The Refiner’s Fire

The following is also from an unknown source.  So I give credit to UNKNOWN whoever she or he may be.

“Malachi 3:3 says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this
statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get
back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch
him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest
beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and
let it heat up.

He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the
middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the
impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought
again about the verse that says: “He sits as a refiner and purifier of
silver.”

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front
of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver,
but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the
fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be
destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do
you know when the silver is fully refined?”

He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy – when I see my image in it”

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye

on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

At this very moment, someone needs to know that God is watching over them.
And, whatever they’re going through, they’ll be a better person in the end.”

The Power of the Disciples

The Power of the Disciples

“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.” Matthew 10:1-4 (KJV).

We could look at the disciples as ambassadors for the King. Ambassadors are chosen by the ruler of their nation, and sent to be representatives of other nations. They are given power by the ruler of the nation they represent. The ministry they do is in the name of the ruler of their country.

According to Matthew Jesus had called unto Him His twelve disciples. We have seen where He called some of them previous to this account. Matthew is called in chapter nine beginning in verse 9. In chapter 4 we see where Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John, and these four are always mentioned first. Peter and Andrew are brothers; and James and John are brothers. These were fishermen, and when they were called were fishing, and mending their nets.

When we have come to faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit of God, it is because we have been called or chosen by King Jesus to be His disciple as well as a child of God. A disciple is a follower. There are many who do not like to be followers, but that is what a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ is. The disciple of Jesus Christ is a follower of the King.

It is a great honor and priviledge to be called and chosen by the King of heaven, the King of Jerusalem, and the King of souls. This King Jesus is the Lord of our Salvation. He is our Redeemer. When you have been called by Him and chosen by Him it should be counted as a gift of grace, because we are unworthy servants. We are condemned and dying sinners. To be called and chosen by the King means we have been called to turn from our sins and past to follow the King into a the life of grace, faith, glory and power.

If the disciple is also an ambassador representing the King and His kingdom, we are then equipped with the power and authority of the King. There are several times in the New Testament where we are told, “All power/authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” chapter 28:18. “But you shall receive power…” (Acts 1:8). Paul writes to Timothy and said, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). This power comes only from the King Himself. There is another verse which I must not overlook, and that is John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power/the right to become the sons of God, to those who believe on His name”. Where does this power come from? The King.

It seems that we the people of God’s creation are a hungry lot. The thing for which many crave is power to rule. There are some who crave it for the popularity. Some crave it to lord over others, and have all the material possessions that they can cheat or steal away from others, and sometimes that is done by evil governments through taxes. The greatest power of all the the power that is Jesus Christ Himself, and He will not allow His chosen ones to lord over people or to take from them. Those who try will quickly fall.

Resting in the power of Jesus Christ our King, and Him alone is the way of blessing and the glory of the King.

The ministry of King Jesus is the ministry of His disciples or ambassadors. An Ambassador of the United States in the country of Israel is there not representing Israel, but the United States of America. When he appears before the ruling agencies of Israel he presents the desires of the President of the USA, or at least he should. The same is true of an Ambassador to any other country.

What is the ministry of the disciples of the King? They are listed here. The disciple of Jesus Christ has the ministry of casting our “unclean spirits”, and this is done through the power of Jesus’s name. Another ministry is that of healing “all manner of diseases”, and we are not healers, but God in His sovereignty and will does so at His own will and discretion. There is also the ministry of “healing sicknesses”, this is sicknesses such as fevers, even leprosies, etc., but by the power, will and discretion of the Lord Jesus. Now with the first disciples they had that power for the purpose of showing forth the power of Jesus Christ, preparing people for the coming kingdom. It would not surprise me to find out that many of those who applauded Jesus for His healing power and miracles may have been at His trial crying our “Crucify Him, crucify Him”, and they had received such wonders from Him.

These first disciples were given this power to show forth the glory of Jesus as the God-man come to earth. Would the Jews receive Him as their Messiah? He gave orders to the disciples that they take the message only to the “house of Israel” (vv. 5-6). The nation saw the power of Jesus, their Messiah, but they hated Him, rejected Him, tried Him, then hung Him on a cross where He died for the sins of the world.

We may ask what is in the names of these disciples. The first four mentioned are always mentioned first, and are the ones who seemed to have participated most in ministry with Jesus. Jesus’s home base of ministry was in Peter’s home at Capernaum. From the MacArthur Study Bible note on the names,

10:2 the names of the apostles. The 12 are always listed in a similar order (cf. Mark 3:16; Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:13). Peter is always named first. The list contains 3 groups of 4. The 3 subgroups are always listed in the same order, and the first name in each subgroup is always the same, though there is some variation in the order within the subgroups–but Judas Iscariot is always named last. Peter…Andrew…James…and John. The first subgroup of 4 are the most familiar to us. These two sets of brothers, all fishermen, represent an inner circle of disciples often seen closest to Jesus.” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, p.1409, (NKJV).

Jesus knew these disciples by their names. It is a representative thought that He knows all those who are His by name. He choses and calls us by name; equips us by name, and sends us out by name.

If your name is not known by the King of all creation, then you are in a bad lot. There are some who are going to say, “Well! He knows all people by their names.” I Biblically beg to differ. There is a day coming when He will say, “I never knew you. Depart from me; ye workers of iniquity” (7:23; 25:12; Luke 13:27). We are also told of a book where the names of all He knows are written called the Lamb’s book of life. If your name is not written there, then He does not know you (Revelation 20:27). With Jesus you are not a number, but a name. When you are in Christ Jesus you are as good as in heaven.

A Scorned Woman

The King Meets the Need of a Scorned Woman

“And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” Matthew 9:20-22 (KJV).

This woman was an unclean woman. It was not due to anything she could prevent. If you will think about it sin is something you or I cannot prevent, but it keeps us from our holy God. The woman could not worship at the synagogue because she was defiled. This woman was in a crowd of people as Jesus was going to the home of Jairus where his daughter was dead.

Something that is not noticed in Matthew’s Gospel alone, but is revealed in Mark’s gospel is that the girl that Jesus raised to life was twelve years of age, and this woman had had this infirmity for twelve years (Mark 5:42). The significance of this “Twelve years” I am not sure. If I remember the numerology correctly the number twelve represents a completed government. Maybe, it represents that in the King’s kingdom there will be no uncleanness, or death.

This woman had spent all the wealth she may have had on physicians who did her no good; she has come to this place for this very moment. To touch the Master, the King, the Healer, the Great Physician; and she doesn’t care who sees her or knows. She does know that she is considered unclean, so as not to bring any supposed shame to the Master she “secretly” touches Him, though He immediately knows. I have this suspicion that He may have known she was going to touch Him for that very purpose. One thing we can be assured of is, that there are no surprises with God.

With this event happening as they are on the way to Jairus’s home this even surely strengthened the faith of Jairus. Seeing her touch only the hem of His garment and her health being restored. You can be sure that this healing was a legit healing, which lasted for her lifetime. This defiled woman touching the One whom Jairus had asked to come and heal his dead daughter. This woman probably touched a tassel on His garment. These tassels represented faithfulness and loyalty to the Word of God and holiness to the Lord – every Jewish male wore them. It was the practice of the Pharisees of the day to lengthen them to show their supposed piety. Jesus did not mind being touched by the ceremonially unclean. This woman’s healing gave the ruler further evidence of Jesus’s power. The woman was not only delivered from her physical uncleanness, but her spiritual uncleanness as well. Jesus’s pronouncement, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” is stating such as this healing and cleansing. One can be physically well and not be “Whole”.

Be whole by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, and the power of His resurrection.

Once Upon A Time…

…There was a young man with a wife and five young children.  He and the wife had been married for around 15 years.  One evening things became a little hot in the household between the husband and wife, and the husband did not like it so he slipped on his insulated coveralls, and walked out the door with the intention of never returning.

The weather outside was not real pleasant.  There was a slow steady, falling rain.   It was a little cool; even with the coveralls on.  There was a whole lot of anger, even some hatred, for what had been said.  He had said a few things himself that were not good concerning his wife.

In the cool and the rain he walked through the woods, down the hills, crossing branches which flowed with a little water.  All the time feeling sorry for himself, and still thinking in his mind, “I am not going back.  I will just keep going, and going, and live in the woods the rest of my life if I need to do so.”  He had no place to go, and he probably could have survived alone, and in the cool.

There was a decision this young man was needing to make.  It was a decision concerning his marriage, his wife whom he had loved and cherished for these 15 years.  There had never been another person come between the two of them.  There were no “affairs”.  Their lives together had been rough.  Struggling financially, spiritually, but growing in the Lord, on their journey together.  Now, however, things had suddenly changed.  He was done.  He could not handle the grief, the complaints, even his own.  He was not returning.

He reached an old hay barn, went inside, sat on the hay… and prayed.  The voice of the Lord spoke to his heart, and the question came to him, “Don’t you love her anymore?”  This required a decision.  Does he love her anymore?  Does he care for her at all?  Does he want to spend the rest of his life with her or not????

Thoughts flooded his mind.  The fifteen years, the five children, the love they had shared together as husband and wife.  Even the struggles they had shared together, though not pleasant, she had remained faithful to him.  By the time all these thoughts had flooded his mind the answer to that question, “Don’t you love her anymore?” seemed it deserved a good answer.  YES!!! Was the answer.

The young man got up off the hay, walked back to the house, asked his wife for forgiveness, and things were well again.  The young man was myself. 

I tell this story because we are filled with fires of emotion when we first wed.  Lust could be a better answer.  That fire that is sometimes called love is weak, and it will not endure the tests of the years.  You grow in love with one another.  You even get used to one another.  Love from God is much more than an emotion; it is a decision, an act of devotion.

