He Touched Me

“And He put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, ‘I will: be thou clean.’ And immediately the leprosy departed from him.” Luke 5:13 (KJB)

When I was a much younger man there was a song by that title; “He Touched Me”.  It is still sung in some churches  and musical circles. I wonder if we give much thought to what Jesus actually did though, in touching, yes touching those whom the law, and society of the time called “Unclean”.

Speaking of Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son; Matthew’s gospel tells us this,

“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, ‘Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.’ ” Matthew 8:17

And that is a quote from the prophet Isaiah,

 “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5

Now I hope you can see a little clearer what Jesus did for all of us who will repent of our sins, and call out to Him in faith believing Him.

Paul the apostle said in 2 Corinthians,

“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

He touched me; the unclean; and made me wholly clean. Has He touched you?

…Be Found Of Him In Peace…

“…Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.  And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:13-18 (KJB)

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.

The Witness

“And he said, ‘The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth.  For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.'” Acts 22:14-15  (KJB)

“And he said…” that is Ananias, the one who ministered to Saul who became known as Paul the apostle after the Damascus road encounter with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, the Just One.

Those who have been redeemed through the death of Christ have also been freed from the power and penalty of sin, its shame, condemnation and guilt through His burial; and He is alive as evidence that all has been paid to the full.

We are witnesses as well.  We too are expected to know His will, see His face, and hear the voice of His mouth.

The following are the words of F. B. Meyer in his closing comments of Acts 22:1-16…

“We are chosen of God for three things: to know His will; to see Him; and to hear His voice, Acts_22:14.”

Let us as we go be faithful to be the witness that honors and glorifies His holy name.

A Stirred Spirit

It has been a few days since I share a study with you other than a reblog by brother Wally Fry.  I appreciate the studies which Wally shares with his readers.

I have been away from a good source for an internet connection, with one exception for poor cell phone service for my smart phone; and I find it very difficult to do anything in the way of posting anything on the sites here. I have been away serving as a camp cook/kitchen helper at our Associations Children’s Camp. I will endeavor to get back to serving my readers, and pray God will speak to all who come here. For today…

“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.  Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.” Acts 17:16-17 (KJB)

The apostle Paul was in a city of Greece, very familiar with many people even in 2019.  The city of Athens.  He witnessed many forms of worship.  It was all to idols.  His spirit (not the Holy Spirit though I believe that his spirit was stirred by the Holy Spirit) was stirred or provoked to not just sit there.

Many times we as Christians just accept the way things are rather than confront the issue of idolatry.  Someone might say, “There is no idolatry in our day”.  Maybe we ought to think again there.  There are many who adore, follow, even worship science.  Others do the same for the technological advances that have been made in the past few years.  There are others who are absorbed by Money and finance.  There are also those who relish the thought and idea of a Global government.  Then, there are also those who worship the idea of there not being any god at all, and just trust in themselves and human ingenuity.  Now, have you rethought your position on being no idolatry?

We Christians should be grieved by idolatry; especially if we are guilty of it.  Also when we see it in our land, and culture; and we should not be silent about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I for one do not like to argue.  I am not real good at debating issues.  I can proclaim that Christ Jesus came into the world to die on the cross for the sins of the world, He was buried, and He rose again.  As they say, That is a hill I can die one; and I will if that is what it takes.  In the mean time let us live the gospel before an idolatrous and evil and dark world.

 

For That Intent

“And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.  And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; ‘Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.” Acts 9:19-22  (KJB)

Saul, who is later called Paul, had came to Damascus with the intent of turning Christ followers away from the faith, and to Judaism; or taking them back to Jerusalem, for trial, imprisonment, or death.  In his mind and heart he was doing service to God in doing so.

Someone else had other intentions, and His plan was what came about.  The Pharisee of Pharisees, met the Lord Jesus resurrected, on the road to his destination of murderous intent.  I would say the man Saul was knocked out of his saddle by the appearance of Jesus Christ and His glory.

Saul’s intent was to kill.  God’s intent was to save a man.

God’s intent for you today is that you know the Christ.  Jesus Christ the Son of God died for you, for all who will call on His name; He was buried, and He rose from the grave.  Because He lives it is His intent to save all who will come to Him.

The Unending Journey

In the study of the book of Acts you can see that the early Church grew, and continued to grow.  It grew not because of the men who  had given their lives to following Jesus Christ; but it grew due to the power of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit within and upon them.

One of the chief apostles named in the book of Acts is first introduced in the Acts of the Holy Spirit book.  It is God who increases His Church.  It is God who regenerates those who come to Him.  It is God who keeps the Church growing even in 2017.

After Paul had arrived in Rome many Jews (at Paul’s invitation) came to him to question him concerning the charges against him from Jerusalem.  They wanted to hear what he preached and taught…

“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.” Acts 28:23-24 (KJV)

The apostle spoke clearly of the place of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel from the Law and the Prophets all day long.

Paul believed the gospel.  He lived the gospel,  He proclaimed the gospel and God blessed, and gave results.

Sadly, today’s Church is much weaker in stature, faith, and power with God; yet God is still redeeming souls, regenerating them, and bringing us into His kingdom.

The Church today needs the Spirit of God at work; not entertainment, or showmanship from its pastor, music director, or any other director.  That is fire under the altar (1 Kings 17).  Let us call on the fire of God to come down on us.

We must have the power of God for perseverance.  We need to be servants of God first; then willing to serve others as well.  When we are in the will of God through His Spirit, His word, and in prayer then we will have peace.

The Church today needs to understand that all provisions will come from God for His work and ministry to progress.  In the early Church every member was provided for due to persecution (Christians were losing their employment, their homes, etc.), and those who were able made donations for the cause of helping those who suffered.  God provided the need for the apostle Paul to get to Rome.  He also provided encouragement for Paul by giving him friends.

Too many times the Church today, and their preachers do not challenge the opposition of the gospel.  Paul did.  He called them to come and hear what he had to say, and they came.  Some of them “Believed” and some of them did not.  Are we too afraid of being turned down?  When we present the gospel, and it is rejected it is not us who is being rejected; it is in fact Jesus being resisted.

Now, Church, is not the time to stop preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is time to preach it clearly, with the power of the Spirit unlike any other time.  It is time for Christians to rise up and say in public places “I believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God, and God the Living Son”, then live like we are children of the King of kings.

The preaching of the gospel must continue, be unending until that day when we see Jesus face to face.  Paul could have said, “I am a prisoner. What can I do”, but he did not he preached the gospel.  His heart was set on Jesus, because Jesus was his treasure (Matthew 6:21).  He preached with confidence; not in his own abilities, but with confidence that God fulfilled every word He has ever spoken, and will continue to do so.  Though in prison Paul was free.

Although the book of Acts is a book of history we can also get the way the Lord would have us operated His Church.  To operate any other way would not be a New Testament Church.

