Argue With God, Not Man

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Argue With God, Not Man

The longest argument in the history of man is the history of man and the word of God. No debate can match the thousands of years of argumentation against and for what God says and what He does not say. The devil is the one who began the debate when he deceived Eve. In the days of Noah, all but eight argued against the word of God. Those who opposed the word of God died, and the eight righteous souls who accepted the word of God lived.

Noah preached to a world filled with wickedness. His preaching was based on righteousness, holiness, and the judgment to come. Moved by godly fear, Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his household. The rest of the world laughed and mocked him and denied the word of God. When the Lord shut the door of the ark, and the water came, everyone believed in the word of the Lord. Sadly, it was too late for those who perished, but they knew their argument with Noah was against God.

When Jesus came to earth, He testified to the word of His Father. He constantly reminded the people the words He spoke were not His own but from the One who had all power and authority. The miracles of Jesus affirmed He spoke in the Father’s name. When the Jewish leaders rejected the teaching of Jesus, the Lord reminded them they rejected not Him but the Father. Everything Jesus said was true because it was the word given to Him by His Father. Rejecting the teaching of Jesus was to reject the word of the Divine. Killing Jesus on the cross was the final demonstration of how far men will go to deny the word of God. But then Sunday came, and the world shuttered. The Word arose from the dead.

Through the divine providence of the Holy Spirit, the Bible has come into existence to guide men into all truth. The Bible’s purpose is to open God’s mind to the hearts of men. Contained with all of its pages, the Bible unfolds the plan of redemption promised in the garden of Eden and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The early church was established on the word of God. Letters and books form the canon of the new covenant written down so that men could read and understand the will of God. Paul commended the saints at Thessalonica because when the word was preached to them, they accepted it as the word of God, not the word of men. The Bereans may have been more noble than those at Thessalonica at one time, but there is no book of the Bereans preserved.

Religious division is rampant among those who profess to follow Christ. Multiple churches abound with different doctrines, practices, beliefs, and names. For some, unity is found in the diversity of churches, but this is against the prayer of Jesus, who sought for all men to be one. The reason religious division exists is that few men see the word of God as divine authority. They follow the words of men rather than what is plainly written in the Bible. God did not craft a book that is hard to understand and follow, yet human wisdom has denied the power of God’s word.

The only time there will be religious unity is when the Bible is accepted as the word of God. When men argue about the doctrines of the Bible, they must realize they are arguing against God. This is an argument that cannot be won. All the reasons and excuses were given in the days of Noah to view the coming flood as a myth. But those who saw God’s word as a myth, ‘mythed’ the boat and died. Let all men be liars, and God be true. His Word is His word. Deny His word and you die.

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Desiring The Adoption

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)

Desiring The Adoption

Death is the greatest reality that is the greatest fear. All men die, yet all men live as if death were a surprise. Methuselah lived nearly one thousand years, but he died. The old must die, and the young can die. Cemeteries fill the landscape of every community with its marble markers reminding passersby that death comes to all. Researchers estimate nearly 150,000 people die daily, which amounts to 6,000 people dying every hour of every day. The news always reports the deaths of those murdered, killed in accidents, or victims of nature’s rage, disease, pestilence, famine, and old age. Science seeks to find answers to extend life. Medical advancements have saved lives, but people still die. Death is real.

The view of death says a lot about how death impacts life. For most, death is filled with great fear and trepidation. They can live all their lives seeking every form of remaining young and lose in the final battle because there is no such thing as a fountain of youth. The reality of life’s finality begins when a child is born. Babies die, and this is great sadness. Young people die; middle-aged and old all share the common reality of death. Visiting a cemetery will tell the tale of every age. Reading an obituary is a testimony to the ages people die. Talking about death is considered morbid, gruesome, and sad.

