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23), but in Christ Jesus, we have been called into that glory and the virtue of it.  We are no longer separated from God, and even more, because we are in Christ we are recipients of the “exceeding great and precious promises… that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature.”  Having the “divine nature” means that we have been given the heart and mind of Christ. The will to think, to act, to live like Christ.  That means we no longer have the heart of sin, but we hate sin just as Jesus does, and we love righteousness, holiness, and righteousness.

We are delivered from the corruption that is in the world, and our desires are what God desires for us.

If you are still desiring to live in your sinful passions and lust, you enjoy living in sin, then you have not been delivered from the corruption of this wicked world.  You are still bound in sin and death, and you are on the road to eternal destruction and hell.  You need to call on the name of Jesus who died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and He rose again.  One day He will come again just as He said He would (John 14:1-3).  Call on Him today, even now.

Before the Foundation of the World

“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” 1 Peter 1:17-21 (NKJV).

To be holy is to be set apart from the wicked society in which we live. Not as monks, or as though in a world of our own, but apart in the sense of not participating in the world system of greed, debauchery, lust, uniformity, etc..

Being holy, and since we as Christians call on the Father on a quite regular basis we also know that He is One who judges us justly, and fairly according to our works, and knowing that we will conduct ourselves with the utmost respect for Him who holds our hearts and each breath we breathe in His hands. We will live with the fear, knowing that the time of our lives is in His hands.

Knowing the Father as we do; we also know that we have not been redeemed by material things. Our redemption is not founded on how much gold or silver we possess, or how much we give away. It is not based on any form of material wealth. It is not gifts given for the fulfillment of the traditions of men, such as Old Testament ceremonial laws, and forms. Our redemption is not dependent upon someone else paying our way out of a fictitious purgatory. The price of our redemption was paid to God our Father by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Our sin debt was owed to God.  God owes us nothing; not even a chance of salvation.

Jesus Christ, the precious lamb of God, paid our sin debt to the Father for us. The price of our redemption was His life. He laid it down, and no man took it from Him. As a matter of fact; the Father took His life (Read Isaiah 53:4). Jesus was that sacrificial Lamb who was without spot, and without blemish. There was no sin in the life of Jesus Christ, but He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and the wrath of Almighty God was poured out to the max upon Him.

This was “foreordained” even before the foundations of the earth were laid, and it was fulfilled on that day when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. It is only because of this wondrous gift that anyone can call on the name of the Father, and He will hear us, save us, and give us life eternal. No one can come to God except it be given by the Father, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus from death, He has been restored to the glory He had with the Father from the beginning. His glory renewed we can now have faith and hope in God. Without this, there would not be much of a point in our brothers and sisters, or any in Christ suffering for His name. Because He lives we live. Because He died for us, we can die for His name’s sake, and give Him the glory.

May God bless our brothers and sisters who are suffering for the name of Jesus.

The Working Faith

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:14-19 (KJV)

A thought: “You can believe without doing, but you will not, or cannot do without believing.”  What do you think?  I got that thought while thinking of the above verses.

There is much thought about “Faith”.  Much of what I hear concerning faith is that you must believe, and there is no stipulation as to what you believe or have faith in.  My thought I gave is based on the saving faith that comes through Christ Jesus and His death on the cross, His burial, and resurrection.

According to James if we have faith we will do something with it.  In this case, the doing is for others we might see in need.  If we are the true believer, then we will act on our faith and help a brother and/or sister in Christ who is in need of food, clothing, shelter; not just a kind word when we have the means to help.

There are many who claim to believe in Jesus, God and even the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, but have not given themselves totally to the life of living for Christ.  I can practically guarantee that the devil and his demons believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again.  They know it first hand, but they are not redeemed, neither will they ever be a part of the redeemed of God.  That is why James says, “…The devils also believe, and tremble”.

If you have not surrendered your life to Christ Jesus you can believe all you want to, but if you do not act, then you will perish in your sins.  Christian, your true faith will lead you to act when you see needs, as God gives you the means to do so.  When we have the means we had better act on those needs, and glorify our God and a Savior Jesus Christ.

Greater Voice, Greater Name

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:1-4 (KJV)

The greatest theme throughout all of Scripture is the person and name of Jesus.  He is the central character and person of the whole of the Bible including the Old Testament.  The first few verses of Hebrews tells us about the One who is the reason, and cause for all good things, including the creation of all that is.

When the Lord GOD spoke in the ages previous to the New Testament He spoke through the law and the prophets.  The people would not hear them in many cases.  They would persecute, and even kill those men who opposed the people’s own lawless agendas; and spoke God’s word concerning their hearts, souls, and minds.

To redeem mankind God sent His only Son – the One whom He sent who “in these last days” has spoken to us through.  To answer a question that one might ask; “When did the last days begin?”:  the answer to that question is; when Jesus came the first time as a baby in the manger.  I would have no argument with someone who would say that “The last days began on the day of our Lord’s crucifixion or resurrection”.  At either rate, it is closely tied to the appearance of the Incarnate God Jesus Christ.

These verses are a great strengthening to the teaching of the divinity of Christ.  He is the brightness of the glory of God.  He is the express image, or exact representation of the person of God.  God is a person, not a power; though He certainly is a power to be reckoned with.  He is God.  Our Creator.  Our Sustenance.  Our Strength.  Our Sword.  Our Shield.  Our Hope.

