Why We Fight For The Faith

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Jude 1:3-4  (KJB)

With The Precious Blood Of Christ

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”  1 Peter 1:18-25  (KJB)

The Authority of Scripture

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:12-17  (KJB)

Rooted And Built Up In Jesus Christ

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”  Colossians 2:6-15  (KJB)

In Demonstration Of The Spirit And Power

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.                                                                                                 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (KJB)

Justified By Faith

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:1-5 (KJB)

In Jesus’ Name

Too many times young people in the faith jump to conclusions about the following words of Jesus, and assume that we can ask for anything we want, and God is obligated to give it. First, let me say this; God is obligated to no one. Now to the verses for today.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do.”
John 14:12-14 (KJB)

Now I leave with you the last points of an exposition delivered by Alexander MacLaren…

From Alexander MacLaren’s EXPOSITION OF HOLY SCRIPTURE:

“These are two, faith and prayer.
‘He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also.’ Faith, the simple act of loving trust in Jesus Christ, opens the door of our hearts and natures for the entrance of all His solemn Omnipotence, and makes us possessors of it. It is the condition, and the only condition, and plainly the indispensable condition, of possessing this divine Christ’s power, that we should trust ourselves to Him that gives it. And if we do, then we shall not trust in vain, but to us there will come power that will surpass our desire, and fill us with its own rejoicing and pure energy. Faith will make us like Christ. Faith is intensely practical. ‘He that believeth shall do.’ It is no mere cold assent to a creed which is utterly impotent to operate upon men’s acts, no mere hysterical emotion which is utterly impotent to energise into nobilities of service and miracles of consecration, but it is the affiance of the whole nature which spreads itself before Him and prays, ‘Fill my emptiness and vitalise me with Thine own Spirit.’ That is the faith which is ever answered by the inrush of the divine power, and the measure of our capacity of receiving is the measure of His gift to us.
So if Christian individuals and Christian communities are impotent, or all but impotent, there is no difficulty in understanding why. They have cut the connection, they have shut the tap. They lack faith; and so their power is weakness. ‘Why could we not cast him out?’ said they, perplexed when they had no need to be. ‘Why could you not cast him out? Because you do not believe that I, working in you, can cast him out. That is why; and the only why.’ Let us learn that the secret of Christians’ weakness is the weakness of their Christian faith.
And the other condition is prayer. ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name I will do it,’ and He repeats it, for confirmation and for greater emphasis. ‘If ye shall ask anything in My name,’ or, as perhaps that clause ought to be read with some versions, ‘If ye shall ask Me anything in My name I will do it.’
Three points may be named here. Our power depends upon our prayer. God’s and Christ’s fullness and willingness to communicate do not depend upon our prayer. But our capacity to receive of that fullness, and so the possibility of its communication to us, do depend upon our prayer. ‘We have not because we ask not.’
The power of our prayer depends upon our conscious oneness with the revealed Christ. ‘If ye shall ask in My name,’ says He. And people think they have fulfilled the condition when, in a mechanical and external manner, they say, as a formula at the end of petitions that have been all stuffed full of self-will and selfishness, ‘for Christ’s sake. Amen!’ and then they wonder they do not get them answered! Is that asking in Christ’s name?
Christ’s name is the revelation of Christ’s character, and to do a thing in the name of another person is to do it as His representative, and as realising that in some deep and real sense-for the present purpose at all events-we are one with Him. And it is when we know ourselves to be united to Christ and one with Him, and representative in a true fashion of Himself, as well as when, in humble reliance on His work for us and His loving heart, we draw near, that our prayer has power, as the old divines used to say, ‘to move the Hand that moves the world,’ and to bring down a rush of blessing upon our heads. Prayer in the name of Christ is hard to offer. It needs much discipline and watchfulness; it excludes all self-will and selfishness. And if, as my text tells us, the end of the Son’s working is the glory of the Father, that same end, and not our own ease or comfort, must be the end and object of all prayer which is offered in His name. When we so pray we get an answer. And the reason why such multitudes of prayers never travel higher than the roof, and bring no blessings to him who prays, is because they are not prayers in Christ’s name.
Prayer in His name will pass into prayer to Him. As He not obscurely teaches us here (if we adopt the reading to which I have already referred), He has an ear to hear such requests, and He wields divine power to answer. Surely it was not blasphemy nor any diversion of the worship due to God alone, when the dying martyr outside the city wall cried and said, ‘Lord Jesus! receive my spirit.’ Nor is it any departure from the solemnest obligations laid upon us by the unity of the divine nature, nor are we bringing idolatrous petitions to another than the Father, when we draw near to Christ and ask Him to give us that which He gives as the Father’s gift, and to work on us that which the Father that dwelleth in Him works through Him for us.
Trust yourselves to Christ, and let your desires be stilled, to listen to His voice in you, and let that voice speak. And then, dear brethren, we shall be lifted above ourselves, and strength will flow into us, and we shall be able to say, ‘I can do all things, through the Christ that dwells in me and makes me strong.’ And just as the glad, sunny waters of the incoming tide fill the empty places of some oozy harbour, where all the ships are lying as if dead, and the mud is festering in the sunshine, so into the slimy emptiness of our corrupt hearts there will pour the flashing sunlit wave, the ever fresh rush of His power; and ‘everything will live whithersoever it cometh,’ and we shall be able to say in all humility, and yet in glad recognition of Christ’s faithfulness to this, His transcendent promise, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ ‘because the life which I live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God.’ “

Resurrection and the Ire It Causes

The reactions of people are wide a varied. When Lazarus had died, and was buried four days Jesus came and spoke to the dead man, and Lazarus got up, and came out.

There were many Jews who saw this and believed in Jesus. Some, not only sought to kill Jesus, but also Lazarus. Religious envy often raises the Ire, the anger, of some religious leaders; and this was one of those cases.

“Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead.
But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.” John 12:9-11 (KJB)

You would think that seeing Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead would have opened the eyes of all the Jewish people. Why did it not? Because of their hard heart of unbelief. They trusted a religious system; not God. They loved the attention of the crowds; not God. They loved to have power over the people; not surrendering themselves to the power of God.

Do we not know, that every time a soul comes to Jesus in faith, that is a resurrection from the dead.  That is the greatest miracle of all. That a man, a woman, boy, or girl who calls on the name of Jesus Christ in faith is doing so because they have heard Jesus say “Come”, and because He has made the spirit of that individual hear, just as dead Lazarus did.

Redemption is given us by the grace of God through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God, who is God the Son.