The Lord’s way is 1) Jesus is the Head;  2) The Body submits to His Lordship;  3) We are to operate as one even as Jesus and the Father are One;  4) We are to walk in the Spirit of Christ Jesus.

Avoiding Shipwreck

The following thoughts are not original with me.  I heard it from another preacher, teacher, and apply my own thoughts and words to it; with the exception of the verses of Scripture.

Avoiding tragedy is not always possible, but if we would keep our eyes open, and our ears attentive we could see the way God is working, and hear His words of warning.

If we, like the men on board, the captain of the ship as well as the crew, with Paul ignore the warning, we have put ourselves in great danger.  The danger these had gotten into was life threatening to all on board the ship.  Paul was on  his way to stand trial in Rome, and he was going there by ship through the Med.

There are some great spiritual, as well as practical truths we can learn from these verses in chapter 27, and the journey by ship through the Med Sea.

“Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, and said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.” Acts 27:9-14 (KJV)

From verse 9 we can learn that there is danger in being impatient.  Impatience can definitely endanger life.  As Christians it shows a lack of trust and unbelief in God’s providence, and His knowing what is best for His children.

See Proverbs 3:5-6 and Isaiah 40:31

Secondly we can learn that not all expert advice is godly or right (Acts 27:11).  The “Expert” may know the natural, but not the supernatural power of God.  The centurion was being a good soldier, and trusted the ship master and the owner, but did not believe the servant of God.  Check out 1 Corinthians 1:20-21.  Many an expert has been wrong.  God is never wrong.  See Luke 5:3-6.

Third, the places we may see of no comfort, may be a place of refuge (v. 12).  Comfort may be a peril of its own.  We Christians, especially in the U. S. of A.  are addicted to our comforts.  Comforts can draw us away from our faith which must be continually growing.  Killing our peace of heart and mind.  We must learn to be content with however God blesses us.  Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

Fourth, following majority opinion may not be the direction God would have us take (v. 12).  Sometimes, if there is even one who is in disagreement; that one individual may be the one who is being led by the Spirit of God.  To make life changing decisions, even life saving decisions, and for growth, there should be “All in one accord” within the body of Christ (Acts 2:1).

Fifth,  favorable circumstances may be a sign of worse to come (v. 13).  Such times are times to be aware, and alert to other possibilities.  There are times to remain where we are; to stay put and not weigh anchor.  We must learn that judging by circumstances; whether good or bad can be disastrous.  Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-10.

Sixth, the surest way to avoid shipwreck (v. 10).  Listen to God’s word, from God’s messenger.  Pay attention to the signs.  Delays in schedule.  Some of these may be “Closed doors”.  Remember that God knows what is best.

Though the ship master and owner did not listen to Paul, God’s servant, they made it to safety by the grace and providence of Almighty God.  The ship wrecked, but all were saved alive, by following the direction the apostle Paul gave through the Spirit of God (vv. 31, 43, 44). Blessed be the name of the Lord.

The Prisoner of the Lord

During Paul’s life as a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ he was beaten, and left for dead; he was whipped; he was shipwrecked; he suffered at the words of false brethren, and he endured it all for Christ sake.

My heart’s desire is that I could have that said of me.  Someone could say it, but would it be true?  It is true of Paul.  Everything that happened should be seen as the closing or opening of a door by the Lord as He directs our paths.  That is the way  Paul viewed things. He was truly a PRISONER OF THE LORD.

“And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Acts 23:10-11 (KJV)

The prisoner of the Lord often encounters problems with the religious crowd.  The Sadducees, and the Pharisees were united against the apostle at first.  Then Paul realized their differences, he used that to proclaim the truth of the gospel of Christ (Acts 23:6).  At issue was the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If Jesus is alive then the religion that crucified Him is greatly in error.  One group did not believe in resurrection, or anything spiritual.  These religions who are stuck on religion, but not the truth completely miss out on Christ Jesus and the salvation that is available to all who will believe.

In verse 11 where the Lord speaks to Paul giving him assurance that he will go to Rome and be a witness of the resurrection of Jesus.  He receives a message for the Lord that he might be courageous.  It is also a message of commendation for ministry and the power of the Holy Spirit within him and upon him.  Can you imagine what this did for Paul’s confidence?  Wonders.

When people do not like the truth being spoken they will more often than not attack the one speaking it (vv. 12-22).  Get this in your heads:  The messenger is not the one making you the way you are.  The truth often hurts, and if the truth makes you angry then you are the problem.

These are some who hate the truth; no matter where it comes from.  They are blind to the providence, and sovereignty of God.  Enraged mobs are thoughtless and heartless.

Some things we can learn from chapter 23 of Acts:

  1. Most times God uses what some would call “Unapparent means”;
  2. God uses time, that seems wasted, as a time for ministry to others;
  3. God uses people to accomplish His ways.

The following are the persons He uses:

  • The government;
  • The rebellious;
  • Satan;
  • Willing servants.

Let us be willing to trust the Lord.  Trust Him in such a way that He will work in our lives changing us, then work through us to change the lives of others.  Every open door should be viewed as an opportunity provided by God unless by going through it you would be violating His Word, His Spirit, or your conscience.

Continuing the Work of the Resisted Cross

The world today needs the cross of Jesus Christ just as the days of the past.  ‘Today is the day of salvation” not tomorrow.  Today.  We as Christians have the most urgent message for people; men, women, children, and their families to get our of their condemnation of sin through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

Today is not the day to cease.  Today is the day of salvation…

“And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22 (KJV)

Christian as we look at the above verses we see the early Christian and their leaders never ceased preaching.  They just moved on.  They moved on to other places, and sometimes they may have stayed where they were.

We read of Paul (who had been Saul who hated the gospel of Christ) being stoned, and they supposed to death, and drug out of the city (14:19-20).  Then, Paul got up and went to another city.  Why did he go to another city?  To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  O for the passion of Paul for Jesus and His love.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s love for us on display at the cross where Jesus bled and died for our sins.  He was buried in a tomb, and three days later arose from that grave alive.

Nothing real good comes without a price.  We are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23).  It cost me nothing.  It cost you nothing.  God paid the price for you; because we do not have the price to pay.  The price for sin is death, and if we were to pay our own sin debt through death, then there would be no eternity except Hell’s fire.

As a Christian today we are called to live the gospel, spread the gospel, share the gospel, preach the gospel.  Where?  Wherever we may be.  What ever we may be doing.

Notice Luke’s words in the verses… “exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”  No one; not even Jesus ever said that the Christian life would be easy, but we are told “Through much tribulation…”  “In the world you will have tribulation”; and “Yea all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (John 16:33;  2 Timothy 3:12).

Just as with the early Church, so too in the Church today, where there is trial, persecution, or tribulation because of the cross of Jesus Christ God will be blessing and increasing the kingdom

On this Valentine’s Day start it off right by loving the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength; because that is how He loves you.

