Plugged In

Bible

Today’s Passage – Colossians 1 – 4; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 61 – 65; Proverbs 13)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the 1213 Evening and Morning devotion from the late Charles Spurgeon.

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you,and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” – (Colossians 1:9)

“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;” – (Colossians 1:10)

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;” – (Colossians 1:23)

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” – (Colossians 2:6-7)

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” – (Colossians 3:16)

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” – (John 8:31)

We need to stay plugged in to the Word of God. Previously, I wrote from this passage on “The Importance of Discipleship“, which is very important. However, I fear that many Christians who perhaps have grown beyond the early days of faith need to be encouraged to keep moving forward in their walk with the Lord. The new believer has an advantage to a certain degree over the Christian that has been saved for a while. The “babe” in Christ often has an appetite for the things of God that is much stronger than the more mature believer. The new Christian does not have to force himself to spend time in the Word, he wants to do it, so it comes easier for him. However, those of us who have been saved for a few years sometimes get a little bored with the routine. Many of the truths that we read about have become familiar to us. If we are not careful we will become apathetic toward our relationship with God, and will spend less time with Him.

Let me encourage those of you that have been saved for a while to renew your commitment to your relationship with the Lord. Get back into the Bible. If you have gotten away from spending daily time in the Word, then simply re-schedule your day to include time spent with God in His Word. Make sure you are looking for and receiving fresh truths from the Word, and share what God gives you with others. If you have gotten slack in your church attendance, get back where you belong. Stay plugged in to the places where God is speaking, so that you can continue to be strengthened spiritually.

 


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The Mind of Christ

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Today’s Passage – Philippians 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 56 – 60; Proverbs 12)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 61:1 – 3

Read the “1212 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Follow You?” & “Striving Together

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5)

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

I just want to jot down a quick thought from the Scriptures this morning that I hope will be a blessing to you. Jesus is God. As God, He is equal with the Father in everything. Jesus is omniscient, meaning that there is nothing that He does not know. There is nothing that escapes His mind, unless He chooses to not remember it. Here in our text, the Bible is not referring to omniscience, but rather it is referring to Christ’s attitude. He had the mind of a servant; not the knowledge of a servant, but the humility of a servant. As God, He could have demanded that all of humanity bow the knee to Him. He also could have demanded that every creature in the universe should serve His every desire. But that is not what He did, is it?

It is funny how little, sinful  man who is by nature a lowly servant, and has no right to boast at all, is always trying to magnify himself; trying to make himself look better in the eyes of other men. Yet Jesus, who deserves all of the glory, humbled Himself, even unto death. Why, because He loves us. If He demonstrated His love through a form of humility, ought not we do the same thing. We are so full of ourselves. God tells us here that we should have the same mind, the same humble attitude that Christ demonstrated when He came to this earth to be born of a woman, to live a selfless life of service to men, and finally to die a horrible death on the cross in order to atone for your sins and mine.

“And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-45)

“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” (John 13:13-17)


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Grow Up

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Today’s Passages – Ephesians 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 51 – 55; Proverbs 11)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 55:17

Read the “1211 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13-15)

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:1)

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Hebrews 5:12)

One of the many problems with the modern concept of Christianity in our world today, is that it is producing very immature Christians. At one time the churches of America understood that they had a responsibility to teach and preach sound Bible doctrine. Unfortunately, in most of our churches the Bible has been replaced with entertainment; and in some cases the Word of God has been almost removed altogether. If you were to travel back in time to the first half of the 20th century you would see that all Bible believing churches had multiple opportunities for the people to come to the House of God in order to learn Truth. Gradually, as the years passed, sermon lengths became shorter, and whole services were eliminated. It is rare to find an evangelical church with Sunday School for adults or evening services on Sunday, or Bible studies / Prayer Meetings during the week. It is no wonder that our country is rapidly deteriorating when God’s people are feeding sparsely on Jello and Tapioca, instead of meat. It is also not surprising that Christians are dropping like flies into all kinds of immorality when they are not taking in enough spiritual nourishment to strengthen them against the wiles of the Devil.

This lack of Bible can also be seen in our homes. There used to be such a thing as “a family altar” and family devotions. There was a time when it would not be uncommon for Christian fathers and mothers to read the Bible with their children. It was not at all unusual for a mom to insist that her children get up out of bed a little earlier so that they could spend some time in the Word of God before they faced the day. Now, we are too busy finding out what all our friends are doing on Facebook; or perhaps we are engrossed in the latest immoral sitcom on television. Shame on us. We are producing a bunch of weak, baby Christians who could not possibly be strong enough to carry the torch to the next generation.

In our passage today we see that God gave us all that we need in order to grow and mature in the faith. Notice vs. 11 – 12:

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

God gave us pastors and teachers, but unfortunately they are too busy trying to please a carnal group of people instead preaching the Word of God. I heard recently of a pastor of a church (that was once a fundamental Baptist church) who went to a football game on  a Sunday morning instead of going to his pulpit. He got his wife to fill in for him. Shame on that pastor, and shame on that church for not firing him.

We need to get back to the basics; back to the Bible. We need to get rid of all of the technology that is supposed to be helping us so much, get rid of the social media, the filth on television, the mindless video games and internet surfing, and get back to “study[ing] to show [ourselves] approved unto God, [workmen] that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” And our churches need to get back to filling their services with sound doctrine, and lots of it. We are losing the battle. Few are getting saved today because our lights are too dim, and our salt has lost its savor. We need to wake up and go back to what worked before we completely lose this generation.


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Saved to Good Works – Not By Good Works

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Today’s Passages – Ephesians 1 – 3; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 46 – 50; Proverbs 10)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

Read the “1210 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” – (Ephesians 2:8-10)

These verses in Ephesians are perhaps among the most familiar in the Bible. We often use vs. 8 – 9 to convince people that salvation is not through our good works, but solely though the grace of God, which is available only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace has been defined as unmerited favor, or receiving something that we do not deserve. What a wonderful truth it is to know that our salvation is not dependent upon our good works, which are totally insufficient, and fall miserably short of the mark. As the verse teaches, salvation comes through the free gift of God’s grace. Jesus paid the price for our sins when He died on the cross, and now makes salvation available to any who will simply receive Him by faith.

However, just because works are not acceptable as payment for our sins, it doesn’t mean that we should not “work” for the Lord after we are saved. Verse 10, which is not quoted nearly as often as vs. 8 & 9, teaches very plainly that God has ordained that we should work for Him, after salvation. God has got a specific plan for each one of His children. He has something for all of us to do. Our job is to determine what God’s will is for our lives, and then do it. There are lots of opportunities for service in a local church.


