Blasphemy Against The Spirit

Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. (Matthew 12:31)

Blasphemy Against The Spirit

There is nothing more basic to the failure of humanity than the blatant rejection of the word of God. When Eve fell to the whispering voice of the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit, she cast the spell of darkness on the hearts of men to openly rebel against the power of the Lord. She understood clearly what God had said about the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Adam knew the warning of God not to partake of the one tree. There was no excuse for their actions. The tragic end of their decisions was the refusal to accept the will of their Creator. Rebellion to the word of God has been the hallmark of the human story.

God sent His Son into the world for men to see God. Jesus was God who came in the flesh. John said the word became flesh dwelling among men, and they beheld His glory. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, Jesus proclaimed He was God. The authority to forgive sins was demonstrated by showing His power. His teaching was authoritative and indisputable.

The Jewish leaders repeatedly tried to trap Jesus, accuse the man from Nazareth, and find any means possible to discredit Him. All of their efforts were for naught. The height of the arrogance and hatred of the Pharisees came when Jesus healed a demon-possessed, blind, and mute man.

Some miracles have a more significant impact than others. Raising someone from the dead was quite remarkable. Casting out demons by itself was noteworthy. Restoring a blind man’s sight would astonish the crowds. When Jesus cast out a demon from a blind man to whom He restored sight and then loosened the tongue of the man who could not speak; the power of the miracle was without question the power of God.

As the Pharisees witnessed the incredible power of Jesus upon the poor man possessed, blind, and mute, the Jewish leaders could only accuse Jesus of a miracle by the power of Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons. Albert Barnes notes the accusation by the Pharisees “was an opprobrious (scornful, disgraceful) name given to the leader of the devils as an expression of supreme contempt.”

The depth of depravity in the hearts of the Pharisees was so dark there was no hope for them. Their total rejection of the power of Jesus was utterly an unmitigated failure of their hatred for Jesus. Rejecting the miracle of healing the man was rejecting the power of the Holy Spirit. To blatantly reject a powerful miracle was to blaspheme the Holy Spirit of which there was no recourse.

The context of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit must be seen in the incarnation of Jesus on earth. The Son of God had a ministry of around three years in length. During this time, He taught with authority and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, confirmed His authority from the Father. This is the only time in the history of mankind God walked among men as Jesus did.

If there was a time that all men could see the glory of God in the flesh, the ministry of Jesus was such a time. Because of the prejudice and hatred of the Pharisees (and others), they rejected Jesus and thereby rejected God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Rejecting the miracles of Jesus was the height of rebellion. The Pharisees never denied a miracle performed by Jesus because there was no way to argue the evidence. They accused Jesus of working by the power of Satan – which was the spiritual last straw.

Jesus warns the Pharisees that every sin can be forgiven, but to blaspheme the Holy Spirit would damn the soul without measure. This contextual warning only applied when God walked among men manifesting His power. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit was to reject the miracles of Jesus seen with the eyes.

The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not a single word or phrase given or, even as some have argued, suicide. It is a perpetual rejection of the word of God, as seen in the manifestation of Jesus on earth. In the strictest sense, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be done today because Jesus is not in the flesh. There is a manner in which men suffer the same consequence when they reject the gospel of Christ.

Every sin committed by the heart of man can and will be forgiven when a man repents and changes his life. There is power in the blood of Jesus. The Pharisees were guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit when they charged a visible (and powerful) miracle by the Son of God to the work of Satan. There is no hope when the heart is that dark, and it is impossible to bring them to Christ.

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The Way To Spiritual Satisfaction

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17)

There is great joy in the heart of those who trust in the power of God and allow His grace to guide their lives. The story of spiritual satisfaction measured the lives of men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel. Throughout the centuries, the gospel of the good news instilled faith in God’s people to know the joy of eternal life.

The Law of Moses was not a book of laws without feeling. Keeping the commandments brought joy to the soul weighed down by sin. There was great joy in the Gentile city of Nineveh when Jonah preached repentance. The Holy Spirit revealed the mind of God, showing the way for all men to find spiritual satisfaction.

During the ministry of Jesus, seventy men were sent out to preach the message of God. When they returned, they were filled with joy because the demons were subject to them in the name of Christ. While there was a reward in defeating the minions of Satan, Jesus reminded the seventy the greater joy was their names were written in heaven. Spiritual satisfaction did not come from the miracles but from the eternal reward of being a child of God.

In the early days of the church, numerous stories emerged about the joy of those who were saved. Philip preached Christ to the city of Samaria, and many were obedient to the word of the Lord. There was great joy in that city. When Philip baptized the man from Ethiopia, the Ethiopian treasurer went on his way rejoicing.

Paul and Barnabas told the brethren in Phoenicia and Samaria about the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. The church of Christ is a place of joy for those who have found the grace of God.

Experiencing the feeling of joy does not save a person but rather is the outgrowth of the knowledge of salvation. Ferrell Jenkins writes, “We do not know we are saved because we rejoice – have joy, an emotional feeling. There is a place for happiness, joy, reverence, etc., in both private and joint worship. But spirituality should not be imposed; it should be the outcome of knowledge.”

In the religious world, feelings are measured more for salvation than obedience to the word of God. Many religious groups emphasize emotionalism as a sign of the promise of eternal life. Being ‘filled with the Spirit’ is often more important than being filled with the word. God never suggests feelings alone are a sign of spiritual satisfaction.

It should not be missed that feelings are a part of salvation. God never promised His people to find happiness in serving Him. He expects holiness. When a man lives a life of holiness, he finds the eternal joy of redemption. Spiritual satisfaction comes from the obedience of a devoted heart serving a loving Father. The Holy Spirit testifies to the Father who is a child of God and who is not. He does not base His decision on the individual’s feelings but on whether they have entered a covenant relationship with God.

Without obedience, the joy of salvation is empty. Having a “better felt than told” religion is trying to find satisfaction in the carnal nature of the human heart. Eternal life will only be given to those who keep the commandments of the Lord. Jesus said not all men who call Him “Lord” will be saved. Only those who do the will of the Father will be saved. Rejoice. Salvation is near.

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It Pleased God To Crush Jesus

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. (Isaiah 53:10)

It Pleased God To Crush Jesus

The death of Jesus on the cross was determined before time began. As the heavenly record unfolded through the centuries of human history, the Father spoke through His prophets of the suffering Servant who would be offered for the sins of all men. The sacrifice would be accomplished when Jesus left His equality with the Father and took on flesh to live among His creation. Jesus knew He came to suffer and die. All the gospel writers describe the intense pain the Son of God took upon Himself as He was beaten, spit upon, mocked, scourged, and crucified. The earth trembled at God’s suffering Servant. Darkness filled the land. Creation reacted to the sacrificial lamb slaughtered on the altar of God’s glory. As the Father watched His beloved Son suffer and bear His cross, He was pleased.

Isaiah writes the Father was pleased with the suffering of Jesus. The language is reminiscent of Abraham offering Isaac on the altar. There is no suggestion that Abraham enjoyed with pleasure binding his only begotten son to an altar and taking a knife in hand to kill his son. An angel of the Lord stayed the hand of Abraham, who was fully intent on striking the knife’s blade into his dear son’s body. Abraham was pleased to kill his son because he was willing to obey God without exception. Believing God would be able to Isaac from the dead, Abraham did not hesitate. Faith shone through in his obedience.

The suffering of Jesus did not bring joy to the Father or fill His heart with carnal gladness. There was great pain in God offering His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. The suffering and death of Jesus were the only means to atone for what men had done. Jesus was sinless before the Father. The incredible life of Jesus was measured by nearly thirty-three years of sinless perfection in a world filled with debauchery, immorality, murder, hatred, and conflict. Satan tried for more than thirty years to crush the spirit of Jesus, and he never succeeded. The son of God was triumphant in overcoming sin.

God was pleased with the suffering of His Son because that was the only way sin would be pardoned. The weight of sin was so big the only atonement that could satisfy the justice of God was the death of His Son. Sin must be punished to the fullness. The blood of animals could not atone for that kind of debt. Animal blood was commanded, but redemption required the blood of a man. The magnitude of the suffering of Jesus portrays the magnitude of the offense of sin. It pleased the Father to see His Son suffer because Jesus willingly gave His life. The love of Jesus was like the love of the Father. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son because Jesus so loved the world, He gave His life!

Jesus was not guilty of sin and did not deserve what they did to Him. The Father was never displeased with what His Son did. It pleased the Father to see His Son voluntarily submit Himself to the sorrows and suffering of the cross. God promised His Son glory if he learned obedience, and the Father highly exalted Jesus and gave Him a name above all names. Because of the suffering of Jesus, the world was given the song of redemption through the blood of God’s Son. That pleased God.

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He Wanted Israel To Sing About His Sin

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” (Psalms 51:1)

He Wanted Israel To Sing About His Sin

The story of David, king of Israel, is defined by two events. First, his incredible faith in standing against Goliath while the army of Israel cowered in fear is an example of the power of God working through a young man to defeat the enemies of the Lord. Second, David’s complete failure in adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. It is to the sin with Bathsheba the failure of the human spirit is so clearly defined. David was a man after God’s own heart, and this man of faith allowed an innocent occasion to become something that would ruin his life.

David was the psalmist of Israel, writing thousands of poetic stories of faith, courage, hope, revenge, justice, and a host of topics. Two psalms stand out that tells the story of his struggle with adultery and murder. Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 declare the internal struggles of guilt that accompany sin and the joy of forgiveness in the grace of God. The Hebrew canon contains headers in many of the psalms included by the organizers of the Psalms. Psalm 32 has no inscription, but the psalm is strongly viewed as a reflection on the weight of sin experienced by David and the soothing grace of God’s love to forgive him. In Psalm 51, the Holy Spirit includes the heading showing the psalm was written when Nathan the prophet came to him after he committed adultery and murdered Uriah. A child was born from the adulterous liaison.

David’s faith is defined in Psalm 51. The psalm is one of the most powerful testimonies of scripture. It is a self-examination of how far sin will take a godly man. David opens his heart in the psalm to tell God of his sorrow and remorse. He no longer hides in the shadows with his guilt of adultery and murder. David knows he has brought shame and disgrace to the Lord God he serves. His heart is broken. He comes to God with a broken and contrite heart and begs the Lord to execute His goodness in whatever fashion He designs.

Reading Psalm 51 will bring tears to the eye. The heart will fill with grief over the sorrow of sin. There is one element of the psalm that is overlooked. Nearly three thousand years have passed since David wrote the psalm. Saints of God have read this psalm for centuries. When David wrote the psalm about his personal failure, he gave the psalm to the Chief Musician to be heralded among the people of God as a testimony to his own failure and a message of hope for those who faced the same dilemma. There are many musical notes found in the psalms that scholars are unsure of their meaning. One thing is clear in this psalm: David wanted the Chief Musician to include this story in the worship literature.

Faith is a declaration of the glory of God. Psalm 51 is not about David but the grace of God. It was not the desire of David to boast of his exploits. He was fully ashamed of his actions and lived the consequences for the rest of his life. But he never lost his faith. Was there a time when David went to worship, and the Chief Musician chose Psalm 51 as the message of the day? When David heard this psalm, how did it impact his heart when he listened to those crying words of pain, regret, and sorrow? David wanted Israel – all of Israel – to know of his personal grief and to learn from his failure. Throughout the many centuries, Psalm 51 has been sung, and hearts have been changed to walk away from sin, seek the grace of God, and learn the consequences of sin. David gave the psalm to the Chief Musician. What a great statement of faith.

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Callus Hands And Callous Hearts

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

Callus Hands And Callous Hearts

Identifying a man who works hard with his hands is always easy. Shaking the hand of a farmer, carpenter, or laborer will immediately give the sensation of a hard and callus hand. The roughness of the hands comes from repeated friction of implements against the skin. When the skin is subject to an unusual amount of rubbing, dead skin builds up to form calluses. The result is the callus forms a protective coating of skin, shielding it from pain.

The meaning of callus is a skin condition with hardened and thickened skin. On the other hand, the meaning of callous is to be feelingless, cruel, dispassionate, or unsympathetic to the pain and problems of other people. There is a similarity to a callus and being callous, but the callus is a noun and a verb, whereas callous is an adjective and a verb. Paul warns the saints to be careful about becoming unfeeling about the impact of sin. In a poetic way, sin can bring about calluses to the heart, causing the spirit to be callous toward lustful pleasure and every kind of impurity.

There is a danger of how sin can make the heart past feeling and wholly hardened in sin. The putridity of sin, with its nauseous odor of evil, can have little or no impact on the spirit of the child of God. As the hardened ground in the parable of the sower, the word cannot penetrate the heart with goodness. There is no feeling about unrighteousness. No emotion floods the soul with a consciousness of right and wrong. This callous attitude toward sin allows sin to continually fill the heart, ignoring the need to hate evil and turn away.

Paul warns Christians of the danger of their hearts becoming callous. If the callus nature of sin continues unabated, the child of God will see no wrong in what the Lord calls evil. Being callous to sin is to be hardened with the deceitfulness of Satan’s wiles, subjecting the heart to accepting what God condemns. The world is given over to all manner of wickedness. Their hearts are not filled with the Spirit of God. Being separate from the world demands the Christian remove the calluses that can coat the heart, causing a callous attitude. No matter what version of the Bible a person uses, sin remains sin.

One of the best oils to treat Bible covers is the oil of the hand. A Bible often used will become soft and pliable. Constant use of the Bible on the heart will remove the sinful calluses that harm the spirit and turn the callous heart into a devoted life dedicated to the word of God. Spend time working with your hands in searching the scriptures. You will find the soothing measure of God’s word to take away the callous heart and experience the joy of Jesus Christ. Clean hands and clean hearts. That is righteousness.

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Teaching Children To Know The Lord

Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:12)

Teaching Children To Know The Lord

The high priest filled an important role in the worship of the Israelites as a precursor to the role of Jesus to the church. To have no high priest would be as meaningless as the gospel without Christ. The high priest came from the tribe of Levi and none other. Aaron, the brother of Moses, was the first of a long succession of high priests. The function and role of a high priest were a central point of the relationship between God and man. The first qualification to be chosen as high priest was to be of the tribe of Levi. The role of the high priests assumed the man to be holy and deeply devoted to the word of God.

Eli, the high priest, was of the line of Ithamar, Aaron’s fourth son. The office of the high priest remained in the family until Solomon’s time before changing to Eleazar’s family. Little is known about Eli. It was during his priesthood that God called Samuel to be the judge of the people of Israel. Eli saw the mother of Samuel praying and thought she was drunk. She was imploring the Lord for a son who granted her desire. Eli blesses Hannah, who will later bring the young lad, Samuel, to Eli to serve in the ministry.

The role of the high priest was a significant part of the religious landscape of Israel. Tragically, Eli failed as a father to his very wicked sons. The Holy Spirit says the sons of Levi were very corrupt. They would take sacrifices of the people for themselves by force. The sin of the young men was very great before the Lord. Serving as priests, they abhorred the offering of God. Incredibly, their sins had a greater magnification in the eyes of the Lord. Eli knew his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Priests of God engaging in sexual immorality at the door of the house of God. The sons of Eli were vile, and he did nothing about it. On one occasion, he talked them to death, to no avail.

When Eli was ninety-eight, the Philistines captured the ark of God. During the battle, when the ark was taken, the two sons of Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas, were killed. A servant told Eli what had happened to his sons, but when he heard about the ark being captured, he fell backward, broke his neck, and died. His daughter-in-law was about to give birth to a son, and when she heard of the capture of the ark and the death of Eli, Hophni, and her husband, Phinehas, she gave birth and died. She named the child Ichabod because the glory had departed from Israel, and the Philistines had taken the ark of God.

The story of Eli and his sons begins at an earlier place. Their wickedness and immorality were rooted in a single statement made by the Holy Spirit. The sons of Eli were corrupt, and they did not know the Lord. Somewhere, Eli, the high priest, failed to teach his own sons to know the Lord. Of all the sons who should have known about the Lord, the sons of Eli should have known the Lord. It is important to know how the Holy Spirit expresses the failure of Eli. It does not say Eli’s sons did not know God’s commandments. They did not know the Lord.

Commandment keeping cannot be done if someone does not first know the Lord. As a father, Eli failed to instruct his sons to have a personal relationship with God. Hophni and Phinehas grew up in the presence of God’s spokesman, and these two boys never got the lessons. The failure of Eli is the failure of many fathers who look good on Sunday and Wednesday but never teach their children to know God. Too many families live on the edge of Christianity with the failed belief that association breeds relationships. Going to church will not make a man a Christian. Keeping commandments does not create a devoted heart. Knowing the Lord is where it must begin; if a child does not know the Lord, he will fail.

There are many parents like Eli today. They bring their children to church, and as long as they get them under the water and baptized, glory be to God. The home life is anything but knowing God. What the children see and hear from the parents is not God, and the parents wonder why their children grow up without God. Eli was the high priest, and his sons were so corrupt that God killed them. As a parent, Eli did not restrain his sons but talked to them and talked to them and never made an effort to correct them. The sins of Hophni and Phinehas rest upon their shoulders but so will Eli bear the guilt of failing to teach his children to know God. Do your children know God? Really know God?

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The Holy Spirit And The Completed Revelation

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25)

In the Garden of Eden, God and man spoke directly to one another. The Lord continued to speak to men in the early days of history, giving them the law. Cain and Abel knew the importance of sacrifice. God told Noah to build the ark. Abraham heard the voice of God and followed that voice all his life. Moses communed with God as a man to a friend. When Israel received the Law of Moses, the will of God was given through the written word and taught by the priests and prophets to the people. God did not speak directly to men but only on special occasions, as in the days of Elijah and the prophets.

Before Jesus came to earth, the Holy Spirit was active in revealing the mind of God to the world, whether directly or through the word. The writers of the Old Testament were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the message of salvation down for the people to read and understand. There was never a time when men could not know the will of God, whether Jew or Gentile.

When Jesus came, the Son revealed the word of the Father, and the Holy Spirit was again active in speaking the word of the Father. At the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was declared to be part of the eternal revelation in the work of saving men. Jesus knew His work on earth was limited, but the Father planned to deliver the completed revelation to all men. The night He was betrayed, the Son of God told the eleven apostles the Holy Spirit would come to guide them into all truth and bring to remembrance the teachings of the Father.

The promise of the Helper was the final stage in preparing the world for the completed revelation of the Father. In the days of the patriarchs, God spoke to men directly. As the Law of Moses was formulated, God spoke less to men directly, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the will of the Father was revealed.

Jesus manifested the word of God in the physical form; again, the Holy Spirit was the Finger of God confirming the word. In the days of the early church, when Jesus had ascended back to the Father, the Holy Spirit took on the active role of formulating and completing a written record of the will of God so that all men could read and understand what they must do to be saved.

Miracles were given as a sign to confirm the word of the gospel. Jesus told the eleven to go into all the world and preach the word. Miracles would confirm through the Holy Spirit the message of salvation was true. On Pentecost, the Spirit inspired the twelve apostles to preach a sermon that three thousand souls would accept. The early church formed through the work of the Holy Spirit, revealing to the early saints what they must do, how they must follow the plan, and what they should teach in the name of Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth about the night Jesus gave the instructions for the Lord’s Supper. Paul was not present at the Passover of Jesus and the twelve. He was called Saul at the time and was an enemy of the disciples. When the church began to grow, Saul made his life mission to destroy the church. Through the grace of God, Saul obeyed the gospel and became one of the strongest defenders of truth. The only way he could have known what Jesus said was through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

In the early church, the word of God was revealed through the Holy Spirit and written down. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John began writing stories about Jesus. The early disciples like Paul, Peter, John, and others wrote letters and epistles to one another and to churches. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, a canon of truth was developed (including the Old Testament) that would contain the fully revealed word of God.

A time came when the Godhead (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) no longer spoke to men either directly or through inspiration. The period of miracles ceased. There was no purpose for the direct word of God to be spoken to men and for miracles because the world had a written book that was the perfection of the word of God. The mystery was revealed, the grace of God appeared, and the faith was delivered to the world in final form.

The Bible represents the final revelation of God. There are no further revelations, miracles, signs, and wonders. The Bible is the only book that is from God. Any other book (Mormon, Islam, Catechisms, new revelations) is false and the work of men. The Holy Spirit delivered God’s complete revelation to men and has withstood the attacks of humanism and doubt. God’s word remains true, and all men are liars who reject it.

The Holy Spirit completed His greatest work when He gave the world the Bible. Read it to be wise and search its pages to know how to be saved. This is the only book that will bring you to God.

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John Testifies That Jesus Died

But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of his bones shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on him whom they pierced.” (John 19:33-37)

John Testifies That Jesus Died

The death of Jesus is central to the salvation of the world. Jesus was viewed as another criminal when He was crucified between two thieves. The Jewish leadership had convinced the Romans to carry out their cowardly purpose. There was relief among the scribes and Pharisees when Jesus died, and for them, nothing changed. What they would come to realize is that when Jesus died, God died. The man in the middle was not just a man; He was the Son of God.

Stories have been told through the centuries of men and women who were considered dead but not. Science had not advanced to the clinical level of modern technology. In some ancient practices, bells were attached to coffins in case of a mistake in the diagnosis of death. Executions could fail and the accused live after suffering a horrific injury. There is a school of thought that Jesus did not die but only swooned death. His disciples resuscitated Him later and fled to Spain; Jesus married and had children. The only proof for modern man is to rely upon the testimony of those who were there when Jesus was crucified. John gives indisputable testimony that Jesus was dead.

After six grueling hours on the cross, Jesus found relief when death swallowed His life. The gospel writers say that Jesus cried with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit, and breathed His last. Because it was the Preparation Day, and the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, the Jews asked Pilate to hasten the death of Jesus. Pilate sends word to the Roman guards to break the legs of the accused. After breaking the legs of the two thieves, the soldiers come to Jesus and find that He is already dead. One of the soldiers took his spear and thrust it up through the right side of the chest. Immediately, blood and water flowed out. The Romans were surgical in the science of killing. They knew how to make a man suffer, and they knew how to confirm their victim was dead. The spear to the right side of the chest would puncture the heart and bring certain and immediate death.

When Jesus died, and the soldier thrust his sword into the side of Jesus, the apostle John witnessed that His Lord and Teacher was dead. He saw blood and water come out of the body of Jesus. There could be no reprieve or possibility of saving Jesus. The spear confirmed Jesus was dead. When John writes about the death of Jesus, he offers himself as a testimony to what he saw. There can be no doubt that Jesus died. John would later testify that Jesus was seen alive after three days. The testimony of John is indisputable proof to prove to the world that Jesus died and rose again on the third day. There is no doubt.

The blood of Jesus atoned for the sins of man and, through water, purified the soul from the stain of sin. John saw Jesus die, and he saw what the soldier did. There must have been an incredible joy for John three days later when Jesus stood before him alive and well. When Jesus showed Thomas the wound on His side, John took special note and remembered the blood and water. John saw and testified, and his testimony is true. The son of Zebedee knows that he is telling the truth. There is no doubt Jesus is the Son of God. The things John wrote were given that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

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We Are Able

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” (Matthew 20:20-22)

We Are Able

The ministry of Jesus was planned before time began. After the garden of Eden, the world needed a Savior to redeem them back to God, and Jesus was the lamb offered to bear the sins of many. The divine plan was settled in Heaven, fulfilled through the promises of a Seed, and realized in the incarnation of the Son of God. Jesus embodied the scheme of redemption. His work was laser-focused on the work of the Father. Nothing men could do or say would hinder His plan. Through the teaching of the divine plan, Jesus unfolded all the grace of His Father in the message of a spiritual kingdom, the church. His death would offer the world the blood of God’s Son as the price of salvation. Jesus knew He would die on the cross.

As Jesus made His way to Jerusalem, He took the twelve apostles aside on the road to tell them what awaited their master. They did not understand the gravity of the work of Jesus. Their hearts were focused on the here and now, unaware of how much their lives would change very shortly. Jesus was going to Jerusalem, and He would be betrayed to the chief priests and scribes. The disciples would have been shocked to know that Judas would be the one to betray Jesus. Betraying Jesus would set in motion the events leading up to His death. He would be condemned and delivered to the Romans. Jesus would be scourged and then crucified.

Everyone understood the horrific nature of crucifixion. Scourging was an incredible experience preceding crucifixion. Soldiers would use a small whip to lacerate the back of the victim, stopping short of death before placing the instrument of their own death on the back. Jesus was scourged severely by His tormentors. Then, a cross-piece was placed on His back, and He was led to Golgotha and killed. Jesus took the bitter cup of torture and suffering for the sins of the world. There would be no greater cup a man could drink than that which the Son of God bore. Jesus was innocent and free of guilt, yet He died for the sins of the world.

After Jesus told the twelve what would happen to Him in Jerusalem, the mother of James and John came asking a favor. She wanted Jesus to place James and John to sit, one on His right and the other on His left, in His kingdom. The mother of Jesus, like many mothers, wanted the best for her sons. She was bold to ask Jesus for the favor. Viewing the kingdom as so many others, the wife of Zebedee wanted greatness for her sons. James and John liked the idea as they stood listening to their mother appeal to Jesus for the favor. They knew it might cause disagreement with the other ten men, but they were first to ask.

The heart of Jesus must have sunk when He heard the request. He knew what He had come to do. It was the will of the Father that Jesus would bear the bitterest cup known to man, and here was a beautiful mother seeking the best for her sons, and they had no idea what they were asking. Jesus asked James and John if they could bear the cup He was about to bear. They confidently proclaimed they could bear the cup. Little did they know what those words would mean in a short time and how their lives would change dramatically. There was a cup they would bear, but it would not be to sit on the right and left of Jesus.

James and John thought they knew what cup bearing meant. The divine plan was yet to be revealed to them. There was a greater work they would be a part of, but nothing like what they were asking. It is not uncommon for the people of God to have the boldness to courageously embrace a task of a work, little knowing the trials that face them. Becoming a Christian is filled with joy, but there are difficult days as Satan seeks to recapture what he lost. Temptation becomes more real; difficulties are heightened, and separation from the world is a constant battle. There is a price to be paid to serve the Lord. Bearing the cup of Jesus is not an easy task. A simple request by the mother of James and John highlights the innocence of those who say, “We are able,”; and the harsh realities of what that duty means. The twelve men faced a trial. Judas killed himself. The remaining eleven drank deep of their cup and overcame.

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Teach Me

Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. … Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments … Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me Your judgments. (Psalm 119:12,26,33,64,66,68,108,124,135,171)

Teach Me

The giving of knowledge and the acceptance of that knowledge have always measured the relationship between God and man. Adam and Eve were given all they needed to know concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil, yet they chose to ignore the command. God spoke to ancient men to know His word, and the world turned away. Noah was told to build an ark. He obeyed. Abraham left his homeland at the word of the Lord. Moses wrote the Law for the people to read and understand the statutes and divine judgments. Christ came as the living word dwelling among men, showing God’s power. The world killed Him. In the first century, disciples learned the divine will of Christ, writing letters to one another, which became the divine canon. God has never left men without His will. The challenge has been whether the human heart is willing to learn from the holy word.

Psalm 119 is a powerful testimony to the word of God. The writer extols the virtue of knowledge that comes from the Lord. God’s word is likened to a path to walk, seeking the ways of the Lord. There is no lacking for the word of the Lord but what is lacking is the heart desiring to learn more about the will of God. Ten times in Psalm 119, the writer seeks the wisdom of God to teach him the holy statutes, what is good judgment and knowledge, and to understand the divine judgments. There was a deep longing to know God, learn of His will, seek His paths, and be taught by the mercy and grace of a benevolent Father.

“Teach me” is a plea to ask God’s blessings upon the individual. The statutes or laws of God must be learned. There is also an expectation of obedience. Learning the statutes of God comes from a heart wanting to please the Father. In keeping the statutes of God, the writer promises to keep God’s word to the end. There is much in the world to seek, but there is only one prized glory that is eternal: the statutes of God. Knowing the law of God requires having good judgment. The word of God must be understood to apply knowledge and believe in the commandments of the holy word.

God is good, and He does good. Seeking the Lord desires to find that goodness and make it a part of life. Being taught the word of God finds its full expression in worship when free will offerings are given for God’s glory. Forgiveness comes from the Lord upon those taught by God’s word. The greatest joy a man can experience is when the face of the Lord shines upon him, and he knows the will of the Father. As a result of this learning, the lips will sing praise to God for such knowledge.

There are many things to ask of God. The greatest joy comes when the prayerful heart asks God to teach them to know His statutes, judgments, and knowledge. Bible study is vital to that growth, but it can only come from hearts that desire divine guidance. The Christian is a disciple of Jesus, seeking to know more and more each day. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Pray God – teach me.

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There Will Always Be

For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. (Mark 14:7)

There Will Always Be

The world has existed for thousands of years, and one thing has remained a constant from the day Adam and Eve walked out of the garden. Generations change, nations rise and fall, and technology advances, but there will always be parts of life that remain unchanged. Jesus said the poor will always be a part of the fabric of life. There are movements in every aspect of history where men seek to end poverty, but it always is found in the world in one form or another. Henry IV of France promised his citizens a chicken in their pots every Sunday. In 1928, the Republican party seeking to elect Herbert Hoover to office promised a chicken in every pot and a car in every backyard. About ten percent of the world lives in poverty.