Religions Resistance

There are many times when the message of Christ is clearly presented that there will be resistance, even persecution, because the gospel of Christ turns religion upside down.  It is as true in 2017 as in the days of the apostles of Jesus.

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 13:46-52 (KJV)

Paul and Barnabas were in a town where there was a Jewish synagogue, and they went there to fulfill the word of God, “To the Jew first…”.  They were made bold by the power of the Holy Spirit within them and upon them.

They had shared the history of the people of Israel; reminding them of the power of God on the people, His love, His grace, His mercy; upon the people in their journey in the wilderness.  All these as well with the Judges and the Kings of Israel, and how the LORD had called the Jews to be the messengers of God to the whole world.

Religion of men seeks to control men, women and children, and keeps people in bondage of sin.  Christianity, following Jesus frees men, women and children from the bondage, death, and scourge of sin.

What should the messenger of Christ do when opposed by the religious elite?  Do as Paul and Barnabas did.  Keep on preaching, teaching, living for the Lord.  “Shake the dust off your feet”, and go on doing the work of the ministry.

Jesus Christ – Our Sufficiency (2)

Colossians 2:16-23

 OUTLINE –

I. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE THINGS THAT WERE SHADOWS (vv. 16-17).

II. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE WHO HAVE PUFFY MINDS (v. 18).

III. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE TO GROW IN FAITH (v. 19).

IV. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THE LEGALISTS, THE MYSTICS, AND THE ASCETICS WHO PROJECT THEMSELVES AS BEING CLOSER TO GOD (vv. 20-23).

It seems as we get deeper into the teachings of the apostle Paul to the Church at Colossae that we find how relevant the teaching is for Christians and local churches in our day.

People can get hung up on “Days”, “Moons”, and “Sabbaths”, as though that were the thing to gain one’s favor with God. There can also be a problem with legalism among Christians of our day. There is a growing problem of the “Mysticism” within many of our modern churches which call themselves Christians, who put as great an emphasis; or greater; on their experience as upon the Scriptures. When will Christians learn that Jesus is enough? He is all we need. There is enough of Him to go around, and at the cross where He died the ground is level.

Then, there are those who want to “Do without” to appear holy. They will fast, and let everyone know they are doing so. They will speak lowly of themselves before other people, but yet are very full of themselves; priding themselves in their “Humility”. These have not come to the place of humbling themselves before the God of Heaven and earth. They have not met this personal, merciful, loving God. When one meets God you fall on your face before Him and you are humbled by His presence and glory.

In the church at Colossae, these who were “Holy” and above others, by their own behavior; were even worshipping angels. It was the apostle John who fell down on his face before an angel, and the angel demanded that John arise, “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” Rev. 22:9. They were or soon would be leading the church at Colossae, and Laodicea astray from the worship of God. Don’t you suppose that the reason Paul wrote to the Galations, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9) was partly for this reason.

JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE THINGS THAT WERE SHADOWS (vv. 16-17). Jesus – the One who casts the shadows. This ought to be particularly meaningful for the time of year we are in. Our annual celebration of the Nativity – the Birth of Jesus Christ – or Christmas as we have all become accustomed to calling it.

It is almost a sin in some people’s eyes if you do not send out cards. It is a sin to not buy anyone Christmas gifts. God forbid if you do not spend enough on . Whose Birthday are we celebrating?, and who gets gifts at their birthday? It is Jesus’s Birthday, and He is the one who should get the gifts. Right or wrong?

In my thinking Easter is the most meaningful, because He died and rose again, and that is how we readily remember Him. Of course, some will say, “Well He had to be born, before He could die for our sins”, and I would agree with that. Why was He born? He was born to die. Die for the sins of mankind.

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with remembering the birth of our Savior. We do need to remember, that, we do not really know what day He was born, but it is my belief that it would have been Spring or Summer, maybe closer to the day of “Passover”. My reason for believing that is that the shepherds were in the fields watching their sheep. It is not likely that they would have been out on a Winter’s evening. It makes little to no difference as long as we give Him the worship and glory in this day; that we should every other day.

Paul tells the people, “Be satisfied in Jesus – He is your sufficiency”, and “Do not let these others judge you”. The days, the feast, the moons Paul speaks of were shadows of Christ Jesus. We do not need shadows any longer. We have the very substance.

JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE WHO HAVE PUFFY MINDS (v. 18). “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind…” We can see by this verse that the Gnostics who were the mystics, the “Righteous”, and “Closest to God” were really not righteous at all, were teaching lies to lead Christians away from true doctrine; especially the doctrine of Christ as God in flesh.

These “Know-It-Alls” prided themselves in their “Humility”. They made little of themselves; may have said things like, “O I am nothing”, yet exhibited great pride over their humility. It is surely a good saying, “Humility is a funny thing, when you think you have it; you don’t”. I do not remember where I first heard that, but it is true. We are not to make little of ourselves. We are to make much of our God and Savior. Look what Jesus has done for us. Think of the cross. Think of His burial. Think of His resurrection. Think of Him as who He is – our Creator. Before Him we all pail in comparison. We have no need of tearing ourselves down, but we do have need of building Him up.

I have heard Christians, both preachers and others who are speaking publicly say, “I am nothing. I do not deserve to be here”. My thoughts when I here that is, ‘No! You don’t, and I don’t either, but get on to the One you are here to talk about. He is worthy”. For some reason we spend too much time belittling ourselves, and not enough time lifting Him up. Could it be that in our ‘False humility’ we are seeking the approval of others? That was the goal of the Gnostic – mystics, and such.

Jesus is our sufficiency over puffed up minds.

JESUS IS SUFFICIENT FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE TO GROW IN FAITH (v. 19). “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God”. There is a right way to grow in faith of the Lord Jesus. It is not through mystic experiences, public self humiliation, or in ‘legalism’ which is basically the use of the law to gain salvation, or for the keeping of one’s salvation.

It is God’s calling that every Christian grow in faith, and knowledge of Him in the right way. John MacArthur writes, “We, like the Colossians, must not be intimidated by those who would make something other than knowing Christ through His Word a requirement for spiritual maturity. Christ is all sufficient, ‘seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence’ (2 Peter 1:3)”. From The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Colossians pg. 122.

JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THE LEGALISTS, THE MYSTICS, AND THE ASCETICS WHO PROJECT THEMSELVES AS BEING CLOSER TO GOD (vv. 20-23). “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,  (Touch not; taste not; handle not;  Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?  Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh”. The life of the Christian is free from the ordinances, and manmade rules that so quickly bind, and enslave those who practice them.

By the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross, all the things that were shadows of Jesus became meaningless. Jesus was/is the real thing. He is the reality of the photograph. Anyone who would honor the ordinances, laws, days, and Sabbaths over the fulfillment is floating in the wrong boat, without motor or paddle, headed over a waterfall to destruction. Those who are trusting their own experience over the truth of God’s Word is deceived, deceptive, and living toward destruction. Those who are dependent upon their own “Humility”, their asceticism, are beating themselves to death for no reason.