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Don’t Shoot the Messenger

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Today’s Passages – Galatians 4 – 6; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalm 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read the “1209 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” – (Galatians 4:16)

As I read verse 15, I thought of the phrase, “Don’t Shoot The Messenger”. I looked back in the blog archives and discovered that I have used that phrase as the title to two other posts derived from two different passages. It seems that men of God throughout the Bible have had trouble being negatively received by the people they are ministering to.

In this morning’s passage, Paul is trying to straighten out the problem of legalism in the churches of Galatia. They apparently were trying to mix New Testament Christianity with the Old Testament Law. By doing so, they were adding to salvation by grace through faith, making it a salvation of works. Paul explained to them that if they were going to try to keep the Law, they had better do it perfectly, which, of course, is an impossibility. We are not saved by keeping the Law, and we are certainly not kept by keeping the Law. Salvation comes through faith in Christ, and our Christian life is to be a walk of faith.

The point I am trying to make here in this post, however, is that the Christians in Galatia were very fond of Paul until he started preaching something that went contrary with what they were doing. They had been influenced by some people who were corrupting their thinking. Paul was merely trying to get them back on the right path, but the people didn’t want to hear it. Instead of searching the Scriptures as the Bereans did, and listening to the truth, the people were stubbornly holding on to their false doctrine; and Paul became the bad guy.

I have had this type of thing happen to me in the ministry. I have had people who at one time loved me, later turn on me and become an enemy. Usually it was because there was something in their lives that was inconsistent with the teaching of the Bible and the will of God. Instead of fixing the problem, they decided to get mad at the messenger. I understand that doctors sometimes experience this same scenario. They are just reporting the truth revealed through their examination. They didn’t cause the problem, but somehow they end up with the blame.

Let’s stop blaming the messengers that God sends into our lives. If the messenger is telling us the truth, then we must face it. We really ought to thank those who are being honest enough with us to help us by telling us what we really don’t want to hear. But how can we get help if we don’t know the truth. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Read the other two “Dont’ Shoot The Messenger” posts from 2 Chronicles 16 and 1 Kings 18


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Grace Or Works? – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passages – Galatians 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 36 – 40; Proverbs 8)

Read the “1208 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

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

Good morning. Works or grace? Do you believe you are going to Heaven because you are a good person, a good Baptist, a good Catholic, a good Methodist, or a good whatever? Sorry to burst your bubble, but you are not that good. And neither am I. Jesus told us…

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

Your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Here’s how…

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 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. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2Corinthians 5:17-21)

Only the righteousness of Jesus exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees. And the only way to get His righteousness is to receive Him as your Saviour: that He knows you. Your righteousness is not going to make it. Isaiah said…

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

Your righteousness, my righteousness, the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees are all as filthy rags. You see…

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:10)

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)

And there is nothing you can do to earn righteousness: there is no work good enough.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

You can try, but you’ll end up in this situation…

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

If we could work our way to Heaven, why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Paul knew. He even persecuted the church for the sake of the Law, believing he was doing a good work for God. But God opened his eyes to the truth…

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:20-21)

The Apostle John summed up salvation in one verse…

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1John 5:11-13)

Call it Easybelieveism, or whatever you like, but that’s what the Apostle Paul told the Philippian jailor…

“And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” (Acts 16:27-34)

Works will never make it, but a perfect God, a perfect Saviour, with a perfect plan of salvation will get you there. For by grace are you saved.

Peace.


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Help Wanted – Ministry Positions Available

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Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Read a previous post from this passage – “Do You Pass the Test

“Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” – (2 Corinthians 11:22-30)

“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” – (2 Corinthians 12:15)

Are you looking for a job? Do you want to make lots of money, live in a spacious, comfortable home, drive a fancy car? Are you looking for something that will not require a lot of your time and energy, but will yield great financial benefits? Do you require a good health insurance package, including dental and optical? Do you desire a great retirement package that will allow you to retire early with enough income to live comfortably? Then don’t apply for this job.

Welcome to the ministry. Paul the apostle was perhaps the greatest Christian that ever lived, but look what his earthly benefit package included: rejection, beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger; and long, thankless hours. The ministry is not something that you do because of what you will get from it in this life. Those who surrender to God’s call to ministry will more often than not, know a life of sacrifice and struggle. Don’t misunderstand me, the ministry does have it’s great moments, and there is a good deal of satisfaction knowing that you are making an eternal difference; but the fact remains that if it is earthly rewards that you are looking for, you will most likely not get them in the ministry.

However, the ministry does provide the best eternal retirement package there is. Those who sacrifice for the Lord here on earth, will receive an abundant return for their investment in Heaven; and those benefits will last a lot longer than any earthly retirement package.

In spite of all the negatives that Paul had to endure, however, he would not have traded places with anyone else in the world. He couldn’t do anything else; and he learned to be content with whatever the will of God provided for him. As much as I often gripe about some of the aspects of the ministry, I don’t think that I could be happy doing anything else either. True happiness and joy is being in the center of the will of God, wherever that leads you.


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Without Wax

Without Wax

Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 6 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 26 – 30; Proverbs 6)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34:6

Read the “1206 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “And Be Ye Separate” and “Casting Down Imaginations

“I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” (2 Corinthians 8:8)

“Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.” (2 Corinthians 8:24)

Tradition states that back in the days of the Roman Empire there were unscrupulous stoneworkers who crafted sculptures, but would sometimes cover the flaws and cracks in their work with wax. However, when the hot sun would beat upon their products, it would melt the wax and ruin the appearance of the sculpture. Potters also were guilty of sealing cracked and even broken wares with wax in order to sell them at the market, but when the unsuspecting buyer returned home and put something hot in the the pot, plate, or cup, it would also melt the wax. Eventually, men of character who traded these goods would stamp their wares “sine cera” meaning without wax. These two words eventually evolved into meaning “genuine” or “honest”.

In our text Paul states very candidly that we prove the sincerity or the genuineness of our love through the grace of giving. If you love someone you will give to them. If you love God, you will give back to Him. You may have heard this old saying that bears repeating here: “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” Do you genuinely and honestly love the Lord, then give to Him. You may say, how do I do that? Well for starters, I would strongly recommend that you give to the work of His local church. God has chosen the local church as the vehicle for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But then beyond that, you may want to give to some things that you believe in. At our church, we are always taking up special offerings for various causes and people that have a need. Learn to give. God is a giver, not a taker. People who are yielded to God will be like Him and will also have a giving spirit about them.