 

Patience and Comfort of the Scriptures

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 (KJB)

I will let another speak today. the commentary of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown…

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning — “instruction”
through, etc. — “through the comfort and the patience of the Scriptures”
might have hope — that is, “Think not that because such portions of Scripture relate immediately to Christ, they are inapplicable to you; for though Christ’s sufferings, as a Savior, were exclusively His own, the motives that prompted them, the spirit in which they were endured, and the general principle involved in His whole work – self-sacrifice for the good of others – furnish our most perfect and beautiful model; and so all Scripture relating to these is for our instruction; and since the duty of forbearance, the strong with the weak, requires ‘patience,’ and this again needs ‘comfort,’ all those Scriptures which tell of patience and consolation, particularly of the patience of Christ, and of the consolation which sustained Him under it, are our appointed and appropriate nutriment, ministering to us ‘hope’ of that blessed day when these shall no more be needed.” See on Rom_4:25, Note 7. (For the same connection between “patience and hope” see on Rom_12:12, and see on 1Th_1:3).” From the JAMIESON, FAUSSET, AND BROWN COMMENTARY

 

The Heart’s Desire, Prayer for…

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Romans 10:1 (KJB)

The apostle Paul was a Jew. He was a Hebrew, in fact calling himself, “…An Hebrew of the Hebrews…” (Philippians 3:5), and he spent his early ministry endeavoring to win the Jewish people to the Messiah Jesus.  He nearly lost his life a few times doing so.

In Romans 9 – 11 we see just how much Paul loves his people it is almost a final plea for them to repent, to turn to the One who is their Redeemer, before it is turned over completely to the Gentiles for the age.

I have a question for myself this morning. Is my heart’s desire, and prayer for my people so powerful, so strong that I would risk my life, my all, my living for a lost soul?  I desire, I strongly desire to see a soul come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah the prophet said,

“Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” Jeremiah 9:1

God has given me what I need to lead a lost, condemned, dying man, or woman to Jesus.  By the power of His Spirit in me I can and will do it.

The Promised Son

“Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, ‘In Isaac shall thy seed be called.’
That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.” Romans 9:6-9 (KJB)

Abraham had a son by Hagar, Ishmael (Genesis 16); but he was not God’s promised son. The promise was that Sarah would have a son. Many people do not realize it but Abraham had many other sons too through another wife by the name of Keturah (Genesis 25:1-6); so just because you may be born of the stock of Abraham does not make you a child of God.

You become a child of God through the Son of Promise. Isaac was a child born of faith to a man 100 years of age, and a woman of 90 years of age. God promised them a son. They had a son in God’s time; not theirs.

The Son of Promise through which one becomes a child of God is the Son of God Himself who born into this world as any other child, yet not just any other child – He is the Son of God. He came for one purpose, and that purpose was to glorify His Father; and He would do that by giving Himself as the perfect Lamb of God on a cross to die for the sins of the world.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God the Son died on the cross, was buried, and He rose again fulfilling all the Father’s will for His life.  He is the Son of Promise. He is the way for anyone to become a child of God; by grace through faith call on His name.  His name is Jesus.

The Holy Law

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Romans 7:12 (KJB)

There are some who speak and act as though the law of God is bad, evil and of ill intent. That is a wrong accusation coming from a sinful heart and mind.

The law is from God; thus it is holy. God gave the law to reveal our sin. The apostle Paul in the letter to the Galatians said,

“But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” Galatians 3:22-25

No longer under the law as a “schoolmaster” because now, redeemed through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus we have a new heart filled with the right ways, the holiness, the law of God, and power and authority to walk in it.

So, let us walk in it.

Justification By Faith and The Law

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31 (KJB)

Since people are justified by faith without the law does that void the law? Paul says, “NO!” The law was given to show mankind his condemnation; to cause him to fall on his knees before our righteous and holy God in repentance, calling on Him by faith.

In the work of Jesus Christ on the cross the demands of the law were fulfilled, thus, by faith it is possible for a sinner to be made righteous before God; not on his own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection.

In Christ the holiness and righteousness of God toward sin is intact. His love for His enemies is shown. All who believe Him are declared righteous. That is an amazing salvation.

Actually the law is firmly established. All God desired is accomplished. Sinners; by God’s declaration; become saints.

When a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ the desire of their heart is to be with Him; to be like Him; to serve Him whenever and however possible. We desire to learn more about Him. We desire to be around others who love Him. We grieve over our sins and seek forgiveness quickly and diligently. We grieve over lost sinners who are condemned and pray for them, witness to them, and lead them to personal faith in Jesus. We seek to worship God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That certainly sounds like the establishment/fulfillment of the law.

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:16

When No One Else Does…

“Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7 (KJB)

Micah saw many who professed the name of the LORD who were not faithful to the LORD in His word.  They were afflicted yet turned to other sources of help. Micah says,

“Therefore I will look unto the LORD…” The Lord GOD is my help. He is my Salvation. I will wait – I will trust in Him, even if no one else does.  God will hear me.

 

Therefore I will look unto the Lord — as if no one else were before mine eyes. We must not only “look unto the Lord,” but also “wait for Him.” Having no hope from man (Mic_7:5, Mic_7:6), Micah speaks in the name of Israel, who herein, taught by chastisement (Mic_7:4) to feel her sin (Mic_7:9), casts herself on the Lord as her only hope,” in patient waiting (Lam_3:26). She did so under the Babylonian captivity; she shall do so again hereafter when the spirit of grace shall be poured on her (Zec_12:10-13).” Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary

“Things had come to an awful pass in the favored city. Oppression, bribery, and bloodshed, were everywhere in the ascendant. Men wrought evil with both hands. Husbands could not trust their wives. At such a time there is no refuge for God’s children save in God, Mic_7:7-13.” THROUGH THE BIBLE DAY BY DAY by F. B. Meyer on Micah 7:7-13

Your only hope and help for salvation is through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Call on His name today. He will hear you, save you and change your life for His glory.

The Power By The Spirit

“But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” Micah 3:8 (KJB)

The prophet of God is called to give the  “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) whether that be good and positive, bad and negative. The preacher of today if called by God is called to do the same.

At times the preacher is given a message of comfort, hope, encouragement, and strengthening of faith. At other times he is given a message of judgment, and can cause, by the Spirit of the LORD, great fear and trembling and should lead the people to repentance, and faith toward Jesus Christ.

Micah’s message seems to be a doom and gloom message at the beginning, but as you read on into the message there is hope, blessing, encouragement, and words to strengthen one’s faith.

If the prophet is only defying the truth of God’s word, leaving out the warnings, the judgments, the negatives; then that prophet/preacher is not worth listening to; and you better go somewhere else. They are not a man of God.

We can certainly judge what the preacher says and/or does not say when we read the Scriptures. The Bible is our guide; our only source for judging what is true and right; or what is lies and deceiving.

When in doubt you can trust the words  of the Lord Jesus when He said, “Judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

Seek Good, Not Evil

“Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.” Amos 5:14-15 (KJB)

In the year of 2019 and beyond it seems that it is getting more and more difficult for some to discern the difference between “Good” and “Evil”.  Our definition of each word will depend upon our source for making that determination.

