Defeating An Army Of One Million Men

Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God, for he removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment. He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah, and the kingdom was quiet under him. And he built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest; he had no war in those years, because the Lord had given him rest. Therefore, he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and make walls around them, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us, because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered. And Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah who carried shields and spears, and from Benjamin two hundred and eighty thousand men who carried shields and drew bows; all these were mighty men of valor. Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah. So Asa went out against him, and they set the troops in battle array in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name, we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!” So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar. So the Ethiopians were overthrown, and they could not recover, for they were broken before the Lord and His army. And they carried away very much spoil. Then they defeated all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the Lord came upon them; and they plundered all the cities, for there was exceedingly much spoil in them. They also attacked the livestock enclosures, and carried off sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 14:2-15)

Defeating An Army Of One Million Men

The largest army in the present-day world is China, boasting an army of 1.6 million troops. India has the second-largest military with a population of 1.2 million, followed by the United States with a combined number of active-duty, reserve, and National Guard members at one million. A little over eight hundred years before Christ, Ethiopia came against Asa, king of Judah, with an army numbering one million men. When Asa heard of the approaching army of Ethiopia, his heart must have felt an overwhelming crush of fear at fighting against a seemingly impossible foe. The army of Judah only numbered 300,000 men who carried shields and spears, with an additional army of 280,000 from Benjamin. The odds were 2-1 at best, to say nothing of the three hundred chariots of the Ethiopians.

Asa did not flinch, and he did not cower inside Jerusalem. The king of Judah took his army into the Valley of Zephathath at Mareshah and set his troops in battle array. The Ethiopian king came with a million soldiers, and Asa came with the Lord God Almighty. Asa’s prayer is a powerful declaration of faith and trust in the power of the Lord to do the impossible. The king knew that God would help His people. History was filled with the victories of the Israelites over incredible odds, including the defeat of Egypt many generations before with Moses. Asa knew that God had not forsaken His people. As a godly king, Asa had sought to turn the remaining remnant of Israel back to serving the one true God. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers and observe the law and the commandment. Asa trusted in the power of God to over a million-man army.

God had the power to win a battle with an army of 580,000 men or one young man in the Valley of Elah. The Lord had shown through King David that one man standing alone with God could defeat all the Goliaths of the world. When the Ethiopians came against Asa, he was the David and Ethiopia the Goliath. Asa knew that God could defeat any army, whether with many or those with no power. His faith is remarkable. There was no doubt or fear in the heart of Asa. He stood before the Ethiopian army with full assurance that victory would be given. The prayer of Asa put all confidence in the power of God. Godly people rest their faith on the will of the Lord and in His name. With a shout of defiance against the million-man army of Ethiopia, Asa cried out, “O Lord, You are our God: do not let man prevail against You.” And it was done. The Ethiopians were completely defeated, overthrown, and they could not recover.

There is a greater foe standing before the child of God. Paul describes the enemy beyond the terms of one million men when he writes about the principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, and the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places that defy the will of God. Satan leads the charge against the people of the Lord. One child of God who kneels in prayer can defeat the vast army of the devil. A life filled with the word of God can destroy the influence of the hosts of wickedness. Death is no longer feared by the people of God through Christ, who overcame death and gave the victory to His disciples. Every Christian should pray the prayer of Asa, who believed in the overwhelming power of God to win the victory against insurmountable odds. One man standing alone with God is the greatest army in the world. Bring it on, Satan.

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Without Authority Is Without God

Then they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him. And they said to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?” But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’ “—they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed. So they answered and said to Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mark 11:27-33)

Without Authority Is Without God

The conflict of good and evil has always been fought on the battlefield of authority. This was true before the world was created as God prepared a plan to destroy Satan and his spiritual hosts of wickedness. The authority of the Divine Godhead versus the rebellion of the principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness is where the deciding moment of truth is found. Satan challenged the authority of God when he deceived Eve in the garden. The destruction of the world in the days of Noah came about because all but eight souls followed the word of the evil one. Israel was a great nation created to show the glory of the Lord, but when they rejected the authority of the word of God, they were destroyed. Jesus faced harsh criticism from the Jewish leaders who tried vainly to trap Him in His speech, dismiss His powers, and sway the multitudes to turn away from Him.

There came a day when the chief priests, scribes, and elders realized that to undermine the teachings of Jesus, they would need to attack His authority. Ironically, by their attack on Jesus, they declared the essential elements of divine truth. Everything in the world requires authority, and authority must be given by someone who has the power to exercise that authority. The Jewish leaders asked Jesus two questions. First, by what authority does Jesus act. Second, the leaders wanted to know who gave the carpenter’s son from Nazareth His authority. Unknowingly, the question was the proof of who Jesus was and why He had come. The priests, scribes, and elders recognized authority was needed, and the transference of that power must be given by one who has the right to carry out that authority. That is the basis of religion or the foundation of the purpose of man and the will of God.

Jesus answered with a question to the Jewish leaders about the baptism of John. Was it from heaven or from men? The Lord reminds His critics that all authority on earth comes from the human wisdom or the will of God. There is no third choice. Everything man does will come from the mind of God or the mind of man. God ordains governments, but the laws of men are established according to their own will. The relationship of eternal matters can only be settled by the authority of God. Within the structure of a government, men have the right to exercise dominion in whatever fashion they choose. They have this right according to the dominion of human wisdom upon the earth. Eternal matters can only be settled in heaven, and God is the only one who establishes what is right and wrong. All authority on earth will end, but the authority of the eternal nature of God will not. Man is created in the image of God, which requires him to subject himself to the authority of God. Eternal life comes from the law of God, which determines who will be saved and who will be lost.

The key to understanding authority comes from the reality of what happens after death. Authority on earth will end when God destroys the universe on the last day. Whatever laws created through the generations of men will be extinct. Only the word of God will remain, and by it, all souls will be judged. The submission to God’s authority must be foremost in the lives of those who believe in God and desire eternal life. Accepting the existence of God is not enough. Salvation comes by obeying the will of the Lord and submitting to His authority. Without authority, a man is without God. Going beyond the word or subtracting from the word will bring consequences to those who refuse to accept authority from the Lord. Everything must be done in accordance with the authority of God.

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Old Wives Fables

If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (1 Timothy 4:6-8)

Old Wives Fables

Man’s imagination has created wonderful stories of childhood that fill the mind with fantasy, creativity, and inspiration. Walter E. Disney took a mouse and built an empire on the whimsical tales of heroines and villains that remain a culture of its own. Stories handed down from generation to generation created legacies of family treasures of gnomes, fairies, and leprechauns. All of these stories are vivid creations of the mind given by God to entertain and amuse and, for the most part, harmless. There is a danger when myths become part of the standard of belief in the will of God where men have more faith in the legends than in the word of God. The purity of the word of God has always been under attack by the philosophical renderings of Satan’s whimsical allurement to change what God has said. It seems innocuous at first, but then it takes a life of its own.

An example of this is found in the story of a fifth-century missionary by the name of Patrick. He was known as the “apostle of Ireland.” One legend said when Patrick died, his friends refused to bury his body. After four days, the “body swelled up, burst, and emitted profusely the most marvelous perfume men had ever smelled” (James Burton Coffman). The legend of the shamrock is from a story that Patrick used the flower to describe the Godhead. Other legends about Patrick include banishing all snakes from Ireland, his walking stick grew into a living tree, and he spoke with ancient ancestors. St. Patrick’s Day was established by the Roman Catholic Church in the 17th Century.

Paul warned Timothy of how the imagination of men would creep into the church and fill the hearts of the weak and unsuspecting of godless ideas and tales told by old women. These were irreverent and silly myths that took on more importance than the word of God. The danger is going beyond what the Bible says and believe in stories that are not true. Christmas is a classic example of an old wives fable when people believe the wise men visited Jesus at His birth and a star hovered above the manger of the newborn. Nothing is further from the truth but trying to convince people is nearly impossible. Sadly, more faith is put in fables and myths than the clearly written word of God. When men begin to follow myths more than the word, they are led astray to their own destruction.

Combatting the error of old wives’ fables is done by staying in the word. God has delivered His will in written form so that everyone can read and understand the knowledge of the Divine. Traditions are often more powerful than truth. Practices are followed because that has been the way things have been done for generations. The failure of studying the scriptures has led to many doctrines being followed that were never in the original pattern of the New Testament church. Most churches use instrumental music as if it were part of the early church; not realizing it is a modern innovation. There is never a record of the saints using an instrument of music. Salvation by faith alone is an old wives fable. In other words, it is a myth, an untrue, a made-up story from the imagination of human philosophy.

The Athenians were known as people who loved to hear and discuss some new things. A new thing can be an old thing. The Holy Spirit warns about following deceptions of men that lead men away from the one trustworthy source of divine will. Godliness is a character that expresses sole dependence on the word of God and His word alone. It is necessary to reject all false doctrines as fables. Little children enjoy a tall tale because they don’t know any better. Serious children of God must know the difference and know what to reject.

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Pondering The Deeds Of God

The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. (Psalm 111:2)

Pondering The Deeds Of God

There is little doubt the universe is a wonder to behold. The night sky is filled with so many stars, human wisdom can’t count them. With all the technology and advancement of science, no computer can calculate the numerical tally of the heavenly hosts with precise clarity. This knowledge is hampered by the reality that much more lies beyond when a man reaches the limits of space. The oceans teem with life that still reveals secrets never known the man. It is hard to believe that 80% of the earth’s oceans have yet to be explored and mapped by humankind. Every year, new species of aquatic life are found. The world abounds with new discoveries and places on earth that are unknown, both terrestrial and subterrestrial. Science continues to open doors never imagined by human wisdom before. The study of DNA has changed the face of medical science, including the field of forensic science. Medicines have evolved to complex treatments of targeted cancers and diseases, helping to save countless lives.

Looking at all the incredible wonders of the world, a man can fill his mind with such knowledge that it is too vast for him to comprehend. The mistake in human wisdom is to attribute such knowledge to an evolutionary series of millennial mistakes forming a union of design to create life. The world is a science lab of divine discovery for the man who believes in an eternal God. One thousand years before Christ, the psalmist sees the world as the work of God, and he takes pleasure in peering into the unfolding elements of his universe. He sees the hand of God in everything. The world shows the glory of the Creator. Through the word of God, the psalmist understands the power of the Divine works. The knowledge of God assures the psalmist that all the Lord does is just and good, and all the commands of God are trustworthy.

The awe of the psalmist comes from examining the works of God. He is astounded by the creative majesty of the universe and the incredible wisdom of the word of God. His life is spent studying the world and spending countless hours meditating on the will of the Father. There is nothing he ponders he cannot find from his search of the mind of God. He learns where he came from, why he walks on the earth, and what lies on the other side of the river of death. All of his questions are answered in his faith in the Divine, and he is humbled by such knowledge. The focus of his life is directed by one cause, and that is God.

Knowledge is given to all men to come to know the Lord and to find redemption in the Son of God. The Bible is the mind of God revealed to all men so that no one will be found lacking. Creation declares the glory of God, and the word of God determines the counsel of God. Both are necessary to understand the life that now is and that which is to come. Human wisdom will always fail, but God’s word endures. It took the psalmist only 162 words to declare the simple truth of God’s works and the wonder of His hands for generations. His words remain, and the truth of God’s faithfulness and justice continues. There is reason to praise the Lord, and the psalmist does so with his full heart in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. Look around you. Praise God.

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Not Ashamed To Die

For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. (Philippians 1:19-23)

Not Ashamed To Die

The apostle Paul was languishing in a Roman prison when he wrote his letter to the saints in Philippi. He was not despondent or downtrodden by his experience, as evidence by the amount of joy and rejoicing sprinkled throughout the book. There was much Paul was thankful for. He had a positive view of his circumstance, a hopeful expectation of the Philippian church, and a powerful understanding of life and death. It was not clear how the imprisonment would turn out for the apostle. Would he suffer death at the hands of the Romans or be released to preach the gospel? The latter became his future but only for a short time. Paul would be arrested again, and the blade of a Roman sword set his soul free to see his Lord face to face. Death was a familiar companion to Paul. He knew of many Christians who suffered death because they served the King of Kings. His place of honorable death would not come with a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Paul faced death without fear and shame. He knew if he was delivered from prison, there was much work to be done. However, if he suffered death, he knew it would be for the glory of Christ. There would come a day when Paul would be arrested and not delivered from death. Understanding the reality of death was vital to his service as a Christian. Paul could only imagine how much work had to be done to teach people, encourage the saints, establish churches, and further the cause of Christ. But God had not entrusted that work totally to the life of the apostle. As with all men, Paul would die, and others would take up the work. There was a fire burning in Paul that wanted to save lost souls until the coming of the Lord. His time was limited, and it was short. To live was Christ. There was a need to stay and preach. The glory of God would be magnified in the body of Paul. That was not the plan of God. Death will come to everyone regardless of how busy they are in the kingdom of God. Paul’s time was complete, and he joined the hosts of heavenly redeemed.

The way a person views life and death will measure how they face the trials of life. There is a misguided view living is “better than the alternative.” Many things hold the heart captive in this life. Family, friends, magnificent earth, the desire to see life blossom, and the joy of this mortal world. Death is feared with great anxiety. It is viewed with dread and doom. This should not be the case for the Christian. The world is filled with suffering, sadness, pain, misery, and hopelessness. Nothing in this world can be compared to what waits for the child of God. For the person who is not redeemed, there is much to fear. Sadly, Satan has put this same fear in God’s children. If a person is a child of God, there is nothing to fear about dying. Paul looked at death with both eyes and said he would be glad to die. Death was a “gain” for the apostle. Great faith comes from understanding the value of death. The reality of death is inevitable and why people try to deny death is remarkable. It will happen to everyone. The difference is how a person views death.

Paul suffered death by a Roman sword, but the cruelty of the moment was the blessing death afforded the weary apostle. Did Paul remember the faith of Stephen as he was dying at the hands of the mob Paul was a part of? Were the words of Stephen filling the mind of Paul as he himself said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and do not charge them with this sin?” Christians have faced death from persecution, famine, sword, disease, pestilence, and tragedy for two thousand years. Is there no joy in the death of God’s saints? A man faces death with courage from a cancer that has ravaged his body because he knows the love of God. He will miss his wife and children, but they know how much he loves God. Sorrow experienced in death is but for a short time. There are many unanswered questions about why people die. Even in the COVID world of a virus that has taken so many of God’s people, questions are asked about why. The answer remains the same for the child of God. To live is Christ and to die is gain. Paul was not ashamed to die. He knew its ultimate blessing. There is heartbreak in the loss of our dear brethren, but oh, the joy they experience in death when angels carry them to the bosom of Abraham. Are you hard-pressed between the two – having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better? Find the peace of God in knowing the death is but a “sleep.” And then we awake. Praise God.

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The Custom Of Jesus

Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the Synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. (Luke 4:14-16)

The Custom Of Jesus

Very little is known about the childhood of Jesus. Luke describes in detail the birth of God’s Son and the first few weeks, but with the exception of the trip to Jerusalem at the age of twelve, nothing is written about the life of Jesus until He is thirty years of age. When Jesus begins His ministry, the devil seeks to tempt the Son of God as he did the woman in the garden. Jesus does not fall prey to the cunning craftiness of the adversary. Following the time in the wilderness, Jesus returns to Galilee and goes home to Nazareth, where He does something that He has done frequently and with great persistence. The Son of God goes to the Synagogue. When Jesus was twelve years old, He astounded the teachers at the Temple, both listening to them and asking questions. Everyone was astonished at His understanding and answers. Joseph and Mary find Jesus in the Temple and taking Him back to Nazareth; Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. Part of this increase in wisdom and favor with His Father came from His custom of going to the Synagogue on a regular basis.

It is hard to understand how the Son of God needed to learn things as a mortal man. There were many aspects of the life of Jesus that were remarkable, but for the first thirty years, Jesus was as humanly normal as his brothers and sisters. He had to learn how to walk, put sentences together, and figure out what one plus one equaled. Since Joseph was a carpenter, it is most likely Jesus followed in the same profession learning how to use a hammer and saw. From early childhood, Jesus learned the stories of old about Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets. Going to the Synagogue on a regular basis, Jesus would hear the reading of the Law. When He was old enough, Jesus would take one of the scrolls and read for the assembly. As a young man 25 years of age, He took on greater responsibilities for the family. He would be part of the family as they went to the Synagogue together.

Jesus had a custom of going to the Synagogue. What does the Son of God need to go to the Synagogue if He is Divine? As Jesus grew to manhood and as a thirty-year-old man, His understanding and awareness of who He was increased, but He still went to the Synagogue. He knew the value of listening to the Law being read and the discussions that followed. The Synagogue was a place of worship central to many communities. Jesus took advantage of the opportunity to be in a place of worship. He went to the feasts according to the Law of Moses, offered sacrifices according to the Law, and kept the Law perfectly. Being the Son of God did not void His responsibilities or obligations. Going to the Synagogue was a vital part of the growing process for God’s Son.

There is a correlation between the worship of the Synagogue and the church Jesus would build. When the church first began, one of the immediate responses of the early saints was a need to gather together to hear the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, remember the sacrifice of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper, and pray. This continued to be the pattern of the New Testament church because this was the will of God for His people. Under the Law of Christ, a weekly gathering of saints was prescribed as mandatory. Assembly with the church was not an option but a divine commandment. Two thousand years removed from the early church, many look upon Sunday worship as a part of their lives if it becomes convenient. Jesus had a custom of going to the Synagogue, and He was the Son of God. When a person does not make it a custom to gather with the church each first day of the week, they disregard the example of Jesus and the word of God. Children who grow up with parents who seldom darken the church building doors will reap the whirlwind of lost children because it was not their custom. When Daniel was told not to pray to the Lord, he went into his room and did what he did from early childhood – pray. Sadly, many children today never pray and have no such custom. When the heart becomes hardened to neglect the assembly of the saints, they establish a custom that will destroy their souls and jeopardize their children’s lives. Be like Jesus. Make the right custom.

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The Balm Of Gilead

For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt. I am mourning; Astonishment has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery For the health of the daughter of my people? (Jeremiah 8:21-22)

The Balm Of Gilead

Mary Ann Kidder was a prolific nineteenth-century hymnist who is thought to have composed more than 1,000 hymns during her lifetime. She wrote the hymn, “Did you think to pray,” with the haunting question of whether the disciple takes time to pray. First, when a disciple leaves the room in the morning and when the heart is filled with anger. Finally, when sore trials come upon the disciple, is there time for prayer? She writes that praying rests the weary and changes night to day. In her final stanza of the song, she uses an Old Testament example of seeking the healing hand of the Lord. She writes, “When sore trials come upon you, did you think to pray? When your soul was bowed in sorrow, balm of Gilead did you borrow at the gates of day?” It is a powerful appeal to find the divine ointment of grace to face trials in life.

The use of balm is found in other songs, including “‘Tis the Blessed Hour of Prayer,” which says, “What a balm for the weary! O, how sweet to be there! Blessed hour of prayer.” Edmund S. Lorenz calls the “Wonderful Love of Jesus” a balm in times of pain. In the song, “Jesus, I Come,” William Sleeper implores the blessing of coming out of earth’s sorrows into the balm of Jesus. Fanny Crosby also shows how Jesus is the balm for an aching breast in the hymn, “Jesus Will Give You Rest.” Other writers speak of the balm used for healing and the balm of His counsel for strength.

Balm was a medicinal balsam used widely in the Bible times. When the brothers of Joseph decided to sell their brother, they saw a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt. Jeremiah uses the plea of the balm of Gilead in a desperate appeal for Judah to find the healing mercies of God. The northern tribes had been destroyed nearly one hundred years before, and Judah had not learned from the mistakes of her northern sister. Now, the remaining people of God needed the balm of the Lord’s grace to heal them, but there was no balm. The hearts of the people had turned away from God, and there would be no healing. Balm was only helpful if applied to the wound.

Prayer is a balm that heals the troubled soul. Through the soothing ointment of God’s love, a troubled soul can find peace amid the trials of life. When balm is applied, there is an immediate feeling of comfort. Approaching the throne of God in prayer brings joy to the heart. Through the healing hand of answered prayer, the Father holds His children close and comforts their fears. The balm Jeremiah spoke of was the best ointments from Gilead. God has given His children the greatest blessings paid for by the blood of Jesus. The spiritual balm of Gilead is the enduring grace of God offered through His son, Jesus Christ, who Himself is a balm. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the Father provides all mankind the healing power of forgiveness as His Son becomes an ointment that heals the soul of sin. The putridity of moral imperfection can only be healed by the agency of healing found in the Son of God. No other means will men find that will take away the sting of sin and its corruption. The key will be whether the balm of Jesus Christ is applied to the heart. When a man possesses the balm of Gilead yet refuses to apply the ointment, his death is tragic. Jesus comes to be the divine balm of Gilead, and all who come to Him must apply the teachings of the Lord to their sinful hearts. Relief from sin comes when the soul comes in contact with the balm of God. Refusing to make an application will have no value. Thank God for His perfect gift of Jesus Christ – the greatest gift found in the form of the balm of Gilead.

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We Preach Christ Crucified

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:22-24)

We Preach Christ Crucified

Doctrine is a teaching or instruction setting forth a principle or position of a particular group. Whatever is taught is what becomes the basis of the belief held by the organization. Often, in the religious connotation, doctrine refers to the core beliefs of the religious group. Jesus referred to His teaching as the doctrine of His Father. The early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. Paul calls the gospel of Christ the doctrine of God and warned Timothy of those who would oppose sound doctrine. The scriptures are profitable for doctrine. John writes those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ do not have God. He goes further to admonish not to receive anyone who does not hold to the doctrine of Christ.

What is the core element of doctrine in the church Jesus built? Listening to many religious groups today and among many of the Lord’s body, it is difficult to know what the core doctrine of a group is supposed to be. Focus is given to the carnal side of things like the entertainment of bands, musical groups, concerts, and fun times. Churches have coffee shops and donut shops, gymnasiums, and family life centers with a myriad of fun and recreation activities. Lost in the noise of self-gratification is the sole purpose of the church: Christ crucified. It is argued all the entertainment venues seek to praise Jesus and honor His name, but that is in stark contrast to the message of Paul when he said he preached Christ crucified, and that was it. The Jews wanted something more than the message of a dead Jew. To the Gentile (Greek) mind, the story of Jesus dying on the cross was pure foolishness. It sounds like there are many like-minded Jews and Gentiles in the religious world today.

Jesus said He would build His church, and the gates of Hades would not prevail against it. Later, the Holy Spirit said that many hearts of the disciples would be drawn away and enticed. The gates of Hades have not prevailed, but its open doors begin in the lobbies of most churches and find fulfillment in their pulpits. There is little preached, taught, discussed, and valued about the true nature of the death of Jesus Christ. The crowds desire a sign, and the multitudes seek human wisdom, and Christ crucified is shunned. Preaching the gospel offends the delicate souls of the weak-hearted. Accepting the teachings of the Bible is viewed as narrow-minded and useless. Preaching the message of Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection is refuted with the modern principles of humanism, acceptance of immoral conduct, and contemporary religious thought. Health and wealth are the modern-day versions of the Jews and Greeks.

The pursuit of human wisdom, earthly possessions, the happiness of the flesh, and a form of godliness is more important than the message of Christ crucified. Paul offended many who heard him preach, but he preached the message of the cross. Many walked away from Jesus when He offended their delicate senses of religion. Drawing men with the honey of human wisdom will draw more souls to a movement, but it will take more souls to perdition where there is no honey or money. Christ crucified is the DNA of the gospel’s message, and preaching anything less will only bring eternal misery. Going beyond the message of the cross jeopardizes the eternal soul. Under the Law of Moses and in the writings of the New Testament, stern warnings are given of not preaching the whole truth and going beyond what is written. Paul said he preached Christ crucified. Nothing more. Nothing less. Preach Jesus. Tell the story of the crucified Savior.

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The Coming Of The Word

“Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

The Coming Of The Word

There has never been a time God has not sent His messengers to reveal to men the will of the Lord. In whatever form the messenger came, no one could offer excuses of not knowing what they must do to be saved. The eternal message has always been to find a way back to the Father. Nearly a century after the Jews had returned from their captivity, the hearts of the nation had turned apathetic, and the people began to disregard the law of God. The offerings were polluted, religion had become a formality of ritual, and against the will of God, the chosen people of the Lord married the daughters of the world. There would be a four-hundred-year famine of the word when Malachi laid his pen aside. The Lord would not reveal Himself until the coming of the herald of Christ bore witness to the coming of Jesus, the Son of God.

The first messenger of God was John the Baptist. As the Elijah of the new covenant, John would prepare the way for the coming of the Anointed of God. He would seek to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord so that Jesus could show His glory and power to a lost and dying world. John’s preaching was harsh, direct, and demanded righteous obedience. His message would not be for the faint of heart. The physical presence of the man matched the preaching of the baptizer. He dressed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. His preaching was as tough as the camel’s hair, tight as the leather belt, and basic as the insects and honey he ate. There was no mincing his message. God sent him on a mission, and he preached it hard, heavy, and honest. The people were startled by John the Baptist. He called the Jewish leaders a brood of vipers demanding they bear fruits worthy of repentance.

Shortly after John the Baptism began his work, Jesus began His short ministry gathering disciples around Him and choosing twelve to serve as apostles. In the early days of His ministry, multitudes were drawn to the teaching of Jesus. As the preaching of Jesus became clearer and His message more direct, many disciples turned and walked with Him no more. The people began to dislike the way Jesus taught. His words were offensive. The word remained the same. Jesus taught the people what the Father had told Him to say. He claimed to be divine because He was. His miracles attested to His divinity. Jesus was the Messenger of the covenant to show men the way to salvation. John the apostle called Jesus the Word because Jesus was the Word. Jesus said there was no other way to the Father but by Him. The truth could only be found in the Son of God, and eternal life promised to those who followed Jesus. All of the grace of God is found in the Messenger of the covenant. Refusing to listen to the word of Jesus Christ is refusing to listen to the word of God.

God has always sent His messengers to tell men the good news of salvation. John the Baptist was a messenger to prepare the path of the Son of God. His work of proclaiming the coming of Christ was finished, but the work of Jesus continues to testify to the message of hope found only in the man from Nazareth. The Messenger of the covenant remains the only way a man will find eternal life. When all men are gathered before the throne of God, the question from the Father is whether men listened to His Messenger, the Word. Everyone has the responsibility to seek the word of God to know how to be saved and obey the word. Communication is the basis of how God revealed Himself. The Bible is the message of the Father proclaiming the Messenger of the covenant through the written word. There are no more messengers. If an angel brought a message, they would be accursed. When a man rejects the Bible as the testimony of God seeking to present himself as a messenger of the Lord, he is accursed. There is one message, one hope, one word – and one way. Jesus Christ is the Messenger of the covenant – hear Him.

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God Our Help

A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore. (Psalm 121)

God Our Help

Songs of ascent were psalms that were sung as the pilgrims journeyed to Jerusalem. Ascending the hill of Zion to worship at the Temple of the living God was an emotional and moving experience. The people prepared themselves to worship the Lord by singing psalms in their journey as a family together. They were teaching their children the stories of the work of God through the psalms recited, instilling a love of the Father as a helper and benefactor. The work help in the psalm is the same word used of the promise made to Adam when God created the woman. As a helpmeet, God is always there to aid and comfort His people. The psalmist directs his attention to the magnificence of the Creator as one who cares for His creation. God did not create man and leave him to his own devices. When Eve disobeyed the word of the Lord, she was not cast out without hope. A Seed promise was given. Hope is found in the eight saved in the flood and the one sheep who went astray. God is a help in life because He cares for His children.

As a father, the Lord watches over the steps of His children. This does not suggest God has taken the will of man away. There is never a moment the heavenly Father is not looking at the life of those who follow Him. He does not slumber nor sleep. His care is constant. The overshadowing power of the Divine is always ready to assist, help, and lend His eternal hand to guide, protect, and soothe the troubled soul. As the divine helpmeet, the Lord God is like a wall around His children, keeping them from evil. He will always offer a way of escape from the clutches of sin. A rebellious heart causes one to sin, rejecting the power of God to keep them from temptation. Jesus taught His disciples to ask the Father to deliver them from temptation. God will always offer a better way to resist the devil.

Life can be like a burning desert that is harsh and cruel. The Lord is a keeper providing shade in the heat of the day. His help overshadows the Christian with grace, love, mercy, kindness, and care. Like a soothing shade that comforts from the hot sun, the Lord will protect and keep the Christian. Through the word of God, the child of God finds the comfort of God’s shadow stretching over their life as an eternal shade. Satan cannot burst through with his evil ways. The Lord helps His children walk in a protective cover of His love.

One of the greatest joys of being a Christian is to know the Father will be a helper to preserve the soul from evil. There is nothing to fear from the devil and his minions because their power is empty compared to the word of God. When a man resists the devil, he causes the adversary to flee. Jesus refused to follow the cunning craftiness of the devil with a “thus it is written.” Satan was defeated. The Lord will help the Christian in time of need because He promised to keep them from harm and watch over their lives. The problems of men come when they do not trust in the Lord to protect them. Living in the word and the power of the Holy Spirit, Satan is defenseless. God is the help of those who seek Him and follow His word. He will keep watch over His children day and night, and He will never slumber. Thank you, God, for being my helper.

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It Is All About Perspective

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

It Is All About Perspective

Life is how a person views the reason they exist and what happens after death. Everything is measured by the reality of the brevity of life compared to the eternal expanse that all men will fill. Death is inevitable, and nothing man can do will change that. Life can be a harsh landscape to walk. With no choice in how a person comes into the world, choosing life courses is like walking through a vast minefield. It can be overwhelming. There are certain ideals everyone has in life, and few are attained. Suffering, tragedy, disease, and sorrow lurk beyond the horizon, often bursting on the scene without warning. Natural disasters destroy lives. Wars take the youth at too early of an age. Injustice pervades the streets with crime, murder, rape, and abuse. There is a lot of suffering in the world, and this can overwhelm the soul with despair.

God is not unaware of suffering. He created a world of perfection, desiring to dwell with men in harmony. It was the failure of humanity that brought so much suffering and despair. Jesus came to take away the world’s darkness, offering men the light of hope to live for greater glory. He did not take away suffering as it remains in every form, but the Son of God came to give men a means to live in a dark world of sin. Paul expressed that hope when he compared the suffering of this world to the glory revealed with the heavenly saints. Before Paul became a Christian, he lived a privileged life. After he became a Christian, his life was filled with suffering, yet he remained faithful to the cause of Christ. He understood the perspective of suffering in his life would not compare to the glory he would receive as a redeemed child of God. Paul told the saints in Corinth he had been beaten five times, left dead after stoning, suffered shipwreck, and faced dangers from rivers and robbers. The Jews tried to kill him. Paul knew hunger, thirst and often went without food. He was cold and did not have enough clothes to warm him. His perspective was those things were temporary, but glory was eternal. It all had to do with how he viewed his life.

Perspective is looking through the sorrows of life and seeing that God has prepared something much greater for His children. The world is filled with uncertainty. A pandemic of global proportions has changed the world. COVID-19 is a common yet dreaded word. There are few families (if any) that the tentacles of this virus have not impacted. Some have suffered death. The political world has created a world of fear and doubt. There is no unified spirit of patriotism with efforts to destroy law and order, teach ungodly doctrines that generate hatred and prejudice, disrespect for authority, road rage, and economic ruin. Arguments over a mask are destroying the church. Immorality has taken the high road of acceptability with homosexuality, transgender allowances, and crisis in the identity of males and females. It is a dark world, but perspective is how the child of God navigates the dark roads of life. The glory promised by God is not here but there. Few generations have not had their times of trial and despair, but the joy of eternal life is where the heart should remain. There is no comparison to what is coming for the saved with the present world.

If you are unhappy, it may be you have the wrong perspective. Looking at this evil generation can bring despair and hopelessness to the soul. Watching the news every day will destroy happiness. Change the view. Have a godly perspective that glory is not found here but awaits the faithful in the world to come. That glory is indescribable, without words, and far beyond the darkness of this world. Knowing what good things are coming will help us all to walk in this dark vale of life and know God is still light and joy, and He will not forsake His children.

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Sorrow Does Not Change Truth

And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that, he became very sorrowful. (Luke 18:21-24a)

Sorrow Does Not Change Truth

A young man came to Jesus wanting to know what good thing he should do to have eternal life. The young man was a ruler of the Jews and very wealthy. His life was characterized by all the blessings of God with success and glory. When his fellow Jews looked at his life, they saw an exemplary individual that any young Jewish boy would seek to emulate. The spirit of the young man was entirely devoted to the Law of Moses. He had striven to mold his life in perfect harmony of the will of God, zealous for righteousness, and a keeper of the law. Jesus had struck a chord in the heart of the young man, and it was the man from Nazareth that had shown His miracles and power influencing the young man to come to Him. As Jesus answered the ruler, his heart was filled with satisfaction and joy for the knowledge he had done everything needed for eternal life.

There is little doubt the rich young ruler was a model citizen of the nation of Israel. As far as he could see, he had accomplished righteousness to a high degree with meticulous and careful detail. When he asked what he lacked, it was more of a statement than a question. In his mind, there was nothing more he could do to assure him eternal life. His heart was filled with a righteous pride of self-satisfaction. Jesus faced a crossroad as He looked into the eyes of the young man. He could tell the assurance the young man felt about his place with God. Jesus could hear from his voice a confidence of faith. It would be easy to let the man go and live a full life of devotion to the Father, but Jesus knew the young man lacked one thing. Only one thing? Was it necessary to wreck his life over one thing? The ruler seemed to be all that God wanted His people to be – save one thing. There was a danger that if Jesus told him the one thing he lacked, he would walk away and never return. Could Jesus afford to tell the rich young ruler what he needed to hear?

The words fell like a torrent of unyielding water as Jesus answers the young ruler. If the man wanted to find perfection before the Lord God, he would need to dissolve his life of every privilege he held dear. He would have to sell everything he had with no exception and no holding back. All of his wealth would be given to the poor. He would be without the comfort of riches, the privilege of position, and probably held in derision by his peers. Only after selling all he had and giving everything to the poor could the young man have eternal life. Why did Jesus tell him to do something so drastic? This is not a requirement for everyone to follow Jesus. What Jesus saw in the heart of this young man was a covetous and greedy heart. The young man had exemplified himself as a model citizen of Israel, but there was a dark secret seen only in the eyes of the Divine. Salvation for the rich young ruler required walking away from everything he held dear.

Sorrow filled the heart of the young man as he walked away. Jesus was filled with His own sorrow to tell the young man what was required, but the Lord could not answer any other way. The one thing lacking was the one thing necessary. The sorrow of the young man did not change the truth. Jesus told Him what the Father demanded. Truth is a two-edged sword that brings hurt, sorrow, and despair. It is hard to inflict truth, but there is no other course a man can take but teach the truth. Preachers face the daunting task of preaching the truth and not shying away from the truth that will hurt. They must remember it is the word that brings sorrow because the heart is unwilling to accept the will of God. There will be many who stand before the judgment bar of a Holy God, who will appeal the task required asked too much, but it will not change the reality of truth. Sorrow does not change the truth.

The spirit of compromise comes from a refusal to teach the painful truth. Churches are filled with hearts deceived by the appeal of a kind and wholesome gospel. Sin is not condemned, immorality is not challenged, and truth falls by the wayside to the whims of human wisdom. If the rich young ruler were alive today seeking the same answer, most would accept him with great fanfare and confidence, assuring him of eternal life. Sadly, he would be lost along with those who refused to tell him the truth. Jesus said there are few saved. The gospel is narrow. Truth does not change to pacify the feelings of the entitled. There is one body of truth. If the truth hurts, accept the pain and repent. The rich young ruler walked away from eternal life. Do not make the same mistake. Sorrow did not change the truth. Jesus did not rush after the young man and apologize. Truth was the will of the Father.

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Do Not Complain

Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp. (Numbers 11:1)

Do Not Complain

The descendants of Abraham found themselves as an enslaved people in the land of Egypt for nearly four generations. They cried out to God for deliverance, and through the power of the Lord, Moses leads the people out of bondage into a world of freedom. Arriving at Sinai, the Hebrews became a nation and were given a law. Everything they would need is provided by the hand of the Lord. If they obeyed the commands of God, He would bless them as a mighty people. The Lord had already promised the land of Canaan to the children of Abraham as a land flowing with milk and honey. No enemy would stand against the might of the children of Israel who had the Lord God fighting their battles. There was nothing the people would lack, and through the miracles, signs, and wonders shown in Egypt and the journey to Sinai, the people could trust in the word of the Lord and His promises.

Shortly after leaving Sinai, the heart of the people grew tired. They began to complain about the hardships of their journey. Spending nearly a year at Sinai had settled the people in a place the Lord did not intend on them remaining. Now, the journey to Canaan was difficult, unsettling, and uncertain. The people began to complain, and God got angry. Ingratitude would become a constant character of the Hebrews for the next forty years. They wandered aimlessly for forty years because their reckless hearts of unbelief had more complaint than complying. They were not happy with God’s way of treating them as they viewed themselves as entitled people deserving so much more. Through the lying eyes of yesterday, the people longed for the fish they freely ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. It was as if the people dined on fine food while slaves in Egypt. The truth was the people were oppressed and their lives bitter with hard bondage. It was the voice of the desperate Hebrews that cried out to God for deliverance. It was not long after leaving Sinai the people complained, and God got angry.

The Lord blessed Israel as no people on the face of the earth, and all they could do was complain. He brought them out of Egypt by His mighty hand, and they complained. The Lord gave them fresh water, bread, and meat to their full, and they complained. No army could match their power, and they complained. The Lord gave them a law to live by, and they complained. He promised to take them to a land that had cities prepared for them, vineyards, orchards, and gardens planted for them, and a land of incredible blessings; and all they could do was complain. Through the promises of God, the people would have increased in children, livestock, crops, and wealth, but they could only complain. The history of Israel is characterized by God blessing the people with every blessing from the heavenly storehouse. On every occasion, the nation complained against the benevolent hand that cared for them. This made God angry.

A complaining heart is an ungrateful heart. There is nothing more irreverent to the will and power of God than when a man complains to the Divine. It is easy to find fault with men, but how is it possible to find a complaint against the One who counts the stars and gives each one a name? The sun rises and sets by the will of the Creator, and the heart of men complain. For the most part, humanity is ungrateful. God has given them everything that pertains to life and godliness. They complain it is not enough. Life can be hard and is difficult at times, and people turn against God with anger. How can the clay complain against the potter? Why would anyone blame God for anything? The heart of complaint is something that angers God. Unbelief breeds complaint. The oxen knows the hand of the one that provides for it, and he does not complain. Birds sing because they have nothing to be ungrateful for while a man walks around grumbling with discontent.

The spirit of murmuring and complaint is a poison that can destroy a church. God hates it. He has given His people direction, purpose, and a way to find an abundant life, and there is nothing to complain or criticize. A heart of faith believes in the word of God. Abraham did not complain about his journey. Joseph had many reasons to complain, but he trusted in the God he served and was blessed. Moses was told he would not enter the promised land, and he did not sulk and complain but continued to lead the people to their destiny. The prophets faced many hardships, and they continued to serve the Lord. Jesus did not complain on His journey to the cross. Men like Paul gave their lives to teach others the gospel of Christ and did so with no complaint. What is there in my life that I complain about that becomes a spirit of ingratitude toward the immense blessings of God? I am not here to complain but to honor God and glorify His will in my life. Let others see my light of gratitude so they can find the peace that passes all understanding. This will bring contentment and joy. No complaints. Thank you, God.

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Spiritual Cancer

But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

Spiritual Cancer

False doctrine is not merely a different opinion or conflicting viewpoint; it is a cancerous disease that will kill the body of a child of God. The word Paul uses in his letter to Timothy describing a cancer is the word canker or gangrene. A canker is not as familiar as cancer, but it has the same result as something that begins small and, like cancer, spreads to the healthy parts of the body, destroying cells and inflicting death. Gangrene is the pervasive decay or corruption of the cells due to loss of blood supply. Satan has brought his doctrine of cancer to the soul of man from the beginning. His corrupt doctrines destroyed the world in a flood and brought down the nation of Israel. The early church began with great power but soon, the influences of a corrupt doctrine began to spring up. Some taught circumcision as a means of salvation. It became a cancer that needed to be cut out. Through the surgical wisdom of the Holy Spirit working through the apostles, elders of Jerusalem, and devoted brethren, the error of circumcision for salvation was nullified.

Satan did not stop his infectious pursuit of the souls of saints. Paul named two men who fell victim to the wiles of the devil. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul mentions Hymenaeus, who, along with Alexander, shipwrecked their faith. The storms of apostasy and false doctrine overwhelmed Hymenaeus. In Paul’s second letter, an unknown disciple named Philetus was included in the company of the one who had strayed concerning the faith. Whether through shipwreck or spiritual cancer, Hymenaeus and Philetus would be remembered as faithless disciples. There was an Athenian attitude toward scriptures that brought about false doctrine. Luke says the people of Athens and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but telling or hearing some new thing. This produced a cancer that would take men away from the inspired word of God to the doctrines and philosophies of men.

Profane and idle babblings are nothing more than godless and foolish discussions creating controversy and doctrines tending only to produce strife. The end result is more ungodliness as men leave the word of God to appeal to the nature of the carnal spirit. The root of the denominational world of division is that everyone can believe what they want to believe and teach whatever they desire. Their motto is “attend the church of your choice.” This doctrine is false and strays from the truth. Hymenaeus and Philetus taught the resurrection had passed. Whatever form of doctrine this was destroyed the faith of some of God’s people, like cancer. Satan does not attack with massive armies overwhelming the soul of men. He begins as a small and innocuous cell of false doctrine left untreated with replication to the rest of the body, where death follows.

False doctrine is an insidious and odious cancer that has destroyed millions of souls. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only means of salvation through the only Lord, Jesus Christ. God is the only living God, and there are no others. The Bible is the only book that expresses the mind of God. There is only one church as Jesus taught His disciples and the early disciples believed. Spiritual cancer is when men take the word of God and change it to fit their golden calves. Believing in a god of this world is folly. Accepting a book other than the Bible is an exercise in useless philosophy. Following man-made churches is allowing the cancer of false doctrine to destroy the soul. Hymenaeus and Philetus strayed concerning the truth, teaching what God had not approved. Their teachings were a cancer. Preventing spiritual cancer is abiding in the word of God. The Good Physician seeks those who desire the cure.

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God Is The Rewarder

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:1-6)

God Is The Rewarder

Abram and Sarai had been married for many years but without a child of their own. It would seem Sarai would be barren until death, and Abram would never have a child by his wife. At the age of 75, the Lord comes to Abram and tells him a remarkable story. If Abram trusted in the promises of God, Abram and Sarai would have a child. The Lord tells Abram to leave his home and go to a place that he would be told. Without hesitation, Abram gathers his family and goes wherever the word of the Lord instructs him. For the next twenty-five years, Abram and Sarai wait for the promise of God. They trust in the word of the Lord and know that what God has promised, He will keep. Abram and Sarai maintain their devotion to the promise of God that a son would come through their loins. With each passing year, the reality of a child became less and less. Then, a day came when the Lord God came to Abram and told him that he would see his promised son within the year. At the age of 100, Abraham looked upon the face of his only begotten son, Isaac. Sarah was 90 years of age at the birth of Isaac, and she rejoiced.

Promising a son to a woman past the age of childbirth and a man whose body was dead to procreation was a sign of the divine power of God. The birth of Isaac was a miracle confirming the power of God to do the impossible. It also affirmed the character of the Lord God that what He promises will come to pass. God is a God of promises who is the rewarding God to those who believe in His promises. Many promises can be made with little chance of those promises coming to pass. Rewards are offered, but the rewards can fail or be diminished. The promises of God are true, righteous, and without reservation. Attached to the promises of God is the reward that He will accomplish what He says He will do.

God told Abram that He was his shield and his exceedingly great reward. Abram was uncertain how the Lord would bring to pass an impossible blessing of a son in his old age. The Lord took Abram outside and showed him the canopy of stars that filled the heavens. When God made a promise to Abraham, He promised him the reward of a son, and from this son, an innumerable host of descendants would come that could not be counted. The promise of God was incredible, and the reward was unimaginable. Abraham believed in the Lord, and God accounted Abraham’s faith to righteousness. There was a trust in the heart of Abraham that what God promised, He would reward.

Coming to the Lord requires more than faith. Many have faith in God but are unwilling to accept the terms of redemption. The Hebrew writer defines salvation with faith to believe that God is real and that His word is true. Going beyond a veneer response of faith, the true believer accepts the impossible, knowing that what God has promised, He will reward. God is the great rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. A reward is given to those who deserve to receive such a blessing. The reward of eternal life is not given to everyone. Jesus said few would believe in the promises of the Father, and as a result, few will see the reward of eternal life. Those who believe in the word of the Lord and obey the word of the Lord will enjoy the reward of the promises of God. There is ample evidence to persuade that God is a God of rewards. Having become persuaded with the faithfulness of the Lord, the believer will seek the Lord and endure to the end. Abraham waited twenty-five years to see the fulfillment of God’s promises, and he never wavered. He received his reward. True believers will receive the promises of God when they live faithful and devoted lives believing that what God promised, God will keep.

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Seeking The Wrong Glory

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:42-43)

Seeking The Wrong Glory

After nearly three years of ministry to large multitudes of people, healing thousands, and forming a band of twelve men to carry on His work, Jesus was facing great opposition. The forces working against Him were centered in the Jewish leadership, but a greater problem came from those who were tired of His teaching and were offended by His harsh doctrines. Many of His disciples turned and walked with Him no more. He had fed more than five thousand people in a single day with a young boy’s lunch, and when the Lord refused to replicate the miracle, He was condemned. Many rulers believed in Jesus as the Son of God. They accepted His teachings as that from the heavenly Father. Their hearts were moved to accept the man from Nazareth as the Word, God in the flesh, and Savior of the world. Tragically, their faith would not allow them to confess allegiance publicly to Jesus because they loved human praise more than the praise of God.

The word of God had pricked the hearts of many rulers, and realizing what they would have to give up accepting the teachings of Jesus, denied Him. It was a great conflict to be moved by the words of Jesus and then turn away from Jesus. The accolades of men with the honors of being a ruler among the people had more influence on their hearts than accepting the word of God. It was hard to give up the prideful positions of power, knowing they would lose their place of prominence and power. Pride is a powerful drug that traps the souls of men to believe in a false god and deny the only truth that will save them. They enjoyed walking the halls of power and are called by men as rulers with authority. The destitute heart fills itself with the selfish desires of the carnal man. Every evidence of truth is rejected so the pride of man can walk a deluded path of human wisdom to its own destruction. The peer pressure of the Pharisees prohibited believers from confessing Christ lest they should be kicked out of the synagogue. Loving the praise of men is a strong influence that damns the soul of the weak.

There are many peer pressures influencing believers today. The Pharisees are gone, but their influence remains. Many people believe that Jesus is the Christ and will fain allegiance to Him but in their hearts deny him lest they be labeled religious. Their lives will be measured by mediocrity, unwilling to let anyone know they are a Christian. They keep the same sinful habits following the same sinful crowd and may attend worship services but are never committed. There is pressure to keep a façade of religion on one side while maintaining the character of worldliness during the week. They want to keep their friends and have their fun refusing to confess Christ lest they be put out of the circle of friends. The influence of worldly friends is immense. Seeking the praise of men more than the praise of God is a constant battle. The praise of men wins, and the praise of God fails.

Serving Jesus Christ demands commitment and change. Refusing to be committed will never bring about change. Jesus said to be worthy of discipleship demanded carrying a cross. Many believe in Jesus as the Son of God but do not want to carry a cross. They want to have a relationship with Christ without the cost that He Himself had to bear. Heaven becomes a place for anyone to enter without commitment or expectation of obedience. Instead of few being saved, the majority are thought to be saved who never surrendered their will to the Father. Loving the praise of men is temporary. There is no hope of joy for those who refuse to commit to Christ fully. Those who seek the glory of men will be rejected by God and find eternal darkness in perdition. The reality of human glory is that it is short-lived. If a man lives his life attaining the greatest accolades of men with history filling its pages with his accomplishments; what does it matter when he dies? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Facing God is what life is about. Seeking the praise of God may not bring honor in this life, but it will bring joy in the next life.

So many waste their lives in the futile pursuits of the world, making no preparations for death. Death will inevitably come. All men face the mortality of their souls, and there will be no exceptions. Seeking the wrong glory will bring eternal heartache. It is sad to watch precious souls live their lives filled with their demands, their wishes, and the unwillingness to obey the word of God, and then death comes. What then? Outer darkness and eternal suffering. The praise of men will have no meaning then, and the soul will cry out in eternal hell for a second chance, and none will be given. Your life is measured by what you seek. Believing Jesus is not enough. It requires confessing His name in your life, even if it means you get kicked out of the synagogue. Let me be reviled by men now so that I may receive honor from God in death. Whose glory are you seeking?

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Grow Where You Are Planted

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)

Grow Where You Are Planted

Life never turns out the way it is planned. Someone said reading the book of Ecclesiastes is defined as “Life is hard and then you die.” There is truth to the idea that life can be an arduous journey fraught with many disappointments. From early childhood, certain ideals are hoped for and plans made to follow a certain course with definite expectations only to find the changing sands of time erase those dreams into a harsh reality. No book illustrates the uncertainty of life than the stories from the Bible. Adam and Eve could not have imagined how much their world would change by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Cain did not get up one morning and decide to kill his brother. Noah was not prepared for the message of destruction that would annihilate every person he knew and every human on the face of the earth. Abraham was 75 years old when he was told to leave his family and spend the rest of his life as a vagabond.

One of the great classic stories of the inequalities of life is found in the story of Jacob’s son, Joseph. As the privileged and much-loved son of Jacob, Joseph had an incredible life waiting for him. His father adorned him with a coat of many colors as his mother doted on him. It was a fateful day when his brothers sold him as a slave to a caravan going to Egypt. It would be twenty-two years before he saw his family again. During that time, he was sold like an animal in the slave market of Pharaoh, treated not as a boy of privilege but a slave, and then when life seemed to be turning around for the young Hebrew, he was framed by his master’s wife and thrown into prison. Joseph had every reason to hate God and despise his captors. Instead, Joseph grew where he was planted. His life had turned from the luxuries of a wealthy family to the harsh desert of human bondage. He loved and served God first, and the Lord blessed him. It took a long time for Joseph to understand why he was in Egypt, but he saw his life as a blessing from God.

Daniel and his three friends found their lives changed dramatically as they witnessed the fall and destruction of their beloved homeland and then the long journey of bondage in Babylon. Their early life saw the nation’s rebellion against the cries of the prophets to return to the Lord. They could not imagine they would be taken away from Jerusalem, never to return. The captors demanded they learn their language and culture and changed their names from honoring the one true God to the gods of the Babylonians. Part of the cultural training required they eat of the king’s delicacies, but they refused. This would have brought swift death by the hand of the captors, but God delivered them. Their faith would be tested again when the king built a large idol demanding his citizens bow down and worship it or suffer death in a burning fiery furnace. They refused and again were delivered by God. Daniel faced certain death many years later as an older man when his peers tried to destroy him by his faith. He held true to his practice of prayer and was cast into a den of lions. An angel of the Lord shut the mouths of the lions, and God delivered him. Life for these young Hebrews was nothing like what they would have imagined.

Twelve men were leading varied lives of fishing, government work, and one was a member of a radical group seeking the overthrow of the Roman powers when Jesus came along and called them to be His apostles. Their lives would never be the same. A young man devoted to the cause of the Lord God was intent on destroying a religious sect that denied the word of God found in the Law of Moses. He helped kill one of their disciples and then began a campaign of terror to destroy those of the Way. As Saul of Tarsus approached the city of Damascus, his life changed when the same Lord he sought to destroy called him to be his most ardent messengers of hope. As Paul was walking down the road or sailing in a ship during the midnight watch, did he ever stop and reflect on how different his life turned out?

In all the stories of these life-changing moments, the constant is how the men and women changed their lives. Peter admonishes those whose lives had been disrupted, turned upside down, and moved in a direction they could never have imagined, to do one thing that was important: grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Noah believed in the word of God and saved his household. Abram trusted in the word of the Lord and believed in the promises. Joseph grew daily in his knowledge of the love of God, as did Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. It was a tragedy that Judas killed himself, but the remaining eleven faced hardships and died the martyrs’ death and changed the world. Life can be hard and feel like a burning desert with no hope. An unlikely tree stands amid the seemingly endless dunes of the Rub’ al Khali desert in the Arabian Peninsula. It grew where it was planted. Wherever you are in life, grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God will bless you.

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Singing Is The Will Of The Lord

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:17-21)

Singing Is The Will Of The Lord

Authority is necessary for everything that is to be done in the church of God. Jesus was given all authority by the Father, who had the power to give such authority. The New Testament church established a pattern of authority through the writings of the disciples who were moved by the Holy Spirit directed by the will of the Father. Authority is necessary for the government as a structure of an organization to establish law. Without authority, anarchy would rule, and the people would suffer. Within the government of the church of Christ, authority is necessary to comply with the will of God, or spiritual lawlessness will reign. One such area of rule that is called the will of the Lord is the type of music authorized.

Paul wanted the saints in Ephesus to understand what the will of the Lord was concerning their worship. He reminds them God is a spirit and is seeking those who will worship the Lord in spirit and truth: this is the will of the Lord. True worship does not come from the satisfaction of the carnal nature like imbibing in wine but the spiritual experience of worship from the heart. When Paul discounts wine as a means of appeasing the Lord, he directly points to the desire of the carnal heart to find ways to appeal to the flesh. It was not uncommon in the pagan worship to make merry with loud music and drunken feasts. Entertainment was the highlight of the worship men would engage as they fulfilled their carnal lusts. Religion today has become cousins of the pagan worship of old as they seek to entertain, impress, and create an atmosphere of fun-filled worship to draw people to their numbers. Paul indirectly condemns the use of instrumental music in worship as the pagans would use in their worship.

The Jews were proficient in the use of instrumental music in worship. David had a choir of Levites who were singers and musicians to sing joyful songs to the accompaniment of harps, lyres, and cymbals when he brought the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant to Jerusalem. God commanded instruments to be used in worship under the Law of Moses but never commanded the use of instrumental music in the New Testament church. The will of the Lord changed regarding music as much as the will of the Lord changed regarding salvation. Using an instrument of music is like requiring circumcision. Paul wanted the Ephesians Christians to understand what the law of God required in their worship. Ephesus was home to the Temple of Diana, and the citizens were familiar with the pagan rites and worship, including the loud music. The church in Ephesus did not use instruments of music in their worship because they were doing the will of the Lord.

Understanding what God required was submitting to each other in the fear of the Lord. Authority for the type of music defined whether worship was acceptable before God. Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs was the only authority of the New Testament church. Singing and making melody in the heart was the pattern of the early saints that desired to obey the will of the Lord. Hearts filled with thanksgiving sang the psalms of old as the first-century Christians followed the divine pattern of singing. Paul never suggested or hinted that instrumental music was a part of the early church. None of the other writers encouraged their readers to use instrumental music to worship the Lord. Historically speaking, it would be hundreds of years after the first century before the first hint of instrumental music was given and nearly fifteen hundred years before instrumental music was officially accepted in the apostate church.

Singing is the will of the Lord. The form of worship is opening the mouth and singing praises to the Lord. He is not interested in whether a person can carry a tune in a bucket but whether there is music in the heart. Refusing to sing is defying the will of the Lord. Music is at the heart of worship as an expression of the joy to serve the Lord God. Jesus said that salvation comes from doing the will of the Father. Singing is the will of the Lord. Praise God with the voice. Lift up the heart to sing praises to God until that eternal day when all God’s saints sing before His face the eternal glories of His majesty and beauty. And above all things, sing.

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Living By The Word

But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” (Luke 4:4)

Living By The Word

The devil began his attack on Jesus in the same way he attacked Eve in the garden. When the serpent spoke to the woman, he questioned whether the word of God was true. Satan knew if he could convince Eve to doubt the word of God, he would secure her heart to follow his deception rather than trust in the will of the Lord. The instructions to Adam and Eve were simple. They could eat of every tree of the garden, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden. Eve understood the word of the Lord, going so far as to emphasize they should not touch the fruit. Sin came when the word of God was ignored, and life changed forever. As many thousands of years since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden, one thing has never changed: the devil uses the same ploy to destroy souls as he has for millennia.

God has always given humanity His word to live by, obey, and subject their lives to His will. Life comes from the word of God. The word of God created the world, it is held together by the word of God, and one day the world will dissolve with fervent heat by the same word. God spoke His word through the patriarchs, and men like Abraham believed unto righteousness and obeyed His word. When Israel was separated as God’s own special people, He gave them a law written down in the code of the Law of Moses. Jesus came into the world as the word and the only way to the Father. The words that Jesus spoke were the words of His Father. Through the teaching of the word of God, the New Testament church was established, propagated, and confirmed throughout the ages as the divine pattern of God’s will. The Holy Spirit canonized the Bible to afford humanity every word of God so that all men could come to the only truth and know how to find redemption before a wrathful Lord. From the writings of Moses to the final message of the Revelation, the mind of God is revealed for all mankind to read and understand the mystery hidden before time but now revealed. The word of God is the spiritual manna of the Father that gives life to all who spend time in His word.

Jesus defeated Satan by reminding the adversary that man does not live by the things of this world. Salvation can only come when a man lives by the word of God. Jesus quoted from the book of Deuteronomy where Moses reminds the new generation preparing to enter Canaan that obedience to the word of God will give life. Throughout the forty years of wandering, the Hebrews learned to trust in the Lord and live by His word. God told them to be careful to observe all the commandments, and they would be blessed. He allowed them to be hungry but gave them the manna so they would not die. In a spiritual parable, Jesus shows the hunger of man can only be supplied with the manna of God’s word. Life is found in the manna. It comes from God and is all that is needed to sustain life. Like the manna of old, the manner of gathering the manna and consuming the manna was paramount to life. So it is with the word of God.

Life comes from nourishment. No greater sustenance can a man find than the word of God that tells him everything he needs to know to live. This is the way a man will live by the word of God. Jesus reminded the devil to live by the desires of the world will only bring death. Life is found in living by the word of God. Only through the mind of God will a man know how to live and walk in the dark world of sin. Bread is necessary, but there is more to life than bread. A man can live all his life eating bread and die. If he has not been seeking the living word of God, his life is useless and without merit. The figure of bread is the essential part of life that consumes the soul. Often, more time is spent preparing and eating the manna with no time spent in consuming the word of God. Eternal life is not found in the bread. It is found in the word of God. Living for the word of God is seeking those things that are above. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled, they will never thirst, and they will find eternal life.

The answer of Jesus to the devil is the answer of where I find myself. Am I living from the word of God or seeking the bread of the world? Too often, souls are busy seeking the carnal pursuits of the world with no interest in the word of God. The Bible is the manna of God to a world starving from nourishment. Abiding in the manna of God’s word will bring life and give joy. Living by the word of God is an active and daily walk. The body requires nourishment every day of the week. If some people fed their bodies as much nourishment they feed their spiritual bodies, they would have died long ago. Grab a chair and have a seat at the table of the Lord. Prepare a feast of the word of God and live by every word. It is then – and only then – you will find life.

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God’s Warnings Come From Examples

The Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 3:6-10)

God’s Warnings Come From Examples

One of the most effective tools of learning is found in the examples of others. Solomon declared there is nothing new under the sun, and when it comes to learning from the mistakes of others, the examples abound throughout history. The mind of God has not changed from the beginning. When sin exalts itself, the Lord measures the will of man by the same rule and meting out the same consequences as before. This is clearly stated when the nation of Israel was divided, with Israel to the north and Judah to the south. Every king (without exception) of Israel was evil, and judgment would come against the people of God in 722 B.C. when Assyria destroyed Samaria. The prophet Jeremiah began his ministry around 627 B.C. With their northern brethren being gone for nearly 100 years, Judah was not learning from the mistakes of Israel.

Israel had embraced idolatry with full fervor. They rejected the word of God and despised all his warnings. The people worshiped worthless idols and became worthless themselves. Israel followed the example of the nations around them who worshipped the Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire, consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery, and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger. Prophets like Amos and Hosea warned the leaders of impending doom, but they took no heed. Finally, the Lord sent the army of Assyria and removed the ten tribes from His sight. There was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. The greater tragedy was that while Judah watched all that happened with her northern sister, Israel; they refused to change.

God begged Israel to repent, but they did not and faced the wrath of God. Judah saw it and refused to repent. The Lord showed Judah how Israel had backslidden with all her wickedness, and God walked away from her – Judah did not listen. There was a spiritual divorce between the Lord and Israel; warning Judah the same thing would happen to them – they did not listen. No matter what God did to His people, the remnant saw, took note, and refused to repent. One hundred sixteen years after Assyria captured Samaria, the Babylonians take away the first group of captives from Jerusalem. Twenty years later, Jerusalem is destroyed, and the Temple burned. If Judah had taken the example of Israel years before, they would not have suffered the same fate. Refusing to be admonished by the example of Israel, Judah would be crushed and nearly destroyed.

Examples are important lesson tools. The problem comes when examples are not used for their intended purpose. God has never changed His mind about the condition of man. When sin separates the will of the Lord, and the will of man, the examples of scripture help find the correct path to follow. If God punished Israel – His special people – what makes anyone think today that God will not punish them? No matter what version of the Bible a person reads, sin remains the same, and the way the Lord deals with sin remains the same. Judah should have learned from her sister Israel, but she did not believe God would do the same thing to her. They were wrong. To their surprise (and regret), the Lord brought the Babylonians and punished them. The only saving grace of Judah was the remnant of the righteous that preserved the seed promise of Christ.

The Bible is a book of examples. On every page is the will of the Lord exercised over the will of man. The stories of the Bible happened thousands of years ago, but the manner of God’s judgment remains the same. Failing to read the Bible is refusing to see the examples of God’s goodness and severity. He exalts a nation that is righteous and destroys a nation that forgets Him. The grace of God will save a lost sinner, and the wrath of God will condemn a sinner. There is an example for every motive of the Lord in the Bible. Examples teach. Listen and learn.

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The Fruit Of Our Lips

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15)

The Fruit Of Our Lips

God knows the heart of man, but He desires to hear the voice of man. There is nothing hidden from the mind of the Lord. He knows every thought, every action, every motive, and every intent. The darkness does not hide Him. There is no place a man can go that God is not there. Before a man is born, the eyes of the Lord are upon him. Life comes from the hand of the Creator and is preserved by the hand of the Eternal Judge. With all that God knows about the way of man, He desires to hear the voice of His creation. In the garden of Eden, God and man talked with one another. The Lord spoke to Noah and told him what to do to be saved from the flood. Abram heard the word of the Lord and obeyed. Throughout the centuries, God has spoken in various ways to the world and has in these last days spoken through His Son, Jesus Christ. But God continues to desire to hear the voice of man.

There is nothing the Lord does not know about the heart of man, and in that knowledge is the desire for the creation to praise the Creator. A worthy sacrifice is as old as the earth. Cain and Abel offered sacrifices. Noah built an altar to thank his God for deliverance. The journeys of Abraham can be traced by the smoke of his altars. Throughout the Law of Moses, sacrifice is required. The book of Hebrews declares the covenant of Christ has taken away the earthly measures of grace to find fulfillment in the sacrifice of a true heart through the blood of Jesus Christ. There is no comparison to the law of Christ. The Law of Moses fails, and the attempt by the Gentiles to be a law to themselves is useless. Only in the sacrificial blood of the Son of God is there the promise of hope and redemption. God has provided His Son as the means to redeem man from sin, and the Lord wants to hear from the lips of His people thanksgiving. It is not enough to be saved. The fruit of the lips is the expression of praise to the Father for the eternal grace and mercy to allow the prodigal to return home. This is an action of mouth born from the seeds in the heart.

Giving thanks to the name of the Lord God is something that must continually take place. There were daily sacrifices made under the Law of Moses as the smoke rose to the throne of God. Under the law of Christ, those sacrifices become the daily words of praise to the Father for His kindness to not punish man according to what he deserves but to save rebellious man. This is an act that every child of God does every day because there is something to tell God thank you for every day. Prayer is one means of expressing praise, but there is more to it than that. The fruit of the lips is to talk with God throughout the day, sprinkling words of praise in daily conversation and acknowledging the blessings of the Lord continually. While the world uses God’s name in vain, the child of God uses His name in praise. Hearts that are filled with grace cannot help but speak words of praise to the Lord. The fruit of the lips comes from the tree of life living in the soul of a person who loves, adores, worships, and is daily thankful for the blessings of God in his life. Talk to God. Let Him HEAR your lips of praise. He knows all things, but He wants to hear them from us.

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Jesus Is My Lord – Maybe

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:7-8)

Jesus Is My Lord – Maybe

There is a fundamental truth that every child of God must accept in coming to Jesus Christ. It is essential to have faith in Him and to believe he lived, died, and was buried and raised the third day by the power of the Father. His teachings must be accepted as the divine word of God. The miracles preserved by the Holy Spirit declare He is the Son of God. All the prophets point to Jesus as the fulfillment of the Seed promised given in the Garden of Eden. Jesus is the Anointed One and Messiah. All authority has been given to Jesus, and His gospel is the power of God unto salvation. For the most part, these aspects of the life of Jesus are readily accepted by most believers. The language of believers is filled with Jesus is Lord, but many do not understand what they mean when they say Jesus is their Lord.

The term “Lord” is foreign to most Americans and is actually an objectionable term. Back in 1776, the patriot Americans kicked King George out of the country for imposing taxation without representation. In the political sphere, this is not very appealing to lord over a people taxes without consideration of individual rights. Freedom-loving souls want the democracy of free speech, allowing them to exercise their rights and privileges in a society open to individual choice. This is desirable for citizens of any country, but amazing as it might sound, this is not how the kingdom of God is structured. One Lord and one King rule the nation of God’s people. His word is all the word that matters. The will of King Jesus is the only will. None of the laws of Lord Jesus can be countermanded. What Jesus said is all authority. There is no free speech in the kingdom of Christ. When a man and woman obey the gospel of Lord Jesus, they give up all (that is spelled A-L-L) rights, privileges, and opinions. There are no appeals, no changes in the directives, and no courts to reverse the laws or change the laws of God. When the Father speaks, the children listen and obey.

When God raised Jesus from the dead, He gave His Son ALL authority. In the act of baptism, when God raises the sinner from the body of death, the saint has NO authority. He now becomes a slave to Lord Jesus to serve Him and obey Him in every word. Like a soldier in an army, the child of God becomes a soldier of King Jesus with the laws of God guiding every part of his life. When an individual decides to join the military, they take an oath to serve, protect and obey the military laws of justice. Disobedience to the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM) will bring judgment against the offender. In the army of King Jesus, there are no lawyers, appellate courts, review boards, and trials to change the will of the Father. Jesus is Lord, and that is the final word.

To put into practice the Lordship of Jesus is more than just saying Jesus is Lord. Too often, people who want to be a disciple of Christ do what is required of them as long as it is not expected they bow in service to one Lord. They live their lives as Christians but never submit to the will of the Lord Jesus, who is King Jesus. Serving Jesus as Lord means the Christian does what Jesus tells them to do because He is the only ruler. In the monarchy system of divine government, the kingdom of Christ has only one King, and He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Citizens of the kingdom of Christ are expected to be fully obedient, submissive, and subservient.

The apostle Paul defined the Lordship of Christ in his life when he said he suffered the loss of all things. Paul said Jesus was “my Lord” because he accepted the rule of Lord Jesus in every part of his life. The apostle emptied his life to serve the Lord Jesus. Christians must pattern their lives as Paul did to the lordship of Jesus. There can be no half-hearted service to the Lord. He demands all. When Lord Jesus speaks, the Christian obeys. Is Jesus your Lord – really?

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Give Us A King

Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. (1 Samuel 8:1-6)

Give Us A King

After the conquest of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, the people of God were ruled by judges. There was no central government such as a king for nearly three centuries. When the people would do wicked in the sight of the Lord, they would be delivered to the oppression of an invading army who subjugated them for many years. In a continual pattern of rebellion, repentance, and restoration, the children of Israel lived under judges who first delivered them and then ruled over them. The last great judge of Israel was Samuel, son of Elkanah and Hannah. He was an old man when he gave leadership to his two sons, Joel and Abijah. As great a judge Samuel would be remembered, his sons did not walk in his ways. Joel and Abijah were greedy for money, took bribes, and perverted the law of God to their own gain. Finally, the people had enough and told Samuel they wanted a king to rule over them. All the nations around Israel had the pomp and circumstance of a kingly leader, and the people of Israel wanted to be like the nations around them.

The request for a king came as a disappointment to Samuel, but it was not a surprise to the Lord. When God gave the law to Israel, He had told them one day they would desire a king to rule them like the nations around them. The desire of the Lord was for the people to always trust in Him to win their battles, provide all their needs, and protect them from harm. Canaan was conquered by the power of God. The land of Canaan was a place flowing with milk and honey by the provident hand of the Lord. When peace came across the land, it was by the will of God. Everything the people needed, God would provide. He promised to bless them without measure if they obeyed Him. As a nation, Israel was the most powerful, prosperous, and protected people on earth, but it was not enough. Time and again, God delivered them from their enemies, and they soon forgot. After many years of judges, the people demanded a king.

God granted the request for the people to have a king. Three kings ruled over a united kingdom for one-hundred-twenty years. And then the wheel came off. After the death of Solomon, the kingdom was divided into ten tribes to the north under the leadership of Jeroboam and the remaining tribes ruled by Rehoboam. Over two hundred years later, the Assyrians would capture Samaria, and the ten tribes disappeared completely. Three hundred forty-five years after the death of Solomon, Nebuchadnezzar would burn Jerusalem and destroy the temple. It took less than five hundred years for the people to demand a king and then watch as the nation of Israel enter bondage that would span seven hundred years. The Babylonians would enslave the people of God for seventy years. Then the Persians, Greeks, and Romans would keep the nation of Israel in a subservient role of slavery until the final blow in 70 A.D., when the Roman general Titus would destroy the temple and effectively end the Jewish nation.

The people wanted a king, and God gave them what they wanted. Their first king was an enraged despot who spent most of his resources to chase after a shepherd boy. Saul would die in battle by his own hand. David and Solomon would raise Israel to a rich and powerful nation, the marvel of the world. During the divided kingdom, the kings that ruled the northern tribes were all evil – without exception. Only in the southern kingdom were there periods of peace by those who walked in the way of the Lord. This did not keep the nation from being destroyed and taken captive. If the historian would have reflected upon the history of Israel leading up to the Babylonian conquest, he would well observe the decision to have a king was not a wise choice. It did not bring joy to the people as they thought. They would become like the nations around them, but like the nations around them, they fell into disfavor with the Lord. When the people of God become like the nations around them, they become like the people of the nations around them. This led to their downfall and eventual destruction.

Israel wanted a king, and God gave them many kings. The challenge for the Christian is to trust in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with no desire to have the kings of the world lead them. So often, the kings of materialism, self-gratification, indulgences, pride, arrogance, and human wisdom rule the hearts of God’s people. Seeking to be like the people of the world, the child of God submits to the failed view of the sensual pleasures thinking that joy and happiness can be found apart from God. The people of Israel desired a king and were destroyed. When the heart of the Christian tries to serve God and be like the world, there will be no happy ending. It is sad to watch souls seeking kings in their lives without serving King Jesus. There is only one king that will bring joy and happiness, and His name is I AM. Seeking after other kings will never bring what is desired. Read the history of Israel and decide if wanting a king was a good idea. Examine your life and see how well the kings of this world are serving your needs. If the answer is not clear now, it will be when you die. The eternal question will be: which king did you serve?

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Disciples But Not Christians

And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples, he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all. (Acts 19:1-7)

Disciples But Not Christians

A disciple is someone who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. He is a convinced adherent of an individual. In the New Testament, a disciple is a learner who follows a teaching such as those who were disciples of Jesus. They believed in His doctrine and sought to imitate His example. Luke writes in the Acts that Paul came to Ephesus and found some disciples of Jesus in the city. Paul was constantly seeking out those in the community who exemplified the characteristics of the disciples of Jesus. Luke does not tell how Paul made that distinction. He may have gone to the marketplace as a commonplace to meet and discuss issues. Often, the apostle would go to the local synagogue where many devout people were found. The city of Ephesus was no small city. It bore the title of “The first and greatest metropolis of Asia.” How Paul found disciples in such a large and bustling city is unknown.

There was something that set a group of men apart from others in Ephesus. Whatever the distinction noted by Paul, the apostle concluded the twelve men were Christians. He was excited to find these devout men and asked them if they had received any special manifestations of the Holy Spirit. To the astonishment of Paul, the men were unaware of any blessings from the Holy Spirit and did not know who the Holy Spirit was. Puzzled, Paul asked them into what they were baptized. The answer cleared up the apparent confusion. When Paul found the twelve men who acted like disciples or followers of Jesus Christ, he assumed they were Christians, members of the kingdom of God. Actually, they were adherents of John the Baptist and had only known the baptism of John. Paul’s visit to Ephesus was a little over 25 years after the death of John and Jesus. Men like Apollos were still teaching the baptism of John.

When Paul realized the twelve men were disciples of John, he told them they needed to be baptized into Christ. And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Now they were Christians. Paul laid his hands on them and gave them the gifts of tongues and prophecy. The men the apostle thought were Christians were disciples, but being a disciple of Jesus did not make one a Christian. Everything the twelve men were doing and saying sounded and looked much like what a true Christian would do and speak. It was not that dishonest men fooled Paul. Rather, from outward appearances, the spiritual dozen acted much like those in the body of Christ, but they were not Christians. They had not been baptized for the remission of their sins. There is no salvation in acting like a Christian, looking like a Christian, and talking like a Christian, if, in fact, one is not a Christian.

If Paul were preaching in America today, he might think a lot of people are Christians. He would see many adherents to Jesus Christ, disciples of the Son of God, and churches filling the landscape of those who love and adore the Son of God. His impression of so many people would be they must be Christians, but like in Ephesus, he would find they had not received the remission of their sins. Most religious groups (Protestant churches) deny the essentiality of baptism, accepting a faith-only doctrine of salvation. Paul would recognize them as disciples but not Christians. Denying the New Testament plan of salvation, the work of the church, organization of the kingdom of God, and the teaching of the Bible is what separates those who call themselves followers of Jesus and those who do the will of the Father. Being a disciple of Jesus does not make one a Christian. Acting like a Christian does not make one a child of God. A Christian is someone who has been baptized for the remission of sins in the blood of Jesus Christ. They have obeyed the will of the Father. Anything else is falling short of salvation. Are you a disciple only, or have you put on Christ in obedience in the waters of baptism? It makes a difference. Just ask Paul.

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God Spoke

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

God Spoke

Communication is the basis of any relationship. God did not create man and leave him to his own devices. In the beginning, the Lord spoke to Adam and Eve instructing them to eat of every tree of the garden except for the forbidden tree. Communication was the means of God passing His will to Adam and Eve, and they understood the word spoken to them. The spoken word by the serpent challenged the commandment of the Lord, and sin entered the world. Even though man rebelled against the will of the Lord, God did not abandon Adam and Eve. He spoke to them and explained the consequences of their sin and the hope of a seed that would come to restore the relationship of God to man. The bridge between the Creator and His creation was the communication of the spoken word. This would become the foundation of everything man would know to save himself because without the spoken word, there would be no knowledge of the mind of God.

There has never been a time in the history of humanity that God has not spoken to His creation. Noah learned of the impending destruction through the spoken word. Abram was called by God through spoken word to leave his family and journey to a place he did not know. The promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah was given repeatedly through the spoken word. Moses delivered the Hebrews from captivity after the Lord God spoke to him from a burning bush. When the children of Israel encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Lord spoke to Moses, and the man of God wrote down the words of God with ten words inscribed on tablets of stone. The written law was given to Israel to read and obey, while the Gentiles understood the will of the Father through an oral law. From the time of Adam until the coming of Jesus Christ, the Father revealed His word through chosen men and women who revealed the will of God for the people to hear and understand how to save themselves from the wrath of God. Knowledge came through the means of the spoken word of God.

There is never a time that man can plead ignorance to the will of God. The Lord used various means of communication to reveal His will to humanity. At times, God would speak directly to a man. He would use visions, dreams, and revelations to explain future events. Joseph dreamed of things that would define his life. God used unbelievers to carry out His will, such as the Pharaoh of Egypt having visions from the Lord about the coming famine. On one occasion, the Lord used a donkey to rebuke Balaam when God opened the animal’s mouth to speak to the prophet. Regardless of the means of communication, the Lord never left man without a witness to the will of the Father. The means of revealing His word changed over the centuries, but the one constant remained that God always held men accountable to His will because He told him what he must do to be saved.

The greatest example of divine communication came when the Father sent the Son into the world as the Word. In the Greek language, the mean of “word” is “LOGOS.” Jesus was the embodiment of the fullness of God’s word. Throughout His ministry, Jesus preached the message that His words were not His own but the Father’s. The kingdom of God was built upon the will of the Father. Jesus was not only the divine manifestation of the love of God, He was the divine expression of the word of God. The early church writers took the story of Jesus and wrote down the word of God. John would reflect that if everything known about Jesus was written one by one, the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. The word of God is so expansive, the human mind can barely grasp the hem of its garment. Without the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Jesus would remain an enigma. Luke tells the story of the early church to produce for all men the pattern of sound doctrine (words) of the divine plan for the church. The New Testament is a book of letters written by Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John presenting Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. Through the writings of the New Testament words, the reader will see the Old Testament reveals the nature and character of the Christ. God revealed Himself and His Son through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for all men to read, understand, and obey.

There is only one means of divine communication today. No prophets remain, and all revelation outside the Bible ended nearly two thousand years ago. Despots who claim to have a divine revelation of the will of God are liars. In these last days, God has spoken by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only hope of eternal life because He is the Word of God. He has been given all authority – without exception. When a man rejects the Bible as the divine word of God, he walks away from the only ark of salvation offered to man. Unbelievers are trusting in rowboats to save them from the flood when the only hope of salvation is found in the ark of gopher wood instructed by the Lord God. The Bible is that ark. It is the spoken word of God. Read it to be wise. Obey it to be saved. God spoke.

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God Is

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)

God Is

There is something intrinsic about the manner the Holy Spirit begins the revelation of the mind of God. Everything that follows the first day of creation defines the nature and character of who God is, what He is, and how He will interact with His creation. There are no bold assertions requiring proof or evidentiary discussion. At the beginning of the world, God existed, and the world as it is known to man did not exist. God spoke, and light was created. That is all that happened on day one. From the first day of creation until the final day of the existence of the universe, the words of God creating light define the nature of the Divine. Every word recorded in the Bible speaks to a single thought and remains constant to one idea. John will conclude the revelation of God with the light of the eternal glory of God, filling the city of God with His glory. As the Finger of God transcribes the Creator’s words throughout the ages of man’s history, two words are repeatedly confirmed and explained: God is.

The contrast between God and man is without measure. When the Lord created the world, He spoke it into existence. Nothing man has done or ever will be able to do can match the nature of God’s power. Sin destroyed the character of men and highlighted the heart of a forgiving Father. When the wisdom of men failed, God destroyed the world in a flood, saving eight souls by His mercy and grace. A man named Abram was called to establish a seed promise that would require many generations of failed attempts by humanity to save itself. God raised up a nation to be His special people, and they failed to keep His commandments. The world was spiraling into an abyss of self-destruction until a child was born in the city of Bethlehem. Thirty years later, the Son of God appeared before men to show the will of the Father and the love of a forgiving Creator. Envy led the Jews to kill the Son of God. Three days later, God raised His Son from the dead, and the world has never been the same. Hope fills the earth with the promises of forgiveness and mercy. The wisdom of man fails, and the wisdom of God saves. Man is hopeless because of two words: God is.

One thing separates God and man. God is and man is not. The failing of human wisdom comes from man’s refusal to believe that God is not a man. God has spoken and His word remains unchanged, unmovable, and eternal. God is a consuming fire, the God of gods, and righteous when men are not. The promises of God are always kept, He is love, He is just, and He is good. God has promised to always be with His people because God is a Father. He is a Spirit that must be worship as Spirit and should not be mocked or treated contemptuously. God knows all things, and He cares about every man, woman, and child dwelling on the face of the earth. Through His word, God promises to be the strength and power for His people as a God who is able and who is faithful. There is a steel and velvet character of a wrathful God with consuming fire but a God of love who forgives and forgets the failings of His children. Two words define the character of the Holy One: God is.

When Moses asked the Lord His name to tell the Hebrew people, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” The name of God is I AM because everything about the Lord God is that GOD IS. He was not nor will be but He is I AM and HE IS. The nature of man thinks that he is something when he is nothing. Only by knowing the fullness of God as HE IS can man come to know how small his boat is in the vast ocean of God’s universe and power. Man is nothing. GOD IS.

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Faithful Witnesses

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Faithful Witnesses

Life can be tedious to the point the soul becomes discouraged, despondent, and feeling left alone in a world given over to immorality. It is clear the world has been a place of spiritual conflict since Adam and Eve lost paradise. The world of today is no different than any other time. It is easy to say how bad the world is becoming, but the truth is the world has always been bad. Sin destroyed the peace and happiness of man with God and continues to ravage the spirits of men. Life is hard, and that should not surprise someone desiring to live godly in this world. Swimming upstream against the tide of unrighteousness has never been easy. God never promised life would be a bed of roses. In fact, quite the opposite if a man lives a holy life. The mistaken idea that God wants a man to be happy fuels many people’s discouragement when life turns against them. The Lord is not so much interested in the happiness of His people but their holiness. It is only in the holy character of righteousness that true happiness is found.

Holding the banner of Christ in a dark world is a daunting task. The writer of Hebrews is trying to encourage the souls of God’s people to not give up on the covenant of grace. There is no comparison between the Law of Moses and the covenant of Christ. Everything is better because Jesus is the Son of God. Numerous examples are given of those who faithfully served the Lord during times of hardship and persecution. Abel became the first to experience the horror of sin when his brother murdered him. The world Enoch lived in was about to be destroyed, yet he was found to be pleasing to God. Noah watched the wrath of God annihilate the entire population of the world. Abraham was told at the age of 75 to go somewhere he had no idea where to go and to believe in an impossible promise. Moses became the leader of the people of God when he esteemed the reproach of righteousness higher than the reward of Egyptian power and wealth. The Hebrew writer continues the story of faith with the conquest of Jericho and the faithful like Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. All of these obtained something better than what they experienced in life because they believed God would provide something better for them in glory. Life was hard for them. It was not easy. Faith had to take on wings of courage.

All of the saints of glory died believing in the promises of God. Their stories would become the backdrop for all those who would follow Jesus and claim His name. A great cloud of witnesses is permanently embedded in the ceiling of the throne room of faith to encourage God’s people to remain steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. The witnesses were not visually watching the lives of the saints, but the stories of their victories are models for all who seek to walk in a dark world like Enoch and Noah or face the uncertain future like Abraham. God has never failed on any promise He has made. The chapter of faith is a testimony to the unwavering hope that all that God has said will come to pass. In a dark world, He is a light. When the tide of immorality swells around the souls of the saints, the commander of the Lord’s army is there to protect and defend. Faith is the victory over doubt and the blessed assurance of hope.

The faithful witnesses grow each day as the number of godly men and women find their moment of glory. Their lives are testimony that overcoming is possible. When the heart is despondent about the pandemic, the economy, the future of the world, health concerns, and the general tediousness of life, look to the witnesses that lived before and know there is something greater coming. If there were no witnesses, there would always be the One. Look to Jesus, the author, and finisher of faith, who sits at the right hand of God. He overcame because of the promises of His Father. God never left His Son, and He will never leave you.

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