There will always be wars and rumors of wars. World War I was supposed to be the war that ended all wars, but twenty-one years after the first world war, a second and much larger world war gripped the world for six years. And wars continued in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. There will always be despots who have no conscience of killing others and taking their lands, and there is nothing the United Nations can do to stop wars. In communities around the globe, crime is an individual war against neighbors. There are many programs seeking to mitigate criminal behavior, but there will always be drugs, prostitution, pornography, rape, murder, abuse, and child neglect; to name a few. Law enforcement agencies will continue to monitor and seek to control the flow of crime, and courts will fill with defendants charged with crimes. It will never end.

Sickness grips the world. Advances in medical science have changed the course of many diseases, but there will always be illness and death. Some illnesses can be treated and almost eradicated. The common cold still seeks a cure. Many forms of cancer are treatable, but cancer still kills thousands. The disorders of the body bring about dementia, coronary disease, blindness, COVID, diabetes, and a host of medical conditions, but sickness will always be a part of life. The common denominator that every person on earth shares in common is the reality of death. There is nothing man can do to stop death. He can lengthen life by a short span, but he will never be able to prevent death. Cemeteries are vacant appointments waiting to be filled.

There will never be peace on earth, but it is possible to have peace on earth. The world is unchanged from the day sin entered the world. God created a world of perfect harmony without sickness, war, hatred, immorality, and death. Sin changed that. The cause of the problems of humanity comes from the consequence of sin. Death comes to all men because the tree of life given in the garden of Eden was taken away. Sin corrupted the hearts of men to kill one another. The first man born in the world killed his brother. In the days of Noah, the world was so evil God killed all life except eight souls and a barge full of animals. The flood did not stop sin or alleviate the problems of men. History continued to tell stories of famine, wars, and murder.

Jesus Christ did not come into the world to take away poverty, sickness, and wars. He came into the world to take away the pain of sin and bring peace to a troubled world. Men still die, but now they die with hope. Wars still scorch the landscape, and in Christ, joy is found in the promises of the King of Kings. Sickness remains a constant in life. Through prayer and the joy of salvation, death is faced with courage, faith, and hope. Only in Jesus Christ can the trials of life be recognized for what they are, and the heavenly wisdom directs the soul of man to live in the hope of eternal life. There will always be, but one day there will come a time when all those unchangeable parts of life will go away. Jesus Christ will come to take His saints home as the world comes to an end. There will be no more wars. The plague of sickness will end. Joy will fill the hearts of the redeemed. And there we will always be with the Lord.

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When Sunday Becomes An Option

Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. (Acts 20:7)

When Sunday Becomes An Option

The early disciples did not have two thousand years of history to understand the pattern of the church. They were blessed to live at the same time as Jesus Christ, with many of the saints eyewitnesses to the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of God’s Son. When the church began at Pentecost, what did the saints do? Luke writes that the first Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer. There was no question in the minds of the first disciples about what they must do and when they must do it. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church began to meet on the first day of the week to worship in accordance with God’s divine plan. Throughout the acts of the apostles, the pattern of the New Testament church revealed itself in a specific pattern and design. The focal point of the worship was the first day of the week.

Troas, a city located on the coast of Mysia, was a regular port of call on coasting voyages between Macedonia and Asia. Paul visited the city often and, on his third mission work, arrived in the city to meet with the brethren on the first day of the week. The disciples gathered to break bread and to hear a sermon by Paul. This was a regular pattern for the saints at Troas, as it was with all the saints who met in churches throughout the world.

One of the early characteristics of the disciples of Christ was the frequency of gathering on the first day of the week. This was not culture or tradition but a command of God. When Jesus instituted the supper, He gave the early church a memorial commemorating the day He would rise from the dead. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Under the Law of Moses, the seventh day of the week was a holy day God gave as a day of remembrance. The Law was taken away (including the Sabbath) and the Lord’s Day became the first day of the week. In the modern era, the first day of the week is Sunday. This is the day God ordained as a day of remembrance and memorial to the sacrifice of His Son.

There are numerous references to the early saints meeting on the first day of the week. The first Christians were Jews, but they learned the new covenant was now the first day rather than the seventh day. There does not seem to be any confusion or dissension about the day that now must be celebrated. Later, the writer of Hebrews would exhort those saints not to forsake the assembly with reference to the first day of the week. When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he upbraided their abuse of the Lord’s Supper in how they abused the memorial. He reminded them that when they came together, it was for the wrong reasons, and they needed to see the warning from God to ignore the memorial feast of Jesus Christ. There were penalties attached to taking the supper in an unworthy manner; consider the penalty for not being present to take the supper.

The church has celebrated the Lord’s Supper for two thousand years and will continue to do so every first day of the week until the Lord returns. Authority establishes the purpose of the supper and the frequency. To deny the Lord’s Supper is to deny the will of God. The church has constantly been challenged by the unfaithful who deny the relevance and importance of the first day of the week. Some in the body of Christ feel satisfied to miss the services of God’s people on the first day of the week for many reasons. Almost any excuse will keep people at home. Monday morning, they will be at work with headaches and body aches but not so on the Lord’s day.

Faith is marginalized when the first day of the week becomes an option. How can a child of God view Sunday as an option? There were no options given under the Law of Moses for the Sabbath. On one occasion, a man was stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. How much worse punishment for those who ignore the first day of the week with excuses, complaints, and blatant disregard? COVID did not change the mind of God to allow His children to “worship” at home as an act of convenience. Jesus died a horrible death. Is the least we can do found on the first day of the week?

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The Holy Spirit And The Christian

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:37-39)

The Holy Spirit And The Christian

When God gave the world His Son, He also gave the world a gift that would last until the end of time. It was not a one-time gift or an obscure offering. There are many questions about the mechanics of the gift in how it manifests itself, but one thing is certain from scripture: the gift of the Holy Spirit is a blessing given to the people of God. The Holy Spirit and the Christian generate more questions left unanswered than most subjects of holy writ. There are many false views about the relationship, but sometimes in defense of the truth, the blessing of the gift of God is cast out as the baby with the bathwater. One extreme view of the Christian and interaction with the Spirit has deluded the reality of the truth of a deep and abiding (personal) connection with the Holy Spirit. An examination of the scriptures will not support some mystic better felt than told experience. All of the first century Christians experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit. For all those who make a covenant with God, the gift of the Holy Spirit is a promise.

The relationship of the Spirit with the Christian is harmonious with the teachings of scripture. As a part of the revelation of the gospel, the Spirit completes the work of God in the heart of His children. Sometimes terminologies confuse the issue when the heart is prejudiced towards a false doctrine. Saying there is such a thing as the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” does not, by definition, teach false doctrine. The word of God is abundant in statements of the indwelling. Because false doctrines mistakenly use the terms to define an experience outside the authority of the word as the indwelling, many shrink away from using terms defined by the Spirit.

On the day of Pentecost, the twelve apostles preached the gospel of a resurrected Jesus to an audience of devout Jews. The Holy Spirit was not a new doctrine to the Jews, and they would have been quite familiar with the Spirit. David expressed a strong desire for God not to take away the Spirit from him when he pled his repentance for the sin with Bathsheba. The Holy Spirit was not absent in the Old Testament. He was active in the lives of God’s people. When the Jews responded to the preaching of Peter and the eleven, they begged Peter to tell them what they must do. The apostle told them to repent and be baptized. Obedience would wash away their sins, and by the grace of God, they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Emphasis is always given to repentance and baptism (and rightfully so), but when three thousand Jews repented and accepted baptism to wash away their sins, did they ignore the part of Peter’s reply about receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit? If the Holy Spirit was such a new doctrine to these devout Jews, why would they accept the statement of Peter without confirmation? In whatever form they knew the Holy Spirit, they also accepted the gift of God to receive the Holy Spirit as part of their salvation.

Peter promised that all who repented and were baptized for the remission of sins would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Three thousand people received the gift of the Holy Spirit. They did not begin to roll around on the floor or speak in an unknown language or gibberish. Hearing the word of the gospel, their hearts were pricked with guilt, and they sought salvation. In their obedience, God washed away their sins, and the Holy Spirit began to dwell within their hearts through faith. The gift of the Holy Spirit was not dependent on the words of the New Testament – it had not been written yet. What the three thousand received on that day was a gift of God to dwell in a spiritual union with the Father. The Spirit is not the same as the word. The first Christians received something apart from the word of the New Testament. God gives the Holy Spirit to all who obey Him.

The apostle Paul would write extensively about the Holy Spirit. In writing to the Roman Christians, Paul established a clear thesis of the relationship between the Christian and the Holy Spirit as an indwelling. Living according to the Spirit is a personal experience shared between the child of God and the Spirit. As the Spirit stands before the Father, He testifies to the individual’s covenant as a child of God. The Holy Spirit is a helper seeking to increase the faith and help the Christian overcome weaknesses. There is a relationship between the Christian and Spirit the world can never understand. The influence of the Spirit is measured by the same influence as the Father and Son. God could make a man do something without his control, but He does not. Jesus can influence a man to speak in tongues, but He does not. If the Father and the Son will not overpower a man in some charismatic and powerful way, why would anyone expect the Holy Spirit to do what God and Jesus will not do? He dwells in the Christian, but the will of the man measures the work of the Spirit in his life.

Christians are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Established by Jesus Christ, anointed by God, and sealed by the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee is the greatest gift of salvation. This all comes about by hearing the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and having believed, are sealed with the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit is an earnest pledge of the promise of God. As the song repeats, “A foretaste of what is to come.” The Holy Spirit helps with the infirmities of the Christian, giving life to the body in the resurrection, and filling the heart with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If you live in the Spirit – walk in the Spirit.