When Paul the apostle wrote, “Husbands, love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” this is the love he had in mind.  The love that abides forever.  The love that sticks through thick or thin.  It is the love that never fails.  That is the love of Jesus Christ for you.

By the grace of God 19 years has passed since that night.  We have now been husband and wife for 34 years, and to be honest with you our relationship has only improved.  I love that woman – my bride – more today than I did the day we were married.

Captured By Sin

Captured By Sin

The man of God must always we aware, alert, and ascribing worth to the Greater One, who is God. We often may not realize it but there are others who will be needing us to be the people of faith that we are. Our faith will be an inspiration to others. As the song says, “May those who come behind us find us faithful.” It will make a difference someday. It is as close as the next minute, hour, day, week, month and year.

“And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” Genesis 14:1-12 (KJV)

Abraham was a watching man. After coming out of Egypt Abraham was a somewhat wiser man. He was still a man subject to sin, though. Rather than allowing a feud to brew; he had given Lot the choice of land. Lot chose what appeared to be the best land productively and beauteously.

We can see Lot’s casual backsliding progressively: 1) Lot saw the land; 2) Lot set his heart on the land and dwelled there; 3) Lot eventually moved into the city surrounded by perversity; 4) Lot’s family was corrupted (19:26, 33). Because of Lot’s identity with the flesh he suffered like the fleshly. He chose mammon over morality; godlessness over godliness; and bondage over freedom.

Abraham loved Lot greatly; afterall Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He must have been attentive about Lot and his condition – both physically and spiritually. He longed to hear any reports concerning his nephew

In these first twelve verses we can see that things were not as them may have seemed in “the plains of Jordan”. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah had rebelled against their ruling nation and king. Kings Bera of Sodom and, Birsha of Gomorrah and three other kings of surrounding cities had been subjects to the King named Chedorlaomer of Elam for a period of twelve years. In the next year they rebelled and would not pay their taxes and fees, etc.. After one year Chedorlaomer gathered three other kings and their armies, along with his, and went against the five kings. Lot was caught in the middle. Isn’t that what happens to those who want to ride along and just stay neutral – right down the middle? Lot was taken captive, just like the rest. Everything he possessed and his entire family were at the mercy of an angry and powerful king.

To Lot’s advantage he had an uncle who loved him, was praying for him, and was committed to his deliverance. There is someone who is being held captive by their sin – someone you know. They have just been riding on the coattails of the world, but now they cannot escape, and they desperately need your aid. You have been praying for them; you may have been watching them as they slipped deeper and deeper into sin, and farther and farther away from God. You tried many times to warn them, but to no avail. Now they are captive, cannot escape, and only you can come to their aid. Only you have the faith, the vision of God to free them. Do it.

Look God’s Direction

Looking God’s Direction

“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD. Genesis 13:14-18 (KJV).

There is an obvious difference noted between Abram and Lot. While Lot was told by Abram to choose the land he “lifted up his eyes” toward what appeared to be the most prosperous, fertile, and probably beautiful land in Canaan and chose it without God.

Abram, however, was submissive to the Lord’s direction. Guided by God’s Spirit he sees through the eyes of God. God says, “Lift up now thine eyes”. Abram’s heart was set on the things of God. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34).

God’s promises incorporate all the land that Abram sees. It will be his and his children’s “Forever”. Now, who are the children, or seed of Abraham? “Children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Romans 9:8). Those who have a faith like Abraham. It is physical and spiritual, because God has given the land to a people who are going to have faith in Christ Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. It is the Church which is made up of Jew and Gentile – spiritual including all races.

A promise of posterity numbering like the “Dust of the earth”.

God commands Abram to “Arise, walk through the land.” This, an act of faith also was a point of ownership, given by God.

Abram moved once again. This time remaining in Canaan claiming more land under God’s authority for the nation God would prosper and save the world. Again, he builds an altar. We need our altars to the Lord. It is an act of faith, submission, and worship to God. The altar is the place of our submitted, obedient, worshipping heart and life.

Down Time

Just a note to let all those who come to Fire and Hammer that I am going to be away from the computer and the internet for a few days.  My wife and I are going to the Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting at Lake of the Ozarks. 

There will be no post here untile Thursday November 1, 2007.  Thank you all for your interests.  May God, through His Son Jesus Christ bless you richly.

T.A.

Backsliding Lot

Backsliding By Looking Only On the Surface

“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” Genesis 13:10-13 (KJV).

When Lot heard the words of Abram he was thrilled. What ever land he would choose was his. Lot, like most people looked only on the surface of things; he looked at the fertility of the land without looking at the ultimate price that would be paid. He did not know what was in the future, however, it was evidently known by him of the depravity, perversity, and immoral behavior permeating the area. He was only considering the material without any consideration to the destruction this could bring to his family.

Lot did not even consider the Lord in the choosing. he “lifted up his eyes” guided by his desire for the material and led his family to destruction. Finally, now Abram was “Separated” from his kindred as the Lord had directed when He first called.

The infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have a story and a history that warns all who will read and hear it. It is hard to imagine a man, whom God calls “Just” (2 Peter 2:7), would become a part of the wickedness. Maybe it should not be so hard, because many Christians put themselves in situations similar to Lot, because they have been carried away by the lust of their hearts, rather than being led and controlled by God’s Spirit.

Lot may not have been an actual participant in their sin, though by his silence, and his “leadership” he condoned the behavior. He could have warned the people of their wickedness, but instead he adapted.

The phrase “Pitched his tent” means to make his abode; his habitation with. We know from God’s Word we are not to “Dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10b); but to “…Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

Lot bore little fruit. Maybe the only fruit he had was faith, and it was small because he did not exercise it. The way to bear fruit is to abide [make our habitation] in Jesus. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in Me.” John 15:4

Hunger For The King

Hunger for the King

“Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:14-17 (KJV).

The question of fasting comes from a source which is actually friendly with Jesus. It is possibly John the Baptist who sends his disciples to ask the question of Jesus. We see or hear nothing from Jesus concerning the matter of fasting.

Just what is meant by “Fasting”? We have doctors calling for patients to fast just before a medical test. I have known of some people who fast when they know they are going to have a big meal. They may miss a meal or two, in their own thinking, so they can eat more at the big one. If that is not the height of gluttony. There are the Biblical fasts. Many of the orthodox Jews looked upon the fasts as very important to spiritual life. Jesus and His disciples were not fasting. They were feasting.

Fasting is a Biblical practice. According to some it was only called for once per year within the Jewish orthodox system. It was called for by some of the prophets, such as Joel. Fasting is a time of sacrifice. It is the time of sacrificing a meal, or meals for a day or a number of days, for the purpose of seeking God and His will.

It, however, becomes a sad state of business when the religious begin using “fasting” as a means of glorifying self righteous behaviors, and for the attention of their people. It loses its whole purpose and meaning. That was the practice of the Pharisees of Jesus’s day. They would even put on a sad countenance to make it appear they were fasting, probably if they were not, and also when they actually were, at least attempting it. The law only required one fast per year, but the Pharisses commanded twice per week.

The fasting of John and his disciples was for the purpose of telling the message of the Messiah, and calling people to repentance. It was and still is a way of getting a contrite heart and a broken spirit in order to be holy and right with the Creator. The fasting of John and his followers showed a true broken and contrite heart for the fallen human race.

Jesus makes mention that the reason that He and His disciples did not fast due to the fact that He was with them. His reference to the Bridegroom is His own personal reference to His return for His Bride following His death, burial and resurrection. While He was with the disciples, there would be no mourning. The term “Taken from them” implies a great violence was going to take place. It was in deed the violence of the trial, the beating, and the crucifixion; in fact the event of the cross; the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The disciples might fast for awhile – while He is away, but that would only be for a short duration. Jesus would rise from the dead.

Following the resurrection and evidence of it is a time of rejoicing in any and all towns which have been blessed by His appearances. In Jesus Christ we have the greatest reason for joy. Sin has been cleansed and forgiven; death has been defeated along with the powers of evil and satan; Jesus is alove at the right hand of God the Father, seated in heaven. Although we rejoice in His presence and glory His presence is not powerful when sin is in our way. There is still need for fasting inconspicuously; to get things right between self and God; to seek in prayer the health and spiritual well being of self and others. There will be rejoicing eternally when we see the King face to face.

In the face of the Law; the resurrection fulfills the demands of it. For sin the Law demanded death. The Old Testament law bears out quite clearly that all have sinned. That, there is none righteous, not one. The Promise foretold by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jeremiah31:31-34; Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26) of the people receiving a new heart of flesh, to replace the heart of stone is fulfilled by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the power being applied to each individual’s life. The “old wineskins” of the law; as interpreted by the legalistic Pharisees cannot hold the New wine of the New covenant of Jesus Christ.

If you attempt to patch an old garment with a new piece of material; at the time of the first washing the new piece will shrink, and the tear will be made worse. If you put New Wine into old wineskins, the activity of the New will cause the Old brittle skins to burst.

The self standards and “loopholes” which are given and provided to, for and by the Religious elite; is insufficient for salvation. Those self-standards are the direction of death and hell. To mix legalism and grace is to pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also to give license to sin is a perversion of the Gospel.

New skin is needed for the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for the expansion of the Gospel of Jesus. Just as the fermentation of the New Wine takes place and grows in that winekin with change; so too, does the life of the new believer, and all believers change Jesus writes the Law into the hearts of those He changes and His Spirit reigns in power and grows the changed one into the image of Jesus Christ.

