It’s A New Morning

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

It’s A New Morning

Jeremiah was the last great prophet during the final four decades of the kingdom of Judah. He is remembered as the weeping prophet because Jerusalem was doomed and while a respite of some twenty years came in the reign of Josiah, there was no hope for the people of God. Captivity was inevitable and coming very soon. If Jeremiah is the author of the Lamentations, he inscribes upon holy writ the mournful cry of a city lost and hope destroyed as the people witnessed the burning and destruction of the House of God. Divine judgment was meted out upon a rebellious people in the form of the Babylonian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and razed the Temple to the ground. Zion was filled with sorrow at the devastation. Seventy years would pass before the people of God would return to the broken city. A remnant would be the divine hope and relief of God’s mercy. In the midst of tragedy, the glimmer of hope flickered in the heart of Jeremiah.

The northern ten tribes of Israel were destroyed. Assimilated into the Assyrian culture, the remnants of the Jews would become the Samaritans of Jesus’ day. Only the two remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin would preserve the seed of the Messiah. In the face of God’s wrath, the nation of Israel would not be consumed. The faithful love of God would not allow His people to be destroyed. Because of His mercy, the Lord kept a remnant to show His great love and grace to an undeserving people. The mercy of God is never-ending. His faithfulness is great. The joy of God’s grace is to know that His mercies begin afresh each morning. His anger is not forever nor His wrath without mercy. Jerusalem would be laid waste but God had not forgotten His love for His people.

Every day brings its own set of challenges. There are days of joy and prosperity. Often these times are interrupted by the realities of problems, disappointments, discouragement, and defeat. The city of Jerusalem had many days of happiness before the horrific times of destruction. Not all the people of Israel were wicked and disobedient. Caught up in the captivity were men like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and Ezekiel. These were faithful servants of the Most High God who suffered along with the rest because of the sins of the nation. They did not lose their faith. Jeremiah lived through the destruction of Jerusalem and was treated cruelly by his brethren but he never lost hope in God. The message of the Lamentations was that no matter how dark the day and troubled the night, God will not forsake nor leave His people without hope. There was joy in the awakening of each morning because a new day dawned with new hope. It may not change the reality that the Babylonian army was burning the city and defiling the Temple. The judgment of God came as told by Jeremiah. What made a difference in the lives of the faithful people of the Lord was to know that each morning brought a new blessing filled with hope.

The world can be a very dark place with uncertainty, misery, despair, and tragedy. It should not come as a surprise to the people of God who know that life can be difficult. What makes a difference in the heart of those who love the Lord and trust in Him is to know that with each new morning there is a new hope and a new promise. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, there is an inheritance that gives hope and love in the promises of the Father. Trials cannot take this away. This world is not the dwelling place of the faithful who look for a city without foundation whose builder and maker is God. Each new morning is a reminder that God still rules and there is something to hope for. Good morning – today is going to be a great day!

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Why I Am Redeemed

For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)

Why I Am Redeemed

Forty years had passed since the Hebrews came out of Egypt by the power of God. They stood at the edge of the promised land for the second time and with a heart devoted to serving the Lord. Four decades earlier, their parents arrived at the land promised to them and through unfaithfulness were rejected by God and punished with a long wilderness journey. Moses was retelling the history of Israel admonishing the new generation to follow the word of the Lord. This new nation of God’s people were very special because they were the ones who would cross the Jordan River and fulfill the long-ago promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel was a holy people to the Lord. Through the grace of a compassionate God, Israel had been plucked from the slavery of Egypt to become the special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. No nation on earth had the blessing of the Lord God Almighty as their King, Savior, and Lord. The Law of Moses was unique among all peoples giving the Hebrews the eternal thread of redemption that would one day bring the Son of God to earth. Israel was the crown jewel of God’s plan to save all men, the apple of His eye.

Lest the Hebrews would think more highly of themselves in their station of grace, Moses reminds them they were not chosen because of any special merit on their part. As a nation, they numbered only a few million souls. They were small and insignificant people compared to the nations of Egypt and the surrounding nations. There was nothing special about Israel that made them more powerful against their enemies. They were a small multitude of nomadic herdsmen that had wandered in the wilderness for forty years with no home of their own. What separated them from all other peoples was not because they had embraced the Lord God with tender love but that God Himself had chosen them and saved them.

First and foremost Moses tells the Hebrews they had done nothing to deserve the love of God. They could not and did not save themselves from the Egyptians. Giving the Ten Commandments to the people, the Lord begins by reminding them that it was He who delivered them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage by His mighty hand. There was nothing the Hebrews could have done to affect their release. God delivered Israel because He loved Israel. Love was the motivating factor of their salvation based upon the grace and mercy of the Lord God. If it had not been for the love of God, Israel would still be enslaved. Secondly, the Lord had made a promise to Abraham the land of Canaan would be given to his descendants. Forty years earlier the people rejected that promise. Now a new generation with hearts of courage was willing to follow the Lord across the Jordan and take the land promised by God. The Lord never failed on a promise He made. Israel was a nation because God had said He would deliver them and He did. Redemption came for the Hebrews because of God’s love and God’s promise.

The nation of God is no longer defined by the borders of rivers, mountains, and seas. God’s people are those found in the church. On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord added to the church those who were saved. Only in Christ are the spiritual blessings found. The joy of redemption is given to all who will obey the word of the Lord subjecting themselves to His grace, love, and mercy. Like Israel of old, the church is called the holy nation of God, a chosen generation, and His own special people. Every Christian is a special priesthood in the presence of the Lord. Through the mercy of God, deliverance from sin is granted to hearts that submit to the will of the Father. Is a man saved because he is a worthy candidate or deserving of the forgiveness of sins? In many ways, he is less deserving than Israel to be redeemed from sin. God’s love delivered Israel from Egypt at the cost of a lamb on the night of the Passover. It cost the Son of God His life to save all men from sin. This sacrifice was never because any man deserved it nor was worthy of the price paid for redemption. The redeeming of sinful man came because God loved man – period.

There is nothing man can brag about. All men deserve the wrath of the Lord God but He chooses rather to show love. The sacrifice of Jesus did not come from the mind of men but the heart of a loving Father. Jesus died in fulfillment of a promise made in the Garden of Eden that when sin first destroyed the fellowship of God and man, redemption would come in the form of the Seed. Only through the Son of God would the word of God be confirmed. Jesus died to fulfill the word of His Father. Love was the reason for Jesus dying and no man deserves such love; and yet it must be embraced to be saved. There is nothing you can do or will be able to do that merits the love of God but He has offered His Son to save you. When you obey the grace of God you will find redemption and in that redemption, you will find eternal love. Know that the Lord is God, the faithful God who keeps His word. He loves you – yes, He loves you.

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Jesus Claimed To Be God

And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12)

Jesus Claimed To Be God

The fundamental truth of salvation is to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God. If a man refuses to accept Jesus as God’s Son, there can be no salvation. John writes in his gospel that Jesus was the Word and He was God. The miracles were written to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing there would be life in His name. Critics suggest that Jesus never claimed to be God. During the first year of His ministry, the Lord is in Capernaum teaching in a home crowded with disciples. It was so crowded; there was no room to come in the door. Four friends brought a paralytic seeking Jesus to heal their friend but they could not find a way into the house. They uncovered the roof and let down the bed with the man upon it. Jesus, seeing their faith, forgave the sins of the man.

Jesus did not heal the man at first. He chose to forgive the man’s sins and then He perceived what the crowd was thinking. Those gathered included the scribes and the Pharisees. The Jewish leaders kept a constant attack on Jesus challenging Him with His teachings. They never denied His miracles. When Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven, the Jewish leaders were incensed. What they thought was correct and in accord with the will of God. They thought Jesus spoke blasphemy to forgive sins. On the surface, the scribes and Pharisees were correct to say that no man could forgive sins because only God has the authority and the power to remove sin. Sadly, what they failed to see was the power of God affirmed the authority of Christ.

The paralytic man remained on his bed without any healing. He remained in the same condition physically as he had when he arrived. Jesus, knowing the hearts of the people, challenged them with the proclamation that anyone can say they forgive sins but who among men can show the power to raise a paralytic from his bed? Turning to the man He said, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” The man did. Immediately. There was no hesitation, no therapy, and no long lapse of time. It seems the man was near death when brought by his friends and yet now he immediately arises, takes up his bed, and goes out in the presence of the crowd. Jesus proved He could forgive sins because He healed the man.

No man can forgive sins unless they are God. Jesus demonstrated that He was God when He healed the paralytic. The miracle proved Him to be the Son of God. He claimed that right to be God and forgive sins. When Jesus was crucified between two thieves, He forgave the sins of one thief as he begged for mercy. How could Jesus forgive the thief? He was God. The power and authority of God gave Jesus the right to forgive any person of sin. No record is given of others Jesus may have forgiven but the healing of the paralytic establishes that Jesus affirmed to the multitudes that He was God. Refusing to believe Jesus is the Son of God is refusing the avenue of salvation for the forgiveness of sins. There is salvation in no other name.

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Let The Word Of The Lord Prevail

And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. (Acts 19:18-20)

Let The Word Of The Lord Prevail

The work of the apostle Paul in Ephesus was filled with incredible success and severe opposition. Arriving in the region, the apostle met twelve men he thought were Christians but discovered they had only known the baptism of John. What a joy it was for Paul to baptize the twelve in the name of Jesus. For three months Paul arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God in the synagogue of Ephesus until he had to yield to the persecutions of those who spoke evil of the Way. He left the synagogue and continued teaching at the lecture hall of Tyrannus.  During the years Paul was in Ephesus, the Lord worked unusual miracles among the people with many believing in the name of Christ. There was great joy in the city of Ephesus as disciples of Christ were made through the teaching of the gospel. Persecution would arise from the silversmiths of Ephesus who saw their trade being impacted by the preaching of Christ. Paul would leave Ephesus after three years.

Preaching in Ephesus was a daring and difficult work. One of the great sources of income for the city was the temple of Diana. As a chief city of the province, Ephesus was the “center of the mother goddess worship of western Asia. The goddess was known to the Greeks as Artemis and to the Romans as Diana. Ephesus boasted a theater that could accommodate 24,500 persons, and the great temple of Diana, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world” (Homer Hailey; Commentary on Revelation). This would have been a most unlikely place to have success and yet Paul was able to establish a thriving congregation of fully devoted saints in this city.