If anyone refuses the words of Jesus they refuse their last and final chance for life with Him through all eternity.  Believe Him today.  Receive Him.  Follow Him.

Useful

Do you ever feel like a useless person, that you have never made any difference in anyone’s life, even your own?  We all like to feel useful.  We enjoy it when we hear someone tell us “Well done” on a job we have done, a race we have run, or even as a preacher, a sermon we have preached.

In the apostle Paul’s epistles, there is a one chapter epistle he wrote as a personal letter to a man by the name of Philemon who had a runaway servant, by the name of Onesimus.  That name means “Useful”.

Onesimus ran away, and found was directed in his running away unto Paul, and the apostle gave him the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Onesimus began to live up to his name.  Hear the words of the apostle to Philemon…

“If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.” Philemon 1:17-19 (KJV)

This is an account of Paul being an intercessor for Onesimus in taking this letter to his master.  I think we must give Onesimus much credit here.  Philemon could have pronounced his death, and killed Onesimus himself, if he chose to do so. Onesimus may have stolen from Philemon before he ran away.  That does seem implied by Paul’s statement, “If he has wronged you, or owes you…”.  So Onesimus’ journey was probably filled with some dread, but also relief.

Paul is stepping in like a savior, and willing to take the brunt of the punishment.  He is resting too, in the truth that Philemon is a follower of Jesus Christ as well.

What can we learn from Philemon, Paul, and Onesimus?

  1.  Philemon has the opportunity to forgive and not only receive back a servant but a brother and servant of Jesus Christ; all he must do is forgive;
  2.  Paul shows us what it is to intervene on the behalf of someone else, even if it cost us something;
  3.  Onesimus teaches us what it means to have a changed life through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do you want to live a “Useful” life?  You become useful when you give your life to Christ through faith in Him and His finished work on Calvary’s cross.  Useful was useless, until he came to Jesus Christ.  Then, his name meant something.

The Grace of God

For the child of God, the grace of God is the Son of God.  God gave us, and shows us His grace through His Son Jesus Christ.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Titus 2:11-15 (KJV)

The “grace of God” which has “appeared to all men” can be no other than the Lord Jesus.  That appearance took place on Calvary where the best and holiest God had to give gave His life as our very sufficient sacrifice for our sin.  Today I want us to hear what the Believer’s Bible Commentary says about these verses.

Titus 2:11  For the grace of God … has appeared. Here the grace of God is virtually synonymous with the Son of God. God’s grace appeared when the Lord Jesus visited our planet and especially when He gave Himself for our sins. He appeared for the salvation of all men. His substitutionary work is sufficient for the redemption of all. A bona fide offer of pardon and forgiveness is made to all. But only those who truly receive Him as Lord and Savior are saved. There is no suggestion here or elsewhere in the Bible that everyone will be saved at last. Universal salvation is a lie of the devil.
2:12 The same grace that saves us also trains us in the school of holiness. There are “No-No’s” in that school which we must learn to renounce. The first is ungodliness, which means irreligion. The second is worldly lusts—not just sexual sins, but also the lust for wealth, power, pleasure, fame, or anything else that is essentially worldly.
On the positive side, grace teaches us to live soberly, righteously toward others, and godly in the pure light of His presence. These are the virtues that should characterize us in this world, where everything about us is going to be dissolved. It is the place of our pilgrimage and not our final home.
2:13 While living as aliens in the world, we are inspired by a magnificent hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. By this are we to understand the Rapture, when Christ appears in glory to the church and conveys it to heaven (1 Thess. 4:13–18)? Or does it refer to Christ’s coming to reign, when He appears in glory to the world, puts down His foes, and sets up His kingdom (Rev. 19:11–16)? Basically we believe Paul is speaking of the first—Christ’s coming for His bride, the church. But whether it is His coming as Bridegroom or as King, the believer should be prepared and looking for His glorious arrival.
2:14 As we await His Return we never forget the purpose of His First Coming and of His self-sacrifice. He gave Himself not only to save us from the guilt and penalty of sin but to redeem us from every lawless deed. It would have been a half-way salvation if the penalty of sin had been canceled but its dominion in our lives was left unconquered.
He also gave Himself to purify for Himself His own special people.
2:15 These are things that Titus was commissioned to teach—every thing discussed in the foregoing verses, and particularly the purposes of the Savior’s passion. He was to exhort or encourage the saints to lives of practical godliness and to rebuke any who contradicted the apostolic teachings either by word or by life. And he didn’t have to be apologetic in carrying on a forceful ministry; let him do it with all authority and boldness of the Holy Spirit. Let no one despise you. Titus need have no qualms about his youth, his Gentile background, or any natural disability. He was speaking the word of God, and this made all the difference. BELIEVER’S BIBLE COMMENTARY

Let us in the grace of God love the Lord Jesus Christ with all our hearts, all of our souls, all of our minds, and all of our strength.  He loved you and me enough to die on the cross.

 

The Foundation of God

Building on anything other than God’s foundation will lead to disaster; the fall of the building, and the fall of a life as well (Matthew 7:21-27).  The Church, neither the individual Christian life can survive without being founded and set sure upon the foundation of God.  Hear the apostle Paul…

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:15-19 (KJV)

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God…” is the reading of the NKJV in the first part of 2 Timothy 2:15.  Study is one of the first ways of being diligent to show yourself approved unto God.  Without knowledge of God’s Word you cannot stand and defend the word of God against error.  We must certainly continue in preaching, and teaching the Scriptures, lifting up Christ and His cross.