There is a place for mouning in the heart and life of the believer who has a tender heart for glorifying Jesus Christ. We will mourn when we realize we have sinned and brought shame to the name of Jesus. We will mourn seeking repentance when we realize our sin. We will mourn when we sin permeating the society in which we live. We will mourn when we see a brother and/or sister in Christ sin, and does not repent. Mourning when we are separated from the Father by our sin will come without hypocrisy. There would be nothing wrong with followers of Jesus declaring a fast to mourn, seek God’s face, declare a call to repentance, declare a call to revival. It is much needed.

The old material of the flesh will tear away from that which is new. When Jesus comes into the individual heart He changes you into a person who loves God; who desires to do His will; who desires to get to know God better. As a matter of fact will do what ever it takes to get all the information possible to grow to become more like Jesus. Those old wineskins are tossed away, and good for nothing. The New Wine of the salvation of Jesus Christ is so powerful that if left to an old fleshy thought process it would burst and be absolutely good for nothing. That is why the heart is changed at the moment of rebirth. When your heart and mind is hungry and thirsty for more of God in Christ Jesus, you can know that things are going right in your life. It is only the changed life that will desire to be more like Jesus. I am in “Hunger for the King“.

Sinners Follow the King

Sinners Follow the King

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “What happens when someone joins the military service?” Those who are accepted into service basically give up their lives. They don’t sleep until it is commanded of them. They run on orders. They walk on orders. They basically have no life of their own. The become the “property” of the government which they serve. In the United States our soldiers are supposed to be under the care of our government as well. If one gets sick the government cares for it. If there is a need for dental work, we care for it. Housing and food is provided while in training and in service during war, at least.

I hope you see the picture we need to see in this message. When we choose to follow Jesus as He calls we forsake everything and follow Him. We are no longer our own. We belong to a new Master. We realize that it is by His hand we live, move, breath and or sleep. We are at His beckoned call morning, evening and night – 24 hours per day. It just might be at the expense of our life. It cost Him His for us.

When we follow Him we become His representatives of the healing and reconciliation power He alone gives.

“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 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 9:9-13 (KJV).

In the thinking of the people of Jerusalem in this day the Tax Collector was a despised individual of their society. They viewed a fellow Hebrew as a traitor to have such a job. The friends of the tax collector was usually other tax collectors, because no one else wanted to be near them, nor did they want to be identified with them in any way.

Jesus finds Matthew (Luke calls him Levi in Luke 5:27) sitting at his usual site collecting taxes from the people. The Master extends a call to Matthew as, “Follow Me”. There appears to be no question, no hesitance; he just gets up and leaves his place of work, and follows Jesus. Matthew probably hated the job of tax collector anyway, but had chosen to do it because he needed to make a living, and it was the only means he had. When Jesus came along and gave him the recognition that He did, and spoke to him as though he were not a despised tax collector, but a man in need; he immediately left his despised position, and followed Jesus.

We also find that Matthew invites Jesus to his home, and has invited his friends to come and meet Jesus. When Jesus has so dramatically changed your life it is an exciting thing to tell others of what Jesus has done for you. The “Publicans” are the tax collectors. “Sinners” is reference to any who did not see themselves as better than others in religion and such. They also were the despised and rejected of society. We need to understand that Jesus still befriends sinners and calls them to Himself. Those who are clean – in their own eyes – try to find fault with the One who is pure.

The words of Jesus in verses 12 and 13 is a strong reference to the self-righteousness of those who attack Jesus. Jesus is stating quite clearly that physicians treat only those who come to them, but Jesus went to sinners; He came down for us didn’t He. There once was a time when doctors made house calls, but no more. It is almost so in the spiritual area of life as well. If the sick do not see themselves as sick they will not seek after a physician, even if one is standing by.

The one’s who hold the oracles of the faith have the means of healing sin sick souls. The doctor who has the means of healing and because of some bias or bigotry withholds healing is not a caring, compassionate individual. This is what the Pharisees were guilty of. This is what Christians are guilty of who withhold the gospel of Jesus Christ from others.

No one is righteous apart from faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work. Self-righteousness is seeing oneself as good enough without need of someone else to save. People come to this state of mind by keeping their own set of standards; or at least appearing like they do; and by adding “Loopholes” to God’s standards. Those who practice this sort of self-righteousness are also quick to condemn those who are already condemned, and offer them no hope.

The people who depend on Jesus and His righteousness are more apt to practice mercy (Hosea 6:6), and show Jesus in the way they live. Rituals were meant to be a means of worship, but they can often get to the place where they become a form of self-righteousness (Amos 5:21-24). It is quite clear from the teaching of the Old Testament and from the life of Jesus that He hates ritualistic sin that leads to a lack of mercy toward others. When people depend on ritual as their righteousness they often judge others without mercy.

We have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). The ministry of the resurrected Jesus Christ has been entrusted to the care of those indwelt by the Spirit of Christ Jesus for the purpose of reconciling sinners with the Father. To bring to God those who are separated from Him – the despised of society, the broken, the hurting, whosoever will. Jesus starts by reconciling us to God the Father. It is a privilege and an honor to bear, to the world, the most wonderful message the world will ever hear.

Only the despised, the broken, the sick, the forsaken can hear the voice of Jesus, and receive His righteousness. When you are so full of yourself, there is absolutely no room for God or His Son Jesus.

Husbands in Marriage

What is the role of the husband within the marriage?  We have had an article a couple of weeks ago which dealt with the wife’s submission to her husband, and his to her.  I fear that there are many men who think that the responsibility for keeping the marriage fresh, vital, and romantic is all the wife’s responsibility.

That  could never be more incorrect.  The love in the marriage is the man’s responsibility.  Where do I get that?

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her…”  Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV).

The Bible makes it clearly the husbands place to love the wife.  Some of you over tuned with testosterone males need to realize that this “Love” is not about sex.  It is about genuine love.  The love which Jesus Christ showed by the greatest display of love ever given.  That was His death on the cross for the sins of the world.  There can be nothing more manly, heroic, chivalrous, than sacrificing yourself for your wife.

Now, I am getting where it hits home with myself.  I cannot say that I am this way, but I want to tell you that I am learning and growing.  I want to ask the real men who are reading this to begin doing this today.

My wife has been the picture of submission to me.  When our children were at home we would take our family vacations at times going camping, cooking over an open fire, without the modern day camp provisions, etc., and my wife hated camping this way.  She would go along without complaint, she would cook over that fire, and never complain.  She did it for me and the kids.  I have learned from that

How much should a husband love His wife?  Just as much as Jesus did the church in giving His life for her salvation.

You want to show your wife the love that she needs.  Let her choose where you go to eat next time.  Let her choose the movie you watch.  Let her choose where you go on your next vacation.  When you have that very important football game on, you only have one TV, and there is something on she wants to watch; let her watch, and watch it with her.  She likes that time you take to spend with only her.  The next time you have a hunting trip planned, and something comes up she wants to do with the family; you have the idea, go with her and enjoy her and her joy.

“Husbands, love your wife”  There is no command for the wife to love her husband, but she will when you show that form of sacrificial love which was shown us in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins.

Growing Up…Faith

Growing Up in the Faith

“And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Genesis 13:5-9 (KJV).

After their return to the Promised Land from Egypt the LORD blessed Abram and Lot in their herds. The place where they lived had become quite crowded with the livestock. Both have been extremely blessed materially. Their herdmen were at strife with one another due to the close quarters. Part of the crowd was also local natives.

Living by faith or having a maturing or growing faith does not mean one does not sin. It does mean continuing on the journey despite our sins, and at times yielding our rights to others and letting them choose their course in life, even at our expense.

The one who was growing in faith toward maturity gave first choice to the weaker of faith. Remember God’s promise of the land was to Abram, not Lot. Abram gave Lot the first choice in order to cease the strife which was brewing between them and their herdmen. The land was Abram’s by God’s promise, but he chose to go which ever way Lot did not.

We will see in a later chapter of Genesis what is emphasized throughout all of the Scriptures; “Abraham believed God” (15:6; Hebrews 11:8-10). Believing God is more than believing in God. The former is an abiding trust and dependence upon; the latter is only a knowledge of existence. You know that airplane to exist, but there is no trust extended to it until you get on board and fly away. To believe God is to get on board. Abraham’s faith was so extensive that he believed if Lot chose the most fertile land, then the land he himself would receive would be blessed by God. He believed it better to be in the desert with God, than in the fertile lands without Him. That is a Growing Up…Faith.

Getting Back to the Promise

Getting Out of the World

“And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.” Genesis 13:1-4 (KJV)

Abram and Sarai and Lot came up out of Egypt; the picture of the world, and all its wealth; for that was not the place of God’s call or blessing or presence. Abram had left that when a famine had come into the land. He had deserted the altar, his dwelling, and had sought after comfort. On the way to Egypt he and Sarai had plotted and schemed together of how to save Abram’s life; at the risk of the Promise.

Egypt was not the place where God had called Abram to abide. That was back at the place where there was a famine. There are some who would question the sanity of a person who would stay in those troublesome circumstances. However, if we look at the life and ministry of Jesus His whole life was lived for a vital and important climax – His death. he could have left Israel (the land of promise) and remained alive. Jesus knew, however, that He would not be fulfilling the will of His Father. In order to live, we must die.

Abram came out of Egypt a wealthier man. Verse 2 declares “…In cattle, in silver, and in gold”. We should in no wise take this to be a reward for going to Egypt. Instead it became a test and temptation of its own. We can see that Abram was a blessed man. God’s hand was on him, guiding, protecting, providing, and blessing him; even when he was out of place.

After being virtually run out of the country by Pharoah of Egypt he returns to his proper place of residence; the promise still in place. He went back to where he had his tent in the Promised Land. Abram also went back to the altar. There, once again, he “…called on the name of the LORD”. In Egypt he had no altar. When God’s children get out of God’s promise they will have no altar, no worship of God, and no peace with God.