If our source is the political system, Hollywood, the News media, or any other media then we will have varied, and wide, and wild interpretations of good and evil. These forms of information are dependent upon the ideologies, and hearts and minds of sometimes not so clear thinking individuals who have only love for themselves; and not truth.

Good and evil in the best understanding must be defined by God’s Word; the Person of God’s word is the Truth and He defines what is good and what is evil.  The Person of Truth is none other than the only begotten Son of God Jesus Christ.

If God’s Word tells us that something is “Good”, then it is good.  If He tells us that something is “Evil”, then it is evil.

It is quite clear from the reading of Scripture that God is good. It has been said, “God is good” and “God is good all the time” and “All the time God is good”.  Since He is good, then everything He says and does is good.

It becomes then quite clear that since God is good He is the only One who can truly define evil, what it is, and where it comes from; so when God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desparately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) then we can rest assured that God knows what He is saying, that it is the truth.  We also can safely conclude that we are in need of a Savior; since we have a deceitful and wicked heart.

Amos by the word of the LORD says to “Seek good, and not evil”.  What are you seeking today.  There is good and there is evil.  Anything contrary to God and His Word is evil.  When you put your faith and trust in the work of Jesus Christ and His finished work of His death on the cross, His burial, and resurrection; then your definition of good and evil will change to agreeing with God. Seek good, and not evil.  God is good.

Sowing and Reaping

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12 (KJB)

Well I am back. I never really went anywhere; just felt I needed to take a break from this blog, and focus on some other things.

The following is from a former post back in May of 2013.  It is just a portion of that dealing with verse 12 of Hosea 10.

“The “Fallow ground” of verse twelve is land that had previously been plowed, but now left unused.  God’s Word and His Spirit is the plow that is needed to break up the soil of a hard heart (See Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23).  Hard hearts cannot yield crops of righteousness and mercy.

It is a prominent theme in Hosea that the children of Israel will reap exactly what they have sown.  It is a law of God’s created order to reap what we have sown – and that, no matter the timeline, culture or society which we may live.

Hosea gives us three steps to heal the land:

  1. Break up your fallow ground (v. 12);
  2. Put God’s Word in your heart – “sow with a view of righteousness” (NAS v. 12);
  3. “Reap in accordance with kindness (NAS) referring to the breaking of their hard hearts through repentance and sowing the seed of God’s Word in their lives.

God gives Israel every opportunity to repent.  It is God’s desire then to cleanse them, and make them a vessel of His grace.  Judgment would come.”  From BROKEN PIECES of May 04, 2013

There is a very relevant need for Christians of 2019 to realize the seeds we are sowing.  We are in the time of year where in the agricultural world there is harvesting going on.  That does not happen by accident. The farmers sow seeds to bring in a harvest, and when God blesses with good soil conditions, and rainfall these men and women have a great harvest when the time of harvest comes.

They sow seeds of what they desire to harvest. They desire to reap a harvest like the seed they have sown; and they will not reap any other type seed.

There is a real life lesson for us in this and it is found in the apostle Paul’s letter to the Church of Galatia…

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7-8

The only fruit worth the harvest is the fruit we bear because of Jesus Christ through His death, burial, and bodily resurrection. We can only do that through faith in Him; faith that works; not for salvation, but because of salvation by grace.

A Self Exalted King

“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
‘Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty….” Ezekiel 28:11-12 (KJB)

Tyre was evidently a rocky island in the Mediterranaen sea. It was known as a place where the known world of the time traded; a place of commerce. The king of Tyre or Tyrus was arrogant, and exalted himself as God. This is an arrogance in the extreme, and definitely invites the judgment of the Lord GOD.

I pray as you read this you will read chapters 26 – 29 of the prophecy.

In God’s lamentation of the king it seems directed at the spirit of iniquity; the place from which the evil heart and mind really comes the person who was in the garden of Eden, and questioned the word of God, and caused the man Adam and his wife Eve to question the word too.

When we see evil in the world it can be traced to this vile, wicked, evil, serpent who also exalts himself over the throne of God (Read Isaiah 14).  We see kings and rulers today who are trying to silence the word, the will, and the way of the Lord GOD, and kill all that profess the name of Jesus Christ who is the Son of the Lord GOD.

To you who are self exalted kings and gods; you will not succeed. You are doomed to the fires of Hell unless you repent of your sins, and turn to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  He is the One who died, was buried, and rose again. He is the King of kings, and ultimately you will bow to Him.

To you who are not kings and/or rulers of any land or nation. If you think you are the master of your own fate; the captain of your soul; you are not. This One who died on the cross (Jesus Christ), was buried, and rose again is. Submit to Him, His Lordship, and call on His name.

When You Ask…

“And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah.

Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, and said unto them, ‘Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before Him; ‘If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull down, and I will plant you, and not pluck up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.’ ” Jeremiah 42:7-12 (KJB)

First of all when you ask do not already have your mind made up what you are going to do.

That is apparently what the remnant of those left in Judah to care for the land, and the cities. With hypocritical hearts and minds they feigned wanting the will of God, so they go to the prophet Jeremiah asking him to seek the LORD’S counsel on His will.

The above verses are God’s answer to Jeremiah for the people.  It is a message of hope and promise if they will stay in the land. It is a promise that they need not fear Babylon their captors. What they need to do is do what the LORD says, and they will be protected and greatly blessed.

When we ask God’s counsel for something do we already have our minds made up of what we are going to do?  It does not matter what God says in His word we often do what we want to do.  That is a sad commentary on the life of a Christian, and it robs us of the promise, protection, and provision of the LORD our God.

When we ask, let us ask that the will of God be done.  Let us ask for the courage, faith, and power of the Spirit of God in us to walk in His way; not our own. When God says “Stay”, let us stay.  When God says “Go” let us go.

Our rest, our hope lies only in the Son of God who is Jesus Christ, God who became flesh, and dwelt among us. He died on the cross for ours sins, was buried, and He rose again.

“Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

What if the Will of the LORD was to Surrender

‘But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.” Jeremiah 38:20 (KJB)

The word “Surrender” is not a word most people of Adam’s race wants to use. We have phrases from the past here in the USA like, “Better dead, than Red”, and most people my age and older knows the meaning of that phrase. I know, and I feel that way still today, but that is not the topic at hand.

Surrender is the giving up of yourself to someone of greater power, or value than oneself. We like our freedom and our freedoms we have here in the United States of America.  Let us think for a moment about the words of Jeremiah to the king of Judah who was Zedekiah.

Jeremiah had been locked up, thrown in a miry pit, and left to die (Jeremiah 38:1-13), and had been rescued, with the approval of the king, by an Ethiopian named Ebedmelech. The king had sent for the prophet seeking his counsel, and Jeremiah gave him the word and will of the LORD. In verses 13 – 19 the king is given the word of the LORD, the way of the LORD, and will of the LORD.  That word can be summed up in one word; that word “Surrender”.