Paul uses a couple of men who must have been notorious for their twisting of Scripture, leading to ungodliness.  It has been said, “It does make a difference what you believe”.  What you believe will affect the way you live.  Either to godliness or unto ungodliness.  The apostle says that the teachings of Hymenaeus and Philetus were like a canker/cancer.  Cancer works unseen, and kills and destroys whatever it touches.  So too does profane and vain babblings which are teachings of ungodliness.  These men were even “…saying that the resurrection is past already” meaning the resurrection of the living and the dead; a possible reference of the rapture of the Church being already past.

The foundation of God is where the child of God, and the preacher of God will stand.  God’s foundation is unmoveable, unstoppable, and unchanging.  When all other foundations are shaking and trembling, God’s foundation stands true and strong.  It begins by placing your faith in God’s gift of life through His Son Jesus Christ; the One who gave His life on the cross, was buried, and was raised to life and forever lives with the Father in glory.

Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Living a Quiet and Peaceable Life

Since we are living in a world where there is much chaos and turmoil; it seems no matter where you turn in society; then, we need to know how to live a quiet and peaceable life in this world.  We hear the words of Paul the apostle to the young pastor Timothy…

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (KJV)

Timothy was in Ephesus at this time, in a new church, and dealing with a lot of immorality, and sin in the Church.  When we look at the Scriptures concerning the early Church they too had to deal with the sin issues of their day.  So how does Paul tell Timothy to deal with the many issues?

The first thing he mentions is prayer, and matters which go with prayer – supplication, intercessions, giving thanks to God.  The second thing is that we pray for all people who are in places of authority – pastors, presidents, kings, and for the quiet and peaceable life of others.

It is summed up to be so for a life of godliness, and honesty.

The final sentence of the verses tells us that praying for leaders in authority is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior”.  It also tells us that He desires to have all men saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  He has made it possible for even the most wicked and vile individual to come to Him in faith.  He has paid the price for all sin; no matter how bad, how vile or how wicked; Christ Jesus died on the cross for our sin, was buried and He rose again the third day, and forever live; not just a spirit, but the Man Christ Jesus is alive in heaven, seated with the Father at His right hand.  He is the Mediator between God and men.  He is the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

Brethren, Pray for Us…

Even the apostle Paul; maybe I should say, “The apostle Paul” needed prayer just as any of us do.  Prayer must not be something we do only when we have an emergency situation.  We “…ought always to pray and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).  Sometimes we get requests for praying for specific personal needs from others, and that is good.  Paul had need in the following request because he sensed, that the word and gospel of Jesus Christ were being attacked and hindered.

“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (KJV)

I am certain Paul had other more personal needs, but this request shows that his heart was on the things of Christ, not of the flesh.  Note that he first asked that the word have free course; that it would spread throughout Thessalonica, and surrounding areas freely, in power, and with speed.  He requested that we pray for the glory of God, and His word, and to be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for there are people in the world who get hateful toward the word of God, and the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, and His cross.  That is true in 2017 as well.

He tells us that “…For all men have not faith”, and the state is a continuation of the “Unreasonable and wicked men” in the areas we live.  Some of these unreasonable people do not want God in anything, even to the point of using law to oppose God, who is the One who has given us law.

Let me end by encouraging you to stay faithful to the Lord in His word, and prayer, living for Him; being a faithful witness of His power and glory; knowing that He is coming soon.  Let us wait patiently for Him.

Remember He loves you so much He willingly went to the cross, died for our sins, was buried, and He rose again, and He is returning.

Our Walk With God

Those of us who follow Christ Jesus have been set apart unto Him that He might be glorified.  Being set apart is what is meant by the word “Sanctified” or “Sanctification”.  At salvation we are sanctified; but throughout our lives we are being sanctified unto Him, until we are finally, and completely sanctified eternally.  Hear the words of Paul…

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (KJV)

The prophet Amos in chapter three of the prophet’s prophecy asked the question,  “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)  Well, the answer to that is – “Not in peace and harmony.”

I heard someone say, fairly recently, “The Christians greatest battle is not with Satan, but with God.”  That would be because we still battle those old temptations to rule our own lives.  The continuing work of sanctification deals with this in our lives.

We must continually deal with sin and its ugly face. Sin separates us from God.  Sin will lead us on a detour away from God.  Walking with God means walking His path, His way. It means obedience to His word.  It is hating sin, and loving the Lord, and they cannot dwell together.

Reading the passage of Scripture you will notice that last sentence, “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit.”  If you can turn away from that truth and say something so foolish as “I will live my life my way, and nobody can tell me how to live”, then, God has a word for you;  “You fool”.

Cry out to God in repentance.  Come to Him through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and was raised from death and the grave.