Giving not only proves the genuineness of your love, but it also demonstrates the sincerity of your faith. If you say that you believe God, than believe what He says about giving:

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shallnot be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

God promises to bless those who give back to Him. Notice that I said “give back”, because everything we have was given to us by Him in the first place. You can trust God with your money. Don’t get greedy. God loves to bless His children, but He cannot bless a child that doesn’t listen to Him.


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Are You Blind?

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Today’s Passages – 2 Corinthians 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 21 – 25; Proverbs 5)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read the “1205 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “What’s New About You?” and “Ambassadors for Christ

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” – (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

I remember one time I was walking in a store, kind of in my own little world, when I turned and accidentally bumped into someone. In their frustration, they asked me: “Are you blind?”. I guess I was. I mean I wasn’t paying attention, I was too busy focusing on other things that I just didn’t see the person I bumped into. Many years ago something similar happened to me. I was going along, living my life, when all of a sudden a light bulb clicked on in my heart and mind, and I saw for the first time that I was a lost sinner in need of a Savior. I had been in that condition for a very long time, but I just didn’t see it. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. Someone once said that light is to the eyes what understanding is to the mind; and although I had been a lost sinner for my whole life, I didn’t realize it until God opened my understanding to the Truth.

There are a lot of people out in this dark world who are lost in their sins. The god of this world (Satan) has them blindfolded. They are either deceived because of their religion, or distracted due to their pursuit of power, possessions, and pleasures; but they simply do not recognize their lost condition. Jesus talked about this:

“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” – (Matthew 13:15)

The Bible tells us that Israel is blind (at least for now) to the fact that their Messiah has already come:

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” – (Romans 11:25)

These people are not less intelligent than those who have been saved, and neither are they worse sinners than Christians; they are just blind. I have some friends and family members that are blind to this truth, but what can I do about it?

1  I can pray – God will have to open their eyes to the Truth. I must pray that they will be able to see the truth of the gospel before it is eternally too late.

2  I can continue to proclaim the truth. Satan is busy deceiving and distracting. I need to be busy proclaiming. I need to figure out ways to get people to listen to the Word of God. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

3  I can persist – There were many people who were trying get me to see Christ before my eyes were opened. They never gave up on me. They kept preaching to me, and praying for me, until finally it all sunk in. I must not give up on the people I love, either. I am not sure whether or not they will all come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but I am confident that some will. I need to keep at it, for their sakes.


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Most Miserable

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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 15 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 25

Read the “1204 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “A Family Addicted to the Ministry

“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-19)

When I was working for my dad’s candy company, I would occasionally run into miserable people who seemed to take pleasure in ruining the day of everybody they came in contact with. There was one person in particular that I especially dreaded having to deal with. She worked for a supermarket that I delivered to in Philadelphia and her job was to check the order that I was bringing into the store to make sure the invoice was correct. Her job title was “security receiver”. She hated her job, she hated life, and she particularly hated the vendors, like me, who were delivering products to her store. She would sometimes make us wait outside in the rain or snow for long periods of time until she finished doing some “important” other task, like sweeping the floor, or filing away some paperwork. The worst day of my week was the day that I had to deliver to this store.

One day, however, I noticed something on her car, which was always parked right outside the back door of the store. There was an “OBX” sticker on her back bumper. “OBX” represents the Outer Banks area of North Carolina. I didn’t think this lady enjoyed anything about life, but apparently she enjoyed spending time in North Carolina. One day I decided to take a chance and talk to her about the bumper sticker. Her countenance changed immediately, and I think she even smiled. She began to tell me all about her past trips, and how she was looking forward to an upcoming vacation. Her attitude changed as she began to think and talk about something she enjoyed, and, more importantly, something she looked forward to. She transformed (at least temporarily) from a miserable person to a happy one.

In our text above the Apostle Paul states that people who do not believe that Christ is risen and who also won’t acknowledge a resurrection of all believers, are miserable people. Why? Because they have no hope, nothing to look forward to after this life. Paul says that if all we have is this life then we will be a most miserable people. Later on, in verse 58, Paul states that because of the hope that we have, we can be steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. Why? because we know that all of our labor down here will pay off with a wonderful reward in eternity.

The lady at the supermarket got happy temporarily thinking about a vacation. How much more should God’s people get happy thinking about the fact that because Christ is risen, we know He has the power to raise us up as well, and pull us out of this earth, which can oftentimes be a miserable place, and take us to a place that is anything but miserable, a place of exceeding, eternal joy.


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The Greatest of These is Charity (Love)

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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 13 – 14; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “1203 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44)

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” (1 John 3:23)

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12 & 13)

The Bible speaks much about love. In our passage today the word “charity” is used, which is the same word that is translated “love” many other places in the Bible. It means to love unconditionally; to have a deep abiding love that goes far beyond mere affection. This is the kind of love that God has for us. It was what He demonstrated (commendeth – Romans 5:12) when He died for us sinners. Why God loves us I do not know, but the Bible tells us He does.

This kind of Bible love spoken of here in our text and some of these other passages as well is something people often claim to have for others, especially in word. In other words, we often say that we love certain individuals or people in general. However, in practicality, I don’t think that we are being entirely truthful. Love is clearly more than just words, and it is even more than just feelings. Love is action. Love can be seen in the things that we do as well as say. In vv 4 – 7 of 1 Corinthians 13 there are listed practical examples of how love is put into action. Let me list them for you here:

Charity:

suffereth long, (patience)

and is kind;

charity envieth not;

charity vaunteth not itself, (does not boast)

is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, (inappropriately)

seeketh not her own,

is not easily provoked,

thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity,

but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things,

believeth all things,

hopeth all things,

endureth all things. (is able to survive anything, unconditional)

There are 15 practical applications of real love in those four verses. Take a good look at each one of them individually. Now ask yourself honestly: “Do these demonstrations of love show up in my love for others? Or am I falling short?” I think we both know the answer to that question. We all fall short, don’t we? I am not trying to make you feel bad, but I am trying to get you to realize how much needs to be done in our lives in order for us to truly represent Christ as His ambassadors. Remember, the Bible is clear that people will only see Jesus in us as we demonstrate love before them and to them. Now, here is the exciting part: You can’t love people in the flesh. It is not something that you can do on your own. You see, God is love; and you can only love people if the Holy Spirit of God is in you and is not being quenched (hindered from working in and through you). We must yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God inside of us. We must allow Him to love people through us. We must somehow get ourselves: our feelings, our hurts, our desires, etc. out of the way.