The word from God for the Christian today is surrender your word to God’s word.  Surrender your will to God’s will.  Surrender your way to God’s way.  When we do so; even if that way seems tough, rough, rocky, slippery, and like it might be a loss of our freedom – Surrender.

Zedekiah was not being commanded to surrender to the enemy. He was being commanded to surrender to GOD.

We are not being commanded to surrender to our weaknesses, fears, failures, foolish ambition, or an enemy. The command is “Surrender to the One who has our best interest at heart and mind”.  He knows what is best. The end result for Zedekiah was not good (Read chapter 39).  He did not obey. He did not surrender.

Think of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God who became flesh, humbled Himself, surrendered to the will of His Father, even unto death; so that He might redeem unto Himself all who would be given to Him by the Father.  Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and He rose again.  Hear Him, and call on His name and He will give you eternal life with Him.

Make Mention of The LORD

“I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, and give Him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” Isaiah 62:6-7 (KJV)

The prophet, speaking for the LORD makes mention of “Watchmen”. There were men set to guard the city, watching for an approaching enemy, and shouting out warning, or blowing the warning sound.

This is a call of the remnant of God to be strong in the LORD, His faith, His word, and to be faithful to Him; and to pray.  Pray even to reminding God of His promises to Israel. To do so as though they were giving God no rest.

It seems that is what diligent, fervent prayer is really.  Just for a side note. Prayer is for the people of God. Faith also is not a power of  its own; but of God, and in God alone.  God, the LORD, the Creator of all that is; also the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of the Godhead.

The watchmen are the preachers, the prophets, the priests of God who still cherish  the LORD God, His word, His work, and His will. These will proclaim the word of God without fear, favor, or compromise calling God’s people to repentance and faith in Him.  They also will get a hold of God in prayer and never let Him go, reminding Him of His promises; though He never forgets them.

The power of prayer is through the faith of the crucified Lord Jesus Christ, His burial, and resurrection.  He is the Son of God, God the Son. The God Man.

He Has Spoken, He Has Purposed…

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure: calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed, I will also do it.” Isaiah 46:9-11 (KJB)

God has spoken, and every word He has spoken shall come to pass just as He has said.  He has purposed, and every purpose will be done.

From F. B. Meyer

“Here is a startling contrast! Babylon is broken up. An invading army of stern monotheists have slain the idolatrous priests at their altars and are engaged in carrying out the idols for the bonfire. And as the Jewish remnant is witnessing the extraordinary spectacle, they are reminded that their God does not require to be borne. Nay, on the contrary He has borne His people from the earliest days and will continue to bear them till the heavens have passed away.

The contrast is a perpetual one. Some people carry their religion; others are carried by it. Some are burdened by minute prescriptions and an external ritual; others yield themselves to God, to be borne by Him in old age as they were in the helplessness of childhood. They are persuaded that He will bear them “as a man doth bear His son,” in all the way that they go, until they come to the prepared place. See Deu_1:31; Isa_63:9. God immediately responds to a trust like that, and His salvation does not tarry.”  From Through the Bible Day by Day – F. B. Meyer on Isaiah 46:1-13

What He has spoken concerning His Son Jesus will come to pass.  What He has purposed concerning you and me will be done.

Building Up Yourselves On Your Most Holy Faith

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Jude 20-21 (KJB)

The most holy faith is that we receive through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There is no faith without Him.

After warning His readers in this letter of the false teachers, the wolves coming into their church or churches; Jude, our Lord’s half brother, tells them to build themselves in the faith.

Trust the words of the apostles of our Lord.  Jude does not consider himself an apostle, and he quotes from the words of Peter’s epistles, and it is likely from the apostle Paul, as well.

Let us not fall for the lies, deceptions, and traps of the chief demon who is doomed for Hell.

The Sword of the LORD

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (KJB)

The Holy Bible is the written word of God, verbally inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), penned down by common men chosen by God, and upon whom the LORD had poured His Spirit upon.  Around 40 of these men from Job and Moses to the apostle John; and over a period of many hundreds of years; were called by God to write these words for the guidance, direction, conviction, inspiration, encouragement and comfort of His people.

With the word of God being questioned by so many it reminds me of the first question ever asked to turn a couple of people away from what God had said.  That question was, “Yea, has  God said…?” (Genesis 3:1).  That tells me where the questions of doubt; and it is not honest doubt; but doubt which leads to the destruction of faith in God.

Honest doubt and questions of such are to gain knowledge and wisdom concerning God and His word.  The enemy’s question was meant for destruction, not learning and growth.

Now, I will get to the above text for today.

  1. The word of God is living and that means it is set, it is settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89), it is immutable – never changing; it is God’s word, and is just as reliable as God Himself;
  2. It is powerful/active; through this living word God changes lives; He has sent His son who is the physical incarnation of His word, Jesus Christ, and is the Living Word of God, and cannot be separated from the written word; the word of God has power to give life and to take away life;
  3. Sharper than any two edged sword; the sword of the soldier of the day was one with a double edge; it cut which ever way it was swung; in a forward thrust it pierced with great fierceness; the word of God is likened to that, but is said to  be sharper, and is a divider of the soul and spirit, on “the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow,” John Gill’s Exposition says,  “…the apostle’s meaning seems to be this, that whereas the soul and spirit are invisible, and the joints and marrow are covered and hid; so sharp and quick sighted, and so penetrating is the divine Word, that it reaches the most secret and hidden things of men: and this sense is confirmed by what follows,” John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible;
  4. The word of God is also a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of the heart of men, women, and children; the psalmist prayed in Psalm 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts…”; O how wicked and vile the human heart and mind can be.

When we know God, and trust His word we can trust Him to reveal our wickedness to ourselves; and that leads the heart of the child of God to repentance, and forgiveness.

The word of God is living, and active, never changing. We must pattern our lives after the Book; not try changing the  book to fit our lives.

Dealing with the Heretic and Heresy in the Church

“A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” Titus 3:10-11 (KJB)

Let me leave you with John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible…

A man that is an heretic,…. An heretic, according to the notation of the word, is either one that makes choice of an opinion upon his own judgment, contrary to the generally received sense of the churches of Christ, and prefers it to theirs, and obstinately persists in it; separates from them, forms a party, and sets himself at the head of them, whom he has drawn into the same way of thinking with himself: or he is one that removes and takes away a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, which affects particularly the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity, and personality of Father, Son, and Spirit, and especially the doctrines relating to the person, office, and grace of Christ; one that brings in, or receives damnable doctrines; speaks or professes perverse things, and draws away disciples after him; or is among such disciples: for though schism and heresy do differ, and every schismatic may not be an heretic, yet every heretic is a schismatic; he makes a rent in the doctrine of Christ, and makes parties and divisions in his church; and such are not always to be contended and disputed with, but to be avoided and rejected:

after the first and second admonition reject; have nothing to do with him; have no society with him; admit him not to private conversation; and eject him from church communion, after he has been publicly admonished twice by the order of the church; for this is not to be understood of private admonition, by a particular person or persons; as in the case of private offences, Mat_18:15 but of public admonition, in the name of the church. An admonition with the Jews did not continue less than seven days (a); some say (b) thirty; that is, there were so many days before it was out, or between one and another.

