December 4, 2023
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Rom 14:17)
When jewelers want to show the exquisite beauty of a diamond, they always set it upon black velvet under bright lights. That way, the only thing that can capture and refract the light will be the jewel, making it appear in its fullest luster. I will attempt to do a similar thing right now as it pertains to the Kingdom of God. I want to illustrate it by way of contrast.
In “The Mist” (a movie based on the novel by Stephen King), a thick unnatural fog rapidly spreads across the small town of Bridgton the morning after a violent thunderstorm. With visibility reduced to near-zero, no one can see that the mist is concealing numerous species of bizarre, otherworldly creatures which viciously attack any human who ventures out into the open.
In a weird plot twist the story goes suddenly religious when Mrs. Carmody announces that the only way to appease the darkness and stop the power of evil is by human sacrifice.
OK…so, that’s the black velvet upon which I now contrast a most exquisite and resplendent crown jewel — the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom is the exact opposite of the Mist, with one exception. Both are pervasive, and carry within themselves something that is otherworldly. In the case of the Mist, it was horror and death brought about by hideous creatures. In the case of the Kingdom, it is righteousness, peace, and joy — brought about by the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
Also, the mist was a concealing force, while the Kingdom brings full clarity of all things.
The Kingdom is the royal, ruling power of God present now in our world; pervading all things with its redeeming influence; healing and transforming lives, homes and communities. And everything goes according to God’s plan, as long as man doesn’t try and make it become a religious thing. That’s when the monsters appear.
Paul writes, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink,” meaning that God never intended for us to sit in judgement against others over matters of eating and drinking, or going to church on Sunday, or a host of other things all designed to divide us from one another.
Jesus brought the royal, ruling power of God into our world to make things right, not religious. Righteousness means set right with God and man. The immediate result of righteousness is always peace, for we are no longer striving to control one another into doing something the way we suppose it should be done. And the result of peace, is always joy — the happiness of healed relationships.
Turn away from the unholy Mist, and live your life in the pervasive presence of the Holy Spirit — for He is the one who produces the work of the royal, ruling power of God in our lives…and through our lives for others.
December 3, 2023
“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Mat 10:7)
The message has not changed. John the Baptizer said it first, as the forerunner for the Lord Jesus. Then Jesus Himself debuted His own ministry with the same declaration. And now He authorizes His followers to carry the exact same message everywhere we go.
More specifically — as we go.
This is an important distinction. For if we approach this calling to proclaim the Kingdom with our minds focused upon where it is we are going to deliver the message once we get there, then we will miss all the opportunities that await us all along the way. And, frankly speaking, that is where most of the Kingdom occurs.
It would be a mistake if we became so focused on what God is going to do later that we missed out on what God is doing right now.
So, as you go, preach; don’t wait until you get there, for by then the sermon will be nothing more than, well, a sermon. And haven’t we heard enough of those already! Somewhere along the slow unfolding years of time, we have somehow actually come to the place where we evidently believe that a tidy church service on Sunday morning supposedly fulfills this mandate from our Master.
And we miss out on the Kingdom of God each and every day all around us!
The Kingdom of God is not in word only, but in power. Jesus told them to not only proclaim the kingdom as they went, but to also demonstrate it by what they did. In other words, He wants for us to become the means whereby His power is expressed — changing things from what they are, to what God wills them to be.
“As the Father has sent Me,” Jesus said, “even so send I you.” (Jhn 20:21). Paul the Apostle said, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2Co 5:20). Few verses more precisely summarize not only our mission — but our message.
You are a royal ambassador for the Kingdom of God. As you go everywhere fulfill this mission and proclaim this message – “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In the course of everyday activity, simply tell others the good news that the ruling power of God is present to help them in whatever they face.
December 2, 2023
“Now when Jesus heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee…and from that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Mat 4:12, Mat 4:17)
By all accounts John the Baptizer was extraordinary.
He was filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb, and chosen by God to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ. As a man they found him clothed in camel’s skin, eating locusts and honey in the wilderness. He preached the Word of God without fear; unintimidated by anybody — not even wicked Herod, who had John put in prison.
And why? Was John a murderer, a robber, a rapist? No, a thousand times! He was a prophet. And when the corrupted king was confronted by the truth of John’s message, he had to shut him up somehow.
But John’s message was a far greater threat to yet another prince — the Prince of Darkness. And though Herod sat upon Israel’s throne, Satan held the scepter which governed the king’s darkened heart. It was he, not Herod, who put John in prison, because the message of the Kingdom must be stopped!
Now here’s my point. When Jesus heard that John was cast into prison, He then sprang into action. Leaving the familiar confines of Nazareth, He moved into The Galilee, and dwelt in Capernaum. This fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, “The people who sat in darkness saw great light, and to them who sat under the shadow of death, light is sprung up.”
And from that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Wait a minute — isn’t that what John said? Exactly. And now Jesus is on the scene to back him up — just when John needed Him the most.
Jesus will do the same for you today anytime you are opposed for faithfully doing what God has called you to do. He is, and forever will be, the Ultimate Backup.
No matter what opposition even Hell itself may muster against us, we shall prevail in every manner. “Remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead according to my gospel,” Paul wrote in his final letter, adding, “wherein I suffer as an evildoer, even unto bonds. But the Word of God is not bound!” (2Ti 2:8).
The Kingdom cannot be bound, for the King is on His throne — backing each one of us up each and every day.
November 12, 2023
“At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh deep sighs – He hears; He rescues.” (Psa 55:17, The Message)
Have you ever sighed?
Of course you have. It’s a dumb question. We each sigh all the time. The struggle has ended…and so we sigh. The deal fell through…and so we sigh. Our team won…and so we sigh. Our team lost…and so we sigh. The movie ended happily ever after…and so we sigh.
A sigh is part of the vocabulary of dreamers and lovers alike.
A sigh gathers up our deepest longings, our faintest hopes, and our most treasured dreams and carries them where words cannot go. Yes, we may feel a set back from the momentary loss of hope, or the superficial dash of a great expectation. And so we sigh. And in that sigh is an unspoken prayer; a faint blush of hope — for tomorrow may bring it in after all.
A sigh lets go of the disappointment and breathes in a fresh faith for another run at the prize. A sigh vents out of our emotional store the tepid air of failure, and makes room for optimism’s mysterious power.
God has given us an invitation to walk through the door of faith into His presence and commune at the most intimate level – just beyond the bridge of sighs. The apostle put it this way, “with groanings too deep to be uttered.”
What if there was a way to speak words we’ve never learned, in a vocabulary known only to God? And what if a sigh were the means of transporting those words beyond the veil that separates earth from heaven? Who in their right mind would refuse to sigh?
The wicked; that’s who.The wicked do not sigh. They huff and puff, and (dare I say it?) — blow their house down. Or, at least they try. That’s it. They try, but they do not sigh. Hard hearts and shallow lungs are often found in the same place.
But for childlike souls the wide world over, this bridge of sighs provides safe passage above and beyond the limitations of land-locked trivialities, and carries us into the presence of the Lord where we are filled afresh with new mercies every day.
November 6, 2023
“But now abideth Faith, Hope, Love, these three, and the greatest of these is Love.” — 1Co 13:13.
LET US lay the emphasis on the word fruit, as contrasted with the works of the law. In work there is effort, strain, the sweat of the brow, and straining of the muscles; but fruit comes easily and naturally by the overflow of the sap rising from the root to bough and bud. So our Christian life should be the exuberance of the heart in which Christ dwells. The Apostle Paul prayed that Christ might dwell in the heart of his converts, that they might be rooted and grounded in love. It is only when the Holy Spirit fills us to the overflow that we shall abound in love to all men.
We must distinguish between love and the emotion of love. The former is always possible, though not always and immediately the latter. Our Lord repeating the ancient words of the Pentateuch, taught us that we may love God with our mind and strength, as well as with our hearts. We all know that the mind and strength are governed not by our emotions, but by our wills. We can love, therefore, by determining to put our thought and energies at the service of another for the sake of God; and we shall find our emotions kindle into a sacred glow of conscious affection.
In the chapter from which our text is taken, St. Paul distinguishes between the Gifts of the Church and Love. After passing them in review he comes to the conclusion that all of them, without Love as their heart and inspiration, are worth nothing.
The greatest word in the world is the unfathomable phrase, “God is Love.” You can no more define the essence of love than you can define the essence of God, but you can describe its effects and fruits. I give Dr. Weymouth’s translation: “Love is patient and kind, knows neither envy nor jealousy; is not forward and self-assertive, nor boastful and conceited. She does not behave unbecomingly, nor seek to aggrandize herself, nor blaze out in passionate anger, nor brood over wrongs. She finds no pleasure in injustice done to others, but joyfully sides with the truth. She knows how to be silent; she is full of trust, full of hope, full of patient endurance.”
We ought to take each of these clauses, and ponder whether our lives are realizing these high ideals. God send us a baptism of such love!
November 5, 2023
Selfishness delays God’s love-plans. There is no more unpromising character in the Old Testament than Jacob. Back of unscrupulous bargaining and unprincipled trickery was intensest selfishness. Why did God use him? As Abraham’s grandson he was one of the only two that could be used in the world-plan being worked out. He was the least unusable of the two. And he had to be changed before the plan could work out. He delayed God. Selfishness always does.
November 4, 2023
And He said to them, “You yourselves come apart into a deserted place, and rest a little. For those coming and those going were many, and they did not even have opportunity to eat.” (Mrk 6:31, Living Bible)
The Scripture tells us that the Lord called the disciples to a desert place to get some rest. They had seen great ministry prior to their desert experience. And, given what we know of the rest of the story, they went on to even greater ministry after the desert experience was finished.
From this we learn that the desert place in the life of disciples is located in between seasons of ministry!
Could it be that if you are presently experiencing your own desert experience, then the Lord is getting ready to call you into a more effective ministry than you have known?
The Bible says of John the Baptist, “He was in the desert until his showing forth unto Israel.” I wonder if John ever thought, “How long must I endure this blasted heat, these stringy locusts legs, and this rocky waste land!? I’m the prophet of the Most High! Let’s get this show on the road!!”
I wonder if Moses ever wondered how long he would tend sheep in Midian, or if Paul while making tents in Tarsus ever wondered if he would ever get a chance to preach about the unsearchable riches of Christ.
I wonder what Joseph thought in the prison of Egypt, or David in the cave of Adulam, or Daniel in the Courts of Babylon, or Jeremiah in Jonathan’s dungeon, or John on the Isle of Patmos.
It seems that God takes all of us through these times of darkness, dryness, dullness, dreariness, and dread. You are not alone my friend. Look around and see if any of these champions left you some words of hope scrawled on the walls!
November 2, 2023
”The child John grew and became spiritually strong. He lived in the desert until the day he appeared to the people of Israel.” (Luk 1:80)
It was said of John the Baptist that he grew and became strong in spirit – “while he was in the desert.” Something about hard and difficult places make us stronger than when we lounge about in cozy beds of ease. We grow when we are challenged.
And notice that this growth is primarily spiritual. The fact is that no growth is complete that leaves out spiritual development.
I often heard Bill McCartney tell his football team, “The spiritual is to the physical as four is to one.” By this he meant that a man with his spirit set right by God had far more going for him that a man with nothing but muscles. Take a guy who is physically fit and infuse him with the Holy Spirit – and you have a formidable package! That’s what John the Baptist was like.
Notice the scripture goes on to say of John, “He was in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.” Hmmm. I wonder if the Lord sometimes puts us in the desert in order to have us grow and become strong in spirit. It certainly would seem so, looking at John as an example.
A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor are godly men and women made without trials. Think about it. Haven’t the greatest strides in your spiritual journey always come during times of significant difficulty and hardship? “Many men and women owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” (C.H. Spurgeon).
John was in the desert until his showing forth unto Israel. Might not the same be true of you? This pattern certainly holds true for many of God’s champions.
Paul was himself in the desert for three years, and then sidelined in Antioch for fourteen years before the Lord brought him forth into his apostolic ministry. Joseph endured the hostilities of false accusation and unjust imprisonment long before God exalted him in all of Egypt.
Moses tended sheep for forty years before leading the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and into history. David was faithful in the unseen and uncelebrated duties of ordinary labor, and there secretly slew a lion and a bear, long before God brought him out publicly to slay Goliath, and lead a Nation.
It seems clear enough that God uses the dry and desperate times in the desert to effect a spiritual maturity in our lives.
Jesus is our best example of patient growth during un-noticed years of quietness and apparent inactivity. Luke writes of Jesus that He “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luk 2:52, NIV).
Mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially — these are four areas of life in which God wants us to experience healthy, balanced growth. Are you growing in these areas? In which one would you say are you the most undeveloped? Might this season of dryness be a gift to you from the Lord to develop that one area?
November 1, 2023
And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luk 2:49)
Here we have one of those moments in the life of Jesus that everybody knows about – even people who are not at all familiar with much of what the Bible says. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard about the boy Jesus at twelve years old, in the Temple confounding the religious leaders with his understanding and answers concerning the things of God.
His parents, Mary and Joseph, had taken him to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They had traveled together in a large company from Nazareth, and when the time came to return home they thought that Jesus was with one of the other families. After about a day’s travel, perhaps about dinner time, they realized he was not anywhere with the group. So they turned around and went back to Jerusalem, and there they found him in the Temple.
“Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?” Mary said to Him, “Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.”
And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luk 2:49)
This was a game-changer. The Bible tells us plainly “they understood not the saying which he spoke unto them.” Not only were they doctors and lawyers and religious leaders astonished by His answers, but Joseph and Mary were astounded by His awareness of the high calling upon His life.
The incident concludes, “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
Now here is the thing that strikes me the most in all of this. Jesus was twelve when this occurred, and He is at that time fully committed to be about His Father’s business. Yet, we do not see or hear anything else about Him until He is thirty years old. That’s eighteen years unaccounted for except to say that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
Is it possible that long seasons of unseen and uncelebrated faithfulness are part of “my Father’s business?” And could it be that this stretch of seemingly endless silence and mediocrity you are slogging through may in fact be part of a bigger, deeper work God is doing in you…and eventually through you?
“Have heart,” Jesus says to you today, “you are employed in My Father’s Business!”
October 31, 2023
“All things work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
There is a delightful little story of two angels who stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the guestroom. Instead they were given a small space in the cold basement.
As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, “Things aren’t always what they seem.”
The next night the two angels came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest.
When the sun came up the next morning, the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.
The younger angel was perplexed and asked the older angel, “How could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you fix a hole in his wall. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die.”
“Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied. “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead.”
You see, things aren’t always what they seem. The Bible promises us that “all things work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). Surely you can trust the Lord to work things out for your good during this strange season of craziness in our topsy-turvy world!
Just remember, things are not always as they seem.
October 30, 2023
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Pro 22:1)
Recently a friend of mine told me a quite humorous thing. Though the circumstances that brought this matter to light were sorrowful, the end result was one that will definitely make you laugh.
My friend’s father had passed away and left him as the executor of his will. In the process of settling all of his father’s affairs, my friend met with a man named Bomanicious (pronounced, “bom-ah-neh’-shus”).
Bomanicious was the gardener and caretaker of the man’s estate, doing all sorts of odd jobs that kept the place looking great. He had worked for the man for over thirty years.
My friend met with him to let him know that things were going to continue as they were, so not to worry about his future employment. Then he asked, “I’m curious. How did you get the name “Bomanicious” – is that a family name, or what?”
“Bomanicious is not my name,” the man replied with a deep southern accent.
“What?! I’ve known you since I was seven years old, and that’s what we have always called you.”
“I know,” the man replied. “When your daddy hired me, he asked what should he call me. I said, ‘Call me by my initials.’”
The rest is history.
Shakespeare got it right, “A rose by any other name, is still a rose.”
October 29, 2023
“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are themselves helped.” (Pro 11:24-25 The Message)
We are all familiar with the great classic by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, and his consummate description of Ebenezer Scrooge. “Oh, but he was a tightfisted hand at the grindstone. Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.”
God has called us to something far better. He wants us to be generous.
I have learned that poverty is not the state of not having; it is the fear of not getting, which causes you to hold on tightly to what you do have. And the moment you do that – you shut down your heart from being generous, and close down your life from receiving the blessings that God has for those who give.
“Give , and it shall be given unto you,” Jesus said, “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men pour into your lap.” (Luk 6:38). John Bunyan wrote, “A man there was, and they called him mad; the more he gave, the more he had.” As the old saying goes, “You cannot out-give God.”
Giving is the gateway to greatness. The splendor of a generous life is that it lifts you above the downward pull of poverty and empowers you to enrich others. And, at the same time, by your generous acts towards others you enrich yourself in ways that cannot be fully measured. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
Let me close with this short humorous story.
A missionary was sitting at her second-story window when she was handed a letter from home. As she opened the letter, a crisp, new, ten-dollar bill fell out. She was pleasantly surprised, but as she read the letter her eyes were distracted by the movement of a shabbily dressed stranger down below, leaning against a post in front of the building.
She couldn’t get him off her mind. Thinking that he might be in greater financial distress than she, she slipped the bill into an envelope on which she quickly penned the words, “Don’t despair.” She threw it out the window. The stranger below picked it up, read it, looked up, and smiled as he tipped his hat and went his way.
The next day she was about to leave the house when a knock came at the door. She found the same shabbily dressed man smiling as he handed her a roll of bills. When she asked what they were for, he replied: “That’s the sixty bucks you won, lady. ‘Don’t Despair’ paid five to one at Santa Anita.”
Why not be generous in some way to someone today? Your horse just might win tomorrow!
October 28, 2023
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2Ti 1:7)
Nothing would be more incongruous than for a follower of Jesus to be found groveling at the footstool of Caesar. And Paul wanted to make sure that Timothy knew exactly where and how he himself stood as he prepared to enter the High Roman courts to be sentenced to death.
Was Paul filled with fear? Was he on the threshold of buckling before the threats of the Roman Emperor? Was he second-guessing his actions? Was he having regrets about the decisions he had made in following Jesus?
NOT IN THE LEAST!
In the face of imperial intimidation he was standing with power, love, and a sound mind.
The Message puts the verse this way: “God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible” (2Ti 1:7, The Message). Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, and to us, is that we can do the same in whatever we are facing.
Power, Love, and a Sound Mind.
POWER assures us that we have all that is necessary to triumph, and thereby makes us bold in the face of intimidating circumstances. LOVE insures that we will use our power in ways that are constructive and redemptive. And a SOUND MIND secures us with clarity in the face of confusion, and marks us with sensibility in times of insanity.
Power, Love, and a Sound Mind — these three keep us focused upon the opportune moment for action and make us decisive when that moment comes.
If you are facing difficulty at work or home, with friends or neighbors who intimidate you, or circumstances that seem to back you down from being who God has gifted and called you to be — this verse is for you!
If you feel yourself inwardly cowering into silence and passivity — then this verse is for you. It is packed with power to change you from the inside out.
Stir up your gifts! You can be what you are meant to be. You can shine like the sun in its race across the sky if you stay within the gifting the Lord has placed in your life. Be who you were created to be — bold and loving and sensible — and that will silence the critics and nay-sayers every time!
That is the triumph of a gifted life!
October 27, 2023
“He was a burning and a shining light” (Jhn 5:35)
This lasting tribute was said of John the Baptist, by none other than Jesus Himself. Indeed, Jesus also said, “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Mat 11:11). This means that each one of us may, like John, be a burning and shining light.
But there is a price to be paid. Years ago I heard the great revival preacher, Leonard Ravenhill, say, “The cost of shining is burning.”
Many want the glow without the heat, but there can be no sparkle where there are not sparks. And, there can be no sparks where the hammer of God’s word does not strike the anvil of our souls as the Holy Spirit forges Christ-like character in the metal of our lives.
The cost of shining is burning.
The disciples said, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us along the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luk 24:32). In yet another place the Bible asks, “Does not My word burn like fire?” says the LORD. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?” (Jer 23:29).
As we open ourselves to the igniting power of God’s word, all within us that is wood, hay or stubble is consumed by its tireless flame. And then, whatever yet remains that is hardened and unresponsive deep in our hearts is busted loose by the mighty blow of God’s hammer — His living word unleashed in our yielded lives.
Will you let the truth of God’s unchanging Word have its way in your life? In your thoughts, your hopes, and your aspirations? In your opinions, your attitudes, and your behavior? In your family, your friendships, and your associations?
If you say yes, you will become a burning and shining light; and you will be counted great in the Kingdom of God.
On the other hand, you can light your own fire and burn out in no time — with nothing to show for the one life you have lived. Surely you can see the better choice is to yield your heart to Christ and let Him be honored by the light of your ignited life.
And He will say of you on that day, “This one was a burning and shining light.”
October 26, 2023
“The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope” Col 1:5
How well is your life anchored in this shifting, titling world?
Some are carried about by every wind, and tossed about by every wave. The changing tides affect their ups and downs, and their ins and outs. But there is a better way to live; a way that is much less flimsy and unstable. You and I can live an Anchored Life.
When we are tethered to Truth, and full of a hope that goes beyond this world into eternity, we can face whatever comes our way with unflinching resolve. Each day is filled with purpose and revitalizing energy. Such is the power of Hope.
Morrison wrote, “Hope is the kindly instrument of God for rescuing mankind from inactivity and stagnation.” What a gift God has given us! There is nothing more empowering to the human soul than hope; and, conversely, nothing more destructive than hopelessness.
Thomas Carlyle observed, “In idleness there is perpetual despair.” The hopeless man is forever idle.
You and I were created by God for a purpose that fulfills us; but this purpose can only reach its full potential when we are anchored by Hope that stretches beyond this world. A man or woman with Heaven on their mind is not easily impressed or distracted with the things of this fallen world. They live with a purpose that never grows slack; and the engine of their lives burns with a fuel that is supplied from God Himself — a supply that never runs out.
May God fill you with hope! May you live Today in hope of a better Tomorrow. May you work, play, rest, and live in the unshakable assurance that the Lord Jesus has vouchsafed your future in the Kingdom of Heaven, and even now extends the benefits of that inheritance into your world her on earth!
May you live the Anchored Life!
October 25, 2023
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword” (Heb 4:12)
’t know if this is something you can authenticate or not, but I do know that it is funnier than just about anything I’ve come across. I’ve used this on many occasions when teaching about the importance of knowing God’s Word well enough to defend yourself against the insidious attacks of that Old Serpent, the Devil.
Enjoy this helpful advice:
The following is from the U.S. Government Peace Corps Manual for its volunteers who work in the Amazon Jungle. It tells what to do in case you are attacked by an anaconda. For the record, the anaconda is the largest snake in the world. It grows to thirty-five feet in length and weighs between three and four hundred pounds at the maximum. (Basically, we’re talking about a telephone pole with a bad attitude!)
This is what the manual said.
• If you are attacked by an anaconda, do not run. The snake is faster than you are.
• Lie flat on the ground. Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight against one another.
• Tuck your chin in.
• The snake will come and begin to nudge and climb over your body.
• Do not panic.
• After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet end – always from the feet end. Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles. Do not panic.
• The snake will now begin to suck your legs into its body. You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.
• When the snake has reached your knees, slowly, and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife and very gently slide it into the side of the snake’s mouth between the edge of its mouth and your leg. Then suddenly rip upwards, severing the snake’s head.
(The last two suggestions were the ones that got me.)
• Be sure you have your knife.
• Be sure your knife is sharp!
? Don’t you think that should be number one and two on the list! You don’t want to get halfway into the process of being eaten by a snake only then to discover that you forgot your knife!
Neither do you want to go unarmed into a world crawling with snakes and scorpions and a host of others posionous critters, stalking your every move and seeking to do you harm. “Be sure you have your knife (the two-edged sword of God), and be sure your knife is sharp (ready for whatever comes your way).
October 24, 2023
”The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.” (Exo 32:16)
Several years ago we purchased one of those huge Family Bibles, bound with engraved leather and filled with tons of extracurricular stuff like maps and charts and assorted Bible studies. There were also places for you to put your family’s pedigree — dad and mom, grandpa and grandma, uncles and aunts, etc.
It was a centerpiece purchase, placed in high visibility on our coffee table. Truthfully, that was about the only place it could go. There was no way in the world you could carry it around with you, unless you had a pet Yak. The thing measured 14″x10″ and was at least four inches thick.
Apart from the obvious blessing received from reading the Word, there is one piece of literature found in that old Bible that I have always cherished in particular . It succinctly sums up the fulness of the Bible’s power and authority in the lives and affairs of mankind.
Here is what it said:
This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and it decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.
It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the Gates of Hell disclosed.
Christ is its Grand Subject, our good its design, and the Glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.
It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgement, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy contents.
This volume is the Word of GOD.
October 23, 2023
“And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.” (Jas 2:23, NIV)
His story began with a whisper, some say. One night while he was standing near a grove a mulberry trees with a group of friends, a strange breeze rushed in from nowhere and rustled the leaves a bit. Some say that’s all it was – just a strange wind. But he heard the Voice. The look on his face didn’t go unnoticed by the others, for it seemed as though he had seen a ghost. No, he didn’t see one – he only heard one. And it was a Holy Ghost.
The Voice, tender and befriending, called him by name – “Abram.” We know him today as Abraham. And the Voice that spoke to him that night we now know as the God of Abraham.
They were friends, you see.
Their friendship began when Abraham believed. And what was it exactly that Abraham believed? Simply put, he believed God. Whatever God said to him, no matter how impossible or unlikely it seemed or sounded – Abraham believed that the One who spoke was true, and able to do what He had said.
Listen to how Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans:
“When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, ‘You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!’ Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, ‘It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.’ Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said.” (Rom 4:18-21, The Message).
What crazy, insane, impossible, and most unlikely thing has God promised you? And now does it all seem hopeless; certain never to happen?
Well, you are on the brink of becoming friends with God! Just believe!!
October 22, 2023
“Some of the followers in Rome heard about us and came to meet us at the Market of Appius and at the Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and was encouraged.” (Act 28:15)
This is a delightful moment captured forever in the words of Luke, author of The Acts. What makes this moment so special was that, for Paul, it came at the end a long and arduous struggle against one thing after another.
Here’s a recap of what Paul and his fellow travelers had encountered.
First, a mob of religious fanatics rushed upon Paul intending to stone him to death in Jerusalem. Being both a Jew and a Roman citizen, Paul appealed to a Roman jailer who secured him in the local prison. From there he was sent first to Festus, who then passed him up the food chain to Agrippa; who then put him on a ship headed for Rome to appear before Caesar.
The ship, despite Paul’s warnings to the Captain, got caught in a horrific storm at sea; a storm of such force that all hope of their being saved was lost. Breaking apart upon a reef, they were able to make it to land, where Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake, but miraculously survived.
Finally they reached the shores of Italy and headed towards Rome — the one City Paul had tried to visit so many times before, but was, in his words, “hindered by Satan” from doing so. And now he is on his way — as a prisoner in chains.
That’s when this happy scene unfolds.
Believers in Rome had somehow heard that Paul was enroute, and traveled almost fifty miles out of the City to not only meet him on the way at a place called The Three Taverns, but to escort him into the City as if he were a visiting dignitary.
When Paul saw them, he thanked God and was encouraged. One translation says, “his spirits rose.”
My friend, if the road you travel is beset with one blow after the other, and yet you are pressing on in faithfulness to the Lord — take heart. The Three Taverns is yet ahead, and a band of brothers will greet you there, lifting your spirits and filling your heart with praise!
October 21, 2023
“none of these things move me” (Act 20:24)
Paul’s dearest and most trusted friends, in every city he passed through, warned him of what would happen if he went forward with his plans to visit Jerusalem. “The Holy Spirit testifies that chains and tribulations await you there!”
These undeniable warnings, spoken in love, did not alarm Paul in the least, nor did they deter him from the great purpose to which he had devoted his life. Rather, they prepared him to move forward with his eyes wide open, and his resolve immovable.
A lesser man or woman may have opted for retirement in a sunny, coastal village; basking in the serenity of an unthreatened life; enjoying blissful mediocrity, indifferent to the great perils that others were now suffering because of his or her shirking of responsibility.
But Paul was made of thicker stuff. “None of these things move me,” he said, “neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Act 20:24).
There was a divine summons upon Paul’s life, and it rendered him immovable in his course — despite any and all opposition.
In fact, the more opposed he was — the more determined he became. “We do not lose heart,” he wrote. ” Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Co 4:16-18).
A higher vision lifted his spirit far above the clamor of the carnal war which was unleashed against him. And in his composure, he exhorts us to follow his unwavering example — “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1Co 15:58).
In a day when the Flim-Flam Man is touted as a hero — God give us men and women who are immovable!
October 20, 2023
“Is this not the Carpenter?” (Mrk 6:3)
Previously we saw, in the words of G. H. Morrison, that “Every man learns certain lessons from the trade in which he is engaged.” And the question we posed was what are some of the things Jesus may have learned while working in the carpenter shop of Nazareth.
The first thing we considered was that Jesus would have learned how much may be hidden in a common thing. A simple piece of wood, handled with the right craft and care, may become any number of other things – remarkable to behold. The second lesson Jesus would have learned is the great pains it takes to transform a thing from what it is, to what it can be.
And now, to conclude; the third lesson we may consider as credible is that Jesus would’ve learned that the finest things are made of the hardest wood.
Very politely turn and tap someone near you on their head with the knuckle of your index finger. The harder the head, the more likely that person will be used for great things in the Kingdom!
Now, tap yourself on the head while you’re at it. Hopefully yours will not feel like a seed bag filled with mush! Soft heads don’t go far in any world.
Think of how hard a man Paul was before the Lord laid His hands upon him, transforming him into an Apostle. And now behold the wondrous power of the Lord’s craft seen in the many books written by that one man, and the great reach of his influence down through the ages.
’t be too quick to dismiss what may seem to you to be a hopeless case – especially if you feel that way about yourself. The Lord often makes His finest things out of that which was deemed completely useless. Hard hearts are no challenge for Nail-scarred Hands.
He is working on you, and will take great pains to make the finest of things with what’s left of your life. And you will bear witness that yes, this is the Carpenter – Jesus of Nazareth who alone does wondrous works with otherwise worthless things.
October 19, 2023
“Is this not the Carpenter?” (Mrk 6:3)
Yesterday we saw, in the words of G. H. Morrison, that “Every man learns certain lessons from the trade in which he is engaged.” And the question we posed was what are some of the things Jesus may have learned while working in the carpenter shop of Nazareth.
The first thing we considered was that Jesus would have learned how much may be hidden in a common thing. A simple piece of wood, handled with the right craft and care, may become any number of other things – remarkable to behold.
Perhaps the second lesson Jesus would have learned is the great pains it takes to transform a thing from what it is, to what it can be.
If transforming a trunk of a tree into any number of useful implements for household and store require studied effort and patient skill – how much more so the reshaping of men’s character and lives.
Think of the fiery sons of thunder, James and John; what long hours must’ve been required of the Lord to slowly turn them into pastors who brought a message of love to the early church! And Simon Peter — a rock that must be hewn repeatedly before any good thing could rise from the rubble of his selfish soul.
Or which tool was needed to change a doubting Thomas into a man of faith and hope? A selfish Matthew into a generous healer of the sick? A pensive Andrew into an unstoppable evangelist?
And what pains does the Lord now take with you, as He brings forth out of your timber a work of grace that will dazzle the world?
Hang in there, my friend; it may not yet be clear to you what the Lord is doing, but once He is done you will be blessed beyond words!
October 18, 2023
“Is this not the Carpenter?” (Mrk 6:3)
We know that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, and worked in Joseph’s carpentry shop. Thus, by trade, He was a carpenter. But what puzzles us is that He learned things as He was growing up. In one place the Scripture says, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb 5:8).