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The Hireling Christian

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. (John 10:11-13)

The Hireling Christian

Sheep require constant care under the watchful eye of a shepherd who depends on his flock for many of life’s needs. Keeping sheep was not a hobby for those in Biblical times but a daily need of caring, tending, protecting, and leading to green pastures and still water. The life of a shepherd was hard. Constant threats of bears and lions keep the shepherd on guard. Every sheep was important to the family’s income, and if one sheep was lost, it was a tragedy. A good shepherd would do everything in his power to protect his flock. King David kept his father’s sheep when he was a boy. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, David would go after it and strike it on the head to deliver it. If the bear rose up against David, he would grab it by its beard, strike, and kill it. There was no fear of the young shepherd boy to give his life for his father’s flock.

On occasion, a family would hire a man to keep the sheep. He was called a hireling, which means he was hired to watch over the sheep. His job was to be employed for a limited time and receive a payment at the end of the watch. He had little concern for the sheep as his job was a paid observation of a flock that was not his own. The only thing he considered necessary was what he got out of the employment. If a wolf came up against the flock, he would not give his life for something he had no commitment or reward for and would flee. The wolf would take whatever he wanted, and the flock would be scattered. Hirelings are not devoted to the work. Unlike the shepherd, who is committed to the protection and care of the flock, the hireling is just a temporary part of the work with little or no interest in the outcome.

Jesus explained to the Pharisees that He was a good shepherd willing to give His life for the flock. The purpose of the Son of God coming to earth was to give His life as a ransom for all. Jesus was willing to die for the flock. He died on the cross for every man because He was the good shepherd who gave His life without compulsion. No one forced Jesus to die. He gave His life of His own accord. Unlike David, who took the bear by the beard and killed him, Jesus took the beard of Satan and died. But God had a greater plan to raise His Son from the dead to destroy the works of the devil and accomplish salvation for all those who would come to Him. Jesus gave a full sacrifice as the good shepherd.

The Christian is a disciple or follower of Jesus. Like the good shepherd, the child of God is to be committed fully to the work of the Lord. This requires a heart willing to give time, energy, and devotion to the work of the Lord. God desires to have shepherd Christians dedicated to the kingdom’s work without reservation. Hireling Christians are half-hearted in their desire to grow, encourage, share the gospel, and become better kingdom citizens. There is a sense of doing as little as required and less if expected. Hireling Christians never reach the point of dedication to Christ. Their hearts are just not in it. They attend sporadically, if much at all. The Bible is never opened, and prayer is never a part of life. Life for the hireling Christian is doing as little as possible.

Jesus was the good shepherd leaving an example for the Christian to become a shepherd Christian. When the ewe lamb is born, he must learn to trust in the good shepherd’s voice. As he grows in Christ, the lamb becomes a shepherd in the kingdom of God, looking out for others and doing the will of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Hirelings are not committed and run at the first sign of danger. Shepherd Christians are willing to lay down their lives for the work of the kingdom.

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Blessings Come From How Many Vessels You Have

A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.” So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” (2 Kings 4:1-4)

Blessings Come From How Many Vessels You Have

The northern kingdom of Israel never had a righteous king. From Jeroboam to the final king, Hoshea, the land of Israel was filled with evil, ungodliness, immorality, human sacrifice, and all the trappings of idolatry. God sent His prophets to warn the people of His wrath if they did not repent. Two of the great prophets of the northern kingdom were Elijah and Elisha. During great times of world conflict, the Lord would send His messengers with the power of the Holy Spirit to work miracles and signs among the people showing His judgment on sin. Elisha was a prophet sent by God to show the people the way of truth.

There was a widow in the land who, like many of the day, suffered under the hand of God’s judgment on the wicked nation. The widow was left destitute when her husband died with two sons to raise. Evil men did not pity the widow, declaring her sons would become enslaved to pay the debt she owed. Pleading to Elisha for help, she asked for blessings on the sons of her husband, a prophet. All the widow had to sustain her was a jar of oil. Elisha could have made money appear, or he could have persuaded the creditors to leave her family alone. There were many things the prophet could have done to alleviate the woman’s plight. He tells her to gather as many vessels as possible from friends and neighbors. Elisha exhorts her to gather many vessels and not just a few. The widow follows the prophet’s instructions with little idea of how that would help her cause.

Elisha instructs the widow to gather all the vessels in the room and shut the door. She is to take the one jar of oil and begin pouring it into all the empty vessels until they are full and set them aside. Pouring the oil into the vessels, she fills all the containers until there are no more jars to fill, and the oil ceases. The widow takes some of the oil, pays her creditors, and uses the remaining oil to live on. Elisha instructed the widow to gather as many vessels as she could. The amount of her blessings was dependent on how many vessels she could secure. If she had gathered a few, her blessings would have been few. Collecting as much as she could, her blessings abounded.

The story of the widow’s oil is a story about the blessings of God. All men are impoverished and subject to the slavery of sin. Jesus came to give the abundant life, but the blessings can only be measured by how much a man is willing to seek the blessings of God. Too often, only a few vessels are gathered or none at all. So many blessings are waiting for the child of God that go unused and unasked for. The storehouse of God’s blessings is endless, and all a man has to do is to gather all the vessels of his life he can find and ask God to fill them. And the Lord will fill them. Seeking the blessings of God is where the joy of the Christian life is.

God is willing and able to fill the vessels of life with the abundance of heavenly oil. He could give His blessings without any effort on our part, but we have to gather those vessels. Proportionate to our seeking vessels to fill is where our blessings come. If we gather little, we are blessed little. When we gather much, we are blessed much. Examine how often you seek the empty vessels of life for God to fill. Those vessels represent our faith, our marriages, our families, our jobs, and the work of sharing the gospel with others. Jesus said those who seek, find, and those who ask, receive. How many vessels do you have?

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I Love Money

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

I Love Money

The need for currency has always moved the world in commerce and economic growth. There have been many versions of how the exchange was represented, whether by barter, coins, oil, paper, or land, but the outcome was the same. Transactions between parties were sealed in one form or another. The token used as money served as a legal tender that an item had exchanged hands. Early man worked in metallurgy which, from the beginning of time, established the use of coins as money. The Chinese introduced paper as a means of money. Modern technologies introduced electronic versions of currency in different forms. The mechanism of currency has changed since the beginning of time, but one thing has remained a constant: covetousness and greed.

Man is the only creature that will kill another over a coin or piece of paper. A bear will walk along a river seeking food and stumble across vast amounts of gold but will pay no heed or concern to the glittering mineral shining in the water. He only wants to find his next meal. A man will walk the same river and discover gold, and his life will change. The heart fills with a strong desire to find more and more, consuming the man with a feverous passion. He will guard his stake with all of his life. How many men have been killed over the possession of money? Lotteries are heralded as opportunities to have instant wealth in the millions of dollars, reaching as high as $1.586 billion. Money is not the evil no more than gold in a river. The love man places on currency is where sin and degradation begin.

Paul warns the people of God to refrain from the desire and love of money. The Holy Spirit never condemns wealth. Many of God’s greatest servants were very wealthy. Abraham, Job, Solomon, Matthew, and probably Paul himself before he became a Christian. Money is a necessary part of life that allows a man to work and provide for his family. In the early church, the disciples helped one another in need. Collections were taken up weekly to help support the work of the church. The desire to be rich comes from a heart filled with covetousness. God wants His people to be content with what they have. Desiring to have wealth can destroy a soul. Loving money takes away the heart of love devoted to God. Because of the love of material things, children of God have abandoned their faith and worshiped the dollar more than the Lord.

Loving money is misusing the blessings given by God. Currency is a form of exchange to provide for a family and to help others. The Christian works to provide for his own and seek opportunities to share what he has with those in need. Jesus told the story of a rich man that was blessed beyond measure seeking to store his crops in new barns. The failure of the man’s heart was his unwillingness to share with others. God called him a fool. Anyone seeking money is a fool because money has no value to a dead man. The wealthiest man in the world will die and take nothing with him. Sadly, many Christians waste their lives seeking after the wealth of the world rather than the riches of eternal life. Loving money invites disaster. Allowing the love of money to consume the heart will lead to all things unholy. Love God. Use His blessings to glorify Him.

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The Holy Spirit In Conversion

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-3)

The Holy Spirit In Conversion

When God created Adam and Eve, He instilled in them the quality of moral choice to make judgments and decisions. Created in the image of the Divine, Adam and Eve were not like animals with no eternal nature and could not make moral choices. God placed the man and woman in the garden with instructions to care for the garden and eat any fruit found in abundance. The only exception was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden for them to eat. It was in the midst of the garden, placed next to the tree of life. Adam and Eve understood the Lord’s word to eat all of the fruit of the garden (including the tree of life) but not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Satan knew he must find a way to win over the creation of God. He began with the woman convincing her the limitations of God were unfair and that she had the moral choice to do as she desired. When Eve looked at the fruit that was something to make her wise, good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, she took of the fruit. Adam also took the fruit as a free moral agent to choose what he could and could not do. Immediately, the eyes of both of them were open, and they knew they were naked. Their choice had opened the doors of sin to enter the world. Satan never touched Adam and Eve. He did not force them to make a choice. All that Satan did was whisper in the ear of Eve the lie, causing the woman’s moral compass to focus on her wants and needs. Adam followed suit.

When God told Noah the world would be destroyed with a great flood and all of humanity would be destroyed except his family, the Lord was reacting to the moral corruption of the heart of men. After Adam and Eve were cast from the garden, men continued to have the ability of moral choice. Because of the overpowering influence of sin, the heart of mankind grew so wicked they could only imagine evil and wickedness. God did not destroy the world because men were without excuse. The righteousness of the Creator killed everyone save the eight in the ark because the world had chosen to rebel against the word of the Lord. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord through faith measured by the mercy of God. The salvation of Noah was his faith, moving him with godly fear to obey the word of the Lord. God did not force the people to sin nor force Noah to be saved.

Conversion is to change a thing or person into something else. Corn can be turned into many wonderful foods. A tree is cut down and becomes paper through an extensive process. Converting the corn and the tree is a process of change for something of greater value. From the beginning, men have converted their lives into the image of the Father. In a Biblical sense, conversion is when a man uses his moral compass to make a moral decision to accept the word of the Lord. Noah was converted to the truth of God sometime in his life. Living in such a wicked world highlights the incredible nature of Noah’s conversion and would be true of his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law. Conversion is found in the faithful Israelites who believed in God’s word and obeyed God’s commands. David was a believer in the power of God, and at one point in his life, he changed his heart to be fully devoted to God.

In the New Testament, conversion is characterized by those who hear the gospel of Christ, believe it, and obey the message of grace. The Holy Spirit is a vital part of that conversion, as He was with Noah, David, and all those in the Old Testament. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born of the Spirit and the water showing the relationship of the Holy Spirit to conversion. There is nothing miraculous about conversion. God never forces someone to obey him or reject Him. The Holy Spirit is the agency in which the word of God works in the heart of the lost to show them the light of Jesus Christ. False doctrines assume the Holy Spirit forces His will on men – that is impossible because God will never allow such. Man is a free moral agent responsible for his decisions – good or bad.

Ferrell Jenkins points out that conversion is experienced in the new birth when one is washed in regeneration, made alive in Christ, and obedient to the word of God (faith). There must be purification of the heart by faith, a change of life by repentance, and a change of state or relationship by baptism. All of these are accomplished through the individual’s moral choice to accept the word of God. The Holy Spirit works as the means through which the grace of God is made possible for those facing God’s wrath to be saved. Jenkins illustrates: a man is drowning. A man on shore throws a rope to save the man. The drowning man grabs the rope and is pulled to shore. What saved him? The man casting the rope? The rope itself? The man taking hold of the rope? All had a part! The Holy Spirit convicts and converts, but He acts through the agency or instrumentality of divine truth. There is no difference in how God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son work in the conversion of the lost.

Conversion is a choice made by a man through the agency of the working of the Holy Spirit. If a man does not obey the gospel, the Holy Spirit cannot be blamed. When a man does accept the teaching of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit helps to guide and instruct when the will of the man humbles itself to the will of the Father. Peter told those gathered on Pentecost to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. He also told them they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is not a miraculous gift or manifestation. It is the blessing of God through the Holy Spirit that a man becomes a child of God, cleansed and purified to walk with the Father. Thank you, Holy Spirit.

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Sacrifice Is Worship

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:1-5)

Sacrifice Is Worship

The testing of Abraham highlighted the confidence God had in His servant and the trust and faith Abraham had in his Lord. When men are tested, they face overwhelming odds in many ways. The testing of physical strength requires men of robust character to win the prize. Testing one for knowledge can task the mind beyond comprehension. The spiritual challenge from the devil is a constant source of affliction. Little in life does not present itself as a test of the will of the human spirit.

Abraham had incredible faith. At the age of seventy-five, he obeyed God when he was told to leave his family and go to a place that God would show him. He obeyed, not knowing where he was going. The Lord promised Abraham a son. In the days of Abraham, men of seventy-five and above would not be considered candidates for fathering a child. God told Abraham he would have a son by his wife, Sarah, who was ten years younger. The fulfillment of that promise came when Abraham was one hundred years of age. Sarah gave birth to a healthy baby boy when she was ninety. Only by the power of God could the joy of birth be shared by two people beyond the age of childbearing. Abraham did not waver. He believed in the promise of God.

It is uncertain how old Isaac was when the Lord came to Abraham and gave him the greatest test of his life. Isaac was not an infant, and while the age is not given, Abraham calls him a lad. God told Abraham to go to the land of Moriah and offer his only begotten son as a burnt offering to the Lord. Early the following day, Abraham takes Isaac and two servants and begins the journey to Moriah. It takes three days to complete the trip. Abraham knew for three days what he would do with his beloved son. There would be a natural affinity for a man to cherish a son that was a miracle birth. As Abraham watched Isaac grow from infancy to adolescence, his heart filled with love and joy. There was a special bond between the aged parents of the young child. But God demanded a burnt offering, and that sacrifice was the son of Abraham.

The man of God thought of what needed to be done to sacrifice Isaac. The two of them would ascend the mountain told them by God. They would carry the wood and the fire to prepare the offering. Using rocks and sticks from the mountain, Abraham and Isaac would build an altar to the Lord. Abraham knew Isaac would ask what the purpose of the journey was and, when it came time to sacrifice, where they would get the offering. God told Abraham to offer Isaac, and Abraham fully planned to bind his son, put him on the altar, and kill him. After killing his son, Abraham would set the wood on fire and watch the flames consume his only begotten son. While his heart grieved at the sight of his dead son burning, he would not waver in his obedience.

When Abraham ascended the mountain, he told his servants he and Isaac were going to worship the Lord, and they would return. Abraham knew what was going to happen. He would kill his son, offer him as a burnt offering, and the Lord would raise his son from the dead. Then, he and Isaac would come down from the mountain and return home. In the mind of Abraham, that was worship. Worship was not a casual experience of a bored mind going through rituals long held by traditional culture. Abraham was obedient to the word of the Lord in his willingness to kill his son, believing in the power of God to raise him from the dead. The Lord did not permit Abraham to kill Isaac and offered another sacrifice. Worship is God giving His only begotten Son to die so that you and I would not suffer. Our worship is the faith of Abraham. We believe we will ascend the mountain and give everything to the Lord we love and serve with all our hearts. Until that heart is created in the mind of the child of God, worship is empty. Worship is obedience, and obedience manifests our worship of the Lord God Almighty.

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He Was Famous

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. (Matthew 4:23-25)

He Was Famous

The beginning of the ministry of Jesus was remarkable. His preaching was filled with authority, grace, love, sternness, and wisdom. Multitudes in the thousands flocked to Him on the mountain, by the sea, and in many homes. The people had not heard the preaching the man from Nazareth brought to their synagogues. His style was appealing. The Jewish leaders were astonished a man of low upbringing was so wise. Great multitudes followed Jesus from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. Everyone wanted to hear what the man from Nazareth said.

Not only did Jesus teach the gospel of the kingdom in the synagogues, but He also healed all kinds of sickness and disease among the people. Blind men received their sight. Women with life-threatening infirmities found immediate relief. Young children crippled by disease were made whole again. Lepers were released from the bondage of a crippling illness. There was nothing Jesus of Nazareth could not heal as the multitudes crowded around Him for healing. Dead were raised. All who came to Jesus found relief through His healing hand. During the ministry of Jesus, men and women suffered the cruel hand of demon possession. Jesus cast out the demons. Epileptics found relief in the hand of Jesus. Paralytics received strength in their bodies to be whole again. Jesus healed them. The fame of the Healer spread throughout the land, with thousands coming to Him.

It could be said there was no one as famous as Jesus of Nazareth. The power of God was evident in the ministry of Jesus, and the people looked to Him with eyes of fame. Everyone knew the name of Jesus. He was a teacher and a healer. Thousands walked away from Jesus, fully healed of any disease returning home to the surprise of family and friends. The fame of Jesus reached the ears of the Jewish leaders and the Roman governors. Jesus of Nazareth was an anomaly that was worthy of investigation. The early days of Jesus were filled with fame that propelled Him to the front page of every city and town. There was confusion about how a man from Nazareth could be such a learned man exhibiting such great power, but there was never a doubt about the miracles, and no one could refute His teaching. For a brief time, Jesus was famous. And then they killed Him.

Fame is as fleeting as water spilled on the ground. Jesus did not seek fame, and it was not His mission to be received by the people as a person of historical importance as men seek fame. His purpose was not to take away disease and sickness. It was not the will of the Father that Jesus was raised up as a deliverer from the bondage of the Romans. There would be no awards or commendations for the man from Nazareth. No one would raise a statue in His name in the city square of Nazareth. The teacher from Galilee who enjoyed a brief time of fame was killed as a criminal at the insistence of His own people. A handful of disciples mourned his death. Few people paid attention when Jesus of Nazareth died on a hill outside Jerusalem. Two wealthy men buried the criminal in a tomb. The world took no notice of the once famous man who was now nothing but a passing notation of a failed life. And then Sunday came.

The fame of Jesus was in response to the fickle notions of human frivolity that lifted a man up for a moment and then destroyed Him. Jesus came to die. It was not His intent to be famous but to be found. Disease, sickness, and wars have continued for two thousand years, but the teachings of Jesus remain as the testimony to His purpose in coming to earth. He came to bring the gospel of salvation to heal the souls of men. There is no fame in being a servant. Accolades will not come from a cruel world objecting to the gospel. Men who seek fame in this life will not be found in eternal life. Those who seek mercy in the gospel of Christ find peace. Jesus was famous, but that is not what He wanted. The Lord desires a heart that is open to the Word and a spirit that is willing to obey. What will it profit a man if he gains all the glory of the world and loses his soul?

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The Holy Spirit And His Gifts

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

The Holy Spirit And His Gifts

The building blocks of the early church are made up of the necessary ingredients for the expansion and growth of the church. Jesus gave the apostles the commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel of Christ. Considering the magnitude of their work, the twelve men could not have accomplished much without divine help. On the night He was betrayed, Jesus spoke to eleven of His apostles about a Helper He would send to guide them and instruct them concerning the kingdom of God. These words were hollow at first, as the eleven could not imagine what would happen to Jesus. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the eleven and spent forty days with them. During that time, He gave them the Holy Spirit to forgive sins. On the day of Pentecost, after a twelfth apostle was chosen, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles with manifold power from on high. It was so unusual; it startled the thousands of people assembled as they witnessed the power of God on twelve men from Galilee.

Early church growth was necessary for the survival of the church. God did not leave the twelve without the power to spread the gospel quickly from Jerusalem, Judea, and the uttermost parts of the earth. Paul would later declare in his letter to Colosse the gospel had gone into all the world. This was not by accident or chance. It was the work of the Holy Spirit through the agency of disciples. The tools at the disposal of the early church prolificated the message of salvation to Jews and Gentiles. What is remarkable about the gifts of the Holy Spirit is how effectively the signs, wonders, and miracles confirmed the word, which in turn helped lost souls find Christ.