Reconciliation and the Son

O how the race of Adam needs to be reconciled to God.  My how lost can a race of people get, and by lost I mean astray from God, His word, His Son, and His Spirit.  He did say, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3).  God is the one who stepped out of eternity, and limited Himself to the confines of human flesh, to pay the redemption price for our reconciliation.  Hear the words of the apostle Paul…

“For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister…” Colossians 1:19-23 (KJV)

There was never a time the Son of God who is God become flesh (John 1:14) was not with God the Father in heaven.  Father, Son [the Word] and the Holy Spirit were working as One in Creation, walking in the garden with Adam and Eve.  There was never a time when Jesus was not “…the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

By Him; through Him mankind, Adam kind has been reconciled to God.  We were alienated, unable on our own to reach God; but He has reached us through the cross – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.  It is the work, the gift, the grace of God by which you can believe, and receive this wonderful gift.

You can be at peace with God by the reconciling work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  It pleased the Father to strike Him on our behalf (Isaiah 53:10), and to put away the condemnation of sin and death. By His crucifixion, we are presented to the Father holy and without blame.  He through faith is working in us to ground us, and keep us unto Himself.

Be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ the Son by His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection (Romans 5:1), by which we have peace with God – Reconciliation.

Salvation with Fear and Trembling

O how we need to get this straight.  Salvation by grace continues to work in us following our regeneration or justification in Christ and God.  How the churches today need regenerated people sitting in the pews, in our places of employment, our recreation,  working out their salvation with fear and trembling.

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. 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…” Philippians 2:12-15 (KJV)

It is God in us who does the work of grace.  It is God in us by His grace that enables us to do the work that brings honor and glory to His name and it is His grace that brings us on to the final glory of Jesus Christ in us.  It is the grace of God through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that causes us, enabling us to do those works, and gives us the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8).

Paul the apostle makes it clear in these verses that “…It is God which worketh in you to will and to do of His good pleasure.”  That we are to do those works as blameless and harmless sons of God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation – culture and world we live in – shining as lights in a dark world.

Let us remember it is God who works in us.  Let us work it out with fear and trembling, that others see Him in us.

It is About…

…God; not you or me.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 (KJV)

Do we forget or is it simply ignorance?  Do we forget that God saves us because of His great love, not that He owes us something, or that we are worthy of His salvation?  I hear the phrase sometimes, “God owes everyone a chance for salvation?”  Remember this,  God owes us nothing.  When a soul is saved it is by God’s grace alone.

Something we need to remember too is that there is a threefold work in salvation;  the first is past, the second is present, and the third is future.  The theological terms are Justification, second Sanctification, and the third is glorification.  All a work of God’s wonderful, marvelous grace.  We do nothing to deserve it and can do nothing to earn it.  When a man, woman, boy or girl is justified by God through the cross of Christ that individual is eternally saved, and the work of God will continue in and through that person throughout their lifetime (sanctification), and when their body dies they will be glorified.

God is rich in mercy.  So rich in fact, that He raises us to life, and justifies us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; then through that same death, burial and resurrection He sanctifies us unto Himself as we daily walk through this world and that is His workmanship in us.  One day we have the eternal promise of being with Him through all eternity.

Why is He doing this?  “That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches  of His grace in His kindness toward us…”  It is About God.

Our Fruit; Our Judgment

“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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  Galations 5:19-23 (KJV)

Today I will have no commentary.  I am just going to let the Scriptures speak the words of Jesus…

“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:16-20

Unequal Yokes

Yokes are a farming tool from years past where the farmer or wagoneer even would place two animals; for a yoke it would most generally have been oxen.  The cart, wagon, or plow was usually teamed with an equally powered pair of the animal.  Consider this as we look at the following passage of Scripture.

“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? 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, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (KJV)

The apostle Paul was writing to Christians in the city of Corinth.  Professing Christians were joining together with non-believers, and were having complications due to their inabilities to get along, and do what was right.

We are living in an era of time where many Christians are saying things and doing things that align themselves more with the lost world – the unbelievers – and pulling away from God, and His word.  In order to get along with the world that is usually what happens.  It is the same as thinking you can take a clean bucket of water, and a bucket of mud, then thinking you can pour that water into the mud and make it come out clean.  That cannot happen.  What you end up with is muddy water.

We are dealing with Christian life and living.  When it comes to building a business and teaming up with someone to enter enterprise all parties should have the same moral standards, and like heart for what they do.  In marriage, the man and woman entering that lifetime commitment to one another should have a like passion and love for Christ; realizing Jesus Christ is central to their individual, and couple’s life together.  There are going to be enough difficulties in partnerships in business, and in marriages without adding the spiritual aspect to the situation.

If we will follow the Lord’s direction spoken through the apostle, then there will be fewer problems, and more love and peace.

When you team an ox with a donkey you will have problems.  The ox will be more consistent in pulling while the donkey may not be as reliable, and balk more often.

God has told us, “Come out from among them (the unbelievers), and be ye separate.”  He has also said, “Touch not the unclean thing.”  We are all unclean until we come to Christ.  If you are outside of Christ, then come to Him today.

Who Will Inherit the Kingdom of God?

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (KJV)

We all can admit there is a whole lot of the above mentioned sins going on in our world.  Maybe, if you cannot admit it, it is because of your guilt in those matters of sin.  Paul the apostle says none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.  That really includes the whole human race.  So I am guilty.  You are guilty.

We all need to know that no unrighteous person can enter the presence of holy God.  None of us on our own merit can enter.

I love the apostle’s words, “… And such were some of you…”  Don’t you just love that word “were“?  It is in the past tense and means that they are no more.