See the enigma here?
How can One who is All-knowing learn anything? The mystery is solved once we realize that Jesus, when He became a Man, gave up the claim to all things that made Him Divine. He laid aside His omnipotence, His omnipresence, and His omniscience. As a Man, He was not all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present.
He was a Carpenter.
G. H. Morrison wrote, “Every man learns certain lessons from the trade in which he is engaged.” (Highways of the Heart, pg.40). Thus, Jesus learned things by working as a carpenter. The shop in which He worked was not simply filled with planks of wood and piles of saw-dust and wood chips – for Him it was full of parables and lessons. What are some things Jesus may have learned in that little Nazarene shop?
Here are three lessons suggested by Morrison years ago.
First, Jesus would have learned how much may be hidden in a common thing. Be there on that day when a shipment of trees arrived at the shop. After they were unloaded, the process would start by lopping off branches, stripping the bark, and cutting the timber into a variety of sizes and lengths.
Soon, after the skilled hands of the Workman applied His talents, that gnarled wood that once stood as but a tree in the forest was now turned into a plough, a bowl, a desk, a bed. If these are the things that can be seen in a piece of wood – what else can be seen if we but look around us?
Morrison observes, “Jesus saw the Kingdom in a mustard seed. He saw the citizen of heaven in a child. He saw, as no one else has ever seen, how much lays hidden in the human heart, and in the lives and characters of common men.”
October 17, 2023
“I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.” (Act 2:26, The Message)
The power of this scripture is best discovered in its poetry. Peter is quoting the Psalmist, who is talking about being buried in the grave. Shakespeare would call this a “grave situation.”
The “tent” the Psalmist refers to is his body. The tomb is viewed as “the land of hope.” What power there is in a faith that does not flinch at even death itself. Rather than fearing death to be the end of all things, the Psalmist sees it instead as the land of hope – the passage by which we enter a greater Glory.
Peter uses the reference in his sermon to testify to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but the fact is that the verse was written in faith centuries before the Crucifixion ever happened. And now, all these centuries later after the fact — we too, because of Jesus, can “pitch our tents in the land of hope.”
In other words, even in the face of death we can have a prevailing hope of something yet better. This clearly signals to us that all other trivial troubles are also well covered within the claims of this staggering promise.
What difficulties are you now facing? What perils threaten to undo your peaceful world? What calamities taunt in this dark day?
Pitch your tent in the land of hope, my friend! For Jesus has risen from the dead. And if the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwell in you — then He will also quicken your mortal body in even the most hopeless moment. If death itself is not the end, then these paltry attempts by the devil to thwart your faith and spoil your life will fall powerless to the ground.
Be glad! Yes, be ecstatic from the inside out — for the Lord of Life is your dearest friend; and He holds you in the palm of His hand…even now.
October 16, 2023
“The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated. The same goes for you husbands…” (1Pe 3:5-7, The Message)
While men and women alike in our pampered culture of flesh, fame, and fancy may do a thousand different things to enlarge this and shrink that, lengthen that and shorten this, flatten this and pump up that — all will still turn to dust in but a little while. What a tragic mistake it would be to focus all your efforts on the outside, while you let the insides rot away.
Peter points back to a time when people were “beautiful before God.” And he highlights two specific characteristics that were true of them — men and women alike.
They were unanxious, and unintimidated.
Anxiety will contort anybody’s face, and disturb everybody’s peace of mind. Timidity can back even the strongest into a corner, and silence even the most vocal among us. But the inner life was designed by God for something far beyond the limitations of these two thieves.
God wants to bring you to the place where your life is notably marked by two unmistakable traits, obvious to all who know you. He wants you to live a life that is unanxious and unintimidated.
Look about your personal world right now and ask yourself this question: “What difference would it make in my life from this point onward if I lived every day and faced each situation unanxious and unintimidated?”
The answer you come up with will be inspiring, and your life will become beautiful before God!
October 12, 2023
“I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.” (Psa 116:1)
How would you finish this sentence? “I love the Lord because…”
Obviously, most would answer, “…because He first loved me.” OK. But now moving on to something that requires a little more thought on our part, take another pass at it. “I love the Lord because…”
The Psalmist says, “Because He has heard my voice and my supplications.”
The Amplified Bible says, “He has heard and now hears my voice.” Other translations say things like, “You have answered my prayers,” or “You have heard my pleas for mercy,” and also, “You have heard my cry for Your favor.”
So, if someone were to ask you, “Why do you love the Lord?” – could you put it in an answer so succinct as this? Or, is your love for the Lord rather ambiguious? Take a moment and compile a list, a meaningful list, of the specific reasons why you love the Lord. You just might find that your faith will begin to strengthen and your love will begin to deepen.
As for me? I love the Lord because He has proven Himself true to His Word over and over again in my life. Every promise He has made, He has kept. Every direction He has given, He has blessed as we followed His lead. Yes, I love the Lord because He is faithful.
I asked my wife, Belinda, how she would answer.
“I love the Lord because He has shown Himself to be everything I hoped He would be once I began seeking Him.”
Everyone who loves the Lord has a definite answer they can give as to why. So, how about you? What answer will you give?
October 11, 2023
“And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:9)
He was a man on a mission. More than that, He was a man sent by God; a man chosen and anointed with the Spirit of God to reach beyond his limits and speak beyond his time. His name was Saul of Tarsus. We know and love him as Paul the Apostle.
He was a man with dual citizenship. Saul was his Hebrews name; Paul, his Greek name. God chose him to become the messenger of the Gospel for Gentiles the world over.
Awake or asleep, in health or fatigue, with plenty or in dire straits – he never veered off course in his passionate pursuit for our hearts. He wrote so as to inspire, educate, and equip us to discover who we are, find out what we have been given, and access the power to be and do it.
He wanted us to experience along with him “the fellowship of the mystery.” And he constantly labored and prayed to this end.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named (i.e., Jew and Gentile believers) — that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:14-21)
Paul’s comprehensive prayer we discover that there are four great blessings we experience in our lives when we share in the fellowship of the mystery.
GRACE – that you may strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man
FAITH — that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith
LOVE — that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge
FULLNESS — that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
lest we suppose we must achieve these things on our own, Paul concludes by saying – “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Grace; Faith, Love; Fullness.
Is there really anything else you need?
October 10, 2023
“Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up” (Psa 28:5)
The Bible asks, “What is man that Thou art mindful of him?” The psalmist who penned the question found it too astounding to grasp that so great a God would even notice, let alone regard so lowly a creature as man. Yet, even more astounding is this — that so lowly a creature as man would be of such a high-minded opinion of himself that he completely disregards so great a God as this!
Is it even imaginable that anyone could yawn in God’s face?
The Hebrew verb for regard means “to discern, to perceive, to observe, to pay attention to, to be intelligent, to be discreet, to understand.” It shows intentionality on the part of an individual who is looking for what God is doing, observing how He does it, and seeking to understand what this may teach us about Him.
For those who will cultivate this attitude in their lives, and explore their world with constant regard to the works of God, and the operations of His hands, a promise is made from heaven. They will be built up. This means God will construct their lives and keep them intact; strengthened to withstand storms, and blessed with bounty in life.
But the man who does not regard the works of the Lord will be destroyed. The Hebrew word here means “to pull down, to break through, to overthrow, to destroy.” This is the exact strategy of Satan against the soul of every man. He seeks to pull down the defenses which God has erected around your life, and breakthrough into your inner world, where he then may overthrow you — and destroy you. “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy,” Jesus said.
When any person yawns in God’s face and disregards the operation of His hands — “Ho Hum” – they thereby unwittingly prescribe their own destruction; for they open themselves up to the invasive and corrosive power of sin, and all the ensuing sorrow it can muster.
May I encourage you my friend to make sure that the Lord does not become the Disregarded God? You are far too worthy, and your life has so much to offer than for you to permit Satan to bring you to great ruin through the prideful act of disregarding the Lord.
October 9, 2023
“The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said: I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” — Gen 4:9.
“He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness.” — 1Jn 2:11.
MAN’S FALL, whatever else it may have been, resulted in a complete change of the centre of his being. He was made in the likeness of God, and God’s nature is absolutely selfless. God’s will and purpose was the one rule of man’s existence until the moment came when our first parents substituted the gratification of self for the will and law of God. From that hour the self-life became the dominant principle of mankind, and the world is what it is because the essence of life is the service of self.
We do not know what really caused the difference in the disposition of Cain and Abel. There are hints and suggestions, but the fundamental reason why these two brothers differed so is veiled in mystery, though the like of it still shows itself in our homes. John gives us the clue in his first Epistle, where he says that Cain slew his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.
God warned Cain that sin was lying at the door of his heart, waiting to enter. He exhorted him to watch and not allow it to intrude. When the dreadful deed was done, Cain found that all nature was in arms against him, and he became an outcast. The blood of Abel cried against Cain, for all sin cries to God, and He is the Avenger and Vindicator of wronged ones who in simplicity and faith have cast themselves upon Him. Thank God, also, there is a cry louder than that of Abel’s, which pleads not for judgment but for mercy (Heb 12:24).
This world is full of envy, jealousy, strife, and murder, because men keep themselves instead of keeping their brothers; because our own instead of another’s welfare revolves round the pivot of “I”. The first Epistle of John is the opposite of this story in Genesis, and contains its corrective, for it is when we love God first and best that we love our brother, and as we open our whole soul to the tidal wave of God’s love, we are lifted above the jagged rocks of the self-life into the broad full ocean of life which is life indeed (1Jn 3:14-17).
October 8, 2023
“Whoever does these things will never be shaken.” (Psa 15:5, God’s Word Translation)
As we saw in yesterday’s post, when your life is marked by personal integrity, relational faithfulness, moral strength, sacrificial dedication, and financial honesty – you may live in the Lord’s Presence forever. And furthermore, as we will see today, you have a rock solid promise that you can stand upon in the face of anything that comes your way. The Bible says, “Whoever does these things will never be shaken” (Psa 15:5).
In the Presence of the Lord you become the Unshakable Man; the Unshakable Woman.
In a day of flim-flam personalities, posturing politicians, fame-chasing ding-bats, pontificating preachers, and waffling masses caught in the whirl of a world turned upside down by policies and procedures dictated by idiots who are clueless of God – YOU can take a stand on the Solid Rock and be unshakable.
’t for a moment underestimate the value of your decision to do so.
Now more than ever before in our history, men and women of unshakable fiber are needed. Men and women whose word is true, whose lives are solid, whose character is commendable, and whose presence make a difference that matters…and that lasts.
I pray that you may be such a person. And that I may, by the grace of God, be one with you.
The Bible says that a time is coming – indeed it may already be upon us – when all things that can be shaken will be shaken….so that only the unshakable things will remain (See Heb 12:27).
May God grant you grace to stand unshaken, and give you the profound honor of being a source of hope to all around you who see their world falling apart at the seams.
October 7, 2023
“Everybody woke up to the fact that God was alive and active among them.” Act 9:35 (The Message).
Yesterday we followed Peter as he journeyed through the countryside and came to the town of Lydda, where the believers had slipped back into a spiritual slumber. While they were somewhat excited to hear Peter preach, they had no idea that God was about to visit them in an extraordinary way.
Peter saw a man there name Aeneas, who was crippled. Sensing God’s Spirit moving upon him in a miraculous manner, Peter matter-of-factly said, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up and make up your bed!”
The man jumped right out of bed, and everybody who heard about it became ignited with spiritual life. The Message puts it this way, “Everybody woke up to the fact that God was alive and active among them.” The old King James says they “turned to the Lord.”
I wonder if this event reminded Peter of an earlier experience in his own life. It happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John up the mountain to pray with Him. But, they fell asleep during the vigil. That’s when Moses and Elijah dropped in for a short visit, and Jesus lit up with the splendor of Heaven. What happened next is priceless. The Bible says, “Peter and the other two disciples had been sound asleep. All at once they woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was” (Luk 9:32, CEV).
Standing in Lydda a few years later, Peter had to see the similarities of these two events. “All at once they woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was.”
Let’s fast forward to our own modern times. As I travel throughout the country stirring people to a new level of faith in Christ, now and then I come to a church and find that the believer’s there are like Aeneas of old — “paralyzed in bed for many years!” And there have been those wonderful occasions when the word of the Lord was declared with immediate power and undeniable effectiveness — so much that everybody woke up to the fact that God was alive and active among them – and they turned to the Lord.
In a sentence it could be said — “All at once they woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was.”
I am but one of an untold number of those whom the Lord has called to serve in the diverse and expansive field known as itinerant ministry. Having traveled about for some time now it is clear to me that a great transition is taking place in the Church; epic change is at hand. And while there are those who are entrenched in dead traditions and remain closed to what God is now doing – nevertheless, more and more hearts and doors are opening wider and wider to the wonder of this single fact: “God is alive and active among us!”
I ask for your prayers for all those, like me, whom the Lord has put “on the road.” Pray that God take us to those exact places where His work is ready to be done, His word is ready to be heard, and His will is ready to be obeyed, so that His wonders can readily been seen! Perhaps God will use our efforts to stir sleepy churches from settling for less; and encourage those churches that are astir with the Presence of God to carry the message to those who have yet to hear it.
Pray that a slumbering Church awakens to the wondrous fact that God is alive and active among us! Pray that, like the disciples of old, at once we wake up and see how glorious Jesus is. And pray that this Nation turns once again to the Lord while the invitation is still open. ”Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph 5:14).
Pray! Pray! Pray!
October 6, 2023
“Everybody woke up to the fact that God was alive and active among them.” Act 9:35 (The Message)
After the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and the extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the country was ablaze with excitement and wonder. Things reached a new level of astonishment with the fast spreading news that Saul of Tarsus, the dreaded Darth Vader of the First Century, had himself become a follower of Christ and was now preaching the very Gospel he had sworn to destroy!
Yes, those were wondrous days.
But not everybody was fully on board just yet. The Bible tells us that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, traveled throughout the country encouraging and strengthening the early Church. No doubt he ran into believers of all types, and churches of all sorts.
There surely were those who were vibrant with a sense of faith and filled with awe over all that had occurred in those recent days. And, there can be little doubt that he ran into the occasional “Sleepy Hollow Church of the What-in-the-World-is-going on-around-here Fellowship.” Perhaps.
What we do know for a fact is that in one of his stops he came to a town named Lydda and there met with the believers, who gathered in some suitable location to hear what Peter would say to them. It is believed that Philip the Evangelist planted this church after the Spirit of the Lord caught him away from the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch.
“And Philip was found at Azotus,” the Bible tells us, “and passing through he announced the glad tidings to all the cities till he came to Caesarea” (Acts 8:40). One of those cities on his spirited tour would have been Lydda, and one can only imagine the excitement generated by Philip’s firsthand account of all that had been happening.
Peter showed up in Lydda about one year later. Evidently, prior to Peter’s visit these folks had settled down and gone back to sleep – spiritually speaking. Philip’s testimony had stirred them to a spiritual hunger, but with the passing of time their minds had drifted back to business as usual.
They were dutiful in their devotions, evidenced by the fact that they assembled to hear Peter preach; but they were dry as a bone in their souls. Gathering to hear Peter was just another church meeting as far as they were concerned; just another special speaker come to town. Oh, sure, this speaker was a cut above most of the others; after all, he actually knew and walked with Jesus.
While he was preaching Peter saw a man there, named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed in bed for eight years. This man’s affliction became the occasion for God to do something extraordinary.
Set your alarm and tune in tomorrow; I will tell you what happened next!
October 5, 2023
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (Jas 1:19-20, NIV)
Sometimes our relationship with the Lord is like Candid Camera — when you least expect it, and always at a time when you would not want it to happen — He walks right up to you, dressed is some clever disguise like a grease-stained mechanic at a car dealership, and says, “Mr. Ryle, you have a warped head.”
As the guy went on to explain the problem I was having with my Astro van, the Lord started talking to me about deeper issues in my own heart. Specifically –the issue of anger.
The mechanic told me that because the engine head was warped, it caused a break in the gasket seal, which in turn resulted in an oil leak and loss of power. The smoke was the result of oil burning on a hot head.
you get all that? Yeah, me too. At that moment I realized that while the mechanic was talking about my van — the Lord was talking about me.
When we are warped in our thinking – nothing good can happen. And to make matter worse, we get all hot and bothered when something good doesn’t happen. And when things go bad or wrong – we blow our lids. That’s the trouble with a warped head.
The Lord wants to set our minds right. And as He does so, the seal will hold and there will be no blown gaskets, nor any loss of power.
Have you “blown your lid” lately? Finding yourself over-heating and losing your cool? Take heart — the Lord is expert at fixing a warped head!
Next time you find yourself over-heating and getting ready to pop – just pull over to the side and ask the Lord to straighten out your thinking; to check the seals, and make sure your “oil level” is fine. Cool down, and only then proceed along the high way.
October 4, 2023
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (Jas 1:19-20)
Several years ago we bought a Chevy Astro Van; with captain’s seat from front to back, tinted windows, and a cassette deck. Belinda and I, along with our four kids, were stylin’ in the Mile High City.
Our second car, which I drove, was a Volkswagen squareback; custom-painted a metallic cobalt blue, and fitted with silver tinted windows. Yeah, that’s right — it was cool.
But anyway — one day as we are cruising in our Astro I noticed the meter indicating that the engine was running hot. Hmmmm. What could that mean, I wondered. Then it began to lose power, and felt like it was lurching along the road — all the while continuing to over-heat even more. Then, white smoke started billowing out everywhere — and I managed to make it to the dealership just in the nick of time.
And for the record — I made a scene once I got there. In fact, you might say that there was as much steam coming out of my ears as was previously coming out of my van. I was angry — and it was all their fault!
They rolled the van into the bay and did a full exam, and brought the news to me in the waiting room — where I was drinking car dealership coffee and scanning old copies of Reader’s Digest for some news jokes to use on Sunday morning.
“Mr. Ryle,” the grease-stained fellow said with a polite smile, “You have a warped head.”
I don’t really remember much else of what he said, or what we did to get it all corrected — for in that otherwise ordinary moment, the Lord used the man’s comment to speak to me about my problem with anger.
I’ll tell you what He said tomorrow.
TOOK A MUCH-NEEDED BREAK!
September 18, 2023
“You’re the God who makes things happen; you showed everyone what you can do — You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble, rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.” (Psa 77:14-15, The Message)
The great epic event of the Old Testament was the Exodus — the day God delivered His people out of bondage in Egypt. They were in the worst kind of trouble, and God brought them out of it.
They were up against the impassable Red Sea, and God brought them through it on dry ground. He made a way where there was no way. The armies of Pharaoh were pressing down upon them, but they escaped — while the horse and the rider were drowned in the sea.
God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The things that were written in ancient times are alive and relevant for us today. We are filled with hope in our times of difficulty as we gaze back upon what God has done in the past for His people.
And we know that even unto this very day, He is the God who makes things happen. He will make a way where there seems to be no way possible.
As turmoil increases in our world, a noticeable shift will occur in the global mindset — a shift against the Christian Faith. This shift will be the signal that the spirit of Antichrist is making its move. The world will increasingly turn against the God of Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, and against all those who profess Him in any manner.
Call me crazy — but it is going to happen. In fact, to the discerning eye and ear, there are signs all around us now of it already beginning. And with nut-balls calling themselves Christians, and threatening to burn the books of other religions — well, public sentiment will definitely shift. A tipping point will be breached.
And as this shift happens, we ourselves will be set up for yet another remarkable, earth-shaking act of God. He will again show the world what He can do; He will pull His people out of the worst kind of trouble, even though it means we will first have to be in the worst kind of trouble. He will not leave us there.
So when the trouble comes, then know that Deliverance is also on the way. Rejoice my brothers and sisters — we serve the God who makes things happen!
September 17, 2023
“Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy Presence? If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.” — Psa 139:7, Psa 139:9, Psa 139:10.
THE STORY of the monk who constantly used this phrase is well known to most people. It was in the sixteenth century, one winter’s day, as Brother Lawrence was walking in the forest, he found himself standing beneath a tree stripped of its foliage. The thought suddenly flashed on him that before very long that same tree would be covered with the leaves and glory of spring. “Then God must be here,” said he to himself, and his whole being became awed and filled with the thought of God. That impression remained with him for the rest of his life, and he said that he was more deeply impressed with the actual sense of God’s Presence in the kitchen, when he was preparing the food for his brother monks, than when he was kneeling before the Sacrament.
It is a blessed experience when the soul lives in this awareness of God; when we live, and move, and have our being in Him; whether we take the wings of the morning, and go with the sun in its passage to the western sea, or descend into the valley of the shadow of death. Let us read this Psalm again, remembering that our Lord said, “Lo, I am with you all the days, even to the end of the age.”
The habit of practising God’s Presence is specially acquired when we accustom ourselves to draw on the Divine resources. We can recall two outstanding illustrations—one given by Abraham’s faithful servant, and the other by Nehemiah. In the one case, the traveller lifted up his heart to God for direction as to the choice of a wife for his master’s son; and the other tells us that between the king’s question as to the reason for his sadness, and his reply, he flashed a cry to God for a suitable answer, and it was given him. Why do not we, in every moment of uncertainty and perplexity, when the tempter draws near, instantly claim the equivalent of God’s gracious help?
September 16, 2023
“Without warning your life can turn upside-down, and who knows how or when it might happen?” (Pro 24:22, The Living Bible)
What can you do in a topsy-turvy world? Where can you turn when everything is turned upside down? When the lid blows off, and the bottom drops out, and the walls come crashing in -– all at the same time…how will you fare?
Will you be able to find heaven when all hell breaks loose?
There is an accepted standard of civil behavior in our society; we all basically know how we are supposed to behave around one another. There are definite “dos and don’ts” – even though they are not written down anywhere. We just know them. And for the most part, we abide by them – and behave ourselves.
But sometimes there comes such a shock to the social system that all bets are off; it would seem that anything goes when everything is shaken.
It’s like what happens when you kick an anthill; the normal activity suddenly shifts, and the ground swarms with more ants than you can imagine; spilling out of the disrupted dirt pile like lava out of a volcano.
What if our anthill gets kicked? What if some colossal event rocks our world to the core, and an otherwise well ordered society goes abuzz with rash activity? What will you do? Where will you turn?
Or, take it to the personal level. Maybe the world goes on just fine, as it has now for indefinite days. But your world is crumbling around you. A great loss has ripped your soul apart, a dark loneliness has swept over your heart, a catastrophic fear has seized your thoughts, or an eroding doubts is stealing away your dreams.
What are you to do now?
Well, it might be helpful for you to know that others have go before you and left a trail that leads safely through these dark woods. Here is but one one example:
“I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and He saved me from my enemies. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry to Him reached His ears.” (Psa 18:3-6, New Living Translation).
writer concludes by saying, “He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved — surprised to be loved! GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him. When I got my act together, He gave me a fresh start.” (Psa 18:19-20, The Message).
Call out to God, and He will answer you. Trust Him and do what He tells you – for a wide-open field is yet in your future!
September 15, 2023
“He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.” (Psa 18:19, KJV)
The Psalmist is overwhelmed with wonder at not only how the Lord acted on his behalf — but why.
When we read about how the Lord dramatically delivered him from his enemies we are stirred more deeply than any action-movie could ever do. For he portrays the Lord as a Mighty Warrior unleashing His dreadful wrath against His enemies –
“Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of His anger. Smoke poured from His nostrils; fierce flames leaped from His mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from Him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath His feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, He flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded Himself in darkness, veiling His approach with dark rain clouds. Thick clouds shielded the brightness around Him and rained down hail and burning coals. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. He shot His arrows and scattered His enemies; His lightning flashed, and they were greatly confused.” (Psa 18:7-14, The Living Translation).
is HOW the Lord delivered the Psalmist — but here is WHY. “He delivered me because He delighted in me.” (Psa 18:19).
you know that God loves you so much that when the enemy messes with you to the point that in your distress you cry out to God — GOD goeson the warpath just for you! He brings you out of the distress into the delight of His presence and shows you the pleasure He has over your life.
Wow. How delightful is that? And how large a place this is for you to live your life! I pray that you begin living there today — living in the fullness of God’s delight in you!
September 14, 2023
“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Psa 4:1, KJV)
The poetry of this verse is too beautiful to overlook. David is deliberately placing two extremes side by side to demonstrate the profound difference that God’s power makes in our lives when we call out to Him for mercy.
means “a tight spot.” Enlarged means “a spacious place.”
From the very moment of our birth we have known that in order to get to a spacious place, we must first pass through a tight spot. Our mother’s labor pains pushed us through the distress of delivery and ushered us into the largeness of Life itself.
Is it not the same when we are born again? Wasn’t it some pressing weight of sorrow, some overbearing load of guilt and shame, some driving fear, or suffocating loneliness that distressed your soul sufficient enough for you to call upon the Name of the Lord? And didn’t He answer in the day of your trouble and deliver you into a large place?
It is a law in the Kingdom of Heaven — God always enlarges us when we are in distress. Therefore, when God wants to make us larger than we have settled for being, what do you suppose He does? He introduces distress into our comfortable lives, and thereby invites us to ascend to a larger place.
Charles Spurgeon wrote, “I must confess that all the grace I have got out of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows and pains and griefs is altogether incalculable. What do I not owe to the hammer and the anvil, the fire and the file!”
If you are in a tight spot — God is enlarging you my friend, and the best you can do right now is to thank Him for it.
September 13, 2023
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.” (Jas 1:2, The Message)
By now you’ve discovered that God doesn’t do things our way. “My ways are not your ways,” He tells us, “and My thoughts are not your thoughts.” Often you will find that things in the Kingdom are the opposite to things in this world.
For example, he that puts himself first will be last; he that would be great, must becomes the servant. And so on and so on.
In this world of ours, trouble is TROUBLE. But not so in the Kingdom.
There, trouble is a GIFT. “A sheer gift,” James tells us. Pure and unmixed, complete and all inclusive — like sheer joy. So the Bible tells us to count it all joy when we are hammered by hard times!
Why? Because God is up to something so extraordinarily wonderful that once we see what it is He is doing, we will be beside ourselves with unspeakable delight! Yes, He is working on something in us; and once He puts it on display it will fills others with wonder…and we ourselves will be flooded with joy.
Here’s what James goes on to tell us — “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (Jas 1:3-4, The Message). Mature. well-developed, and not deficient in any way. How’s that for starters?
So while others around you may be wringing their hands in dismay, and moaning over losing this or that — you lift your vision higher and see the Lord’s hand at work in your affairs; making you everything you ever dreamed of becoming — and more!
Like a blacksmith, God is using the fire and pressure of hard times to shape you into something powerful and useful. And you would do well to consider that “a sheer gift” — for indeed it is!
September 12, 2023
“Be ye separate.” — 2Co 6:17
The Christian, while in the world, is not to be of the world. He should be distinguished from it in the great object of his life. To him, “to live,” should be “Christ.” Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he should do all to God’s glory. You may lay up treasure; but lay it up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, where thieves break not through nor steal. You may strive to be rich; but be it your ambition to be “rich in faith,” and good works. You may have pleasure; but when you are merry, sing psalms and make melody in your hearts to the Lord. In your spirit, as well as in your aim, you should differ from the world. Waiting humbly before God, always conscious of his presence, delighting in communion with him, and seeking to know his will, you will prove that you are of heavenly race. And you should be separate from the world in your actions. If a thing be right, though you lose by it, it must be done; if it be wrong, though you would gain by it, you must scorn the sin for your Master’s sake. You must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Walk worthy of your high calling and dignity. Remember, O Christian, that thou art a son of the King of kings. Therefore, keep thyself unspotted from the world. Soil not the fingers which are soon to sweep celestial strings; let not these eyes become the windows of lust which are soon to see the King in his beauty-let not those feet be defiled in miry places, which are soon to walk the golden streets-let not those hearts be filled with pride and bitterness which are ere long to be filled with heaven, and to overflow with ecstatic joy.
September 11, 2023
“God is jealous.” — Nam 1:2
Your Lord is very jealous of your love, O believer. Did he choose you? He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did he buy you with his own blood? He cannot endure that you should think that you are your own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love that he would not stop in heaven without you; he would sooner die than you should perish, and he cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart’s love and himself. He is very jealous of your trust. He will not permit you to trust in an arm of flesh. He cannot bear that you should hew out broken cisterns, when the overflowing fountain is always free to you. When we lean upon him, he is glad, but when we transfer our dependence to another, when we rely upon our own wisdom, or the wisdom of a friend-worst of all, when we trust in any works of our own, he is displeased, and will chasten us that he may bring us to himself. He is also very jealous of our company. There should be no one with whom we converse so much as with Jesus. To abide in him only, this is true love; but to commune with the world, to find sufficient solace in our carnal comforts, to prefer even the society of our fellow Christians to secret intercourse with him, this is grievous to our jealous Lord. He would fain have us abide in him, and enjoy constant fellowship with himself; and many of the trials which he sends us are for the purpose of weaning our hearts from the creature, and fixing them more closely upon himself. Let this jealousy which would keep us near to Christ be also a comfort to us, for if he loves us so much as to care thus about our love we may be sure that he will suffer nothing to harm us, and will protect us from all our enemies. Oh that we may have grace this day to keep our hearts in sacred chastity for our Beloved alone, with sacred jealousy shutting our eyes to all the fascinations of the world!
September 10, 2023
God commands one generation to share life experiences and God’s faithfulness with the next generation. It’s God’s plan for the growth and continuation of the church. Mentoring and discipleship are ways for one generation to teach and train the next generation.
It’s a myth and work of the enemy to discourage seniors into thinking they’re no longer valuable or that the younger generation isn’t interested in what they have to say. Seldom is that true.
God explains his plan for the generations to interact in Titus 2:1-7 where the apostle Paul advises Pastor Titus who is starting a church plant in Crete comprised of all generations.
You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. Titus 2:1-7
Young Pastor Titus followed older Paul’s instructions, and his church plant grew. These verses should be the foundation of every church today. Paul understood mentoring and discipleship. He had been mentored by Barnabas, and then Paul took the time out of his busy ministry to mentor not only Titus, but also Timothy and Mark.
Who might God want you to mentor in your church or family?
September 9, 2023
The duration of the Rich Man’s punishment is never mentioned. The closest we get is with, “a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.”—which is what we should expect. It would be a failure of justice if those in Hell could leave without repentance, and an even greater failure of justice if the perfected in Heaven could fall to hell. But fixed does not mean permanent. Though the Rich Man could not alter his own condition, Jesus could.
And, it cannot teach an eternal Hell because we know Jesus freed the captives of Hell through His death and resurrection:
“Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)” Ephesians 4:8-10
Now it may be argued the Rich Man was not included in this host of captives, that he refused upon hearing the Gospel (1 Peter 4:6) to follow Jesus out. But that seems unlikely given the torment he was in and the fact he was already desperate to be freed. I see no reason to think he would have refused Jesus.
This parable teaches that our present actions follow us into the next world. It teaches that the wicked will suffer in the next world and will pay for their sins, even to ‘the uttermost farthing’. What the parable does not teach is the irredeemability of the wicked or their endless torment. Jesus will save them in the end.
September 8, 2023
“For there is a greater power with us than with him.” 2Ch 32:7
We have seen these past few days how God permitted Sennacherib to invade Judah, for the express purpose of bringing him to defeat at the hands of good King Hezekiah. We have also noted how Hezekiah did not doubt God during the invasion, but humbled himself in prayer and watched in wonder as the Lord sent an angel and destroyed Sennacherib’s army.