Jesus sent the disciples to teach the word, and through the accompanying signs, the word would be confirmed that it was from God. The signs were to accompany those who believed, and the Lord worked with them, confirming the word. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, the special gifts were given to men to possess knowledge, wisdom, and faith. Healings of all kinds (without limitation) would be shown through the hands of those given the gifts. Miracles accompanied the word showing the speaker was declaring the divine truth. Prophecies and discerning of spirits helped to mold and confirmed the word.

One of the significant challenges facing twelve Jewish men was to carry the gospel to a world filled with many different languages. On the day of Pentecost, there were people from Parthia, including the Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs. Twelve Jewish preachers could not possess the knowledge or ability to speak in so many languages. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Matthew could speak any language he came upon. Imagine the ability to spread the gospel throughout the Roman Empire unhindered by the many national languages the disciples would face.

The Holy Spirit gave gifts to the early church as scaffolding is used to build a building. When the church matured with the complete revelation of God’s will in written form, there was no need for the spiritual gifts. Paul reminded the saints at Corinth that the work of the Holy Spirit was limited. When the fully revealed word of God was given, the gifts of the Holy Spirit would cease. There was no longer a need for signs, wonders, and miracles. The Bible is now the perfect gift of the Holy Spirit that any person in any language can read and understand the fellowship of the mystery now revealed by the Father. God revealed Himself as the prominent part of the Godhead in the Old Testament. Jesus fully revealed Himself in the gospels declaring His deity. Finally, the Holy Spirit imprinted His image on the hearts of the early church through the pages of the epistles and John’s revelation. The Holy Spirit moved and shaped the course of the church as we know it today.

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Voices From The Past

My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life. (Proverbs 6:20-23)

Voices From The Past

According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest recorded human voice is a ten-second fragment of the French folk song ‘Au Clair de la Lune.’ It was recorded on 9 April 1860 by inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (France). Technology has advanced in light years from that simple recording to a time when the video is broadcast immediately from any place on the earth and occasionally from outer space. The marvel of the spoken word no longer enthralls its listeners. Smartphones have made the ability to record and listen to others as a social media platform an everyday occurrence.

Thousands of years were silent in the ability to hear voices from the past. Manuscripts, monuments, books, and thousands of written forms have been preserved but have no voice. Imagine what it would be like to hear the voices of Abraham, David, Amos, John the Baptist, the apostles, and of course, Jesus Christ. The inflections of the voice would be heard for the first time. It would be impossible for most to understand the dialect or language as humanity has developed through the eons of time. There would be a special fascination in hearing the many voices of those in the past. In the past century, many notable people have been preserved through sound and video. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s stirring speech declared war after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Winston Churchill’s resounding words of courage in the face of the Nazi blitz. History preserved.

The wise man, Solomon, spoke of a voice he heard in his life that molded him and guided him. It was not a recording of a scratching cassette tape or video of a family member. Solomon reminded the wise son to keep his father’s commands and not forsake his mother’s law. He exhorts young people to bind upon the heart and tie around the neck the words of righteous parents. The voice may lay silent in the grave, but the words of godly advice continually guide the spirit. There are many dangers in the world, and often the only barrier between truth and folly is the voice of a parent speaking words of God to guide the heart. Binding the words of God upon the heart will guide a man’s life no matter how old he becomes. The joy of godly example is the power of persuasion throughout life.

Parents leave a legacy to their children, good or bad. It is incumbent upon the father and mother to leave a clear pathway for the child to follow that leads them to heaven. This will be the voice that transcends the years of time guiding that child’s heart. The voice may never be heard with the human ear. Listening to parents who love the Lord will always resonate in the tender hearts of those whose that voice has trained. Having voices from the past filled with the love of God will be a blessing for the next generation. Make certain the voice you leave will lead people to heaven. Especially make sure your children are guided by your voice to seek eternal life. Leave a legacy. Give them the voice of God.

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The Fickle Crowd

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” (Mark 10:47-49)

The Fickle Crowd

Jericho was about nineteen miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jesus has spent time there and is making His way to Jerusalem, where He will soon be arrested and crucified. He knows His hour has come and begins preparing for the journey to His death. On the way, He interacts with a blind man named Bartimaeus. When Bartimaeus heard Jesus coming down the road, he cried out to the Lord for mercy. By unseen faith, the blind man believed Jesus of Nazareth could heal his blindness. The faith of Bartimaeus was remarkable for the power of healing he believed could be imparted by the man from Nazareth. As he called out to Jesus, the crowd warned him to be quiet. He persisted and refused to stop calling out to Jesus. The only one who could see the power of Jesus was the blind man as the crowds sought to crush his faith.

When Jesus called for Bartimaeus to come to Him, the crowd encouraged the blind man to be happy and go to Jesus. They were excited. Jesus stopped to speak to the blind man. Seeing Jesus’ interest in the man by the road, the multitudes changed their minds and urged the man to go and see Jesus. Bartimaeus arose and went to Jesus. Seeking the grace of healing from the man from Nazareth, Bartimaeus received his sight. As Jesus turned toward Jerusalem, Bartimaeus followed Him. Tragically, the healer of the blind man would be murdered by a crowd blind to the power of the Son of God shortly after that. How did Bartimaeus take the death of Jesus? The Holy Spirit does not reveal, but it must have been a devastating blow.

As Bartimaeus called out to Jesus, the crowd sought to scold him. They must have tried to dissuade the blind man from bothering Jesus. If Bartimaeus had listened to the multitude and given in to their warnings, Jesus would have passed by, the blind man would remain blind, and Jesus would never come that way again. Listening to the crowd is a great temptation. If everyone were yelling to be quiet and not to bother the man from Nazareth, it would be easy to be swayed by the fickle nature of their taunting. Within moments of ridiculing the man, the crowd becomes a great swelling audience of encouragement. They changed their tune from rebuking to exhorting. That is the way human nature works. One moment, the crowd is putting a man down, and the next, they are seeking to be part of the joy.

Human wisdom is indecisive because of the erratic way it seeks to solve the problem. God created man to be a needy creature that cannot care for itself. Often throughout scripture, human nature is related to the character of a sheep. The sheep are indefensible, incapable of caring for themselves, and helpless. It is not in man to know how to walk with direction. In the story of Bartimaeus is found the fickle reality of human wisdom cannot be trusted. Thankfully, the blind man did not listen to the crowd. He believed with all his heart; Jesus could heal him of blindness. No one and nothing would hinder him from what he believed – including the multitudes who told him to be quiet. Here is the takeaway: do not listen to the crowd. Believe in the power of God to heal you and cleanse you. Do not let anyone keep you from believing what the Lord has given in His word. Your eternal life will depend on it.

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Wrong Views Of God

So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.” (Exodus 5:22-23)

Wrong Views Of God

The folly of human wisdom does not determine the will and work of the Lord. What God thinks and the purpose of His will is so far above the imagination of anything the greatest minds among men can understand. At the age of eighty years, Moses was called by the Lord to return to Egypt and lead them out of bondage. The Lord brings the brother of Moses, Aaron, to accompany him to Pharoah, demanding the Hebrews to be released. Moses and Aaron demanded that the king of Egypt let the people go. Pharaoh scoffs at the request with contempt. Angered by the action of Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh made the labor of the Hebrews more difficult. The Egyptians supplied the Hebrews with straw to make bricks, but now they must find their own straw without diminishing the required quotas. Moses and Aaron had made the plight of the Hebrews much harder.

Moses was the Hebrew prince of Egypt. Forty years earlier, he had killed a man for beating a fellow Hebrew. Moses thought the Lord had sent him to deliver his people by his hand, but the people did not understand. Fear for his life, Moses fled to Midian, where he remained forty years. Many years later, he returned to free the people, but his actions created more hardship for them, and they resented him. The officers of the children of Israel pleaded with Pharoah to change his command, but there was no relief. As they left the audience with Pharaoh, the Hebrew leaders blamed Moses and Aaron for making the people abhorrent in the land. They told Moses he had put a sword in the hands of the Egyptians to kill the people of Israel. Moses was devastated.

Reacting to the anger of the Hebrew leaders, Moses comes to the Lord, blaming Him for the trouble brought on by Pharaoh. He thought his mission was a ‘one-and-done,’ and Pharoah would immediately let the people go; Moses would be a great hero, and he would lead the people out with great power. It did not happen. He had argued with the Lord at the burning bush, but God insisted on sending him. Why had he sent him? The plan to give his fellow Hebrews had backfired, and now the people were in worse condition than before, and God was to be blamed. Moses blames God for not delivering His people as He said he would.

The problem facing Moses was he had a wrong view of God. He had a preconceived idea about how things would work, and for some reason, the Lord did not follow his plan. From the perspective of Moses, the Lord did not know what He was doing. It would take ten plagues to convince Moses and the people of the power of the Lord God. The challenge of faith would continue to plague the Hebrews even after the crossing of the Red Sea, the victories over the enemies, the fierceness of Mount Sinai, and all the miracles in the wilderness. True to form, the human mind has always failed to understand that God knows exactly what He is doing, and His will is not determined by the will of men.

David thought it would be a good idea to build the Lord a temple. He was wrong. Elijah thought there were no more faithful people in the land but his righteous self. He was wrong. Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about dying. He was wrong. Time and time again, the kernel of human wisdom is pitted against the vast universe of the might and power of God. His will is done without the efforts of what men think. The challenge has always been not to blame God but to accept the word of the Lord by faith and walk in obedience with a heart of submission. Did Noah understand what the flood meant? Abraham did not waver when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. The view we have of God will determine the reason we obey Him.