Jesus is sufficient – He fulfilled the Law. Jesus is sufficient – the Word of God tells us about Him, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10b). How can there be any more? Jesus is sufficient – There is no need of false piety, false humility, and depriving one’s self to gain the honor of men. Jesus is the One who deserves all the honor, glory and praise.

Just as the Gnostics tried to lord over the churches by trying to appear more ‘spiritual’ so there are those in churches today who say they have ‘spiritual’ experiences which draw many people’s attention. Who is getting the attention? He or she is usually oooohed and aaaaahed and counted as being really spiritual. Who is getting the glory?

JESUS CHRIST IS OUR SUFFICIENCY. In Him we must glory. We must count our life’s gain but loss. We count Christ everything. Quoting the nineteenth century Scottish preacher Alexander McClaren, John MacArthur writes, “Any asceticism is a great deal more to men’s taste than abandoning self. They will rather stick hooks in their backs and do the ‘swinging poojah’ than give up their sins and yield up their wills. There is only one thing that will put the collar on the neck of the animal within us and that is the power of the indwelling Christ. Ascetic religion is godless, for its practitioners essentially worship themselves. As such, we are not to be intimidated by it.” IBID.

These things, are perversions of the truth. They replace Christ with self. JESUS CHRIST – OUR SUFFICIENCY.

Jesus Christ – Our Sufficiency

Colossians 2:10-15

OUTLINE –

I. SUFFICIENT IN THE ONE WHO IS SUPREME OVER ALL (v. 10).
II. SUFFICIENCY IN THE PUTTING AWAY OF THE FLESH BY JESUS CHRIST (vv.11-12).
III. SUFFICIENT IN FORGIVENESS, RESURRECTION LIFE, PUTTING AWAY THE ORDINANCES OF MEN, TRIUMPHING OVER THEM OPENLY (vv. 13-15).

The whole of the book of Colossians is about the first place, the preeminence of Jesus Christ. One of the greatest things about being a Christian is “Being in Christ” and He being in us. When we are in Him we have His assurance that He is Lord of all; and that does not mean only of ourselves, but of those who want to exalt themselves over Him. Those who hate Jesus and you and myself.

If there is one thing that Christians of our day need to see clearer than anything else is that Christ is SUFFICIENT to meet our every need. He is our every need.

HE IS SUFFICIENT – THE ONE WHO IS SUPREME OVER ALL (v. 10). In Jesus we are “filled full of God”. When we are walking in Jesus our Savior there is no more of Him that can be in us, than, who is in us. Even when we are not walking in Him; He is still filling us full of Himself; it is due to our sin that He is not being seen, and that we are not being victorious in Him.

Jesus is the Supreme One. He rules over all. Even when the rulers – kings, presidents, prime ministers, dictators, etc. – do not yield to God He is still supreme, and His will is carried through. God is not surprised by our decisions against Him, for Him, nor is He surprised by our indecisions.

In order for us – the Christian – to have Jesus seen in our lives and for you and I to have victory also, we must endeavor to walk in Him. We do that by maintaining our daily devotions, Bible reading, Prayer, and Planning to live for Him in love.

Jesus is sufficient to give us the power, grace, mercy and strength to live for Him. We were not saved in our own strength. We cannot maintain our faith, keep our faith or grow our faith in our strength. It is by His. In Him alone we must trust and obey.

HE IS SUFFICIENT IN THE PUTTING AWAY OF THE FLESH (vv. 11-12). In the Hebrew’s culture circumcision was a sign of one’s commitment to God. It showed in symbol the cutting away of sin from the life. It of itself, was a bloody act, and we know that because Moses’s wife Zipporah told him, “Surely a bloody husband you are to me”. Moses had been forty years in the wilderness taking care of his father-in-laws herds and flocks, and evidently had forgotten about the circumcision part of his commitment. On the way to Egypt, while they stopped at an “Inn” to spend the night; God “Sought to kill” Moses, and somehow it occurred to Zipporah to circumcise their son. Thus was God’s anger toward Moses stayed.

Sin is a serious matter. We all sometimes make silly little jokes concerning sinful matters, but sin is a serious matter. With God there is no joking about sin. It must be cut away and it must be put away. Christ’s death was the cutting away of sin, His burial was the putting away of sin, and His resurrection is the cancellation of all sin’s power. In Leviticus 16 there is a picture of the putting away, or carrying away of sin. There were two goats brought to the door of the tabernacle. Aaron would ‘cast lots’ to determine which goat would be for the sacrifice to the LORD, and which would be the scapegoat. These goats represent the cutting away of sin, and the putting away of sin. The one offered as a sacrifice was the cutting away of sin, and the scapegoat was the putting away of sin. They both represent the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and His burial. The picture of these goats as representative of the work of Christ shows Him as a sin bearer – sin that was not His, but ours.

The ‘scapegoat’ was led into the wilderness, after the sins were pictorially placed on the goat, and some tell us was cast over the edge of a cliff, or something like that, and that goat was never seen again. Thus, once again there is the picture of sins being put away. How far has our sin been put away from us? “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” Ps. 103:12 (KJV). How deep are our sins buried to never surface again? “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” Micah 7:19 (KJV). In the burial of Jesus our sins were carried away and Jesus arose bodily from the grave. We are buried with Him in His burial, and risen with Him in His resurrection. It is certain. It is sure. By the resurrection of Jesus He showed the conquering of sin’s power which is death.

HE IS SUFFICIENT IN FORGIVENESS, RESURRECTION LIFE, PUTTING AWAY THE ORDINANCES OF MEN, TRIUMPHING OVER THEM OPENLY (vv. 13-15). Having been dead in ‘trespasses and sin’ we have been made alive in Jesus Christ, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” Eph. 2:4-6. The word ‘quickened’ means to “make alive”.

Verse 13 tells us three things which happen upon one’s conversion through Christ Jesus; having been dead – 1) We are made alive; 2) We are with Him; and 3) We have been forgiven ‘all trespasses’. Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, all our sins are washed away; never to be held against us. That is, considering that the sinner has sought repentance, and has received forgiveness and cleansing in the first place.

In verse 14 Paul writes of ‘blotting out the handwriting of ordinances…’, and that they ‘was against us’. These laws did condemn us. Verse 17 reveals to us that these things were or ‘are’ ‘a shadow of things to come’. All the written laws, the sacrificial laws, ceremonial laws were pictures, shadows, types of the coming of the Lord Jesus. He fulfilled all of these, by His death on the cross. By His death on the cross these ordinances are forever powerless to cause guilt, fear, or condemnation. The work these portrayed has been done. It is finished. They were nailed to the cross with Jesus.

In verse 15 it speaks of spoiling the ‘principalities and powers’ and that ‘He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.’. The Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees all used the law to try and condemn Jesus. By the abuse of their laws they did condemn Him to death, but He arose victorious over death, doing so openly, and being also victorious over the powers that be.