The Kings Power Over Sin

The Kings Power Over Sin

“And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.” Matthew 9:1-8 (KJV)

Does Jesus have power to forgive sin? This was the question the people were asking, especially the religious rulers. They hated Jesus in the first place, and they came at the situation not really looking for the truth, but for something to charge Jesus with. They could have charged Him with speaking the truth. They could have charged Him with love for the people. They could have charged Him with practicing successful medicine without a license. They could have charged Him with many positive things, and been happy that someone such as Jesus had come to their town.

We need to realize that sin not only cripples physically, but also emotionally, and spiritually, and these religious leaders were certainly crippled spiritually. They were so weak spiritually that they could only see other’s sins; and not their own. They were blind to the things of God.

Jesus and the disciples have entered the ship once again. This time they are leaving the land where the demons have been cast out of the people and into the swine, only to the chagrin of the owners of the pork. Upon their reaching the Capernaum side of the Sea they go to Peter’s home; at least it is believed to be. This has become our Lord’s base and place where He lays His head. You can see in this first verse that it is referred to as, “His own city”, and the home of the apostle Peter was in Capernaum.

The house was full and overflowing with people. Peter’s house was a place of much activity. Mark chapter two gives us more details, and the gospel according to Luke in chapter 5 tells us that it was so crowded that the four friends who brought the paralytic went to the roof top, tore away the tiles, and let this man down through the hole with a rope; putting him right in front of Jesus.

Without question. Without permission. Without any authority whatsoever. These men were believing that Jesus was their friends healer. It is also evident that the man on the pallet was also a man of faith. He was the one allowing them to let him down before Jesus.

Jesus recognizes faith when He sees faith, and He recognized it here. Faith always recognizes the higher authority. It is the act of believing without seeing; submitting to the One who is the power and in power. Faith, true faith, recognizes God. True faith has God as the Person in whom we believe, trust, live, and have our being. The only way to get to God is to come by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

The greatest need for mankind is forgiveness. We need the forgiveness of God. We need the forgiveness of one another. We need to receive the forgiveness God has given us. When this man was let down by the rope into the room with Jesus the first need Jesus met was the man’s greatest need. That greatest need was the need for forgiveness. He needed forgiveness of sin. We are not told what caused this man’s paralysis, and it does not matter; but one thing we can know is that all sickness, disease, paralysis, and emotional and mental sickness is the direct result of sin from the beginning. Had it not been for the fall of Adam and Eve, into sin there would have been no sickness or disease or crippling falls. All would be well.

Jesus pronounced the man, “Forgiven”. Jesus actually said, “Son, Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” (NKJV). Do we have to imagine the release and freedom this man must have experienced. All who have come to faith in Jesus have experienced this freedom from guilt, freedom from sin, from the devil, and from all unrighteousness which hindered us from doing the works of the Lord.

Some of the religious leaders did not appreciate Jesus speaking words of forgiveness of sin. “Only God can forgive sin”. Thes scribes were raging inside unwilling to believe that Jesus could forgive of sin. It was the belief of the religious leaders and probably others that there was a group of people who thought that healing would only take place after all sin was forgiven, and done away with. They also believed that only God could forgive sins. And this was what happens with their discharge of accusing Jesus of blasphemy.

They were, of course, right in believing that only God can heal. They needed to realize who it was who was standing before them. This was deity. This was God. “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made’, ‘without Him was not anything made that was made”. They had yet to realize this great truth.

These accusers knew Old Testament law. They are bound by their own binding, obtrusive traditionalism. They refused to believe tht these powers came from God, thus they certainly would not recognize Him as being God in flesh [incarnate]. On this thought John MacArthur writes, “Their (the scribes and Pharisees) hearts were so hardened against Christ that every miraculous evidence of His divinity and messiahship drove them to deeper unbelief rather than a repentance. Even His most gracious and loving words and acts drove them to greater fury against Him.” JOHN MACARTHUR COMMENTARY ON Matthew, Vol. 1, p. 53

God is the only one who can forgive sin, and make us whole. That is who Jesus is. The power to heal, and to forgive sin is an awesome power which belongs solely to God.

These religious leaders [the scribes] should have known better than to argue with the Creator of all things. He knew their thoughts. This alone should have been a clue to them that they could stand a chance of winning against Him, nor should they have even dared to try. The scribes had just accused Him of “Blasphemy”. For someone who was just human and not God-man to make the statements Jesus did would have been blasphemy. His power to forgive sin was His right, because He is the incarnate God. Even though this was simply in their thoughts and maybe whispered quietly among themselves Jesus knew.

In the thinking of the day, and sometimes in our own, the supposed thinking is that this man committed some vile act of sin and this is why he is paralyzed. It was the easiest thing to say, “Your sins are forgiven”, but that would not make it so, except in this case it came from the Forgiver Himself. The forgiveness of sin is unseen, but the results will be seen, and Jesus not only announces this man’s sins forgiven, but heals him as well that they might know that He had power of forgiveness of sin, and power to heal. To say “Arise and walk” would give evidence one way or the other. It would be the most difficult thing to do. It does become evident by the one who was crippled.

We must admit and confess that all sickness, disease, and sorrow is a direct result of sin. There are times we are judged specifically for some sin. Other times affliction comes upon us to prove our faith. Jesus does not correct their belief that this was caused by sin. The cripple believed it to be a result of specific sin. Jesus forgave his sin

The argument Jesus presents is this – “If I have power to heal an infirmity caused by sin, then, I also have power to forgive the sin.”

The power of Jesus was revealed in His words. Jesus told him to take up his bed and walk. “Go to your house”. The man got up and went just as Jesus had told him to do. When the people who were present saw this spectacular miracle of God. You can be fairly certain that there was a fear that crept through the crowd that was present that day. The scribes were still unbelieving. They saw nothing except someone and some thing to condemn. It matters not to mere traditionalists that people are hurting and suffering; they just want things to be right with their tradition. The multitudes were awed by this revelation of power – the Person of the power. They glorified God the Father. That is, of course, where Jesus intended the glory to go. Only God has power on earth to forgive sins, and to heal.

What was the greatest marvel of all? It was not the healing of an ill or maimed body; but the healing of an ill and maimed soul. It was ill and maimed by sin; eternally separated from God; an enemy of God. Made whole by the works of Jesus Christ. Let us, too, marvel that God has given such grace and power to men. It is given to all who receive God’s Son Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

The Kings Authority Over Evil

The Kings Authority Over Evil

“And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.  And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?  And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.  So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.  And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.  And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.” Matthew 8:28-34 (KJV)

We have seen Jesus the King as He has dealt with physical ailments, sicknesses, diseases, and our infirmities. We have seen Him deal with the storm which came up at sea which could, itself, have been generated by supernatural means, through the demons we see in our text. It is only my supposition to think it was of supernatural means, and I think a good supposition due to the fear of the four fishermen who were on the boat of the previous verses. If it was not supernatural, then, it was one of the fiercest storms they had ever encountered.

In this passage of Scripture we see our King dealing with the hordes of hell. There are many who see demons in every ailment or problem which befalls mankind. Some call liquor, “Demon alcohol” or something equivalent. Not to long ago there was a celebrity “preaching” couple and the husband had beaten the wife, and he said, “The devil made me do it”. We must admit there is evil in the world, and demons are probably a motivating factor behind a lot of it, but they only inhabit bodies of human beings who have opened their lives to them. That is probably the case with these two men.

It is my fear that there are many people today who are demon possessed and receiving psychological or psychiatric counselling that will not do them a bit of good. They may calm down, put on an apparent new behavior, but still be under the control of demons. We see a progression of Jesus’s power in this chapter. Ailments, sicknesses, diseases, infirmities, storms, then, the spiritual realm.

All power has been given unto Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith. All power means over everything in, on, and under the earth, and all that is in heaven.

There are some who have supposed a couple of problems with this passage. The first one being the location. Matthew calls the land Gergesenes, and Mark, and Luke calls it the country of the Gadarenes. The following is the writing of John Gill,

into the country of Gergesenes, the same with the Girgashites, Gen_15:21 whom Joshua drove out of the land of Canaan; and who, as a Jewish writer (l) says, left their country to the Israelites, and went to a country, which is called to this day, גורגיסטאן, “Gurgestan”, of which these people were some remains: both in Mar_5:1 it is called “the country of the Gadarenes”; and so the Syriac and Persic versions read it here; which is easily reconciled by observing, not that Gergesa and Gadara were one and the same city, called by different names; but that these two cities were near each other, in the same country, which was sometimes denominated from the one, and sometimes from the other. Origen (m) has a remarkable passage, showing the different situations of Gadara and Gergesa; and that the latter cannot be Gerasa in Arabia; and also the signification of the name, for the sake of which, I shall transcribe it.

“Gerasa (says he) is a city of Arabia, having neither sea nor lake near it; wherefore the evangelists, who well knew the countries about Judea, would never have said so manifest an untruth: and as to what we find in some few copies, “into the country of the Gadarenes”, it must be said, that Gadara indeed was a city of Judea, about which were many famous baths; but there was no lake, or sea in it, adjacent with precipices; but Gergesa, from whence were the Gergasenes, is an ancient city about the lake; now called Tiberias; about which is a precipice adjacent to the lake, from whence is shown, that the swine were cast down by the devils. Gergesa is interpreted, παροικιαεκβεβληκοτων, “the habitation of those that cast out”; being called so perhaps prophetically, for what the inhabitants of those places did to the Saviour, beseeching him to depart out of their coasts.”” From the e-Sword version.