(a) T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 16. 1. (b) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 33. fol. 28. 3.”

And verse 11…

Knowing that he that is such is subverted,…. Or overturned and demolished; he is like an edifice, that is not only decaying, and falling, but is entirely everted, and pulled down; so that there is no hopes of a restoration or recovery; he is in a desperate condition, having opposed the person, or office, or sacrifice of Christ; having either trodden the Son of God underfoot, or counted his blood common, or done despite unto the spirit of grace; in either of which cases there is no more sacrifice for sin:

and sinneth; not practically, but doctrinally, and wilfully after he has received the knowledge of the truth; by denying the truth he received, in which he continues, notwithstanding the evidence of the word of God is against him; and; notwithstanding the arguments taken from it by the ministers of the Gospel, to convince him; and notwithstanding the admonitions of the church to recover him out of the snare of the devil:

being condemned of himself; not that an heretic is one that is convinced in his own conscience that he is in an error, and that that is a truth which he opposes; and yet he obstinately persists in the one, and continues to set himself against the other; for then, none but an hypocrite, that conceals his true sentiment, can be an heretic; nor can any man be known to be one unless he accuses himself; since no man can know the heart of another; and it would be impracticable in a church to deal with heretics, or reject and excommunicate them: but either the meaning is, that he is such an one, who by his own practice has condemned himself; for whereas he has separated himself not only from the faith of the church, but from the church itself; by so doing he practically condemns himself, or judges himself unworthy of the communion of the church, and so justifies the church in their rejection and exclusion of him: or rather, an heretic is one who having professed Christianity, and received the Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice, and still professes to abide by the same, and that all doctrine is to be tried by them, and to be approved or condemned as that agrees or disagrees with them, stands condemned by those Scriptures, which he himself allows to be the rule of decision and determination; and so may be said to be self-condemned.” John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.

 

What To Do When Evil Surrounds Us

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:12-15 (KJB)

Christians who live godly lives will suffer persecution. Have you ever been laughed at because of the simplicity of your faith in  Christ, the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to cleanse, to heal, to redeem, and get us into the presence of Holy God? Have you ever been threatened for your faith in Him? How about beaten and maybe left for dead?

Evil abounds in this world. Anyone who has eyes and ears knows there is evil in this  world; and it is in the hearts of the people who live on this planet.  As Christians we must guard our own hearts and minds through the word of God and prayer.

The Apostle tells us that “Evil men and seducers shall become worse and worse…” The evil ones are not only those who would do us physical harm; but also those who would do us spiritual harm by teaching lies, deceiving, and themselves being deceived.

So what do we do when evil surrounds us?

  1. Remember the things you have been taught from Scripture;
  2. Continue in those things applying them to your life, living for Jesus Christ and standing on His word;
  3. Always remember that those teachings you have learned in the word are the words of wisdom and for your salvation;
  4. There is absolutely no instruction to identify (to participate) with the world around us.

Always remember the gospel – the good news is – that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and He rose again.

Pray That the Word May Run

 “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all have not faith.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 (KJV)

When I think about the running of the word, I think of the runners in Old Testament days running to tell the king the outcome of a battle (2 Samuel 18:24-27).

Paul is speaking of the word of the Lord, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Prayer for the word to be spread with haste, with speed, and certainly we need that in 2019.

If any of you are of the type who like to see good in everyone; we need to always keep in mind that there are those who are not in the faith of  our Lord Jesus, and some of these try and twist the word of God to suit their own ends and means.

Christian all we have to stand on is Christ our Rock; and we do that through faith in Him and all that He has said. His word is His way, His law, His commandments, His statutes, His testimonies, His judgments, His  holiness, and His righteousness.

Let us stand upon that Rock or we will be crushed by Him (Matthew 21:44).  Pray for the speed of the work of the word of the Lord.

A Joy of the Heart

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (KJB).

Paul was a thankful man.  It gave his heart joy to see people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ through the  preaching, and teaching of the word of God.  Remember what he preached was from the Old Testament. That was what they had. Some of the New was out there, but not readily available.

These people had been people bound in darkness. The Apostle had come to them with the good news of the gospel – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and they had heard, and believed.  Lives had been changed.  There was true repentance; a complete turn around, a change in their lives.

All the talking and powers of persuasion are not always effective at changing someone’s mind or heart.  With the gospel it is only the power of the Holy Spirit who can reveal the truth of the gospel, the power of the gospel, and the light of the glory of Jesus Christ; that He is the Son of God, God the Son.

Will you be the joy of someone’s heart today?  Has the Spirit of God revealed to you the truth of who Jesus is?  Turn to Him, away from sin, believe Him, and be saved.

The Law and Faith

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:10-11 (KJB)

From John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible on Galatians 3:11…

But that no man is justified,…. There are some that are justified, as all God’s elect are, in his own mind and will from eternity; which will of his to justify them, upon the righteousness of his Son, undertook by him to bring in, is their justification in the court of heaven; and all that believe in Christ are openly and manifestly justified in the court of conscience, under the testimony of the Spirit of God: but no one is justified

by the law; it is in the Greek text, “in the law”; there were many justified before the law was given, as Noah, Job, Abraham, and all the Ante-Mosaic believers; and there were many justified “in”, or under the legal dispensation; but none of them were justified by their obedience to the law, but by the righteousness they believed they had in the Lord: especially no man is justified

in the sight of God; who sees the heart, knows the spring of actions, and whose judgment is according to truth; that is, by the law and the deeds of it, however they may before men:

it is evident; it is a clear case, out of all dispute, as appears from Hab_2:4

for the just shall live by faith; which may be read either, “the just by faith, shall live”: that is, the man who is just by faith, or justified by faith, not by it as a principle or act, or as the cause or matter of his justification, but by the object of his faith, Christ and his righteousness apprehended by faith, and so not just or justified by works; he shall live a life of justification, through that righteousness his faith receives; he shall live comfortably, with much peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, as the result of his being justified by faith; and shall live eternally, and never die the second death: or the “just shall live by faith”; he that is righteous, not by his own works, but by the obedience of Christ, shall live not upon faith, but by it on Christ, and his righteousness, which is revealed from faith to faith; and this makes it a clear point, that he is not justified by the law, for if he was, he would not live by faith on Christ, but in and by the deeds of the law.”