O people, we humans can be so vile, and sometimes show such contradiction of goodness at the same time out of the same life, and heart.  God is consistent in His mercy, love, and grace.  He will not tolerate sin.  He loves us so much that He gave His only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins, that we all might come into His presence, have eternal fellowship with Him and have inheritance in the kingdom.

There is nothing you or I can do to inherit the kingdom of God or eternal life.  It has been done by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.  Receiving His gift is all we do, believing He is the One who is powerful to save all who will believe.

“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; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:5-7

And from the gospels…

“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:11-13

Let none think that they can enter the kingdom of God and eternal life by their own efforts, works, and righteousness.  None will.  It is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Slaves

“What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 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? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” Romans 6:15-20 (KJV)

We are all born into sin.  Separated from God, totally depraved, and without hope apart from God’s intervention.  We are bound to sin, death, and the grave.  We were slaves to sin.  That sounds bleak and dark does it not?  That is our condition when we human beings are born into this world.

We cannot help but sin, because we are born into the slavery of sin.  Someone has said, “We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners.”  That is why there is evil in this old world.  Jeremiah the prophet said it right,,,

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

When we are away from God, outside of His grace and mercy there is no help to keep us from evil, and doing evil.  God the Creator, the Almighty, All-Knowing, All-Powerful and All-Present GOD knows our plight, our sin situation, our condemnation, and He has intervened to deliver us.

He sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ as our sacrifice for sin.  He was our sin-bearer.  The Perfect One for the sinful, imperfect ones.  He was smitten for our sins.  Through faith in the Christ and His finished work on the cross we are set free from sin, its slavery, its condemnation, and its death; and we will live forever.

Now, having been set free from sin, we are now the slaves, the servants of righteousness.  We have the freedom to do good, to do right, and to shun all that is evil – all that is against God, against His word, against His Son and against His Spirit.

Hear the Spirit of God as He shows you the Lord Jesus Christ as Son of God, God the Son, and the Immutable [Unchanging] One.

Passion and Love for Christ

“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:22-24 (KJV)

The apostle Paul was bound by his own spirit to go to Jerusalem to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to his people of Israel.  He had been chosen by God as the apostle to the Gentiles, but he still had a heart for Israel

My question is to myself.  Am I willing to go to my people willing to lose my life, for the sake of the gospel?  For the sake of Jesus Christ?  They are people who are perishing in their sins.  They too need Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  I cannot save them, but I can tell them the glorious news of God’s love through the cross of Jesus, His burial, and resurrection.

The passion of Jesus was the cross.  He had His eyes set on Jerusalem; and that means to go to the cross and die for the sins of the world, that those who will believe might have everlasting life.  He was willing to die that we might have a personal relationship with God.

Lord God, may my passion be to tell all I meet of the glorious Christ Jesus who died on the cross, was buried and rose again.  May I also tell them that same resurrected Jesus is coming again.

Loving the Father and the Son

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more; but ye see Me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you. He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me. John 14:18-24 (KJV)

Loving God the Father means loving God the Son who is Jesus the Christ who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again.  The resurrection is evidence of the truth Jesus spoke while walking among men on earth.  May I say too, that there is absolutely no evidence that Jesus ever came as a man to any other part of the earth, except to Jerusalem, the land of Palestine.

We who are the redeemed of the Lord; redeemed through His sacrifice; have His commandments and we will keep them because we love Him.  Because of the gift of the life of Jesus we love the Father and the Son.

Love God.  Love one another.  Do those sound familiar?  That is two of them.  How are we doing?

 

No One Knows the Son…

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in Spirit, and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.”  Luke 10:21-22 (KJV)

Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit because of what He had previously said.  He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven and had given the ones whom He sent out power to tread on the evil forces of hell.

Now He speaks to the Father, thanking Him for His revelation to others of who the Son is and that no one can know the Son except the Father, and no one can know the Father except the Son.  Now if I were to leave it there that would leave us all lost.

Jesus says,

“…And he to whom the Son will reveal Him”.

To Know God the Father and God the Son is not done by our choice.  To know Him is revealed by the Son through the Holy Spirit who is Christ in us until Jesus returns again (Matthew 16:13-19).

If you know the Father you will know the Son, and if you know the Son you will know the Father.  If you deny the Father you deny the Son.  If you deny the Son you deny the Father.

See these references –  1 John 2:22-23;  4:14-15;  5:12-13

Parables and Understanding

And with many such parables spake He the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake He not unto them: and when they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples. Mark 4:33-34 (KJV)

It has been said, speaking of the parables of Jesus, that, “A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning”.  I can see that.  It is clear as we read the parables of Jesus that there can be many possible explanations, but Jesus’s understanding is the proper understanding.

The Believer’s Bible Commentary for these verses…

4:33, 34 Verses 33 and 34 introduce us to an important principle in teaching. Jesus taught the people as they were able to hear it. He built upon their previous knowledge, permitting time for them to assimilate one lesson before giving them the next. Conscious of His hearers’ capacity, He did not glut them with more instruction than they could absorb (see also John 16:12; 1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12). The method of some preachers might make us think Christ had said, “Feed my giraffes” instead of “Feed my sheep”!
Although His general teaching was in parables, He explained them to His disciples in private. He gives light to those who sincerely desire it. BELIEVER’S BIBLE COMMENTARY

Paul the apostle wrote…

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. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-15

That is part of what Jesus meant when He said in Mark 4:9…

He that has ears to hear, let him hear. (KJV)

When we hear Jesus concerning who He is as our Lord and Savior, our God and Creator we will understand what He teaches.