The second problem some see is in Matthew’s version we have two people. The gospels of both Mark and Luke mention only one. There is a good reason for this and one is that one of these demon possessed people was more fierce and vile than the other, and He is the one to whom Jesus Spoke. According to Matthew Henry’s Commentary, “And some think, these two were man and wife, because the Evangelists speak but of one” p. 112, VOL. V.

Remember the storm that arose at sea? Could it have been brought about by the “prince of the power of the air” trying to prevent the Prince of peace from getting ashore to give peace to these two tormented souls? We do need to remember even if this is so the devil has no power or authority except that which God allows. Even then, it is to display His glory.

As soon as Jesus is ashore the two possessed by the demons approach Jesus fully recognizing Him (v. 29). The other writers of this event tell us these two; at least one of them anyway; were uncontrollable; “chains had been plucked asunder… fetters broken in pieces…” (Mark 5:4). Luke confirms that these dwelt among the tombs (Luke 8:27). They are quickly identified as being closely associated with the buried dead – “coming out of the tombs”. The demons upon seeing Him are humbled before Him. People who came around this area always went around the area, for fear of these two demon possessed individuals. Matthew even calls them “exceeding fierce”. The English Standard Version says, “so fierce that no one could pass that way”. It was a dangerous matter to go by these tombs with these two there. One’s life could be in jeopardy by doing so.

To describe demon possession goes beyond human thought. An individual who is possessed by a demon or demons; as in this case; is under the control of a supernatural entity or entities. When the person speaks under the influence of the demon, the voice may be rough, angry, coarse, loud, arrogant, hateful, hollow. The physical strength of this individual would far exceed normalcy for a human being. The eyes would be distant, bloodshot, empty, cold, and hateful. Sometimes demon possession may be from the use of drugs. It always comes about because the person has opened their heart and mind to a power greater than themselves, except to God.

These demons are really nothing more than fallen angels. They are angelic beings who joined Lucifer in the rebellion of heaven, and were cast out. All the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had to do to cast the evil one from heaven was speak the Word, and it was done. We can see that rebellion in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:13-19. Being the eternal beings that they are, ie., eternal from the time of their creation; they would recognize their Creator. They came to meet the Master, their Ruler and Judge, with humility. These are all condemned for all time and all eternity. They are bound to the fires of eternal judgment (Jude 6). They are concerned that the Lord may be come to judge them before their time has come, and to cast them into the eternal fires.

There is probably a tone of resentment in their question, “What have we to do with Thee…? Though they had been thrown out of heaven, though they may have shown some humility in recognizing Him, they still despise Him.

The only possible reason for the swine being mentioned in this story is probably that the people who were breeding hogs were Jewish. Thus, they were doing so illegally against the Mosaic Law. THE LIBERTY COMMENTARY states:

“This is Jesus’ only recorded miracle that was destructive in nature. The fact that Jesus granted the demons’ request was because of His concern for the man. The spiritual principle in this incident is that those who are deliberately disobedient (as was the case of the pig-breeders) deprive themselves of devine protection and place themselves at the mercy of the forces of evil. Certainly, losing the herd of pigs, which was unlawful in the first place, was insignificant when compared to the man’s gaining his spiritual health.” p. 1906.

Jesus had only to speak one word. That word was “Go.” He granted their request. It was only a delay in judgment. Their judgment would yet come some time in the future. The time unknown to them. We are told in Matthew of “an herd of many swine”, however Mark’s gospel tells us “(they were about two thousand)”. In the economy of that day this would have been great economic loss for these Jewish “pig-breeders”. The fact that these pigs are even mentioned, and that Jesus used them for deliverance of the couple, should show us that these swine were the herd of Jewish people. These swine ran down this steep place into the Sea of Galilee and all drowned. What happened to the demons? Only God knows the answer to that.

Jesus had just delivered two individuals – human beings – from bondage of supernatural spirit beings. The pork was now of no use to anyone. They were all drowned. The Jewish owners were now free from their disobedient living; if only they would follow the Savior. Instead, they are angry over the loss of their living. They are completely unconcerned with the two being set free from Satan’s bondage. The pig herders having seen what happened to the herd ran to tell the owners. They even told them of the deliverance of the two demon possessed people.

The whole city came out to meet Jesus. There was much curiosity. Rather than bowing before Him and giving Him glory and praise they ask Him to leave. Rather than inviting Him home with them; they do not want Him around. They are more consumed with the wealth they lost, and what other things that might be discarded should He come to their town.

The story here is of the deliverance of two people. There is no need for ritual in delivering people from the bondage of the devil. Only the need for Jesus. We give people Jesus when we proclaim the gospel. When an individual is given the gospel and believes no demon can stay around. They must flee when Jesus comes in and possesses the individual. Evil and God cannot possess the same vessel. When Jesus is present do you want Him to stay?

What God Has Joined Together

I was recently asked, “Why are we as Christians making such a big fuss about homosexuality?” and I hear statements similar to this; “The sin of homosexuality is no worse than our gluttony, and we rarely hear any preacher condemning gluttony”.  To both the question and the statement I must give an answer.

First of all it is not the Christians who have made the issue such a big issue.  It is in fact the community of those who espouse themselves to the perverted lifestyle of sin.  We as Christians have not made it the major issue; in fact the homosexual people have done so by parading the issue into the government congressional and senate sessions, and parading the issue before the public demanding that they be given the same rights as women or blacks.

This would not be the issue that it is if the ones who are bound by this sin would have just kept it inside the closet, their homes rather than trying to push their perversion upon our society.  It is quite clear that God has never ordained that two men live together as spouses; or two women live together as spouses.

Hear the Word of the Lord:

“The LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.  Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.  And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.’

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”  Genesis 2:25 (NKJV).

It is quite clear that God made them male and female.  He did not make two males to live together as spouses, nor did He ever intend it to be so.

The agenda of the “Same sex” move is to get everyone to accept their lifestyle as legitmate.  It is not.  It will not ever be.  There may come a time when our society may accept it, but it will never be approved by God.  We as Christians are compelled by the Word of God, our compassion and love for those condemned by their sin, and mostly our love for God and His Word to confront this issue that is changing our sanctity of marriage.

Is homosexuality just one of our other sins?  Should we give it the same coverage in our messages as other sins?  There is no one out in our society pushing for the beauties of our “gluttony”.  There is no one really pushing for the acts of committing adultery.  Most people will admit these are sinful behavior.  The Word of God clearly calls people of the same sex “lieing together” an abomination (Levitcus 18:22), and it is condemned in the New Testament as well (See Romans 1:26-32).

The answer we Christians need to give is to show what good marriages are really like.  A man and a woman loving one another.  Having children and teaching them Biblical and godly principles taught in Scripture.  Not only loving our families but loving others as well.  Marriage is still a sanctified institution which God has built.  Let those of us who follow Jesus Christ show forth the love of Christ.

Homosexuality is not the unforgivable sin.  There is hope for all who are bound in sin, adultery, greed, lust, all sexual sins, theft, etc., and homosexuality.  That hope is found only through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He changes hearts and lives for eternity.

Of Faith and Famine

Of Faith and Famine

“And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.” Genesis 12:10-20 (KJV)

Adverse circumstances hits all of humankind. Christian, non-christian; it makes no difference, and anyone who believes otherwise is deceived, naive, lying, and/or deceiving others. Abram the father of our faith experienced adverse circumstances, made wrong choices, sinned against God; yet was forgiven, and most of what we remember of him is his faith and faithfulness. He is truly an inspiration to our faith

Abram had come to the promised land through his new found faith, and he had much growing yet to do. That could take us back to the Warren Wiersbe quote concerning “…If your feet are going your faith is growing”. Abram, the man of God, found himself in a bit of dilemma. God had called him to this promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now there is a famine in the land. He must have heard that Egypt had it pretty good still; green grass for the sheep and cattle; plenty of food and water to eat and drink. It looks like the best time to consider your comfort in life.

He decides to leave the land of promise. This is a famine of testing. He departs from his trust in the LORD, and goes down to Egypt. He now enters a time of fear, and begins scheming and plotting with his wife Sarai. When he got away from the place of promise he became fearful for his life, and forsook the promise that God had given he and Sarai. Because of this lapse of faith the scheming and plotting is not to protect the promise, but to protect Abram’s life. It is not to protect Sarai’s life and purity, but Abram. That is the path of departure from the promise of God.

As we look at this event in Abram’s life we see that when he went into Egypt he built no altar to the LORD, nor are we told that he “pitched his tent”. At least his heart did not grow fond of the land of Egypt. His altars were still back in the land of promise. It was the LORD who was protecting the promise. It was the LORD who “plagued Pharoah and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife”. It was the Almighty who made the Pharoah aware of the deceit of Abram. There could have been shame brought into the house of Abram, but God protected him. There could have been a sin of impurity committed, but God protected Sarai from that, thus preserving the promise.

Does any of this relate to the Christian life? Most definitely. We too, have been called to leave the land of our sin and the worship of false gods. We too, have been called to a Promised Land of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; a place of new beginning and new life and promise. We are never called by God to leave this place of promise. No matter what adverse circumstances may come our way in faith or in famine we are to stay and grow and believe, and trust the LORD and His provisions through it all. Do we ever leave the place of promise? I am afraid that I have more than once. When I have God has always brought me back to where I departed from to make things right once again. When we are out of His promise we become fearful, and we too will begin plotting and scheming to achieve our own ends rather than God’s. In Egypt we see a picture of the world and its system of doing things. Their way is against the way of God. The way of Egypt is actually attempting to overthrow God and His way. Our attempts of scheming and plotting can only bring harm to relationships that have been formed through our deceit.