What makes the story of Ephesus so remarkable is the faith of the new converts. Those who believed confessed their deeds as unrighteous as they repented of their sins publically. More extraordinary is the action of those who had been practicing magic and sorcery. When they became children of God they brought their incantation books and burned them in the sight of everyone. The value of the books was 50,000 pieces of silver or several million dollars in modern coinage. Imagine the shock on the faces of people of Ephesus as they watched them burn books worth incredible amounts of money. What impact did this have on the city? The word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

To the mind of the worldly person, burning books of untold value is a waste. Those who practiced magic could have sold their books, stored their books, or used them as collateral for others means. Realizing what they were doing was against the word of God; these practitioners voluntarily burned and destroyed all vestiges of their past life – regardless of the cost. They made a statement. Their conversion was not a whimper – it was an explosion. God had broken the hold of sin in their life and they demonstrated their faith in clear terms. They abandoned their former life. There was no desire to keep a shadow of their previous lives because they were now children of God. It was clear to everyone of their abhorrence to their former path of life and they wanted the world to know it. Abandoning their magic books was an incredible financial sacrifice but for these noble Christians, it was a blessing to burn their books.

Conversion is not an easy thing to do for many. There are trappings of a past life that hold on alluring the soul to retain the former things. When the heart is fully devoted to the Lord, burning books worth millions is a small exchange for the eternal hope of glory. As a result of these saints in Ephesus, the word of the Lord grew mightily. Everyone could see what Christ had done in the lives of these former magicians. God was glorified because these saints had shown their faith in the world. The gospel of Christ prevailed in a chief city of the Roman Empire filled with idolatry because the hearts of the Christians were fully dedicated to the cause of Jesus Christ.

There are many reasons the gospel of Christ has not impacted the communities of churches throughout the land. The world has changed, false religion has diluted the message and Satan is busy adding more souls to his band of condemned. Sadly, one of the reasons the word of the Lord does not grow can be found in the lives of God’s people. They are unwilling to remove the shackles of their former life and devote themselves completely to the word of God. The life of a Christian is so often identical to the life of the non-Christian. There is no change, no distinctive pattern of righteousness, or refusal to be a part of the world. And the word of God dies. If the word of the Lord is to grow and prevail, it begins with a bonfire. Burn the past and embrace the future was fully devoted disciples of the Lord. Let the word of the Lord prevail and let it begin with your life.

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Does God Profit You?

Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing? (Isaiah 44:10)

Does God Profit You?

The idea of idol worship is foreign to those who believe in Jesus Christ as the nature of Christianity is not based upon the image of a piece of stone, wood, or totem. Baal and Asherah worship common in the time of the Old Testament derived its strength from the idols, groves, and high places where sacrifices were made. During the reign of Manasseh king of Judah, a carved image of Asherah was put in the Temple of Solomon. During the final days of Judah, prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah denounced the nation for following after idols and rebelling against the Lord. The foolishness of idolatry is they are created by man to become a god to man. Idols are useless, prized objects that are worthless. The people who worship idols cannot see the folly of bowing down to an idol that a moment earlier was a tree used to build a fire and bake bread. It becomes a shame to trust in something that cannot save itself and cannot help a man in any way.

Isaiah declares that only a fool would make his own god—an idol that cannot help him one bit. Men create totems that resemble their own image to fall down and worship a carving they believe will profit them and save them. This is foolishness. The key to seeing the difference between the one true God and an idol is the value of each. An idol is dumb, cannot move on its own, has no mind, gives no blessing, and has no will of its own. When danger threatens it is the man who saves the idol; not the idol that saves a man. The Lord God Almighty – on the other hand – is a great God of value because He speaks, moves through the universe and through time, possesses all knowledge, is found abundant in blessings, and declares His will to man to find happiness, peace, security, and hope. How can one compare the greatness of God with a trinket or image? Nothing man has created can bring such blessings and value as the presence of God.

Idol worship in its basic ideal may not be a common temptation for the modern man but he must not be deluded into believing that idol worship is not a problem. The foundation of idol worship is whose allegiance a heart gives itself to and to whom it owes its existence. Isaiah defined idolatry as foolishness and it would be easy to see why. Sadly, idols take on many forms and there are many idols that ply for a man’s heart with greater consequences than a piece of wood. Satan is very capable of luring Christians to believe that falling down to a piece of wood is wrong but then allowing their hearts to be filled with the cares of the world and pursuits of life to take their hearts away from God. Idolatry did one thing against God – it took the heart of the people away. Carnality and worldliness are the modern versions of Baal and Asherah.

The church is continually battling against the hearts of brethren who fail to see a need to devote themselves to the cause of Christ. Idol worship takes on many forms today. Immodesty is an idol of fleshly allurement where the heart is more intent on the glare of others than the glow of God. Social drinking is the Asherah of the church where indulgence of the flesh is accepted as part of the Christian’s life. Recreation is of greater importance than diligence to worship the Lord on the first day of the week. Assembling with the saints is only a matter of convenience when vacation or weekend trips come up. Social standings are gods of self-importance. Wealth is the familiar god of temptation that divides churches, destroys families, and drives people to seek after everything that will never go with them in death. The gods of men are of no profit and yet they blindly follow them with great urgency.

There are two choices in life: either a man will seek after something that will bring him great profit or he will follow after dreams that end with empty promises. History is abounding with the bones of failed lives scattered across the expanse of broken promises and failed hopes in the pursuit of what could never be. Men sought after gods that profited them nothing. Only in God can a man find completeness. Hope comes from the only true God. The way of righteousness is right because it has a profit. Its value is found in its author. He gave His only begotten Son to give all men the hope of eternal life. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and then in death lose his soul? How sad. He followed the wrong path and found no joy. The only path to follow that has value is the way of the Lord. All who walk that road will find life.

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Thinking Beyond God

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. (1 Corinthians 4:6)

Thinking Beyond God

The universe is an expanse of space that limitless. Scientists admit that all that is known and seen of the universe is only a microcosm of what is beyond the known worlds. The sun in the earth’s solar system is 92 million miles away from where light takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to traverse and yet it would take a spacecraft months to arrive near the sun. This is not possible with modern technology as no provisions exist to come close. There are billions upon billions of stars in the known universe and the closest star, Proxima Centauri, is a short trip of 4.244 light-years away from the sun. A light-year is how fast light travels in one Earth year (nearly 6 trillion miles). An enormous blue star nicknamed Icarus is the farthest individual star ever seen and it takes light 9 billion years to reach earth.

Man has uncovered an immense system of stars and worlds that will never be explored. Through instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope, the human eye can gaze upon worlds never before imagined but that is all he will ever accomplish. Paul told the Athenians two thousand years ago the habitation of man is determined by the will of God. The earth and the expanse of the universe testify to the power of God, His determined will, and the nature of man. Gazing into the heavens is a canopy of the Creator’s eternal brush of who He is and how incredibly great and majestic He is. The universe is not given to man to show how huge the world is but how small man is. At the height of man’s wisdom, he knows nothing.

When the heart of man accepts his place in the world and that all that makes up the small blue dot in a vast expanse of black emptiness is his domain, God becomes so much greater. So why does man continually believe that he can go beyond the word of God? The amazing part of man’s failure is the exalted pride that he believes he is greater than the One who holds the known universe (and more) in the palm of His hand. Paul rebuked the saints at Corinth for changing the word of God. They sought to go beyond the will of the Father. Their carnal minds caused division, disharmony, and destroyed the word of God. They needed to learn to not go beyond what was written. How could a man have greater wisdom than the Creator who formed the universe and allows the world to continue by the command of His voice?

The nature of apostasy is the incredible audacity of someone to believe they know more than God. Critics of the Bible say it is corrupted, changed, perverted and there can be no reliance on its message. It must be remembered that anyone who charges the Bible with being a corrupted book does not believe in God. On the one hand, a man will say he believes in God but then teach the Bible is not the divine word of God. That is contradictory at its highest level and hypocritical as one believes in an eternal being that is not wise enough to create a book and protect it. If men can’t travel to the sun or even to Proxima Centauri, what makes him believe he can go beyond what is written? The Lord God Almighty is plenty powerful enough to give all men a book that can be read and understood and that His message remains uncorrupted through the centuries. Men need to stop believing the lie of Satan and embrace how great God is and perfect His book is. If you do not believe the Bible is the divine word of God you do not believe in God. When you go beyond what is written you are on an impossible journey that will not end well. Stay home and read your Bible.

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How Old Is Jesus?

Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:57-58)

How Old Is Jesus?

The gospel writer Luke is an eminent historian of the highest quality. His story of Christ is considered a masterpiece of investigative research that was careful with the depth of attention given to details of the life of Jesus. Only in the gospel of Luke is the age of Jesus revealed when the Lord began His ministry. Luke writes that Jesus was about thirty years of age when He began a public ministry that would last for less than three years. While we are never given any concrete descriptions of what Jesus looked like, Luke offers a glimpse into the imagery of the Christ as He was seen by His fellow Jews. Near the end of his ministry, the Jews remark that Jesus was not yet fifty years old when He claimed to have known Abraham. It could be conjectured that Jesus looked much older than His age due to his rigorous work of teaching, healing, administering, and facing His ultimate death on the cross.

After the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus taught some very hard lessons about the will of the Father. The Jews were increasing their pressure upon Him and the Lord knew the time of His departure was quickly coming. His teaching offended many of the disciples and they turned and walked away from Jesus. The Jews were seeking ways to kill Jesus. His brothers did not believe Jesus was the Christ. There was confusion to whom Jesus of Nazareth was whether He was the Prophet or the Christ or another man. The Jewish leaders rejected Jesus and tried to trap Him when they brought a woman caught in adultery before Him. Failing in their attempt, they sought the more to kill Him.

The Jewish leaders continued their attack on the teaching of Jesus. They said Jesus had a demon because He appealed to Abraham as proof of His character. Was Jesus making Himself greater than Abraham? It was obvious that Abraham had been dead for many centuries and yet Jesus claims to have known the patriarch. The Lord told the Jews that Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to the coming of Christ and he saw it and was glad. This puzzled the Jews because they looked at Jesus and considered he was not yet fifty years of age so how could He have seen Abraham? Jesus explained that before Abraham was born, Jesus existed with the Father. He said that He was the I AM.

To call oneself I AM was to invoke the imagery of God. When Moses was told to go to the Hebrews in Egypt, he was told to tell them the name of the Lord was I AM WHO I AM and that I AM has sent him to lead the people. The name I AM articulates absolute, and therefore unchanging and eternal Being. Jesus claimed to be I AM saying that before Abraham was, He existed. All the Jews could see was a man in His thirties who looked like a man in His fifties claiming to be someone thousands of years old. They took up stones to throw at Jesus for claiming to have literally known Abraham. Sadly, what they could not see was the real age of Jesus. He was without number of days and years. In the body, He was in His thirties but in reality, Jesus was eternal. John would write that Jesus was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among men and they beheld the glory of the only begotten of the Father but most men could only see a man in His thirties.

Jesus must be seen for how old He really is. He is not a historical figure that lived two thousand years ago who went about doing good and performing miracles but the Son of God who looked down upon a space of nothingness void of God’s love and watched as the Father created the heavens and the earth. Jesus formed Adam from the dust of the ground because He is God. He has no age. Unbound by the fetters of time, Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. Knowing how old Jesus is will help a man see that God so loved the Lord He gave His only begotten Son for the redemption of man and that this same Jesus is coming back for the final day of reckoning. Before Abraham was, I AM.