The Burden of the Sermon

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20 (KJV)

Many a man and woman have said something like this, “I live by the Sermon on the mount”.  My thought when I hear that, though I usually say nothing is, “O really.”  Do we think about what Jesus says in the sermon?  It is stronger than the law.  The law says, “Do not commit adultery”.  Jesus says, “If a man looks at a woman with lust he is guilty of adultery”.  Now tell me that you live by the Sermon on the Mount.

In the words of Jesus above Jesus is declaring that He is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.  He did not destroy them, or lay them aside, He is their fulfillment.  Jesus is what they spoke of and what they speak of.

When reading the Scriptures from Genesis through the Revelation we can see Jesus.  He is creating in Genesis 1, and He is finishing His great salvation in Revelation 22.

From the comma to the final period of the law, all will be fulfilled, and it will take place while there is a heaven and an earth.  All through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Righteousness is a good thing.  True righteousness comes through the faith of Jesus Christ.  All the righteousnesses of sinful men is as filthy rags before holy God (Isaiah 64:6).  Our righteousness must come through the cross of Jesus.  It must be given us by God Himself.  Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus we enter the kingdom of heaven.

In Whom You Delight

Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Malachi 3:1-3 (KJV)

Haggai refers to Him as the “Desire of All Nations” (Haggai 2:7). Malachi refers to the Messenger of the covenant as the One “In whom you delight”.   When is this going to take place?

He has come.  He came the first time as a babe in a manger.  A few took note of Him.  Many got angry with Him and crucified Him, because He told the truth about who He was, and all our sins and transgressions were laid on Him by the heavenly Father.

He will return again.  All sin will be judged.  Where will you stand then?  Will you stand with Him?  Will you stand against Him?  If you do not stand with Him today you will stand against Him today and tomorrow.

Jesus the Christ was that baby born in a manger, then crucified, buried and risen again. He is risen.  He is the Son of God, and God the Son.  You cannot be saved apart from the revelation that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:13-20).

The Day of Small Things

“Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent Me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? For they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”  Zechariah 4:7-10 (KJV)

There are a few things in these verses that call for our attention.  One,  it is the word of the LORD.  Two, there is one phrase which goes through all of Scripture, which we do need to remember, and it is this…  “…Thou shalt know…”.  Three, that, small things should not be despised. Four, “…the eyes of the LORD…” (See 2 Chronicles 16:9).

The temple had been rebuilt.  It was smaller, and the people; especially those who were discouraged by its size; needed to realize God’s blessing on them because they were renewing their place of worship with the LORD of all things.

The phrase mentioned above in its total reads… “…Thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent Me unto you” and is a reference to the “Angel of the LORD” who is the pre-incarnate  Christ who will one day come and build a more glorious temple than even that of Solomon.

Let me leave  you with a study note from the Jeremiah Study Bible on verses 7-10,

4:7-10 The first statement to the great mountain issues a challenge to whatever opposes God’s might.  The latter statement opposes anyone who disdains small things (Neh. 4:2-4).  In both cases, divine truth and perspective are what ultimately matter.  Grace, grace to it! simultaneously extols God’s freely given blessing on the work now completer and implores Him to continue to look with favor on the temple and all that it represented.

Even the small things are things which God works through and uses.

The death of the God Man Jesus Christ on the cross is nothing we like to remember.  It is not a pleasant thing to think about, but for our salvation it was and is the greatest event that has happened on earth, and that is due to the fact of His bodily resurrection.  He went through the pain, agony, rejection and death of the cross, and was buried, and rose again that lost, condemned and dying people might receive eternal life before the face of GOD.

Being Reminded of Purpose

“Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:3-6 (KJV)

The people had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon for the distinct purpose of rebuilding the temple (Ezra 1:1-5).  When we look into the prophecy of Haggai we read that they had become more concerned with building comfortable homes for themselves, more than the house of the LORD.

Now the prophet was not finding fault with them for building their homes, but they were neglecting the temple and its rebuilding.  That was the issue.  They were taking their goods and applying it to their own livelihood rather than to the work of the Lord.

In looking at this prophecy of Haggai there is a word for the people of God in 2017.  What may that be?  We have forgotten our purpose, our calling, and from whence we have been blessed.  I stand guilty.  We live in a nation that spends billions of dollars in the game of golf.  Many more millions are spent on movies; either attending their showing at the theater or buying them for home use.  Understand, I do not condemn these things, lest I condemn myself; but I must ask the question:  Where does God come into these actions?  How much do we give to Him for things that bring honor and glory to His name?

If we are spending more on our entertainment and pleasure and comfort than we return to the Lord, then we have forgotten our purpose.  I am speaking to those who call themselves “Christian”.  We are responsible to God for what we have left over after we give to Him; if we are returning anything to Him what He has blessed us with.