And we saw how Sennacherib himself came to a shameful end as he sought refuge in the temple of his puny gods.
Today, as we conclude our thoughts on this story, let me ask a pointed question. Isn’t this historic defeat exactly what happened to Satan at the cross?
Jesus, having accomplished everything His Father sent him to do, finally goes up Calvary’s mountain to die upon an old rugged cross. And just like Sennacherib laying siege to Judah, Satan surely must have thought his moment of ultimate conquest had come. But, in the same manner that God had baited the Assyrian king into a snare from which there was no escape – so likewise was the devil drawn and quartered by Christ at the cross.
And as for us, we share in Christ’s triumph over all the power of the enemy. It is now said of us as it was of Hezekiah, “So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side. (see 2Ch 32:20-22).
Earlier we asked how does God reward His faithful servant? What does Hezekiah get for all his gallant duty? The answer is profound – Hezekiah had the high honor of being the one king in all history who defeated the King of Assyria.
You see, God set Sennacherib up for destruction by permitting him access into Hezekiah’s life. Is it possible God does the same in our lives today? Is it possible that He allows the devil access for no other reason but to bring him to ruin and an open shame?
“Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1Jn 4:4). It is no coincidence that John in the New Testament echoes the words of Hezekiah in the Old — “For there is a greater power with us than with him.” (2Ch 32:7). For the story of Sennacherib in the Old Testament is a prophetic foretelling of the story of Satan in the New.
Is it possible that your faithfulness, your devotion, your service are often the occasion for the Lord to draw the devil into a trap? Could it be that we are sometimes used as “devil bait” – the means whereby the Lord lures Satan into battle, and gives us the honor of actually overcoming the wicked one.
Oh how humiliating this must be to Satan, that Christ has placed His victory in the hands of school children who by faith put the devil to fright and flight! What must the hordes of hell think of their dark master now? He who once wielded such power as to shake nations, now buckles when a little girl prays!
Hezekiah reassured the people with a single word of truth, “for there is a greater power with us than with him.” That is even more true for us today. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1Jn 4:4).
September 7, 2023
“For there is a greater power with us than with him.” 2Ch 32:7
The Bible says that the king of Assyria “laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself.” The fact is that God had indeed blessed Hezekiah, so much so that the king of Assyria became envious to the point of war. He invaded in order to possess for himself the many blessings God had showered upon Hezekiah. Sennacherib brandished his blade, and bellowed out his demands to Hezekiah in full expectation of an immediate and cowering surrender – just as many other nations before had done.
He could not have been more mistaken.
Hezekiah, good man that he was, never doubted the Lord for a moment, nor did he fear Sennacherib for an instant. Instead, he rallied the people and encouraged them, saying, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from the words of king Hezekiah. (see 2Ch 32:7-8)
While Sennacherib amassed his army and prepared for a full frontal assault, King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah bowed their heads in prayer. And the Lord answered them. The Bible says, “the Lord sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king.”
Hey, you want to know how powerful God is? He sent one angel – ONE! – and annihilated Sennacherib’s army. Holy Moly! What then would an army of angels do? There were 12,000 angels standing with swords drawn and ready for war when Jesus hung on the Cross. What if He had decided to call them to His aid?
ONE angel annihilated the army of Sennacherib! And what of Sennacherib? What happened to him?
The Bible goes on to say, “he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons cut him down with the sword.”
Those who follow in the footsteps of Satan are doomed to meet his own fate. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isa 14:12). In this story Sennacherib is a figure representing Satan. Just as Sennacherib met a disgraceful end, so likewise will the devil.
We will take a closer look at this as we conclude tomorrow.
September 6, 2023
For there is a greater power with us than with him.” (2Ch 32:7)
Have you ever wondered why the Lord let’s bad things happen to good people? It’s OK if you say yes; because, the fact is, virtually everybody has thought about this from time to time. Today’s post, and the next few that follow, will look a bit closer at this perplexing dilemma, and will provide you with a new perspective that just might reorder your world!
While reading my Bible I came upon a curious passage. “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself” (2Ch 32:1).
This struck me as, well, unfair. Let me tell you why.
Here is a guy, Hezekiah, who was a very zealous, devout, and good man; who did what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. He reinstituted the Passover Feast, which had long been passed over. He restored the Temple, which had been desecrated. He removed all the remnants of idolatry throughout the land. He re-established the neglected Levitical priesthood, and saw that they were properly compensated for their services. He reformed the upper echelons of government , and thereby brought a great revival throughout the nation.
See what I mean? He was a good man who did good things for God.
In fact, The Bible says, “In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered” (2Ch 31:21, NIV). It was a good day’s work in the life of a good king.
And what is the Lord’s response? How does God reward this faithful servant? What does Hezekiah get for all his gallant duty? Simply this — an invasion of his land by Sennacherib, the dreaded King of Assyria; the single, most feared empire of the day! And, as far as we can tell, the Lord did nothing to stop him. Rather, the Lord actually permitted the invasion and empowered the invaders. But why?
I’ll answer that tomorrow.
But before I let you go let me ask if you have ever felt like asking the Lord, “Hey, what kind of a deal is this?” Have you ever wondered why your faithful service to God seems often to go unnoticed or unrewarded? Or, no matter how good you are – bad things just keep happening? Like David, we often ask, “Why do the wicked prosper?” Indeed, why do they? Obviously, there are factors at work here that we don’t yet appreciate.
And, remember the old campfire song? “Tempted and tried we’re oft made to wonder why it should be thus all the day long. While there are others living about us, never molested though in the wrong.” Exactly. I wonder if Hezekiah may have whistled that tune when Sennacherib showed up with his army.
The song does go on to say, “Further along we’ll know more about it; further along we’ll understand why.” Terrific.
OK. So back to my question, Why did God permit and empower Sennacherib to invade Hezekiah’s land? Are you ready for this? Because He was drawing the King of Assyria into a trap! And God would honor Hezekiah with the victory over a dreadful foe!
Tune in tomorrow and let’s see how the story turns out.
September 5, 2023
“That ye may be blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.” — Php 2:15-16 (R.V.).
THE SPIRIT of man, says the wise man, is the candle of the Lord (Pro 20:27). By nature we are like so many unlit lamps and candles. As the wick is adapted for the flame, but stands dark and cold until it is ignited, so we are unable to shed forth any light until our nature is kindled from the Eternal Nature of Him who “is Light, and in whom is no darkness at all.” Has the candle of your life been lit by contact with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness?
Our Lord says: “Let your light shine before men.” He shows how absurd it is to light a lamp, and then obscure its rays by placing it under a bushel. The purpose of ignition is frustrated if the light is covered. Ah! how many of us place bushels on the light of our testimony for God—the bushel of uncharitable speech! Of ill-temper! Of a discontented and querulous spirit! These as well as more conspicuous failings will prevent us from shining forth as light in a dark world. It is not for us to ignite the flame or supply the oil. All we have to do is to keep our lamps clean and bright, to guard against anything that may obstruct the out-shining of the Love and Life of God through the soul. If we are careful to see that anything which might hinder the effect of our testimony and mar our influence is put away, Christ will see to it that our light shall effect the full measure of His purpose.
In contrast to the bushel is the stand or candlestick. The Master of the House may place you in a very small dark corner, and on a very humble stand, but some day, as He passes by, you shall light His footsteps as He goes forth to seek and save that which is lost. What is your stand?—your place in society, your position in the home, your situation in some business house, factory, or school—wherever it be, it doesn’t matter, so long as your light is shining forth, steady and clear, warning and directing men and women in the path of life.
August 31, 2023
“My soul followeth hard after Thee: Thy right hand upholdeth me.” — Psa 63:8.
THERE ARE three notes in this Psalm which betoken the stages of the soul’s growth: “My soul thirsteth for Thee”; “my soul shall be satisfied”; “my soul followeth hard after Thee.” We may be passing through a wilderness of spiritual drought, the dark night of the soul, the seasons of dryness and depression which are apt to befall. In some cases, as when Elijah asked to die, or when John sent his despairing question to Christ from his prison, it is the result of physical or mental overstrain. But at such times, let us never hesitate still to speak of God as “‘my God.” Nothing can sever you from His everlasting Love. You may not have the glad consciousness of it, but you must never surrender your belief in it. Go on blessing Him, as long as you live, and lift up your hands in prayer.
But we can never be satisfied with what we have attained. God is ever moving forward! Let us follow hard after Him.
August 30, 2023
“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.” — Isa 25:8.
“O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?” — 1Co 15:55.
“God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” — Rev 7:17.
IN THIS marvellous chapter, Isaiah sings a Song of Hope, as he sees the return of the Hebrew people from captivity, and the overthrow of their foes. The Apostle Paul takes up this thought in 1 Cor. 15. He shows that death is the penalty of sin, and it is by the demands of the law that sin is stirred to activity. But Christ has satisfied and met the claims of the law, and gives power by which we are enabled to obey it; therefore the strength of sin is broken, and the sting of death is gone.
The Christian need not dread to die. For him there is no uncertainty about the future. There is no fear of what may come after death, for the condemnation of the law has been met and borne. We may apostrophise death in these exultant words. The viper has been deprived of its fangs! the prison-house cannot hold its inmates! Bunyan describes Satan as exhorting Captain Sepulchre to be sure to hold Christ, but the injunction was useless. No bars or bolts, no seal or sentry would suffice.
Notice that we are to “Put on” incorruption and immortality (1Co 15:53-54). It is as though the new body will be put on over the old, and as this takes place, all the elements of the old body will be swallowed up and absorbed. when the Holy Spirit completes his work in our souls, there will be no trace of the old rags left in the shining robes in which we shall be arrayed as we go forth to meet the welcome of our Lord. Death to those who believe in Christ is now only a Home-going; the falling asleep to open the eyes in the City of God; the loosening of the anchor, to float down stream in the full tide. “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.”
August 29, 2023
“In His public ministry Jesus never taught without using parables; but afterward, when He was alone with His disciples, He explained everything to them privately.” (Mar 4:34, New Living Translation)
In any field of endeavor, the surest and best way to attain the highest summit of excellence and achievement is to personally learn from the very best in that field.
To the artist, a prolonged visit with Michelangelo or Da Vinci, privately explaining the use of perspective, shape, color and shade to bring out the true wonder of a work of art would be priceless indeed. To the writer, a private session with the likes of Shakespeare would make all the difference in their world — listening to him explain the art of turning a phrase to capture the heart of his readers. The musician would be well graced to sit in on a private session with Beethoven, Bach, or, if it suits your style, the Beatles. The take-away of such an encounter would be life-defining.
Anytime one gets an opportunity to sit at the feet of a Master, the smart choice will always be to seize the opportunity. And that is what has been provided for us in our relationship with Jesus. But take note of these key points, for they must not be overlooked if you would experience this unique privilege.
First, it happened when they were alone. Sometimes one must break away from the hustle and bustle of the never-to-be-interrupted-quest for more before they will ever be able to fully hear the Lord speak to them.
Second, Jesus expounded all things to them. That’s the word the Old King James uses, and it means “to loose further.” It’s like a package being unwrapped; with each passing moment it becomes more and more apparent, until we openly hold in our hands what had previously been hidden to us.
Finally, like the disciples, we must be teachable. We must be ready to learn more than we suppose we need, and to be taken to places we never knew to go.
The Master is calling you; take a break and get away for some private explanations.
August 28, 2023
“While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream.” (Mat 1:20, The Message)
The Bible tells us that Joseph, the Nazarene carpenter engaged to Mary, was a noble man. Chagrined by the shocking discovery that Mary was pregnant, he sought to handle the matter with discretion, so as not to bring shame to Mary, or her family. And while he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream.
Mat 1:20-23 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.”
And that dream changed the world.
While the challenges you may be facing in these tumultuous days may not register on the same historic scale with Joseph’s dilemma, nevertheless it is still true that God often speaks to troubled men in their dreams — showing them what to do.
The Book of Job tells us, “For God does speak—now one way, now another— though man may not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword” (Job 33:14-18, NIV).
Ask God to speak to you in a dream. Sometimes it’s the only way He can get through all of our whirling thoughts and emotions, bypassing our natural disposition to debate what He is saying or doing in our waking lives.
Before you close your eyes in sleep tonight, pray the words of Solomon, “I sleep, but my heart is awake, listening for the voice of my Beloved!” (Son 5:2). You just might awake to a new day in the middle of the night!
August 26, 2023
“I have many aggressive enemies; they hate me without reason. They repay me evil for good and oppose me” (Psalm 38:19-20). Do you ever feel the way David did here?
People speak against you for no reason, betray you, or try to keep you from success. Enemies are something each of us has to deal with in this life, and they can try us in every possible way.
Our natural response to enemies is often to fight back, get even, put them in their place, or demand justice. We can even find ourselves distressed as we try to figure out why they are against us in the first place. The next thing we know, it’s consuming all our thoughts and causing us torment.
When you obey Jesus and respond to your enemies with love, prayer, forgiveness and blessing, you take yourself out of satan’s line of fire and make room for God to handle justice as only He can. You don’t have to worry about your enemies. God says He will handle them on your behalf. How? Here are five ways God promises to deal with your enemies.
Under THE BLESSING, God has promised to deal with our enemies. Gloria Copeland says, “The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before your face. This is THE BLESSING; this belongs to you. They will come against you one way but flee before you seven ways. When you are under the curse, you run from your enemies, but under THE BLESSING, they run from you.” You may not see it firsthand, but you can count on Him to carry out what He has promised.
August 25, 2023
“As birds flying, so will the Lord of Hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also He will deliver it, and passing over He will preserve it.” — Isa 31:5.
WE HAVE in this chapter three beautiful synonyms for God. He is Wise (Isa 31:1-3). The politicians of that time were boasting of their wisdom-in having secured the Egyptian alliance, but their cleverness and strategy were not destined to be of any help to them. Why did they not consult the Holy One of Israel, and seek the help of the Almighty? Was His wisdom only in heavenly and religious matters? Had He not the power to infuse men like Isaiah with a wisdom for earthly and human politics? Surely the boast of wisdom was mockery in the leaders of the people, at that dread hour of Jerusalem’s history, when they turned away from the Light and Glory of the Shekinah to seek human counsellors and worldly stratagems. Not only in religious matters, but in the daily ordering of our human life, “if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting!” (Jas 1:5.)
He is as a Lion (Isa 31:4). The lion is more than a match for the groups of shepherds who endeavour to stand against him with their crooks. He is not afraid of their shouting and views them with contempt. Does not this mean that the mighty presence and power of God would shelter the soul that trusts Him? All the nations might assail the city in vain whilst the Lion of the Tribe of Judah stood as sentry! If you are fearful of heart, and dread the attack of man, flee to God for refuge and defence (Psa 46:1).
He is as a mother-bird and her nest (Isa 31:5). How wonderful these words are! How near God comes to each one of us! We are reminded of our Saviour who longed to gather Jerusalem under His wings! Amid all the fret and worry and anxiety of your life, dare to believe in a Love that will not let you go!
August 24, 2023
“He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer thee.” — Isa 30:19.
THIS IS one of the most exquisite chapters in Isaiah’s prophecy. Notice its profound teaching. God permitted the Assyrian to come because of the deep lessons it would teach the king and people that certain abuses must be checked. The siege would surely come, and they would know something of the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, but the Almighty would be near, speaking to His people not only by their sorrows, but by His servants, and by the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Thus we have an example of the persuasive providence of God. His grace surrounds and keeps His people, but if we wilfully sin, we break the cordon of His protection. When we repent and turn back again to cry to Him, the gentle hand of the Lord will bind up our wounds and soothe our spirits; songs break forth in the night, and our heart is filled with gladness.
The latter part of this chapter (Isa 30:27-33) describes the coming of Sennacherib’s troops. They are terrible, and yet there was a sense in which they were called into existence with God: “Behold the Name of the Lord cometh from afar.” The advance is compared to a terrific thunderstorm, and then to the rush of a mountain torrent. In Isa 30:28 the final check is given, as when a wild animal is lassoed and brought to its knees. Presently the enemy would vanish silently, and once more the stricken land would he ploughed up for sowing the seed, streams would flow as before, and joyful harvests reaped.
How tender and gracious are these words to those in pain and distress. Be of good cheer, God has not forgotten to be gracious to you! Take to heart these sweet promises, and ask that the counterpart of these blessings may be granted in your experience.
August 23, 2023
“The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” (Pro 10:22, NIV)
In a day when the Economy is tanking and frustrations (as well as fears) are rising, Wealth must be measured by more than one’s bank account. For the value of a man’s life is not in what he possesses — it is seen in the difference he made for the better in the lives of those he touched during his years on the earth.
Many a wealthy man has gone to his grave cursed. Consider the timeless words of Sir Walter Scott –
“High though his titles, proud his name,his wealth as wish can claim;those titles, power, and pelf –wretch, con-centered all in self,, shall forfeit fair renown,, doubly dying, shall go downthe vile dust, from whence he sprung,, unhonored, and unsung.”
, it is possible to become so captured by greed that one’s life ultimately becomes ravaged by sorrow. You do not want this to happen to you.
Listen to what the Bible tells us — “But they that will be rich (i.e., crave riches) fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1Ti 6:9-10).
This is the World’s way to wealth. On the other hand — we have God’s way. “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.”
Should the Lord pour out His blessings upon your life and your riches increase — then respond by deepening your devotion to His name and expanding your passion for His purposes in the earth. See to it that your life exhibits humility in exaltation, that your generosity is applied with wisdom, your charity exercised in love, and your kindness to those who struggle from day to day becomes legendary.
That’s the true wealth of a devout life. It is what Legends are made of in this world…and in the Next!
August 22, 2024
Revelation 22:5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
And they shall reign for ever and ever. Again, we see the idea of authority or reigning. Why? What is the source of their authority? The light that the Lord God gives them. What is the light of God, what is the light of the kingdom? It is the light that is in His word, the light revealed to us by the Holy Spirit as we ponder and feed upon God’s word. And what is that light in reality? It is the light of Jesus, the Living Word.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Someone said it this way, and I paraphrase; in Him was life, and the life was the light that enlightens the hearts of men.
The light of that heavenly place that we see in Revelation chapter twenty-two is the light of the Lamb, which is the light we receive from God’s word. It is not a natural light, but heavenly, and once we receive it, we conduct our lives accordingly, or, that is, we walk in the light of it. We walk in the light of heavenly truth, the truth that shines forth to us from the Lamb.
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Jesus is the light of the world. The light that the book of Revelation describes, the light of heaven, is the light that emanates from the Lamb, Who is Himself the Living Word. And that light is available to each and every one who believes on Christ and who takes the time to meditate deeply in the word of God.
John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
August 21, 2023
“God loves a cheerful giver” (2Co 9:7)
Today’s post concludes a series on the topic of “experiencing God’s Presence” — but it launches you forward into a lifestyle that will help others around you experience His presence, too. We discovered that there are three ways, each very practical and easy to do on a personal level, that will open our lives to an unmistakable, undeniable, and unforgettable encounter with God. (i.e., Time in the Word, Time with others who love and serve the Lord, and Time in prayer).
Now I must tell you that there is one thing you can do to help others around you to experience God’s Presence in undeniable measures. And this one thing, when all is said and done, may be of such importance that apart from it you may never fully know the nearness of the Lord in your own life!
In a single word it is Generosity. The previous three each provide a supply of God’s Presence to you; generosity provides for others a supply of God’s presence through you.
When Smiths Wigglesworth saw Niagara Falls for the first time, he exclaimed, “O God, Like that through me!” His hunger for God’s presence and fullness in and through his life were aptly depicted that day. How about you?
Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” (Luk 6:38).
I once heard it said, “You cannot give away what you do not have.” If you are not experiencing God’s presence in your life, it is not likely that you can help others do so either. However, if your ARE experiencing God’s presence, then everything in you is pre-set by God to insure that others will inevitably encounter the Lord when they are with you.
But you must commit yourself to an attitude, indeed, a lifestyle of generosity. Webster’s define this as “characterized by a noble and forbearing spirit, being open-hearted and open-handed in liberality.”
We are not merely talking about money here; this lifestyle of generosity covers everything about you. In the words of Ernest Crosy, “No one could show me where my soul might be; I searched for God, and He eluded me; I served my neighbor, and I found all three.”
Others come to know you as a giver, rather than a taker. A man or woman who is always ready to help in a way that more than makes a difference.
It’s only fitting that this be our grand aspiration. After all, when we consider all that the Lord Jesus has so freely given to us, how can we continue to live any other way but open and generous?
Try it today, and you will see that I am right. Do something that is purposefully generous for someone else – and watch how their lives becomes filled with a sense of God’s presence. Then, ready yourself for an astounding backwash of blessing. For as you have given, so it will be given to you again in good and abundant measure!
August 20, 2023
“The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.” (Pro 16:17, English Standard Version)
For the past few days we have discovered and discussed what it means to experience God’s Presence, and how God has provided us with practical ways to do so. Here is an illustration I think will be helpful to you as you move forward.
Recall the many times you have driven along the highway. You travel at varying speeds, moving in and out of traffic, changing lanes at appropriate junctures, taking in the sights as you travel along.
From this day forward try approaching devotional Bible Study, Christian Fellowship, and Prayer with the same perspective.
As you open the Bible to read or study, realize that you are a Traveler entering onto a highway. The same is true when you pass through the doors of a church filled with Christ-followers, or a home hosting a group of ardent believers. And, again, the same is true when you bow your head and lift your heart to heaven in Prayer. In each of these you are a Traveler entering onto a highway.
You begin slowly and deliberately. Then you pick up speed and begin to move with the flow of traffic. Perhaps you are heading somewhere specific, or just out for a drive. Either way, never forget that somewhere in your journey you are going to be met by God. He is on the highway, also. And He is coming up on you any minute now!
He may be coming from behind, and pull up alongside you. Or He may be coming from the opposite direction, and call you to turn around. He may even take the overpass, and lead you to places you never even thought of going.
The point is that you are GOING. Never read the Bible as a static soul, unmoved by its words and power. Never attend a fellowship of Believers detached and uninvolved, for you will miss the movement of God if you do so. And never go to the place of prayer on auto-pilot; reciting religious phrases, chanting incantations and muttering monotone phrases.
Instead, live your life to the full by seeing yourself as a Traveler, and these three useful provisions as High Ways that lead to an encounter with God!
August 19, 2023
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen!” (2Co 13:14)
There is a place called Prayer. It is a place of Intimate Friendship with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit our Friend. Prayer is the communication center where this friendship finds its fullest benefits in our lives. I’m not talking about prayer as a daily devotional practice at the start of the day. Rather, I see it as an on-going interaction that occurs spontaneously throughout the day in every circumstance we encounter.
“I will talk to the Father,” Jesus said, “and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you! (Joh 14:16-17).
He then said that our Friend, the Holy Spirit, would “make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you” (Joh 14:26). And then He added, “He will confirm everything about me.” (Joh 15:26).
To summarize, Jesus promised that we would never be left alone; that we would have the Holy Spirit as our Friend, always with us – even inside us – making things plain, reminding us of all that Jesus said, and confirm His words as true.
Yet, it would be a safe bet to say that the majority of Christians know very little about the Holy Spirit. This is not unique to the day in which we live; it is a deficiency that has characterized church history for the past few centuries.
Thomas Goodwin wrote in 1660, “There is a general omission in the saints of God, in their not giving the Holy Spirit that glory that is due to His person and for His great work of salvation in us; inasmuch that we have in our hearts almost forgotten this Third Person.” A.W. Pink was far less tactful, “Wherever little honor is done to the Holy Spirit, there is grave cause to suspect the genuineness of any profession of Christianity.”
In 1880, just twenty years after Goodwin made his heartfelt appeal, the Rev. George Smeaton of Scotland wrote, “We may safely affirm that the doctrine of the Spirit is almost entirely ignored.” It seems Goodwin’s earlier words had fallen on stony ground.
Samuel Chadwick articulated the inestimable worth of the Holy Spirit when he said, “The gift of the Spirit is the crowing mercy of God in Christ Jesus. It was for this all the rest was. The Incarnation and Crucifixion, the Resurrection and Ascension were all preparatory to Pentecost. Without the gift of the Holy Spirit all the rest would be useless! The great thing in Christianity is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The essential, vital, central element in the life of the soul, and in the work of the Church — is the Person of the Spirit.” (Joyful News, 1911).
Odd, don’t you think; at how generally unaware we are of His presence? It reminds me of the confession of Jacob when he awoke from his dream, “Surely God was in this place, and I knew it not!” Strange, indeed, that man can be in the presence of the Almighty – and know it not.
Why not make an intentional decision to meet, and get to know this Friend? He is even now awaiting your reply to an open invitation.
August 18, 2023
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen!” (2Co 13:14)
Have you ever experienced the Extravagant Love of God?
Webster’s defines extravagant as “exceeding the limits of reason or necessity; lacking in moderation, balance, or restraint; profuse and lavish.” Have you ever encountered God’s Presence in such measure that He blew your doors off with just how much He loves you?
Zephaniah the prophet gave us a glimpse at this extraordinary, extravagant God. “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zep 3:17).
you know that God wants to overwhelm you with an outpouring of His extravagant love? He wants you to know that even now, despite what you think about yourself, He rejoices over you with joy? He rests in His love for you? He joys over you with singing?
And did you know that the surest way for you to truly experience this extravagance is to spend quality time with real Christians? Hear me carefully – I’m not talking about “church-goers” as much as I’m talking about “Christ-followers.” The two are not always the same.
When you are in the company of a gathering of mere “church-goers” you will be surrounded with legalism, opinion, criticism, judgment and debate. But when you are in the midst of true “Christ-followers” your life will be flooded with extraordinary expressions of God’s extravagant love. You will be supported, believed in, upheld, defended, empowered, and unleashed to pursue God’s highest and best purposes for your life.
In other words, you will experience God’s Presence – and never be the same. To sum it up – spend quality time in God’s Word, and a quantity of time with quality people; do this and God will be with you in extraordinary and extravagant ways!
August 17, 2023
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen!” (2Co 13:14)
The Message calls it, “Amazing Grace. Extravagant Love. Intimate Friendship.”
Practically speaking, and I know this firsthand from years of personal experience, you can enter into the fullness of this by 1) spending time in the Bible, 2) spending time hanging around real Christians, and 3) spending time in a Place called Prayer.
Let me explain each one a bit more fully.
First, start spending quality time reading the Bible and thinking about the things you discover therein. It will not take very long before you are encountered by the undeniable, unmistakable, unforgettable Presence of the Lord. And as you read more and more, you will discover deeper and deeper insights into the Amazing Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God will show you the many ways He has blessed you with extraordinary gifts and abilities provided through Jesus, as well the power to do His will. You will experience His empowering Presence, helping you to be the person He has created you to be and leading you to do the things He has called you to do.
Your confession will be the same as the apostle Paul’s – “I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength!” It is true!
Paul elsewhere said it this way, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1Co 15:10).
The more time you spend delving into the riches of the Word, the more the WORD will come to life in you. You will find yourself living in the “amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Perhaps the better way to say it is. “You will find the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ living in you, and expressing itself through you to others.”
August 16, 2023
I love the way the Message Bible puts this – “The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.”
Amazing Grace. Extravagant Love. Intimate Friendship.
These are the three great gifts already provided to each and every one of us who long to be reconnected in a meaningful and lasting way with the Almighty.
• Amazing Grace. Did you know that God wants to astound you with his empowering presence? He wants to show you that you can trust Him in all things and at all times. His grace is sufficient. The power of Christ at work in and through your life is all you need to be saved, and fully satisfied.
• Extravagant Love. “How great the Father’s love for us; how vast beyond all measure! That He would send His only Son…to make a wretch His treasure!” (Old Irish Hymn) God’s love for you is great and excessive; such that you could never plumb the depths nor reach the heights, nor could you span the width, nor reach the length of it. In one simple and perfect word – His love is extravagant.
• Intimate Friendship. This type of friendship goes far beyond the superficial veneer of social acquaintances, and even bypasses the richer fare of personal relationships. This is intimate friendship – the rarest and deepest of all kinds.
Grace. Extravagant Love. Intimate Friendship.
These three great gifts are ours in Christ. But perhaps you may not be experiencing these things at all; or to any real measure. Yet God has provided us with a very practical way that will insure our full experience of all He has for us.
Are you ready for this – it’s so simple. In fact, it is so simple you may be inclined to dismiss it. But don’t! If you will trust what I am telling you and start purposefully practicing these three practical things, your heart will expand and God will approach in His fullness.
August 15, 2023
You and I were made to experience God’s Presence. From the very beginning, when the Voice of God walked with Adam in the Garden in the cool of the day, we have the quintessential witness of why we were created — companionship with God.
And from the instant the First Couple were driven out of the Garden into a world defiled by sin, mankind’s greatest longing has been for a real and lasting encounter with the Creator; a reconnection to the realization of God’s Presence.
Something deep inside us compels us to find a way to “break on through to the other side.” We know that we were meant for something more than we are presently experiencing; something heavenly. But we also know that something is wrong; that we somehow have been blocked from having access to all that we were created to experience.
Well, I am here to tell you that the breech of friendship, which happened on that day in the Garden when a dark choice was made to hide from God, now that breech has been healed! Full access has been granted, and God is available to any and all who will draw near to Him!
In fact, He has lavishly provided three avenues by which He Himself will draw near to us, and flood our lives with the fullness of His presence – and all the blessings therein.
Paul refers to these three avenues as “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost.” There is a practical dimension to these three extraordinary offers, and you can actually do something that will open your life up for God to draw near to you.
You can experience God’s Presence! You can live your life in the fulness of His friendship!
August 14, 2023
“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.” (Pro 30:8)
There is a place of provision that suits us. A place where we have neither too much, nor too little. But this place is not where many want to live. Instead we aspire to accumulating such a size-able increase that we no longer have to worry about anything.
It’s called a nest egg.
But we are not birds; we are people. Specifically, we are the people of God. The sheep of His pasture. Can we not trust Him to care for us? Must we be always on the hunt for more and more and more? And does this hunt so occupy our thoughts that it causes us to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to those around us who need what we have stored up for ourselves?
Isn’t there something wrong with that?
And what will you do when you finally settle down into your nest egg and only then discover that it’s not enough. Not only that, but that you’ve missed out on a life of extraordinary blessing and fulfillment?
Look at the rest of the passage of Scripture — “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Pro 30:8-9).
Wouldn’t you rather walk in unbroken friendship with Jesus, casting your cares upon Him and watching daily as He proves Himself to you over and over again? Wouldn’t you rather be rich in faith, and radiant in generosity? Wouldn’t you want your life to bring honor to His name by being a blessing to others around you?
Then let the Lord lead you into a balanced life, where daily bread sustains you beyond belief. He is the Lord — and this is what He will do for you.
Fear God, not man. Trust God, not riches. Serve God, not self.
August 11, 2023
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” — Psa 19:1.
GOD IN the Heavens (Psa 19:1-6). The Psalmist knew little or nothing of modern astronomical discovery, but his words can still be applied to the glorious march of suns and mighty planets toward their distant goal. Voices still speak to us from the vault of heaven, though no sound breaks on our listening ears.
The sun was not a god, but a creation. He can only pursue his destined path and retire at night to the tent of darkness. This is evidently metaphor, but is not the orb of natural day a true emblem of the Sun of Righteousness, the Bridegroom of human souls, who once tabernacled amongst men? Let us warm our cold hearts in the heat of His life-giving rays.