Here are the things Abram should not have done: 1) He left the land of promise; 2) He went to Egypt (a picture of the world and its ways); 3) He lies, leads his wife to lie and deceive; 4) In Egypt he has no testimony for God, except how God preserved the promise. Let’s look at what God does: 1) He let Abram go; 2) He protects Sarai’s purity and the messianic lineage – the Promise; 3) God enriches Abram materially; 4) God brings Abram back to the place of Promise.  Fearful thinking is one sign we have left the place of God’s promise.

When the Christian leaves the place of Promise it is because God does not put us in chains to keep us from wrong choices; we too get into worldliness, rebellion, and sin; but God has a wonderful grace in protecting us; protecting the Promise of eternal life in Christ. The riches we receive from the world can be deceptive, delusional, and powerless. Depite the fact that we leave, God is faithful to bring us back to the place where we departed from Him. The LORD Almighty has a way of keeping that Promise and will not let it escape Himself or us.

When, as a Christian, your are faced with famine – adverse circumstances – stay in the place of promise. Never leave it. Never forsake it. Rest assured, that if you have; God is faithful and you will return.

The Faith Beginning

The Beginning Faith Experience

Genesis 12:1-9

“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.” Genesis 12:1-9 (KJV).

The book of beginnings [Genesis] centers around four basic beginnings: 1) The beginning of all things; 2) The Human race; 3) The restart fo the Human race; and 4) A new Nation of people through Abraham.

God in His call to Abram said, “Get out of your country, and from your kindred… to a land I will show you” (v. 1). Then, He gives him a promise, “Unto your seed will I give this land”. The promise of the land is given with the call to depart from his country, kindred, father’s household, etc. In this call we need to understand the when, how and why of the call. Abram was called while he was still in Mesopatamia worshipping idols (Acts 7:2; Joshua 24:2). Now that should not burst anyone’s bubble concerning Abram. This in truth shows us that like us, Abram was also called by grace through faith. In Acts 7:2 we also learn how God called Abram, and that is; He appeared to him, and spoke to him. It is most likely the appearance of preincarnate Christ who spoke to him. We too have received revelation of Jesus through God’s speaking to us, and as the apostle Paul has written, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV). We answer then the “Why?’ of God’s call; Because of God’s glory; because He loves us all; because he wanted to bless the world; for an example of faith; because of grace – “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 2:8-10).

In the call of Abram is a covenant which God made with him. It is a covenant of faith. In this covenant God gives promise of what He will do and there is no requirements on Abram – thus, it is an unconditional covenant. Abram simply believes God, and as we are told in chapter 15 verse six, “…he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” For those who are going to be quick to respond, “But there was something required of Abram; faith”, then you need to reconsider. The grace Scripture of Ephesians clearly tells us that faith is the gift of God, along with grace. Saving faith is solely the gift of God. God gives the promise, and the faith and Abram believes, thus is saved. Since faith is not something that comes from within us, then, faith is not feeling mustered up within when we feel good about God, and His blessings. The faith in God and His power and ability to keep the promise was what kept Abram going, though he did err from time to time. As Abram grew in faith God gives him more truth to obey, and He does the same for you and I.

Looking at Abram’s faith it seems in some instances he failed. When God first called him to leave all those things, he took his father, and Lot with him, then stopped when they arrived at Haran. He stayed in Haran until his father died. After his father died he goes on to the land of promise still proceeding with Lot. Sometimes we all will follow how God leads us to a certain extent and yet be disobedient in a portion. Someone has said, “Partial obedience is disobedience”, and I tend to agree with that. God’s mercy is everlasting and endures forever so He still extends mercy to His disobedient people, and works in us the obedience that will give Him glory.

As has been seen in the previous paragraph Abram was a man prone to compromise. The old life we once lived creates problems, and we bring with us some baggage that God must and will work out in our lives. God will perform in His children however and whatever He pleases to accomplish His will and glory. The life of faith demands separation from the evil and total devotion to the holy. Abram must get away from the former life, his father, Lot were part of that former life. God will do whatever it takes to make us like His Son. When you walk the walk of faith you will lean of God and His Son Jesus alone.

Even though Abram failed several times in various ways we see that he was faithful. He had a commitment to the Lord. When we were lost in sin and in bondage to the wiles of sin – faith brings us out (vv. 4-5; Matthew 6:24; James 1:6-8); also when we get to a spot we want to quit, stop, or cease the journey of faith – faith will bring us in (vv. 6-8; Deuteronomy 6:23; Hebrews 11:13) to the place of God’s promise, even though we may die without seeing them in this life. Abram’s faith is marked by his setting up the tent, and by his worship of the LORD in building an altar. This clearly shows Abram’s grace/faith received from the LORD fully at work in his life. You can say too, that “faith brings us on” (v. 9). The Journey of Faith never ceases in this life. Warren W. Wiersbe has said, “The life of faith must never stand still; for if your feet are going, your faith is growing”.

Some points to ponder considering Abram’s faith, and how it is like ours: 1) He departed (v. 4); 2) He went forth (v. 5); 3) He passed through (v. 6); 4) He removed (v. 8); 5) He journeyed (v. 9). Like Abram and the building of the first altar and the setting up of his tent (v. 8) he dwelt between Hai and Bethel – the place of the House of God ie., Bethel; and the place of Ruin, ie., Hai. So too, is the Christian life. We live in an imperfect world with a sinful fleshly body, and we are always between the place of God’s dwelling and the place of Ruin, but by God’s grace and mercy He brings us through.

The King Deals With Nature

The King Deals with Nature

Matthew 8:23-27

In verse 18 of this chapter we see Jesus giving commandment “to depart to the other side.” After a delay of sorts, now, we find Jesus and the disciples in the boat and going toward the other side.

According to many different writers and people familiar with the Sea of Galilee it is known to be a storm filled body of water. Storms can come up from almost out of nowhere. According to the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, “The Sea of Galilee is more than 690 ft. below sea level. To the N. Mt. Hermon rises 9,200 ft, and from May to Oct. strong winds often sweep through the narrow surrounding gorges into this valley, causing extremely sudden and violent storms.” p. 1406

In looking at this we need remember formost, that, it was Jesus who commanded that they get into the boat and go to the other side. It was not just coincidence that a storm comes along. Who is in charge of the storms?

“And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27 (KJV).

As Jesus had given commandment in verse eighteen to go to the other side, He now gets into one of the fishing boats, and His disciples follow Him. After a while in crossing, evidently, a storm suddenly arises. It has been a little time because Jesus has gone to sleep. While He is sleeping a storm comes up which by all accounts is not an uncommon event, but quite normal.

The humanity of Jesus is seen here and shows us clearly that He is human. That is to tear away the ludicrous thought that He was merely an apparition, or just a spiritual being. There are other examples Jesus lets us see to show that He is human. Such as; we see Him from time to time eating, and even following the resurrection, and there it shows us that He still possesses a body, which is no longer temporal, but still a body; there is also His need to go apart and pray; we also see His tears as He wept at Lazarus’s grave.

Jesus slept even in the storm. What kind of man or woman; for that matter can sleep during a violent storm? One who is at peace and is secure of their destiny. There are also two other types who can. One is like Jonah who was surely emotionally drained and depressed because of his rebellion. The other one would be exhaustion, or dead. The last one could fit our Lord, but it is not likely due to His spiritual perception, and most certainly the first one which Jonah was most likely guilty of would not fit our Lord. Jesus slept because He needed the rest, and the disciples needed the test.

The storm so common for Galilee came up a storm which made the fishermen among them all fearful. The boat was tossed from side to side, rolling and reeling, up and down, down and up. It was evidently a storm unlike anything that Peter, Andrew, James, or John had ever dealt with. Experienced fishermen would not have been overly worked up over they typical storm; so I believe this one was different. It may have even been of supernatural causes, because of what was on the other side. I will get to that in the next study. Even so the Lord is still in charge of the storm. Any storm.

A storm. A panicked disciple body. A sleeping God-man. This is a scene unlike anything anyone could ever just imagine. There is no way something like this could be fictional. It makes a great story, and it is a true story. They see Jesus sleeping and rush over to Him, awake Him, and their cry is one of panic. “Lord, save us! We are perishing.” (NKJV). Do they not remember His command? Do they not know that the Lord has a destiny to fulfill? Do they not realize that Jesus had purpose for going to the other side? Since Jesus had commanded them to “Depart to the other side”, they should have believed they would get to the other side.

Their faith is weak. Our faith is often weak when it comes to the storms of life. The storms we go through are just as real. They too toss our boat from side to side, rolling and reeling, up and down, down and up. Even making us sick from fear at times. The Lord has a purpose for our lives. The main purpose of all our lives is to glorify Him. Now, if we truly realized that couldn’t we leave all the details and storms of life in His hands. If we live we glorify Him. If we perish we glorify Him.

The God-man is awakened from His sleep. While the man slept God was keeping all things in His hand, and not one thing could happen without the Father’s permission. Not one. Jesus rebukes the weakness of the disciples faith.

Remember, Jesus had given them commandment to go to the other side. Would Jesus have put them in a boat, and with Him in the boat with them at that; to perish before finishing the journey? Not likely. Jesus was to go to the other side. The disciples were to go to the other side. Someone said, “Where God guides He provides”. If He was guiding to the other side they would go to the other side.

Another thing; Jesus had taught them, at least by His power, that He was the Son of God, and that He had a task to finish. Did the disciples think that He would not finish the course that was laid out for Him? If we would just ignore that the storm may have been supernatural in origin; due to its intensity and the fear it struck in the hearts of experienced fishermen; we might assume that the disciples did not believe the things Jesus had said and did. Indeed we could agree with Jesus asking, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”.