Since the law cannot save, and was never intended to save but rather to be a “school master” to show us our need of a savior. Points us to Jesus Christ as the Savior of all who will call on His name.

The Righteous and Just One became sin for us on the cross that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and He rose again.

Stand Fast in the Faith

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity.”  1 Corinthians 16:13-14  (KJB)

The following is the exposition of these two verses by Alexander MacLaren titled  “Strong and Loving”…

There is a singular contrast between the first four of these exhortations and the last. The former ring sharp and short like pistol-shots; the last is of gentler mould. The former sound like the word of command shouted from an officer along the ranks; and there is a military metaphor running all through them. The foe threatens to advance; let the guards keep their eyes open. He comes nearer; prepare for the charge, stand firm in your ranks. The battle is joined; ‘quit you like men’-strike a man’s stroke-’be strong.’

And then all the apparatus of warfare is put away out of sight, and the captain’s word of command is softened into the Christian teacher’s exhortation: ‘Let all your deeds be done in charity.’ For love is better than fighting, and is stronger than swords. And yet, although there is a contrast here, there is also a sequence and connection. No doubt these exhortations, which are Paul’s last word to that Corinthian Church on whom he had lavished in turn the treasures of his manifold eloquence, indignation, argumentation, and tenderness, reflected the deficiencies of the people to whom he was speaking. They were schismatic and factious to the very core, and so they needed the exhortation to be left last in their ears, as it were, that everything should be done in love. They were ill-grounded in regard to the very fundamental doctrines of the faith, as all Paul’s argumentation about the resurrection proves, and so they needed to be bidden to ‘stand fast in the faith.’ Their slothful carelessness as to the discipline of the Christian life, and their consequent feebleness of grasp of the Christian verities, made them loose-braced and weak in all respects, and incapacitated them for vigorous warfare. Thus, we see a picture in these injunctions of the sort of community that Paul had to deal with in Corinth, which yet he called a Church of saints, and for which he loved and laboured. Let me then run over and try to bring out the importance and mutual connection of what I may call this drill-book for the Christian warfare, which is the Christian life.

‘Watch ye.’ That means one of two things certainly, probably both-Keep awake, and keep your eyes open. Our Lord used the same metaphor, you remember, very frequently, but with a special significance. On His lips it generally referred to the attitude of expectation of His coming in judgment. Paul uses sometimes the figure with the same application, but here, distinctly, it has another. As I said, there is the military idea underlying it. What will become of an army if the sentries go to sleep? And what chance will a Christian man have of doing his devoir against his enemy, unless he keeps himself awake, and keeps himself alert? Watchfulness, in the sense of always having eyes open for the possible rush down upon us of temptation and evil, is no small part of the discipline and the duty of the Christian life. One part of that watchfulness consists in exercising a very rigid and a very constant and comprehensive scrutiny of our motives. For there is no way by which evil creeps upon us so unobserved, as when it slips in at the back door of a specious motive. Many a man contents himself with the avoidance of actual evil actions, and lets any kind of motives come in and out of his mind unexamined. It is all right to look after our doings, but ‘as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ The good or the evil of anything that I do is determined wholly by the motive with which I do it. And we are a great deal too apt to palm off deceptions on ourselves to make sure that our motives are right, unless we give them a very careful and minute scrutiny. One side of this watchfulness, then, is a habitual inspection of our motives and reasons for action. ‘What am I doing this for?’ is a question that would stop dead an enormous proportion of our activity, as if you had turned the steam off from an engine. If you will use a very fine sieve through which to strain your motives, you will go a long way to keeping your actions right. We should establish a rigid examination for applicants for entrance, and make quite sure that each that presents itself is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Make them all bring out their passports. Let every vessel that comes into your harbour remain isolated from all communication with the shore, until the health officer has been on board and given a clean bill. ‘Watch ye,’ for yonder, away in the dark, in the shadow of the trees, the black masses of the enemy are gathered, and a midnight attack is but too likely to bring a bloody awakening to a camp full of sleepers.

My text goes on to bring the enemy nearer and nearer and nearer. ‘Watch ye’-and if, not unnoticed, they come down on you, ‘stand fast in the faith.’ There will be no keeping our ranks, or keeping our feet-or at least, it is not nearly so likely that there will be-unless there has been the preceding watchfulness. If the first command has not been obeyed, there is small chance of the second’s being so. If there has not been any watchfulness, it is not at all likely that there will be much steadfastness. Just as with a man going along a crowded pavement, a little touch from a passer-by will throw him off his balance, whereas if he had known it was coming, and had adjusted his poise rightly, he would have stood against thrice as violent a shock, so, in order that we may stand fast, we must watch. A sudden assault will be a great deal less formidable when it is a foreseen assault.

‘Stand fast in the faith.’ I take it that this does not mean ‘the thing that we believe,’ which use of the word ‘faith’ is the ecclesiastical, but not the New Testament meaning. In Scripture, faith means not the body of truths that we believe, but the act of believing them. This further command tells us that, in addition to our watchfulness, and as the basis of our steadfastness, confidence in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ will enable us to keep our feet whatever comes against us, and to hold our ground, whoever may assault us.

But remember that it is not because I have faith that I stand fast, but because of that in which I have faith. My feet may be well shod-and it used to be said that a soldier’s shoes were of as much importance in the battle as his musket-my feet may be well shod, but if they are not well planted upon firm ground I never shall be able to stand the collision of the foe. So then, it is not my grasp of the blessed truth, God in Christ my Friend and Helper, but it is that truth which I grasp at, that makes me strong. Or, to put it into other words, it is the foothold, and not the foot that holds it, that ensures our standing firm. Only there is no steadfastness communicated to us from the source of all stability, except by way of our faith, which brings Christ into us. ‘Watch ye; stand fast in the faith.’

The next two words of command are very closely connected, though not quite identical. ‘Quit you like men.’ Play a man’s part in the battle; strike with all the force of your muscles. But the Apostle adds, ‘be strong.’ You cannot play a man’s part unless you are. ‘Be strong’-the original would rather bear ‘become strong.’ What is the use of telling men to ‘be strong’ ? It is a waste of words, in nine cases out of ten, to say to a weak man, ‘Pluck up your courage, and show strength.’ But the Apostle uses a very uncommon word here, at least uncommon in the New Testament, and another place where he uses it will throw light upon what he means: ‘Strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.’ Then is it so vain a mockery to tell a poor, weak creature like me to become strong, when you can point me to the source of all strength, in that ‘Spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind’ ? We have only to take our weakness there to have it stiffened into strength; as people put bits of wood into what are called ‘petrifying wells’ which infiltrate into them mineral particles, that do not turn the wood into stone, but make the wood as strong as stone. So my manhood, with all its weakness, may have filtered into it divine strength, which will brace me for all needful duty, and make me ‘more than conqueror through Him that loved us.’ Then, it is not mockery and cruelty, vanity and surplusage to preach ‘Quit you like men; be strong, and be a man’; because if we will observe the plain and not hard conditions, strength will come to us according to our day, in fulfilment of the great promises: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee; and My strength is made perfect in weakness.’