Philosophy or Christ

Colossians 2:1-9

Philosophy is defined in The Mirriam/Webster Dictionary [Pocket edit] as, “A critical study of fundamental beliefs and the grounds for them”. Here is the definition from the old Webster Dictionary, “PHILOS’OPHY, n. [L. philosophia; Gr. love, to love, and wisdom.]

1. Literally, the love of wisdom. But in modern acceptation, philosophy is a general term denoting an explanation of the reasons of things; or an investigation of the causes of all phenomena both of mind and of matter. When applied to any particular department of knowledge, it denotes the collection of general laws or principles under which all the subordinate phenomena or facts relating to that subject, are comprehended. Thus, that branch of philosophy which treats of God, &c. is called theology; that which treats of nature, is called physics or natural philosophy; that which treats of man is called logic and ethics, or moral philosophy; that which treats of the mind is called intellectual or mental philosophy, or metaphysics. The objects of philosophy are to ascertain facts or truth, and the causes of things or their phenomena; to enlarge our views of God and his works, and to render our knowledge of both practically useful and subservient to human happiness. True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle.” To put the meaning into a shorter definition, mine, it would be the study of ideas concerning God, morality, man, and nature.

While taking a class on Philosophy at Boyce Bible School in Louisville, Kentucky in 1977 I quickly learned that not all people, and supposedly christian professors, believed the Bible. The teacher I had relegated the teaching of Genesis to allegorical hodge podge. There was no seven day creation, there was no Adam and Eve, they were only allegorical; having only a ‘spiritual’ meaning. That was back in the days when liberalism was running the Southern Baptist seminaries. It is not philosophy that declares these things to be true. It is God’s Word that declares an actual Adam, and a living Eve – made from the rib of Adam – walked with God in the garden of Eden. The philosophies of men will almost always deny the truths of God’s Word, or relegate them to allegorical meaning. The use of allegory itself can be good and helpful in understanding a thought or idea. Jesus used allegory in His teaching, such as, “A sower went forth to sow” (Matthew 13:3). As a matter of fact He used many of them.

The apostle Paul “Struggled” much with what was going on in the Colossians church and the church at Laodicea. The word used here is the word “agony”; “agōn

ag-one’

From G71; properly a place of assembly (as if led), that is, (by implication) a contest (held there); figuratively an effort or anxiety: – conflict, contention, fight, race.”

OUTLINE –

I. STRUGGLING OVER THE ISSUES FACING THE CHURCHES OF THE COLOSSIANS AND LAODICEA (vv. 1-3).
II. ENCOURAGING WORDS AGAINST ENTICING WORDS OF MEN (vv. 4-5).
III. WALKING, ROOTED, BUILT UP, AND STABLISHED WITH THANKSGIVING (vv.6-7).
IV. BEWARE OF BEING LED AWAY FROM BIBLICAL TEACHINGS AND FROM CHRIST (v. 8).
V. JESUS IS ALL WE NEED (v. 9).

STRUGGLING OVER THE ISSUES FACING THE CHURCHES (vv. 1-3) Paul agonizes in prayer. We have looked at the prayer pretty extensively in verses 9 – 14. He is concerned for them. These Gnostic “Know-It-Alls” coming in denying the only Lord and Savior.

Some would argue that statement, “Denying the only Lord and Savior”, but by declaring the heresies they declare, such as; God and flesh cannot dwell together; that God created a little god, who created a littler god; who, thus created an even littler god; and created an even littler teeny god, who created all that we see. This final one being the Jesus who created and sustains all things; is out and out heresy, and it is not the Jesus Paul preaches, nor the One Whom I know.

To his letter to the Galation church Paul warned of “another gospel”, which would be ‘another Jesus’ (Gal. 1:6-10). The Jesus I know and the One whom Paul writes of is truly the divine Son of God. He has been with the Father always. Is just as much God as is the Father, and He became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).

Is it important that we declare the Jesus of Paul and warn about the teachings of some who deny the Lord Christ Jesus by saying He was and is not the incarnate God? If people are to know the one true God who is the sovereign Lord of all creation, who rules in the hearts of men, who sustains all things by the word of His power, who died for our sins, was buried and rose again, and is returning for His Bride; then YES! That is the Jesus we must preach. The people of the world will not perish as in some future fire, they are currently perishing, and will continue to perish in that future fire, unless they come to this glorious Savior.

Words of comfort are extended to the church. Their hearts knit together in love for Christ Jesus and for one another. Dr. J. Vernon McGee writes,

“Unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding.’ ‘Full assurance is an interesting expression; it literally means ‘to be under full sail.’ It means that believers should be moving along spiritually – they should be moving along for God.”
FROM pg. 150 of THRU THE BIBLE COMMENTARY SERIES The Epistles Philippians and Colossians.

As far as the mystery spoken of here it would make perfect sense to say that Jesus Christ is the Revelation of this ‘Mystery’. In Christ are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and the Church is the Body of Christ where that wisdom and knowledge abides.

ENCOURAGING WORDS AGAINST ENTICING WORDS OF MEN (vv. 4-5). Would to God that all that professes to be the church would be holding steadfastly to the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, there are many people who are in religious cults and even within legitimate religious organizations and like churches who believe they have an inside connection with God and all things spiritual. The thing that makes them in error is that they believe their experience with “God” overrules what Scripture says. Every believer in Jesus Christ has an “inside connection” with God. It is called faith in Jesus Christ, prayer, the reading and study of God’s Word the Bible. Anyone who declares themselves to have a better or stronger connection to God apart from the written Word of God should be placed on your “BEWARE” list. Such as anyone who says they have been to Heaven, and what they say is more than the Bible says, and not what the Bible says, thus placing more authority on their “vision” or “dream” than upon God’s Word.

These are the “Philosophies of men” and should be open to scrutiny from every child of God. This letter from Paul says to the Christians at Colossae, and to the Christians of Laodicea that they have a great “stedfastness of … faith in Christ”. There is no hope in mysticism and that is what those special “Connections” with God really are. All Christians have a special connection with God. You can talk to Him. You have power with Him when you pray. You can know His will for your life by reading and studying His Word; you cannot leave all the study and reading up to the pastor, or to just one day a week, or month, or year. Get in the Word. Get in prayer. Get in the Spirit of God through Jesus Christ.

Have you noticed how gullible some professing Christians are to such stories as, “I Saw Heaven”, or “I Was In Hell”, or “How I Journeyed To Israel Without Leaving Home” – as far as I know these are all made up titles [Mine]. If I wrote anything on these telling you these had happened to me I could probably entice many people, but it would not be true.

Paul could not be with the people to whom he is writing, but he was with them in spirit, and he was serious about that. The testimony of Epaphras was what Paul was speaking from. He was encouraged by what he heard of them.