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A Sinner Is A Dirty Sheep

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

A Sinner Is A Dirty Sheep

Looking across a green field dotted with sheep is a beautiful pastoral image of peace, serenity, and contentment. Sheep are docile creatures that exhibit a character of quietness. The unassuming nature of their small bodies exhibits a defenseless animal needing the care and protection of a shepherd. Images of sheep fill the pages of the Bible. David wrote a powerful psalm of the relationship of the sheep to its shepherd as a graphic image of man’s relationship to God. Jesus would use sheep to show His love and care for humanity and His divine willingness to give His life for the world as the sacrificial shepherd.

Without understanding the nature of sheep, the full meaning of God’s parabolic use of sheep to describe men is lost. They have a form of beauty about them but sheep are filthy, dirty, and smelly animals. Sheep are prized for their wool but what is prized about them is what makes them one of the filthiest animals on earth. Lanolin is secreted by the sheep to help protect the animals from the weather. Combining this with the wool also makes the wool a magnet and prison for everything the sheep come in contact with. Everything clings to the wool of the sheep from dirt, grass, manure, and anything else found in the field. David describes the sheep lying down in green pastures but he did not mean outdoor carpet. The ground is filled with all types of bugs, worms, debris, weeds along with mud, dirt, and animal refuse.

Another characteristic of sheep is that unlike some animals such as the feline species, sheep cannot clean themselves. David said sheep must be led by still waters because sheep are so skittish and nervous. Fast running water would scare the sheep. If they fell in there would be no hope. The wool would burden them down and their short legs cannot swim. Only at the moment of birth is a sheep clean but afterward, his whole life is consumed with living with dirty wool. Adding to the complex nature of the sheep is the have an incredible smell. Without cleaning themselves, they carry their filth with them.

There is a reason God uses sheep to describe the plight of humanity. If a warrior was choosing an animal to be his symbol of courage, he would select a lion, a bear, or an eagle. The Vikings would have never had a sheep as their emblem of power. You will not find among the Roman Legions a shield bearing the mighty sheep. The sheep is a dirty, filthy, smelly, dependent animal that has no natural defenses and cannot care for himself. They are completely helpless just like the one who looks after them. The problem with the pride of man is that he thinks he is a roaring lion when in reality he is nothing more than a baying sheep. That is all he can be and will ever be. The greatest achievement a man can have is only heard as the voice of a sheep. Nothing more.

Sheep are dirty. All men are dirty because of sin. A man enters the world pure and clean but then begins to wallow in the filth of the world. Everything about the world sticks to him and in time he becomes a smelly and dirty creature. The key to the imagery of man being a sheep is that he cannot clean himself and he cannot protect himself. Jesus came as the Lamb of God to take away the filth of man and to clean Him in the living water. The wisdom of men, riches, honor, and power cannot save men from sin. Without the cleansing blood of Jesus, Christ man remains a filthy animal. The sacrifice of Jesus was not from the will of man but the will of the Father. Nothing man could do would save Him but God gave the world His only begotten Son so they could be clean.

Many passages speak of men as sheep. Do not be fooled into thinking these are creatures you would want to bring home and make pets. These animals are detestable for their filth. Sin must be recognized for what it is. All men are sinners, undeserving of God’s grace, and should face the wrath of God. There is nothing beautiful about sin. It makes the soul of man loathsome in the eyes of the Lord. Grace, mercy, and love come from the hand of the sacrificial Shepherd who died on a Roman cross to clean those who come to Him. Only by the power of God will sin be removed. Without that spiritual bath, man remains a dirty sinner. Check yourself – what do you smell?

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Maintaining Continuity

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

Maintaining Continuity

At the end of a cinema production is a long list of cast, directors, producers, and staff at every level involved in putting together the movie or show. Rarely noticed yet one of the most important roles in any production is the people assigned to script supervision or continuity. In the modern world of film, the task of maintaining a uniform story with scenes being done many times is a daunting job. Shooting a part of the story can take many days. If careful attention is not given to the costumes, makeup, jewelry, props, and structure of the movie, obvious contradictions will creep into the final cut. When an actor holds a glass in his right hand and the scene is repeated over a period of time, someone must make sure each scene the glass is in the same hand. The job of the script supervisor is to maintain the continuity of the project.

There is a whole discipline given to inconsistencies in movies where obvious errors were made. In the classic film The Wizard of Oz, when fighting the trees Dorothy is first wearing her Ruby slippers but in the next a pair of black shoes. The cameraman took a larger frame than expected. Andy Griffith, starring in the television series The Andy Griffith Show, is shown wearing his pants leg inside his boots but in the next scene (in an obvious hurry to put his boots on), the pants leg is outside the boot. John Wayne and Robert Mitchum made a classic movie in 1967 called El Dorado where Mitchum’s character was shot in the right leg and Mitchum used a right-handed crutch, but Mitchum switched the crutch to the left side in the scene where he drives the wagon. During the shooting of the final scene, Wayne mentions the inconsistency, and both Wayne and Mitchum walk down the road in the final scene with their crutches under the wrong arm.

Keeping continuity over months is an impossible task with small errors creeping into any production. There will always been inconsistencies because man cannot keep pace with the ticking clock and remember every detail and catch every variation that easily finds its way into production. Imagine trying to be the script director or the person in charge of continuity for a production that takes nearly 1500 years to produce? If the best script director in the business of movie-making can’t produce a film with zero mistakes, consider how universally impossible it would be for one book to come together after 1500 years and find its completeness as one unit. The Bible is that book and God is its author.

Moses lived 1400 years before Christ and penned the first five books. Over the next millennia plus years, nearly 40 men from different parts of the globe, living under extreme conditions varied by the time and place they lived, penned 61 more books. Many of these authors never knew one another. They came from all walks of life. Moses was a Hebrew raised in the palace of Pharaoh, highly educated and orator with wealth, honor, and power. He killed a man and fled the country becoming a shepherd for forty years. Called by God to lead His people, Moses became the leader of the great nation of Israel. A shepherd boy named David became the King of Israel authoring many psalms that bear his name. Amos was a herdsman, Daniel a slave to the Babylonians who served in the king’s court, Ezekiel a priest, Nehemiah a cup-bearer to a Persian king, Matthew a hated member of the Roman tax collection, Peter a fisherman, and Paul a Rabbi.

The story of the Bible comes from the wilderness of Sinai, and cities like Babylon, Jerusalem, Rome, and cities across the Roman Empire. Hebrew, Chaldean, and Greek make up the language of the Bible. The Bible deals with thousands of controversial subjects covering matters of law, history, poetry, biographies, narratives, and prophecies. There is unity in its doctrine, purity in its ethics, and confirmation in its detail. The key is the question of continuity. No man could have maintained the purity of the Bible message that began 3500 years ago. The Bible is the declaration of the mind of God preserved and maintained by divine will to be His word. There is more evidence for the validity of the Bible than any book written by man. God maintained the continuity of the Bible so that all men in every generation can know one thing: His Son, Jesus Christ.

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God’s Purpose

The Lord has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom. (Proverbs 16:4)

God’s Purpose

It is hard sometimes to see the forest for the trees in the unfolding events of life. The challenge of humanity is to remember that all men live in a cocoon of time limiting their sight to what lay before, what impact the day has, and all that is found in the promise of tomorrow. All the pursuits of life can only be measured by one generation and then another generation comes along. With each passing lifetime, everything changes, and what was done in the past is forgotten. Heroes of today are hailed and honored but then pass to the annals of history as a dust-covered memory or decaying monument. The wisdom of man is limited to his existence. This is not the case with the Lord Creator.

Everything in the world is made for the purpose and design of God. Only He can see the broad canopy of man’s history experiencing every part of the victories and failures of humanity. Nations rise and fall by the will of the Father. Armies come and go but the power of God rules. Natural calamities fill the world with destruction bringing misery. Diseases spread across the face of the planet. Great discoveries are made through the inquisitive eye of brave explorers. Incredible achievements are made in science, medicine, and technology. There is a wealth of things that a man will experience in a lifetime and one thing remains constant. With all the changes and upheavals and victories of the existence of man, the Lord continues to work out everything to its proper end and for His own purpose.

What men forget is the world does not revolve around their existence. The Sun is the center of the Solar System but the system where planet Earth is suspended is not in the center of the universe (not even in the Milky Way). Man’s tragedy is to convince himself the world serves his purpose and his domain. In the beginning, God gave man dominion over the world but what man forgot is his life is held in the hand of his Creator and all things he has comes from the providential care of the Father. The world was created for the purpose of God. Man was created for the purpose of God. Only God is the center of the universe. Everything in life will find its proper end through the working of the Lord. His eternal principles are the foundation of everything. Nothing is lacking.

When the heart of man understands his place and the eternal dominion of God, he will find greater happiness and fulfillment in life. Pride is an insidious parasite that destroys the soul of man because he thinks he is bigger than God. Knowing that everything is for the purpose of God and not man will help the frail worm called humanity to enjoy the blessings of a benevolent caregiver and provider. Selfishness, pride, arrogance, and self-pity are dismissed before the throne of Him who purposes everything to His glory. It becomes easier for men to trust in God when they realize who rules in the affairs of the world. Riches mean little, personal gain is defeated and the haughty pride of human wisdom is replaced with the glorious knowledge that God rules in all things so that His glory will shine.

The greatest reminder of the purpose of God is found in Jesus Christ. It was not the will of man that brought the Son of God to earth. There was no human wisdom in a poor carpenter from Nazareth dying on a cross outside Jerusalem that will tickle the fancy of men. When the church was established no government could imagine the expanse of one kingdom that would dominate the world until the end of time. Everything is for the purpose of God. Jesus died to save all men. Simple. Clear. Demonstrative. Eternal. Jesus Christ is the answer for the sin of mankind and the demonstration of the eternal purpose of God’s glory for His creation. The church rules in the hearts of men as the measure through which men are saved. Death is the final reminder that all things are to the glory of God. No man can stop death but one man defeated death. Men fear death but those who see the purpose of God welcome death. All things are purposed for the will of God. Until the heart surrenders to this word, there can be no joy and no hope. Obedience to the purpose of God brings eternal life.

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No Need To Make Disciples

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

No Need To Make Disciples

A disciple of Jesus is someone who follows Jesus and seeks to learn as a student from the teacher. These were learners desiring to know the heavenly message of the one they called, “Rabbi.” It was not uncommon for men to have a company of disciples around him. Teachers were highly considered in ancient times drawing many to their doctrines and beliefs. The philosophers had their disciples as well as the Jewish Rabbis including the many disciples of John the Baptist and Jesus. After His resurrection, the Lord instructs the eleven to go into all the world and instruct men on how to become learners of the way, disciples of the truth, and seekers of the life found in Jesus Christ. This was a key component of the growth of the church to evangelize the world with those who would follow Jesus.

Two thousand years have passed since Jesus gave those instructions to the early disciples but something has changed. Men are not making disciples of every nation. Multitudes of souls are being lost because they are not disciples of Jesus Christ. The instructions of Jesus are not being followed in the modern religious world and the reason is clearly seen in the doctrines of men. There is no need to make disciples because men have rejected the command of Jesus. The Lord told the eleven to go into all the world and they did. These men sought to make disciples of everyone they could find that would hear the truth and multitudes turned to the Lord. Many churches today claim they are going into all the world to make disciples and they are. They are saying the message of Jesus is being proclaimed to make men followers of Christ and they call themselves Christians. Sadly, they are only disciples of the false teaching taught by religious groups that deny the clear statement of Jesus is what makes a disciple of Jesus.

Jesus told the men to go into all the world, make disciples of every nation, and to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Almost all religious groups today deny salvation in baptism. If men will not baptize in accordance with the word of Christ, disciples cannot be made. In truth, the teachings of men have made of no effect the word of Christ to disciple men. There is no need to disciple all nations if one is unwilling to teach the whole counsel of God. The only thing that is left when the whole truth is not taught is a misguided individual who thinks they are saved when they are not. Satan knows full well that when he convinces men to believe in God and almost do what the Lord commands rejecting baptism as necessary for salvation, he has gained a foothold in the heart and draws it closer to condemnation.

There is no need to teach men a perverted gospel. It is difficult to understand how a simple, plain, and clear statement of Jesus can become so misguided, misused, and ignored as the religious world has denied the necessity of baptism. This does not deny grace, mercy, love, truth, righteousness, and a host of divine attributes that bring a person into a covenant with Christ. What is lost in the white noise of religious error is there must be a point – a moment in time – an instant in the eternal cosmos – when a person is born again into the kingdom of Christ. That moment is found in the waters of baptism. Without obedience to the divine plan of God to wash away sins in the blood of Jesus Christ buried into His death, there will be no and there can be no salvation and remission of sins. Jesus told the disciples to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them under the authority of the Godhead. The historian Luke records in the Acts of the Apostles they did exactly that and multitudes became Christians. Are you a disciple of Jesus?

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Reading, Hearing, And Keeping

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3)

Reading, Hearing, And Keeping

The revelation granted to the apostle John was marvelous imagery of divine knowledge declaring the glorious victory of righteousness against the forces of unrighteousness. His book the Revelation is the message of the Lord to persecuted saints giving them hope and promise that all tears shed on earth and pain endured in life will be taken away by the power of God in the final day. There will always be controversy swirling around John’s revelation and many will misinterpret and abuse the apocalyptic language of this final message to mankind. The problem is found in forgetting to read the opening statement of John’s book when he exhorts his readers to do three things: read the revelation, hear the message of the revelation and obey what it says. If the Revelation is too hard to understand then no man can read it, hear it, and obey it. On the contrary, John says it must be received as a book that can be read, understood, and obeyed.

What John is asking of his readers is not unlike the task before every student of the completed word of God. The Bible contains sixty-six books of divine knowledge set forth over thousands of years by different men living in different times and cultures. It is a book that needs to be read. God will bless the heart that will open the book of books and read its message. From time beginning, the will of God has been revealed to the hearts of men who need the word to save them. In the last days, the Holy Spirit has made ready the printed book containing all the will of the Lord. There are no more revelations given to humanity than found in the Bible. The faith has been once delivered to the saints with no more declarations to be given. Until a man reads the word of God, he will not know how to be saved.

John writes to the seven churches which are in Asia to read the revelation given to him. Knowledge is power and through the avenue of reading the message of God the faithful child of God will know things no man can know apart from divine revelation. Reading the Revelation is an incredible journey of imagery, beauty, fear, hope, and promise. Without reading the book, the message is lost. Why is it that a man knows so much about the Bible and yet never reads the Bible? Reading the Bible is that same voyage of imagery, beauty, fear, hope, and promise. There are so many wonderful passages found in the Bible and there are many terrible stories told. All of these point to the nature of God and the promised coming of His Son, Jesus Christ. To know God and to know His word, reading is the first requirement.

Reading the word is not all God wants of His people. Many will say the Revelation is impossible to understand. John says that it is a revelation that can be understood as he exhorts his readers to listen to the message. The trouble with the Revelation is the same challenge found in all of the Bible: it takes study, examination, discernment, thoughtful prayer, and asking for the wisdom of God. John’s message of the revelation is no different than the other books of the Bible that must be read and listened to know the plan of redemption. Hearing the word of God is to dive deep into the word and search out the scriptures to see what eternal gems are found on its pages. It does not require a college degree to know the word of God. Paul told the saints at Ephesus they could understand what he wrote down concerning the mystery long hidden. The Bible is a book ripe for the eager mind to hear the word of God and to know the will of the Father. Reading and hearing the word is how knowledge grows.

The final part of John’s three-point sermon is to obey the word. Keeping the word is the action of a heart open to the reading of God’s will and listening to the message of grace in God’s word. Without obeying the word men become hearers only and not doers as James says. Faith is incomplete without works. The Lord has always required men to obey His word. This obedience cannot come without the knowledge to know what to obey. Reading the word directs the affairs of men to know what to hear and upon that hearing act in obedience to God’s will. If there is no obedience there will be no salvation. John wants his readers to obey the revelation given to him by the Lord. The book of Revelation is a message expected to be followed by the will of God.

God will bless all those who read His word and listen to His message. The Bible is the way the heavenly Father has spoken to His children. He expects His children to obey His word. They cannot do that if they have not read the words of His will. Reading, hearing, and keeping are the requirements of knowing God. John said it can be done with the Revelation and that same formula can be used with the other revelations of God. Take the time to read the word. Listen to the voice of God as the word fills the heart. Remember that obedience is the fruit of reading and hearing the word of God.

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The Birds Of God

Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, and spread its wings toward the south? Does the eagle mount up at your command, and make its nest on high? On the rock it dwells and resides, on the crag of the rock and the stronghold. From there it spies out the prey; its eyes observe from afar. Its young ones suck up blood; and where the slain are, there it is.” (Job 39:26-30)

The Birds Of God

Job was learning a valuable but hard lesson. To contend with the Creator and Maker of all things is to experience the wrath of a jealous God. Throughout the travail of Job’s experience of losing everything including his children, admonished by his wife to curse God and die and then to endure the hounding of three friends who comforted the righteous man with their stinging rebukes of divine judgment upon his sinful life, Job faced an angry God who came to him out of a whirlwind demanding an answer why he was rebuking the Lord God Almighty. It was almost more than Job could bear. There was sympathy for the plight of Job but he had forgotten who was in charge of the world and everything in it. In His rebuke of Job, God reminded Job of his place in the order of creation and how the Lord sustained everything in the world by His mighty power.

One of the evidence of the existence of God is found in creation. The sun rises and sets according to divine law, not the will of man. The animals were formed by the hand of God and serve His divine will. For example, the hawk and the eagle fly through the heavens as the Lord created them and designed them to endure great heights. In the busy pursuit of life, most men take little notice of the birds of the sky. Wrapped up in their world of human gain and profit, most men go through life ignoring the evidence of the Creator that fills the sky. Who made the hawk and the eagle to perch on lofty heights, and to pass through the heavens at incredible speeds with eyesight far beyond the ability of man to see? God is asking Job to stop and consider the birds of the heavens. Did the wisdom of man make them and cause them to be the regal birds of prey? Nothing man has done testifies to the majesty of the hawk and the eagle. So how can man contend with God? Job has no answer.

The pride of man to contend with God is a futile attempt of a creature formed a little lower than the angels to stand taller than his Maker. From the beginning when Satan tempted Eve he first attacked the authority of God to deceive her to believe she was smarter than her Maker. She was wrong as was Adam. They both learned God still controlled the world and were expelled from the garden. Every attempt through the history of men trying to build towers to the heavens has been met with the mighty hand of their Maker, Creator, and Judge. Nations rise and fall but God still rules. Plagues sweep the world and generations come and go and life continues because everything is held together by the word of God. Man can’t destroy the world. No nation will rule the world and no man will become the world-wide tyrant. The hawk and the eagle remind humanity of who is in charge.

Uncertainty fills the hearts of a world overshadowed by a virus, political chicanery, civil unrest, and economic fears of what tomorrow will bring. There is a concern for how the church of the Lord will come out of these trials. One of the major impacts of the society of masks is how it has unmasked many weaknesses in the lives of God’s people and the local congregation. History will not be kind to this generation as they face the trials of life that have been common since Eden. It may do well to spend time outside looking at the birds of the sky how they neither plant seed, harvest nor store food in barns, and yet they are cared for. Does the hawk fly by my wisdom and does the eagle mount up at my command? No. I know who commands the birds and I know I am of greater value than the birds. God will take care of me. I will not contend with the One who made me. I will glory in His love and His grace.

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Where Are You In God’s Garden?

 

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)

Where Are You In God’s Garden?

The world is made up of more than seven billion people. Since the beginning of time, untold billions of people have walked on the face of the earth. Generations come and go, nations rise and fall, and the character of humanity remains unchanged. Jesus taught in parables to show the lessons of the divine for the heart of the carnal man. He spoke a parable about a sower who went out to sow his seed. Each seed fell on different types of the ground resulting in different results. The first seed fell on the ways but was soon taken away by the birds. Some seed fell among ground compacted with rocks and because there was no depth to the soil, the seed sprouted for a moment and then withered away; there was no moisture. The third seed fell among good ground but there were too many weeds and thorns to allow the seed to flourish. As the seed sprang forth and began to grow, so did the thorns and was soon choked out. Only the good ground broken up with rocks removed and diligently cleaned of thorns produced crops a hundredfold. These four types of ground represent the four types of hearts found among the billions of souls that reside on planet earth.

Jesus taught the multitudes there was one sower who sowed the good seed. The purpose of the sower was to raise a crop for the abundance of the harvest. God created man for His glory to enjoy the abundance of His grace. Sadly, three types of people will never know the joys what God has promised. In the garden of God’s creation, some have hardened hearts of sin that have no interest, curiosity, or desire to serve God. Like the first ground, their spirits are hardened and covered over with the pleasures of sin and the deception of Satan. They hear the word of God and they see the power of God’s presence in the world and take no note or respond. The devil seeks the billions of souls who have hardened hearts of carnal frivolity or religious error so that he can increase his wealth of damned souls. The majority of the seven billion-plus people in the world are described by the wayside soil. They will be lost.

The second group of people in the world is those who see and hear the grace of God and respond in some small way. They receive the word with joy acting religious and believing all they have to do for salvation is a belief in God. Their lives are filled with the world while they give a small measure of attention to religion. Nothing in their life shows the love of God or His teaching. With a small smattering of religious zeal, they portray to the world the belief that one can serve God and mammon at the same time. They maintain a veneer of faith until it becomes too burdensome to serve the Lord and they quit. Their hearts are not in it and because of temptation fall away. They are lost.

When the seed falls on the good ground there seems to be hope. Unlike the wayside or rocky ground, the good ground has potential and hope. The seed penetrates the ground and begins to grow. What makes the third ground tragic is the seed begins to grow as it should but then thorns and weeds begin to grow also. A natural course of nature is that thorns and weeds are easier to grow than a good crop. Most weeds can grow anywhere in almost any condition. Not so with a good seed. It takes a lot of nurturing and care. In time, without the devotion of removing the thorns, the good seed is overtaken and choked out. Life can be like that and more so for the people of God. If there is one constant danger for the Christian it is not the persecution of others or fear of retribution. The greatest cause of children of God losing their souls comes from the cares, riches, and pleasures of life choking their hearts to where they do not grow. This is no different than the wayside soil or the rocky soil because all three of the soils end in destruction. Three different types of hearts yet the same end. They are lost.

Out of the four grounds, only one is the way to peace and happiness. The good soil is one that has been broken up from the wayside condition, rocks removed, and continued devotion to keeping the thorns out. Life for the child of God must follow the same pattern. Hearts that are not broken up from the hardness of the world will never grow. If the rocks of carnality and earthly pleasures are not removed the can be no joy of salvation. One of the best tools of Satan is to allow God’s people to serve righteousness but with the burdens of the cares of life. They become ineffective and weak. When the soil is cultivated daily to keep the cares of the world away there will be growth. Hearing the word of God with a noble and good heart will bear incredible rewards in life. Keeping the word brings joy and happiness.

Only 25% of the hearts of people in the world will be saved. Out of four grounds, only one will find eternal life. In the garden of God’s grace as He has given to all men His beloved Son; only the good ground will find joy in the day of harvest. The lesson of Jesus is clear: you are one of these grounds. There is not the fifth ground. Only four. Which ground are you?

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A Paperboy Named Jeremiah

Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.” (Jeremiah 18:18)

A Paperboy Named Jeremiah

In the final years of the kingdom of Judah, the prophet Jeremiah preached a message of doom for the holy city Jerusalem. The spiritual compass of the nation had become corrupt and the moral disintegration of the kingdom plunged headlong at a rapid pace climaxing in the arrival of the Babylonians and destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. There was a brief respite during the three decades of Josiah’s reign but for all practical purposes, the mold of captivity had been cast long before. Jeremiah would live to see the nation destroyed and carried off to Babylon. He would spend the final days of his life in Egypt. As the “weeping prophet,” the son of Anathoth saw the hypocrisy of the religious and political leaders in Jerusalem as well as many false prophets.

The preaching of Jeremiah was bold and demonstrable. He would employ visual aids to bring home his message as breaking a potter’s vessel before the elders. His preaching troubled the religious leaders of Judah. They could not restrain the prophet from accusing them of apostasy, corruption, and oppression. Jeremiah would spend much of his life under the heavy hand of persecution but never waver in preaching the word of God. His critics sought ways to attack the prophet, to discredit him, and to bring him in disfavor with the people. They assembled to plot ways to stop Jeremiah. It was their goal to destroy the man of God. His preaching told of the doom of Jerusalem which the leaders of Judah denied could happen. Ignoring their sin of idolatry and the warnings of many of God’s prophets, the leaders believed they would never fall to the hands of their enemies. Jeremiah was a traitor because he did not accept the authority of the religious leaders preaching against their doctrines. His message came from God.

Seeking a way to destroy Jeremiah, his enemies began to spread rumors about him and to ignore whatever the prophet said. By discrediting him, the leaders tried to weaken the charges brought against them for their idolatrous ways. The land had filled with altars to idols and their wooden images by the green trees on the high hills which Jeremiah cursed. Worship had become a vain attempt to appease the Lord while the will of the people continued to steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal and walk after other gods. Trusting in lying words, the people would come before the Lord in His holy Temple and seek His blessings and call upon His name. Jeremiah condemned them harshly and the people resented him for it. Rather than heed the word of God they sought to spread lies about Jeremiah.

Preaching truth has always been a difficult and challenging work in a world filled with the carnal pursuits of human wisdom, recreation, pleasure, and the desires of the flesh. The word of Jeremiah was not his own. His message came from the will of God but the people would not accept it. This would not change the word of God and when the final stages of captivity came upon Judah and Benjamin, everyone could say that Jeremiah was right in what he preached – but it was too late. They attacked Jeremiah with lies and rumors and Jeremiah continued to preach the truth. He never swerved from walking the path of righteousness. Ignoring his preaching did not change the word of God. Jeremiah fulfilled his ministry in his work as God desired regardless of how the people responded. Spreading lies about him did not dissuade his zeal to preach the word.

Gary Ogden said that preachers are nothing more than paperboys. In days gone by, young boys would take up a paper route where they would sling papers onto the front porches or into the yards of subscribers. In a spiritual sense, a preacher has the responsibility to deliver the word of God accurately. He does not write the material, he cannot edit the content and he must make certain he delivers the paper in a godly manner. It would not do well to throw the paper through the front window. He must not throw it in the bushes where it is hard to find or in the water puddle where the print is blurred. The work of the preacher is to deliver the word of God to the threshold of the individual’s heart. Then, and only then, the action of the individual is to decide what to do with what has been received. If they ignore the word, their guilt is their own. Taking the word of God into their heart is what the Lord desires. If the paperboy delivers his paper in a good way, there can be no complaints. Spreading lies about a faithful preacher is sinful. Ignoring what the man says from the word of God will not change the word of God. Those who stand condemned are those who plot or devise plans to discredit the servants of the Lord. The days of Jeremiah are not unlike the days of the New Testament church.

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Whose Doctrine Are You

Now about the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory, but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. (John 7:14-18)

Whose Doctrine Are You?

Jesus did not fit the mold of a Jewish rabbi or teacher. He confounded the Jewish leaders with His skilled oratory and knowledge astonishing the multitudes with sermons filled with authority. The challenges brought by His critics were destroyed with a few words and later it would be said that no man taught like the man from Nazareth. Jesus was indeed a remarkable man whose doctrine was incontrovertible, consistent to every degree, and beyond the scope of human wisdom that no man could answer. This did not make Jesus the wisest man in the world because He had learned some great secret through the philosophies of men. He was not the Albert Einstein of His day who through intense scholarship developed incredible insights into the world. Jesus was a man filled with the doctrine of His heavenly Father. Often throughout His short life, the Lord would remind people that what He did and what He taught was not His own but the will of God. His doctrine was the doctrine of the One who sent Him.

The Jews recognized that Jesus was a man of letters. It puzzled them because Jesus had such a vast library of knowledge but He had never gone to school for formal education. Pedigree had so much to do with the credentials of a man’s teaching. If a learned scientist wants to put forth a certain philosophy of study, his background is examined to consider his qualifications for higher learning. Did this man attend certain schools that would offer validity to his findings and could he be trusted with his doctrine? They asked the same questions about Jesus. Did He attend the school of Gamaliel in Jerusalem where Saul of Tarsus had studied law? Had the man from Nazareth traveled to the great cities of the Roman Empire to examine the philosophies of the Greeks or Roman poets? None of these fit the mold of Jesus. He was from Nazareth and the son of a carpenter. In a cultural caste system, Jesus was a nobody but His teaching belied the forcefulness of His doctrine.

Jesus had come into the temple and began teaching the people. His doctrine was astounding. He taught the scriptures explaining the law and the prophets with boldness. What confused the Jews was a man of no letters explaining better than themselves the meaning of the words of God. When asked where He gained such knowledge, Jesus said His doctrine was not His own but the One who sent Him. There are two types of doctrines in the world: that which comes from the mouth of God and that which is born through the wisdom of man. The latter knowledge elevates the pride of man to believe he is so shrewd and filled with great wisdom. Men like Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and Socrates were philosophers of men held in high regard. But Jesus was no philosopher of men. His teaching was the purest and wisest among all men that none could challenge.

Those who speak from themselves seek to elevate their own glory. When a man speaks the word of God he glories the Father. Jesus did not preach His own doctrine but the words of the One who sent Him. What made Jesus’ teaching so powerful was His reliance on knowing, understanding, and explaining the doctrine of His Father. As the Son of God, the doctrine of Jesus was the doctrine of the Father. While there is an obvious distinction between the ability of Jesus to teach the word of God and the ability of men to teach the knowledge of the Divine, the conclusion remains the same. When men make the doctrine of God their own, they preach Christ and not human wisdom. The study of scripture does not require a Ph.D. to understand and know its meaning. Anyone who spends the time and effort to examine the pages of the Bible will have a greater knowledge and understanding than the wisest of the world. The doctrine of God belongs to Him and it will infuse in the heart of the willing the knowledge of the eternal. Nothing is as great for a man to know than the doctrine of God. It answers all the questions about life and death and the nature of man. Education is a noble pursuit in the affairs of men. Knowing what the Bible says will give greater hope and blessing than any other message.

Every man follows a doctrine of some kind. For some, the doctrine of wealth, power, prestige, pleasure, and pride fuel their goals in life. Many seek all the wisdom of human knowledge to gain in a lifetime and then die. Solomon experienced all the temptations of humanity and found only vanity. Jesus made the doctrine of His Father His own. The greatest book that has been given to man lies unread, unchartered, and unused in the lives of God’s people and sadly the doctrine of the eternal does not abide in their hearts. Pursuing the pleasures of life the doctrine of carnality is all they know. Taking the time to open the Bible and learn the truths would change their lives immensely. Our lives reflect our doctrine. Jesus reflected the doctrine of His Father. Whose doctrine do you reflect in your life? You are either filled with the word of God or you are filled with YOU.

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The Word Of God

bible aged person

No prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

The Word Of God

No book in the history of the world has been more prolific, more powerful, and more life-changing than the Bible. Written by forty men over 1500 years, the book of books contains the record of man’s beginnings, the unfolding of a divine plan fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ, and the testimony for every person to understand the mind of the Creator. No book has been more impactful on the landscape of humanity than the Bible but it has become the most misunderstood and neglected body of wisdom possessed by man.

The first English translation was done by John Wycliffe and completed by John Purvey in 1388. Chapter divisions did not begin to appear in the text until 1228. The Old Testament was divided into verses in 1448 and the New Testament in 1551. A complete Bible with chapters and verses first appeared in the Geneva Bible in 1560. There are thirty-nine books in the English version of the Bible with twenty-seven in the New Testament. This includes 1189 chapters in the entire Bible, 929 chapters in the Old, and 260 in the New Testaments. Job 29 is the middle chapter of the Old Testament and Romans 13 the middle chapter of the New Testament. There are 23,214 verses in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, there are 7,959 verses. The middle verse of the Bible is Psalm 118:8. In the Old Testament, 2 Chronicles 20:17 is the middle verse, and Acts 17:17 is the middle verse of the New Testament. The longest verse in the Bible is Esther 8:9. An interesting fact about two verses in the English Bible: Ezra 7:21 contains all the letters of the alphabet except ‘J’; Daniel 4:37 contains all the letters of the alphabet except ‘Q’. There are approximately 592,439 words in the Old Testament and approximately 181,253 words in the New. The longest word in the Bible is found in Isaiah 8:1.

It is amazing to consider all the interesting facts about the Bible. Examining the Bible for all the trivia of unique facts is a fun-filled exercise but has no value to the purpose and design of the Bible. Knowing all of the elements of the Bible is not what saves a man but understanding its message. The Bible is the mind of God revealed to man for the eternal purpose of salvation. Many know a lot about the Bible but know very little about the meaning of the Bible. Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit to put down in words the meaning of God’s plan to redeem His creation from the fall of sin. Having a Bible decorated with ornate artwork or to hold dearly the Bibles of grandparents or loved ones is of no value if the Bible is not read for its purpose to guide men to the truth. The Bible is available in printed form, on smartphones, computers, audio, and video and yet most have no idea what the Bible teaches. It seems a better thing to own a Bible than to read it.

The Bible is the most important possession a man can have. Contained within its pages is the hope of life, the promise of the life to come, and the assurance God’s promises. It is a book that demands a man to read and spend time mining the many veins of golden truth permeating the pages. No greater wisdom is found in the world. Its message remains unchanged over thousands of years. There is no body of wisdom that is as concise, complete, and necessary for every man than the book of books: the Bible. Read it to be wise. Meditate to find its meaning. Never allow a day to settle without quality time harvesting the fields of God’s grace in the message of Jesus Christ – the Bible.

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All Men Are Sons Of God

sons of God

The son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3:38)

All Men Are Sons Of God

There is no doubt that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, divine in His nature, eternal in His purpose, and declared by the resurrection from the dead to be the only begotten Son of God. No man has seen the Father but the Son of God. Jesus proved He was the divine Son of the Father through miracles and His teachings. He was the Word that became flesh and dwelt among men manifesting Himself to a large host of people after His resurrection. Salvation comes from confessing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. In Luke’s story of Jesus, he recounts the genealogical heritage of the supposed son of Joseph, son of Heli tracing Jesus through each generation back to the first man created by God: Adam. What Luke seeks to establish in his gospel is the humanity of Jesus. Like his counterpart Matthew who also writes a history of Jesus, Luke uses genealogy to show the connection of Jesus with man and God. While Luke shows Jesus to be a man of flesh, he also shows Adam and all of his descendants to be eternal creatures.

Adam is the son of God. On the sixth day of creation, God created man in His image, according to the likeness of the Godhead. Previously, all the animals were created that filled the sky, the waters, and the land but they were not fashioned in accordance with the nature of God. They were creatures of the earth, a base creation that while they shared the nature of the breath of life as men, they were not created in the image of God. Only Adam and Eve were created to reflect the nature of the Divine. Animals are not eternal. Man is a creature that is fashioned in the form of God who will never cease to exist. When an animal dies, they return to the form of the earth and cease from existing. Adam died at the age of 930 years but he still exists today in the bosom of God.

All men are sons of God through creation. Every human being regardless of gender, age, nationality, the color of skin, economic status, knowledge, or generation from Adam to now are eternal creations of God that will never cease to exist. Abel was the first person to die yet he still lives. All the great men and women of Biblical history have died but they remain awake, active, and aware of the glory of God as they dwell in the land of eternity. Evil men are sons of God because they are His creation and they continue to exist in an eternal world of sorrow, pain, and torment. Of all the billions of souls that have walked upon the face of the earth, none escape the judgment of God because He is their Creator, Maker, and Father by creation. When men come to the reality of their nature, they face the reality of their future.

Sons of God must obey their Father and there is only one Father. Every knee will bow before the Lord God because He is the potter who formed the human clay of humanity to serve Him and to glorify Him. The sons of God are under the authority of the eternal Father to obey His word and to listen to His voice. Judgment comes upon the sons of God when they refuse to acknowledge God as their Father and to submit to His will. He has the right to punish men because they are His children. Adam is the son of God and every generation that comes from Adam and Eve are sons of God. Sin took away the communion of God with His creation but through the death of the only begotten Son of God who was God, the sons of God have hope to be saved from the wrath of the Father. Everyone needs to know who they are. God so loved the world filled with the sons of God that He gave His only begotten Son, that those who are sons of God could believe in the Son of God and not perish but have everlasting life with the Father. For God did not send His Son into the world of the sons of God to condemn them but that the sons of God could be saved through the one Son of God.

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The Power Of Jesus

power of Jesus

Now it happened, on a certain day that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” (Luke 8:22-25)

The Power Of Jesus

Sailing on the Sea of Galilee could be a dangerous journey with the winds suddenly coming from the east sweeping across the sea. The waves would build to great heights and the small fishing boats that occasioned the sea could easily be swamped. Four of the apostles were seasoned fishermen who knew the power of the sea. They would not be surprised at the suddenness of the storm but what happened on one trip brought fear even to these experienced mariners. A fierce storm came upon the lake like a whirlwind or boisterous surge with violent agitation. The gale was so hard it seemed the boat would be torn asunder. Water was filling the boat. The danger was present and twelve men were fearful of dying. One man was sleeping and was unafraid.

Awakening Jesus from His sleep, the twelve saw and heard something that would make them afraid yet filled with awe. Jesus arose from where He was sleeping, rebuked the wind, and the raging waters, and suddenly in an instant, everything was calm. The noise of the unruly storm ceased so quickly it would have startled the twelve. At one moment the ship was engulfed in a massive typhoon with deadly intentions and in the next moment the sea was as smooth as glass; all of this done by the words of one man. The voice of Jesus commanded the elements of wind and water to obey His command and the sea submitted in an instant. Two things are clear from this story.

The first is the incredible power of Jesus and that everything is at the will of His command. There are many things men have created in history that have shown human power. Great armies have crossed the earth conquering vast landscapes of nations and peoples. In August 1945 the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan were obliterated by two atomic bombs. No power that immense has been unleased or destroyed with such totality before and since. The ingenuity of man has landed men on the moon and sent spacecraft to the furthest reaches of a small fragment of the universe. Science has created impressive strides in medicine, technology, and understanding the world. Nothing man has done can compare to one man standing in the midst of a violent storm in a sea of Palestine and with only a few words harnessed the powers of nature. Jesus calmed the storm with the word of God.

Understanding the power of Jesus to calm a storm by speaking to it should remind man has small he is and how great God has always been. The angels are bemused at the pride of man because men have nothing to brag about compared to God. People spend all their lives thinking they are the most important contribution to the human race and they do everything they can do to achieve great fame, fortune, and wisdom and then die and meet someone so much greater than they could ever imagine. What in the imagination of human wisdom can compare with the power of Jesus? Is there anything that man can do that remotely rivals what Jesus accomplished with a few words? Jesus commanded the sea to be calm and the twelve men witnessing the calming were afraid and in awe of His power. My God – how large your ocean and how small my boat.

The second is for the people of God to never fear when their Lord has such great power. Those in the world must fear the power of God because when they face His power they will know His wrath. For the child of God, the power of God is not to be feared as those who have no hope. The power of God reminds the heart of the devoted that God controls everything. Jesus demonstrated He was the Son of God and the Creator because the wind and the sea obeyed His voice. The reason the wind ceased and the waves abated is because they act under the authority of the hand of the one who made them. If Jesus can command the sea to be calm, what is there in my life that He cannot speak and remove fear and doubt? This is a timely story to read to remind all of us who live under the fear of COVID that while the storm may rage and the winds of uncertainty bluster against our faith – the one who controls all things remains in charge. The virus will go away one day and if not then life will change in many ways but God is still God and His will is still in place. Everything will continue as is has until the Creator speaks and the world comes to an end. The word of God formed the world, the word of God holds the world together and the word of God will bring the world to an end. Trusting in that word gives confidence and hope in the middle of a raging storm.

Remember that Jesus was asleep in the midst of the storm. He knew He would not drown in the sea and His Father had work for His disciples and they would not drown in the sea either. Trust in the will of the Lord. Rely upon His power to allow you to be calm in the midst of the storm. If God is with us who can be against us? Let the word of God dwell in you richly to strengthen your heart. His word will calm you. His word will bring you peace. Let Jesus speak to you today.

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Show The Wisdom Of God In Your Life

solomon baby

Now two women who were harlots came to the king and stood before him. And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house. And this woman’s son died in the night because she lay on him. So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.”

Then the other woman said, “No! But the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.” And the first woman said, “No! But the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.” Thus they spoke before the king.

And the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’ ” Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.”

Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.” So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”

And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice. (1 Kings 3:16-28)

Show The Wisdom Of God In Your Life

After the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon of Israel, she proclaimed the wisdom of Solomon exceeded his fame and the half had not been told of his vast library of knowledge. The scriptures reveal the wisdom of Solomon was a gift from the Lord to bless the new king in his reign over the kingdom of God. No story best illustrates this impression than early in his reign two women come before the king claiming the other had taken their child. Two prostitutes had given birth to sons but one of the children died in the night. One harlot accused the other of taking her dead son and replacing her live son with the deceased. The second harlot denied the charge. It would seem an impossible task to know the truth as one accused the other and there was no defense.

Solomon understood the paternal love of a mother and knew the heart of a good woman would not allow her son to die. Demanding a sword brought, the king threatened to kill the remaining son. The true mother would give her life for her son and begged the king to spare the boy. Immediately the evil harlot permitted to kill the son showing her deception and deceit. Solomon commanded the child to be given to his mother because he could see the true love of a mother in her tears.

The matter of the two harlots had a great impact on the people of Israel when they heard of Solomon’s decision. His wisdom impressed the people with great awe and admiration for his knowledge to see the treachery of the one harlot and to know the love of a true mother. They saw the wisdom of God was in Solomon in how he handled the affair. This story is a clear indication of his divine wisdom granted to him by the power of God. When the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night and asked the king what he desired most, Solomon asked for an understanding heart to judge the people, to discern between good and evil, and to give glory to God. His request was granted along with great riches and honor. He will always be remembered as the wisest of all men who possessed great knowledge.

No man is blessed with the measure of divine knowledge as Solomon. When Solomon died, that knowledge died with him. During the early days of the church, the gifts of the Holy Spirit included wisdom, knowledge, and faith. These gifts would have secured the place of the growing church to understand the revealed word of God but they also came to an end. Paul reminded the Roman saints that faith would come through knowledge and that knowledge would come from the word of God. Divine knowledge does not come through dreams or special gifts by the finger of God. What a Christian knows today comes through the study of the word of God.

Solomon possessed special wisdom granted to him through the power of God. That knowledge was given to the king without the requirement of study and examination. The Bible is the fully revealed word of God and any person can have greater knowledge than Solomon when they spend the time to know the will of the Father. All of the mysteries of human history are unfolded in the pages of holy writ. God explains how the world came into existence, why man was created, what his purpose in life is all about, and why God loved the world so much to give a cruel and dark world His only begotten Son. Redemption fills the pages of the Old and New Testament. Mercy, grace, and love permeate every crevice of scripture. The image of Jesus Christ is woven within the fabric of every tapestry of God’s word. No book is so complete, so full and so needful for the needs of men than the book of books called the Bible.

It is said that Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived. That is not true. The man that comes to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His redeeming love becomes the wisest man that lives. When the story of Jesus Christ changes the heart of a man to live a fully devoted, sanctified, dedicated, and purposed life, that man is wise. No message is greater than the cross of Jesus. Solomon dividing a baby boy was a stroke of genius but the condemned man on a cross outside Jerusalem is the message of divine forgiveness. The people were in awe of Solomon because they could see the wisdom of God in his life. What the world needs to see in the Christian is the wisdom of God.

There was a time the people of God were known for their knowledge of the Bible. Sadly, those days are gone. Not only has this weakened the church in many places but the world is not in awe at the lives of those who profess to be Christians. Solomon’s wisdom made an impression on the people. The life of a true Christian should have an impact on the lives of those who see the wisdom of God in their lives. Can the world see you as a husband who serves God or a wife that glorifies the Lord in your life? As parents, are you devoted to showing Christ to your children so that others can see the wisdom of God in your home? When you go to work each day, do your fellow laborers know that you are a faithful Christian showing the wisdom of God in your work? When you post on Facebook and various social mediums, does the light of Christ show your understanding of the word of God? Solomon was a wise man. You must be a wiser person. God has given you a book and He expects you to read it and to know it. It will not come through dreams, gifts, or osmosis. Your level of knowledge of God’s word depends on how much energy you expend to know what the Bible says. You cannot know what you do not know. Faith will always come from hearing the word of God. Seek wisdom. Be wiser than Solomon. Let the world see the glory of God in your life through your knowledge of His word.

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For My Name’s Sake

Names sake

But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. (Ezekiel 20:9)

For My Name’s Sake

The third commandment given to Moses by the Lord at Sinai warned against profaning the name of God. Taking the name of the Lord in vain was punishable by death. The people who heard a man curse the name of God would put their hands on his head and all the congregation would stone him to death. It was a grievous sin to worship idols and to fall down before carved images and taking the name of God in vain was a capital offense deserving of execution. Using God’s name in vain can be viewed with disregard but one of the most important elements to the character of the Lord is the sanctity of His name.

During the captivity of Israel in Babylon, Ezekiel the prophet explained the purpose of the bondage of God’s people in a foreign land. In telling the history of the children of Abraham, Ezekiel reminds the captives of the patience and longsuffering of God towards the people as they left Egypt and began their march to the land promised to Abraham. The forty years of wilderness wanderings came as a result of the rebellion of Israel to obey the word of the Lord. God had pleaded with His people to give up their idols of Egypt but they refused. He poured out His fury and His anger upon the nation. At Sinai, the Lord was going to utterly destroy the people had it not been for the intercession of Moses. Throughout the next forty years, the people murmured, complained, rebelled, and acted in every rebellious manner imaginable and through it all God’s love and mercy allowed the people to live. Ezekiel is reminding the captives in Babylon that their salvation was not because of their worth that God did those things. Everything God did for Israel was for His name’s sake.

Every action of God is for the name of the Lord; it is not for the glory of man. Much of what the Lord did for and against Israel had as much to do with the impact on others as upon the Hebrews. The Lord acted to protect the honor of His name not allowing shame to be brought on His name among the surrounding nations. Delivering the Hebrews from Egypt brought fear to the citizens of Jericho forty years later. Rahab knew the Lord had given the land to Israel and the terror of them had made the inhabitants fearful of the power of the one who dried up the water of the Red Sea and defeated the kings of the Amorites. God’s name was glorified by His power but the action of the Israelites brought shame to the name of God. Now in captivity, Ezekiel reminds the people allowing Babylon to enter the city of Jerusalem and destroy the temple was by the will of the Lord and for the glory of God.

There is a powerful lesson for the nation of God in the church to realize the influence of the lives of His people will either bring honor to the name of the Lord or dishonor. God acts in a way that brings glory to His name so that His name will be exalted among all people. No matter what man does, God’s name will be exalted on high. However, the character of the person of God can impact the name of God by the way they act, how they talk, the manner of the dress (or lack thereof), and the attitudes of the heart seen by the world. The church is heavily impacted by the lives of members who live like the world because they bring shame and reproach to the name of God. The Lord acts for the glory of His name. All of those who call upon His name should wear His name in purity, nobility, and honesty. The name Christian bears the name of God’s Son. No man or woman should call themselves a Christian if they are not willing to live up to the name that is to be holy, sacred, and revered. God acts for His name’s sake. Let my life reflect that honor.

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Blessed In The Word

BLESSED IN THE WORD

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways. You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently. Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed when I look into all Your commandments. I will praise You with uprightness of heart when I learn Your righteous judgments. I will keep Your statutes; oh, do not forsake me utterly! (Psalm 119:1-8)

Blessed In The Word

Words are the vehicles that move thoughts from the mind of God to the heart of a man. Without the word, humanity would be in darkness to the character, nature, and disposition of its Creator. The natural world testifies to the majesty of a grand designer but it cannot tell what the will of the Father will be for the good of men. Only when words are given from the mouth of God does man realize what he is and how much the Father loves and cares for him. He learns this from the law of the Lord, His commandments, the statues of righteousness, and the judgments of God. Knowledge comes from listening to the word of the Lord. All the problems of humanity come from a lack of respect for the word of God. Every word given by the Lord is for the good and perfect well-being of a man’s heart.

Walking in the way of the Lord brings peace and security. The word of God is the knowledge the Creator gives to His creation so that he can understand why he is made in the image of the Divine. When man was created, he was formed of the dust of the ground infused with an eternal presence that will never cease. This moral character must be guided by the principles of its Creator and the only way a man will find happiness is to live in such a way as he was designed. Following the instructions of the Lord gives man integrity. Obeying the will of the Lord will keep him from harm and destruction. This is how God has created all men.

Evil is the nature of rebellion to the word of God. As Lawgiver, the Lord determines what is right and what is wrong. He has that inherent right as Creator to design man for a specific purpose and when His creation refuses to follow the divine pattern, consequences will come. The rebellion of men is like the clay crying out to the potter who formed it. God has all power and authority established through His word to direct the steps of man. Everyone has been charged to keep the commandments of God carefully so they will find happiness in life. Joyful people are those who obey the will of the Lord by keeping His word.

Life is about comparing the heart with the word of God. Measuring personal happiness by the frailties of life will only bring heartache and disappointment. Man was created as a dependent creature needing the guidance of God to determine his steps. Outside these boundaries is where failure awaits because it is not the will of the Father. Learning the righteous character of God’s word is where fulfillment is found. The word is life and life is in the word. Without the word in the heart, there will be no hope, no promise, and no joy. The greatest message of the word of God is that He will never give up on man. God will not forsake those who seek Him. Following the word of God will put a man in a place of security for the grace of God to guide his feet to the eternal throne of redemption. Those who dwell in the word will be blessed – now and in the world to come. Get into the word. You will find yourself and you will find God.

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It Is Good

lamentations-3-25

Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:22-26)

It Is Good

The book of Lamentations is a series of five lyric poems lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem yet interspersed with the abundance of hope for Israel. There will be terrible calamities that fall upon Israel because of their disobedience and disloyalty to the Lord God as He brings judgments against the rebellious nation. The language is hard, the message unyielding and the consequences are written in the stone of God’s wrath. When the Chaldeans come against Israel it will be the terrible day of the Lord. While the immense power of the anger of the Lord is brought to bear against His people, a kernel of hope is always found in the message to remind the people of the love, mercy, and grace of a kind Father. Israel will spend seven decades in captivity but it will come to an end because God will bring His people back. The wrath of God is poured out but measured by the hope in the salvation of the Lord for those who trust in Him.

Jeremiah is called the “weeping prophet” for good cause. There was much to mourn as the people of God plunged deeper into idolatry, rebellion, and a stubborn refusal to return to the Lord. The message of hope also abounds in the writings of the prophets. God was not a cosmic bully that reveled in destroying what He had created for His glory. Israel was going to suffer many things from the hand of God for their disobedience and through that destruction, the love of God would be shown to the world. The mercy of God was everlasting in sparing Adam and Eve from destruction, saving Noah and seven others from the flood, and redeeming Israel from total annihilation. God is a compassionate Creator as much as He is a wrathful avenger against unrighteousness. Each day is a fresh dawn of God’s mercy and love. It the midst of trials and turmoil, there is hope in God.

God never fails His people but His people often fail Him. When they refuse to put their trust in Him alone relying on their own wisdom, they will find no hope. Making God the inheritance of the heart is establishing the will of God as the portion of life that will give hope in the time of despair. Hope comes from putting the Lord first in life. Life becomes good when the heart trusts in the way of the Lord. Faithful people will search for the Lord in every part of their life. During the dark days of Israel when Babylon took them off to a foreign land, God was still among His people. Men like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah knew the Lord was good and they put their trust in Him. They waited on the power of God to work in their lives. Every part of their life sought to understand the word of the Lord. They were in a captive land but they lived in hope with the promise of God.

Jeremiah reminds the people of God that it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. This will come about in His time, in His way, and according to His will. Hope is built upon the patient endurance of a soul at ease with the salvation from the Lord. In a world of chaos, the soul of God’s children can rest assured that He still reigns, He still rules and all the affairs of life are measured by the hand of Him who spans the universe with ease. There is nothing to fear. The world cannot change the will of God. No man will find peace outside of Christ. The joy of salvation is waiting for His will to be completed. This is a good thing. It is good to hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

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United We Stand In Christ

united in Christ

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

United We Stand In Christ

It is certain the apostle Paul could never imagine the impact of a virus upon the church but he understood something of a greater magnitude than anything facing the church today. The COVID-19 virus has turned the world upside down. Economies are struggling with the impact of businesses closed or learning to work within a masked and social distancing mandate. Society has shifted with a new normal that find children wearing a mask to school, churches reorganizing assemblies to accommodate audiences, medical facilities heavily regulated with strict guidelines, grieving families unable to hold funerals for loved ones, and a political tsunami sweeping the nation with an odious rhetoric of division. These are troubled times.

Paul lived in troubled times. It was not a virus. The main problem that hindered the apostle to the Gentiles was the persecution from the religious zealots of Judaism and the oppressive hand of the Roman government either politically motivated or by the false gods of idolatry opposing the preaching of Christ. He faced a world divided, confused, and rebellious and filled with tyranny no generation today has ever experienced. Pundits of fear try to convince the present world that things are worse than ever before. They do not realize how well they have it. This can be especially true for the people of God who believe the present crisis is more than they can handle. The truth remains there are periods of history that are worse than others and no generation has the market cornered for the most troublesome times. It is not such much the events that shape the world but the way men react to events of the world. This is true with the COVID virus.