And now we have done with the fighting words of command, and come to the gentler exhortation: ‘Let all your things be done in charity.’

That was a hard lesson for these Corinthians who were splitting themselves into factions and sects, and tearing each other’s eyes out in their partisanship for various Christian teachers. But the advice has a much wider application than to the suppression of squabbles in Christian communities. It is the sum of all commandments of the Christian life, if you will take love in its widest sense, in the sense, that is, in which it is always used in Paul’s writings. We cut it into two halves, and think of it as sometimes meaning love to God, and sometimes love to man. The two are inseparably inter-penetrated in the New Testament writings; and so we have to interpret this supreme commandment in the whole breadth and meaning of that great word Love. And then it just comes to this, that love is the victor in all the Christian warfare. If we love God, at any given moment, consciously having our affection engaged with Him, and our heart going out to Him, do you think that any evil or temptation would have power over us? Should we not see them as they are, to be devils in disguise? In the proportion in which I love God I conquer all sin. And at the moment in which that great, sweet, all-satisfying light floods into my soul, I see through the hollowness and the shams, and detect the ugliness and the filth of the things that otherwise would be temptations. If you desire to be conquerors in the Christian fight, remember that the true way of conquest is, as another Apostle says, ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God.’ ‘Let all your things be done in charity.’

And, further, how beautifully the Apostle here puts the great truth that we are all apt to forget, that the strongest type of human character is the gentlest and most loving, and that the mighty man is not the man of intellectual or material force, such as the world idolises, but the man who is much because he loves much. If we would come to supreme beauty of Christian character, there must be inseparably manifested in our lives, and lived in our hearts, strength and love, might and gentleness. That is the perfect man, and that was the union which was set before us, in the highest form, in the ‘Strong Son of God, Immortal Love,’ whom we call our Saviour, and whom we are bound to follow. His soldiers conquer as the Captain of their salvation has conquered, when watchfulness and steadfastness and courage and strength are all baptized in love and perfected thereby.”  From Alexander MacLaren’s Exposition of Holy Scripture

The Best Gifts

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. 1Corinthians 12:31
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (KJB)

The Corinthian Church was laden with Christians who were competing for who they considered the best preacher, teacher, and the best spiritual gifts.  One gift in particular was one that was causing the greatest stir.

Corinth was a troubled Church.  The apostle Paul sent this letter, because he was not able to come and see them.  The purpose of the letter is to address and endeavor to correct the problems of jealousy, envy, immoral conduct, and selfishness.

The apostle had dealt with the issue of tongues.  It was a sign gift, probably for the unbelieving Jews to see the Old Testament fulfillment, but they would not understand (Isaiah 28:11; 1 Corinthians 14:22).  Now that I have dealt with that let us consider the best gifts.

The best gifts are those that edifies the Church.  They build up, they encourage, they motivate the Church; and lead the Church in building up the name of Jesus Christ.

The greatest thing to have is love; it is the “more excellent way” as Paul describes godly love in chapter 13.  Many people, Christian and non-christian knows of 1 Corinthians 13, but know little or nothing of the chapters preceding it, or the three chapters following.

Spiritual gifts are good, even great; but if you do not have love you are empty.  The love spoken of by the apostle is not the feel  good love many think of.  It is love that acts when a wrong is witnessed, or a need is seen as one drives by a neighbor’s home, and you stop to help.  It is the love that acts without thought of recovering the cost of the effort.

There is also faith and hope and love, Paul says, “but the greatest of these is love”.

Father in Heaven fill me with Your Spirit so that I might love like You do.  That I might love my neighbor as I love myself.

The Confirmation

“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-8  (KJB)

The apostle was writing to the Corinthian Church, saints, and was about to deal with some very difficult problems within that congregation.  He was troubled by their popularity competitions about who was the greatest preacher, teacher.  They had a problem with mystical revelations by emotional out burst, which caused trouble through confusion.

If you read the whole first chapter you will see that Paul does recognize them as “Saints” (v. 2), and in verse 2 you will see in the KJB that the words “to be” is in italics which means that was added into the text, supposedly for clarity and understanding.  However, the words “to be saints”; at least to me; seems to be that some day in the future they will be saints.  “Called saints” is the way it should read.  Not by Paul, not by a pope or a religious hierarchy.  Called saints by heavenly declaration, by God Himself.

The saint of God is an individual who is not perfect, neither without sin; but is daily being sanctified, set apart by God to honor and glorify Him. The saint of God never reaches a state of sinless perfection.  The saint of God realizes that as we get closer to the Lord God just how sinful, and awful we really are, thus depending, relying, trusting the only One who can bring us to completion.

The apostle Paul notes to confirmations for the saint of God:

  1. That the testimony of Jesus Christ is in their waiting for the coming of the Lord;
  2. That because of their faith in Jesus Christ they are blameless at the day of the Lord Jesus.

Blameless does not mean sinless; but because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1).

Who are you in Christ Jesus?  Has your faith in Him been confirmed by the Spirit of God, the awaiting of the coming of the Lord? He will complete His work in you, and find you blameless.

Free From Sin

“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:18 (KJB)

Our master was once sin.  We were enslaved to it, bound to do whatever the evil of our hearts desired. Sin kept us from doing the righteous thing; the thing that would bring honor and glory to God (Romans 3:23).

I am speaking of the redeemed, the regenerated believers, followers of Jesus Christ.  We were one “dead in trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1), but have been made alive through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Righteousness in the Person of Jesus has become our new Master.  We are no longer bound in the dregs, darkness, despair, and drudgery of sin; but we have been set free to do what is good, right, holy, and just.  We can now walk with God, hear His voice, see Him work in our lives and in people and things around us.

Sin causes endless fear, doubt, despair, and hopelessness.  Faith in Christ Jesus takes that all away.  I do not intend to mean that you will not have moments of those things; but that in those moments you do fear, doubt, and feel hopeless you will fall on your knees before your God and Savior in continued faith knowing He will care for you and meet your need.

The Christian is not without sin.  We do know where to go when we sin.  We are not free to live in sin.  We are free to live in righteousness.

Will you turn your life over to the One who died that you might be free from sin’s bondage and become a servant to righteousness.  That One who died was Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son who forever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).

Believe the Testimony

“And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace unto you.’ Then saith He to Thomas, ‘Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  Jesus saith unto him, ‘Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.’
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.”  John 20:26-31  (KJB)

Thomas had said, “Except I see the print of the nails in His hands, and put my fingers into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side I will not believe” (v. 25). Now Jesus appears in the midst of the disciples, and it appears that Thomas does not avail himself of that opportunity.

It does not say it in the text, but I can almost see Thomas as he said, “My Lord and my God”, bowing on his face before Jesus.  I say that because I am pretty certain that when I see the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ that will be my response.

Jesus gives a rebuke to Thomas, saying to him, “…Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.”

Who are these folks who have not seen yet believed?

It is all those who have believed since that day following the ascension of Jesus up to the Father.  It is you.  It is me.  We have not yet seen the resurrected Jesus, but we have Believed the Testimony of the disciples/apostles, and that is because of those who were generations before us who also believed the testimony.

The testimony of Scripture.  The testimony of the Gospels.  The testimony of the apostles, and all who followed them.  Have you heard them and believed?

As They Followed Him They Were Afraid

“And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto Him,
‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles: and they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him: and the third day He shall rise again.’” Mark 10:32-34  (KJB)

This was the final time Jesus and His disciples would be going up to Jerusalem.  The disciples seemed to understand that, but not really understanding the coming consequences of this trip.  They had heard Jesus mentioned His death; and they had seen the hatred of the religious leaders toward Him.

They probably were afraid of any coming backlash against them, because they were His followers; and of what would become of them following the worst they could imagine.

Verse 32 was my focus as I was reading chapters 10-12 today. There are times I am fearful.  Sometimes it is a senseless fear.  I mean by that it is something contrived in my own mind. Other times it comes from real time and life situations. When ever fear invades is usually when I am not expecting it.  When I am afraid I choose to hear what the Master says, rather than what my fearful thoughts have imagined.

I have learned that I must question my fears; never my faith.  I am still learning that.

Don’t you just love the way Jesus comforts, and encourages His disciples?  He tells them the events that are going to happen; the ones they are fearful of; but does not leave them without the promise, “He shall rise again.”

Are you going through a fearful situation? Is it something too big for you to handle? Is it a contriving of your own mind?  Either way remember He has risen.  He died on the cross for the sins of the world; yours and mine; then, He was buried, and He rose again.  He forever lives that we too might live and reign with Him forever.

Take It By Force

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12 (KJB)

I am going to let the exposition of John Gill give you an explanation of the above verse.

From John Gills Exposition of the Bible…
And from the days of John the Baptist until now,…. From the time that he began to preach, to the then present time,
the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel, and the ministry of it, first by John, then by Christ and his apostles,
suffereth violence; or “comes with force”, and power upon the souls of men: it was attended with the demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; as appeared by its being the means of quickening persons that were dead in trespasses and sins; enlightening the blind; causing the deaf to hear; melting and softening hearts of stone; making, of enemies, friends to God and Christ; turning men from the power of Satan unto God; setting at liberty such as were slaves and vassals to their own corruptions; and, in a word, in being the power of God unto salvation, to many souls: and which was further seen, in the manner it did all this; suddenly, secretly, powerfully, and effectually, and yet not against the wills of men; and by such instruments as the apostles were, poor, sinful, mortal men; despised by the world, and attended with opposition and persecution: or “suffers violence”; which may be understood, either of the vast numbers, that pressed and crowded to hear the Gospel preached: great numbers followed John, when he first began to preach, and baptize: still a greater number followed Christ, some to hear his doctrine, others to see his miracles, others to behold his person, others out of selfish ends; and some behaved rudely and indecently: or of the ardour and fervency of spirit, which appeared in some, to the ministry of John and Christ, and in their desires and expectations of the kingdom of the Messiah: or of the Gospel’s suffering violence by the persecutions of its enemies opposing and contradicting it, reproaching it, intimidating the professors of it, and seeking to take away the life of Christ, the great subject of it:
and the violent take it by force; meaning either publicans, and harlots, and Gentile sinners; who might be thought to be a sort of intruders: or rather the same persons, as being powerfully wrought upon under the ministry of the Gospel; who were under violent apprehensions of wrath and vengeance, of their lost and undone state and condition by nature; were violently in love with Christ, and eagerly desirous of salvation by him, and communion with him; and had their affections set upon the things of another world: these having the Gospel preached to them, which is a declaration of God’s love to sinners, a proclamation of peace and pardon, and a publication of righteousness and life by Christ, they greedily catched at it, and embraced it.

Saved by grace, through faith, that works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Just a Thought from December 30, 2008

There are many questions, and at times many accusations, and arguments over the issue of marriage.  Biblically, marriage is between one man, and one woman “until death do we part”.  The issue of same sex or homosexual marriage is playing a large part in that definition today.

As a Christian I take the Biblical view of marriage, and will until the Lord returns to take me home with Him.  A question comes to my mind, however, “Why has marriage been so cheapened, so degraded?”, and I must answer that with this.

The divorce rate is around 50 percent.  That sounds awful to me.  Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.  Is that what is meant by that statistic?  If so, that is truly terrible, and a shame to be attached to something that God has ordained.

There is something that makes the matter even worse to me, and that is the divorce rate among those who profess to be “Christian”.  It is at the same rate, and maybe even higher.  It seems that many Christians have bought into the “Me” lie.  They may not admit it, but live as though their living life is all about “Me”, and there is no surrender, no commitment, no loyalty to the spouse (husband or wife).

Let me ask this question, “Who has really cheapened marriage; those who have no commitment, or the issue of same sex marriage?”  I dare say that had we Christians stood firm on faithful marriages, and committed ourselves to our own wife or husband, then there would not be the issue and debate of same sex marriage.

Here is the Biblical idea for marriage.  “Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22); and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:25).  When these are followed there will be happiness in the marriage, along with joy and peace.

Just my thoughts for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Faith Living

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into different temptations; knowing that the trying of your faith works patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all liberally, and reproaches not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:  but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withers the grass, and the flower of it falls, and the grace of the fashion of it perishes: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
Blessed, the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him.
Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted of God:’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
Do not err, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God.  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and overflowing of evil, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholds himself, and goes his way, and immediately forgets what manner of man he was. But who ever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, ‘To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, to keep himself unspotted from the world.'”  James 1:1-27

REFERENCES: 4:8; Deuteronomy 32:26; Acts 2:5; 13:26; 1 Kings 3:9; Mark 11:24;  Job 5:17; 14:2; Numbers 23:19; Jeremiah 2:3; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 15:2; Matthew 7:21; Romans 2:13; Luke 6:47; Isaiah 1:16; John 8:31-32

Living Brotherly Love

“Let brotherly love continue.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.  Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.  Let your way of life be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for He has said, ‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you.’  So that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.’
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their way of life.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
Be not carried about with different and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied with them.”  Hebrews 13:1-9

REFERENCES: Genesis 18:3; 28:15; Matthew 25:36; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 22:14; Joshua 1:5; Romans 14:17; Colossians 2:4