God in the Scriptures (Psa 19:7-11). In the first division of the Psalm He is known as EL; here as Jehovah. Nature may reveal His strength, but the Bible tells of His redeeming love. Notice that each sentence contains a name for Scripture, an attribute, and one of its effects. Perfect—no flaw; sure, reliable; right, a straight road; pure, as sunlight; clean, making impurity loathsome; true, as a reflection of God; righteous, revealing His demands, and the way in which we may become righteous. Ponder its effects! The Old Testament, as David knew it, was only a fragment of Divine revelation. What would he have said of our Bible! Alas, for those who instead of enjoying its fragrance are content with merely dissecting it.
God in the heart (Psa 19:12-14). He reads its innermost secrets, and His Blessed Spirit longs to cleanse us from secret faults, and to hold us back from presumptuous sin.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. AMEN.
August 10, 2023
Psalm 107:17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.
Scriptures like this seem to indicate that there is a connection between sin and physical sickness. There is certainly a connection between sin and demonic activity. Except for sin there would be no devil in the earth. Adam’s sin opened the door for the devil to enter this world. And except for the devil there would be no sickness.
Was there sickness in the earth before the devil came? There isn’t any scriptural evidence of sickness in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. Death is a spiritual condition, a condition of separation from God, in which demonic activity thrives. Sin in the earth creates the spiritual atmosphere for sickness to thrive in the earth.
Well, you might say, what about a little baby who is innocent getting sick? The baby didn’t sin. But the spiritual atmosphere that generates sickness still exists in the earth. So if you’re sick it’s not necessarily your sin that caused it.
John 9:2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
I personally believe that sickness has its root in demonic activity. Or, in other words, demonic activity is at the root of sickness and disease. You may disagree with that notion, but it seems that people in the time of Jesus’ ministry had an understanding, even a common knowledge, that sickness was connected to the work of devils. Let’s look at some scriptures that support this idea.
Mark 9:17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;
The man, who had brought his son for healing did not say, My son is deaf and dumb, as we might say. He said, He has a dumb spirit. Why did he say that? Who told him that? Did Jesus correct him and set him straight on the matter?
Mark 9:25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
So then Jesus Himself also addressed this condition as a spirit, a dumb and deaf spirit, a foul spirit. You’ll notice as you read the gospels that Jesus treated devils and sickness in a similar way. He rebuked them both.
What I’m suggesting is that we might get better results if we would deal with the demonic aspect of sickness and disease. Tend to the obvious physical condition, but deal with the spiritual root in the authority of Jesus’ name. I believe that If we take the more Biblical belief that sickness is demonic in origin, we will deal with it differently, and we’ll get better results when praying for the sick.
In Jesus ministry the distinction between demonic activity and sickness is somewhat vague. Let’s look at another example in Mark 7:25-30.
Mark 7:25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
Her daughter had an unclean spirit. She didn’t say, My daughter is sick.
Mark 7:27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.
Have you ever heard the expression “Healing is the children’s’ bread?” That expression comes from this scripture. But this woman who came to Jesus was seeking help in casting out an unclean spirit. It doesn’t say she was asking for healing.
Mark 7:28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.
Yes, Lord, I’m a dog, if you say so. But even the dogs get to eat something under the table.
Mark 7:29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
Jesus said “Go your way, the devil is gone out of your daughter.” He referred to the condition as the work of a devil. She went home and her daughter was well. So then getting rid of an unclean spirit seems to have solved her physical condition. She was cured. She was all better.
Luke 13:11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
The Bible tells us here that she had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years. But this spirit of infirmity manifested in her being bent over and unable to straighten up.
Who said that it was a spirit of infirmity? This is recorded in the gospel of Luke, so it was Doctor Luke, the physician. Did Jesus command the devil to leave? No, He said, Woman, you are loosed.
Luke 13:13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
He laid hands on her and the spirit of infirmity left her. And she straightened up, for the first time in eighteen years.
Matthew 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
It seems to be evident that in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry demonic activity and sickness ran together? Have things changed so much from Bible days to now? Or have we merely changed the way we view things?
I heard someone make a shocking statement some years ago. They said, all sickness and disease is spiritual. I had a hard time with that but now, just a few years later, it seems to make sense.
Well, brother, I just don’t believe that. That’s okay, you can believe whatever you want to. But did you know that it does make a difference what you believe? Do you recall that Jesus had some difficulty in His hometown of Nazareth.
Mark 6:5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief.
Unbelief is a form of belief. They believed the wrong thing, and it stopped the power of God. It didn’t say He wouldn’t do any mighty work. It said He couldn’t.
Let’s put some thought and meditation into the idea that sickness and disease are of the devil and that they originate in demonic activity, activity of the devil. Then we will approach praying for the sick in a different way. It will become an exercise of the divine authority that Jesus endowed all believers with.
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
August 8, 2023
The teaching of the scriptures about the eons provides answers to frustrating questions concerning the meaning of human existence. God’s purpose in creating man, and God’spurpose of the eons are inseparably related. Many are unfamiliar with this important subject because the facts have been concealed by incorrect and misleading translations of the Bible from the original languages into English.
The eons are the longest periods of time referred to in the Scriptures. Time-wise they are of indefinite duration, but event-wise they are distinctly marked off by great cataclysms which affect the whole earth.
The fact that the same word translated “for ever”; “ever-lasting,” and “eternal” is also translated “world” is a shocking surprise to many believers. Had God meant “world” in these places He would have used the Greek word “kosmos” which means world. In the best literal translations the words “aion” and “aionios” are consistently rendered “age” and “age-abiding” or transliterated “eon” and “eonian.” See Rotherham’s Emphasized Version; Young’s LiteralTranslation; or The Concordant Literal New Testament.
God made the eons (Heb. 1:2) and fitted them out (Heb. 11:3) for the accomplishing of His purpose (Eph. 3:8-11, 1:9-11). During the eonian times, sin, suffering and death enter God’s creation, serve their purpose and are abolished by Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 4:9-11; Col. 1:20; 1 Cor.15:22-28; Rom. 5:18,19; Phil. 2:9-11; John 12:32,33; 1 John 3:8).
The existence of God is not confined to the eons. He made the eons; therefore, He existed before they began. At the conclusion of the eons Jesus Christ will do away with sin (Heb. 9:26) and will abolish death (1 Cor. 15:22-26). All will then be subjected to God and God will be All in all (1 Cor. 15:27-28). Therefore, God continues to exist after the eons have ended. The statement “from everlasting to everlasting thou art God” (Psa. 90:2) is literally “from age to age thou art God.” This does not limit God’s existence to the eons any more than the statement, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Ex. 3:6), excludes Him from being the God of others also. The same is true of the reference to Him as “the eonian God” (Rom. 16:25-26).
During the present wicked eon (Gal. 1:4), Sin reigns, Satan who is said to be “the god of this eon” (2 Cor. 4:4) blinds and deceives mankind, and death swallows up the race (1 Cor. 15:22). But notwithstanding, God is over all and is in supreme control. He is the eonian God. In due time He will deliver the entire creation and bring good out of all the suffering mankind is called upon to endure (Rom. 8:18-23).
Neither is it true that if the eons end, the life of believers in Christ must end. Believers do receive eonian life. But if this is all that God promised, there would be no assurance of life beyond the eons. However, at the end of the eons God abolishes death from His universe (1 Cor. 15:26). This is accomplished by imparting the resurrection life of Christ to all who have not previously received it. Eonian life assures one of life up to that point. Beyond that, death is impossible.
Furthermore, believers are made immortal when the Lord returns (1 Cor. 15:50-57). When one has been made immortal, death is impossible. In the Greek Scriptures endlessness is never expressed in terms of eons or of that which is eonian. The Scriptures never speak of “the endless eons of eternity.” Endlessness is expressed by the use of negatives: “not,” “no not,” “un,” “less.” For example: “Of His kingdom there shall be no end” (ouk estai telos) (Luke 1:33); “endless life” (akatalutou) (Heb. 7:16); “endless genealogies” (aperantois) (1 Tim. 1:4); “nevermore” (ou me eti) (Rev. 18:21-23).
August 7, 2023
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1Th 5:18).
Perhaps you may be thinking, “In everything gives thanks? Are you crazy!? Some things are just too awful; how can I give thanks for everything?”
Wait just a minute before you blow your gasket — he did not say give thanks FOR everything…but IN everything. There is a difference.
Shall we thank God in the good and happy times only, and then question Him, or worse yet — curse Him — when bad and awful times befall us? Of course not! The Bible says IN everything give thanks — for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. In other words, God wants us to trust Him even when things look completely hopeless. Indeed, to trust Him so much that even then we give thanks.
Thanksgiving is the highest expression that exists, for it acknowledges the hand of God at work in everything — even in the midst of things that are awful.
Faith looks past the obvious and see the actual; it goes beyond what is seen, and sees Him who is invisible working all things after the counsel of His will. Our difficulty comes from the fact that we tend to judge things from our limited perspective. God wants to lift our vision to a higher and broader place, where we may see things as He sees them.
Once this happens — everything changes. We no longer gripe and complain, but rather give thanks. Our hearts are unencumbered with the cares of this world, our minds are free from anxiety and stress, and our conversation is filled with life and healing.
The words of Frances R. Havergal (1879) sum it up best –
Light after darkness; gain after loss.after weakness; crown after cross.after bitter; hope after fears.after wandering; praise after tears.
Sheaves after sowing; sun after rain.after mystery; peace after pain.after sorrow; calm after blast.after weariness; sweet rest at last.
Near after distant; gleam after gloom.after loneliness; life after tomb.long agony, rapture of bliss –was the pathway leading to this!
August 2, 2023
God will make obstacles serve His purpose. We all have mountains in our lives. There are people and things that threaten to bar our progress in the Divine life. Those heavy claims, that uncongenial occupation, that thorn in the flesh, that daily cross– we think that if only these were removed we might live purer, tenderer, holier lives; and often we pray for their removal.
“Oh, fools, and slow of heart!” These are the very conditions of achievement; they have been put into our lives as the means to the very graces and virtues for which we have been praying so long. Thou hast prayed for patience through long years, but there is something that tries thee beyond endurance; thou hast fled from it, evaded it, accounted it an unsurmountable obstacle to the desired attainment, and supposed that its removal would secure thy immediate deliverance and victory.
Not so! Thou wouldest gain only the cessation of temptations to impatience. But this would not be patience. Patience can be acquired only through just such trials as now seem unbearable. Go back; submit thyself. Claim to be a partaker in the patience of Jesus. Meet thy trials in Him. There is nothing in life which harasses and annoys that may not become subservient to the highest ends. They are His mountains. He puts them there. We know that God will not fail to keep His promise. “God understandeth the way thereof and knoweth the place thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven”; and when we come to the foot of the mountains, we shall find the way.– Christ in Isaiah, by Meyer
“The meaning of trial is not only to test worthiness, but to increase it; as the oak is not only tested by the storm, but toughened by them.”
August 1, 2023
God’s love has nothing to do with who we are and everything to do with who He is. God is love (1 John 4:8) and His love is perfect, unconditional love that never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8) You can see this by what He did for us on the cross. He was nailed there not for the righteous, but for the lost. Not for the perfect but for the imperfect. Jesus was nailed there for tax collectors like Levi, (Mark 2:14) for the woman by the well living in sin, (John 4:6-18) for the adulteress who deserved to be stoned to death (John 8:3-11) and He was nailed on the cross for you and me.
If He would do that for us before we even thought of being good, how can we doubt that He love us? How can we doubt that He would still use us now, as we endeavour to be more and more like Him? For just as God loves sinners, He will use sinners.
July 31, 2023
“…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (Ecc 3:7).
There was a logger in Oregon who was out of work because of the controversy surrounding an endangered species—the white spotted owl. The woods where the loggers had been working was now declared a natural reserve for this one bird. You can imagine the stir that was created when this logger, Billy, was arrested for shooting one of the owls.
The Press, ever ready to make a national story out of anything, demanded swift justice for this murderous brute of a man. The Judge, a childhood friend of Billy, was in a real bind. When Billy was brought before him he said, “Billy, I can’t believe you would be so stupid as to go and shoot one of them blasted birds. You know I’m gonna have to throw the book at you!”
“Yes, your Honor,” Billy respectfully replied, “But, first could I tell you why I shot it?”
The Judge agreed, and Billy told his tale. “Your Honor, I’ve been out of work for a few months now, and the only way I can feed my family is by hunting. I was in the woods looking for game – and the only thing I could find was that owl. I didn’t shoot it to break the Law; I just needed to feed my kids.”
With that the Judge shifted in his chair and said, “This may change things for you. I’m sure once the Press hears the rest of the story they will understand if we let you off with just a fine or something. But, before I call them in here,” the Judge continued, “I’m curious to know—just what does a white spotted owl taste like?”
“Oh,” Billy answered, sealing his fate, “it tastes like a blend between a California Condor and an American Bald Eagle.”
It’s better to keep you mouth shut and have everybody think you’re a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt. Solomon wrote, “Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise; as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart.” (Pro 17:28).
In a day when opinions are buzzing about like a swarm of flies, sometimes saying nothing is the best thing to do!
July 30, 2023
Have you ever thought of temptation as an itch? When we have poison ivy, an insect bite, etc., we know in our heads not to scratch because scratching will just make it worse! The “itch” almost begs us to scratch though!
This past week I was picking up trash in our yard that was left by a storm, and I must have picked up something that had touched some dreaded poison ivy!
The itch of poison ivy is almost unbearable! However, if I give in to the temptation to scratch it, the poison will spread and it becomes that much worse!
As I did my best to refrain from scratching, it made me think of how temptation can seem overwhelming at times in our lives – like an itch. It would be so easy to just give in and scratch, but that wouldn’t make it better. Just like the poison ivy will spread and become that much worse, sin will too if we give in and scratch it!
Temptation comes with living in this fallen world.
Paul states it plainly in the first part of 1 Corinthians 10:13 –“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man;”
Temptation in and of itself is not sin. Giving in to the itch of temptation leads to sin though. There are those things we allow ourselves to brush up against or even jump right in because our flesh wants to experience it. God, however, does not tempt us.
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;”
There is a huge difference between being tempted and being tested. Temptation is a pull toward evil, a pull toward sin. God would never tempt us to sin; Jesus came to save us from sin!
So what do we do? First of all, don’t touch the poison; stay away from it! Brushing up against it just makes it itch more! Do not give in to the itch!
I coated the poison ivy with a medicated spray that helps it not itch and causes it to begin to dry up and heal. God’s Word is healing. When we turn to God, He is always there to help us resist temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
Jesus time and time again reminded His disciples to pray when facing temptation.
Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus Himself was tempted by Satan. The Gospels record how Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted.
“Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels began to serve Him.”
Jesus overcame temptation though; He did NOT sin. And by His power and life, overcoming temptation is possible for us as believers in Him!
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
1 John 5:4
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
Galatians 5:16 ”But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
The next time you experience an itch, let it remind you to also be aware and beware of temptation. Don’t give in to the itch…it will just cause the poison of sin to spread! Instead, run to God in prayer and get into His Word! Overcoming temptation is possible through Christ!
July 29, 2023
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Meditation is not a strange, mystical, or mysterious thing, at least not when you’re talking about meditation in the word of God. Meditation in the Bible has nothing to do with New Age spiritual practices or the religious rituals of the followers of Eastern religions.
Meditation, as defined in most English language dictionaries, is merely the act of thinking deeply into a thing, the placing of considerable thought upon a subject. And if that’s the case, then we have all been involved in meditation most of our lives. Any time we have thought a great deal about something we are deeply interested in, any time we have endeavored to think through and solve a problem, any time we have brainstormed and planned out a project to do, we have engaged in meditation.
Genesis 24:63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide:
Psalm 63:6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
In both of these scripture verses the word “meditate” is used to mean merely thinking about something, musing, pondering. Isaac went out in the field to ponder things. The man in Psalm 63:6 thought about the LORD upon his bed, and pondered about God as he served on his night watch. This man used meditation to pass the time, which is exactly what most people do.
One of the meanings of this Hebrew word translated “meditate” is to mutter or utter. What does that mean? It has to do with muttering something under our breath, as when we are having an inner conversation with ourselves, perhaps trying to solve some problem we are dealing with. We will often talk with ourselves but not loud enough for others to hear us. So, muttering has to do with having an inner conversation with ourselves while pondering something. And that is very natural and normal behavior.
More than just Reading
And so, to wrap this up, meditation in the word of God is simply taking the time to think deeply into and ponder the things we are reading in the word of God, more deeply that you would normally do while merely reading. Reading is a mental activity by which we gain information, while meditation is more of a pondering and a reflecting upon what we have read.
Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
July 28, 2023
The Nephilim are mentioned in Genesis 6. They are often identified with the Anakim of Numbers 13:33 and the Rephaim of Deut. 2:20. Let’s take a look.
The word “Nephilim” is the untranslated pronunciation of the Hebrew נְפִילִים. It means giants and was translated in the Septuagint into the Greek γίγαντες, gigantes. The word is found in only two places, Genesis 6:4 (pre-flood) and Numbers 13:33 (post-flood).
There is debate over the identity of the Nephilim in Genesis 6. Some people believe that the Nephilim are the offspring of sexual relations between fallen angels and human women. In support of this view Jude 6 is often referenced: “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,” (Jude 1:6). This would mean that the fallen angels (The Hebrew naphal means ‘to fall’) had sexual intercourse with women. Whether or not this is possible is not explicitly stated in Scripture. However, we do know that angels can appear as humans (Hebrews 13:2) and are exceedingly powerful (2 Peter 2:11), so it is conceivable that they can manifest with total biological capabilities as well.
Another view held by Christians is that the Nephilim are the descendants of Seth, the son of Adam. The term “sons of God” would designate great power and authority the same way a king would be addressed with the term “your Majesty.” In this view, the men who were supposed to be godly took wives who were unbelievers and their offspring are said to have been fallen ones.
Finally, there are others, non-Christians, who believe that the Nephilim are aliens from other worlds. This last view is certainly unbiblical.
According to Harper’s Bible Dictionary, the Nephilim are “people of the pre-Flood generation, the offspring of daughters of men and divine beings (Gen. 6:1-4). Their generation and their conduct seem to have provoked the Flood as punishment (Gen. 6:5-8:22). In Num. 13:33 the Israelite spies describe the inhabitants of Hebron as Nephilim–so large and powerful that ‘we seemed like grasshoppers.’ The name could mean ‘fallen ones’ and allude to stories in related cultures of rebellious giants defeated by the gods in olden times” (cf. Isaiah 14:12). Of course, a problem with this view is how did the Nephilim survive the flood? We see a post-flood account of them in Num. 13:33, “There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
One issue is the use of the term Nephilim before and after the flood. If all of the inhabitants of the world were destroyed, except for those on Noah’s Ark, then where did the Nephilim of Numbers 13:33 come from? There are two possibilities. First, it could be that if the fallen angels had sex with women before the flood, there’s no reason to conclude that could not have done so again after the flood and produced more giants. Or, it could be that the Nephilim of Numbers 13:33 are large people and were referenced using the pre-flood term.
The range of options is varied. Consider this compilation of quotes:
July 27, 2023
Popular myth: Jesus came to save the sinner from his destination of everlasting Hell. Not exactly true! Hell was never a place that the Jews were hoping to be saved from, since they didn’t even believe in it! But they did need to be saved from their sins and consequences of them; namely death. Jesus came as the Anointed One to fulfill all of God’s plan for the earth-that through Him might come the salvation, deliverance of sin, peace, kingdom of God and all that God had promised through the Old Testament scriptures. There is much we can say here, but for the sake of brevity we will limit our points to a few key passages. Please take the time to look up the verses that are referenced.
Think about it…
If Hell is real, why does Psalm 22 (one of the most prophetic passages in scripture concerning the Messiah) promise that because of the cross, ” All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’S and He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship , all those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, even he who cannot keep his soul alive ” (Psalm 22:27-29 NASB).
If Hell is real, did Jesus fail in His mission? He said, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47).
If Hell is real and most find their way to it, was Jesus lying when He said if He was lifted up (crucified) that He would “draw” (“drag” in the original Greek word, “helkyo”) all mankind unto Himself? (John 12:32)
If Hell is real and eternal, how can the Scriptures speak of the gathering of all things into Christ? (Eph. 1:10)
If Hell is real and eternal, how can all things be subdued unto Christ? (1 Corinthians 15:28, Philippians 3:21, Hebrews 2:8).
If Hell is real and eternal, how can it be that the scriptures promise that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord? (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10).
If Hell is real and eternal, how will Jesus ever see the travail of His soul and be satisfied (Isaiah 53:11)? If the traditional understanding is correct, most of those He came to save will never experience His salvation. Do we believe that this would be satisfying to Jesus?
If Hell is real, and God sent Jesus to save people from it, can we really say that the will and pleasure of God has prospered in His hand, since, according to traditional theology, only a few will ever be saved? (Isaiah 53:10, and 55:11).
If Hell is real, and the devil is the one who deceives people into going there, isn’t he ultimately the winner in the war for souls? After all, traditional interpretation of the Bible says that more people will end up in Hell than in Heaven. If so, how can we really call Satan the defeated enemy and Christ the victor?
If Hell is real and most of mankind will remain in an eternal deathlike state of torment with no chance to repent or escape, how exactly are we to understand and rejoice in the fact that Jesus destroyed death and him that had the power of death (Satan)? (Hebrews 2:14-15, 1 John 3:8, Hosea 13:14, 1 Corinthians 15:55, 1 Corinthians 15:26 etc.)
If Hell is eternal, how can the increase of Christ’s government and of peace have no end? (Isaiah 9:7).
FACT: The term “saved” has evolved in Christianity to mean something different than it did to the original readers and hearers of Scripture. The Greek words, “sozo” and “soteria” embrace the broad meaning of being rescued, delivered, healed and saved from danger. These words were applied in a variety of ways throughout the New Testament. There is much more to the salvation of Christ than most Christians know. Sadly, much of the church is robbed of fullness of their salvation by embracing a limited and futuristic view of what it actually means– (i.e. “going to Heaven when they die”).
The term “saved” has evolved in Christianity to mean something different than it did to the original readers and hearers of Scripture.
Popular Myth: “Eternity” is a theme that is throughout the entire Bible, including eternal punishment. Not exactly true! We are not denying that the New Testament is full of warnings of judgment, and that the words, “everlasting” and “eternal” appear often in most translations. However, a careful study of the words that are translated to mean forever or everlasting, will prove that they have been mistranslated. The question is not whether or not God will punish sin and rebellion, but rather how He does it, and for what purpose and how long the correction lasts.
July 26, 2023
Popular myth: Jesus spoke of Hell more than He did of Heaven. This is not true! Jesus warned the Jews many times of impending destruction, both nationally and individually. He used several different terms to refer to punishment/destruction, some of which were erroneously translated as the same word, “Hell” by Bible translators. We do not deny that God will indeed judge the whole world, nor do we wish to make light of His judgments. We are challenging the belief that His judgment on sin and unbelief is eternal torment/Hell and never-ending separation from God. Certainly, Jesus spent a lot of his ministry warning people to repent or reap the consequences, (particularly “Gehenna.”) But could we be reading more into His warnings than He originally intended?
Think about it…
If Hell is real, why were most of the warnings pertaining to punishment/Gehenna directed to Israel , particularly the Lord’s own disciples as well as the Pharisees? The first great cluster of references to Gehenna, are found in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5:22, 29, 30), Jesus’ great sermon to His disciples in which He warned that one was in danger of Gehenna for the likes of calling someone a fool. This is a far cry from our modern Evangelical interpretation that says not accepting Jesus as your Savior is what sends someone to Hell. Are we perhaps missing the symbolism that Jesus originally intended?
If Hell is real, aren’t we taking verses out of context when we warn non-Jewish sinners who are not part of the Mosaic covenant God made with the nation of Israel about consequences for sin which have nothing to do with them since they are not under that covenant?
Since the concept of Hell doesn’t exist in the Old Testament, how could Jesus and his disciples teach that salvation was deliverance from a place that is not even found in their Scriptures? And if He was introducing the subject for the first time, why did He do it so casually, as though His listeners already understood what He was talking about?
If Hell is real, since some English translations use the word Hell for the Greek word “Gehenna,” in the New Testament, why didn’t this same place (Gehenna) get translated Hell in the many places where it appears in the Hebrew form “ga ben Hinnom” in the Old Testament?
If the Jews did not understand “Gehenna” as a symbol of everlasting torture, but rather as a place of shame, filth, and defilement (where Israel participated in the grossest form of idol worship), why does modern theology ascribe more to the word than the original meaning did? The teaching of Gehenna has evolved in Jewish teachings to include punishment in the afterlife; but even today, Gehenna still does not mean “endless” punishment to the Jews.
If Hell is real how could the Apostle Paul (who was especially commissioned by God to preach the gospel to the nations) say that he had declared the entire counsel of God (Acts 20:27), when indeed he never warned of “Hell” in any of his letters? If Hell is real, wouldn’t Paul, of all people, warn of it repeatedly?
If Hell is real, the sin/death of Adam has had a far more powerful effect on the world than the resurrection life of Christ! And yet Paul declares in Romans 5 that Christ’s victory is far greater than Adam’s transgression! Listen to Paul’s confidence in the work of Christ! If Paul believed in eternal hell for the majority of men, how could he write the following verses?
“.Just as the result of one trespass (Adam’s) was condemnation for all men , so also the result of one act of righteousness (Christ’s) was justification that brings life for all men . For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. ( Romans 5:18,19).
“Since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22)
“For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4;10).
(The above verses are just a few of the many verses where Paul writes of a pre-eminent Christ that far transcends the traditional Christian view. This article is full of many more New Testament references by Paul that display his views of the Christ triumphant, unlimited, all-powerful, all-conquering, and victorious).
If Hell is real, why is it that the only time Paul even mentioned “Hell” in any of his epistles, was declare the triumph of Christ over it? (1 Corinthians 15:55). The word “Grave” in the passage is the Greek word “Hades.”
If Hell is real, why is it not mentioned once in the book of Acts in any the evangelistic sermons that were recorded by the early Apostles?
If Hell is real why do some of the best Bible scholars and Bible teachers say it is not in the Greek or Hebrew text? (William Barclay, John A.T. Robinson, Lightfoot, Westcott, F.W. Farrar, Marvin Vincent, etc.)
If Hell is real, why does the word itself come from the Teutonic “Hele” (goddess of the underworld “Hell” of northern Europe ). The description of this ancient mythological place has very little resemblance anymore to the modern Christian image of Hell. See any encyclopedia or dictionary for the origin of the word.
July 25, 2023
Popular myth : Hell is an established Biblical doctrine that is in the Bible from start to finish. This is not true! Two thirds of the Bible (the Old Testament) does not mention Hell at all. (“Sheol,” the Old Testament word that is sometimes translated as Hell, only means “grave” by definition, and it is where everyone in the Old Testament went when they died–good or evil, Jew or Gentile). Thus the Old Testament does not contain the concept of Hell!
Think about it…
If Hell is real, why didn’t God make that warning plain right at the beginning of the Bible? God said the penalty for eating of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was death- -not “eternal life” in fire and brimstone.
If Hell is real, why wasn’t Cain warned about it, or Sodom and Gomorrah , or any of those who committed the earliest recorded “sins?”
If Hell is real why didn’t Moses warn about this fate in the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic Covenant consisting of over 600 laws, ordinances, and warnings? The Mosaic Law simply stated blessings and cursings in this lifetime.
Did God expect Israel to learn about the afterlife from the Pagan Gentiles?
If Hell is real, why are its roots in paganism, rather than the Bible? Many nations surrounding Israel in the Old Testament believed in Hell-like punishment in the afterlife, for they served bloodthirsty and evil “gods,” while Israel simply taught the grave (sheol) and a hope of a resurrection. If Hell is real, why was the revelation of it first given to pagan nations, instead of God’s covenant people? Did God expect Israel to learn about the afterlife from the Pagan Gentiles? If so, why did He repeatedly warn Israel to not learn of their ways?
If Hell is real, why did God tell the Jews that burning their children alive in the fire to the false god Molech, (in the valley of Gehenna ) was so detestable to Him? God said that such a thing “never even entered His mind” (Jer. 32:35). How could God say such a thing to Israel , if He has plans to burn alive a good majority of His own creation in a spiritual and eternal Gehenna of His own making?
FACT: The King James Bible erroneously translates the word “Sheol” as Hell a total of 31 times in the Old Testament, thus setting a foundation for that doctrine in the New Testament as well as the majority of Bible translations to follow the KJV. Even so, most new translations have completely eliminated Hell from the Old Testament, as honest and better scholarship has demanded. The Jewish version of the Old Testament (the Tanakh) has no concept of Hell in it. The importance of this fact cannot be over-emphasized. If a doctrine does not appear as seed form in the books of the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, it cannot fairly be taught as a major biblical doctrine, if indeed it can be taught as biblical at all!
July 24, 2023
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need – Matthew 6:33
There are many things you can seek to live for in life. You can live for a lot of things. You can live for your physical appearance. You can live for a successful career. You can live for pleasure. But here is what Jesus said: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33)
With those words, Jesus gave us the secret to living a worry-free life: Instead of worry, put God and His will first in your life. Among a number of options, put God in the number one position.
Here is what your goal should be: to honor God in everything you do. Here is what you need to ask yourself: “As I’m doing this thing, what is my goal?” If your goal is just to make money no matter what it takes, you have the wrong goal. Your goal should be to honor God, give honest work, and have personal integrity and a good testimony in the workplace.
When the day is done, you want to have a good name and a good reputation. Proverbs 22:1 says, “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold” (nlt).
Seek first the kingdom of God. If you want a life free of worry, anxiety, and fear, then put God’s kingdom before everything else. Seek Him first, and He will take care of you.
By Greg Laurie
July 23, 2023
A study of the Scriptures will give us strong evidence that the LORD has given us healing, through Jesus Christ. Healing is more than a promise. It is, based on the Scriptures, a gift that has been purchased for us by the Lord Jesus at Calvary, even as our salvation was purchased for us there.
One of the key passages for healing is found in Isaiah Chapter 53, though there are numerous other Scriptures on healing in the Bible. Let’s look first at a few other Scriptures on healing, and then go to Isaiah.
The Redemptive Names of Jehovah
Exodus 15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
In this verse in Exodus 15, we are given one of the redemptive names of Jehovah, in the phrase “I am the LORD that healeth thee.” The LORD was assuring Israel that, if they listened to Him and did what He said to do, that He would not bring on them any of the things that He had judged Egypt with, and said, “for I am the LORD Who heals you.”
There are seven redemptive names of Jehovah. The word “redemptive” is used, because these seven redemptive names reveal what He has become to us in the redemption we have in Christ. And one of the things He has become to us in Christ is that He is the LORD Who heals us.
I Will Take Sickness Away
Exodus 23:25 And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.
Here is another promise of healing to the people of God. It spoke of the blessing of the provision of food and water, and the removal of sickness from the midst of them.
Fulfilled at Calvary
As we study these things, and we recognize that the Old Covenant was a prophetic book that was fulfilled in Christ, it should be readily recognized that Jesus Himself fulfilled this verse at Calvary, when He, according to Isaiah, bore our sicknesses, and carried our pains. In other words, He took sickness away from the midst of God’s people.
The Suffering Servant
Isaiah 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isaiah 53:5 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.
This was a prophetic picture of what would take place hundreds of years later at Calvary. Isaiah was foreseeing the suffering of Christ, as well as understanding the significance of what he was seeing. He saw the suffering servant, and he was given knowledge as to what it meant, that is, that He suffered not for Himself, but for us.