WALKING, ROOTED, BUILT UP, AND STABLISHED WITH THANKSGIVING (vv.6-7). Walking is an average exercise. It is not real strenuous, nor real tiring. The average, fairly healthy individual can walk all day long, with occasional rest stops, of course. If you doubt that just go to a mall and watch the people walking around; as a matter of fact; just look at yourself. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (v. 6).

You can walk longer than you can run. Do you not imagine that is why the picture of walking is used in Scripture of a life that continues with the Lord. It is said of Enoch that he “Walked with God”. It is also said of Noah. As far as I have been able to see no other character of the Bible has that said of them. However, it is mentioned many times in the New Testament, and in this present verse, “Walk ye in Him”. We are told to be “Filled with the Spirit”. These are all speaking of the same thought. If you are walking with God you are filled with the Spirit. If you are filled with the Spirit you are walking with God. If you are filled with the Spirit and walking with God you are walking in Christ Jesus. “Walking” has for it the matter of endurance. Walk in Christ. Walk with God. Be filled with the Spirit. One more, Walk in the Spirit. It does not involve mysticism.

“Rooted” has to do with stability. When something is rooted it is planted to stay. When we are “In Christ” it is to stay. We must root ourselves in the practice of daily Bible reading and study, prayer, and all the things Christians ought to do. As the Psalmist says in the first Psalm, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Ps. 1:3). This tree the Psalmist speaks of is rooted in good soil, next to a good water supply. The foundation of a building is its ‘root’, firmly planted.

For the Church; Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone which sets the size and shape of the building. The foundation is then the apostles and prophets, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20). The Church and the individual Christian is built up by walking with Jesus, and is in the process of being built up. Jesus alone determines the numbers and direction of the Church. There will be one final “living stone” placed to complete it. SEE 1 PETER 2:4-6.

To be “Stablished in the faith” you are rooted and built up accomplishing the Lord’s purposes for your life and walk with Him. It is a life of “super abundance” ie., abundance of the Lord’s presence, power, glory, with wisdom and knowledge, and especially a life of thanksgiving. Be thankful for the many abundant blessings of our God and Savior.

BEWARE OF BEING LED AWAY FROM BIBLICAL TEACHINGS AND FROM CHRIST (v. 8). The “Philosophy” spoken of here is “Reasoning that is sound in appearance only”. It may sound good, but is really full of holes. The reasoning of the Gnostics may have made sense, but it does not fit with the teachings of God, godliness, and truth of God’s Word.

Philosophy itself is to find the answers to questions we as the human being asks. Questions such as, “Who am I?”, “Where did I come from?”, “Why am I here?”, “Where am I going?”, and “How do I get there?”. Those questions are answered through thinking and philosophy gives an answer. It is actually an attempt to answer. Mankind offers many philosophies. Probably as many as there are people.

There is, however, only one correct answer, and God gives us the answer. The philosophy of the evolutionist to the first question above, is “You are the product of chance. You are nothing more than an animal with a little intellect.” God’s answer to that question is, “You are the special creation of God’s created order, made in My image and likeness”. Which of those answers fit with the Word of God? Of course, the latter of the two.

The way we are to guard our lives, our hearts, our minds is what was said in the previous point; “Walk in Christ” – study His Word, hide it in your heart, live by it; pray fervently, diligently; be a vibrant witness for Christ. Live, as you grow in Christ, live like Jesus.

JESUS IS ALL WE NEED (v. 9). In Christ Jesus is “Housed permanently” the fullness of God. There is a absolutely nothing lacking. Because there is nothing lacking in the person of Jesus of the Godhead He is all we need.

The philosophies of men may deny it. They can teach and preach against it. The false science of the day may even have “evidence” against it, but the Word of the Lord is the test. The Word of the Lord says to us clearly and without exception Jesus is “The fullness of the Godhead bodily”. When you trust Jesus you trust the Father. When you call on Jesus you are calling on the Father. When you pray in Jesus’s name you are calling on the Father’s will to be done. When we walk, live in the Spirit we are walking in Jesus.

Jesus is all I need. Jesus is all you need. Jesus is all this world needs. The “traditions” and “rudiments” of men are not trustworthy and certainly cannot show one the way of eternal life. Only Jesus can. PHILOSOPHY OR CHRIST. That is really your choice. Jesus Christ is FIRST PLACE

Day Three Hundred Forty and Seven

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to no longer be selfish, or self promoting; I want my heart and mind to want what my Creator wants; for myself and for all His creation.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galations 2:20 (NKJV)

Clothing Makes a Difference

“Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honour and majesty.” Psalm 104:1 (KJV)

We live in a sloppy dressing culture.  Young “men” wear jeans or pants halfway down their buttocks, showing their underwear.  Women; young and old wear dresses and blouses with tops which tell us “Look here”, then complain when a man looks.  I do not mean to be brash, rude, or ugly, but let us face it “Clothing makes a difference”.

Clothes shows one’s character.  In the above verse it is glorifying God, our LORD.  Jehovah the one and only God worthy of our worship and praise.

What is the clothing of God to show His character?  He is dressed in honor and majesty.  He is great in grandeur, in His presence; He is of royal appearance.

Have you noticed that many are interested in the royal family of Britain?  Have you also noticed that they dress as royalty probably ought?  Well, God is the greatest of all royalty, and He has called us to Himself, and made us royal; a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).  Be clothed with the honor and majesty of the One who gives us life.  His name is Jesus.

The apostle Paul said,

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Romans 13:14

Thanks, and Thanks Again

“Unto Thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto Thee do we give thanks: for that Thy name is near Thy wondrous works declare.” Psalm 75:1 (KJV)

One day a year the United States of America has a day of Thanksgiving.  I believe a few other Nations also have a day of Thanksgiving some time in the year.

It is an awesome thing to thank the LORD God.  He is worthy of our thanksgiving and our praise.  Are you a grateful person?  Do you thank God every morning as you get out of bed for a new day; for the chance to start over?  Do you thank Him for the sunrise, or do you curse it?  If you curse the new day, you are guaranteed a rough day.

All it takes for the child of God to be thankful is not out of obedience, but seeing the glories of God’s creation around us.  His works do declare that He is near.  Look at the birds as they soar, and fly through the air, and the sky.  Listen to them as they sing their praises every morning, and all day long.  Look at the wonders in the weather; the beauty, and the purity of the snow, falling and covering all the imperfections that are on the ground and in the trees.  Thank Him.

For the Christian thanks is the way to begin the day, and end the day.  It is even the way to live through the day.

As the apostle Paul has written,

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Confidence and/or Confusion

“In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.” Psalm 71:1 (KJV)

The LORD is the place for our trust.  We far too often place our trust, our confidence in our own abilities.  We are blessed, and we are a blessing unto the Lord Jehovah when we affirm with our words of prayer and praise that our trust is in Him.  That is what the Psalmist is affirming here.

Will I daily; and will you daily affirm with me that our trust is in the LORD?  I pray that you will, and speak it loudly to Him, and show it loudly to Him and the rest of the world as well.