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The Old Man That Became A Young Man

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24)

The Old Man That Became A Young Man

Nature is specific in the aging process and unchangeable. Life begins when a child is born, then matures through many years of aging until the difficult days of old age infirm the body, and eventually, death comes. There is no changing this. Billions of dollars are spent each year trying to keep the body and mind full of youth, but all is in vain as old men and women trying to look like energetic youth become old and die. There is nothing man can do to reverse aging. Everyone dies. Men enter the world as babies and leave the world as old people.

There is an exception to the aging process found in the family of God. Paul describes the Christian life not as an aging process leading to death but as a new birth leading to life. The child of God begins with what Jesus describes as being born again. Before the waters of baptism wash away the sins of a man’s past, they serve an old man corrupt with the filth of sinful rebellion. Everyone is in bondage to the corruption of sin. Learning about Jesus and the will of the Father through the teaching of the Son of God, truth changes the heart of sin to the grace of God. The Christian begins the process of removing the stain of the old man to become a new man in Christ. Baptism creates a new life, but the heart must grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus to become a new man. Sadly, some who are born again return to the life of the old man and die spiritually.

In Jesus Christ, an old man can become a new man. The wrinkles of the former conduct (the old man) will bring corruption according to the sinful nature and former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. In Christ, the old man becomes a new man created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. The amazing grace of God removes the shackles of sin. As the heart of the child of God grows in the knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit, a new creation transforms an old man of sin into a new man of righteousness. Instead of age destroying the spirit of the Christian, the older a person remains in the word of God, the younger they become.

The outward body will perish, and nothing can reverse this. In Christ, the inward man is renewed daily, making a ninety-year-old man full of joy, youthful vigor, and happiness. His body is wracked with the infirmities of old age, but his spirit is smiling through with God’s grace. If people would expend as much energy on their spiritual life to become young as they do for their physical bodies, what a transformation the church would experience. The fountain of youth is found in Christ. Old men and women become young men and women by God’s grace. When John saw the final revelation of the heavenly picture, he beheld a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Drinking this water will bring life and make one young. Do you want to feel young again? Come to the fountain. Old becomes new.

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The Holy Spirit And The Apostles

And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45-49)

The Holy Spirit And The Apostles

The work of the Holy Spirit began at creation when Moses described Him hovering over the face of the waters. Through the agency of God’s design, the Holy Spirit formed a world of beauty, majesty, and the hallmark of the Father’s eternal design. There is order to creation established by the purpose of God, by the authority of the Son of God, and the hand of the Holy Spirit. From the beginning of time, the Holy Spirit was an active participant in the history of God’s people. In the days of Noah, the Godhead determined the end of the world, bringing a flood and killing all but eight souls in the ark. The Holy Spirit was that agency. When Moses combated the Egyptian magicians and challenged the authority of the Pharaoh, it was the Holy Spirit that manifested the power of God through miracles and signs. Mount Sinai burned with the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Finger of God wrote the commandments for the Hebrews upon stone. During the time of miracles in the wilderness, the Holy Spirit was active in carrying out the will of the Father with blessings and curses.

When Jesus came to earth, He acknowledged His power was by the Finger of God, the Holy Spirit. Twelve men were chosen to be His apostles, and He gave them the power to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. Like Jesus, the twelve had been given the power of the Holy Spirit. Their greatest work was yet to come. Jesus knew His life was short, and the fulfillment of the Father’s plan was determined. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus spoke to the eleven remaining apostles with words of assurance and hope on a dark night when the world would change as never before. Judas was preparing a mob to arrest Jesus, and the Son of God was preparing His beloved disciples to go into all the world to preach the gospel. He knew He must return to the Father. The eleven were unaware of what Jesus was about to bear.

Jesus makes a promise to the eleven that after He is gone, a Helper or Comforter would come to guide them, instruct them, bring to their remembrance things said and done, and manifest the will of the Father to them. The apostles (later including Matthias and Paul) would be the ambassadors of Christ to the world, showing the power of the word through the power of the Holy Spirit. While Jesus was on earth, the apostles could perform miracles tempered by the authority of Jesus. When Jesus died and returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit would take the role of authority to manifest His power through the apostles. During the forty days Jesus spent with the eleven after His resurrection, He gave them the Holy Spirit to forgive sins. The full outpouring of the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost when the twelve apostles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the twelve could dispense the power of God to men. Before returning to the Father, Jesus explained the purpose of miracles was to confirm the word.

The day of Pentecost was when the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached to the world. Without a divine manifestation of God’s approval, men would not accept the gospel of Christ. A miracle or miracles often confirmed the preaching of the word. This would show to all men the word spoken by men was not human wisdom but divine law. The Holy Spirit worked through the apostles and those given the power of God to establish the word of God for all ages. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, the apostles were guided into all truth and declared things to come, such as coming apostasies, persecution, and the promise of the second coming of Christ. The Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He would bear witness and testify to the glory of the Father. The fingerprints of the Holy Spirit cover the New Testament as He worked among the saints of the first century to establish the church.

Jesus came to earth for a specific reason and for a short time. When His work was completed, He returned to the Father. The Holy Spirit came to earth for a specific reason and a short time. His work revealed the plan of redemption to all men, and when that work was complete, He also returned to the Father. The work of the Holy Spirit and the apostles was short-lived. When the word of God was established through the writings of men like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude, the work of the Holy Spirit was finished. The work of the Holy Spirit was only the parts coming together to form that which was perfect and what would become known as the Bible. There is no longer a need for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in a miraculous manner. All that man needs to know about salvation is found in the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. He authored the Bible by the authority of the Father and the sacrifice of the Son. The Bible is the grace of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

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Imitate God

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (Ephesians 5:1)

Imitate God

To imitate God is to be a follower of God in how He Himself reveals His character to the world. When a man obeys the gospel of Christ, he becomes a child of God. As a child, the person begins to take on the characteristics of the Father who bore him into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The imitation of God is a learned experience as the old man of sin is removed with the new man created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. There are many traits of God that are replicated in the life of the Christian. These qualities identify the man as being like God the Father as he takes on his heavenly Father’s personality, thoughts, and expression.

There are many characteristics of God that identify His eternal glory and power. God does not lie. He gets angry, but it is righteous anger. There will never be any corrupt speech from the mouth of God. The Father does not possess bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, or evil speaking. God is full of kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness. These attributes are to be imitated in the life of the Christian so they will be like their Father. God is full of love, and He abhors evil. The Father is full of light as His Son is the light of the world. The wisdom of God is eternal. All of these things are to be imitated in the life of the child of God.

Walking like God is to learn to imitate Him so the world will no longer see self but the image of the Father. There are many traits that people possess that identify them as members of a family. Sons will take on the persona of their fathers, and daughters will grow to look and behave like their mothers. This is a natural evolution of family traits shared by parents and children. The more the Christian spends in the word of God, the more they learn how to imprint the image of God on their hearts. Imitating God becomes who a person is. When the world looks at the individual, they see the glory of the heavenly Father in kindness, forgiveness, and holiness. Sadly, the world looks like the Father of lies, imitating the character of Satan. All men are children. The question is: who do you imitate? The glory of the Father will bring eternal life. Imitate God as dear children.

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The Rapture Is Real

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

The Rapture Is Real

One of the popular doctrines in recent history is the teaching of a rapture where saints of God mysteriously disappear without warning. The rapture precedes a seven-year habitation of the righteous with Christ, followed by a battle of Armageddon and Jesus establishing a kingdom to reign for a thousand years. This doctrine is credited to being authored by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), a 19th-century theologian. Darby was an influential member of the Plymouth Brethren and founder of the Exclusive Brethren.   Hal Lindsey’s book The Late Great Planet Earth became a textbook in the 1970s on the doctrine of premillennialism, and the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye helped the teaching become entrenched in the minds of many in the religious world. In the early 20th century, the doctrine became the basis of the Schofield Reference Bible.

The rapture is real fiction. Of the many doctrines created by the imagination of human wisdom, the teaching of a rapture is nowhere found in scripture in any form or suggestion. Honest students of scripture recognize when a doctrine is not found in the Bible, it is false – without question. The word rapture is never found in the word of God. There is nothing more clearly defined than the absence of the rapture. Remarkably, the proof text often presented as evidence of a rapture shows it cannot be a quiet disappearance of the saints.

Paul encouraged the saints in Thessalonica to comfort one another with the knowledge of Christ’s return. The early Christians believed strongly in the return of Jesus Christ, as if it could happen at any moment. Many first-century disciples did not understand death and resurrection and became concerned about what would happen to those who had died when Jesus returned. They were afraid the dead would not enjoy the fruits of the coming of Jesus. Paul assured them there was nothing to be concerned about. Jesus would return to earth, and those who had fallen asleep in Jesus (died) would not be left behind.

The coming of the Lord would be a very loud and visible event. Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout. This does not suggest a quiet, invisible appearance of the Lord to a select few. A heavenly shout is something heard worldwide at the same time. Those in Kansas would hear the shout as those in New Zealand would also hear the sound of heaven burst forth. In addition, the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God would be heard. It is unclear what the voice of an archangel sounds like and how loud God’s trumpet will be, but there is no doubt it will be the most deafening sound human ears have ever heard. The followers of the rapture say there will be no sound which means the rapture is real fiction.

There is nothing further from the truth than the Left Behind dogma of a rapture. Jesus Christ will return for only a second time, and the world will be destroyed. He will never set up a kingdom on earth because He is reigning at the right hand of God as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The dead in Christ will rise first, and then in the twinkling of an eye, those who are alive and remain will be caught up together with all the saved in the clouds (not earth) to meet the Lord in the air (not the earth). The good news of grace is this is how the saints will always be – with the Lord.

The rapture is real fiction and a fairytale that will deceive the hearts and minds of those who refuse to be honest with the Bible. Nothing in the Bible suggests a rapture. This false doctrine is only the imagination of human wisdom. Be honest and be true. Do not accept or believe such a thing will take place. Jesus will return to earth again, and no further work will be done. His return will bring a final end to creation and then the judgment. Forget the rapture – are you ready for final judgment?

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