Our Sicknesses and Our Pains
The help of a good Concordance gives further insight into what Isaiah is saying in these verses. The word “griefs” comes from a Hebrew word that means sicknesses and diseases. The word “sorrows” is from a word that means pains and sorrows. We could read it this way; Surely He has borne our sicknesses, and carried away our pains.
The Three Gifts of Calvary
There are three things that Jesus purchased for us at Calvary. He was wounded for our transgressions, or to deliver us from sins, the chastisement for our peace, or our Shalom, or our ability to prosper, was upon Him, and with His stripes we were healed. He purchased our righteousness, our prosperity, and our healing.
Matthew 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
Matthew 8:17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
This, of course, is a reference that Matthew makes to Isaiah 53:4, that says that surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. Matthew makes it very clear that the Scripture in Isaiah is referring to physical infirmities and sicknesses, and not spiritual sickness, as some would suggest. Jesus physically healed people to fulfil the prophesy in Isaiah 53:4.
In Matthew 8:16 Jesus healed people before He went to Calvary. But Isaiah is referring to the event of Calvary, and the suffering of Christ on the cross. So, even though Jesus healed people in His earthly ministry before He went to the cross, it was at Calvary that He consummated and fulfilled the Scriptures, taking away the sicknesses as well as the sins of the world.
By Whose Stripes
1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
The Apostle Peter refers to Isaiah 53:4 in this verse in 1 Peter 2:24. He is again reiterating the truth presented by Isaiah, that the suffering servant that Isaiah saw, bore our sins, and by His stripes we were healed. He took away our sins, and He took away our sicknesses.
Receive it by Faith
What Jesus did for us at Calvary must be received by faith, whether it be the forgiveness of sins, or the healing of our sicknesses. Begin to believe in, to exercise faith in, the finished work of Calvary. Begin to study Isaiah 53:1-5. Meditate in it, and ponder it. As we look to Calvary, we will begin to lay hold of those things that Jesus purchased for us there.
July 22, 2023
Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it. Psalm 141:5
We all need a little correction sometimes. We get a little bit off the path and do something we shouldn’t do. Or, maybe we’re engaged in something that isn’t bad but appears to be bad. It can send out the wrong signal.
In times like these a Christian friend, instead of gossiping about us, may approach us and say, “You know what? I think this could be a problem. You might not want to do this. You might want to be careful and really put your guard up in this area.”
It might sting a little bit to hear that. We may even feel a little embarrassed. But at the same time, we’ll be thankful that a friend cared and told us the truth.
David wrote in one of his psalms, “Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it” Psalm 141:5.
He was saying, “Let those who are godly, who are righteous, correct me if necessary.”
The great British preacher C. H. Spurgeon said of this verse, “He prefers the bitters of gracious company to the dainties of the ungodly. He would rather be smitten by the righteous than be feasted by the wicked. He gives a permit to faithful admonition, he even invites it.”
The Bible says, “An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy” Proverbs 27:5-6
However, sometimes we’ll bludgeon people with the truth instead of lovingly share it to prevent them from going the wrong direction. But Ephesians 4:15 reminds us, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church”.
A true friend, a true man or woman of God, will tell you the truth and try to keep you from hurting yourself.
From Harvest Ministries
July 21, 2023
Jesus’ story of the separation of the sheep and the goats is often purported to be a clear example of why universal salvation must be antithetical to an accurate understanding of Scripture. The words of Jesus are translated as “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). The point often brought up is that if “eternal life” means a blissful life with no end, then eternal punishment must mean a painful life with no end. It is said that one cannot hold the Greek word aionion (translated here as eternal) to mean “everlasting” in one case and yet deny that it means “everlasting” in the other case. If you throw out the idea of everlasting suffering for some, you are also throwing out the Lord’s promise to others of everlasting life with Him! At least that is how the argument goes…
It is certainly clear that Jesus is telling the story to provide an obvious contrast between the sheep and the goats and their two different destinations. In fact, Jesus loved to tell stories like that. He talked of good fish and bad fish, wheat and tares, five foolish virgins and five wise virgins. There is no denying the contrast between the pairs that Jesus presents in his stories. The disagreement is simply over whether the distinction is an everlasting one. There have been numerous essays describing how the controversial passage in Matthew could be quite plausibly translated along the lines of “And these will go to the chastening of that Age, but the just to the life of that Age”, and how the “chastening of that Age” will lead to repentance while “the life of that Age” will continue forever, rooted in the eternality of God and his goodness. However, that is not the focus here.
The question here is, why does the symmetry of Matthew 25:46 take precedence over other descriptions of parallels that make an important theological point? There is also the symmetry of Adam and Christ mentioned by Paul: “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people” (Romans 5:18); “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
To hold to everlasting torment, one has to deny the comprehensive nature of the second half of the assertion in both of Paul’s statements. In other words, any person who wants to hold fast to the purported unending symmetry of the contrast presented in Matthew 25:46 will have to break the perfect symmetry of Romans 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:22. But if the Adam/Christ verses are allowed to remain intact, and the Matthew 25:46 passage is interpreted as describing an impermanent punishment for the goats (as the Greek, at the very least, seems to allow for), then we can claim that—although there is an important difference between sheep and goats—a goat can actually be transformed into a sheep. In fact, in the plans of God, all goats will become sheep.
There is another important biblical parallel to consider. It shows how a betrayer of Christ can repent and be restored to a right relationship. In John 18, Peter denies Christ three times while standing around a fire to keep warm. In John 21, after Jesus has resurrected and reunited with the disciples, the group eats fish and bread around a fire on the shore. In John 18:18 and John 21:9 the same word for the fire is used, “anthrakian,” which means a fire of coals. Perhaps the author is trying to demonstrate a connection between the two scenes. The Lord asks Peter three times to confirm Peter’s love for him. The third time Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” the Bible says that Peter was saddened. It could be that he simply felt that Jesus didn’t believe his answers, but it could also be that he understood (on hearing the question asked for a third time) that Jesus was referring back to the three times that Peter had denied his Lord before the crucifixion, and so Peter felt ashamed of his sin. But here Jesus gave his disciple an opportunity to replace each of his negative lies of the past with three positive responses. The parallel is clear: Peter denied Jesus three times while around a fire of coals and, after the resurrection, Peter meets his Savior around a fire of coals and responds three times to Jesus’ inquiries, confirming his love for Christ.
“That is a fine example of how one may repent during this life time,” some might say, “but that doesn’t mean anyone can be forgiven after they have passed on. As in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, the gulf is fixed at death. When we speak of biblical dichotomies, we can’t forget that pair of characters.”
Sure enough, the valid dichotomy between Lazarus and Dives is important and can’t be overlooked, but that parable cannot be used to disqualify the larger picture, which is of a symmetry between the Good Beginning and the Good End. The gulf between the two souls is fixed for a determined time and purpose, but it is not meant to represent a doctrine of everlasting separation between the blissful and the miserable.
A position often advocated for—as one of the softer conceptions of the relationship between those suffering forever in hell and those delighting forever in heaven—is that God will provide certain conditions for the elect that will allow for them to be ignorant or blind to the suffering of the damned. But isn’t there an eerie resemblance here to the way the Rich Man lived as Lazarus suffered outside of his gates? He gorged himself on fine wine and food while the wounded beggar was in agony right outside of his mansion. Out of sight, out of mind. How could God, if he were indeed all-loving and all-merciful (as he surely is), prepare an eternal home for so many that mirrors the self-absorbed lifestyle of the Rich Man who was so heavily criticized by Jesus in the very parable that is so often used to advocate for everlasting conscious torment?
That problematic position of the ignorance of the blessed in heaven is preferable, though, to the one sometimes advocated by the defenders of the “traditional” hell—that is, the concept that those in heaven will look across the abyss between glory and horror and will revel in the display of divine justice being presented by the ever-weeping sinners suffering without intermission. In this gloomy account of things, the sins of the reprobate are kindling for the eternal fires of hell—a furnace that warms the souls of those in heaven. The renewable resource of sins continually sinned and everlastingly punished provide a constant source of joy for those who live in the New Jerusalem. It is only by continually looking out on the misery of the damned that the redeemed can appreciate their own comfortable and happy state.
This is not the symmetry embedded in the biblical story. There is indeed divine judgement and a distinction between followers of Christ and enemies of his Kingdom. But the distinction is not everlasting, and the two will become one. The deepest symmetry in God’s story is this: in the beginning, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31) and in the end all things will be very good again, as “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). The picture is of a universe created good and a universe restored to the good. Perhaps the simplest way to put it is this: In the beginning, God was good. In the end, God will be good. And in the meantime? You can be sure that, despite any suffering and sin we see or experience now, God is working things toward the good.
July 20, 2023
Oh! what enlightenment, what joys, what consolation, what delight of heart is experienced by that man who has learned to feed on Jesus, and on Jesus alone. Yet the realization which we have of Christ’s preciousness is, in this life, imperfect at the best. As an old writer says, “‘Tis but a taste!” We have tasted “that the Lord is gracious,” but we do not yet know how good and gracious he is, although what we know of his sweetness makes us long for more. We have enjoyed the firstfruits of the Spirit, and they have set us hungering and thirsting for the fulness of the heavenly vintage. We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption. Here we are like Israel in the wilderness, who had but one cluster from Eshcol, there we shall be in the vineyard. Here we see the manna falling small, like coriander seed, but there shall we eat the bread of heaven and the old corn of the kingdom. We are but beginners now in spiritual education; for although we have learned the first letters of the alphabet, we cannot read words yet, much less can we put sentences together; but as one says, “He that has been in heaven but five minutes, knows more than the general assembly of divines on earth.” We have many ungratified desires at present, but soon every wish shall be satisfied; and all our powers shall find the sweetest employment in that eternal world of joy. O Christian, antedate heaven for a few years. Within a very little time thou shalt be rid of all thy trials and thy troubles. Thine eyes now suffused with tears shall weep no longer. Thou shalt gaze in ineffable rapture upon the splendour of him who sits upon the throne. Nay, more, upon his throne shalt thou sit. The triumph of his glory shall be shared by thee; his crown, his joy, his paradise, these shall be thine, and thou shalt be co-heir with him who is the heir of all things.
July 19, 2023
The short answer is that I take an annihilationist view concerning judgment texts. Meaning I view annihilation as the annihilation of the old man. To put that into some immediate context—Saul the persecutor of Christians is judged and annihilated, Paul the apostle to the gentiles is brought to life.
As for logical leaps, I think you’d have to decide what’s a greater ‘logical leap’—that God who is Love, Beauty, and Truth Himself, knowingly created those who he would then be eternally tormenting in hell, or that God is victorious in bringing all of creation to freedom in Christ and into unity with His own will, even if it takes an ‘eternity’ to do so?
To quote George MacDonald;
“I love the light, and will not believe at the word of any man, or upon the conviction of any man, that that which seems to me darkness is in God.”
I’m not willing to say that God created the vast majority of mankind in order to torment them for endless time. My opponents can say “well he gave them free will”. This may be true, but being omniscient, God knew how they would use their free will, and He created them anyway—knowing that after what seems an arbitrarily short time span, some 80 or so years if one is lucky, He would then be consigning then to torment, in order to appease his wrath. (If we take the typical Protestant view of the Atonement)
We wouldn’t attribute this to the worst of men. The above is obviously the Arminian stance. The Calvinists stance, in my opinion, is far worse; not only did God know that men would choose to deny him, but he determined them to do so before creating them—in order to bring glory to himself in the torment of the wicked, and in order to magnify the grace he has chosen to show the overwhelming minority. The evilest of men never created a thing only to sustain its existence endlessly while tormenting it. And I’m to say that the God of Love not only creates one creature for this, but billions of them? Never.
What I mean by all of this, is that whatever scripture may or may not say, common sense tells me that it cannot say the above—if the God written of therein is to be worthy of any sort of worship from rational creatures.
As for the second death, the lake of fire and such, I would say that the Christian only dies once. Paul died to himself daily and thus was dying out of this world, and being born into a new one from the first moment that he fell in love with Christ and His Church. When Paul died he awoke to Glory. He put himself to death in the flesh by warring against the passions and striving after the kingdom. Only one death for Paul.
Let’s take Matthew 25:41-46 as an example. Seeing as Matt 25:41-46 is a parable I read it as such. I see myself as both sheep and goat. I do not always care for or visit the sick as I should. I do not always offer food or aid to the poor. Some days I’m a sheep; some days I’m a goat. When I see that passage I see that I have to let go of, annihilate, and eternally damn the goat. Only the sheep can have life. Only the sheep can truly be said to be in Christ because he has the ‘will’ and ‘mind’ of Christ. I have to become a sheep to truly have life. I believe that the Judgment is the separation of the goat and the sheep.
Some men, repent here and now and daily die to themselves as Paul said of himself. That would be those in Christ. Some men—refuse. They will face judgment. But that judgment is still meant to restore. It’s meant to separate the sheep from the goat. The goat has to die for the sheep to truly live. And I think judgment tends to this result.
Those that hate God will die the same physical death that Paul died… but they still must die to themselves. To their passions. To their evil desires. They must die again, this time to their own wickedness.
When we do puzzles, we look at the picture, the final product, in order to arrange the pieces correctly. 1 Cor 15 is the grandest eschatological vision that we have in scripture. We have the final product. We have the ending to the story. So whatever you read in scripture, you must interpret what you read in light of the end credits. All sorts of events and happenings can take place before the end scene, but none of them can supersede the ending. As Christian’s we are free to question the ‘how’ God brings about His ultimate ends, but we are not so free to question the revealed ultimate end itself. And the ending Paul tells us is God being all in all. This entails God being ‘all’ to ‘all’. The all does not change in Paul’s discourse throughout 1 Cor 15.
“for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.”
1 Corinthians 15:22-28
Seeing as God is Love and God is the Good, and (under classical theism) He is pure act, the ending of the creation narrative cannot end with a perpetual evil… for that would mean that God positively willed evil as an ultimate perpetual end. What I mean by this, is that Gods conclusion to the narrative, cannot be separated in intent from its conception. God wills all to be saved and all to be Good. If He chose to create, and He did create, then the ending will coincide with that ‘willing purpose’ that first brought forth creation. This to me is sovereignty. God bringing about his ultimate ends. And the ultimate end of all creation is to be found only in God. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
July 18, 2023
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)
Scientists have discovered that giant sequoias, the tallest trees in the world, have fallen victim to tiny insects. Massive trees that survived storms and wildfires have been destroyed by little beetles that ate their way through the trees’ massive fibers. It may have taken months, or even years, but the little beetles did their work.
In the same way, we might appear to be doing well spiritually, but there could be hidden sin in our lives that hinders our walk with the Lord and our usefulness to Him.
The psalmist David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT).
We, too, can lay our lives bare before God and ask for the truth of His Word to shine into our lives. And He may say, “Well, I see something right here. It’s growing like a cancer. It needs to be dealt with.”
It may appear to us as insignificant. We might even say, “Okay, Lord, I acknowledge that it’s a compromise. But it won’t amount to much. I mean, look at those people over there! They’re committing big sins, blatant sins! I’m just doing this little thing.”
But little things turn into big things. And sometimes, God must make changes in our lives and remove things that will harm us.
We may have our defenses up against the big sins, as it were. Yet the so-called little sins we toy with could be eating through the fibers of our lives and eventually will bring them crashing to the ground.
If God has been doing some pruning in your life lately, know that it isn’t to tear you down or make your life miserable. He wants your life to produce even greater spiritual fruit in the days ahead.
Article from Harvest Ministries
July 17, 2023
Matthew 25:41 is often cited in support of the doctrine of eternal torment in hell, owing to its description of the unsaved being sent into “eternal fire.” The phrase is also used in Matthew 18:8 and Jude 7, which are commonly cited as well (although less frequently). The idea is relatively simple: if hell is eternal fire, then it would appear to mean that hell is a fire that burns for eternity. If hell is a fire that burns for eternity, it must have fuel to burn forever. And since that fuel is people, it follows that people will be burned in that fire for eternity.
However, this argument for eternal torment fails when we look more deeply at what the Bible has to say on the matter. In fact, when we understand how it uses the phrase “eternal fire,” it can even be seen as evidence in support of evangelical conditionalism.
As is the case with many of the biblical passages that pertain to the nature and duration of hell, the topics covered in this article have been dealt with more thoroughly elsewhere. That said, from our brief survey here, it should become apparent why annihilationists are not frightened by the Bible’s use of the phrase “eternal fire” (pyr aiōnion in the original Greek).
The term appears three times in the Bible: Matthew 18:8, Matthew 25:41, and Jude 7. Neither of Matthew’s uses give much detail on what eternal fire entails. They give us other useful information, such as the fact the devil and his angels will go there and that it is synonymous with gehenna. However, this does not tell us much about what happens to those who are cast into it.
Jude 7 however, tells us a lot, and it flies in the face of the idea that people who are cast into the eternal fire burn for eternity.
…just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire…(NASB, emphasis added).
Isn’t that interesting? Jude seems to be describing eternal fire as something that Sodom and Gomorrah experienced. How are they an example? They are an example “in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” But what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? We probably all know the story well. God rained fire and brimstone (i.e. sulfur) on the city, burning everything to the ground and killing everyone.
Let that sink in. The fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was described as being eternal fire, yet those cities are not still burning. The fact that they were subject to “eternal fire” does not mean that they burned for eternity.
Twice in the Bible the term is given without explanation, and the only time we are given even an indirect explanation of what the term “eternal fire” means, it is a fire that does not burn things for ever and ever, but rather burns them up completely. Not only does this mean that we cannot assume that eternal fire is something that burns people for eternity in either of Matthew’s uses of the term, but it also provides evidence that eternal fire in the Bible actually means a fire that burns everything up!
Does it not seem odd that Jude would use the term “eternal fire” to refer to a fire that did not burn for eternity? Why would Jude do so if it burned for only a short time, just long enough to burn up its targets?
There are several possible answers, but keep in mind that Jude said what he said. Whichever answer you think is best, Jude did describe the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah as “eternal fire,” and so we must interpret its meaning accordingly. And if Jude meant it this way, there is at least a reasonable chance that Jesus meant it the same way (given that there is nothing in the context of Jesus’s uses of the term to indicate a different meaning).
Jude (And Jesus) Did Not Actually Say “Eternal/Everlasting Fire” in the Original Language
One suggestion is that it really should not be translated as “eternal fire” in this passage. The Greek word aiōnion can have meanings besides everlasting. One meaning is qualitative, describing that which is divine and of the age to come. That meaning certainly makes very good sense in the context of Jude 7, and it is certainly reasonable in Matthew’s less detailed uses. After all, we all agree that the fire is divine. The fire that fell on Sodom and Gomorrah was not a simple earthly wildfire. The burning sulfur fell from heaven at the hand of God. And any fires of hell (Matthew 18:8 and 25:41) would likewise be divine fire in this same way. In fact, the question is not whether the fire that fell on Sodom and Gomorrah – as well as fire in hell – is divine or everlasting. The real question is whether Jude’s words only indicate that the fires are divine, or whether his words indicate that this fire that is definitely divine is also, in some sense, properly called eternal.
This interpretation is that the former is true: Jude was simply describing the divine nature of this fire by qualifying it as aiōnion.
Of course, it is never ideal to hold the position that one or more passages of scripture are widely mistranslated (or at least not translated ideally) by Greek experts. That said, if there ever was an instance where this could happen, it would be here. In these three eternal fire passages, we are dealing with just one single word (aiōnion) with multiple meanings and connotations that is used in a supernatural, otherworldly context. So it is not as though one would need to question the competence of Greek experts for this theory to be correct. It’s just an unusual linguistic situation, that’s all.
Of course, this is not the only explanation put forth as to why Jude might have described the fire the way he did.
The Source of Fire Was An Actual Everlasting Fire in Heaven
Another possibility that has been suggested is that the fire comes directly from some sort of ever-burning fire from heaven, or even from God Himself. After all, God is described as a “consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). It could just be that this was meant at least a bit more literally than is normally thought.
It could be that this heavenly fire always burns, and literally is eternal. This fire is what came down from heaven. So while Sodom and Gomorrah did not burn for more than maybe a few days, the source fire is eternal. It is like how the Olympic torch is said to be the same fire that is lit on the top of Mt. Olympus at the start of the games, despite having been lit from another torch just seconds prior. The source of the fire is the fire on Mt. Olympus. Here, the fire that came down onto Sodom and Gomorrah emanated from heaven, from a fire that always burns, even though the inferno that this heavenly fire started went out.
Note that in this case, the phrase “eternal fire” does actually mean a fire that burns for eternity. However, the one time we see the term used and described at all, it is used to describe destruction and a period of burning that is temporary. Those subject to this everlasting fire do not themselves burn for eternity.
July 16, 2023
Jesus is both divine and human at the same time. Therefore, in the one person of Jesus are two distinct natures. This is called the hypostatic union, but this isn’t all we know about the person and work of Christ. Jesus also occupies three main offices: Prophet, Priest, and King. In other words, Jesus functions and/or has functioned in these offices.
A prophet of God is someone who reveals God, speaks for God, and communicates to people the truths that God wants them to know. Undoubtedly, Jesus did this when he came to do the will of the Father (Luke 22:42), to reveal the Father (Matt. 11:27), and to speak the things of the Father (John 8:28; 12:49).
In the Old Testament, Moses said in Deut. 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” This prophecy is quoted by Peter in Acts 3:22-23 in reference to Jesus, “Moses said, ‘The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him, you shall give heed in everything He says to you. 23 ‘And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’” The context of Acts 3:22 is clear that it is speaking of Jesus. Acts 3:15 speaks of Jesus being raised from the dead. In v. 16, Jesus is the one who strengthened a certain man. Christ is mentioned in v. 18 as needing to suffer. In v. 20, Jesus is called the Christ. Verse 21 mentions how God spoke “by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient time.” Then we have v. 22 which quotes Deut. 18:15. The context is clearly about Christ.
Furthermore, Jesus refers to himself as a prophet.
In Luke 13:33 Jesus refers to himself as a prophet because he knows he is about to die, but he cannot do it outside of Jerusalem. Also, in Matt. 13:57 Jesus speaks about a prophet having no honor in his home town, and that is why he did not do many miracles there. Clearly, Jesus is referring to himself as a prophet.
The priests were the ones in the Old Testament who offered sacrifices to God in order to cleanse of sin. Ultimately, all such priests were representations of Jesus, who is the True Priest who offered himself as a sacrifice (Eph. 5:2; Heb. 9:26-27; 10:12) by which he cleanses us of our sin (1 John 1:7). But, Jesus is called a priest after the order of Melchizedek. “Where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 6:20). Heb. 9:11 says, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation.” As a priest, Jesus is our mediator between God and ourselves (1 Tim. 2:5).
It could be said that both the Prophet and the priest stand between God and man. In the case of the prophet, he delivers the word of God from the top down. In the case of the priest, he delivers the sacrifices of people to God from bottom to top. So, Jesus is a prophet who delivers the word of God to us, and he is also the priest who delivers his sacrifice, on our behalf, to God the Father.
A king is someone who has the authority to rule and reign over a group of people. Jesus is just such a king. He is called the King of the Jews by the Magi (Matt. 2:2), and Jesus accepts that title in Matt. 27:11, “Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say” (Matt. 27:11). In Matt. 21:5 speaks of Jesus and says, “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey.” Remember, Jesus is King in that he rules and judges. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, He judges and wages war” (Rev. 19:11). The armies follow him (Rev. 19:14).
The phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs 66 times in the NASB–most of them in the synoptic gospels. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14). Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come.” (Matt. 6:10). Is there a kingdom of God without a King? No. Jesus is that king: “‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say’” (Matt. 27:11).
No, they do not. Jesus is still fully divine and human even now (Col. 2:9) and presently holds the three offices mentioned above. It is simply a manifestation of the work of the person of Christ, who is Prophet, Priest, and King. By the way, God is called the King in Psalm 95:3, “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” So, if it does not diminish God’s deity to be called a king, then it does not diminish or deny Christ’s deity by calling him a King–or, for that matter, a Prophet and a Priest.
July 15, 2023
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The Greek word for faith is pistis (pis’-tis), which means, according to Strong’s Concordance, the conviction of the truth of anything, and especially concerning the relationship of man to God and man’s belief in divine things.
And so, we are talking about faith, man’s capacity to believe. The Bible says that by grace are you saved through faith. So, apparently there is a connection between faith and God’s grace, which is His unmerited favor, His mercy, His graciousness, and some have even said His divine enabling. God provides the grace and we provide the faith to obtain it.
As we look at the verse, Hebrews 11:1, we can spot several other mysterious terms and phrases inviting us to ponder, such as substance, evidence, hoped for, and not seen.
Faith is the substance. Faith is the hupostasis (hoop-os’-tas-is), which means the thing placed under, the foundation, the substructure, the thing on which something else rests. It is the foundation for things hoped for, or, that is, things that are waited for with joy and confidence.
What hope rests upon our faith? Well, obviously faith is the thing on which our hope of eternal salvation rests, the thing that we wait for joyfully and confidently. But that is not the only thing that rests on our faith. All of the promises of God given in His word are apprehended by faith. Everything that God has provided by His grace through His word must be taken by our faith, our belief in them.
The evidence of things not seen. Faith is the evidence, the proof, the conviction, that something exists that we do not yet see. Again, we do not yet see eternal salvation, or our future in the world to come, but we have proof that it exists. How? Through our faith that we obtained from the word of God. Are we fully convinced of it? Yes.
Faith is the foundation for the things we are confidently and joyfully expecting, and it is the evidence, the very proof, of the existence of those things, though they are not yet seen.
Hebrews 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
By faith the elders, our forefathers, those written about in the Bible, obtained an honorable testimony. By their faith, they were well-pleasing to God.
Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
It is by faith that we understand that the worlds were fit together and arranged and set in order by the word of God. And the things that we can see were not made of things that are manifest and evident.
Oh, how this gives us opportunity for meditation! The worlds were set in order by the word of God. The Bible says that the Word was with God in the beginning, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, John says in John, chapter 1, and he says that we beheld His glory.
Hebrews 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hebrews 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
The worlds were framed and set in order by the Word, who was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, the one whose name is the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is sometimes said that God created the universe from nothing. But the Bible doesn’t tell us that at all. It says that things which are seen were not made with things that do appear. So then, things that are seen must have been made from something, but that something is something we cannot see.
Now remember, we are meditating here. We may go outside the box a little bit, but that’s okay. That’s part of the fun.
Think about it. The notion that God created the universe from nothing comes from a presupposition that nothing existed before the universe was created. But again, as we think about it, God has been here long before the universe was set into motion. He exists from everlasting to everlasting, from infinity to infinity, and so He existed many eons before the natural universe that we live in was created.
Did God just float around in the vast nothingness of eternity? No, God has always lived exactly where He now lives, in a place called Heaven, a place that exists outside of this universe. He did not create the universe to have a place to live, because He doesn’t live in the natural universe, but in a place that is separate from the creation, and a place that is far more vast.
In fact, the Bible tells us in Genesis chapter 1 that the created universe had a beginning, yet God did not have a beginning. The universe is a finite thing created in the vastness of eternity. It had a definite beginning, and the Bible says that when God is finished with it, he will roll up the sky and the earth like a garment, and will put them away.
Hebrews 1:10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
Hebrews 1:11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
Hebrews 1:12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
God created the universe from resources He had within Himself. We cannot see heaven, and we cannot see the resources God has at His disposal. But by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things we see were made from things we cannot see.
And this is the joy of meditating in the word. We may go down some long side trails, but the adventure makes it all worthwhile.
July 14, 2023
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7, NASB).
My husband has a remote position, so he works from home Monday-Friday. When he logs off for the day, he typically goes straight for his spot on the couch to kick up his feet. His workday is over, and it is now time to relax and rest for a little while before dinner is ready. He is a “worker bee” by nature, so he has had to practice this routine of relaxation and remind himself often that it is important to take breaks. I must admit that I struggle with this “go, go, go” mentality too and need to remember to rest. Sitting down is a position of rest.
The Bible tells us that Jesus, our great High Priest, is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 10:12, Mark 16:19). Before He had taken His final breath, he declared “it is finished” (John 19:30). He accomplished all the Father had asked of Him and paid in full all debt of sin. Jesus is now sitting because the work is finished. In His graciousness, He is now forever making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25), but that is not an act of striving. The end has already been written- He has won the victory for us!
Did you know the Bible also says that we, as believers, are now seated with Christ? We can find that truth in Ephesians 2:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7, NASB).
Intersecting Faith and Life:
Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross that poured out God’s great mercy upon us, we no longer have to strive to earn God’s love or forgiveness. We are forgiven! We are God’s beloved children who receive His grace and mercy daily! This truth will echo into eternity as we see and experience His rich grace and love toward us forever. We have been given an inheritance in Jesus, our salvation, and abundant life forever joined with Him. We are seated in heavenly places with Him meaning that, like Christ, our striving is done, the work has been accomplished. Because we are in Christ, we receive the fruit of His labor of love. We can rest in that blessed assurance even as we serve Him. Do you find yourself striving to earn God’s love and forgiveness on your walk with Him? We need the good news of our salvation to permeate our hearts every day to remind us that we did nothing to earn it and we can do nothing to keep it. It is all the work of Christ, the finished work of the cross. His grace is sufficient and powerful to both save and keep those who are His chosen children. His grace also empowers us to accomplish what He has called us to do here on earth. Your story of walking with Jesus is not about your works or what you can do to look more like Him in your own power or strength, it is about working with grace and allowing it to do its work in you and through you. The more you lean into His grace, the more you will see growth and maturity in your heart and life. Through this dependency on Him, this resting in Him, you will make Jesus famous and not your own name. God alone will receive all the glory that is due His name. Spend some time meditating on the truth found in Ephesians 2:4 and write down in your journal areas of your relationship with God where you are struggling with control issues and trusting God’s grace. Receive God’s fresh mercies today!
July 13, 2023
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
Part of receiving from the Lord is based upon our concept of who Jesus is. As we read or listen to scriptures throughout the Bible on the subject of healing, we inevitably will come across the scriptures about the earthly ministry of Jesus. And we are told by modern Bible scholars that the gifts of the Spirit and particularly divine healing passed away with the death of the early apostles. Yet many Christians today believe that God can heal people, but that He does so only on rare cases. But the Bible tells us something different about Jesus. It says that He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
Jesus Has Not Changed
The Bible says Jesus has not changed. He was and is and always will be the Healer. He was and is the Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us, and as such He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. And He is the One who lives in our hearts by faith.
And so, it will do us good to look at a few of the scriptures about Jesus’ earthly ministry and perhaps stir something in us to lift our vision higher and see Him for Who He is, the eternal Healer, the One who makes us whole, spirit, soul, and body.
Matthew 4:23-24 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing ALL manner of sickness and ALL manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him ALL sick people that were taken with diverse [various] diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic [mentally disturbed], and those that had the palsy [paralysis]; and HE HEALED THEM.
Jesus healed every type of sickness and disease, He cast out devils, He healed the mentally ill, as well as people stricken with paralysis. He healed leprosy, He healed blind people and deaf people. He raised up people from the dead, including Lazarus, and Jairus’ daughter, and the son of the widow of Nain.
Matthew 12:15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and GREAT multitudes followed him, and he HEALED THEM ALL;
He healed ALL the sick people in the great multitudes, not some of them, but all of them. He never met a case that He couldn’t handle.
Jesus Never Said No
Matthew 14:13-14 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a GREAT multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he HEALED THEIR SICK.
Again, he healed all who were sick in this great multitude of people. He never said no to anyone, at least not that we know of. He never said, it’s not God’s will to heal you, you need to stay sick.