If we will not walk with Him, putting our trust, our confidence in Him and His Word then we will be put to confusion.  Confusion is not of God.  The apostle Paul has written,

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

When a professing Christian is not putting their trust in God, but walking after their own lust, and passions they will be confused, there will be confusion in the world concerning what Christianity is; and it is quite obvious we have that today.  Trusting the LORD means believing His word, and living according to what He says, not what the rest of the world is living and saying.

Have confidence in the LORD and His Word; and you will not be confused.

Communication With GOD

“Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not Thyself from my supplication.” Psalm 55:1 (KJV)

In all of life communication is a necessity.  Many times if we would communicate with those who are an enemy we could solve many problems between us.

We communicate sometimes without words.  For instance when we are driving an automobile we use turn signals to let someone know we are making a turn.  We turn on our headlights even though we can see to let others see us on a cloudy, raining, inclement day.

God desires to communicate with His crown of creation.  God’s greatest and loudest communication with people is the death of His only Son on the cross.  He does, and has for centuries, even millenniums spoken through the Law and the Prophets, through His Word.  That is still the chief way that people can hear from God.

God has given to us a way of speaking with Him.  It begins by believing Him through Jesus Christ.  It is given to us to pray.  Prayer is our communication with Him.  The apostle Paul tells us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Our focus on GOD.

The Psalmist prays, “Give ear to my prayer, O God…”  Of this Matthew Henry wrote,

Prayer is a salve for every sore and a relief to the spirit under every burden: Give ear to my prayer, O God! Psa_55:1, Psa_55:2.

-Matthew Henry Commentary

Prayer is also our way of remaining in contact with the King in the spiritual warfare we fight (Ephesians 6:18).  We cannot fight without the armor, the sword of the Spirit, or without prayer.

In summary of this Matthew Henry has written,

If we, in our prayers, sincerely lay open ourselves, our case, our hearts, to God, we have reason to hope that he will not hide himself, his favours, his comforts, from us.

When we are in the Lord Jesus Christ, God does not hide from our supplications.

Veil on the Face

“And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.” Exodus 34:33-35 (KJV)

Moses would share with the people the words the LORD gave him.  He would speak as he was commanded to speak.  The words he spoke were not easy words; as the words of the LORD are not often easy.

When Moses would speak with Israel he wore a veil over his face.  On first appearance it would appear that Moses put the veil on his face to cover the glow of his countenance, that the people might not fear or cower in his appearance to them.  When we read Paul’s account of this in the New Testament we read,

“And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: but their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:13-16 (KJV)

The veil was on the face of Moses so they could not see the glory fading.  Yet, Paul says there is a veil on the hearts of the people of Israel, because they have refused to see Jesus as their Messiah.  Oh how I pray for the removal of that veil, that they might see Jesus, and we are informed by Scripture that one day they will “Look upon Him whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10;  John 19:37;  Revelation 1:7).  They will look and they will believe.

Turn, Oh turn to the Lord Jesus Christ; and live in His glory.  The glory of Christ does not fade away.

 

Day 82 – Spiritual Blessings

It could be said probably, that, everybody likes a blessing.  Those who do not believe in God, however, may not call it “Blessing”.  What would you have to be thankful for?  Who would you thank?  I do not have the answer.  My reading this morning was reading through Ephesians and Philippians.  Two Epistles [Letters] written by the apostle Paul with words of encouragement to the church of Ephesus and the church of Philippi.

To Ephesus Paul writes,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV)

It is one thing to bless God with words, such as the apostle does above; but how are we at blessing Him with our lives too.  Both are a part of the faithful Christian’s life.  We are to bless God by remembering His blessings to and upon us.

While Paul is addressing “Spiritual blessings” which involve the things that are in the following verses; “He has chosen us in Him”,  “Predestinated us unto the adoption of children…”,  “…We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…”.  He goes on and includes “…an inheritance”, and that “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise…”.  The spiritual blessings go on and on.

Those spiritual blessing work themselves out into living in this world and life.  If we do not live with these spiritual blessings; having thankfulness for them, then, we will most likely be a negative, bitter, envious, carnal individual; probably not a true Christian.  Do you realize your spiritual blessings?  Are you thankful for them?  Particularly for the grace given to us by the Father, putting His own Son to death on the cross, and raising Him again bodily from the grave?

In Ephesians we are told about grace.  It is by grace we are saved; plus nothing, minus nothing.

“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 chapter five we are admonished to “…Be filled with the Spirit”, not spirits; how husbands and wives are to respect and love one another, especially how the husband is love his wife as Christ loves the church, and gave Himself for her.  Children are to obey their parents, parents are not to “Provoke” their children (chapter 6).  Servants, even employees, are to serve their bosses as though they are serving Christ.

In Philippians we see that Jesus Christ was a man of humility; humbling Himself even to the death of the cross;

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  Philippians 2:5-8 (KJV)

It is one of the greatest spiritual blessings to know the God/Man who came to be with us and without sin, offer His life as an atonement for our sin, that we might be like Him.  Because of Him we have great cause for rejoicing, which the apostle addresses in the letter (4:4).

Let me end with just a note concerning the passing of a man of God.  Charles Colson who was the founder of Prison Fellowship and aided in many prison reforms; and many men and women coming to faith in Christ who were in prison; has gone home to be with Jesus.  Reading his book “Born Again” was a blessing to me.  I have also read several of his other books.   Thank God for men such as Charles Colson who devote their lives to the name and cause of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 81 – The Power of the Cross of Christ

There have been some wonderful photo shots of lightening of late.  There is a whole lot of power in each one of those bolts of light.  The  one’s who know those things could tell you how much, but I am coming up without any trivia on that except to know there is so much power that just one bolt can kill a man with one quick flash.  I know that because I had a cousin who was killed by lightening many years ago.

I am fascinated by lightening, and its power; yet I know at least  one greater Power.  He is the One who formed the Universe, and placed everything in unison, and precision.  This post is not about lightening however, it is about the power of the cross of Christ.

My reading this morning was 2 Corinthians 7 through Galations 6.

The apostle Paul had written this letter as an encouragement for their agreement with him concerning the sin of the young man of 1 Corinthians 5; his correction of the matter, and the young man’s coming around to repent, and now Paul has told them to receive the man back again into the fellowship.  He then, however, addresses another issue.