Do you want to love people as Jesus loves people? The world has love, but it is a conditional love. Some people are easy to love, but most people are not. Jesus died for a bunch of unloveable people. We must take our love up another notch if we are truly going to be His disciples.


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Learn From The Past

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Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 18:3 & 46

Read the “1202 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Are You Unworthy?” and “Be Careful

“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” (1 Corinthians 10:5-6)

“In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.”
Edmund Burke

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
George Santayana

In 1 Corinthians 10, God gives us the example of the Children of Israel as they left Egypt and wandered through the wilderness on their way to the Land of Promise. The Bible references that there were people who did things that did not please God, which must mean that they were not acting in faith for “without faith it is impossible to please him”. There were many things that happened during their 40 years of wilderness wanderings that earned the chastisement of God: there was the golden calf, the rebellion against Moses, the numerous complaints about water and food, the griping about the manna, their lusting after the quail, and on and on it goes. In verse 6, however, we learn why God recorded all of these things in the Bible. They were examples for us to learn from, and hopefully not repeat.

1  We can learn from the past mistakes (and successes) of those recorded in the Bible.

2  We can learn from the past mistakes (and successes) of those who are with us today, particularly those who are older and have experienced a little more of life than we have.

3  We should also learn from our own past mistakes and successes.

We do not have to re-invent the wheel when we can take what others have learned and put it into practice in our lives; and we don’t have to see the bad history of others repeated in our own lives. Learn from the past!


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Dare Any Of You? – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passages – 1Corinthians 6 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

Read the “1201 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Corinthians 6:1-11)

Good morning. There was a movie starring Hulk Hogan, the wrestler. He played a space alien visiting earth. The family he was staying with needed to get into their driveway with the car, but the neighbor was blocking it with his dragster. Hulk Hogan gets out of the car, picks the dragster up and moves it out of the way. The neighbor comes running out telling Hulk Hogan, “Hey! You can’t do that!”

Hulk Hogan replies, “What are you going to do, beat me up?”

The neighbor says, “Are you crazy? This is the ninties, we’re gonna sue you!”

Money, money, money. That’s what it’s all about. Did you know that Judge Judy makes $47 million per year? That’s over $900,000 for each of the 52 days she works per year. All because people want to take their problems to court to see how much money they can get out of it. The same thing happens in our churches. Where there are people, there are problems. Many in the congregation can get hurt when someone looks at them funny, steals their seat, or even things worse. Rather than discuss it with the pastor, or take it befor the church, they up and leave. And the problem does not get solved. The ofending person may not even know he did something wrong. Jesus said…

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

If you walk away, you will not solve the problem. If you don’t confront the offender, you will not solve the problem. If the offender doesn’t know there is a problem, how can he fix it? You may also cause him to hurt someone else. The right thing to do is confront the problem the Bible way. Jesus also said…

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)

Peace.


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The Foolishness of Preaching

Today’s Passages – 1 Corinthians 1 – 5; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 30)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 61:1 – 3

Read a previous post from this passage – “Baby Christians,and “A Father’s Love

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. … But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24)

It is amazing to me what the world thinks about preachers and preaching. Those who are faithful to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ are often mocked and scorned, especially by the socially elite and well educated. They portray preachers as ignorant, ill-mannered, and unintelligent. I know, because before I was saved, I had the same opinion of Spirit-filled preachers.  Yet, God says that He is going to use the foolishness of preaching to bring people to salvation. The wealthy and proud may not always listen to what we have to say, but oftentimes the common people, who would have also gladly heard Jesus (Mark 12:37), will listen to us.

God does not only use the foolishness of preaching to save people’s souls, He also uses passionate, biblical exhortation to change saved peoples’ lives, strengthen them spiritual, and guide them in the will of God.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

Passionate preaching of sound Bible doctrine is imperative if we are going to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as we should. Support your preacher by attending the services faithfully and listening attentively. Let him know that you agree with him with a nod of your head and even a heavy “Amen”; and insist that he hold nothing back that ought to be said. America is in an mess today because of a lack of preaching. Preach the Word!


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If the Lord Will

Today’s Passages – Romans 14 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 29)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Deuteronomy 32:4

Read the “1129 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Responsibility“, “Giving Back“, “It Is Written”, and “Just One More Thing

“Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” (Romans 15:24-26)

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.” (James 4:14-16)

Things rarely go according to our plans. It was no different for the Apostle Paul. He had plans t travel to Spain that he thought were going to come to pass, but his plans were changed by God.

The Letter to the Romans was written from Corinth at the end of the third missionary journey. In Romans 15:24 – 26, Paul states that he had plans to stop in Rome on his way to Spain, but first he had to go back to Jerusalem to deliver an offering that he had collected from the saints in Macedonia (Philippi. Thessalonica, and Berea) and Achaia (Corinth, Cenchrea, and Athens). According to the Book of Acts, Paul does go to Jerusalem, but he will be falsely accused and arrested there, and taken into Roman custody. He will end up going to Rome, but not as he originally desires. After two years being confined to the palace prison in Caesarea, he is transferred to Rome in order to appeal his case to Caesar. He remains there for a couple of more years awaiting his trial, and is eventually released. However, there is no Biblical record of him every going to Spain. There are some traditional accounts of him traveling there (and possibly even into Brittain) before his death, but this cannot be proven.

This is not the first time Paul’s plans were changed by God, either. In his second missionary journey, it was his intention to go through Galatia and then northeast into Bythinia, but the Spirit of God wanted him to go west into Greece:

“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” (Acts 16:6-10)

God has the right to veto or change any plan that we may have. It is good to have dreams about the future, and it is right to pray and plan the road ahead, but don’t be surprised if God radically alters your future. God’s will is so much better than our will anyway. His wisdom is infinite, and he sees what we cannot possibly see. Who knows? Our plans may have led to disaster. We need to trust that God knows what is best. “If the Lord wills” or “The Lord willing” needs to be more than just a trite phrase we spit out on occasion; it needs to be a mindset of cheerful submission to the perfect will of God.


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The Fulness of the Gentiles

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Today’s Passages – Romans 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 136 – 140; Proverbs 28)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51

Read the “1128 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Be Ye Transformed“; “What’s The Difference

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” – (Romans 11:25)

My preacher back in Texas used to share an illustration regarding Romans 11:25 that I thought was very profound. He said that he was on the lookout for the last Gentile that would be saved before God takes the Church up to Heaven. Dr. Gray is a tenacious soul winner, and he believes that this verse teaches that there will come a day when the “fulness” of the Gentiles will be complete. He wants to be the one who shares the gospel with that last Gentile.

When Jesus came to this earth, He offered Himself to the Nation of Israel as their Messiah. Though many of the Jewish people received Him (and still do today), the nation rejected Him:

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” – (John 1:11)

Because Israel rejected their Messiah, God has temporarily refocused His attention on the Gentiles. The good news of salvation – the Gospel – has been flowing freely to the Gentile nations of the world for 2000 years; but it seems to be coming to a close. I believe we are very close to the time when God will pull out of this earth all those that have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, via what we call the rapture. Christ is coming soon to take His Bride – the Church – back home to Heaven. Then God will once again turn His attention back on the nation of Israel; and someday Israel, as a nation, “will look upon [Him] whom they have pierced”, and will realize that they were wrong about Him.

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” – (Romans 11:26)

However, until that time comes, we who are part of the bride are to “occupy”, or stay busy, till He comes. We are to do our best to get the message of Christ to every person on the planet. Someday that last Gentile will be saved, and Jesus will take us home. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.


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All Things For Good?!?

Today’s Passages – Romans 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 131 – 135; Proverbs 27)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “1127 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Paul’s Motivation

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

How can God work all things, even very bad things, together for good? Many people, including a lot of Christians, have a hard time absorbing this truth, especially when they are going through a trial.

It is important to note that this verse does not say that all things are good in and of themselves. It would be ludicrous to attempt to make the argument that everything in this life is good. No, there is an awful lot of evil in the world, and that evil is allowed by God to enter into our lives at times. The effects of sin are everywhere around us. Immorality, cancer, relationship heartaches, natural disasters, financial setbacks; the list goes on and on. These are all part of the sin-cursed world that we live in, and Christians are not immune to experiencing the pain of these bad consequences in our lives. They are anything but good.

But, we also know that God is good. The things that He allows in our lives are not always good, but we know that He is good! And, we know that He loves His children very dearly. A little further in Romans 8, Paul reminds us of God’s love for us:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

If God loves us then why would He allow evil to come into our lives? Why would He let a young woman die of cancer? Why would He allow people to hurt each other? Why would He allow thousands of people to be killed in a natural disaster; or  dozens of His people slaughtered in a church shooting? Why? Why? Why?

The answer is – I don’t know. But, I know God loves me, and I know that God is good; and, though I cannot see what God is doing through these evil circumstances of life, I trust Him that He knows what He is doing. I may not always like it, but I know that God knows what is best. He may be using a trial to teach me something, to make me more like Christ. Or, He may be using my reaction to a trial to point someone else to Christ and/or to glorify Himself. Again, I don’t know, but He does. We simply have to learn to trust Him.

I once heard a preacher illustrate this verse by mixing ingredients and baking an apple pie. He pointed out that none of the individual ingredients were all that appealing in themselves, and certainly the process of going into an oven must not be very enjoyable; but the end result is something we all can enjoy. God is doing the same thing in your life and mine. He is mixing the ingredients, some good and some not so much; but, mixed together they will make something awesome. Trust Him to mix the right ingredients together in your life.

 


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God Forbid!

Today’s Passages – Romans 4 – 6; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 26)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 47:1

Read the “1126 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Check out a previous post from this passage – “Imputed Righteousness

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2)

Romans, chapter six, answers the question that would naturally be on the minds of many who are studying this wonderful Letter and who are trying to get their heads wrapped around the doctrine of justification. If we are saved by grace, and secure by grace, can we then do whatever we want to do, including willfully sinning in order to satisfy our lusts. Paul answers the question very clearly here in this chapter – God forbid! He clarifies this instruction further in vs 12 – 14:

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)

We are to yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, instead of obeying the lusts that are still within our sinful flesh. Our flesh is not redeemed, but our spirit, which was dead in trespasses and sins, has been brought back to life by God and is the home of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit wants to direct my life in obedience to the will and Word of God. The flesh still cries out to get its way, but I now have a choice not to listen. I can yield to God.

Since the time of Christ, there have periodically been movements within  Christianity that have taught that God is now OK with sin, because of His grace. They have got as far as to say that the more we sin, the more grace will be manifested. While it is true that there is no sin that the Christian can commit that could undo the work of grace in his heart, God still expects us to live our lives as Spirit-filled and Bible-obedient Christians. Grace not only saves us from the penalty of past and future sins, it also helps us to live separated and surrendered lives.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:11-12)

We will never be sinless as long as we live in these fleshly, mortal bodies; but, we can live our lives yielded to the Holy Spirit of God within us, and, if we do, our conduct will be pleasing to our Heavenly Father. The secret to winning the battle against the flesh is not to try to fight it head on in a battle of the wills. The key is to yield to (walk in) the Spirit.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. … If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16, 25)

 


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Guilty But Pronounced Innocent

Today’s Passages – Romans 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 25)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read the “1125 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:9-10)

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:20-22)

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

The Letter to the Romans is an absolutely awesome portion of Scripture. Though it was written to teach the saved about their salvation, it is also the most comprehensive gospel tract available. In this wonderful epistle we learn about doctrine (chapters 1 – 8), dispensation (chapters 9 – 11), and duty (chapters 12 – 16).

Within the doctrine section of the Letter, we see that all men are guilty as fallen sinners before God. From Romans 1:18 all the way through 3:20, Paul exhaustedly proves that every man (and woman): Gentile or Jew, pagan or religious; all are guilty before God. Before a person can be saved, he must come to the brutal realization that he is a depraved and fallen, sinful creature. The truth hurts, but it is the truth. And, because of our sinful condition, we are completely deserving of God’s judgment, which is eternal separation from Him, ultimately in the Lake of Fire.

But, praise be to God,  the story does not end there. According to Romans 3:21 and 22, we can receive the righteousness of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ because of what He did for us on the Cross of Calvary. His death and shed blood on the Cross provide the atonement (redemption, complete cleansing of sin) for all lost sinners who are willing to repent and place their faith in Him.

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians puts it this way:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

I am guilty. I am totally deserving of judgment in Hell, but I have been pronounced innocent by God – completely clear of all charges of sin, because of what Jesus did for me. He died in my place. Though in reality, I am guilty, God now sees me as innocent – sinless. Not only did Jesus forgive my sins from the past, He will also not hold me responsible for any future sins. I am completely forgiven of all sins – past, present, and future. In Romans 4, Paul further clarifies this:

“Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)

What love, what mercy, what grace. We serve an awesome Saviour! Hallelujah!!