Healing In His Clothing
Matthew 14:34-36 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Geh-nes’-a-ret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into ALL that country round about, and brought unto him ALL that were diseased; and besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and AS MANY as touched were made perfectly whole.
The virtue, the healing power, was even in His clothing. They went all round the country and brought all who were diseased, and everyone who touched Him was made perfectly whole.
Jesus’ Ministry Was Astonishing
Matthew 15:29-31 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And GREAT multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed [deformed, mutilated], and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and HE HEALED THEM: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
They glorified the God of Israel. We would too. They broke out into worship. Great multitudes had come to Him with people who were lame, blind, hearing-impaired, mutilated, and many others. And it says the multitude wondered, or marveled, or, that is, they were astonished when they saw all of these infirmities healed. We too would be astonished to see something like that.
All Men Did Marvel
And then there was the encounter that Jesus had with a demon-possessed man who called himself Legion, saying, for we are many. And we recall that the devils went out of the man and into about two thousand pigs grazing nearby, which then ran down a hill and drowned in the sea.
As we spend time hearing His word, taking time to read or listen to the scriptures, we will get a clearer picture of Who Jesus is, and He will become that very thing to us. Faith will come and God will begin to work in our lives in a greater measure.
Philippians 2:13 For it is GOD WHICH WORKETH IN YOU both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
July 12, 2023
I hold the red promise of deliciousness in my hand. A gentle breeze nips at my skin as the sunlight offers the warmth of spring.
The beautiful white flowers came first, while the wind still had a bite. Then came the green fruit, alive with promise of this day.
Finally, I pinch the green leaves between my thumbs and take that first long anticipated bite of fresh strawberry. My mouth can barely contain the warm juice. Sweetness touches every taste bud. I close my eyes and savor this moment as long as I can.
The firstfruit. As the days pass, I can barely beat my kids to the strawberry patch. But when I do, none of these spring berries compare to that first exquisite bite.
What is so special about the firstfruit?
The real thing. After a long, cold, drab winter of eating tart impostors that traveled farther to get to my house than I’ve traveled in my lifetime, I get to taste the real thing. No longer do I have to eat the semblance of how this fruit was meant to be. I can taste the real thing.
And promise. With the plucking of this berry, I am promised more that are ripening behind it. And not only strawberries but peas, tomatoes, squash, beans, okra, and watermelon. The harvest season is coming!
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ,” (1 Cor. 15:20, 23 ESV).
The Real Firstfruit. Jesus Christ was the firstfruit after a long winter that begin at the Fall (pardon the pun). Prophets, preincarnate appearances of Christ, and Old Testament allegories were a semblance of the perfect Firstfruit to come.
And promise. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, so will we be who are in Christ. Because of his resurrection, we can trust that the harvest is coming! Our bodies will be raised imperishable! Let that sink in.
There’s hope in Christ, the firstfruit. There’s joy in Christ, the firstfruit. There’s promise for YOU in the firstfruit.
Think about Christ being the true firstfruit. What encouragement does this give you for what is to come?
By Jill McSheehy, Glory in the Garden
July 11, 2023
There are different kinds of angels with different characteristics and roles: cherubim, seraphim, and archangels. It may also be that there are “powers” and “principalities” which further describe rank in the angelic realm, but this is debated. Angels are created beings (Psalm 148:2, 5; Col. 1:16) and ministering spirits (1 Kings 19:5; Psalm 104:4; Luke 16:22). They are normally invisible but can manifest themselves to us (Num. 22:22-31). They carry out the will of God. Some were elected by God not to fall (1 Timothy 5:21).
Let’s take a look at different types of angels.
July 10, 2023
“And the evening and the morning were the first day.” — Gen 1:5
The evening was “darkness” and the morning was “light,” and yet the two together are called by the name that is given to the light alone! This is somewhat remarkable, but it has an exact analogy in spiritual experience. In every believer there is darkness and light, and yet he is not to be named a sinner because there is sin in him, but he is to be named a saint because he possesses some degree of holiness. This will be a most comforting thought to those who are mourning their infirmities, and who ask, “Can I be a child of God while there is so much darkness in me?” Yes; for you, like the day, take not your name from the evening, but from the morning; and you are spoken of in the word of God as if you were even now perfectly holy as you will be soon. You are called the child of light, though there is darkness in you still. You are named after what is the predominating quality in the sight of God, which will one day be the only principle remaining. Observe that the evening comes first. Naturally we are darkness first in order of time, and the gloom is often first in our mournful apprehension, driving us to cry out in deep humiliation, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” The place of the morning is second, it dawns when grace overcomes nature. It is a blessed aphorism of John Bunyan, “That which is last, lasts for ever.” That which is first, yields in due season to the last; but nothing comes after the last. So that though you are naturally darkness, when once you become light in the Lord, there is no evening to follow; “thy sun shall no more go down.” The first day in this life is an evening and a morning; but the second day, when we shall be with God, for ever, shall be a day with no evening, but one, sacred, high, eternal noon.
July 9, 2023
In John 8:29 we can clearly see that Jesus always does the will of the Father. So if Jesus always does the will of the Father and the will of the Father is that Jesus loses none and also raise all those to glory who had been given to him by the Father (John 6:39), then salvation cannot be lost. Otherwise, Jesus sinned by failing to do the will of the Father. Remember, it is the will of the Father that Jesus lose none, not that Christians don’t lose their own salvation of their “own free will.” Again, if someone loses his salvation, then Jesus failed to do the will of the Father because it would mean he has lost some and that he will also fail to raise up to glory those who have been given to him by the Father. This just cannot be.
But some say that the will of the Father is that people not sin but they do, so the will of the Father is not always done. In this respect, that is true. However, the verses deal with the will of the Father for Jesus, not for us.
In addition to the two verses above, which are extremely powerful, consider the following:
A common accusation made against the position that we are eternally secure in Christ is that it becomes a license to sin. The problem with this accusation is that it ignores God’s active regeneration in us. In other words, critics of our security in Christ routinely ignore the fact that God changes the sinner. He makes us born again, and we are made new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). As new creatures, we have God living in us (John 14:23); and, therefore, we cannot abide in sin: “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God,” (1 John 3:9).
So, the teaching that we cannot lose our salvation is not a license to sin.
Whether or not you can lose your salvation is important because if someone believes he can lose his salvation, then he might fall into the error of trying to keep his salvation by what he does or does not do. This is a serious heresy (Gal. 3:1-3). In other words, if a person can lose his salvation then what list of things must he do and not do in order to keep it? If there is such a list, then the person is guilty of achieving salvation by keeping the law. But this contradicts Romans 3:28 and Romans 4:1-5.
The proper understanding of salvation is that works play no part in it (Rom. 4:5), that it is a free gift (Rom. 6:23), and that it is received by faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Once we are saved, we are to live a holy life (1 Thess. 4:7). The word ‘holy’ here is the Greek ‘hagiasmos’, meaning ‘pure of heart’.
Fortunately, believing you can or cannot lose your salvation does not affect your salvation. That is, your salvation is dependent upon accepting Jesus as Savior, trusting in His sin sacrifice, and looking to no one and nothing else. Fortunately, your salvation isn’t dependent upon whether or not you think it is possible to lose your salvation.
From Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry
July 8, 2023
Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
And he is before all things – As he must be, if he created all things. Those who regard this as referring to a moral creation, interpret it as meaning that he has the pre-eminence over all things; not as referring to his pre-existence. But the fair and proper meaning of the word “before” (πρὸ pro) is, that he was before all things in the order of existence; compare Mat 8:29; Joh 11:55; Joh 13:1; Act 5:36; Act 21:38; 2Co 12:2. It is equivalent to saying that he was eternal – for he that had an existence before any thing was created, must be eternal. Thus, it is equivalent to the phrase, “In the beginning;” Gen 1:1; compare the notes at Joh 1:1.
And by him all things subsist – Or are sustained; see the notes at Heb 1:3. The meaning is, that they are kept in the present state; their existence, order, and arrangement are continued by his power. If unsupported by him, they would fall into disorder, or sink back to nothing. If this be the proper interpretation, then it is the ascription to Christ of infinite power – for nothing less could be sufficient to uphold the universe; and of infinite wisdom – for this is needed to preserve the harmonious action of the suns and systems of which it is composed. None could do this but one who is divine; and hence we see the reason why he is represented as the image of the invisible God. He is the great and glorious and everactive agent by whom the perfections of God are made known.
July 7, 2023
“Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” — Jas 1:27 (R.V.).
IT IS the experiences of life that reveal us to ourselves. They cannot put into us qualities that are not there, but can develop them. The whole of this wonderful chapter is filled with the diverse discipline of life. “Manifold trials” (Jas 1:2), which probably refer to the persecutions and losses of the early Christians., “Temptations” (Jas 1:12) which refer to the solicitation of evil from without and within. The burning heat of the fire of prosperity (Jas 1:11). The “good gifts” which are strewn around our pathway by the Father of lights—home, parents, friendship, love!
The greatest training-ground for us all is the Word of God (Jas 1:21-25). It is here compared to a mirror which reflects us to ourselves, but alas, too often we go our way and forget what manner of men we are. The human soul has a wonderful habit of forgetting any statements that seem to reflect on itself, and to contradict its own notions of its pride and respectability. If, however, we avoid this mistake, and set ourselves to doing, and not hearing only, then we shall grow into strong, brave, and beautiful souls, and shall be blessed in our deed.
Do not stand gazing at the imperfections which the Word of God reveals but having learnt where you come short, dare to believe that Jesus Christ is the true counterpart of your need; that He is strong where you are weak, and full where you are empty.
“Keep himself unspotted from the world.” We love the dimpled innocence and purity of a sweet child. But there is something nobler—the face of man or woman who has fought and suffered in the great battle against corruption that is in the world through lust. To keep oneself unspotted from the evil of the world, though perpetually accosted and surrounded by it, is a greater thing than to live in a glass-house, where the blight and dust cannot enter. What a training for character is this daily warfare!
To visit those in affliction. We are related to the world of pain and sorrow by the troubles which are constantly overtaking those with whom we come in contact in dally life. Where the conditions of life are hard, we obtain our best perfecting in Christian character.
Make our life deeper, stronger, richer, more Christlike, more full of the spirit of heaven, more devoted to Thy service and glory. AMEN.
July 6, 2023
v. 26. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man.
v. 27. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the Flood came, and destroyed them all.
v. 28. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;
v. 29. but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
v. 30. Even thus shall, it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
The distinguishing characteristic of the time just preceding the final advent of Christ, the Son of Man, will be an indifferent carelessness. The days of Noah are an example. The warning had gone out through the mouth of this preacher of righteousness that the people should repent of their foolish ways. But they gave so little heed to the warning that they continued in all the manner of complete abandon in the desires of the flesh up to the very hour of the cataclysm: they ate, they drank, they married, they were married; men and women, the entire generation, past all hope of redemption. And then, with the sudden frightfulness that has characterized the judgments of God in similar situations, came the day on which Noah entered into the ark; then came the Flood and destroyed them all. And the days of Lot are another example of the utter, blind heedlessness of the people. In Sodom and Gomorrah the inhabitants continued in the delights of the flesh as well as in all their lines of business, work, and endeavor: they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, up to the very hour of the catastrophe that overwhelmed the cities, when it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all. The people of the last times will not have learned their lesson from the previous calamities; when the Son of Man will be revealed before their astonished, horrified eyes on the last day, He will find them as unprepared for His coming, as deeply steeped in the foolishness of the Noachites and of the Sodomites as any generation ever was.
July 5, 2023
“They did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.” — Mat 14:20.
WHEN GOD is Host, there is enough for all! Probably the disciples at first doled out the supplies with great care, but as they discovered that group after group were provided for, their faith increased, and they became lavish in their distribution. Every appetite could enjoy bread and fish, and there was plenty of it. God’s supplies are as great as the demand; nay, greater, for He is able to make all grace abound toward each soul of man.
But though there was prolific provision, there was wise administration, and prudent husbanding of what was left. “Gather up the fragments,” said the Master (Joh 6:12). It is marvellous to notice in the world of nature, how careful the Creator is that what might seem to be refuse should be wrought into new texture. Even the body, when it has fulfilled its functions, returns to mother earth, so that its particles may pass into the harvests of coming years. There is no waste in God’s great world. Let there be no waste in our lives!
There are other lessons to be learned from this wonderful story. All things are to be done decently and in order. The multitude was made to sit down in companies of fifty. There was to be no crowding or pushing; the strong must wait for the weak.
Each meal should begin with the giving of thanks. “Looking up to Heaven, He blessed, and brake, and gave to the disciples.” The holy custom of giving thanks appears to be fading away, from even Christian homes, to our great loss, for “He was made known to them in the breaking of bread” (Luk 24:30-31).
We may expect more than the bare necessaries of life at the hands of our gracious God, who “giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” He gives not bread only, but fish; luxuries, as well as necessaries. How much there is in life which we enjoy, but which is not absolutely necessary—music and art, flowers and fruit, sunrise and sunset, as well as ordinary daylight. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy spirit to them that ask Him.”
Teach us, O Lord, the art of so living in fellowship with Thyself that every act may be a Psalm, every meal a sacrament, every room a sanctuary, every thought a prayer. AMEN.
July 3, 2023
I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people. (Isa 42:6)
Once again, multiple promises reveal God’s plan and guarantee His purposes. These promises are actually being made from God, the Father, to His Messiah, the anointed King (who is God, the Son). The promises show that the Messiah would be the new covenant of grace for His people.
In the opening words, the Father is describing the call of His Messiah (later referred to as “My Servant”—Isa 49:6). “I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness.” Also, the Father is promising full participation in His Messiah’s mission. “I, the LORD . . . will hold Your hand; I will keep You.” This would be essential, because the Messiah would go forth as a humble, dependent Servant (“My Servant”): “taking the form of a servant . . . He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Php 2:7-8).
Then, the Father offers this great promise of Christ’s primary role in going forth to earth. “I will . . . give You as a covenant to the people.” Jesus Christ Himself would be given to God’s people as His new covenant with them. The new covenant of grace was supplanting the old covenant of law. Yet, it was not just a matter of new terms being prescribed. Rather, a Person was being given, and He Himself would be the sum and substance of the covenant. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . full of grace and truth” (Joh 1:14).
This new covenant of grace that God has for His people is all related to a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself is the embodiment of all that the new covenant promises. In the new covenant, the Lord promises righteousness. This righteousness is found in a Person. ” ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS‘ ” (Jer 23:5-6). Peace is promised in this covenant of grace. This peace is also found in a Person. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (Eph 2:13-14). Yes, all that the Lord promises by grace is entered into initially, and continually, by a humble, dependent relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Father, I praise You for Your grace. I rejoice that the provisions of grace are not about performance or procedure, but are about developing a relationship with Your Son, Jesus Christ!
July 2, 2023
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mat 5:16).
Our faithfulness in dark moments of history may be the only light that some will ever see.
Peter exhorted us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1Pe 3:15). Do you know the Lord? If so, then you can make Him known to others!
said, “the people who do know their God shall be strong and do exploits” (Dan 11:32). Dr. King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Those men and women who take action in the face of passivity and perversion fill God’s heart with pleasure, and transform their world with power – the power of love. Will you be one of these gallant souls?
Paul the apostle was described by James, the Lord’s brother, as a man who “hazarded his life for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Act 15:26). What an epitaph! Could the same be said of you? Wouldn’t you want it to be? The word hazarded literally means “to hand over.”
Have you handed your life over to the Lord Jesus Christ?
Paul summed up his own life story in a single sentence when he stood before a king who held in his hand the power of life and death. “O Agrippa,” he affirmed, “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision!” (Act 26:19). Vision, passion, discipline and risk. It is what marks every true man and woman of God.
Light in the Darkness — it is the pressing need of this desperate hour. Vision, passion, discipline and risk is what it takes to let it shine.
July 1, 2023
“For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:8-9).
There is no true rest for the souls of men but in the good news of Jesus Christ.
This promise was fulfilled literally when Joshua entered the land of Canaan. However, Joshua did not provide Israel with rest in the fullest sense of Psalm 95:11, even though they went in to the Promised Land. It was a limited, temporal, physical rest (Josh. 21:44; 22:4; 23:1). Centuries later God spoke of this rest through David. The rest God offers is an eternal spiritual rest which is far greater than living in the land of Canaan. It is an eternal rest that is offered through the Good News of Jesus Christ.
We can enter into the “Sabbath rest” now. God’s rest for believers still remains. The word “rest” in verse nine, “Sabbath rest” (sabbatismos) occurs only here in the New Testament. It is different word for “rest” (katapausin) in the discussion thus far (3:11, 18; 4:1, 3, 5, 10, 11) and (katepausen) in 4:8, 10 meaning a cessation from activity, therefore rest. The Sabbath rest is not Canaan rest. It is God’s exclusive, personal rest in which He invites the believer to share. It is not the rest of creation. God invites us to share in His presence and blessedness. This Sabbath rest is the rest every believer enters into when he like God faithfully finishes his work here on the earth. That work involves walking by faith. We will receive that rest when we receive our inheritance from Jesus at His seat of judgment (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom 14:10).
“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:10-11).
In verse ten the writer uses katapausis again for “rest.” The believer who enters into God’s rest has ceased from his works as God did.
Jesus our High Priest has entered heaven as the forerunner of our salvation. A “Sabbath rest” waits for the people of God. F. F. Bruce suggests: “It may be, then, that in resurrection they, ‘in company with us,’ are to attain this perfection and enter into God’s rest,” but there is no express statement to that effect. “It is, indeed, perfectly conceivable that in this view the Old Testament believers entered into the rest of God as soon as Christ had accomplished His redemptive work, while believers of the New Testament age enter it at death. One way or the other, this blissful rest in unbroken fellowship with God is the goal to which his people are urge to press forward; this is the final perfection which has been prepared for them by the sacrifice of their heavenly high priest” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, pp. 78-79).
Since Christ is said to enter into His rest, from what labor did rest? John Owen says, “The ‘works’ from which Christ ‘ceased’ include all that He did and suffered from His incarnation to His resurrection, as the Mediator of the new covenant. Christ’s rest consists in an entire cessation from all these works, and an entire satisfaction in them and their results. His entrance into this rest was upon His resurrection . . .”
There are three prominent interpretations on Hebrews 4:10.
(1) The believer who has experienced spiritual rest in salvation, and has ceased from his own works. Some make application by interpreting it as a deeper experience in which the believer rests his soul more fully in the Lord and ceases from his own efforts at greater sanctification. Works are considered bad. The problem with this interpretation is God ceased from His good works of creation, and the Christian ceases from his bad works. That is really not a good use of the author of Hebrews analogy. God never does bad works.
(2) The believer receives his final rest at death. The apostle John heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'” ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them’(Revelation 14:13). The believer’s works are regarded as his Christian ministry on the earth and are good just as God’s were good at creation.
(3) The verse refers to Christ who has finished His earthly work and has entered the rest of heaven. Christ is our example to follow as He is the believer’s forerunner, opening the way for us to follow into heaven. Christ has been in view from 3:1 and in 4:14 He is the High Priest who has entered heaven. The true believer may have spiritual rest in this life as he looks forward to the eternal rest in heaven. God gives His rest to believers.
For the Christian this rest is an inheritance that God desires to bestow on us when we see Him. It is an eschatological rest, not present rest. We will enter into our “Sabbath rest” that follows our labor in this life time. This passage is not speaking of living a peaceful life here and now. We are in the middle of a spiritual warfare. It is not the time of peace; that comes later.
The “Sabbath rest” is to partake of the unending rest God gives to believer in Jesus Christ. It is reserved for the people of God, true believers in Christ. To enter into that rest is to cease from one’s labors, just as God did after creation. This does not imply that the Christian in heaven will spend an eternity of idleness. The rest is a rest from trials, persecutions, temptations and labors of this earthly pilgrimage.
The apostle John in his vision of those who have come out of the great tribulation and now stand before the throne of God praising Him and serving Him in ceaseless wonder for all eternity. “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’ Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘My lord, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb'” (Revelation 7:9-14).
It is the responsibility of the believer to make it his earnest effort to reach eternal rest at home in heaven.
June 30, 2023
God takes sin seriously. Sin is a terrible thing in the Christian’s life. That is why God did not overlook sin, but dealt with it in one complete stroke of judgment by sending Christ to die for us on the cross.
Now that we have been saved by grace can we live any way we so please? Can we sin it up now that our fire insurance has been paid in full?
The apostle Paul responded to that arrogant attitude saying, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2).
We died to sin. “Died” is in aorist past tense, indicating a once for all death in a judicial sense. We legally died (vv. 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 18). It refers to a single action that has taken place and has been completed in the past.
The idea of our death to sin is basic in this great chapter, and is essential to the sanctification of all believers.
“We died to sin.” When did you die?
The apostle Paul does not say we are going to die to sin, or we are presently dying to sin. He does not say we are continually to die to sin. The apostle has in mind a completed past action.
We “have died” to sin is already true of us if we have entered into a vital union with Christ. Charles Hodge notes, “it refers to a specific act in our past history.”
The apostle Paul tells us there is a watershed, a before Christ and after he came into our lives. Before Christ describes the old man, the old self, what I was like before my conversion. The after Christ came in describes the new man, the new self, what my life has been like after I was made a new creation in Christ. The before Christ ended with the judicial death of the old self. I was a sinner. I deserved to die. I did die. I received my righteousness in my Substitute with whom I have become one. It describes my resurrection. My old life is finished, and a new life to God has begun.
Our continuing in sin is unthinkable says Paul because God by His grace took us from the position of being in Adam and transferred us into the kingdom of Christ. It is something God has already done. It is not something we do, or have done, but something God has done to us. We have been joined to Jesus Christ. The old life ended in that transaction, and a new life has begun at the same time.
In Romans 6:1-11 the apostle Paul compares our dying to sin to how Christ died to sin. Although He had never experienced personal sin, He died to sin by suffering its penalty on the cross. “The wages of sin is death.” He died as our substitute. He was punished for our sin in our place once for all on the cross. Jesus died to sin once for all. His relationship to sin is finished forever. By dying in our place on the cross He put an end to its claim upon us once for all. Jesus died. That will never happen again. It will never be repeated. It is a completed action in the past. Paul makes this emphatically clear in verses 9-10, “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”
Moreover, Paul tells us that our old life of sin in Adam is over. We died. Just as Christ can never go back and die again, we can never go back to the old life in Adam. That part of our lives died. The result of our vital union with Christ in His death and resurrection is that our old life in Adam is past, over with, and we now have a new life in Christ.
Our life is divided into two parts at the point in which we believed on Christ and were born again. At a specific act in past history we accepted Christ as our Savior and we became new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
Can you point to a time in your life and see the change before and after Christ separated by the new birth? When we put our faith in Christ as our Savior and were born again the old self died through union with Christ and was buried. The penalty of our sins was paid in full by Christ’s atoning death. At the same time the believer rose again from death, a new person, to live a new life in Christ. We were crucified with Christ and rose with Him to new life.
We died to the life of sin. God counts the utterly perfect righteousness of the risen Christ as ours. He sees us risen in Him. We live a new life in Christ. The old one died, and it was buried.
Does your life have a dividing line marked Christ?
“O for a thousand tongues to sing. . .” the triumph of His grace in a thousand different languages!
By Paul Bane
“You see, at the beginning of the world, we walked and talked together during the cool of the day. In the silence of the Garden of Eden, we simply relished each other’s company.”
~In the Presence of Jesus
Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.
As a little boy spending the night at my grandparent’s house, I vividly remember praying and talking to God. I don’t know what started it, but my grandmother probably told me to give thanks for everything that was important to me before I went to sleep. I grew up attending a church, but I don’t recall praying or talking to God about anything before that night. As she turned the light out in my room, I remember like it was yesterday laying there, thanking God for everything I could think of! It seemed as natural as talking to one of my friends. It was innocent, without any pretense, and without any intention to get something in return. I’ve never forgotten the sense of peace I felt that night.
There are so many barriers, so much confusion, and so many theological and even scientific questions about prayer – from what it does, to what it should be, to who it benefits. I don’t have a lot of answers about the logistics of prayer except to tell you that at this point in my life, I still need that same intimacy I felt over sixty years ago. I remember feeling loved, safe, secure, and surrounded by the presence of God as I prayed as a child in that bedroom at my grandparent’s house. As a Christian, when I pray today, I simply focus on the presence of Jesus. I still trust and believe in a loving God who is interested in having one-on-one talks with me every day.
In His presence, I often feel that same sense of love and security, but in those moments of prayer, I also discover meaning and specific answers for me in my times of trouble. This week I want to challenge you to get alone and spend some time talking and listening to God. Try to approach prayer like a child, and simply tell Jesus what you are thankful for as you go throughout your day and when you go to bed each night. And yes, although I have had moments in my 70 some years when I wondered if He was really listening, every fiber of my being still draws me back toward the truth that I walk hand in hand with the One who loves me most.
Co-writer Matt Litton
June 28, 2023
“Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” Jas 1:7-8 (The Message)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” While the sentiments behind this whimsical adage are admirable, the saying itself is quite untrue.
Yes, it is true that a person shouldn’t sit around aimlessly all day just expecting God to do this or that for them, while they themselves do nothing. But the adage errs significantly by failing to realize that God in fact does not help those who help themselves; rather, He helps the helpless.
He is the Defender of the defenseless; He rescues the perishing, saves those who are falling, and lifts ups those who have been struck down. He is a Father to the orphan, a Friend to sinners, and the Champion of those who are weak. Indeed, Paul summed it up — “when we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6).
The problem with “helping yourself” and asking God for a little assistance is that you’re the one still calling the shots — keeping all your options open. Few things are more insulting to God than for a man to come before Him while holding onto other options….just in case the “God thing” doesn’t work out.
Remember Lazarus, the dead man? He had no options whatsoever. Jesus stood before the cold stone which sealed his tomb and ordered it removed, and then called out, “Lazarus, come forth!” And the dead man did so, now fully alive. A significant part of this event is contained in the name Lazarus — it means “without help.” You see? God helps the helpless.
Like Lazarus of old lying cold in his tomb, you and I will never be called into a new and deeper, more vibrant and wondrous walk with Jesus until we realize we truly have no other options but God.
Peter was speaking for all of us that day when he said, “Lord, there is no one else that we can go to! Your words give eternal life” (Joh 6:68). He is the God of no options, and you have no option but Him.
June 27, 2023
Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3)
These are some of the most strategic promises in the word of God. They are repeated to Abraham (Gen 13:14-18; Gen 15:5; Gen 17:1-8; Gen 22:17-18). They are confirmed to Isaac (Gen 26:2-4, Gen 26:24) and to Jacob (Gen 28:13-14; Gen 35:9-12). They are woven throughout the Old Testament (Neh 9:7-8; Psa 105:6-11; Isa 51:2). They are elaborated upon in prominent chapters of the New Testament (Romans 4 and 9; Galatians 3 and 4; Hebrews 6, 7, and 11). Ultimately, we will see that these promises are at the root of the new covenant of grace.
These promises to Abraham flow forth one upon another. This is so typical of our God of promises. He does not merely sprinkle His word with a promise here and there. He pours them out like a cascading stream. Included within these divine commitments are some of the monumental purposes of God: namely, a Promised Land, the nation of Israel, the Messiah, and worldwide missions.
First, God’s promises included a Promised Land. “Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” This new land would be spacious, with bountiful provision: “a good and large land . . . a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exo 3:8). Then, in that land of blessing, God would develop the nation of Israel. “I will make you a great nation.” Eventually, through that nation, Messiah would be birthed, fulfilling the promise to bring God’s blessings to all who would believe. “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” The Lord Jesus would be that specific, individual seed that would offer God’s blessed salvation to all the world. “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ” (Gal 3:16). This promise contained the gospel. “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed’ ” (Gal 3:8). The gospel is the good news of God’s saving grace. This good news is for all the world to hear.
Lord God of majestic promises, what a grand plan You have laid out in only a few sentences! Help me to read Your word with alertness regarding Your promises. Please shape my thinking and my expectations by Your mighty promises, in Jesus name, Amen.
June 26, 2023
Baptism by the Holy Spirit is experienced by all who believe on Jesus Christ as their Savior at the moment of salvation, and it is not to be repeated (Romans 8:9). In that baptism believers are identified with Christ as the Head of the Body, and are indwelt by the Spirit (John 4:14; 7:38-39).
The baptism by the Spirit occurs at conversion when the Holy Spirit enters the believing sinner and gives him new life, and makes his body the temple of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). All believers have experienced this once-for-all baptism at the moment of salvation (Romans 8:9).
The presence of the Holy Spirit and His availability for all believers is the norm in the New Testament. All of the commands and exhortations of the epistles are based on the assumption that the baptism of the Spirit has already taken place in the believer’s life. The Holy Spirit “abides” with the believer forever from the moment he believes on Christ as his Savior (John 14:16).
Therefore, we should be careful not to confuse other forms of expressions found in the New Testament with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For example, when Christians are commanded to “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) and to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), we are not to understand these as commands to be “baptized” of the Holy Spirit. Similarly the “anointing” of the Spirit (1 John 2:20-27) and the “pledge (down payment) of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:14) and other expressions are not referring to the baptism. These references indicate various other aspects of the Spirit’s work in believers and their appropriation of the gifts and blessings of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life rather than the historical baptism of the Spirit.
We affirm the teachings of the New Testament that Christians receive one baptism, and must yield to the constant control of the Holy Spirit. We received one baptism which took place at moment of our spiritual regeneration, and we will receive many fillings during the rest of our Christian life. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
The baptism of the Holy Spirit places us in the Body of Christ. The filling of the Spirit brings us under the control of the Spirit.
The phrase “baptized with the Spirit” defines what baptism is being referred to; it is a baptism with reference to the Spirit, not water. A baptism with reference to the Spirit is a baptism in which the Holy Spirit is the sole Agent. God is the one who does the baptizing by His Spirit.
The baptism by the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:44-48) is directly linked to the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and it is the formal recognition of the gospel being preached to the non-Jews. Gentiles as well as the Jews have all of the blessings and privileges of the dwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15-18). They were both placed in the Body of Christ by the same Spirit.
Jesus predicted a definite and specific event called the baptism of the Spirit in Acts 1:5. “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5).
The events on the day of Pentecost were the definite fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (Acts 2:17-21). Only one other event in the New Testament is described as the baptism of the Holy Spirit and it may be regarded as the completion of the Pentecostal baptism (10:1-11:18).
First Corinthians 12:13 reads, “By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.” The “body” here is the mystical body of Christ of which our Lord is the Head. The personal agent who does the baptizing into the body of Christ is the Holy Spirit. He places the believing sinner into the Body of which our Lord Jesus Christ is the living Head. The tense of the verb refers to a once-for-all event in past time. Therefore, potentially this took place at Pentecost and affects all believers in Christ. It is the fulfillment of our Lord’s words; “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence” (Acts 1:5).
The Holy Spirit places or introduces the believing sinner into the Body of Christ. The same operation of the Holy Spirit is referred to in Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:17, but the apostle is relating it to our vital union with the Head of the Body.
The baptism by the Holy Spirit does not bring the Spirit to us in the sense that God places the Spirit upon or in us. The baptism by the Holy Spirit places the believer in a vital union with Christ whereby he becomes a member of the mystical Body of Christ.
Therefore, the baptism by the Holy Spirit is not for power, because in this baptism there is nothing applied to or given the believer. The believer is placed into the Body of Christ and therefore has an eternal unchanging position with Him.
The Holy Spirit is not an ingredient into which the believer is baptized. The Holy Spirit is not applied to the believer as when the believer is immersed in water. Nor is water baptism a requirement for receiving the Holy Spirit. The believer does not simultaneously receive the baptism by the Holy Spirit at the time he is immersed in water.
The “anointing” with the Holy Spirit refers to the act of God the Father causing the Sprit to take up His permanent residence in the believer.
Therefore, nowhere in the Scriptures are believers commanded to seek the baptism by the Spirit. There is no power imparted in the act of baptizing with the Holy Spirit. We have already experienced it, and it never has to be repeated because the believer already has Him living within. It is a matter of yielding to the control of Spirit.
1. How can you know the Holy Spirit has baptized you? The evidence will be the witness of the Spirit within the believer (Romans 8:14-16). It does not consist of having all or certain spiritual gifts. It is the inner witness of the Holy Spirit bearing “witness with our spirit that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16).
2. When you put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior you were baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 12:13).
3. Because all believers have already experienced the once-for-all baptism of the Holy Spirit at conversion, we are not commanded to seek this baptism.
4. Because our bodies already belong to the Holy Spirit we are to live our lives under His constant control (1 Cor. 6:18-20).
5. If we are “baptized” by the Holy Spirit we belong to Christ’s Body, and if we are “filled” with the Holy Spirit our bodies belong to Christ.
6. In the context of every passage in the book of Acts where it is said the believers were “filled with the Spirit” they are seen witnessing.
June 25, 2023
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. (Gen 3:15)
Although the scriptures do not command us to make promises to God, we who believe in the Lord have the liberty to make various kinds of promises. It is permissible to express our devotion to God through promises, if they are in dependence upon His character and capacities. “I will love You, O LORD, my strength” (Psa 18:1). It is also acceptable to make godly confessions through promises that are based on His promises to us. “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.’ ” (Heb 13:5-6)
We are even allowed to make predictive promises concerning the details of our lives, if they are subject to God’s will. “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (Jas 4:15). Still, the work of God in lives hinges upon His promises to us. In fact, our God is characteristically a God of promises.
The fact that our God typically works through promises is seen as early as the third chapter of the Bible. There, God made a very strategic set of promises. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” These prophetic promises were addressed to Satan, but they were given in the hearing of Adam and Eve. Of course, they were recorded in the scriptures for everyone else to consider thereafter.
These promises revealed some of the consequences of spiritual rebellion, as well as announcing God’s remedy for the sin of man. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed.” These words declare the inevitability of spiritual warfare, as well as the certainty of the cross of Christ.
The inevitability of spiritual warfare is a major theme in scripture. This warfare is documented throughout the word of God. “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel . . . Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? . . . So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (1Ch 21:1; Act 5:3; and Rev 12:9). Nevertheless, the cross of Christ would provide victory over the enemy and escape from this sinful world, for all who would embrace it: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age” (Gal 1:3-4).
Dear God of promises, may my promises be a peripheral issue in my thinking and living. Conversely, may Your promises be central and foundational—especially, those promises related to the cross of Jesus, my Lord, Amen.
June 24, 2023
Jesus said, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Mat 17:20, NLT)
Faith is a power. It is the nitroglycerin of the Kingdom. Just a single drop, no bigger than a mustard seed (i.e., a tiny speck in the palm of a hand), can move mountains. And why is this? Because faith moves God — it is one thing He delights most to see active in our hearts. And when He finds faith at work, He is moved to do His great and extraordinary work in us and through us.
Yes, Faith is a power. It can move mountains, stop the mouths of lions, conquer kingdoms and raise the dead. But, sometimes its power wanes, in the same manner that the tides of the sea ebb and flow. Some days our faith is strong and unflappable; but on other days it needs strengthening.
Jesus prayed for Simon Peter that his faith fail not. Sometimes Faith fails; its steps become uncertain and halting. For this reason, Faith must always have a renewable source of energy; a never failing supply of invigorating strength to bolster it when it is close to tapping out.
That one unfailing source is LOVE.
Not even Hell itself in all its unleashed hatred can rock a man or woman who is rooted and grounded in the unfailing Love of God. Though Faith may fail, and Hope falter under the relentless blows of continued misfortune — Love never fails.
Now abides Faith, Hope, and Love — and the greatest of these is Love.
June 23, 2023
He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb 13:5-6)
Another acceptable category of promises to God involves those based on His promises to us. God has already promised to be with us every step of our pilgrimage here on earth. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Consequently, we can declare with great confidence: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me? ”
The Lord knows our vulnerability to fear, particularly, the fear of man. “The fear of man brings a snare” (Pro 29:25). Many traps and entanglements await those who are afraid of man’s opinions or actions. Abraham jeopardized his own wife, because he was afraid of the Egyptians. “Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you” (Gen 12:12-13). King Saul sinned against God, because he feared the people. “Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice’ ” (1Sa 15:24). Of course, God’s protection against such snares is to depend upon Him, when we are tempted to fear man. “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”
The Lord has given many promises of His presence with His people to protect them from man. To Joshua, God promised: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Jos 1:5). To Paul, the Lord promised: “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). To every believer in Christ, He has promised: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mat 28:20). Therefore, “we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ”
When our promises are based on the promises of God, the faithfulness and the ability of God become their validation.
Dear Lord, You know my tendency to think and act from fear of what others might say or do. When I am tempted to respond in this carnal manner, please remind me of Your constant presence. I want to trust You as my helper and not fear what man may do, Amen.
June 22, 2023
Read 1 Co 15:1-11
The disciples had no doubt about Jesus having risen. They were walking along the country road, sitting at the supper table, gathered in the sitting-room of that Jerusalem home, in the boat on Galilee’s blue waters: each time they were talking about him but hadn’t any thought of his being there. Then, each time, they found him in their midst. Even so he is with us as we are talking and thinking of him. Let’s recognize his presence.
The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. Genesis 2:7
Your soul matters, because your soul is breathed into you by God. Grasping this is of huge importance in knowing who you are and why your life is of such great value.
Adam was created in two stages. There were two steps in the process by which God gave him life.
The first was that God “formed the man of dust from the ground.” God formed a body. It was made from the dust of the ground, and in this way, the man and the woman were similar to the animals: “Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens” (Gen. 2:19).
We have this in common with the beasts and the birds, that like them, God made us out of the ground. That is why God says, “You are dust, and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19). When we die, this is precisely what happens to the body.
But there is a second stage in the creation of Adam, which shows why we are different from the animals: “The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Gen. 2:7).
God breathes life into his body, and this makes Adam a living soul, capable of knowing God, enjoying God, and sinning against God, something the animals cannot do.
You have a soul. That’s what makes you different from the animals. Your soul gives you the capacity to know God and relate to him in a way animals never can.
This is at the heart of what God is saying when He says, “You are made in the image of God” (see Gen. 1:26-27). God has breathed life into you and that life will never end.
Does knowing this cause you to value your own soul more? Why or why not?
June 20, 2023
“Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He’s standing right alongside God, and what he says goes.” (1Pe 3:22, The Message).
Sooner or later the last word will be spoken. All debate will cease, and arguments will come to an end. Somebody somehow in someway will be able to sum it all up and put everything and everyone in their place. That somebody is Jesus.
Until then we are surrounded by a hurricane of opinions, ideas, suggestions, postulations, pontifications, exaggerations, exclamations, theories, concepts, notions, imaginations, vanities, snippets, and a host of other verbal squalls that wreck lives and strew debris across the landscape.
The wind blows faster and faster, the swirl moves more and more quickly — gathering speed and force. The vortex of the man-made Blow Cloud sucks virtually everything and everyone into it spin. Soon it will reach such velocity that one will hardly be able to put a clear thought on the table for discussion.
BOOM! That’s when a trumpet blast will call the whole thing to a screeching halt and we will find ourselves dizzy with nonsense as we stand before the Lord. He will look us over, and His gaze will humble us one and all.
And then He will speak — and what He says goes. He will have the final word on everything and everyone. It would be a good idea to become friends with Him now, don’t you think?
June 19, 2023
Every born again believer in Jesus Christ has a new standing before the Lord God. This eternal position never changes. It does not depend upon changes, chances or our circumstances.
Romans chapters three through seven tells us who we are in Christ.
We have a new standing with God. By God’s grace we have complete acceptance with God in Christ. We are at peace with God; God is at peace with us! “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (5:1–2). We have a new relationship in which we are reconciled with God, and as a result is we experience His peace.
We are members of a new family. The disobedience of Adam brought death. All men die in Adam. However, we have a new head of the family who is Jesus Christ, and He gives eternal life. “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (5:17).
We have a new identification in Christ. We have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. We have died to the old life, have been buried with Christ and have been raised to new life in Him. We are now identified with Christ. We are as men who have been raised from the dead. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (6:4).
We also have a new master. We are no longer slaves to sin. We now have a choice; we do not have to obey sin any longer. “For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” (6:19). Our new master leads us in God’s righteousness. Sin has a payday and death is its wages, but Christ gives us life every day v. 23).
We have a new love. Our old husband died and we have married Christ. We now have an intimate abiding love relationship with Jesus Christ. A new relationship demands my love, my loyalty, and my obedience. We obey Him because we love Him. “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (7:4).
We have a new motive of service. “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter” (7:6). We have been set free from the bondage of the Law and are now free to serve Christ. I am a free person, united with Christ, free to serve Him (Galatians 2:20; 5:1; Romans 6:11-14; 7:4, 6)
How do you live the normal Christian life? Reckon upon these great facts about you. You are a new person in Christ. Act upon these truths. Put into daily practice what you know to be true.
Who are you in Christ? Have you claimed His grace and appropriated who you are in Him? It is something we must do daily as we walk by faith in Christ.
June 18, 2023
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come . . . Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (Heb 10:1 and Col 2:16-17)
Just as an approaching shadow points to the arrival of the person casting the shadow, so the law pointed to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus (with His abounding grace) is the substance that the law foreshadows. “The substance is of Christ.” Jesus is the one who brought “the good things to come.”
One of these “good things” that Jesus brings by His grace is the full rest seen in the shadow of the Sabbath. The law of God called for a day of rest every week for His people. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy . . . Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD” (Exo 20:8; Exo 31:15). This shadow provided regular physical rest for the Israelites. However, it pictured the substantial rest (true spiritual rest) that Jesus brings us. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mat 11:28-29). Jesus is now the daily Sabbath rest for all who humbly depend upon Him. “For we who have believed do enter that rest” (Heb 4:3).
Another of the “good things” that Jesus provides by His grace is the full fellowship that is foreshadowed in the Tabernacle of the Old Covenant. The Tabernacle reveals God’s desire to dwell in the midst of men. “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle . . . just so you shall make it” (Exo 25:8-9). This elaborate portable tent was to be set up right in the middle of His people. “You shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony . . . they shall carry the tabernacle . . . and camp around the tabernacle” (Num 1:50). The priests of the tribe of Levi would encircle the Tabernacle, with the other tribes of Israel encamped around them. This is a significant shadow: God dwelling in the middle of His people. Yet, something far more substantial than this shadow is fulfilled in Christ. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt [literally, “tabernacled“] among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Joh 1:14). Now, this same Jesus has made the church collectively, and our lives individually, the tabernacle of His presence among men! “Do you not know that you are the temple of God . . . that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (1Co 3:16 and Eph 3:17).
Dear Lord Jesus, I praise You for coming to dwell in my life by grace through faith. I hope in You now for the daily rest my weary soul desperately needs, Amen.
June 17, 2023
“And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings” (Eze 1:25).
That is the letting down of the wings? People so often say, “How do you get the voice of the Lord?” Here is the secret. They heard the voice when they stood and let down their wings.
We have seen a bird with fluttering wings; though standing still, its wings are fluttering. But here we are told they heard the voice when they stood and had let down their wings.
Do we not sometimes kneel or sit before the Lord and yet feel conscious of a fluttering of our spirits? Not a real stillness in His presence.
A dear one told me several days ago of a certain thing she prayed about, “But,” said she, “I did not wait until the answer came.”
She did not get still enough to hear Him speak, but went away and followed her own thought in the matter. And the result proved disastrous and she had to retrace her steps.
Oh, how much energy is wasted! How much time is lost by not letting down the wings of our spirit and getting very quiet before Him! Oh, the calm, the rest, the peace which come as we wait In His presence until we hear from Him!
Then, ah then, we can go like lightning, and turn not as we go but go straight forward whithersoever the Spirit goes. (Eze 1:1; Eze 1:20)
Propitiation (hilasterion) is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that satisfies the just demands of God’s holy Law on the believing sinner so God can forgive him and turn away His wrath.
Hilasterion is used as a “propitiatory sacrifice” (“sacrifice of atonement” (NIV), or “propitiation” in Romans 3:25. In Hebrews 9:5 the same Greek word is translated “mercy seat,” (NASB) or “propitiatory place” (“the place of atonement” (NIV).
God gave His Son as the means of propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2; 4:10). A holy God required atonement for sin and provided the perfect sacrifice.
A word of caution is called for because the New Testament does not include the idea of a pagan offering a sacrifice as a means of appeasing the anger and displeasure of his gods.
In the New Testament it is the LORD God who is propitiated by the vindication of His holy character through His own provision that He has made in the vicarious sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. Based upon the death of Christ, God can now show His mercy to the believing sinner. The barrier that sin interposed between God and man is broken down and removed. Christ by His death annulled the power of sin to separate God and the believer.
Jesus Christ is the hilasmos in that He became the sacrifice which perfectly met the demands of the broken law. According to the New Testament usage, hilasmos is not that of placating the anger of a vengeful God, but the satisfying of His righteousness so that His character and government might be maintained, and at the same time His mercy might be shown to the believer in Jesus Christ.
The Scriptural background for the idea is found in the Jewish Day of Atonement and the sprinkling of sacrificial blood to cover or atone for Israel’s sin (Leviticus 16:15), and thus satisfy a holy God for another year. In the New Testament, Jesus’ death is viewed as the final sacrifice which completely satisfies God’s demands against sinners, and the turning away the wrath of God from all who believe on Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is God’s propitiatory sacrifice for sin. Jesus had to die on the cross in order to satisfy the Law and justify lost sinners. Jesus suffered the wrath of God on the cross for the sins of the world and fully met the just demands of God’s Law.
The Ark of the Covenant contained the testimony of God which consisted of the tables of stone upon which were written the Ten Commandments, a piece of manna and the budded rod of Aaron. The high priest went into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement and sprinkled the sacrificial blood on the golden cover or lid on top of the Ark of the Covenant. When the blood of the sacrificial victim was sprinkled on this Mercy Seat, it ceased to be a place of judgment and became the place of mercy. The blood came between the violated Law of God and the people who violated it. The Old Testament rite is a beautiful picture of the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God that satisfies the just requirements of God’s law, and paid the penalty of the sinner in full.
There is no denying the fact that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). However, the New Testament teaching on the propitiation is far removed from the pagan idea which appeased the anger of the gods because the broken Law of God has been satisfied by Jesus Christ. “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). It is true the Law demanded of every person perfect obedience or death (Romans 6:23; Ezek. 18:4). But Jesus Christ is both the Mercy Seat and the perfect sacrifice which transforms the judgment seat into the throne of mercy.
Our salvation is free, but definitely is not cheap. It came at a tremendous cost to God. G. Campbell Morgan said wisely, “It doesn’t cost me anything to be saved, but it cost God the life of His Son.”
The saving work of Jesus Christ is appropriated “through faith in His blood” (Romans 3:22, 25). “Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction. . . . whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed” (Romans 3:22, 25).
By the death and shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ the penalty for our sins has been paid in full, and the righteousness of God has been satisfied. The wrath of God has been propitiated. The believer places his or her faith in Jesus Christ and God counts it as righteousness. “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:9).
How could a holy God “be just and at the same time justify the ungodly”? The LORD God must be consistent with His own righteousness and the just demands of His own Law against all sinners, and at the same time demonstrate His grace, love and tender mercy. Both needs are perfectly met in the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament sacrifices could never take away sin, but God sent His Lamb who would lift up and take away our sins (John 1:29). God would “pass over” the sins of the past knowing Jesus Christ would come and finish the work of salvation. Jesus “redeemed” sinners by purchasing them and setting them free.
1. It is important to emphasize that the benefits of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ are only available to a person when he places his faith in the efficacy of the shed blood. Faith is the sole condition on man’s part because the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
2. Because God must be perfectly consistent with His own righteousness He cannot break the Law or violate His own nature, therefore He sent His own Son to suffer the wrath of God on the cross for our sins.
3. The Old Testament saint looked forward to the coming of the perfect sacrifice of atonement, whereas the New Testament saint looks back upon that satisfaction. In God’s eyes it makes no difference with Him whether He saves sinners before or after the death of Christ. The cross of Jesus and His death is an eternal fact in God’s reckoning. Jesus Christ is the satisfaction of God’s righteousness.
4. The mercy of God was bestowed on the basis of the justice satisfied by Jesus Christ. The believing sinner is saved by the satisfied righteousness of God. His sins have been paid in full and God’s justice satisfied.
June 15, 2023
“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” (1Pe 4:12-13, The Message).
Sometimes things can get so difficult that even the most ardent believers look heavenward with serious questions about whether or not God is involved in our affairs anymore. Even Jesus Himself cried out on the cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Sometimes God pulls just far enough away to awaken and alarm us by His absence.
Perhaps we may have grown so accustomed to His blessings and benefits, that we inadvertently began taking them for granted; failing to humbly acknowledge His presence and His provisions in our daily lives. Living presumptuously, without showing our gratitude to God for who He is and what He does.
Nothing snaps us out of that indifferent daze more quickly that a good dose of real difficulty, with a side order of God’s perceived absence. When all hell breaks loose, and heaven is no where to be found — that will get your attention!
But, God is not absent, nor is He distant. He’s just silent; watching and waiting for how we handle the situation. Will be bellow in unbelief like those who know not God at all? Or will we, like Job of old, trust Him though He slay us.
The truth is that the difficulty you are facing is a spiritual refining process; God is separating the gold from the dross in your life. And if you will quietly trust Him through the ordeal you will soon discover it was worth it all — for glory is just around the corner.
June 14, 2023
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” . . . by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant . . . Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:21-22, Heb 7:25)
One of the better aspects of the new covenant of grace is Jesus, our High Priest. The priests under the law were men who served for a limited time and then died. Under grace, our High Priest serves forever. Jesus received His priesthood “not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life” (Heb 7:16).
The priests under the law were sons of Aaron from the tribe of Levi. Each served as a brief reminder of the perfect priest who would someday bring a better covenant than the law. “Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? ” (Heb 7:11). This was a temporary priesthood, requiring numerous priests. “And there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing” (Heb 7:23). The priesthood of Jesus would never have to be transferred to another because he was the eternal Son of God. “But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood” (Heb 7:24).
Jesus, our eternal High Priest, was a priest after the order of Melchizedek. “For this Melchizedek . . . without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually” (Heb 7:1-3). Melchizedek was the one who brought bread and wine to Abraham, when he returned victorious from battle (see Genesis 14). There was no genealogy for Melchizedek, no record of the beginning or ending of his days of service. In this, he was like the Son of God: eternal. Thus, he pictured Jesus’ priesthood: eternal. This makes Jesus (the provider of grace) a better High Priest than those who served under the law. “By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.”
Now, the one who died for us (to forgive our sins) is ever praying for us (that we might be thoroughly rescued from all else that threatens us). “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them.”
Lord Jesus, my great High Priest, I bow to You as the eternal one, whose priesthood never ends. I rest in Your interceding prayers for me today, that I might be delivered from all that would come against me, Amen
June 13, 2023
The Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come …. Said he unto them …. heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you — Luk 10:1, Luk 10:2, Luk 10:9
There Is a Place for You to Serve
Can you picture the distress of a farmer when he sees his fields golden with a harvest, and there are no servants to gather that harvest in? It was such an agony that filled the heart of Jesus as He looked out on His harvest field. The seed had been sown; sunshine and rain had come; by the songs of psalmists and the message of prophets, by national guidance and national disaster, God had been bringing Israel to its autumn. And now there was the harvest ready to be cut, but the harvesters—where were they? How intensely Jesus felt the need of helpers! How clearly He saw that the world was to be won through the enthusiasm and the effort of humble men! It is one glory of our joyful Gospel that if we wish to help, there is a place for us. I have seen boys left out in the cold by their schoolmates, but men by their Master, never.
It’s Safe to Be One of the Unnamed Disciples
Well, when the work of Jesus in Galilee was over, and a larger field was calling for larger service, Jesus chose seventy, as before He had chosen twelve. Who these seventy were I do not know. We find no list of their names in the Gospels. But one thing we are sure of, for we have it from the lips of Christ Himself, their seventy names were all written in heaven (Luk 10:20). One of our sweetest poets, who died in Italy, bade his friend write upon his tombstone, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” But the very feeblest of these seventy, when he came to die, would bid men write, “Here lies one whose name is writ in heaven.” What a debt we owe to the unnamed disciples! How we are helped by those we never heard of! If struggles are easier and life is brighter for us, we owe it largely to the faithful souls who pray and work and die, unknown. Do you long to be one of the twelve, till all the land is ringing with your name? Better to be one of the unnamed seventy, who did their work and were very happy in it, and whose names are only known to God. Better: perhaps safer too. There was a Judas in the twelve: we never read of one among the seventy.
And why did Jesus fix on that number seventy. Fine souls have dreamed (and sometimes it is sweet to dream a little) that Jesus was thinking of the twelve wells and seventy palms of Elim that had refreshed the children of Israel long ago (Exo 15:27). But if that be a fancy, this at least is fact. It was seventy elders who went up with Moses to the mount and saw the glory of the God of Israel (Exo 24:1-9). Now seventy workers are to go out for Jesus, and see a glory greater than that of Sinai. It was seventy elders who were afterwards chosen to strengthen Moses in his stupendous task (Num 11:24-25). Now seventy are set apart by Jesus to aid Him in His glorious service. Do you see how Jesus gathered up the past? Do you mark how He was guided by the past in making His great choices for today?
They Were to Win Men by Trusting Them
So the seventy were chosen; and with an exquisite kindness were sent out two and two. They were to heal the sick. They were to be the heralds of God’s kingdom. If men received them, let them rejoice. If cities rejected them, let them remember Jesus, for “he that despiseth you despiseth me.” He was the Lamb of God, and they were sent forth as lambs among the wolves. They were to try to win men, too, by trusting them. For when Jesus bade them leave their wallet and their purse behind, He was not only teaching confidence in God; He was teaching them to look for the best in man. That was one secret of the seventy’s success. They took it for granted they would be hospitably treated, and men responded to that trustfulness. They honored that confidence reposed in them; till the hearts of the seventy overflowed with praise, and they came back to Jesus full of joy.
No Time to Waste
It should be noted too, in their directions, how Jesus guarded against all waste of time. There is a note of urgency we must not miss. The value of precious hours is realized. Take this, for instance, “Salute no man by the way.” Did Jesus mean that the worker should be a churl? Not that. But in the East greetings are so tedious, so full of flattery, so certain to lead on to wayside gossip, that men who are out on a work of life and death must run the risk of seeming unsociable sometimes. When Elisha bade his servant carry his staff and lay it on the dead child of the Shunamite, do you remember how he said to him, “If thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again” (2Ki 4:29)? The call was so urgent, there was no time for that, and there is a thousandfold greater urgency here. Or why, again, did Jesus say, “Go not from house to house”? Did not the disciples break bread from house to house (Act 2:46)? Did not Paul at Ephesus teach from house to house (Act 20:20)? But what Jesus warned the seventy against was this. It was against accepting that endless hospitality that to this day is the custom in an Eastern village. It was against frittering all their priceless hours away in accepting the little invitations they would get. They must remember how the days were flying. They must never lose sight of their magnificent work. The time is short, and all must give way to this—the preaching of the Kingdom and healing the sick.
Their Success Brought Joy to Christ
The seventy did their work, then, and came home again (for it was always home where Jesus was); and when Jesus heard their story and saw their joy, there fell a wonderful gladness on His heart, This Man of Sorrows was often very joyful, but never more so than in His friends’ success. Now is not that a Comrade for us all? Is not that a Companion who will make life rich? We are so ready to envy one another. We cannot hear about a brother’s triumphs but it sends a sting into our hearts. Jesus exults when His nameless children prosper. He is jubilant, in heaven, when I succeed. It is worthwhile to master self; it is worthwhile to be a Christian, in my own nameless way, when I have a Friend like that to please.
The favorite self-designation of Jesus was “the Son of Man.” In this chosen term Jesus used it to veil His eternal glory and mark His humanity.
The expression “the Son of Man” is used 80 times in the New Testament and in Matthew 8:20 for the first time. Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
The term was convenient for Jesus to conceal His Messianic title. Except on two occasions Jesus is only one who uses this title. ““Look!” The martyr Stephen called out, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:56, NET)
The title clearly points to Jesus as the Messiah (Daniel 7:13-14). Yet it conceals it in such a way as to protect Him from the Jewish people of His day who looked for a political messiah.
James Orr notes when we compare these words from Daniel 7:13-14 with the words of Jesus to the high priest during His trial in Matthew 26:64, the echo of the Old Testament words cannot be mistaken. “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14). “Jesus said to him, ‘You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven”” (Matthew 26:64). Equally distinct is it in the great discourse in Matthew 24:30, “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Jesus Christ has many titles in the New Testament, but clearly the title He chose when referring to Himself was “the Son of Man.” He used it when speaking of His deity and His humanity. He used it to communicate the two most important truths about His person: His full deity and His full humanity. He is the God-man. He is God with us.
The term “Son of Man” conveys to the hearer that Jesus was fully man. He was a human being with flesh and bones. He was a “man.” It was His way of freely identifying Himself with mankind. He was one of us, and He put His emphasis on His humanity. Son of Man basically communicates to us, “I am one of you.”
Moreover, Jesus called Himself “the Son of Man” which expressed more than mere humanity. When He used the title “the Son of Man,” He was using the title in Daniel to refer to One who will come on the clouds of heaven with the authority of the Ancient of Days and reign with sovereign power (Matthew 26:64). In this sense “the Son of Man” was Jesus’ way of saying, “I am the divine sovereign King.” It reminds us of Psalm two. There was no mistake about His use of the title in this way because the high priest, Caiaphas, jumped on Jesus’ use of the tile and accused Him of blasphemy and condemned Him to death. Caiaphas and the council knew what Jesus was referring to, and that He was relating Himself to Daniel 7:13-14.
A number of scholars point out that Jesus could use the title “the Son of Man” and fill it with fresh new meaning of His own without denying the concealed messianic meaning in Daniel. Jesus used the term when referring to Himself in order to prevent the Jewish people from identifying Him with political ambitions. During the turbulent time in which Jesus lived, Israel expected a political deliverer who would come and save His people from the domination of the Roman Empire. Jesus avoided the misunderstanding of the Jewish people in their use of the term messiah. The title did not convey a messianic claim to the Jewish public.
How did Jesus use the tile “the Son of Man”? What did He mean to communicate about Himself?
Central to the meaning of “the Son of Man” is one who speaks and acts with divine power and authority.
1. Jesus uses the title when referring to His pre-incarnate existence. John 6:62, “What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” Jesus is referring to the time before He came to earth when He was seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Jn. 17:5). “The Son of Man” existed from eternity (cf. John 1:1-3, 14).
2. Jesus used the term “Son of Man” when predicting His suffering, death and resurrection (John 3:14-15; 12:32-34). The Son of Man “must be lifted up.” The Son of Man suffered and died to give eternal life to all who will believe on Him (Jn. 6:27). This food remains forever and has the effect of producing life forever. Only the Son of Man can accomplish this.
3. In order for people to be saved they must put their faith in the Son of Man (John 6:53-54). His saving work on the cross must be appropriated by faith in order to be saved.
4. The one who is “like the son of man” means He is also God; He is the God-man (Daniel 7:13-14). Jesus has authority to reign and judge because He is the Son of Man. In the book of Daniel the Son of Man acts like a sovereign Judge (Matt. 10:23; 13:41; 16:27, 28; 17:9; 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 44). He receives “authority, glory and sovereign power.” He is God.
5. One day Jesus Christ will return to reign in glory as the sovereign King of kings and Lord of Lords (John 5:25-27; Daniel 7:14; Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 5-6). The messianic consciousness of Jesus is expressed in Matthew 25:31, “But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall He sit on the throne of his glory”!
1. Since the Son of Man was “one of us” we have a great high priest to whom we can go to in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
2. If we have bowed in submission to the Son of Man we will one day welcome His return as the sovereign King of kings (Philippians 2:9-11).
3. Jesus, the Son of Man, has divine power and authority to rule as sovereign over our lives
2 Timothy 2:24
And the servant of the Lord – Referring here primarily to the Christian minister, but applicable to all Christians; for all profess to be the servants of the Lord.
Must not strive – He may calmly inquire after truth; he may discuss points of morals, or theology, if he will do it with a proper spirit; he may “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints” Jud 1:3; but he may not do that which is here mentioned as strife. The Greek word – μάχεσθαι machesthai – commonly denotes, “to fight, to make war, to contend.” In Joh 6:52; Act 7:26; 2Ti 2:24;, it is rendered “strove,” and “strive;” in Jas 4:2, “fight.” It is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. The meaning is, that the servant of Christ should be a man of peace. He should not indulge in the feelings which commonly give rise to contention, and which commonly characterize it. He should not struggle for mere victory, even when endeavoring to maintain truth; but should do this, in all cases, with a kind spirit, and a mild temper; with entire candor; with nothing designed to provoke and irritate an adversary; and so that, whatever may be the result of the discussion, “the bond of peace” may, if possible, be preserved; compare the notes at Rom 12:18.
But be gentle unto all men; – see the notes at 1Th 2:7. The word rendered “gentle,” does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means that the Christian minister is to be meek and mild toward all, not disputatious and quarrelsome.
Apt to teach; – see the notes at 1Ti 3:2.
Patient – Margin, “forbearing.” The Greek word here used does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means, patient under evils and injuries. Robinson, Lexicon. Compare the Eph 4:2 note; Col 3:13 note.
The Christian’s God and Savior is Jesus Christ.
In Titus 2:13 the very nature of Jesus Christ is equal to God and is the same as God. The word “God,” together with “Savior,” describes the nature of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God. There is only one article in the Greek, “the great God and our Savior.” This is the necessary meaning of the one article with “God” and “Savior.” “The great God and Savior” refers to the same person, Jesus Christ. John Gill said, “What a wonderful person He is, for He is God manifest in the flesh.”
John 20:31 tells us the author wrote his Gospel so that his readers would know that Jesus Christ is God and by putting their faith in Him could have eternal life. The “signs” that John chose to describe in this book were chosen to give evidence of the deity of Jesus. “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” In the Gospel of John Jesus performed miracles, and lives a sinless life before a watching world. Sinners who put their trust in Him are changed. Why? It is precisely because He is God.
Jesus claimed to be and is God in the flesh, the Son of God, the Savior of all who will believe on Him. Other testimonies in the Gospel of John regarding the deity of Jesus are John the Baptist (John 1:34); Nathanael (Jn. 1:49); Jesus (Jn. 5:25; 10:36); Peter (6:69); the healed blind man (Jn. 9:35); Martha (Jn. 11:27); Thomas (Jn. 20:28) and the apostle John himself (Jn. 20:30-31). These were the only ones from the many that he could have chosen to include in his book.
John 20:28 is the testimony of Thomas when he saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion. Jesus accepted the testimony of His disciple when he declared, “My Lord and my God!” The statement could be translated, “You are my Lord and my God!” or “You are my Lord, even my God.” The fact is the same person is my Lord and my God. He is not referring to two different individuals.
The most significant use of the word “Lord” (kurios) in the Gospel of John is to confess that Jesus is God. It is the highest possible confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Kurios is used in John in quotations from the Old Testament and is the standard Greek equivalent for the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh or Jehovah (LORD). This is the highest confession of Jesus’ deity. We must make the same confession in order to be saved (Rom. 10:9-10, 13; 1:4; Acts 2:36).
Jesus is God visible in the flesh (John 1:1-3, 14, 18; 8:58; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:5-9; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:2f; John 17:5). The pre-existent Logos “became flesh.” The Logos was eternally God. Jesus is God-Man. Therefore, His words and actions are those of the God-Man. Christ, the eternal Logos, who is God, became flesh and lived among men. Jesus’ Sonship is unique for He is eternal and is of the same essence as “the Father.”
In 2 Peter 1:1 “The righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ” tells us Jesus is God and Savior. The Greek grammar here clearly indicates that “God and Savior” is one Person, not two. There is one Greek article with two substantives indicating that Jesus Christ is coequal in nature with God the Father (John 1:1; 20:28; Titus 2:13; Matthew 16:16). The construction of the Greek text demands we translate, “our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The one article “the” (tou) with “God” and “Savior” requires precisely one person, not two as in our “Lord and Savior” in 2 Pet. 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, 18. In 1 Peter 1:3 it is “the God and Father,” again one person not two. “The grammar is uniform and inevitable” (A. T. Robertson). “Grammar demands that one person be meant.” Jesus Christ is the Christian’s God and Savior (Acts 4:12).
In Hebrews 1:1-2 the author presents the Son as “the exact counterpart of God” (Moffatt). In the absolute sense Jesus Christ is the “Son” of God. He is God’s Son who reveals the Father (John 1:18). “The revelation was a son-revelation” (Vincent). Down through eternity Jesus Christ was God the Son. He did not become the Son of God when He was born in the flesh. He condescended to become Man (Phil. 2:5-6). “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). The NET Bible reads, “And now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory I had with you before the world was created” (John 17:5, NET). In His resurrection and ascension, Jesus was received back His eternal glory. His resurrection declared to the watching world that Jesus is God’s unique Son.
He “who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4).
The apostle John in the book of Revelation declared the full deity of Jesus Christ where we see demonstrated the attributes and prerogatives of God at work over creation. It is a picture of angels and living creatures saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’ And the elders fell down and worshiped” (Revelation 5:12-14).
There are many more passages of Scripture that clearly demonstrate that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, the Second Person of the Trinity and He alone is worthy of our worship as God. Immanuel has come, and He is with us!
Charles Hodge offers an excellent summary of the biblical evidence of the divine attributes of Jesus Christ:
“All names and divine titles are applied to Him. He is called God, the mighty God, the great God, God above all; Jehovah; Lord; the Lord of lords and King of kings. All the divine attributes are ascribed to Him. He is declared omnipresent, omniscient, almighty and immutable, the same yesterday, today and forever. He is set forth as the creator and upholder and ruler of the universe. All things were created by Him and for Him, and by Him all things consist. He is the object of worship to all intelligent creatures, even the highest; all angels (that is, all creatures between man and God) are commanded prostrate themselves before Him. He is the object of all religious sentiments; of reverence, love, faith and devotion. To Him, men and angels are responsible for their character and conduct. He required man to honor Him as they honored the Father; that they should exercise the same faith in Him that they do in God. He declares that He and the Father are one; that those who had seen Him had seen the Father also. He calls all men unto Him; promises to forgive their sins; to send them the Holy Spirit; to give them rest and peace; to raise them up at the last day; and give them eternal life. God is not more, and cannot promise more, or do more than Christ is said to be, to promise, and to do. He has, therefore, been the Christian’s God from the beginning, in all ages and in all places” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, II, p. 382).
1. When you fully realize that Jesus Christ is God the only option is to fall at His feet and worship Him (Philippians 2:9-11).
2. On this Biblical doctrine the true believer in Jesus Christ cannot compromise: Jesus Christ is our great God and Savior! Have you joined the great heavenly choir singing praise to the Lamb who sits on the throne? (Rev. 5:8-14)
Can the Christian know with assurance that he has eternal life? The Scriptures promise that whoever believes on Jesus Christ as their savior shall have everlasting life. This great Biblical doctrine does not rely upon a few proof texts, but is the broad teaching of the whole Bible.
The Bible consistently teaches that no one whom God has brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ will ever go to hell or be lost again. This is the Biblical doctrine of perseverance of the saints. God never starts a project that He does not finish. He is persevering. If God has started something in your life, He will finish it. If you have been born again, justified by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone you need never fear that you will be spiritually lost again. You were dead in your trespasses and sins until the Holy Spirit regenerated you spiritually. God never begins a project that He does not finish. Moreover, when He does it, God does it perfectly!
Yes, legalism teaches just the opposite. Legalists do not want the believer to have the security of God’s sovereign grace and redeeming love. Spiritual insecurity and immaturity keeps people depending upon these religious leaders and their system rather than confidence and trust in God alone. It is the revealed will of God that each regenerate person should have assurance that he or she is a new creature in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 5:13). May the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and our hearts to these wondrous truths.
The Bible consistently teaches us that when a sinner believes in Christ as Savior at one moment in time, God keeps the believer secure forever. He does not have to keep on being “born again” over and over again. However, He does when necessary discipline an erring Christian as a beloved child. Salvation once possessed cannot be lost. This belief in God’s merciful and secure salvation is not a license to careless living, but on the contrary is a powerful incentive for godly living (John 10:27-30; Romans 8:38-39; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; 12:12; Hebrews 10:14; 12:6-13; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
In Philippians 1:6 the apostle Paul teaches us, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Has God begun the good work of salvation in you? Have you been born again? Has He put His life in you? Have you confessed your sins to Him and put your faith in Jesus Christ as your savior?
God began a good work of salvation when you believed on Christ and He will consummate it when Jesus returns. “Being confident” is in the perfect tense in Greek indicating the apostle Paul had come to a settled conviction earlier about their salvation and he still is confident that it was true. Salvation is the good work of God (Ephesians 2:8-10).
First John 5:13 reads, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” “These are written that you may know,” no just know, but “to know with a settled intuitive knowledge.” You can have eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ (John 20:31), and know that you have it. Despite anything Satan and the antichrist suggests believers do indeed possess eternal life now. The assurance of one’s salvation always rests essentially and satisfactorily on the direct promises that God makes to the believer in His Word.
We know that we have eternal life! There the witness of the Spirit within the believer and there is the witness of the Scriptures. “To know” often rendered “to be sure,” “to be assured,” “to have no doubt.” “I write you this so that you may know that you have eternal life” (TEV).
We do not earn eternal life; it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10). Jesus Christ is the gift. We receive Him. “He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:12). Do you have the Son? We receive the gift of eternal life by faith. Not to believe is to make God out a liar.
The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle John to write the Gospel “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ? Do you have His life in you? He went on write his epistle to give assurance to those who have believed on Christ. “These things I have written to you who have believed in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Do you have this assurance of eternal life? You can know with absolute knowledge that you are having eternal life. “You have” is in the present tense, indicating that you already have eternal life; it is not a future promise, but a present reality.
John 10:27-30 teaches us “eternal life” is the gift Jesus gives His sheep now (Jn. 6:27, 40; 1 John 2:25; 5:11). “No one shall snatch them out of My hand,” Jesus said (Jn. 10:28). “No wolf, no thief, no bandit, no hireling, no demon, not even the devil can pluck the sheep out of My hand” (A. T. Robertson). From the man’s outlook we become one of His sheep by believing on Jesus Christ, and from the divine view we believe because we are His sheep. Colossians 3:3 says, “Your life is hid together with Christ in God.” Moreover, verse twenty-nine tells us the greatness of the Father is the ground of the safety of the flock. “No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” “I and the Father are one” (Jn. 10:30). “Shall never perish” is a strong double negative affirmation in the Greek like, “they will indeed not ever perish.” The security of the sheep is found in the ability of the Shepherd to defend and preserve His flock. Thank God, the security of the believer does not depend on the ability of the believer, but our great sovereign God and Savior Jesus Christ. No one is strong enough to snatch the believer from the Father’s hand. It is double security because Jesus holds us in His hands and the Father has His hands around Jesus! Jesus and the Father have the closest possible unity of purpose (Jn. 10:30). Jesus and he Father are One in will and goal of salvation for all who believe on Christ.
“Eternal life” here is characterized as a gift from God, not something earned, which will “never perish,” and “no one can snatch them out of my hand,” and “no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” Our salvation can never be stolen or taken away. This is true eternal security; we are safe in the Father’s arms. Who can separate us from the love of God? None! (Romans 8:38-39).
The sheep have an intimacy with Jesus Christ, listen to His voice, understand the message of salvation and follow Him. This passage is one of the clearest statements that the believer in Jesus Christ for salvation will never be lost. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He has never lost one of His flock. “You do not believe because you are not one of My sheep” is very clear.
Will the Lord Jesus Christ lose the purchase of His blood? Definitely not is the answer the apostle Paul gives in Romans 8:29-39. God’s ultimate goal is to make us like Jesus and He will not fail. The realization of the goal is certain (Rom. 8:28-30).
Based on God’s Word we can know that we have eternal life. It has nothing to do with our feelings, and everything to do with the integrity of God. In God’s mind, once a son, always a son (Rom. 8:15-17; Galatians 4:4-7). God chose to adopt us, and that is a permanent relationship with Him. Once you are a child of God, you are always a child of God. Once you are in God’s family, you are there forever.
How can God not freely give us all things? Since God is for us, who then can possibly stand against us? Most people ask, but is God really for me? He answered that question once and for all at Calvary (John 3:16; Romans 5:6, 8). “He did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). Since God is for us, He is always for us. Christ died as my substitute on the cross. How much does God love you and me? Jesus died for our sins while we were His enemy. God spared not His own Son to save us. Since God has taken care of the greatest possible gifts in the giving of His Son, surely we can depend upon Him to take care of the lesser gifts.
God saved us by His grace and He continues to sustain us by His grace. Everything needed in securing our glorification will be freely and completely bestowed in God’s sovereign saving grace. How could God possibly fail to glorify the believer who has been justified by faith when He has already given His unspeakable and incomparable gift of His only Son?
“Who can bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” (Rom. 8:33). Since God has justified us, no charge can be brought against those whom God has chosen (Rom. 8:33-34). God not only imputes our sins to His Son, but He takes the perfect righteousness of Jesus and imputes it to the believer. You and I stand clothed with the perfect robes of the righteousness of Jesus Christ before a righteous and holy God. No one can lay any charge against me because I am arrayed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. “No condemnation” is the verdict of God (Romans 8:1).
What shall separate us from the love of God? (Rom. 8:35) Nothing. We are secure in the love of God in Christ. “The Lord is for me; I will not fear, what can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). God really does love us and nothing, nothing, nothing can separate us from His love.
Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ guarantees our sanctification and glorification. Our salvation from beginning in regeneration to its completion in glorification is ultimately God’s work, which we believers appropriate by faith.
What is the worst thing man can do to me? Kill me? Even that will only usher me into the very presence of God the Father in heaven (Acts 7:56-60). Who can stand against the LORD God? Nobody. Nothing. The LORD God will protect His investment. Next to His only begotten Son, we are His most precious possessions He has because He purchased us with His own blood. Nobody and nothing can harm the redeemed people of God.
1 John 3:2 tells us we are even now God’s children! Yet, the greater glory is to come because we are now the children of God. Our destiny and glory is to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29). “We shall see Him as He is.” Our destiny is to be conformed to the image of God in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:52-54; Philippians 3:21). The transformation will result from seeing “Him as He is.” Everyone who has Christ “purifies Himself, just as He is pure.”
The open vision of the coming Lord will bring us face to face with Him, and “what we shall be” will be in the likeness of Him because “we shall see Him as He is.” Through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit we are being conformed more and more to His spiritual likeness, but there is a day coming when this body of our humiliation will be changed to an outward expression like His body of glory.
When a person uses the promise of eternal security as a license to sin it only proves the deceitfulness of his own heart and proves he has never been born again. It proves he does not understand grace and has never experienced the radical change of the spiritual birth.
When sheep hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, they are obedient. Do you hear His voice? Are you following Him? Are you obedient to His voice? Have you been born again? These are evidences that Christ by His Spirit dwells in you (Romans 8:16). The Holy Spirit gives origin to the grace of full assurance to the believer (1 John 2:20, 27; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30).
Our salvation does not depend upon our obedience to the law, church membership, or our baptism by immersion. Salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ alone to save you?
A. A. Hodge wrote, “True assurance begets unfeigned humility; false assurance begets spiritual pride (1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 6:14).” True assurance “leads to increased diligence in the practice of holiness; the false leads to sloth and self-indulgence (Psalm 51:12, 13, 14).” True Biblical assurance “leads to candid self-examination and to a desire to be searched and corrected by God; the false leads to a disposition to be satisfied with appearance and to avoid accurate investigation (Psalm 139:23, 24).” True assurance of eternal life “leads to constant aspirations after more intimate fellowship with God (1 John 3:2, 3)”
1. Do you really think the owner of the sheep is going to lose any of His sheep when He has gone to the cross, died and risen from the dead? (John 10:27-30) If we have believed on Christ as our personal Savior, we have double security in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
2. The apostle Paul had a settled and firm persuasion concerning this very thing, that He who began a good work will bring it to a successful conclusion right up to the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Paul’s confidence is in the grace and power of God (2 Timothy 1:12). Our salvation is in God’s hands. When you have been saved by His grace, you can trust your eternal life to Him.
Grace is a charming word, full of beauty. Perhaps no one word describes Christianity better than the word grace.
Grace is the free, divine, unmerited favor of God bestowed upon sinful and undeserving man.
Charis is “that which bestows or occasions pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard and is applied to people, actions, speech. It can also refer to friendly disposition from which graciousness proceeds. Divine grace lays stress in its freeness and universality, its spontaneous character, and as in the case of God’s redemptive mercy, and the pleasure or joy He designs for the recipient” (W. E. Vine).
The word grace most powerfully expresses God’s unconditional, unmerited, and uncaused love and favor which He displays toward the sinner.
It pictures a gift freely given to someone who could never afford it, earn it or deserve it.
Grace is the occasion in which God takes the initiative to offer Himself and His salvation freely to sinful man. At Calvary God extended His favor for those who hated Him.
The most perfect expression of God’s grace is demonstrated in the giving of His own Son to die as our substitute.
Grace gives us what we do not deserve. It is bestowed freely to the enemy without any expectation of a favor in return.
Grace is an act of pure love on the part of God and emphasizes the helpless spiritual poverty of man, and the limitless kindness of God. It is always unearned, undeserved, and opposed to works as a means of salvation. Grace is absolutely the freeness of the love of God to sinful men.
God’s free grace is always set against the backdrop of the total depravity of sinful man. We were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). We were under the dominion of “the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Eph. 2:3).
Only in the light of the Scriptures can we properly understand and experience the grace of God personally.
William Mounse writes: “Every step of God’s salvation (from eternity past to the everlasting future) is accomplished through grace: his precreational choosing of the elect in Christ (Eph. 1:4-6), his inner call to the gospel (2 Tim. 1:9), his regeneration of dead sinners (Eph. 2:5), his gift of saving faith (Acts 18:27), his redemption of sinners (including justification, Tit. 3:7; forgiveness of sins, Eph. 1:7), his sanctification of believers (2 Cor. 9:8; 2 Thes. 2:16-17), his preservation of the saints (1 Cor. 1:4, 8), and his glorification of believers (1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Thes. 1:12).” (“Grace” inMounce’s Complete Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p.304).
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6). Grace was rich in mercy and we were dead in sins. It is all of grace because we were spiritually dead. Literally, Paul writes, “And you He made alive, being dead.” Spiritual death is the state of separation from God.
“But God.” What a contrast. Every saved sinner is a trophy of God’s saving grace so that “in the coming ages He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).
We are not saved by the grace of the church or any religious institution. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Greek construction in Ephesians 2:8 emphasizes the completed aspect of the action. “You were saved and you continue saved.” Grace is the divine source of salvation. Faith is the human response to God’s provision through Jesus Christ. God’s grace produces salvation. Man by faith receives it.
1. Because we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, there are no self-made men in heaven. There will be no boasting there. It will only be praise to the Lamb of God who died for us.
2. Because God takes the initiative in our salvation, He alone is the source. You did not earn your salvation because God gave it to you. You did not save yourself because God saved you. It was not because of what you did because God did it all as a gift.
3. Since we are saved by God’s free grace works have nothing to do with earning salvation. Good works can never earn salvation; however, salvation will produce good works for God’s glory.
4. “Faith” is not a “work.” Faith does not merit salvation. It is the means by which a person accepts or receives God’s free gift of salvation.
June 7, 2023
“Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night” (Job 35:10).
Do you have sleepless nights, tossing on the hot pillow, and watching for the first glint of dawn? Ask the Divine Spirit to enable you to fix your thoughts on God your Maker, and believe that He can fill those lonely, dreary hours with song.
Is yours the night of bereavement? Is it not often at such a time that God draws near, and assures the mourner that the Lord has need of the departed loved one, and called “the eager, earnest spirit to stand in the bright throng of the invisible, liberated, radiant, active, intent on some high mission”; and as the thought enters, is there not the beginning of a song?
Is yours the night of discouragement and fancied or actual failure? No one understands you, your friends reproach; but your Maker draws nigh, and gives you a song– a song of hope, the song which is harmonious with the strong, deep music of His providence. Be ready to sing the songs that your Maker gives. — Selected
“What then? Shall we sit idly down and say
The night hath come; it is no longer day?
Yet as the evening twilight fades away,
The sky is filled with stars, invisible to day.”
The strength of the vessel can be demonstrated only by the hurricane, and the power of the Gospel can be fully shown only when the Christian is subjected to some fiery trial. If God would make manifest the fact that “He giveth songs in the night,” He must first make it night. — William Taylor
June 6, 2023
“Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.’ — 2Co 4:17-18.
NOTICE THE marvellous antithesis of this chapter: light and darkness; life and death; pressure, perplexity, pursuit, and persecution; but side by side, victory, elastic hope, and the brightness of Christian faith. The decay of the outward man and the renewal of the inward; the light affliction and the weight of glory; the brief moment of earth’s pilgrimage contrasted with the eternity of reality and bliss.
It is very important that we should not miss the mighty blessing which is within the reach of every troubled soul. Of course it is quite possible to sit down before troubles and afflictions, hopeless and despairing, confessing that we are over-powered and defeated; it is also possible to be hard and stoical, bearing adversity because we cannot help or avoid it, bur the highest Christian way is to be thankful that the earthen vessel is breaking if only the torch will shine out; to be content that the dying of Jesus should be borne about in our mortal body, if only His life will thereby become manifest.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go, The rivers of grief shall not thee overflow; For I will be with thee in trouble to bless; And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
Fix my heart, O Lord, on Thyself, that amid the changes and chances of this mortal life I may be kept steadfast and unmoveable and ever abounding in Thy work. AMEN.
June 5, 2023
“Live an exemplary life.” (1Pe 2:12, The Message).
Peter was transformed from a man of boisterous bragging to a man of quiet strength and grace. If Christ can do that to him, then there is hope for you and me!
The word exemplary means “serving as a commendable pattern to be imitated.” No pressure here, but may I ask what about your life as a follower of Jesus would others say is exemplary? What is it about the way you love and serve the Lord that is so commendable that others should imitate you?
If the question leaves you a bit unsettled, then that’s a good thing. Because it shows that you at least care.
Some of us may squirm out of false humility. “Aw shucks,” we reply, “why, golly, there’s nothing in me that even comes close to being like Jesus. Why, I’m just happy that my sins are forgiven and that by His grace I get to go to heaven.”
Oh, grow up!
Others of us squirm for more substantial reasons. We know two things. One, we are called to something better. And two, we are settling for less. There are things in this world that have subtle yet powerful hold upon us at times, and the weight of these lesser things draws our strength away from the higher pursuits.
Peter said, “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.” (1Pe 2:11 The Message).
Jesus wants to fill us each with His spirit, thereby making our lives exemplary. He wants us to be good friends, good parents, good neighbors, good employees, good employers, good people. So good, in fact, that even those who otherwise oppose us cannot help but commend our lives.
This is do-able. So. let’s do it!
June 4, 2023
“For we are labourers together with God.” — 1Co 3:9.
IN THIS chapter the Apostle describes the Church as a garden or vineyard, in which the Divine Spirit is ever at work, superintending, directing, inspiring, and calling to co-operate with Him all His servants, whether they be Paul, Apollos, or Cephas; or as a vast temple, rising through the ages, requiring labourers to lay the foundations, others to build the walls, and others to put the final touches in the light of an accomplished purpose. In each case, the design, the successive stages of advancing progress, the engagement of the workers, the direction of their labours and their reward is entirely with the Husband-man and the Master-Builder. It is not our work, but His; we are not responsible for the results, but only to do His Will; He repays us by generous rewards, but there our responsibility ends. When the Garden stands in the mature beauty, and yields the prolific fruitage of autumn; when the Building is completed and stands in symmetrical glory amidst the wrecks of time, then those who have co-operated will stand aside, and “God will be All in all.”
All through human industry there is this co-operation between God and man. He stores the cellars of the earth with gold or coal, and it is for man to excavate it; He fills the hedgerows and woodlands with wild fruits and flowers, it is for man to cultivate them; He fills the earth with iron, copper, and other priceless treasures, it is for man to work them into all manner of useful implements. In every harvest-field, garden, orchard, industry, and employment of natural law for the purpose of civilization, there is this combined effort of God and man. God’s energy works according to laws, which man must study as the key to the unlocking of the forces which he uses to flash his messages, guide the aero plane or motor, or speed him across the ocean.
In the Church the same law prevails. God has given the Word, but the company of preachers has been needed to proclaim it. The Words of inspiration burn with the fire of God, but man is called in to translate them into every language under heaven. The saving power of Christ waits to heal and bless, but He needs the co-operation of the human hand and life as the medium through which His virtue passes. Those whom God calls into fellowship in serving others may count on Him for the supply of all their needs (1Co 3:21-23).
Heavenly Father, show me how I may work with Thee, and in what direction are Thy energies going forth that I may walk and work in fellowship with Thyself. AMEN.
June 3, 2023
“You call out to God for help and He helps — He’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, He’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living. Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.” (1Pe 1:17, The Message).
Some knuckle head somewhere back in time coined the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves.”
I suppose the guy was a dad, and he was trying to motivate a sluggish child to get with the program. Or more likely a parish priest trying to get his congregation up off their butts. But whoever it was, and whatever their motivation — the statement is false.
The truth of the matter is this — God does NOT help those who help themselves. He helps the helpless. He helps those who call out to Him. The good news is there are no super powers required to live this new life in Christ. God has all the power necessary, and He releases it in us and through us as it pleases Him.
God is not interested in helping us do our own thing with His assistance — for it will still be “our own thing.” And apart from the perfunctory acknowledgement to The Man Upstairs — He receives little or no glory for our achievements. We keep it all for ourselves.
God helps those who want His help, need His help, and ask for His help.
But, being responsible, He expects us to take the help He provides and become the best we can be in whatever it is we are doing. Knowing at all times, and in all things, that all the glory belongs to Him.
Need some help today? Ask God…and just watch what happens! And then be sure to give Him all the glory!
June 2, 2023
“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Gal 2:20.
THE HEART of true religion is to believe that Christ is literally within us. We must not simply look to Him as our Mediator, Advocate, and Example, but as being possessed by Him. He is our Life, the living Fountain rising up in the well of our personality. The Apostle Paul was never weary of re-affirming this great fact of his experience, and it would be well if each of us could say every day, before starting forth on our daily duty: “Christ is in me; let me make room for Him to dwell.”
We must say No to self, that the life of Christ may become manifest in and through us, and our standing become a reality in daily experience and conduct. When evil suggestions come to us, we must remember that we have entered a world where such things have no place. We are no longer in the realm of the god of this world, but have passed into the realm of the Risen Christ. Let those who are tempted believe this, and assert it in the face of the tempter, counting upon the Holy Spirit to make their reckoning a living experience.
In Eph 6:13-17 is described the armour of the Christian soul; in Col 3:12-14 the habit or dress which he wears beneath his coat of mail. We must be careful to be properly dressed each day. If we lose our temper over trifles, or yield to uncharitable speech, it shows that we have omitted to put on the girdle of love; if we yield to pride, avarice, envy and jealousy, we must not simply endeavour to put off these evils, but take from the wardrobe the opposite graces. It is not enough to avoid doing wrong. Our Master demands that we should always do and be what is right. When we fail in some sudden demand, it is because we have omitted to put on some trait of Christ, which was intended to be the complement of our need. Let us therefore day by day say: “Lord Jesus, wrap Thyself around me, that I may go forth, adequately attired to meet life’s demands.” In Christ for standing; Christ in us, for life; we with him, for safety.
Set my heart on fire with the love of Thee, and then to do Thy will, and to obey Thy commandments, will not be grievous to me. For to him that loveth, nothing is difficult, nothing is impossible; because love is stronger than death. AMEN.
May 31, 2023
“Even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you” I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. — Isa 46:4.
WHAT A marvellous promise is this! In days of foreboding, when we fear what may lie behind the veil of the impenetrable future!
Disease? Poverty? Suffering? Bereavement? We cannot tell, but we may turn in confidence to our God. He knows just how much we can bear, for He has made us: “I have made, and I will bear, and will deliver you.”
Even to old age! The hoar-frost may silver the head, the sound of the grinding may be low, the silver cord may be frayed even to the breaking, lovers and friends may have passed on to the other world; like the last apple on the bough, we may be left alone; but in the second childhood as in the first—”Even to your old age—I will carry you”; “For Himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee. So that with good courage we say, The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear” (Heb 13:5).
O God, our Father, we are Thine, May we never doubt Thy enduring mercy. We thank Thee! AMEN.
May 30, 2023
“The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him.” — Luk 20:37-38.
WHAT IS Death? It is not a condition but a transition; not an abiding-place, but a passage; not a house, but a doorway. The Scripture refers to it as a birth—”the first-born from the dead”; as an exodus—”after my exodus,” says Peter; as a striking of the tent—”I must shortly put off this tabernacle;” as the weighing of an anchor—”the time for me to loose-off from the shore is come.” Each of these metaphors accentuates the fact that Death is but a momentary act. We are absent from the body one moment, present with the Lord the next.
Persistent Personality. In that other field we shall surely recognise each other, and shall be as close akin, yea, closer than we were in long-past happy days, when heart to heart had sweet converse, or co-operated in useful ministry. Abraham will still be Abraham; Isaac, Isaac; and Jacob, Jacob. Not bodiless ghosts, but living personalities etherealised and transfigured. Moses and Elijah were recognised as such by the startled disciples on the Transfiguration mount; and Mary knew the Master in the Garden. What gain would it have been that Jesus promised the dying thief that he should be with Him in Paradise, if, when he reached there, he could not recognise the Lord?
Persistent Love. Love will never fail! But how can it exist without an object; and how can it forget! Why did Jesus promise the “many mansions,” unless He meant that there should be homes! He knows that the heart clings, even in the light of Resurrection, to the dear objects of human affection, else He would never have mentioned Peter’s name, nor have sent a message to His disciples, nor come a second time for Thomas! And will He ignore those natural cravings for us, whom He has loved better than Himself? How deep and sweet His assurance: “If it were not so, I would have told you!” Charles Kingsley asked that on the grave stone, which stood above his wife and himself, should be inscribed the words: “Amavimus, Amamus, Amabimus”—We loved, we love, we shall continue to love. And who shall challenge the truth or appositeness of these words?
Persistent Activity. “His servants shall serve Him!” The tasks we bungled here with our apprentice-hands will become possible; and unravelling our tangled skeins, we shall weave such fabrics as our wildest dreams never imagined.
I pray Thee, O Lord, to deliver me from the fear of death; and when mine eyes open in the dawn of heaven, may I see Thee standing to welcome me, and may I receive Thy Well-done! AMEN.
May 29, 2023
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Rom 6:14)
Obedience is a vital issue for every believer. Throughout the scriptures we see that God’s desire is for His children to walk in obedience. Moses wrote of this truth. “You shall obey the voice of the LORD your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today” (Deu 27:10). Samuel confirmed this truth. “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice” (1Sa 15:22). Likewise, the Apostle Peter declared that God’s children are to live “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts” (1Pe 1:14).
Our lives are to be under the rule (the dominion) of God’s will revealed in His word. When we are disobedient to God’s will, sin is dominating our lives. The Lord certainly wants us to get out from under the domination of sin and to live obediently. The only path for such liberation is the grace of God. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:14). Man might think that the law could free us from the dominating influence of sin. If we had laws with radical standards and severe consequences, surely man would not go on sinning. Of course, this approach does not work. No standards are as lofty as the holy law of God. No consequences are more severe than violating God’s law. Yet, men still are dominated by sin. Grace is God’s remedy.
A reactionary apprehension can develop against God’s liberating remedy of grace. Some people think that proclaiming grace as the solution will only encourage people to sin all the more and even wrongly assume that this will unleash more grace. The opposite is actually true. When God’s children embrace the wonder of what His grace provides (an effective rescue from sin through our identification with the death and resurrection of Christ), we see the folly of continuing in sin. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:1-4). By God’s grace at work, growing in this new life means growing in obedience.
Lord God of liberating grace, I want to grow in obedience. I long to be increasingly free from the influence of sin . Lord, I know that my best effort to be holy will not be sufficient. Strengthen me by Your grace to walk in Your will, in Jesus name, Amen.
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1–4)
We know that one of the judgments of the fall was the scattering of mankind into different languages, divided by distance, culture, and many other sources of disunity.
We read, “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language”(Acts 2:5–6).
The late Dr. R.C. Sproul wrote: “With the division of human languages into different tongues and dialects at the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1–9), the opportunities for disagreement and strife among the peoples of the world were greatly exacerbated. However, the Lord’s judgment of the human race so long ago was not His last word for man.”
The assemblage of so many different people from throughout the Roman Empire on the day of Pentecost and the subsequent supernatural manifestation of the Holy Spirit in which each person heard the preaching of the gospel in their own language marked the reversal of the curse of Babel.
Truly, in Christ, the reversal of the curses of the fall has now begun. We are moving inexorably toward that day that the great English poet called, “paradise regained.”
He has no expectations of you.
He doesn’t NEED you to serve Him.
If that is true…then what IS the purpose of the Christian life?
He didn’t desire slaves…but friends.
His heart doesn’t thrill at having servants…but sons and daughters.
❤️YOU WERE SAVED TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP❤️
“And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:25)
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
Though the Christian who has committed suicide has committed a grave sin, he is still forgiven.
Salvation is the state of being saved from God’s judgment. The only way to be saved is to trust in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, in his death, burial and resurrection for forgiveness of our sins. When Jesus forgives someone, He forgives all their sins and gives them eternal life; and they shall never perish. He does not give them temporary eternal life-otherwise, it would not be eternal.
What about the unforgivable sin? Is that suicide? No. Suicide is not the unforgivable sin. Jesus spoke of the unforgivable sin in Matt. 12:22-32. The context is when the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of the devil. Therefore, suicide is not the unforgivable sin.
Jesus bore all of our sins- including suicide. If Jesus bore our sins on the cross 2000 years ago and if suicide was not covered, then the Christian was never saved in the first place; and the one sin of suicide is able to undo the entire work of the cross of Christ. This cannot be. Jesus either saves completely, or he does not.