Let us consider our ways.  Let us be faithful with the blessings God has given us.  Give to your local place of worship, your Church, and watch what God can do.  Of course, the first thing you need to give is yourself to attending your local Church.  Be faithful, and remember your purpose is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Just LORD in the Midst…

“Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God. Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. The just LORD is in the midst thereof; He will not do iniquity: every morning doth He bring His judgment to light, He faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.” Zephaniah 3:1-5 (KJV)

The prophet states, speaking of the LORD, “He will do no iniquity”.  Iniquity is lawlessness, wickedness, and there is no evil within the LORD of all creation.  Iniquity is in the hearts of those whom God created in His image, after His likeness; because of Adam’s and Eve’s rebellion in the beginning.  Reading the Bible you can see the iniquity of man progressively attacking the very work and character of God; to no avail, of course.

The “Her” of whom the prophet references is the city of Jerusalem, the oppressing city.  She would not hear the prophets’ warnings.  The false prophets would not correct her, and the priests were vile and did not teach, or wrongly taught the law and Scripture.

Some thoughts from the ESV Study Bible…

3:3 Among those who should lead the city aright, but have in fact turned against her, are its officials, the civil authorities (1:8;  1 Chron. 28:1), and judges, those in charge of settling legal disputes (Ex. 18:13, 22).  Instead of showing benevolence, thse leaders were acting as roaring lions, ferocious beasts possessing great power, about to seize prey (Amos 3:4), and as evening (or desert) wolves, known for their ravenous appetite (Gen. 49:27).  Leaders, rathere than guarding their flock, devour it.

It is iniquity to disobey the word of the LORD.  It is iniquity to fail to love the LORD, His Son, and His word.

Will you hear the word of the Lord today, believe it concerning His law, His commandments, His Son and His cross, burial, and resurrection? That is the beginning place – at the cross of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.

 

Let the Earth Keep Silence

“What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:18-20 (KJV)

Habakkuk was a prophet like others, and other people who have asked the question “Where is God in the matter of justice?”; or “Why does God not judge wickedness?”  I have noticed in reading these questions, and having asked them myself a time or two, that God never gives a direct answer, but always takes us to Himself.

God had told this prophet that He was basically judging evil, even by using an evil king and nation to do it.  I have learned that if we want to know about evil and justice, then we first need to look inward.

With Habakkuk, the LORD was showing that this nation which He was using to chastise His own people was idol worshipers.  They would one day find out that they were going to experience justice as well; the judgment of God.

Every idol will one day be exposed for what it is.  There is idolatry in every nation on earth; yes, even the U. S. of A.  We have an idol in New York harbor, that we hold more dear than we do the word of the LORD.  We revere the words of physicians over the word of the LORD.  We hold the word of financiers as more valuable than the word of the LORD.  We value science over the word of the LORD.  These idols will one day come crashing down.

However, “…The LORD is in His holy temple…”, and that is speaking of His heavenly throne, and in this world His temple is also within those who have believed in Him through His Son Jesus, and the cross, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Son of God, God the Son (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Let the children of God, all Christians, cast off the works of the flesh, and put on the garments of salvation (Romans 13:12, 14; Galatians 3:27), and show forth the glory of Jesus our Lord and Savior.  This would be revival in the truest sense of the word.

When God’s people repent of their sins, and come out of the world, then by the grace and power of God, there will be change in the hearts and minds of the inhabitants of the earth.

 

The LORD is Good

What do you think of when a roaring, howling, powerful storm comes; with flashes, and bolts of lightening, and sounds of crashing, rolling thunder?  It is a fearful thing when we see these things.  Many people have just recently survived such storms, suffering great loss, and we pray for you, and offer condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

I am a strange sort of man I guess; but storms fascinate me.  Lightening is a wonder to behold.  I have been on the edge of a tornado in my car, and kept driving, even though I could not see much past the hood of the car.  It is a fearful thing.  More fearful is to be on the wrong side of God.  Hear the words of Nahum the prophet to the Assyrians, their capital city Nineveh…

“God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies. The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before His indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him. The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in him. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies.”  Nahum 1:2-8 (KJV)

It could be said that Nahum’s prophecy is  a continuation of Jonah’s.  When Jonah went to Nineveh and preached of God’s judgment, the people, the whole city repented; yet that repentance was only one generation, and then God sent Nahum to warn them.

Does God, the LORD judge evil?  That is a question that many people ask; even today.  The answer to that is “Yes!”  God does judge evil.  It just is not always according to our allotted time.  Why can a wicked person live for years without illness, or grief, and seemingly be blessed with the world’s riches, and pleasures and never experience God’s justice?  He/She does, or she/he will.

The LORD is Good.  Let us consider this.  It could be that God in His goodness and grace is allowing that individual time to repent and change their way, coming to God through Christ Jesus.

The LORD is mighty, He is Almighty, He holds the storms of this life in His hand.  He knows the beginning and He knows the end.  This life is not about me, or you, or all those who are suffering from sickness, disease, pain, sorrow; from storms or shooters.  This life is about GOD, and His power and glory to Him. He has made a way for sinful humanity to come into His holy presence; and that is through the cross of Jesus Christ who suffered the most horrendous thing any man could ever bear.  Not only did He suffer the physical pain and agony of the cross, but He the holy Son of God was denied the face of His Father as He bled and died for us.  He in fact experienced Hell for us there.

The LORD is Good.