The disciple of Jesus Christ who knows their destiny is in God’s hands needs never fear the trials and storms they go through. We may ask and wonder “Why?”, but we need never be afraid. That is easier said than practiced. There has been many a time when troubles come and fear has come in and, when that happens, that is when I know that things are amiss between my Lord and me.

It seems that the question in the minds of the disciples of His true identity is known now. Up to this point; according to the gospel of Matthew; they have witnessed Jesus healing and cleansing a leper; they have seen Him heal the centurion’s servant, and just by His Word; Peter’s mother-in-Law was raised from her sickbed; and He has healed numerous other sicknesses, diseases, and cast out demons. Now they see even Nature itself bow to Him, and yield to His authority over her.

Who can command the wind and the seas? Only God can. Who can simply speak a word, and cause an angry sea to be calm and the wind cease? Only God can.

When you have a turbulent time in your life you can turn to the One who can still all storms. There was a child of 10 years or so, and even before he was saved, that a very loud, lightning striking, thunder booming storm awoke him in the middle of the night. He began crying in fear. He also remembered the words of Jesus at this storm, and he just spoke them, and the storm stopped. To this day he is not certain whether the literal storm of rain, thunder, and lightning stopped or if he just went to sleep. He believes it was the latter. Either way the storm stopped. At least for him. To this very day, he is fascinated by storms. He respects them, but when one comes along he is not crippled by fear, or causes him to doubt. That is from the Lord.

Who, indeed, can this be, “That even the winds and the sea obey Him?” He is the Son of God. He is King of kings. He is Lord of lords. He is the Master of all storms; even the storm in your life.

Children and Your Marriage

There are many Christian couples who were married and expected to have children and found out after a few years or so that they were unable to have children.  The children are often seen as a blessing to the marriage and children making a house a home.  To those married couples who have longed to have children, but cannot, I can only say one thing, and that is the blessing of children is from the Lord, and He must have something different in mind for you.  I do not mean that to be a cold or harsh statement, but He may have a different blessing for you, so that you can bless children who need help or parents.

My intention is not to deal with having children in marriage, but that in most marriages children do come along as God’s blessing on us.  Most people who have children will realize this some time as the child or children grow, and that is this; these children will put your marriage to the test.  It is for that purpose I write this, and to encourage every young couple to be sure to devote time to their marriage.

Some young couples with children will probably be angered by what I am about to tell you, but it needs to be said.  When that boy or girl gets to two years or so they will start testing your marriage.  Couples need to nourish that marriage at every opportunity they have.  Your marriage made strong through your commitment to one another, your devotion to one another, your love for one another is the greatest thing, other than Jesus and the gospel, that you can give that child. 

By the time a child is five years or so, they will begin to realize that they can cause Mom and Dad a little trouble by dividing them, in matters of discipline, or guidance.  That is why before you have children you need to be sure that you agree on the matters of discipline and direction for your child.  If you have not, and that child sees Mom disagreeing with Dad in a matter of discipline, then that child will know how to get his/her way.  Do not disagree over disciplinary issues in the presence of your children.

In one of the churches God gave me the joy of serving as pastor, there was a woman who told of an event in their home where their daughter tried to divide her Mom and Dad over an issue of discipline.  The daughter did not like the way Dad had disciplined her, and went to her Mom, and said, “Aren’t you going to take my side on this?”, to which Mom said, “I have know him longer than I have you”.  That made an excellent point. 

The home is built around a strong, solid, Biblical marriage with Jesus Christ at its center.  If the marriage is not built according to Biblical principles and on the couples love for Christ Jesus and one another, that is a home that will not stand.  Our children will grow up and leave home.  That is how it should be.  That is how it is supposed to be.  If you do not have a strong marriage while the children are at home, then you are going to have problems after they are gone.

The best thing you as a man can give your children is letting them see you love their mother, and that nothing they say or do is going to divide you. 

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…”  Ephesians 5:25.

“Nevertheless let each one of you in  particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  Ephesians 5:33 (NKJV)

Husbands and wives must both work at nourishing that marriage, even in the midst of a housefull of children.  If your home is built around the children, that marriage is most certainly doomed for failure.

A Journey of Faith Begins

From the Land of Ur

“Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.” Genesis 11:27-32 (KJV).

According to Scripture the call of God came to Abram, the son of Terah. It seems that Abram may have had an impact on his family and led them to leave Ur of the Chaldeans. Ur was a prosperous, and populous city in the Mesopotamia area. When it comes to looking at the beginnings of humanity we cannot get away from the area we know as the Mid-East. When you are looking at Ur on a map and in perspective of Bethel and Hai – Ur is approximately 600 miles almost directly East of those two places where Abram would eventually go. They would not, however, go straight across, due to the extreme heat of desert temperatures, and the danger of the travels. It would be dangerous for the animals Abram had as well as for the people. By going along the Euphrates River they would have water, and it was a trade route to Haran. The journey by way of the trade route was about 400 – 500 more miles to travel, but worth the time and effort.

It seems that Abram may have taken some extra baggage with him. According to the call in chapter twelve he was to “Get out from your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” (12:1). He had convinced his father to come along, and in Haran Terah died, thus getting him from his “father’s house”. Nahor must have remained in Ur, because there is no further mention of him.

To Haran, Abram had brought along his father, now his father is dead. Now he journeys on for the land of Canaan; the land of God’s direction for his life. Yet, he still has some extra baggage. What about Lot. Abram will be separated from Lot too, in time. Remember when God gives us a call to separate He means totally, and if we don’t; He will. God does whatever it takes to make His people holy.

The journey of faith always begins from a place. The place where we are to the place God leads us to. It is not an easy journey, and anyone who says that it is has not started on the journey yet. The journey requires leaving some baggage behind. If we do not God eventually rid us of it Himself. It is His way of getting us to the place of total dependence upon Him.

Shem to Abram

From Shem to Abram

“These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg: And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters. And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.” Genesis 11:10-26 (KJV)

If you will notice that one of the things missing from this genealogy is, “And he died”, which is in the genealogy from Seth to Noah in Genesis five. It is probably because we realize that by now, death is inevitable. All men, are going to die. That includes women too.

In this genealogy we have the age of Shem. He was 100 years of age at the time of the flood, then two years following the flood he had a son whom he named Arphaxad, and he “lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years” putting him at the approximate age of six hundred and two years of age. This genealogy uses a more positive sounding term in announcing their death, “… lived after he begat…”. This is the lineage of people whom God would choose to bring the Messiah, Savior of all mankind, into the world.

Just a Note: We have the only Gentile genealogy in the Bible in chapter 10:2-20. There is only two genealogies given in the New Testament. The first is in the gospel of Matthew giving the genealogy of Jesus through the lineage of Joseph. The second is in the gospel of Luke giving Jesus’s genealogy through Mary the mother of Jesus. Even though Joseph was not the blood father of the child Jesus the genealogy is given to prove He is heir to the throne of David the king.

Of this genealogy can be noted also that the ages of the men continue to drop as they die. The life span has went down. No one is living nine hundred plus years. The power of sin has taken over the bodies of sinful men. That is why we are all perishing. From the moment we come from our mother’s womb we are dying. We are in fact born spiritually dead. And except for the miracle of grace from God we are doomed.

Eber (v. 14) is where the “Hebrew” people got the name “Hebrew”. It is also Eber who was the father of Peleg whose name means “Earthquake”. This earthquake could be speaking of the division which was brought about by God’s judgment to separate the people across the earth. It seems more likely though that there was a major earthquake the year of Peleg’s birth which was a source of actully dividing the newly languaged people as God directed. Both would be quite possible when it is directed by the providential hand of the Most High God.

Terah was an idol worshipper. Some may question this, but there is Scriptural evidence for it. For example, “And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.” Joshua 24:2 (KJV). Now, we should be more able to understand from where Abram came. Called out by God from a life of idolatry, to worship, love and serve the living and true God.

There are not many people of the Bible whom we cannot find an example of some sin in their lives. The people of Scripture are not super saints. They too, were called to worship God. Called from lives of sin. Called of God, by grace, through faith in the Promise of God. So too, are you and I.

He Took Our Infirmities

He Took Our Infirmities

Matthew 8:1-17

We begin now to see the accounts of Jesus’s healing ministry. He is showing Himself as the Prophet, Priest, and King, though the message of Matthew rest upon His being King of kings.

We see in Jesus that He is unafraid of touching the sick, even lepers, for in this passage He does exactly that. He touches the leper. Jesus touches the “Unclean leper”, because He sees a man who is healed. We have a Roman Centurion coming to Jesus seeking for healing of his servant who is sick of “Palsy”, and “grievously tormented” and the Centurion is a Gentile. The third individual who is healed is a woman, Peter’s mother-in-law. We see Jesus touching and healing three of the “outcasts” of society of that day.

In these miraculous healings we see Jesus taking the infirmities upon Himself. He was touching the untouchable according to ceremonial laws. Even before the cross He is taking our sin upon Himself. Of the evening following the healing of the three individuals there are many brought to Him for the casting out of demons (these are all first mention for Matthew’s Gospel) with only “His Word”, and healed all that were sick.

 

Jesus operates His ministry without any racial prejudice, without any fear of contracting disease, and shows no favoritism toward the gender of any individual.

“When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” 8:1-4 (KJV).

According to Old Testament Law when an individual was afflicted by lepersy they were pronounced “Unclean”. They even had to wear a protective cover over their mouth when in public and cry out “Unclean, unclean” (Leviticus 13:44-46). Lepers were “outcasts” the Jewish society. It played no cultural or societal favorites, nor according to gender or race. They were forbidden to mingle with the healthy people. There is one disease, which socially is similar to leprosy in today’s society; and that is AIDS.

According to Warren Wiersbe “Leprosy is an illustration of sin”. It is deeper than the skin (Lev. 13:3), it spreads (Lev. 13:8), it defiles and isolates (Lev. 13:45-46), it is worthy only of fire (Lev. 13:52, 57). AIDS has similar likenesses as a disease. It seems that there is no direct known cause for leprosy, while AIDS has come upon us as an affliction, mainly upon the sexually immoral. It still passes on – spreads – through blood into “Innocent” victims. None are left untouched by sin.

This leprous man came to Jesus. This of itself broke the law of the leper. We are told that the leper “Worshipped Him”, and in worshipping Him he is recognizing His deity, and His sovereignty. This man has been greatly humbled, and is submissive to the sovereignty and power of Jesus, as he says, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean”. He is willing to accept the will of Jesus, and he is not demanding, but humbly asking. Jesus heals this leper, and gives him commandment to go and obey the law of Moses concerning the matter of the law of the lepers. This was in order to fulfill the law. Lepers were rarely if ever healed. There is really only one Biblical account of any Jewish individual being healed in the Old Testament, and that was Mirriam (Numbers 12:10. Read chapter 12 Numbers to see why she became leprous). In my thinking it would almost seem that by Jesus sending the healed leper to the religious leaders He is making a statement, and they will be approving the healing, in that they recognize the healing. This would give them no excuse not to believe Jesus is genuinely their Messiah. By keeping the law and sending a healed leper for ‘cleansing’ He stifles their hypocrisy, and shows it as death.

“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” 8:5-13 (KJV)

A Roman soldier shows a great faith, and in behalf of a servant of his household, who is suffering from a palsy with great pain and suffering. The Gentiles were hated and despised by Jewish culture; as were slaves. Here we have a Gentile praying for his slave. The Centurion is commended by Jesus, for his faith. Jesus warns of willful ignorance and eternal judgment upon those who have seen, written, interpreted, and yet have no faith. He, as Messiah, was in the midst of His people doing His mighty works, yet they did not believe (John 10:37-38). He warns them, that just because they are physical descendants of Abraham, does not make them his spiritual descendants.

The very hour Jesus spoke healing the slave/servant was healed. In this instance it was according to this man’s faith. This is usually not the standard, but it can apply.

The “children of the kingdom” mentioned here are the children of Israel who have refused to believe the message and that He is the Messiah. The only place for all who will not believe Jesus is to “be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. “That many shall come” are evidently the Gentile masses who would come and believe Jesus and His Word that He speaks. “East and West” is from around the globe.

We know that due to this man’s faith his servant was healed that same hour. The man understands the principle of authority, and trust the authority which he sees in Jesus. His recognition is one that shows the deity of Jesus; because who but deity has authority over sickness and disease? There is none but God.

“And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.” 8:14-15 (KJV).

The final individual who is mentioned is a woman in bed with a sickness, and this woman is Peter’s Mother-in-law. A common prayer for Jewish males in Jesus’s day was, “I thank Thee that I was not born a slave, a Gentile, or a woman”. Of course, no one would desire to get leprosy. Women held no honored position in Jewish society.

Peter’s Mother-in-law is very sick, and she must have been really ill, because she is in bed. People of that era did not stop working just because they felt a little ill, with an upset stomach or something like that: they kept to their work. She seems to have been sick, even possibly to the point of death.

Jesus touched her hand in a special way, a special touch, a healing touch. She was a Jewish woman. Jesus may have been stating by this touch, “I have not forsaken my people. They are sick, but in Me there is healing”. By healing the Gentile’s slave, and the leper He showed an open door to sinners and Gentiles of every land. Israel in her illness will be touched again by her Messiah. The woman, being healed, arose and served Jesus and the disciples. It was an immediate healing.

“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” 8:16-17 (KJV).

By all these healings it seems that Jesus is making a point to say to one and to all, “I am the King of all people”. We find it stated in these verses a quotation of Isaiah the prophet from Isaiah 53:4, “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted”.

Here we find Matthew’s first mention of Jesus delivering people from demon possession. It is called “Possessed with devils”, and He did it by His Word. He did not use a method of any ritual. He did not even use any prayer. He simply spoke the Word. When we are confronted by demons and demonic activity it has been given to us to speak His Word to the people. Where His Word is heard, accepted, and believed demons must flee.

Jesus may have been heckled by the demons as He was suffering on the cross, but it was not for long. He crushed the head of the devil at that same cross, and the evidence of it is the resurrection. The stone is rolled away, the tomb is empty, and Jesus is alive forever more.

Submission

With our third installment of TWO FOR TUESDAY concerning marriage I want to invite your opinion and ask for your help as well.  This would be much more interesting if we could get some “Good Marriage” articles written by some of our readers.  Just write an article about someone you know who has been married 25 years or more whose marriage has been an inspiration to you.  I will give you credit for the article and a link to your site when I choose to use it.  You may email your article to isaiah4031(at)mo-net(dot)com. and if I choose to use it; it will be posted on the next available Tuesday.  Look forward to hearing from you.

Submission

Many times we hear this phrase using the word “Submission”, and in our society of this day it does sound like a word of bondage.  Is it bondage?  Is there something we have been missing?  In answer to the first question it is bondage when it is perceived the wrong way.  It is freedom for a marriage when it is seen in light of its true meaning.  So, yes, there is something that has also been missing.

From the Bible we see Paul the apostle writing this:

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”  Ephesians 5:21-24 (KJV).

Submission is a two fold deal.  The husband must submit to his wife in the sense of being his only one.  His only wife.  His only lover.  His only woman.  He submits to her on those grounds.  He submits to her as being equally created in the image of God human being.  He submits to her dreams for their marriage, their home, their children.  To the husband his wife is his chief joy for life, other than Jesus Christ.

Men, that means that cars, boats, guns, football games, baseball games, boxing matches, hunting, fishing, camping – you get the idea – takes a back seat to your wife.  She is more precious than those things.  She wants and needs your love (this does not necessarily include sex), attention, and time.  We represent Jesus Christ and His love for the church.  How does He love His bride [the church]?  He gave His life for her.

Wives submission for you is to cherish your husband, commending him before his peers, encouraging him in his work and ministry, and like Sarah of old even seeing Abraham as lord (Genesis 18:12), even when she believed they would have no children.  It was an endearing term for Sarah, but also a term of respect.  That only means that in submission the wife is to respect her husband, his strengths, abilities, and his person.  In submission to him the wife should also see her husband as an equal of the creation of God’s image.  The wife should see her husband as the chief object of her affection, love, and life; after her love for Jesus Christ.

Both the husband and wife gave vows to one another; something like this;  I promise to love, honor and cherish you; in sickness and in health, in wealth or in poverty…, as long as we both shall live.  Marriage is a picture of Jesus Christ and the church.  Let us who know the Savior be mirror images of Him in our individual lives and in our marriages.

Building Insignificant Towers

An Insignificant Tower

Genesis 11:1-9

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:1-9 (KJV).

At this time, which according to any records, that are of around the time of Nimrod (10:8-11); tell us that Nimrod was probably the builder of this city and religion. The whole earth – the Japhethites, the Hamites, and the Shemites were all still hanging around together. They all still had the same language and speech.

They journeyed together, found a fertile, pleasant plain in which to farm, build, and to erect a monument to man’s achievements – the tower of arrogance. This would indeed come to nought. Human government without God will always fail. In Daniel 2 Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and in the dream he saw four Gentile Human Governments fall, and come to ruin.

In the Second Psalm we find these words, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His anointed saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.'” (Psalm 2:1-3). The purpose of human government; because the devil is the prince of the power of the air; is to overthrow the God of Creation. Don’t you believe for an instant that he has any sincerity in it; because he knows he is already a defeated foe. He has already lost the battle. Jesus won the victory on the cross; and the resurrection is all the evidence that we need.

The building of the tower was really only a monument to the achievements of man. So soon following the flood they are still filled with arrogance, and haughty spirits. There are Insignificant Towers we build even today. One of those towers of insignificance is the Space Program [NASA]. Has anyone noticed the arrogance involved in this program, yet we are reminded occasionally of how small, and fragile we really are. With the space shuttle exploding in 1986 and killing all on board, then again, another one burning up coming back down to earth, and killing all on board in February of 2001. Yet we persist in its foolish endeavors Let me tell you this – the idea of space adventure fascinates me. I think it would be a glorious sight to be in space and look back down to earth and see this wondrous globe as it rotates and revolves, just as God ordained it to be. But, there is so much, too much pride and haughtiness involved. When we exalt ourselves over God we fail.

Another tower of insignificance would be technology. Medical, electronic, automotive, communication, etc.. Again, don’t take me wrong. I appreciate all this stuff. It is great to have, at least until it breaks down or just outdates itself; or I don’t know how to use it. The problem with the things are that our pride leads to the place of exalting ourselves over God, and that brings His judgment upon us.

That is what happened at Babel “the gate of god”. Then, because it became a place of exalting self over God; God came down and confused the languages, making it a place of “Babel” or “Confusion”. God puts no approval in Global Human Government. He commanded the people to scatter over the earth, and that is clearly what He did by the confusing of the speech. It seems that He did it with care keeping the families all together. Husband and wife went together with their children if they had children. The families of Japheth were with Japheth. The families of Ham were with Ham. The families of Shem were with Shem.

I believe that it was at this time or not long following that there was the massive earthquake that makes mention in chapter ten verse 25. This set each one in a different area on the globe. When God brings Global unity, togetherness it will be by His holy Son Jesus Christ, and He will rule on earth.