Do you feel hard-pressed on every side and perplexed by the present distress? Some may feel persecuted under the social conditions imposed by the government. With all the mandates and restrictions a person can feel knocked down all around. There can be an overwhelming feeling of despair and downtrodden in spirit. The apostle Paul appears over two thousand years of history and asks the people of God, “What is your problem?” The world the apostle lived in was filled with many troubles but he was not crushed. Why? He did not allow the troubles to trouble him. There were times of perplexity and confusion and again the apostle Paul was not driven to despair but taken to the throne of God. He knew who was in control of the chaotic world he lived and it was not the Jews or the Roman government. Christians were hunted down and yet they did not abandon their faith. The conditions the early church faced did not destroy them.

Change the channel to the modern-day – why has COVID caused problems in the lives of God’s people? Has their faith been challenged? Are the troubles of our day making it hard for the people of God to remain faithful? God’s people are not crushed, they are not in despair and forsaken and nothing should destroy them because God still reigns, rules and His will continue to hold the world together. If there is a time for the church to be stronger – that time is now. This is a time to be united. There is a need to gather as one united with a common purpose and single cause. The virus will end one day but the church will not. Let the church of Jesus Christ let the world know that God rules and His kingdom is the house of God filled with devoted and faithful people. We shall see the King one day. Let the King see His subjects brave and true. May the Lord see His people united as one under the banner of courage.

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It’s Not Hard To Be A Christian

1john 53

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)

It’s Not Hard To Be A Christian

God created a world in perfection and beauty. Everything touched by the hand of God was the highest expression of His glory, His majesty, and His wisdom. Creating the world, the Lord made a perfect union between light, energy, space, and matter that in its own right was perfectly matched and placed in its exact order. When the man was formed from the dust of the ground and the woman taken from the side of Adam, the family became a perfect union of two creations fitted for one another. God placed the man in a garden that suited every need he had with the provisions of taking of every fruit of the trees except one. There was nothing harsh about the conditions set forth by God or oppressive that would punish man. Everything was provided for the good of man. At the time of the garden, there was only one tree man was not permitted to eat and that became the downfall of humanity.

Before Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, what did they lack? What had God denied them? Were the commandments of God too strict for them and did the Lord impose too harsh a law upon His creation? A cursory examination of the story finds there was nothing hard or difficult for Adam and Eve to understand and it was not a law that was complex in its meaning and consequence. If they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would die. They ate of the forbidden fruit and they died – first spiritually and then physically because they lost the garden. What Adam and Eve gave up was everything good God planned for them. After the fall of man and his expulsion from the garden, life was more difficult and harsher but the commandments were not harder or impossible to keep.

What time in history has the Lord demanded more of man than he could deliver? Outside the garden, conditions would be more severe but if man could not keep the commandments of God in the perfect world of Eden he would struggle with keeping the commandments of the Lord outside the garden. The Lord did not impose impossible commandments upon the people of Noah’s day yet everyone died in the flood except eight souls. During the days of Abraham, which laws were too difficult to understand and obey? Abraham did not think anything God asked of him was impossible; even when he was asked to sacrifice his only son. The children of Israel were given a law written down in the book of Moses. Which one of the commands were the Hebrews unable to keep? Only the ones they did not want to follow. There was nothing in the Law of Moses that was a burden for the people to follow.

Jesus came and died for all men teaching the world to obey the Father and follow after His will. Which of the commandments of Christ (from the Father) did He give the world that is burdensome? There is nothing God has asked a man to do today that he cannot do. Men act as if God has given them something they cannot do. A father can ask more of his children at times. The employer may expect more of his workers than can be done. There can be expectations from the world that men can never achieve but there is never a time that God has commanded a man to obey His will that any man could not follow. The law of God is not burdensome. It is not impossible to follow. The Lord has not asked any person to do something or to live in such a manner they cannot follow through. All the commandments of God are for the good of man.

Too many men act as if they cannot follow the will of God because it is impossible. With God all things are possible. Each command of the Lord is structured to bring out the best of a person and to show the beauty of God’s creation. Commandment keeping shows love for the Father. Refusing to keep the commandments of God shows distrust and disloyalty to Christ. If a man says he loves God he is a man who is willingly subject to all the commands of God. There are no complaints or misgivings of what the Lord demands. Obedience is open and free and willing to go however far the measures required. There is not one soul who will stand before God in judgment and claim the commandments of the Lord were too hard to follow. They will know at that moment that God expected nothing more than what a man could do if he was willing. Sadly, most men will realize too late how wonderful the commandments of God were for their lives and their eternal souls. Love God. Keep His commandments. All of them. It is a good thing.

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The Joy Of Reading

The Joy of reading

How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets. (Ephesians 3:3-5)

The Joy Of Reading

There is a fundamental part of life that almost everyone takes for granted: the ability to read. Few if any take thought over the power of being able to read although for many cultures this is not the case. There was a time in years past that many people did not know how to read. Public education was not common and any knowledge children gained was from working on the farm or in industrial mills in large cities. When America was largely an agricultural community, schools where a part of every community but few were able to spend time away from the farm to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic (more commonly referred to as the three “R’s”.)

With public education compulsory, reading is a gift that is as normal as breathing and yet the most underrated ability used by man. One of the most significant inventions in the history of humanity was Guttenberg’s printing press in 1436. It allowed for the printed word to more easily produced including the publication of the Bible but in this time, few could read and fewer could read the language of the Bible: Latin. Through the years (and under great persecution), the Bible was printed in English and other languages to where it is the most read book in the world today translated into every known language. It is also the least-read book in the world.

The advent of technology has blessed the world with incredible inventions. In the digital age, the printed word has fallen on hard times. Bookstores have closed, and newspapers in print struggle to stay profitable and children grow up seldom opening a book to read. The days when libraries teemed with curious seekers of knowledge are gone. Reading is a byword that allows for the commerce of business and entertainment to prosper but the reading of the Bible is becoming a lost art. Churches are filled with people who sit passively listening to the preacher without opening the Bible to follow along. The art of note-taking has disappeared. Few keep notes of sermons or classes anymore. As the prophet Hosea declared, the people of God are destroyed by a lack of knowledge.

When Paul wrote his letter to the saints in Ephesus, he explained that what he had received from the Lord, he wrote down in a few words so they could read and understand a mystery hidden since the beginning of time. It should not be lost in the incredible blessing of being able to read the mystery of God and understand things hidden for millennia. Reading is a powerful tool to enlighten the soul of the word of God. It is the vehicle that takes the mind of God and plants the seed of eternal knowledge within the heart of a man. The Bible is printed in so many different forms and fashions today that few homes do not possess multiple copies. How often are the pages opened and read? That is the key to who we are, what we are, and what we can become. The greatest avenue to take the knowledge of the divine into our hearts is to read the word of God. How simple and yet how powerful a thought.

There is a great hymn that says “Take time to be holy.” Feeding on the word of the Lord takes time and reading is how that word can be imparted. There is value in listening to the word but there is greater value in allowing the eyes to fill the pages of God’s word in our minds and our hearts. I am old fashioned for a reason but I believe the printed page is the most effective manner to read. There is a connection with the hand and the book. Palm oil is the most powerful means to preserve a book. Pages worn from reading tell about a life that is worn the cross of Jesus on the heart. The Bible is a pearl of great price that should be treasured not because of the material that binds its cover but the treasure that is found when the pages are opened and read. Paul said that we can read what he wrote and we can understand the mystery. Lord – let me read.

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The Testing Of God

humbling you and testing you

And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. (Deuteronomy 8:2)

The Testing Of God

Four decades had passed since the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea on dry land and the Lord made them a great nation feared by all. Now the Israelite nation stood before the Jordan River poised to cross again on dry land and begin the conquest of the Promised Land. Moses has been forbidden to enter the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He views the rich land of bounty from Mount Pisgah where he will die. He writes the final legacy of the children of Israel exhorting them to be faithful and follow the commandments of the Lord. The book of Deuteronomy is a history lesson for the Hebrews to understand the nature of God and how He blessed the generation before and will bless the new generation if they will heed His word. The generation that stands ready to enter Canaan watched their parents and grandparents die in the wilderness. Moses reminds the people that God led Israel through the wilderness for forty years to humble the people and to test their faith. The Lord wanted to know what was in the heart of His people if they would retain their allegiance to Him or deny Him.

The forty years in the wilderness were hard years for Israel. They had first come to Kadesh-Barnea where they could enter Canaan and begin the conquest. Because of a lack of trust in the power of God, the people heeded the warnings of ten spies and rebelled against the word of God. In His wrath, the Lord declared Israel would wander one year for every day the spies were in Canaan. Forty years would see the deaths of everyone above the age of twenty. Throughout the wilderness journeys, the people murmured, complained, rebelled, and started insurrections against Moses and Aaron. In just four short decades, the Hebrews were decimated with plagues, snakes, and the wrath of God bringing judgment against a rebellious people. What happened to Israel was not a coincidence. Throughout the forty years, the Lord was testing the heart of the people to know if they were willing to serve Him and obey Him.

Two reasons are given by Moses why God punished Israel for forty years. It was the plan of God to humble the Israelites and to prove their character. In many ways the people failed; yet in many other ways, the people succeeded. Moses reminds Israel that God needed to take the pride and arrogance out of the people as they enjoyed the blessings of a righteous God. It was easy for the people to take for granted all the Lord had given them. They did not go hungry or lack for water during the forty years. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell during those forty years. Enemies were defeated by the hand of the Lord. Israel was a nation blessed above all other nations on the earth and yet they still did not appreciate the blessings of God. The Lord made things hard for them to test them and see what kind of character they had. For many, the test of God proved they could not remain faithful. During times of crisis, the weak strengthened their resolve to deny God and perished. At the same time, men like Joshua and Caleb increased their faith in the Lord as they faced the trials of life becoming stronger in their resolve to serve the Lord. The forty years of crisis proved what was in the heart of the people.

There is a great crisis overshadowing the world and impacting the nation of God’s people. Like Israel of old many murmur, complain, rebel, and refuse to serve the Lord. The pandemic has opened the weakness of their faith giving them more resolve to serve the world rather than the Lord. Instead of turning to the family of God in the body of Christ for greater strength, they have embraced the religion of convenience and ease to worship in their own way. The COVID virus has changed the face of the world and the character of the church. For many, it has heightened preexisting weaknesses that are now driving them away from serving the Lord. They are failing the test. In the midst of the pandemic, many have become stronger and more resolute to draw closer to one another and the Lord. Tests of life will always do two things: make a person stronger or expose their weakness.

When this pandemic is over and we stand on the banks of another day, who will be left? Like Israel of old, there will be those who perished in the wanderings of COVID-19 who lost their way, lost their faith, and gave up. The new day will be conquered by those who kept the commandments of the Lord, vanquished their fears, and devoted their hearts to serve the Lord. This pandemic says a lot about the hearts of God’s people. What does your heart say?

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