Do you believe that Jesus died for you? Have you placed your faith in Him and Him alone to take you to Heaven? I hope you have. If you have not yet trusted Him and you are concerned about your eternal destiny, click here.

I am already looking forward to tomorrow’s reading in Romans, where we will learn more about our justification in Christ and also explore the process of our sanctification.


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The Old Testament: It’s Still For Today – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passages – Acts 26 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

Read the “1124 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.” (Acts 26:4-7)

Good morning. It’s all in the Old Testament, God’s simple plan of salvation. Paul was raised on the Old Testament, and tried to follow and keep the Laws of God that Moses had given the Jews. As a Pharisee, he would try to keep the Law. He studied the Scriptures and tried to apply them to his life, but he was still a sinner.

To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalm 53:1-3)

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

All have sinned, there is none that doeth good. And twice, in Ezekiel 18, God warns us…

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” (Ezekiel 16:20)

For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a)

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:1-12)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b)

And how would Paul or anyone else living in Old Testament days know how to be saved?

And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” (Romans 4:1-7)

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” (Joel 2:28-32)

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13)

Those of the Old Testament times were looking forward to the time that God would send Messiah to deliver them. They believed God. Today, we believe God, and look back to when Jesus died on the cross to deliver us from our sins. Jesus is risen and coming back as King of kings and Lord of lords, the Messiah, the Deliverer. Paul believed this and was led by the Holy Spirit to write what we call Romans Road. He also wrote Ephesians 2:8-9…

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

And what he told the jailer in Acts…

And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:27-31)

Do you believe?

Peace!


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A Clear Conscience

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Today’s Passages – Acts 23 – 25; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read a previous post from this passage – “What Are You Waiting For?

“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” – (Acts 24:16)

In our passage today, we see the great Apostle Paul standing before Governor Felix. The official accusation that was laid against him was by the religious leaders was that he was a “mover of sedition”, and that he “profane[d] the temple”. (Acts 24:3 & 4) The real beef that the nation of Israel had against Paul was that he was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he taught that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead. Paul did not try to hide his faith in Christ and the resurrection. He boldly declared that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, was God in the flesh, and that He had, in fact, risen from the dead. However, though Paul was bold in his conviction and preaching regarding the message of Christ, he was not guilty of what he was being accused of. He stated that he strove (exercised) to always have a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

Paul had a clear conscience. He loved the nation of Israel, and he wanted more than anything to see them come to faith in Christ. He preached the message of salvation boldly, which was exactly what God had called him to do. His first concern was to obey God. However, sometimes in obeying God, we will offend men; but we ought not go out of our way to be an offence to men. The message of a resurrected Christ was what offended the Jews. Though Paul did nothing to hurt the Jews, his message was nevertheless offensive to them.

God has called us to be light and salt to this world. We will offend God if we refrain from what he has called us to be. This world is getting more and more offended by Christians who are living in obedience to God’s call, but we must not let that stop us from telling them what they need to hear. If I have to choose between offending men and offending God, I must choose to offend men. However, it is not my desire to hurt men. I love people, and I will work hard (exercise myself) to be as loving and non-offensive to them as possible, but there will be times when my life and my message as a Christian will offend them. However, even when the world gets offended, I can still pillow my head with a clear conscience knowing that I did what God has told me to do.


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Feed the Flock

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Today’s Passages – Acts 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “1122 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Farewell

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:27-28)

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;” (1 Peter 5:2)

The message given to preachers by the Apostle Paul here in Acts 20:28 is to feed the flock. It is important to note that the preacher does not own the flock, but has simply been given a position of oversight by the One who purchased them, the Lord Jesus. Peter also tells us the same thing, and then adds some further qualifications for the one who would care for God’s flock. How does a preacher feed the flock? By preaching and teaching the Word of God.

1  First he must pray for God’s help and direction in selecting the right portions of Scripture to preach or teach. God will give the preacher wisdom as to what the particular needs of the people are.

2  Next, he must prepare. The preacher must immerse himself in the Scripture that he is preparing:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 )

The preacher must not only prepare by thoroughly understanding the text, but he must also prepare how the text is to be delivered. He must also select illustrations that will help the flock understand the principles contained within the text.

3  Thirdly, he much preach and teach with clarity and boldness. He must know that he is merely a messenger of God, and the message itself is from God. He must understand his authority, and claim the power that is available to him through the filling of the Spirit of God. Along with preaching the principles contained within the text, the preacher must be careful to guide the congregation in application, declaring how the Bible principles can be put to practical use in their lives.

Of course it goes without saying that the preacher must be in the Word of God on a daily basis, feeding on its truths, and applying the principles to his own life. He also needs to be fed himself by allowing others to preach the Word of God to him.

What an awesome privilege it is to serve the people of God by feeding them from the Word of God.


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Repentance

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Today’s Passages – Acts 17 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “1121 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read  previous posts from this passage – “Mentoring” & “We Need the Bible

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30)

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

This word “repent” has been the source of much dispute among Christians for as long as I can remember. On the one end there are those that say that repentance is simply a changing of one’s mind, and on the other end there are those who say that repentance is reformation, meaning a change in behavior. Many would also add that repentance involves a mourning over past actions, a sorrow for sin. I really do not think, however, that the concept of repentance is all that difficult to understand. The first thing that we need to clarify here is that we are referring to repentance as it regards salvation. Obviously the word repent, as any other word, can be, and is, used in a variety of contexts.

One dictionary defines “repent” (μετανοέω [metanoeō]) ” to think again”, or to think afterwards, like an afterthought. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, I had to re-think all that I thought I knew about Jesus and salvation. I previously thought that salvation was somehow dependent upon my good works, but I learned that I was wrong. So repentance certainly involves a change of mind, and in a simplistic, literal sense I would wholly agree with the definition of repentance as a changing of one’s mind.

However, repentance as it regards to salvation is so much more than just a changing of mind. There also is a change of attitude about sin. Before I was saved, I didn’t think sin was such a big deal. I tended to minimize sin, instead of considering myself “exceeding sinful”. God had to bring me under conviction, which caused me to see sin more like God sees it, rather than the way I had previously viewed it. Then, when I realized my guilt and understood the penalty that I deserved for my sin there was also a change of heart, a brokenness, a humility. Unrepentant sinners tend to justify themselves. I finally saw my sin from God’s perspective, and there was guilt. Now, I must also state here that I believe it is possible to have guilt without repentance. Esau was sorry, but he did not repent. Sorrow will bring a person to the place where he can repent though. Guilt does not always lead to repentance, but repentance regarding salvation always involves guilt.

Finally, I knew that salvation would involve a change in direction. Don’t get nervous. I am not saying that I believed I had to work my way to Heaven, but I knew that saved people lived differently than unsaved people did. I knew that the direction that I was previously going was wrong, and I needed God to get me turned around. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, he changed my direction. I have not perfectly followed His plan at all times, but my desire is to stay within His will for my life, which was not even the slightest concern before I was saved.

So here goes. I am going to give you my best definition of the word “repentance”. Repentance as it regards to salvation is a change of mind, heart, and attitude that brings about a change in direction.


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Tenacity

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Today’s Passages – Acts 14 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Micah 6:8

Read the “1120 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “In Tune with the Spirit of God

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,” (Acts 14:19-21)

The Apostle Paul was a unique individual. He travelled to Iconium on his first missionary journey, and received intense persecution there, almost being stoned. He escapes to Lystra where he was stoned and left for dead, and then after preaching at Derbe he returns again to both Lystra and Iconium. If you look at the map of Paul’s first journey (below) you will notice that Paul did not have to go back to Antioch, where he started out, through those cities. He went out of his way to go back to the places where he was almost killed, and where he surely faced danger again. Why would he do that? Because there were people there that he needed to help. He didn’t let fear of almost certain persecution keep him from doing what God had called him to do. That is tenacity.

There are very few people today who are willing to face this kind of persecution in order to reach people with the gospel. In fact, there are not many who are willing even to sacrifice a little comfort in order to serve God. Today, we let the slightest excuses keep us from fulfilling the will of God. We need to get tough. We need a revival of tenacity in our churches today. A revival of people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Paul's Journeys

 


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Begotten from the Grave

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Today’s Passages – Acts 11 – 13; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Beginning of the Journey

“God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” (Acts 13:33)

I had fully intended to write a post this morning on God’s call upon Paul and Barnabus, but as I read further I came upon the verse above. I got to thinking about how this verse is twisted by many of the cults, who try to use it to prove that Jesus is not God the Son, but merely a son of God, a created being like angels or human beings.

The verse in question is actually a quotation from the 2nd Psalm, and it is used again in Hebrews 1:5. In none of these places is this phrase, “this day have I begotten thee” used in reference to Christ’s birth. In the second Psalm, I must confess the exact meaning is uncertain. Typically the word “begotten” refers to a birth or a “bringing into existence”. I noticed though that Oxford gives the meaning “give rise to” as the second use of the word. However, Acts 13:33 is the key that unlocks the door of understanding to the precise meaning as God uses it referring to Christ. From Acts 13:33, we can determine without doubt that the word “begotten” is a reference to the resurrection, not the incarnation.

In the Book of Hebrews, the focus of discussion is not on the word “begotten”, but on the word “Son”.

“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?”

In fact, this point is further proved because in Hebrews 1:6 He is referred to as the “firstbegotten”. This could not be a reference to Christ’s birth as He is not the first one born to God, Adam is. Christ is, however, the firstbegotten from the dead. By the way, the people that were raised from the dead by Jesus and the apostles are excluded because each of them went again to the grave in natural death.

Consider the following verses that prove the pre-existence, and deity of Christ:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1 – 3)

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)

Notice again the word, “begotten”, referring not to his birth at Bethlehem, but His resurrection from the dead. Remember, His glory was not revealed at birth. John uses the term “we”. He did not witness His birth, but He did see His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, and after His resurrection.

“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” (Ephesians 1:20 – 22)

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Hebrews 1:3)

“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)

Jesus is not a created being. He is eternally God. He is the “I Am”. John’s gospel proves that over and over again. He has always been God, and always will be God. He is one with the Father (and the Spirit also).


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Persecutor, Preacher, and Prisoner

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Today’s Passages – Acts 9 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Isaiah 40:31

Read the “1118 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read  previous posts from this passage – “They’re All Precious In His Sight” & “The Beauty Of Salvation

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. … Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” (Acts 8:1, 4)

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2)

“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. … And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 9:3-5, 17)

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. (Acts 13:2)

“Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum [in present day Greece], I [Paul] have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” (Romans 15:19)

“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” (Acts 23:11)

Please read carefully again the series of verses above as they progress in time in the Book of Acts. In Acts 8:1 & 4, we see Saul, a lost Pharisee who was a passionate enemy of anybody who was a follower of Christ. The context of these verses was the stoning of Steven, which was authorized by Saul. Verse 4 states something very interesting, however. As the persecution that was caused by Saul and others increased in both frequency and intensity, the disciples of Christ were forced to run away from the persecutors. As they ran, however, they took the Gospel of Christ with them, and preached the Word all along the way. So the end result of the persecution was the gospel going forth to new places.

Notice next, in Acts 9:1 – 2, that Saul the persecutor is still at it, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord”. Something miraculous happens in verses 3 and following, however: Paul meets Jesus, the One he was so passionately persecuting. Jesus saves him!

In chapter 13 we learn that Saul has grown tremendously as a disciple of Christ, and is being greatly used in his home church in Antioch. The Holy Ghost separates him and his friend Barnabas, and commissions him to take the gospel into Asia.

The Book of Romans tells us that Saul (now called Paul) took the gospel all the way to Illyricum, in western Macedonia (present day Greece – just opposite the sea from Italy).

Acts 23 – 28 takes us on Paul’s Journey as a prisoner all the way to Rome.

My point is that Paul was used of God all throughout his life, even before he was saved. The persecution that Paul brought was used of God to scatter believers everywhere, taking the Word of God with them. Then later, after his conversion, Paul purposely took the Word of God into all the known regions of the world; and then finally, even as a prisoner, Paul was used of God to testify of Christ as far as Rome. Isn’t it amazing that Paul, whether he was a persecutor, preacher, or prisoner advanced the cause of Christ. Paul’s life was a perfect picture of all things working together for good.

Just a thought here, but possibly there are some circumstances in your life right right now that are very unpleasant, may seem to be “bad”, but I bet God will use them also to glorify Himself, advance His kingdom, and maybe even make you into a better disciple.


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Are You Where You Should Be? – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passages – Acts 7 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

Read the “1117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8:26-39)

Good morning. I’m writing this from Camp Calvary in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I’m usually in my home office. And I really did not want to be here, and that could only mean one thing: the Lord had something special for me, and the devil was trying to keep me from going. I would miss it if I stayed home. Philip would have missed the eunuch if he stayed home. But he obeyed the Holy Ghost and went. The eunuch got saved and baptized, then went on his way rejoicing. Philip was caught up to do other things for the Lord, and the eunuch saw him no more.

So here I am. A week after getting out of the hospital for a proceedure on my heart. I’m glad I decided to go to the men’s retreat here. The theme of the retreat: Isaiah 6:8, “Here Am I; Send Me.”

Okay. My first blessing was from Justin, our youth leader. I love to hear him preach. He preached a 5 minute sermon, and it’s amazing what he can cram into those 5 minutes. The second blessing came from my preacher. A well pointed sermon that was pointed at me. The third blessing was from someone I met. He would soon be going through the same proceedure that I went through, and was somewhat nervous about it. Praise the Lord, he used me to give some comfort to this brother. What if I stayed home? Would there have been someone else to do this? Would I have been able to receive the blessings from another source? That’s very doubtful. The best place to be is where God wants you to be. I can’t wait to see what happens today!

Peace.


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Ye Cannot Overthrow It

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Today’s Passages – Acts 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

“But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” – (Acts 5:39)

“And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” – (Acts 5:40-42)

“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” – (Exodus 1:12)

Persecution has a strange way of producing the opposite outcome the what was intended by those that are doing the persecuting. In our text, Peter and John are preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ until they are arrested by the religious leaders and put in prison. They are released the next day, but only after they are threatened. They go right back to preaching, because they believed that God’s command to preach superseded any human law. They are again arrested, but are miraculously removed from prison by the Angel of the Lord, only to go back out and preach again. The religious leaders don’t know what to do about these trouble makers, so they arrest them again; and they release them again, but this time before they are released, they are beaten. We can see that things are certainly starting to heat up for the apostles. In chapter 7 we will see that things will heat up even more, when Stephen is put to death for preaching the gospel.

You would think that with all of this punishment being handed out to the Christians that the preaching would be curtailed; but the opposite is actually true. The more they were persecuted, the more they preached. In fact, when persecution really heats up in Jerusalem (Acts 8), the people are scattered throughout all Judea and Samaria preaching the gospel. And the more they preached, the more people got saved.

It is the same way in the world we live in today. Christianity is thriving in some of the most unlikely places. Did you know that it is estimated that the actual number of Christians in communist China is said to be more than the number of Christians in Europe and America combined; and most of the churches in China are operating illegally, underground. Many Christians have been imprisoned in China for their faith; yet the Christians keep coming.

Now let’s consider America. We have freedom and prosperity here; but it seems that we are spiritually dying in most places. Maybe the churches in America would benefit from a little persecution. Does that sound strange to you? Don’t misunderstand. I am not wishing or asking for persecution; but I am willing to ask the Lord to do whatever is necessary to wake the churches in America up, even if it includes some persecution.


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To Be Continued

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Today’s Passages – Acts 1 – 3; (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 71 – 75; Proverbs 15)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read a previous post from this passage – “He Was Down, But He Got Back Up

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. To Be  – (Acts 2:41-42)

While reading this morning, I noticed the word, “continued” in Acts 2:42. I did a little research and discovered the words “continue”, or “continued” are found 12 times in the Book of Acts. The Christian life is all about continuing. In fact, I would go as far to say that the secret to being successful in your walk with the Lord is to just continue. Don’t go back; don’t quit; just keep going.

In verse 42, we learn that this new group of believers in Jerusalem continued in:

1  The Apostles Doctrine – It is so important that we keep growing in our knowledge of Bible doctrine. We never arrive at a place in the Christian life where we know all that there is to know. So many Christians are weak today, and so many of our church are misguided, because they have not placed an emphasis on Bible doctrine.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – (2 Timothy 2:15)

2  Fellowship – This new church gathered together often to edify and encourage each other. Living for the Lord in this wicked world can be very difficult at times, to say the least. We need to have a place where we can go where we are around people of like, precious faith: people who are going the same direction that we are going.

“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” – (Hebrews 10:24-25)

3  Breaking of Bread – I could be wrong about this, but I believe that the phrase “breaking of bread” has to do with more than eating meals together, though I am sure that ecause they fellowshipped often, they also would frequently share meals together. However, I believe that this phrase is speaking primarily about this church’s observance of the Lord’s Supper. I believe the early believers regularly remembered the body and blood of the Lord.

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” – (1 Corinthians 11:26)

4  Prayers – This church faced incredible persecution from both the religious officials of Israel, and also from the Roman government. They needed to be a praying church. They needed to pray fervently for each other.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” – (James 5:16)

Living for the Lord is not always easy and sometimes it can even be discouraging, but we need to keep going; keep moving forward. The sun will rise again in the morning and someday it truly will be worth it all. Hang in there. Take it one day at a time, and if you have already quit, get back up and get back in the game.


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Going Fishing

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Today’s Passages – John 20 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 66 – 70; Proverbs 14)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

Read the “1114 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Lovest Thou Me

“Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.” – (John 21:3)

In our passage today we see Peter returning to his old occupation of fishing. When the Lord first called Peter into the ministry he was a fisherman. In fact, that occasion was amazingly similar to this passage. You can read about yourself in Luke 5, but I will point out some of the similarities:

In both passages Peter and company are fishing through the night on the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberius).

In both of the passages the fishermen catch no fish despite all of the efforts.

In both passages Jesus asks them to cast the net(s) out again. Actually, the first time the Lord told Peter to cast out his nets (plural). Peter reluctantly casts out one net, but the catch of fish was too big for the one net, and the net broke. He should have listened to the Lord.

In the first passage, Jesus was calling Peter into the ministry. He told Peter that he would no longer be fishing for fish, but rather he would now be catching men for the Saviour. In this morning’s passage, however, Peter is being reminded of that call. Jesus is reminding Peter that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”. In other words, God was telling Peter that He had not changed His mind about Peter, even though Peter had just recently change his mind about the Lord. Remember, just a short time prior to this passage, Peter had denied the Lord. Peter thought that he was through. He assumed that the Lord would no longer want him in the ministry after what he had done. He was wrong. The Lord was not finished with Peter. He still wanted to use him. In tomorrow’s reading in Acts, we will see what the Lord will do with Peter.

The Lord is not through with you either. I know that you may have blown it in the past, like Peter did; but the Lord is merciful, and gracious. Don’t turn back, and if perhaps you have already turned back, you can always come back to the Lord. God called me to preach the Gospel nearly 25 years ago. There have been many times that I have wanted to quit and turn back, but I am thankful that the Lord has always somehow reminded me that He wanted me to keep going for Him, and by His grace, I am still fishing for men.

Don’t quit.


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