Preacher for the People

Let me say this up front, then, you can and will decide if you want to finish reading this or not.  The preacher who preaches to please the people, the largest groups, does not please God.  The Preacher of God; the prophet of God preaches what God says, not what men say.  Having said that hear the prophet Micah…

“Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the LORD straitened? Are these His doings? Do not My words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Even of late My people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war. The women of My people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away My glory for ever. Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” Micah 2:6-11 (KJV)

Micah lived during some of, if not most of the time of Isaiah (See Isaiah 1:1 and Micah 1:1); they were in the era of the same kings.  Isaiah had told the people…

Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceit… Isaiah 30:10

I have always heard that you can catch more flies with honey. I have always wondered why you would want to ruin good honey by catching flies in it.  Besides I am offended at the thought that a human being is thought of as a fly.  People with a mind, who can think.  People can see the peril they are headed toward if they are warned of it; and that is what a prophet/preacher of God actually does.  Remember this; God’s warnings are also God’s promises.  He does fulfill every word He speaks – the negative and the positive.

Let me give you a study note from the MacArthur Study Bible then I will close this lesson…

2:6-11  False prophets, commanding Micah to cease prophesying, would certainly not prophesy against the people’s evil doings; they would not confront them with the divine standard of holiness.  Rather their false message (v. 7) had stopped the mouths of the true prophets and had permitted the rulers to engage  in social atrocities (vv. 8,9), leading the people to destruction (v. 10).  They didn’t want true prophecies; therefore, they got what they wanted (cf. Is. 30:10). It is best to understand that Micah speaks in v. 6 and God in vv. 7-11.

Who will you listen to?

If you truly love Jesus the one who died for your sins, was buried and rose again; then you will listen to His words.  “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15

…From the Presence of the LORD

“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Jonah 1:1-3 (KJV)

In the presence of the LORD there is joy, peace, hope, and life.  Out of His presence there is fear, dread, and chaos.

Jonah was an actual man who lived during the reign of Jereboam 2 of the Northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 14:25).  He is also mentioned in a teaching by Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 12:39-41), and Jesus was not referring to a parable, but using Jonah as factual history, and his being in the belly of a great fish/whale.

The central character of the book of Jonah is not Jonah.  It is God.

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh.  It as a foreign nation which he knew did not believe in Jehovah/YHWH; and Jonah was a patriot of Israel; so he fled, and “went down to Joppa”  hoped on a ship going to Tarshish, paid his fare, and “went down into it.”

It is quite possible that Jonah sold all his possessions to flee.  He was leaving any family he may have had, friends, home, etc. behind to flee from God’s will for his life.

This was one time when this prophet had no intention of obeying God.  Did he know about God’s richness of mercy?  Most certainly he did.  It is probably why he chose to flee.  He did not want to see a hated enemy repent and experience the mercy of Jehovah God of Israel.

Notice the common thread of all who “flee from the presence of the LORD”.  The “presence of the LORD” is the only place of contentment, peace, rest, and fulfillment.  The “presence of the LORD” is the will of God for our lives (those who are in the faith of Jesus Christ).

Please notice the path of fleeing from the presence of God:  Every step is a downward step:

  1. “Went down to Joppa”  (v. 3);
  2. “Went down into it [the ship] (v. 3);
  3. “Was gone down into the sides of the ship…” (v. 5)

Twice in verse three its says, “…from the presence of the LORD”.  There is warning there for everyone who would step out of God’s will for any reason; no matter how reasonable it may seem.

It is shocking to find how easy it is to find the means to flee from God’s will for our lives.  A ship was at Joppa.  It is very possible that Jonah purchased the whole use of the vessel – he being the only passenger, and the other men being the captain and the crew.  We can always find means to flee, but we rarely find the means to do His will.

Did Jonah think he could go some place where God could not find Him? It is not likely.  For Jonah to flee was pure rebellion against the sovereignty of God in his life.  For any one who openly rebels against God’s will they flee “…from the presence of the LORD”.  We all must learn that where God calls us is going to be the place where we are content, at peace and joyous in the LORD.  That all begins by believing what God tells us about His Son Jesus who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day.  Call on Him and begin your life living in the presence of the LORD.

 

Deliverance for Mount Zion

“But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.”  Obadiah 1:17-18 (KJV)

The shortest book of the Old Testament with a very blunt message for a arrogant a prideful people of Edom.  Edom was a nation who had Esau as its father, its founder.  Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, and there was a sibling rivalry from birth… Jacob had grabbed hold of the heel of Esau at birth (Genesis 25:24-28).  It turned out that Edom always hated the people of Jacob/Israel.  Take note of what God says through the prophet Obadiah above.

  1.  Mount Zion shall be delivered; they will be holy, and the people will possess their possessions – living in their land, in their own homes, growing their own crops, having their own government; and not ruled over any other.
  2.  The people of Jacob – will be a fire and Joseph a flame.  They will be a people to fear, to follow, and to dread the offending of their God, YHWH.
  3.  There will be an end to the house of Esau.  In their pride and arrogance they assumed they were safe in their mountainous homes, and the land they inhabited; yet God sent the Babylonians against them; and by the time of the New Testament they are no more.

Lesson for people today.  God never forsakes His people forever.  He will always get His people where He wants them to be.  You become His people through the new birth of coming to Jesus Christ as the Savior who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and arose the third day.  There is salvation for all who will call on His name.