It seems that they are gullible for any persuasive teacher who might come to them with a different message –

“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”  2 Corinthians 11:1-4 (KJV)

He warns them of the deception of Satan who works through false apostles and teachers (11:13-15).  It seems to me that we live in the midst of many professing Christians who are believing and falling for anything in our day; and neglecting the power of the cross of Christ.  In the final chapter of Second Corinthians the apostle exhorts them to “Examine yourselves…” –

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”  13:5

Where Paul was concerned about the Corinthian church’s possibility of being deceived; we find that the Galatian church had fallen for the deception of the Jewish legalists. From May 18, 2011 through April 11, 2012 we studied the book of Galations at Carr Lane Baptist Church. Follow this link to the study notes for that Wednesday evening study.   Hear what the apostle says to the Galation church –

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, ‘If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.'” Galations 1:6-9 (KJV)

The Judaizers [legalists] had come in and were convincing the Gentile converts that they needed to practice Jewish law; especially the law of circumcision; or they could not be saved.  Paul is correcting this false teaching, this deceiving lie; and expressing with great conviction the power of the cross of Christ.  It is by the cross of Christ Jews and Gentiles are born again.  There is no law one needs to keep, no sacrament, no ordinance, one must keep in order to be saved.  By the cross of Christ you are saved.

The apostle has written,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  2:20

and also we read,

 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” Galations 6:14-16 (KJV)

For anyone who adds a sacrament, an ordinance, a law, unto grace; it ceases to become grace, and becomes a debt which God owes.  God owes no man anything.  He has purchased us with the blood of His own Son.  That is the power of the cross of Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 80 – Forgiveness

Yesterday’s post was about “Sin in the Church”.  Looking in First Corinthian at the Corinthians church was not much different than looking into the world; maybe even worse.  The apostle Paul confronted a situation which grieved his heart.  These were his spiritual children, and they were in the midst of tolerating the evil in their midst.

In a letter he confronts them; and tells them they need to deal with it, by putting the man out of the church.  In our day I have heard of lawsuits for such actions.  In my mind and heart the person who would file a lawsuit against the godly actions of a church, particularly if it is done with love and for the correction and return of the believer; that person is an unbeliever, and should be treated as such.

The second letter to Corinth is written on a much more encouraging scale.  It appears that the Corinthians have confronted the sin, and the man has indeed repented, and returned to right fellowship with God and now it is time the church forgave him;

“But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.  For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?  And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.  For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.  But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.  Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.   So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.  For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  2 Corinthians 2:1-11 (KJV)

He reminds them of the first letter, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears…”  They had also disciplined the man, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many” sounds as though the whole congregation, or at least most of them were up to the discipline.  That is a good thing.

Paul also  tells them to “forgive him” and welcome him back into the fellowship.  Forgiveness is awesome.  In John 8 the religious hierarchy catch a woman in the act of adultery and present her to Jesus to see what He would do with her – to condemn Him.  He tells them, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”, that was according to the law for stone throwers; that the witnesses be the first to throw the killing stones.  The accusers all went away, probably a feeling a bit foolish, maybe some a bit ashamed; we would hope.

“Where are your accusers?  Has no man condemned you?” Jesus asked the woman.  “No man , Lord”, she says.  Jesus tells the woman the words every sinner needs to hear, “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.”  Is there forgiveness in those words?  Most certainly.  If Jesus, the only one who could stone her, did not condemn her, then He forgave her.  Note the admonition, “Go, and sin no more”.

“There is therefore, now, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 79 – Sin in the Church

There is probably nothing more sure and clear than the title of this post.  “Sin in the Church”.  To ask, “Is there sin in our churches?” is a very unnecessary question.  Where there is a church without sin; it is of their own confession; and not the truth.  Besides where there is people there will be sin.  By that statement I do not mean to lessen the gravity and seriousness of sin in the church.

In my reading this morning of 1 Corinthians 3 – 12 it was quite apparent that the apostle is writing this church to confront a major problem they have.  First of all they seem just a bit proud of their “Spirituality” and “love” since they have tolerated an adulterous affair to continue to go on in their midst (chapter 5).

The apostle addresses their immaturity at first,

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”  1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (KJV)

We see there are other problems of sin within the congregation as well, “strife and divisions”, arguing and debating over who is the best preacher, and probably other things.  Too many times in today’s society Christians “wear their feelings on their sleeves”, are easily puffed up, easily knocked down,  and easily offended.  That is the height of immaturity.

Paul’s intent for writing this letter is not to shame or offend this people,

“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.  For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.  Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”  4:14-16

We live in a time where “Tolerance” is king.  At least much of laws are written with tolerance in mind.  What is the idea of tolerance?  The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Tolerance” –

1. the act or practice of tolerating; esp. : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from one’s own  2: capacity for enduring or adapting (as to a poor environment) 3: the allowable deviation from a standard (as of size).

Today’s tolerance police would be proud of the Corinthian church.  They loved this couple so very much, and were so very tolerant they were about to bring the wrath and judgment of God upon themselves, and the whole church.  The apostle was not pleased when he heard of this, and this very well could be the main reason for writing this letter; the “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak.  Hear what Paul told the church to do with the man:

 “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  5:4-8

If you will notice Paul’s concern was at least  in part for the man to be delivered from this grievous sin.  He was also very concerned with what it was doing and would continue doing if the rebelliousness and evil were not dealt with.

There is much to learn and hear for the guidance of the post modern church.  There is sin in the church today that needs to be dealt with.  I hear of adulterous affairs going on between couples within some local congregations; and if these sins and others are not dealt with then those churches will fall.

The first step in dealing with sin in the church is for each individual to keep their accounts short with God.  Read the Bible daily, hiding the word in your heart that you sin not against the LORD.  By taking heed to the Word of God their is cleansing and forgiveness.

To tolerate sin in one’s own life is not love; that is arrogance.  To tolerate sin within the church is not love, nor is it spiritual; it is pride and rebellion.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 78 – Paul, the Jew, the Corinthian, and the Christian

My reading today was finishing up Romans, reading chapters 8 – 16, and then beginning the Corinthian letters; reading chapters 1 and 2.

The apostle goes to great lengths in chapter 8 of Romans to show what the Christian has in Christ Jesus.  There is no condemnation.  It is such a wonderful thing to know that because of Christ death, burial and resurrection God does not condemn us.  Jesus said, “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).  The human race is already condemned due to sin, but God sent His Son.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  Romans 8:1 (KJV)

The Christian is “joint-heirs” with Christ, and though it does not sound too pleasant, and it is not to be; that includes suffering with Him-

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  8:16-18

In chapters 9-11 the apostle speaks of the nation of Israel and where they fit into God’s plan of salvation.  He even asks some questions which were probably being asked concerning Israel, and Jesus.  These chapters basically tell us that God is not finished with the nation of Israel; but that their initial rejection of Jesus and His crucifixion was in part to bring the Gentiles into the faith of Christ.  There is a promise that “Israel will be saved”,

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.   And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, ‘There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.’  As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Romans 11:25-29 (KJV)

In the First Corinthian Letter we find that the wisdom of the world is not sufficient to know God, nor to understand spiritual things.  In fact those who are hung up on knowledge, understanding, and in unbelief will not believe, because they cannot understand;

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (KJV)

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.    For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 2:14-16

The  only hope for Paul, a Jew; the Jew, and the Corinthian (Gentiles) is to know Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.  Christian you need to grow more into the image and likeness of Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship