A Man Named Judas

Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. (Acts 15:32)

A Man Named Judas

The name Judas is synonymous with betrayal as the apostle of Jesus betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. The Lord chose Judas Iscariot to be in the inner circle of the disciples of Christ. He was a good man who stood out among his peers as a leader and someone that was to be groomed for the great work of establishing the church. The circumstances of his calling to the apostleship are unknown. Jesus had retreated to a mountain to pray and called those He wanted to serve as the Twelve that He might be with them and send them out to preach. Judas Iscariot was part of that number.

As part of the twelve apostles, Judas Iscariot was a gospel preacher. The Lord sent him out to preach the kingdom of heaven. The Holy Spirit gave Judas the power to cast out unclean spirits, heal every sickness and disease, cleanse the lepers, and raise the dead. Judas went out with the eleven to fulfill the command of Jesus. The son of Simon was a part of the ministry of Jesus to carry out the kingdom of heaven message to the nation of Israel. Judas helped pass out the bread and fishes when Jesus fed the five thousand. He was in the boat when Peter walked on water. Lazarus came out of the tomb, and Judas was there to witness the miracle. Jesus taught the multitudes and challenged the Jewish leaders, and Judas was there for every occasion.

Somewhere along the way, Judas, son of Simon, lost his way. His heart turned in pride to covetousness and greed. For whatever reasons that will never be known, he agreed with the chief priest to hand Jesus over to the Jewish leaders for thirty pieces of silver. He led the mob to a place where he knew Jesus would be. It was a place the Lord often went to pray. How sad that Judas would use a familiar place of prayer to betray Jesus. The mob carried the Lord away and killed Him. Judas was overwrought with grief. He returned the silver and went and hanged himself. The four gospel writers would later refer to Judas as the betrayer.

Judas had a good name, but his deeds manifested a spirit of betrayal for which, two thousand years later, he is remembered. There were other men named Judas in scripture. Jesus had a brother named Judas. One of the twelve apostles also was called Judas but is better known as Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus, the son of James. Gamaliel tells the story of a Judas of Galilee who rose up in the days of the census (probably started by Caesar Augustus B. C. 8 to 6) and drew away many people after him. He was killed, and all who followed him were scattered and came to nothing. When Saul of Tarsus came to Damascus after being blinded by the Lord, he stayed in the house of a Christian named Judas, who cared for him until Ananias arrived. Judas witnessed the new birth of the apostle Paul. And finally, there was a Judas (surnamed Barsabas) who was a prophet sent to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. Judas was a leader in the early church. Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging and strengthening their faith. They stayed for a while, and then the believers sent them back to the church in Jerusalem with a blessing of peace.

What is in a name? Judas Iscariot had a good name but his actions defined his life with betrayal. A man like Judas Barsabas is remembered as a devout disciple who was influential in the development of the early church. The character of a man defines how his name will be remembered. It is not in the accolades of human wisdom that last through the centuries but the influence of a godly character that is eternal. God knows the names of those who are His. God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and He knows their names.

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Complaining And Arguing

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16)

Complaining And Arguing

There has been a lot to complain about in the past two years. The virus pandemic has changed the landscape of the world in terms of economics, political rhetoric, health concerns, and, sadly, the character of the local church. Churches were slammed in 2020 with a reality that no one could have foreseen or planned. With limited knowledge of the power of the virus, churches reeled under the scrutiny of the government with mandates, laws, regulations, and health guidelines. Whether all of these things were necessary will never be known. Slowly, the church began to gain its footing again and focus on the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a new year dawns upon the horizon, hearts look on how to regain the local church’s work to teach the gospel and encourage the saved.

The year 2022 can be a year of incredible change. Persecution and hard times have always benefited the church making it stronger than in times of prosperity. When Saul of Tarsus sought to destroy the church, the people of God went everywhere preaching the gospel. The effort to destroy the church only made it stronger. Later, when Paul was confined to a Roman jail, he pens a letter to the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi and exhorts them to rejoice and have joy living in Christ. He encourages them to have a like mind together, be of the same love and not do things through selfish ambition. The example of Jesus is put forth to show a pattern of faith. Paul wants the saints to grow in the work of the Lord as a united church.

Salvation is an individual effort by the grace of God. Paul tells the Philippians saints to consider the fear of the Lord and, with deep reverence serve Him. The church in Philippi is blessed when God is working with them but there is a way the work of the church can be hindered. When murmuring, disputing, complaining, and arguing find their way into the church, the work can be hindered. Paul instructs the Christians not to complain about the hardships. Complaining about the persecution does not help build the work up and edify the saints. Murmuring about how the church deals with difficulty is a sinful attitude that tears down rather than builds up.

The world is a crooked and perverse place with people who do not believe in God and do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ. In the midst of trial, the church of Christ must shine forth as a united front against the wiles of the devil seeking to destroy the influence for good and the propagation of the gospel. When saints murmur against the work of the church, they present the church in a bad light. Complaining about leadership decisions is sinful. The nation of Israel continually complained and murmured against Moses and the will of God for forty years and perished because of it. God was not well pleased with the complainers. He remains adamant against the spirit of murmuring.

Nothing could have prepared the church for the pandemic but it happened. Decisions were made in the best effort to fulfill the work of the Lord. What is lost in the translation of the COVID virus is the Lord’s work must continue. No virus will change the will of God. The church cannot adapt to government regulations because of a virus. The assembly on the first day of the week was not an option that can be easily defeated by a virus or the ease of being a couch Christian watching on TV. Discerning the body of Christ is a collective part of the assembled worship. The COVID virus did not rewrite Paul’s letter to Corinth. Complainers are not the workers. They are part of the problem. The Lord said, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”

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The Power Of Prayer

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and said, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city.” ‘ And this is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing which He has spoken: Behold, I will bring the shadow on the sundial, which has gone down with the sun on the sundial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward.” So the sun returned ten degrees on the dial by which it had gone down. (Isaiah 38:1-8)

The Power Of Prayer

As the twelfth king of Judah, Hezekiah is remembered as one of the most righteous kings of the divided kingdom. His father was a wicked man but at the age of 25, Hezekiah took the kingdom of Judah back to God through his reforms to remove idolatry, including the worship of Nehushtan (the bronze serpent made by Moses). Hezekiah trusted in the Lord and walked according to commandments given to Moses. Assyria had subjugated Judah and early in the reign of Hezekiah, the king rebelled against the Assyrian king, refusing to pay tribute. This brought an immediate response by the Assyrian king Sennacherib who came up against Jerusalem. Through the assurance of the prophet Isaiah and the prayers of Hezekiah, Jerusalem was freed from the siege of the Assyrians when the angel of the Lord went out and killed 185,000 of the enemy. Sennacherib returned home and was assassinated by two of his sons.

At the age of forty-one and the height of his power, Hezekiah is sick near death. Isaiah comes to tell the king to put his affairs in order because he will die. The king turns his face toward the wall and prays earnestly for God to deliver him with bitter tears. As Isaiah is leaving the king’s chamber, the Lord tells the prophet to return to Hezekiah and tell him he has been granted fifteen more years to live. Assyria will be expelled from the land and Jerusalem will be at peace. As a sign of the promise of God, the sun would move back ten degrees on the sundial of Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz. So the shadow on the sundial moved backward ten steps.

Hezekiah recovers from his illness and sings his praise to the mercy and grace of God. Answered prayer is one of the greatest experiences known to man. God always answers prayer but for Hezekiah, it was fifteen years of life. The power of prayer is not that God cowers to the whims of men. David and Bathsheba prayed earnestly for the Lord to deliver their newborn son but he died. Hezekiah sought the blessings of the Lord with bitter tears and was granted life. The power of prayer is found in the heart of the one praying who accepts and trusts the Lord’s answer as true and righteous. Every prayer offered to the Lord in faith will be answered by the measure of the wisdom of God. This is not a guarantee the answer will be desired by men but rather to accept from the mind of the Lord what He grants. Fervent prayers have been offered to the saints of God who have a dire illness of which they do not recover. Did God answer the prayer as He did with Hezekiah? Absolutely and without a doubt. When someone is in danger and prayers are offered for deliverance, they are delivered; did God answer the prayer? Every time and without a doubt.

The power of prayer is found in the heart of the one seeking the favor of God to believe the answer is the will of the Lord. No man knows the mind of God. There are many questions about why some live and some die and why suffering comes on some and blessing on others. Fervent prayer is braced with trust, hope, and faith. Jesus knew the power of prayer when He begged His Father hours before His death. His faith was defined by the words, “Thy will be done.” Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and was granted fifteen years to live. What a blessing for Hezekiah but fifteen years later, he died. Life is not about finding answered prayers for things below but opening doors of things above. The most important answered prayer is: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in.”

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God’s Love In Discipline

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)

God’s Love In Discipline

Pain is the way the body tells a person they are alive. It serves as a mechanism to warn the mind that harm is coming to the body. When the hand comes in contact with fire, the sensation of pain signals to the brain warning that if a change is not made, the flesh will be destroyed. God created the body to withstand the elements of the world but pain is the system of protection to keep the body from suffering loss leading to death. Pain also serves as a means of correction. Parental discipline is a means to correct the behavior that will harm a child. A disobedient child becomes his own worst enemy and, without discipline, becomes an unruly and rebellious adult. Successful discipline cannot be accomplished without pain.

In the spiritual world, God uses pain to correct His children. Chastening is never a pleasant experience but it serves an essential role in developing the Christian character. The world may frown and even try to remove discipline from the social conscience but the Lord demands it and requires it in the body of Christ. The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes those who are His children. Sin is the danger that will destroy a soul. Like training a child with punitive discipline, God demands children of God who follow a path of rebellion to be punished in the hope of saving the soul.

The Bible is filled with stories of discipline. Adam and Eve were punished for disobeying the command of God. Cain was punished, the world of Noah was destroyed, Nadab and Abihu were killed instantly, Moses denied entrance to the Promised Land, David and Bathsheba watched the baby die, and the Assyrians and Babylonians conquered Israel. In the New Testament church, Ananias and Sapphira suffered an immediate punishment for lying to God. Herod was struck dead by an angel of the Lord for not giving glory to God. Paul delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan so they would learn not to blaspheme. The list continues.

In the city of Corinth, the church was thriving but it had a problem. A man had his father’s wife and the church had done nothing about it. Paul demanded action be taken against the couple to deliver them to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. The purpose was not to destroy them but to save the spirit in the day of the Lord Jesus. The saints carried out church discipline at Corinth and Paul rejoiced with them in his second letter to the Corinthian church. At the admonition of the apostle and command of the Lord, the church exercised punitive discipline against sin and glory to God came from it.

God said if discipline is not exercised, the church and individuals do not love the person. Inflicting pain on a child is never joyful but it yields a harvest of right living for those who are trained by it. Church discipline will serve the same purpose. There will be pain involved and if pain is not involved, it is not punitive discipline. Pain leads to repentance in some but not to all. The church must exercise the will of God and pray for the soul that is lost. Through God’s grace the soul can be reclaimed when the sinner repents. The Lord loves whom He chastens and punishes those whom He receives.

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Speaking About The Kingdom Of God

And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God and healed those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:10-11)

Speaking About The Kingdom Of God

Jesus was a masterful teacher. Multitudes came to hear Him speak, enthralled by His demeanor, demonstration, and declaration of God’s word. The people were astonished at His teaching. Jesus did not speak as the scribes or religious leaders of Israel but as someone with authority. His message implored the people to see the word of the Father as truth with clear implications for obedience. The teaching of the Jewish scribes had watered down the message and changed the force of the law to personal liberties, binding heavy burdens hard to bear. Hypocrisy filled the ranks of the religious leaders as they sought the praise of men. Jesus did not come boasting, bragging or berating the people. His message was clear, concise, and commanding.

The kingdom of God is the core message of the gospel. Jesus had taken His disciples to a deserted place to spend time with them. When the multitudes (at least five thousand) found where Jesus was, they followed Him. Taking any opportunity to share the word of His Father, Jesus accepts the crowd and begins to speak about the kingdom of God. The Lord also goes among the thousands and heals any who had need. Afterward, Jesus will feed the huge crowd with five loaves and two fish with twelve baskets of the leftover fragments remaining. Following the miracle of feeding more than five thousand people, Jesus again goes off for some private time. The crowds find Him the next day, chiding the Lord for leaving.

Jesus knows why the people had come. He spent the day speaking about the kingdom of God and while He performed many miracles that day, His purpose was not to heal the sick and feed the hungry. The bread they ate the day before was gone and they were hungry again but the manna of God’s word is what sustains eternal life. Food was the people’s desire, and they missed the power of the message. Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God and the crowds did not follow Jesus to hear more about the kingdom but rather to find something to eat. They had missed the greatest miracle given to humanity – the word of the kingdom.

The kingdom of God is the fulfillment of the eternal plan of God. Jesus taught the kingdom of God because that is what saves men. He did not focus on healing the sick, raising the dead, or feeding the multitudes bread and fish. Those things would perish in time. The real message of Jesus Christ is the kingdom of God. When men spend more time talking about the bread and the fish, they will spend less time talking about the kingdom of God. The church must preach the whole counsel of God, but it must preach the kingdom.

When the life of Jesus is examined, it is evident that He healed many people and performed a lot of miracles. Jesus did not rise from the dead for men to seek after bread and fish but the power of the manna from above. The kingdom of God is the word of God. Salvation will only be granted to those who do the will of the Father. Paul told Timothy to do one thing: preach the word. That is preaching the kingdom of God.

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Kill The Wolves

Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Kill The Wolves

Error has appealed to the nature of man since that moment in Eden when Eve partook of the forbidden fruit. When Eve looked at the fruit, she did not think a little bite would make much difference. The fruit did look appealing. There was a rush of self-worth to think of how the fruit might empower her and so Eve took of that which God forbade. Adam followed suit. Sin has a deceptive appeal that does not come out with blaring horns and marching bands but in small, subtle and unremarkable tones of fulfillment. Satan is a crafty tempter allowing men to believe in God but recreating Him in their own image. The word of God is not always something the devil wants a man to reject but to rewrite the gospel message to fit his own ideals. False teaching comes from truth covered with a mantle of deception. As long as Satan can get a man to dabble in error, the end will be the destruction of the soul.

There were false teachers among the saints of the first century. Paul warned the Ephesian elders of the ravaging wolves that would come in among the flock of God. Peter writes of the false prophets among those of like precious faith that would secretly bring in destructive heresies. In only a few centuries, the apostasy of error had taken full bloom from the seeds of error and the world has never been the same. Devout men failed to stand up for truth, allowing false doctrines to permeate the church’s teaching. It did not happen overnight. The apostasy was a gradual decline when the gospel was no longer defended with urgency and allowed to be replaced with a false notion of truth. Slowly, truth became eroded with the philosophies of men.

Error comes from cowards. To speak the boldness of the gospel takes courage. It requires men and women standing firm on the word of God, unyielding in its defense. The temptation of Satan is to encourage the people of God to embrace error to teach truth. Compromising the purity of the gospel serves a larger audience and gains greater acceptance. The truth must fit the needs of the people rather than allow the word of God to change men. Through compromise, error is accepted in the false notion of using a false doctrine to teach the gospel. This is a mockery of the gospel Jesus died to establish.

Roger Shouse said, “Maybe it’s time we stopped dancing with wolves, flirting with the devil and tiptoeing through weeds of error and get back to the Bible and change our hearts and ways.” He is right on so many levels. In modern ideals, there is a tendency to embrace a little bit of worldly wisdom to promote the gospel. It becomes an effort by spiritual cowards that do not believe the gospel is powerful enough to save and needs propping up by accepting error that has changed the landscape of the church. The gospel is too hard so men try to soften it up. Converting sinners has become placating the consciousness of the weak. It is better to dance with the wolves than to destroy them. A little flirting with error is acceptable. The weeds of error fill the heart choking out truth, righteousness and spiritual courage. God’s word will not change but the heart of men must change. Too often men try to fit the gospel to their wisdom by embracing error to teach truth. It has always failed and it will fail again. Until courageous men and women stand up for truth and refuse to allow the seeds of error to grow, the cause of Christ will suffer. Courageous souls will stand for truth – no matter what! Kill the wolves, stop the flirting and get rid of the weeds. Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord.

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The Stone Of Joshua

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.” (Joshua 24:25-27)

The Stone Of Joshua

Monuments have been a common means to bear witness of an event, a person, or establish a covenant. When Joshua brought the people across the Jordan River to begin the conquest of Canaan, the Lord told him to take twelve stones and set them up as a sign of the covenant made between God and Israel. This memorial would constantly remind how the Lord delivered Israel from Egypt and brought them to the promised land crossing the Jordan River on dry land. The unknown author of the book of Joshua notes the twelve stones remained visible as a memorial.

At the end of Joshua’s life, he challenges the people to affirm their covenant with the Lord by writing their words in the Book of the Law of God and taking a large stone as a witness to their covenant. Joshua places the stone under the oak that was the sanctuary of the Lord to serve as a testimony of the fidelity of the people. It would be a constant reminder of the promises they made that day. They had promised to serve God and to obey His voice. The stone of remembrance would be a testimony of their oath. Joshua told the people the stone had heard their words of the Lord given that day and their promise. It would be a witness to the people lest they deny God and turn away to the gods around them.

Following the covenant made at Shechem, the people returned to their homes. Israel was faithful to the word of the Lord all the days of Joshua and the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which had been done for Israel. After the death of Joshua, a period of chaos characterized the story of Israel. For three hundred years, Israel was ruled by Judges who delivered the people from the oppression of foreign armies sent to punish the rebellious nation. There was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. The stone of Joshua remained in its place, crying out the words of the covenant made in the days of Joshua, but no one was listening.

Israel was granted a king and then David and Solomon ruled the kingdom. After the death of Solomon, Israel fell into civil war with a divided kingdom of Israel to the north and Judah in the south. It only took two hundred years for the northern ten tribes of Israel to be destroyed by the Assyrians and 130 years later, Jerusalem would be burned and the temple destroyed. What had happened to the glorious nation of God’s people who proclaimed allegiance to the word of God? They forgot the stone of Joshua. It remained unmoved but no one cared. It was ignored, neglected and covered with weeds. The word of the Lord cried out from the stone and no one listened. Joshua’s memorial was forgotten.

God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son and Jesus established a covenant to remember His sacrifice. Few know about the memorial stone of Jesus that was written in blood on a wooden cross. The cross of Christ remains a memorial and the world ignores it. Sadly, many who have made a covenant with Christ do not see the importance of the supper of the Lord. Jesus instituted the supper as a memorial to be remembered each first day of the week. If work gets in the way, the supper is ignored. Assembling on the first day of the week is a matter of convenience. Like the Israel of old, people turn their hearts away from the memorial of God in time.

The twelve stones set up by Joshua when the people crossed the Jordan and the memorial stone placed by Joshua under the tree will be a testimony to all Israel. Jesus established a memorial to be remembered. The Bible is a memorial to the word of God. God has given humanity every reminder to know Him and to obey Him. The choice of obedience is whether men want to listen to a stone. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

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Keeping Our Word

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed— better not to vow than to vow and not pay. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)

Keeping Our Word

The veracity of God’s word has never been challenged with success. Critics of Jesus tried to dissuade the multitudes away from Jesus but they could never find error or falsehood in His teaching. They often tried to trap the Lord with His words. The Jewish leaders wove intricate questions designed to assassinate the character of the man from Nazareth and failed miserably every time. On one occasion, they confronted Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar and acknowledged how honest Jesus was and how He taught the way of God without partiality or favoritism. The word of Jesus was His bond, His character without reservation and everyone knew that.

God’s word has been true from the beginning. The word of man has not. Nothing challenges the heart of men more than keeping promises and fulfilling vows. God demands honesty in His children, which is especially true in the promises made by men. Nothing is more important to the character of the disciple of Christ than the words that come from his mouth. The wise man warns against speaking out of turn and failing to keep promises to God. Making a vow or a promise to God and refusing to keep that word is foolish and dangerous. Every judgment scene shows the Book of life open with all men judged by the things done in the body, good or bad. Unkept promises, lies, falsehoods and dishonest words will appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

Truth is the sterling character of a person of character. Their word is their bond not to impress others but to obey God. The Lord holds accountable the promises made. Two main areas of concern begin with the promise to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation comes from an obedient heart willing to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. With the mouth confession is made to salvation. The oath of allegiance to serve the Lord is a promise God demands His children keep. When someone becomes a Christian, they promise to serve the Lord and obey His word. Failing to keep that word will bring the judgment of God. It is foolish to make a vow of obedience to be a Christian and delay keeping that promise.

The second vow that must be kept is the promise made in marriage. Marriage vows are words of the covenant where a man and woman stand before God and promise to be faithful to one another. These vows are solemn and must be kept with great fidelity. Failing to keep marriage vows is displeasing to the God to whom those promises were made. It is easy to disregard a promise to others without fear of retribution. Failing to keep a vow to God has eternal consequences. God hates divorce in part because vows are broken, promises made are rejected, and a covenant broken. It would be better not to have made promises than to go back on those promises.

Jesus was known as a man of integrity because His word defined His character. The disciple of Christ must be a person of truthfulness by their words, keeping promises to God and one another. When a promise is made to God, He intends the person to keep that word. God takes no pleasure in fools. Failing to keep their word makes a man a fool and in danger of God’s displeasure. Speak the truth in love but speak the truth. Strive to keep promises or explain why it cannot be done. Let the example of the Lord guide the heart to be a person who is known for his honest character and a person of integrity. Do not be rash in making promises that cannot be kept. But fear God.

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Salvation’s Cornucopia

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. (Titus 3:4-8)

Salvation’s Cornucopia

The question of salvation has divided the religious world for two thousand years and more prominently in the past five hundred years. Martin Luther rejected the works of salvation of the Roman Catholic Church, emphasizing salvation by grace alone. John Calvin advanced the doctrine of grace as the exclusive means of salvation. Almost all Protestant churches born out of the apostate Roman Catholic Church teach a pattern of salvation different from the Bible. Justification by faith alone is prominent among the Christian community of Protestantism. Men like Billy Graham taught if a man accepted Christ in his heart, he would be saved. The doctrine of faith alone is the bedrock of most religious groups.

Paul’s letter to Timothy concludes with a cornucopia of the will of God to save men. It begins with the Father who loved the world to send His only begotten Son. The love of God revealed the mercy of the Father through Jesus Christ. This divine gift was not because of any righteous thing humanity had done but quite the opposite. Nothing was deserving in man to qualify him to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. The wrath of God is what all men deserve. But God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son to die for the sins of all men. Only by the goodness of God did salvation come to men.

No one could claim justification through works of how a man could save himself. Without the grace of God, a man was helpless and without hope. The revelation of God’s love gave all men the blessing of redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Peter and the apostles opened the door of salvation in Jerusalem when they declared the gift of grace through Jesus Christ. When the multitude begged the apostles what to do, Peter declared the message of salvation by telling them to be washed in the waters of baptism where their sins were washed away. Repentance and baptism signified the grace of God to sinful men and three thousand Jews obeyed the word of the Lord. The promise of the Holy Spirit was given to those who obeyed the word of the Lord.

Grace is an abundant gift that can only come from God. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, the mercy of the Father takes a sinful man and washes away all his sins in the waters of baptism. Justification is found in the grace of God, where those who do the will of the Father become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Because of His grace, sinful man is made right in the sight of God, instilling confidence in the promises of God. Eternal life is granted to those who accept the mercy, grace, and kindness of God and obey the gospel message of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins.

Paul urges the saints to trust in God and devote themselves to doing good. He instructs the saved to be careful to maintain good works. This does not dismiss salvation by grace but enhances the pattern of salvation by the blessings of God and the works of men. When a man rejects salvation by works, he denies the teachings of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul confirmed to the saints in Ephesus salvation by grace in tandem with the writings of James that shows faith without works is dead. No one is saved by grace alone or faith alone and no one can be saved by works alone. Paul’s conclusion to Titus outlines the pattern of salvation by grace, mercy, kindness, baptism, love, justification and maintaining good works. He reminds Titus these teachings are good and beneficial for all.

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Two Views Of Jesus

As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons.” (Matthew 9:32-34)

Two Views Of Jesus

The miracles of Jesus were not charlatan exhibitions of sleight of hand or trickery. Men like Simon the sorcerer would later amaze the people with his supposed powers and the crowds believing he possessed some gift from God. Jesus defied all the tricksters of His day. His miracles were astonishing, demonstrative, undeniable, and of such a nature no man can deny. The harshest critics of Jesus never denied His miracles; they only denied the source of His miracles. Thousands of people were healed of paralysis, blindness, blood disease, infirmities, demon-possession, fevers, and some raised from the dead.

Following the healing of two blind men, a demon-possessed man who couldn’t speak was brought to Jesus. Moved with compassion, Jesus cast out the demon and the man’s tongue was loosed. Healing a known mute who suffered from a demon was a powerful testimony that Jesus of Nazareth was not an ordinary man. No man had the power to immediately cause a mute to speak or to cast out a demon from a man. Jesus demonstrated unmistakably He was the Son of God.

As the crowds watched Jesus heal the mute, two separate opinions arose from what they saw. The crowds were amazed. They saw the man from Nazareth do what no other man had done or could do. Healing the mute was not a magician’s trick. Clearly, Jesus healed the man of an impossible disease. The multitudes marveled at the ease and power of Jesus to cast out a demon and make a mute speak. Their reaction was to claim that such a thing had never been seen in Israel. The people were correct in their observation. A second view of the same incident was heralded by the Pharisees as nothing more than healing by the prince of the demons. The Pharisees saw the same mute man possessed of a demon – healed and speaking and yet they could only conclude the ‘healing’ was done by the forces of evil. The people and the Jewish leaders saw the same miracle and came away with two different views.

The hard-hearted Pharisees saw the power of God in ways no modern man has witnessed and still denied Jesus. A failed philosophy of men suggests if Jesus were here today, the world would accept Him as the Son of God. In fact, what happened to Jesus two thousand years ago would happen today. If Jesus stood in the middle of Times Square and raised a man from the dead or healed a crowd of sick people of various diseases; most would accuse Him of trickery, dishonesty, and deception. They would heckle Him and run him out of town. Only a few honest hearts would see something never seen before and recognize the power of God.

What Jesus did with the mute and demon-possessed man pales in comparison to the miracle that happens every day. No one is raised from the dead or receives the healing power of the divine hand. Miracles of healing do not occur today as found in the First Century. No man has the power to raise the dead, heal the sick, cause the blind to see, or make the lame walk. Those who claim such powers are liars and frauds. The greatest miracle that declares Jesus Christ the Son of God is the Bible.

God never intended to keep men on earth to perform miracles. All those who were raised from the dead died again. The mute and demon-possessed man died, as did all those healed of diseases. Jesus came to bring the Word to heal the most serious malady man has – sin. The Bible is the greatest miracle of God that heals the greatest need of men. Blind men are healed of sin by the power of the word. People with cancer can find hope in the healing power of God’s grace. No disease can destroy a man who possesses the word of God. The Bible is the greatest miracle that heals the greatest disease by the greatest sacrifice through the love of the greatest Son ever known.

There are two views of the Bible: the honest heart recognizes the word of God as something never seen or heard in the wisdom of men. The majority of people view the word of God as a book of demonic origin because they reject it as a myth or fairy tale. Jesus is still dismissed as nothing more than a good man but not divine. How the Pharisees saw the miracle did not change the fact the man who was healed knew the power of God. It does not matter how the world views the Bible to those who know the power of the word. What the world does not realize is their view of the Bible will be brought to light at the judgment seat of Christ. It is then the view of all men will be that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God – the Word.

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Hope Comes From TheWord

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

Hope Comes From The Word

There are about 592,439 words in the Old Testament. The New Testament covers about 181,253 words, with a total combined summary of 773,692 words in the complete Bible. Some years after Paul wrote his letter to the Roman saints, the canon of the Bible was complete, but he recognized the full value of the available scriptures to the early Christians. Paul understood the importance of the written word as a conduit transcending the generations from Moses to Malachi as a message of hope. Reading the word was not to be an intellectual exercise but an emotional experience to create in the heart a love for the promises of God with the blessed assurance that God never lies. Every story of the Old Testament resonates with the grace of God, telling man of the hope he has in the word of the Lord.

Hope is an essential ingredient in the life of the child of God. Paul did not have the advantage of the completed revelation but he knew what power lay in the words of scripture. The word of God is a powerful demonstration of the promises of God. Those promises never fail, whether good or bad. The word of God is true when the Lord promises blessings and His word is true when the wrath of God is unleashed. Hope does not come naturally. The experience of hope is honed by the many hours spent in the word seeing the struggles of faulty men seeking the righteousness of a loving Father and the constant forgiveness of a merciful God. Noah was a man who received the message of God’s wrath in the destruction of the world and the promise of salvation in building the ark. Reading stories such as Noah’s ark brings hope to the downtrodden soul.

Knowledge comes from reading the word of God. Hope springs from this knowledge and is proportionate to the amount of knowledge one has of the word. Often, the Christian life is filled with doubt and fear because little time is spent in the word of God to see how God cares for His saints. The Bible stories are not stories for the casual reader, but rather stories declaring the salvation of the Lord. Hope comes from seeing how God answers prayers, completes His will in the lives of His people, and remembers the frail dust of man’s nature in divine forgiveness. The stories change from generation to generation, but the Lord’s promises remain the same. Paul reminds the Roman saints that the scriptures give hope and encouragement to all who wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. This is a learned experience.

Earlier in the letter to Rome, Paul showed that faith comes from hearing the word of God. Hope and faith are inseparably connected to one another. Faith will increase with time spent in the word and hope becomes the by-product of faith. Learning requires effort. Putting forth the effort to learn the stories and teachings of the Bible (Old and New) will fortify the soul with courage, fill the heart with hope, and bless the mind with the assurance of salvation in Jesus Christ. All of these are contingent on the time spent reading the word of God. Too many Bibles gather dust rather than dusting off the cobwebs of doubt in the heart. The scriptures give hope. Read the word of God to be wise in this life and to know the glory of life to come. If you lack faith and have little hope – take time to read the scriptures.

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The Great Appearing

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well-pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:9-11)

The Great Appearing

There has never been a gathering like the one at the judgment seat of Christ. Moses spoke the law to the children of Israel who numbered more than a million souls but his audience was small. Jesus fed more than five thousand people at one time and that crowd was infinitely smaller than those who will gather before Him at judgment. If technology could connect with every soul on earth (estimated at nearly eight billion) at one time, the number would pale compared to the day that is coming. There is a day coming that will gather every human from Adam to the final baby born to stand before the great and terrible day of the Lord.

The great appearing is when all will come before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. Noble kings and queens will have no special place to stand. They will assemble with the peasants and common folk. Rich men will feel the same dread as poor men. Tyrants, despots, and bullies will have no courage but tremble in fear. The wisest men on earth will bow in the presence of the all-knowing. There will be no arguments, questions, or appeals. All will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive whatever is deserved for the good or evil done in the earthly body. It will be the most amazing assembly of people ever brought together.

When the book of life is opened, everything a person has done will be revealed. The 969 years of Methuselah will be detailed in the book with great care. Adam lived 930 years and it will all be there. The righteousness of Noah will be known, the faith of Abraham declared, and the heart of David confirmed. Ahab and Jezebel will not find joy in that day as they stand next to Pharaoh, Sennacherib, Cyrus, Herod, and Pilate, knowing the fate that awaits them. Rahab will hear the faithful words of eternal life, as will Samson and Saul of Tarsus.

The amazing realization of those who stand before a righteous God is that not everyone will go to heaven. All of humanity standing before the Lord will be judged according to what they have done. If it is the righteousness of obedience, they will be saved, but most people did not live that way in life. Their lives were not doing the will of the Father. The goodness of a person often measures salvation but good people will not be saved on the judgment day of the Lord. The judgment of God will come from a book that shows willing obedience to the will of the Father. To be well-pleasing to God is to submit to His will. Religious people will not be saved. Obedient people will hear the words of eternal life. Everything about the great appearing will come from the righteous character of God, not the wisdom of men.

Everyone will be at the great appearing. No one will be left out and no one lost in the mass of humanity. Everyone will be judged and this should bring a sense of awe and fear. There is such a thing as the terror of the Lord. It is real, it is powerful, and it will bring judgment to the billions of souls who have lived. There will be no partiality. Obedience will be rewarded and disobedience punished. Considering the great assembly, everyone must make it their aim to be well-pleasing to God. Eternity depends on it. Are you ready? See you there.

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Habakkuk’s Pandemic

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls— yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Habakkuk’s Pandemic

Habakkuk did not understand how a just and merciful God could allow a nation like Babylon to afflict Israel. Babylon was a cruel and barbaric nation bent on the annihilation of any who stood in their way. God calls the Babylonians a bitter and hasty nation that is terrible and dreadful. Their horses are swifter than cheetahs and fiercer than wolves at dusk as the charioteers charge ahead. Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey and their army is bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand. This terrible army stands ready to destroy the people of God and Habakkuk is seeking answers.

God answers Habakkuk by reminding the prophet that Babylon is an instrument of divine wrath upon the sinful nation of Israel. The nation of Israel was to be an example of the glory of God but they had become like the nations around them. Judgment had to come upon the disobedient and that judgment came first from the Assyrians. They took the northern tribes away into oblivion and now the Babylonians stood poised to punish the remnant. God knew what He was doing. Habakkuk did not understand the mind of God but everything was following a divine pattern of the goodness and severity of a loving God.

Habakkuk struggled with a wicked nation like Babylon being used to punish the holy people of God. He failed to appreciate that Israel deserved such a severe punishment from an evil nation like Babylon. However, it was never God’s intention to allow Babylon to go unpunished. There is always an appointed time and judgment against any nation that forgets God and judgment would come against the Babylonians. Sin bears its own seed of self-destruction. Israel may be carried away to captivity by the Babylonians but they will return a remnant to preserve the seed. When the Medes and Persians destroyed Babylon, there was nothing left. The wicked nation of Babylon had its Waterloo as all nations will face the judgment of a wrathful God.

The answer God wants Habakkuk to understand is that in the face of the tragedy of the Babylonians, there remains hope and the promise of God. Babylon would bring great harm to Israel and many of God’s people would die but at the end of the day, the just will live by faith. What happens in the affairs of nations is God’s will, not the business of men. God will do what He must do without consulting men. Habakkuk needed to see that regardless of the chaos in the world, God still ruled and the faithful would be justified by trusting in the love and mercy of God. It is at the end of his short book that Habakkuk comes to realize the awesome power of trusting in God. No matter how bad things become, no matter how much harm Babylon will bring to the nation, and no matter what may happen to his life – Habakkuk will remain steadfast to the Lord.

Pandemics come in different forms. For Habakkuk, his pandemic was Babylon. It seemed insurmountable, impossible and full of dread. A lot of bad things were going to take place before it was all over. For many of God’s people, their faith is destroyed. Seeing the Babylonians march on Jerusalem took their spiritual life away and they turned against the Lord. Men like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and Ezekiel faced their captivity with faith, courage, and steadfast love for the Lord. They did not allow the Babylonians to destroy their relationship with God. The story does not reveal what happened to Habakkuk. Was he killed by the surging forces of the Babylonian army or did he suffer captivity with so many others? The Holy Spirit does not reveal what happened to the prophet of God and we are left to wonder.

Habakkuk had a clear view of his pandemic. He trembled inside and his lips quivered with fear and he shook in terror. But he decided to wait quietly for the will of the Lord. The prophet of God determined that even though the fig trees would not blossom or the grapes died and the olive crops failed and the fields lie empty and barren, he would rejoice in the Lord. He knew that God was his salvation and the Sovereign Lord was all the strength he needed. Habakkuk would not stop doing the will of the Lord just because he faced the pandemic of the Babylonians.

The pandemic of a virus has rocked the world. Like Babylon, it has come with fear and dread. It is beyond the scope of human wisdom to know how the providential will of the Lord has worked in this pandemic. Regardless, the pandemic has changed the face of the world and, sadly, has rocked the foundations of the church. There have been people of God who have succumbed to the fear of the pandemic and given up their trust and hope in the will of God. They have allowed the fear mongers to destroy their trust in the Almighty Lord God. The prayer of Habakkuk is the only answer to face the pandemic. If the virus destroys half the population of the earth, where will the just be found? The just will live by faith and will continue to follow the New Testament pattern of worship, praise, communion and obedience. This means no matter what happens and what the virus will do in the next one hundred years, the people of God will walk by faith and live in the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Babylon never defeated the people of God; it only emboldened them. No pandemic will destroy the faithful of God; it can only embolden them to trust in the Lord more.

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Seeking The Praise Of God

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 Praise Of God

There are two kinds of praise: the honor given by men and the acceptance of the Creator. The praise of men is a strong temptation driving men to spend their lives to be remembered in history in one form or another. Ambitious men and women craft everything in their lives to be known throughout the world for economic, scientific, political, or athletic accomplishments. Monuments are raised in their honor, cities named after them, discoveries attributed to their genius, and endless volumes dedicated to their life work. The irony of men who seek fame and fortune for the praise of men is how short the memory of history defines their lives.

One of the great men of the nineteenth century was Henry Bradley Plant (1819-1899) but few people recognize his accomplishments. Along with Henry Flagler, he was a businessman and entrepreneur who changed the face of Florida, considered to be giants of their day. Their fame or “praise of men” was short-lived, with only remnants of their memories on the minds of people today. Alexander Fleming discovered one of the most important breakthroughs in medical science and few know what he did. Does anyone remember who won the 1956 World Series? The praise of men is only a brief footnote in the history of humanity.

Among the rulers of the Jewish Council, some men believed that Jesus was the Son of God. Because of their fear of the Pharisees, they did not confess the Lord. Anyone who acknowledged the legitimacy of the man from Nazareth would be expelled from the synagogue. The praise of men was more important to them than the praise of God. Their hearts were seeking worldly honor, fame, fortune, and power. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. If they never changed their hearts, they died loving the praise of men. No doubt, the funeral procession would have been an elaborate declaration of who they were and how important they were in the synagogue. Two thousand years later, does anyone know their names or what they accomplished?

Jesus had many followers who were not tempted by the praise of men. They sought the praise of God. In most cases, what men knew about those who sought after the praise of God was very little. The early Christians were honest men and women who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ with humility and devotion. History would not inscribe their names on plaques, raise monuments in their honor, or name cities after them. Instead, the Holy Spirit would remember a few of them so the world could read about them thousands of years later. Men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Peter, James and John, Paul, Barnabas, Timothy and Epaphroditus. Women like Sarah, Abigail, Hannah, Ruth, Rahab, Mary, Martha, Phoebe, and Dorcas are still talked about today. Their lives were in simple faith seeking the praise of God. They died with little recognition of the glory of men.

The praise of men and the praise of God have one distinct difference: the praise of men always fades away and the praise of God never diminishes. Death begins to erode the fame, removes the riches, and slowly takes away the remnants of a life wasted seeking the praise of men. The praise of God gives hope to the spirit in life and the promise of eternal life in death. Seeking the praise of men never brings peace in death, only fear. When the soul is facing eternity and the presence of the Almighty God, the praise of men has no power. No man on his death bed wishes for more money and more fame. All he can see is a vast chasm of blackness engulfing his life as the cold tentacles of death begins to surround him. He knows too late the value of the praise of men. Only the child of God feels warmth as the sleep of death covers his soul with tender caresses of joy as the angels prepare to transport the soul to the bosom of Abraham. The praise of God is eternal. It never ends.

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And Be Thankful

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

And Be Thankful

Paul describes the character of the Christian as being a changed person. Everything in the life of those who profess to serve Jesus Christ focuses on things from the Father’s viewpoint, not the earthly. There is an active work of removing those hindrances that challenge the heart of righteousness like fornication, impurity, lust, anger, slander, and ungodly language (and many more). The sinful nature of the old man is stripped away to renew the spirit with the godly character of Jesus Christ. As the elect of God, the Christian clothes his life with tender mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, and all the attributes that help him dwell in favor of God. There is a significant change that takes place for the Christian.

In the midst of all the character traits changing the heart for the glory of God is the simple admonition to be thankful. Many changes must take place that will challenge the courage of the faithful to be like Christ, but nothing is more essential than remembering to be thankful. If there was a trait that was easier to implement in life, being thankful should be at the top of the list. It does not require deep intellectual insight to find a reason to be thankful. Three words sum up the spirit of a soul saved from the wrath of God and the promise of eternal life. A thankful spirit knows the value of salvation, the glory of divine mercy, and the joy of saving grace. Being thankful constantly tells God how grateful it is to know He loves and cares for His children.

“And be thankful” is not a hard concept to accept. It strips away the pride of boasting, removes the shadow of human wisdom and acknowledges every blessing comes from above without variation or respect of persons. God does not love one person over another. He gave His Son to the world so that all men could come to salvation. The blood of Jesus Christ will take away the sins of anyone who comes to Him with an obedient heart. There is no distinction of grace for one nationality above another. God’s love is for all men if they would but accept His will. Out of the billions of souls that dwell upon the earth, Jesus died for the individual who obeys the word of His Father as if there were no other souls on earth. To be thankful is to know the blessings of God come unmeasured upon His children. How can a soul not be grateful?

The spirit of thanksgiving dwells in the heart of the Christian each day. When a thankful heart only remembers the Lord once a year when the turkey appears, the soul dies with ingratitude. A happy heart awakens each day, seeing the hand of God ready to guide the soul with the eternal grace of His presence. Through the word of God, thanksgiving is learned from the stories of old where God never lies and every promise made was kept – without exception. Thanksgiving rises from knowing that God will keep His word because He is a righteous God. At the end of the day, the soul feels the peace of God ruling their hearts because they have been called in one body – and they are thankful. Thank you, thank you – thank you!

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Thanksgiving In Heaven

All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 7:11-12)

Thanksgiving In Heaven

People often wonder what Heaven is going to be like. The scriptures hint at the glories that await but in human terms, it isn’t easy to put into tangible realities how the saved will dwell in eternity. Human wisdom clouds the images of the eternal when earthly ties are bound in the imagination of a world much like the one on earth. God uses pictures of a heavenly city with streets of gold, but these are only illustrative images to describe the incredible beauty of Heaven. There will be no literal streets of gold or mansions for families to dwell in and take long strolls through a garden of paradise. Heaven will not be a place to recount past histories with family. Jesus told the Sadducees there would be no marriages. Eternal life is not about the frivolities of earthly life. Heaven will be a place where the glory of God is magnified.

The revelation of the apostle John gives the clearest pictures of eternal glory found in scripture. There are many questions about standing before the presence of the Almighty, but the heavenly beings give one clear image. There will be worshipping and praising the glory of the Lord God with thanksgiving, honor, power and might to the heavenly Father. Thanksgiving will be a central theme in the ages to come. There is much to be thankful for in this life. The immeasurable blessings of God that provide life on earth cannot be measured with the joy of heaven. Thanksgiving is a way we seek to tell God how much we depend on Him and how thankful we are for His blessings. In Heaven, thanksgiving will be taken to an eternal level of praise, joy, and honor for the righteousness of His glory.

Men do not always appreciate thanksgiving. They can go all their lives and never find a thankful word for the Lord. Those who deny the blessings of God will not be singing praises of thanksgiving to God as they will not be in Heaven. The saved are those who spent their lives giving thanks to the Father for the blessings in Christ Jesus and, in their obedience to His word, followed His word. For those gathered around the throne of God, they will join the angels, elders and living creatures and sing joyfully with thankful hearts the glories of the great Savior and Redeemer. Thanksgiving will be an immediate response. Heaven will be the eternal thanksgiving.

The heart will not wonder what to say when standing before God. It will be an immediate and continual thanksgiving. The wonder of eternal life is cloaked in the garments of a thankful heart for the mercy, grace, and love of a benevolent Father. Thanksgiving is a natural response. Blessing and glory and wisdom will be the hymns for eternal ages. Everyone in Heaven will be thankful. If you think thanksgiving is awesome here on earth, just wait until the eternal experience is shared by the saved. Then, and only then, will the true meaning of thanksgiving be realized. Thank you, Father.

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Thanksgiving And Prayer

For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

Thanksgiving And Prayer

The greatest act of thanksgiving is the gesture of thanks. To be thankful without expressing thanksgiving is not a complete appreciation for what has been given. The irony of human wisdom is everything man has is given to him by God. There is nothing that a man can do that does not proceed from the throne of God. A man can plant a seed, but the Creator makes the increase and bounty of the crop. Technology has changed the face of food production, but God provides the abundance at the end of the day.

There is nothing in the world that is not governed by the will of the Father. Pundits declare the warning of global warming and yet the Lord God has said there will always be regular seasons. Human achievement will never change the divine plan of God. The nature of thanksgiving is realizing that life comes from the hand of the Lord and without God, life does not exist. Seasons come and go by the will of God. The sun and moon rule the sky because God said so. Clothing, food, stuff, health and life derive their existence from the hand of the One who made the heavens and the earth. Thanksgiving is not complete until man realizes from whence his blessings come and then tells God, “Thank you.”

Prayer is thanksgiving because the heart tells the Lord, “Thank you.” God wants to hear the voice of His creation tell Him he knows where his blessings come. Food is sanctified by prayer because the heart knows that there would be nothing to enjoy in life without the mercy of God. Thanksgiving is a holiday named for thanksgiving but to do so without the word of God and prayer is to lose the eternal meaning of life. God created man and breathed into him the breath of life. The bounty of food and worldly possessions comes from the hand of God. Man would have nothing if the Lord were not the provider of all things. Thanksgiving recognizes that everything comes from the hand of God and through prayer, the soul tells God, “Thank you.”

If the Lord allows the universe to continue after Thanksgiving, the need to see the hand of God in life remains. He is the One who holds the world together by His voice. The word of God created the world and the word of God sustains all life. Prayer is telling God thank you for His infinite mercy, kindness, grace, and love for allowing everything in life to continue. The day comes from the will of God and every morsel of food consumed on Thanksgiving is possible because of the blessings of the Lord God Almighty. There should be a spirit of thanksgiving but the reality is that Thanksgiving feasts will end and life continues. The greatest lesson to learn about thanksgiving is not about the food that perishes but the manna from heaven that will never perish. A more excellent feast of sacrifice was given two thousand years ago when the Son of God died for the sins of humanity so the redeemed can dine at the table of the Lord in eternity. The greatest thanksgiving can only be found in Jesus Christ. Now that is something to pray about. Thank you, Father. Thank you.

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The Doctrine Of Thanksgiving

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

The Doctrine Of Thanksgiving

Paul’s letter to the saints at Philippi is filled with strong appeal to live full lives of joy, peace, and confidence in their eternal hope. Philippians is an encouraging book written when the people of God were undergoing grave challenges to their faith. Paul was imprisoned for his faith in Jesus Christ, as were many others in the Roman world. Materialism encroached on the lives of the Christians with the temptation of the carnal flesh. The city of Philippi was known as a miniature Rome, a proud Roman colony enjoying the favor of the Roman government that exempted the city from paying taxes. Writing to the saints in Philippi, Paul exhorted them to rejoice in Christ and not allow the world’s temptations to move their faith.

Thanksgiving is seldom viewed as a matter of doctrine but the spirit of a thankful heart derives its character from knowing and understanding where all blessings come. It is easy to look at Thanksgiving purely from an emotional standpoint. Paul writes to the saints not to worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. He wants to remind the Christians that all blessings come from God and they should tell God what they need and thank Him for all he has done. This is the doctrine of thanksgiving when the heart of a man looks at the kind mercies of God throughout time and sees that God never lies and He always cares for His children. The Bible is a revelation of the mercies of the Lord to care for all those who call on His name. Thanksgiving is about doctrine.

Knowledge comes from an examination of truth. The Bible begins with a story of thanksgiving when salvation is promised to man. Noah had much to be thankful for as the Lord delivered his family from destruction. Abraham was a man of great faith as he built his altars to the Lord everywhere he went as a gesture of thanksgiving. Israel became a symbol of the mercies of God from their deliverance, God’s benevolence in the wilderness, conquering Canaan and becoming a nation of the Lord God. The people of Israel had so much to be thankful for. Sadly, the fall of Israel came when they were no longer thankful. Thanksgiving turned to selfishness, arrogance and pride. When the doctrine of thanksgiving was no longer taught to the children to be grateful to God for all blessings, the nation of Israel died.

Thanksgiving is a doctrine that teaches the heart of God’s faithful to trust only in the word of God. The benevolence of the Lord has been demonstrated from time beginning and must remain central to the lives of His saints. Thanksgiving is a time of family, friendship, and probably lots of food. In the midst of the celebration, the doctrine of thanksgiving must be taught that reliance is only on God and Him alone. There is nothing to be anxious about when the heart trusts in the Lord. A thankful heart speaks to the Father seeking His will with prayer and supplication. When the doctrine of thanksgiving finds its way into the soul of a man – peace follows. Thanksgiving rises from the tomb on the third day and His name is Christ Jesus.

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Thanksgiving In Song

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praises on the harp to our God, who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, who makes grass to grow on the mountains. (Psalm 147:7-8)

Thanksgiving In Song

Music has been in the fabric of society since the beginning of time. A few generations removed from Adam and Eve, Moses tells of Jubal, the father of all those who play the harp and the flute. Laban rebukes Jacob for stealing away secretly before he could send him away with joy and songs, timbrel and harp. God created man to be filled with music and singing is the most natural part of that emotional, creative plan. Babies are attracted to music mimicking the tones in their infant dialect. Music is the staple of every culture, defined by its unique measure of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is no wonder God infused the use of music in worship.

One of the elements of music common in all men is the need to sing. The most original form of music comes when the voice fills the air with song. When Moses and the people saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt, they sang a song of deliverance for what God had done. Miriam the prophetess and sister of Moses, took the timbrel in her hand and answered with her own song. The Law of Moses admonished the people to sing praises to God. Music fills the pages of Holy writ. The book of Psalms is a volume of songs of thanksgiving, praise, and honor to God. Throughout the book, the joy of singing to the Lord is extolled over and over again.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. There are many ways to be grateful and show a heart of thanksgiving. The psalmist exhorts his readers to sing to the Lord with thanksgiving and to sing praises to God. Music is a vital part of daily thanksgiving. The Lord created the world, covered the heavens with clouds, and brought rain on the earth. Earth is filled with the glory of God as He covers it with grass, trees, oceans, rivers, and mountains. All the animals of the world find food provided by the hand of God. The sun rises each morning and the moon rules the night. Each star and heavenly body remains in its place according to the word of the Lord. Everything that makes a day is established by the will of God and man, the highest of creation, should sing thanksgiving to the Lord.

Singing is part of the spirit of Thanksgiving. There can be no greater joy than to gather with the people of God and enjoy the fellowship of song. The calendars of men have established the third Thursday of November as Thanksgiving and what a joyous day that can be. Singing thanksgiving can take place each day but the greatest thanksgiving song is found when the saints of God unite their voices together each first day of the week with glory to Jesus Christ, who brought salvation to a dying world. Thanksgiving becomes a lifetime of joy and thankfulness. Taking the songs of worship into the everyday activities of life changes the heart and lifts the spirit. Real thanksgiving springs from hearts filled with the music of the Divine. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving. Amen.

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Thanksgiving Is To God

Offer to God thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me. (Psalm 50:14-15)

Thanksgiving Is To God

The psalmist Asaph declares the Lord, the Mighty One, is God and has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets to hear His words. There is nothing in the world that does not belong to the Lord as the heavens declare the righteousness of God who Himself is Judge. His power created all that is in the world. There is nothing done on earth that God is not aware of and who does not see and hear and know. Nothing is hidden from the presence of the Lord. For the wicked, this knowledge is too awesome for them to consider. The saints of the Lord will find joy in the care of the Lord.

A spirit of thanksgiving comes from those who acknowledge the omnipotence of the Lord God as a blessing. God demands sacrifice but not that He should eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats. He desires the offerings of thanksgiving from hearts that submit to His will. Obedience is the evidence of man’s dependence on the blessings of the Divine. The sun and moon rise and set by the will of the Creator. Rain nourishes the earth according to the divine pattern of creation. Life is a blessing from God. The food that is prepared comes from the hand of a benevolent God. There is nothing man possesses that does not come from the hand of the Lord, the Mighty One.

Thanksgiving is a time of family, food, and fellowship. There are many things to be thankful for in the abundance of what God has provided. While men established the holiday of Thanksgiving, the spirit of thanksgiving has been the desire of the Lord since the beginning of time. God wants to have a relationship with His creation. Sin separated God from man and sadly, most men continue to stay away from the only true thanksgiving in this life. True thanksgiving is when the heart of submission offers to God thanksgiving. The blessings of life are not to be received because of the wisdom of men, the frugal financial prowess of self-centered hearts, or the unthankful spirits of men who deny God. Everything in this world is established through the will of God and every purpose of this expansive universe serves to the glory of God. If there is anything to be thankful for: it is God.

Glory belongs to the one who gives the blessings. Thanksgiving can become a time of remembering all that God has done. There is nothing man can brag about that is original with him. Everything comes from the creative blessing of God. Life is a gift from God. The food consumed in significant quantities at Thanksgiving comes from the bountiful hand of the Great Provider. Homes, possessions, wealth, health, and every essential part of life pour from the throne of the benevolent God who gives to all men the same hours of the day. If there is one thing that must be central to the spirit of the holiday Thanksgiving, it is the need to offer to God thanksgiving and keep the vows made to the Most High. Then, when trouble comes, and the heart calls upon the Lord, He will hear and He will answer. Be thankful. Rejoice. Enjoy. Pray. Fellowship. Offer to God true thanksgiving for all the abundant blessings from above. And above all things, thank God for Jesus Christ.

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Jesus Had Faithful Parents

And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord” ), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:21-24)

Jesus Had Faithful Parents

The Son of God dwelt in glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit before time began. Through Jesus, God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth, both seen and unseen. The universe was created for Him. Jesus would come to earth in the form of a man and possess the power to raise the dead, heal all diseases, control nature to His will, and exercise authority over the world of Satan. When He rose from the dead, He was given all authority both in heaven and on earth. Jesus would be the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, preeminent above all. There is salvation in no other name but Jesus Christ.

There was a time in the life of Jesus that He was not in control of His surroundings. Conceived in the womb by the Holy Spirit, the Son of God would enter the world like every other human since Eve gave birth to Cain. The pregnancy of Mary would be the characteristic nine months with the child growing daily in her womb. Arriving in Bethlehem for the census required by the Roman government, Mary gave birth to Jesus and laid Him in a manger as Joseph looked on with wonderment. Eight days later, in accordance with the Law of Moses, Jesus was circumcised and officially called Jesus as directed by the angel before the Son of God was conceived in the womb. Forty days after Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary made the short trip to Jerusalem to present their son to the Lord as directed by the Law of Moses. The law required every male to be dedicated to the Lord, offering either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Joseph and Mary did exactly what the law required.

Luke records in the genealogy of Jesus that Joseph was the supposed father of Jesus. This is in accordance with the fact that Joseph was not the father of Jesus but he took on the role of the earthly father for the Son of God. Joseph was responsible for caring for Mary and Jesus and he exemplified himself to that task. After the birth of Jesus, Joseph found a house to live in for the next few years. When Joseph was warned by an angel of the Lord of Herod’s murderous plot, he took Mary and the young child Jesus to Egypt. It was on the shoulders of Joseph to care for the family. Jesus crawled on all fours and then learned how to walk. The Son of God began to form sentences and go from baby babble to words. His hair began to grow and His body changed from an infant to a young boy. The family left Egypt and took up residence in Nazareth, where Jesus would be known as the son of a carpenter. At the age of twelve, He astonished the teachers at the Temple with His wisdom. Luke again notes the relationship of Jesus with Joseph and Mary when he writes the Son of God was subject to them as He increased in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and men.

The parents of Jesus were faithful to the word of the Lord. Gabriel came to Mary to tell her of the blessing bestowed upon her by the grace of God and she believed his word. When the angel of the Lord told Joseph not to put Mary away because she was pregnant, he humbly obeyed. Giving birth to the Son of God did not change the requirements of the Law. On the eighth day, Jesus had to be circumcised and presented at the Temple on the 40th day. Joseph and Mary obeyed the word of the Lord. They went each year to the Temple to fulfill the law, a journey of seventy miles. Joseph and Mary taught Jesus the word of the Lord and talked of the law in their home when they walked by the way and lay down and arose in the morning. The word of the Lord was placed before Jesus to know and understand the will of the Father. Jesus was taught to love the Lord God with all His heart, soul, and strength.

When Jesus hung on the cross, knowing His life was quickly fading, He turned to His mother and told her He loved her. Joseph had died before Jesus began His ministry and Mary had been a constant companion during His short ministry. Jesus knew He would be raised from the dead but then return to the Heavenly Father. He looked upon the tear-stained face of the beloved woman who bore Him into the world and said, “Behold your son.” It is clear how much Jesus loved His mother. He knew the burdens she carried and the sword that pierced her heart as she cared for Jesus. The amazing picture of Mary at the cross is that she knew without any doubt that Jesus was the Son of God and said nothing. That was the will of God and she obeyed. Mary was faithful even as her beloved little boy suffered greatly on a Roman cross.

The faithfulness of Mary did not end at the death of Jesus. Luke records the final chapter in the story of Mary when he opens the book of the apostles with her being part of the disciples meeting in an upper room. She witnessed Pentecost and the Holy Spirit coming upon the twelve. Mary saw the three thousand baptized and the infant church growing in spirit and number. Nothing is said of her involvement in the early church, but one thing is certain: she was faithful.

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We Will Obey

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.” (Exodus 24:7-8)

We Will Obey

Shortly after escaping the bondage of Egypt, the Hebrews came to Mount Sinai where God delivered the law making them the nation of Israel. The instructions were given to construct the Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting where the Lord would commune with His people. Various laws were established, including Sabbaths, annual feasts, and interpersonal regulations regarding the relationship of the people to God and one another. The Law of Moses was formed at Sinai to make Israel a holy nation among all nations. Moses told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments which the Lord had commanded. The laws were carefully written down for the people to read and understand the will of God.

Moses built an altar at the foot of Sinai and set up twelve pillars, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Peace offerings were given to the Lord as Moses sprinkled the blood against the altar. Taking the Book of the Covenant, Moses read all the words to the people to assure the truth was spoken in the people’s hearing. The people responded with a commitment to obey everything the Lord commanded them. It was a bold statement and, while made in great faith, did not ring true with a heart full of devotion. Soon after the people affirmed the covenant, they turned away and worshiped a golden calf.

The Lord had commanded Moses to come up into His presence on the mountain. While Moses delayed coming down, the people grew restless and implored Aaron to make them gods to go before them. Bowing to their demands, Aaron fashioned a molded calf and built an altar proclaiming the next day would be a day of feasting to the Lord. Three thousand men of the people would be killed as they rebelled against the word of the Lord, refusing to repent. The Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.

It is easy to say one will obey the word of the Lord but faith is found in obedience, not just words. Israel heard the words of the Lord. The word of the Lord was not hidden from them, so they could not understand. Moses read the law to the people to make sure they knew what God expected of them. The people said they would obey all that the Lord had told them to do and they would be obedient. When a time of crisis arose, the heart of the people failed. Moses had been on the mountain for a long and a spirit of hopelessness arose. The Hebrews had seen the incredible power of God in the plagues, dividing of the Red Sea and their victory over the Amalekites. They affirmed they would keep the word of the Lord. Because of their uncertainty of Moses, their hearts turned away.

Obedience is more than promised words. Faith comes from hearing the word of God, but if the heart does not act on the word of God, there is no faith. Israel promised to obey and failed in the enactment of that faith. When a man follows the gospel of Christ, he makes a promise that he believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God. That commitment is a promise to obey the word of the Father. For some, that is the end of the act of faith. There is no commitment, obedience, loyalty, or evidence of fidelity. Many Christians live mediocre lives with a professed faith without works. They have promised to obey all that God has said and seldom scratch the surface.

Jesus is not looking for seasonal soldiers but committed warriors to the cause of the Kingdom. This requires a complete allegiance to the will of the Father in word and deed. James writes that faith without works is dead. Saying one is a Christian and not living like a Christian is a failed life. To affirm a covenant with God and not live up to the standards is rebellion. True faith comes from hearts that are changed by the word of God into new creatures. Affirm the covenant and then live the covenant. Do not let the golden calves of materialism, pleasure, sensuality, and self-indulgence turn the heart away from the one true God. If you promise it – LIVE IT.

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The Role Of The Woman

In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:9-15)

The Role Of The Woman

After God created the man, He recognized it was not good for him to be alone and so He created the woman. Adam was made from the dust of the earth but the Woman was formed from a rib of Adam. The union of Adam and Eve showed the fulfillment of the divine plan for a man and woman to dwell together. When Satan came to tempt Adam and Eve, he began with the woman. Having succeeded in convincing Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, Satan knew it would not be difficult for Adam to succumb to the desires of his wife.

God punished the serpent, prophesied of the punishment of Satan and pronounced consequences upon the man and woman. Adam would labor by the sweat of his brow for his part in disobeying the command of God. Eve suffered the consequence of painful childbirth and her submission to the man. Men still labor by the sweat of their hands to provide for their families and women continue to suffer painful childbirth. What God pronounced at the beginning of time remains intact until the coming of the Lord. The second measure of punishment for the woman also continues today. God told Eve that her desire would be to her husband and he would rule over her. The Lord was not suggesting this was a penalty only Eve would endure but all women of all ages.

The scriptures bear out the fulfillment of that prophecy of God in the role of the woman and her place with man. Her place of subjection to the man did not make her a person of less worth lacking intelligence or wisdom. God did not demean the place of the woman as a mere doormat to be treated with disrespect. In fact, the Law of Moses had many laws protecting women’s rights. The Lord never approved of treating women in any fashion but love, respect, and honor. In Christ, men and women are equal. Jesus died for the woman as much as He died for the man. There are many deeply spiritual women who have a love of truth and insight into the divine word.

Jesus promised to build His church and on the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem, the gospel message of Christ was preached by twelve men called apostles. The early church began with great enthusiasm and zeal. Problems were addressed and dealt with appropriately. Widows were neglected in the church at Jerusalem and the apostles set forth seven men to care for their needs. Men like Peter, Philip, Paul, Silas, and Barnabas preached the gospel of Christ, ordaining elders in every city. Men and women obeyed the gospel and in the city of Berea, prominent women as well as men believed.

Luke’s record of the early church never mentions women preachers. Women had a place in the early church but never in the role of leadership. The letters of Paul explain why the role of women was restricted. In his letter to Timothy, Paul writes through the authority of the Holy Spirit that women are to present themselves modestly and be in submission to the man. They are to learn in silence and are not permitted to exercise a role of leadership over the man. There are two reasons this injunction is placed upon the woman: first, she was second in creation after Adam. The man was created first. Secondly, the woman was deceived into taking the forbidden fruit – not the man. The Holy Spirit (not Paul) hearkens back to what God told the woman in the garden of Eden. Paul is not writing what he believes the woman’s role to be. He is inspired by the Finger of God to declare the woman’s role. Earlier, in his letter to Corinth, Paul (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) said the women are to be silent and be in submission.

The role of the woman is a divine command and the whims of human wisdom cannot change that. There is an increasing role of women within the body of Christ that denies the clear mandates of God as directed through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Among the religious world, the denial of truth has long been the practice with women taking the role of preachers, elders, and leaders. The denominational world is in apostasy, but the church of Christ is leaning toward the same failures and denial of truth. Among the Lord’s church, “Praise Teams” are becoming popular with women “leading” the groups. Women are allowed to serve in public ways as a compromise to the world’s pressures. It is sad when the nation of God begins to mimic the nations around them. Women have much to offer in the work of the Lord, but they are not permitted to take on any role that is outside the bounds of Biblical authority.

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The Steadfast Word

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (Hebrews 2:1-4)

The Steadfast Word

Apostasy is a serious danger facing every Christian. The faith of God’s saints is daily tested against the wiles of the devil who seeks to devour the soul of the Christian. Hebrews is a book written to encourage the Jewish Christian to hold fast to the confession of hope without wavering. One of the foundational requirements of a stable faith is anchoring the soul in the word of God. Paul reminded the Romans that faith came from hearing the word of God. A strong spirit is fortified with the study, examination, and meditation on the truth revealed through the Holy Spirit. Knowledge requires a diligent desire to listen carefully to the truth and to exercise the application of that truth into the heart. The more the word permeates the mind of man, the more secure he will be in the faith of God.

The word of God has always been proven trustworthy. There has never failed a promise of God. His word is reserved in Heaven and no man can change the divine truth when the Lord speaks it. Everything that God promised that was good came about and all the things that were punishment came true. The word spoken through angels always stood firm with no deviation. Jesus never spoke a word that was not the word of His Father. From time beginning, the Holy Spirit revealed the mind of God to the world in the exacting details purposed by the Father. All the word of God has proven steadfast. God told Noah He would destroy the world, and He told Noah how to save himself. The flood destroyed the disobedient just like the word of God had said. Noah and his family were saved by the word of God when he obeyed the instructions of the Lord.

Faltering faith comes when a man stops listening to the word of God. Neglecting salvation begins with a denial of truth. The writer of Hebrews asks a rhetorical question when he considers how a man can escape the judgment of God. There is no way a man will evade the judgment of God because the word of God is sure, steadfast, and immoveable. God spoke His word, it was confirmed by Jesus through signs, wonders, and miracles and the early disciples were given gifts by the Holy Spirit to confirm the word. That word is unchanged. It remains the same. His word establishes God’s love. His word confirms the severity of God. What makes a man think the word of God will not judge him (good or bad) on the final day?

The danger of drifting away from the truth is real. When a man leaves the Lord, it begins when he stops listening to the word of God. External indicators may be a pattern of failing to assemble with the saints but it started much earlier when the word of God was not a central part of life. A soul turns away from God when the Bible is no longer important. Faith does not disappear overnight. It is a gradual process of drifting away until finally, the soul rejects God completely. There is a need for an earnest effort to constantly be made to fortify the heart with the teaching of the word of God.

What God did for men a thousand years ago He will do for men today. The power of God’s word is that it is unchanging. In 1492, the gospel was a compelling message of hope and that same power is available today for all men who would come to the Lord and accept His word. Time does not diminish the word. The apostasy of men will not dilute the word. Angels cannot change the message of grace. If the Lord allows the world to continue until the year 3021, the word of God will be the same. It is sure, steadfast, and true. No man will escape the word of God. His word will either be a blessing or a curse. You make the decision. What are you doing with the word of God?

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The Servant Of The Lord

These Moses the servant of the Lord and the children of Israel had conquered; and Moses the servant of the Lord had given it as a possession to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh. (Joshua 12:6)

The Servant Of The Lord

There are only three men in the Bible called “servants of the Lord.” Thousands of men and women were servants of the Lord but only Moses, Joshua, and David bore the name, “servant of the Lord.” Four New Testament writers opened their letters, calling themselves bondservants of Christ following along the same theme as the Holy Spirit inscribed of Moses, Joshua, and David.  Servitude is as old as the earth. It has always been the lot of some men to find themselves enslaved to others whether by war, poverty, or injustice. Slavery is a central theme in the Bible. Joseph was sold by his brothers as a slave and rose to second in command of Egypt. The Hebrews were later enslaved by Pharaoh and by the power of God, delivered with great power and signs.

To be a servant is to be enslaved and indebted. The rules of servitude are simple. There is a master and a slave and the slave must be obedient to the master. Not all slavery is evil. Many masters were benevolent to their servants (the parable of the prodigal son). The Law of Moses protected slaves from harsh treatment. Moses was called a servant of the Lord on numerous occasions because his life reflected complete dependence and obedience to the will of the Lord. His heart was willing to follow the word of God as a servant to a master. He was a servant of the Lord in everything he did. Joshua was one of the most diligent servants of the Lord as he trusted in the power of God to defeat the nations of Canaan when Israel rebelled against God. When Israel crossed the Jordan to battle the city of Jericho, Joshua the servant of the Lord followed exactly the commands of the Lord. Joshua would only take seven years to conquer Canaan. His life was a reflection of servitude.

David was a man after God’s own heart and this is where his servitude shone brightest. He trusted in the power of God when he killed Goliath. A servant of the Lord stood in the valley of Elah and slew the giant who defied the army of God. When David became king, he served the will of the Father. Nathan came to David following his infidelity with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, charging David with the wrath of God. The servant heart of David did not oppose the condemnation or try to blame others. David the servant of the Lord said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” What set David apart from others was his willingness to accept the rule of God in his life without exception.

To be a servant of the Lord, one must become a slave. The world has depicted slavery in a very dark and evil manner and there have been injustices of the cruelty of men to others. This same attitude is reflected in the relationship of men who refuse to subject themselves to the will of the Lord. Servitude to God is not a request but a command. If a man is unwilling to submit his whole life to the will of the Lord, there will be no eternal joy. Servitude and slavery are at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has always required and demanded first place and will not accept anything less. Moses was a servant of the Lord through his love for God. The Christian must turn his life completely and fully over to the will of the Lord as a man becomes a slave of another. God is the Master and there can be no other.

It is not possible to be a ‘part-time’ servant of the Lord. Either a man becomes a servant of the Lord or remains a slave of sin. There are infinite rewards and blessings for those who are the servants of the Lord. This life is one of slavery but eternal life is one of family fellowship where the Father brings His servants into His home to dwell with Him. Those who refuse to submit to the will of the Father will be cast into darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then they will be enslaved to an eternal hell wishing they had been servants of the Lord in life. Which are you? Have you enslaved your life to Jesus Christ?

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Allegiance

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

Allegiance

A pledge of allegiance is a promise of loyalty to a particular cause. The commitment of allegiance is vowed that everything will be focused on a single factor without exception. When a person joins the military, they take an oath to honor the commitment to serve that branch of service with complete devotion. If that allegiance is not held up, the individual could face discharge. In the Roman army, complete devotion was required. When the New Testament writers wrote about allegiance, they borrowed from the language of the military. Jesus told His disciples service to God required complete, unequivocal and undeniable devotion.

The problem with man is he believes he can multi-task between God and the desires of the flesh. God has not only demanded first place, He is a jealous God who will not allow anything to come between Him and the service of men. The character of the human heart is a single devotion. If a man loves the things of the world, he will not love God fully. The idea that Satan plants in the mind is to love the Lord a little but not to become so enamored with Him that the heart can see nothing else but God. Many people mistake believing the devil tempts men to deny God. On the contrary, the devil is willing for men to accept a totem of God in their own choosing but not to commit fully to the will of the Father. That way, they can say they love the Lord and continue to live carnal lives.

Jesus describes the conflict of heart when men seek to serve God. It becomes a matter of all or nothing. There is no fence-sitting in the kingdom of heaven. Dual memberships are not allowed in the kingdom of God. Trying to keep one foot firmly planted in the world and a toe in the body of Christ accomplishes nothing. Jesus reminded His disciples that where the treasure of the heart resides is where the values of life are found. There is no exception. If a man seeks the fame and glory of the world, he will never find eternal reward. Seeking after the pleasures of the flesh will drive a heart far away from the love of God. The heart’s allegiance must be entirely in favor of God and Him alone or there is no reward.

It is hard to keep allegiance with God with the world’s temptations so alluring. There is a desire to be like the world but this will be in conflict with the will of the Lord. Trying to serve the mastery of the flesh and subduing the flesh in the body of Christ cannot be done. It is impossible for a man to serve two masters. The reason is simple: the heart can only focus on one love. If a man loves the world, that is his god. When the heart rises above the desires of the flesh and seeks to love God, it demands a complete devotion of love. Serving God requires hating the things of the world in favor of His will. Loyalty will be determined by where the heart resides. A divided loyalty is no loyalty. Divided loves are exercises in infidelity. Jesus boldly proclaims the eternal truth that will judge men: it is impossible to serve God and mammon.

What the church of God needs more than anything are hearts devoted to the cause of Christ. The soul of man must be committed to serving the Father’s will with complete allegiance. There can be nothing that will come before the will of God. He is first or no place at all. Nothing will take away the commitment a person has to serve the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and body. What God desires comes first. The other key of allegiance is that it happens daily. Serving God once a week or whenever the desires come will not show allegiance. Living the Christian life demands seven days a week showing the world that God is first in their life. No man can serve two masters and it is impossible to serve God without an allegiance of complete devotion. Who are you devoted to and who do you serve? God knows. Do you know God?

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The Forgiveness Of God

I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:22)

The Forgiveness Of God

Forgiveness is the greatest blessing God has given men. It cost the Son of God His life to grant the grace of a forgiving and kind God. All men deserve the wrath of God. There is nothing that man has done to deserve the mercy of the Father. The death of Jesus was not accomplished by civil men who wanted to fulfill the word of God. Jesus was killed by an angry mob of Jews that hated Him so much they could not be satisfied until He was dead. Their hypocrisy was further seen when they begged Pilate to break the legs of Jesus to hasten death because the next day was a high Sabbath day. Jesus was in the tomb while the Jewish leaders went about their worship of the Lord God whose Son they had just killed. Forgiveness came at an eternal cost.

The conditions for forgiveness changed when Jesus died on the cross but the nature of forgiveness has never changed. Isaiah wrote about the love of God for Israel when he shares the word of the Lord for His people. God promised to sweep away the sins of the people like a cloud. God did not forget Israel and although they brought the wrath of God upon them, He remained faithful to them promising redemption. For all the things Israel had done, the Lord promised to wipe away their sins, blotting them out like a thick cloud. What more can anyone ask than the mercy and grace of a loving Father to accept back a rebellious child as God promises to those who seek Him.

Forgiveness will only be given to those who come to the Lord. There is no sin a man commits that God will not forgive when he – with a humble heart – returns to the Lord seeking forgiveness. This is the greatest of blessings. David and Bathsheba committed adultery and were judged guilty by the Law of Moses. Under the Law, David and Bathsheba were to be killed for infidelity. David caused Uriah to become drunk and then murdered him by the hand of Joab. When Nathan came to David to unveil his sins, he told the king that the Lord put away his sin and that he and Bathsheba would not die. David certainly feared the consequences of his actions, yet David found grace in the eyes of the Lord and by God’s mercy, David and Bathsheba were forgiven.

The immeasurable grace of God to take away sin is beyond comprehension. God is willing to blot out, like a thick cloud, the sins of His children. The price of forgiveness is measured by the price paid to make atonement. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can take away sin and what a high price was paid. Forgiveness is an emotion that should fill the heart of those who receive the grace of God with thanksgiving unending. How can one day pass without a grateful heart that God forgives like a dark cloud? The heart must sing daily the praise of “I am redeemed.” Sin is such a heavy burden to bear and often overwhelming with despair and doubt. God comes to His child and, while embracing them, reminds them of His love when He says, “I forgive.” Praise God for His love. Forgive me, Father. Thank you.

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