For the child of God, the view of death has a different meaning – or at least it should. The Holy Spirit fills the Bible with how God’s faithful understood the dying process. Adam and Eve experienced the first pains of death when they buried their son Abel. The scriptures say that Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man full of years, and was gathered to his people. When Jacob died, Moses writes the son of Isaac drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

The Bible pictures the death of God’s saints as a beautiful experience. Paul uses the image of adoption as the reality of death. Children of God are first adopted into Christ when they obey the gospel in the waters of baptism. This adoption establishes the greatest adoption when death removes the fleshly tabernacle from the eternal spirit, and the child of God is with the Father. Death is an adoption. Salvation in Christ gives hope that death is nothing more than a sleep, a transition, a time when the frailties of life are left for the glories of Heaven. Life is filled with suffering. Death for the saint is joy. As children anxiously wait for someone to adopt them, the child of God eagerly looks to death as a time to be with God.

Death is something difficult to view as exciting. It is hard for the human spirit to accept death as good, yet God wants His children to have an eager expectation to die and be with Him. There is great sadness when loved ones die. When that loved one dies in Christ, there is joy. This brings comfort to the family, but hearts are still heavy. What makes it more bearable is the knowledge that all the faithful can take death for what it is and change how they feel about it. Paul urged the brethren to eagerly desire death. He wanted the saints to have happy hearts about death. There will be no denying death is coming, so why not accept it in its positive light.

Letting go of this world is where the eagerness for death (adoption) begins. The child of God cannot wait to be eternally adopted by the Father. There will be no death, sorry, or crying, and there will be no more pain. Who would not want to experience the blessings of God’s grace found in the adoption of eternity? Tertullian said, “Death ought to be a pleasure.” Paul said, “Eagerly wait for the adoption, the redemption of your body.” Praise God. I get to die.

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Hope Saves

For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? (Romans 8:24)

Hope Saves

The joy of salvation is found through the blood of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice to die for the sins of the world. God’s love redeemed man from the blight of sin when he did not deserve it. No matter how good and just they are, the debt of salvation can never be repaid by anyone. Jesus Christ is the only man that lived a sinless and perfect life. The great heroes and heroines of scripture could not boast of sinless perfection. Jesus lived for more than three decades and never once disobeyed His Father. Grace saves man by the measure of God’s love. Water establishes a covenant with God when men obey the will of the Father. The list of reasons why a man is saved is almost endless.

One of the great joys of salvation is the hope of salvation; which also saves. Hope is defined as the favorable and confident expectation of the unseen. When the heart lives with the confidence of eternal life, hope guides the mind to trust in the promises of God. There are no doubts or fears. It is not a matter of ‘maybe” when it comes to salvation. The confidence of the heart is rooted in the knowledge of God’s love and that what the Lord has promised will come true. Having a hope of something not seen is the germ of faith growing the tree of hope in the fertile soul of the Christian. Hope looks beyond the trials of life. Looking through the vale of sorrow gives hope to the spirit. Having a view of what is beyond death is how hope saves.

Hope that is seen is not hope. True hope comes from believing in and trusting what cannot be seen. For the child of God, it becomes the faith of believing in Jesus Christ, whom they have not seen, and the promise of eternal life, which they have not possessed. Saving hope destroys the doubts and fears of life. When the trials of life seem to overcome, an upward vision of better things sustains the heart to endure and overcome. Hope makes a darkened world fill with light. The joy of eternal life overshadows the circumstances of a meaningless life.

God gives His children the earnest expectation of more than what can be seen with the eye. The world is limited and finite. Through hope, the heart is filled with visions of heaven. When John described heaven in the Revelation, he was instilling the eternal portraits of God’s promises in the hearts of the persecuted saints. Nothing can compare with the measure of what awaits the child of God. The finest possessions on earth cannot offer hope. True hope comes from knowing God’s word of what is yet to be. Through this anticipation, hope saves.

Having hope alone will not save. Hope springs eternal when God removes the sins of the heart as far as the east is from the west. Doing the will of the Father assures the obedient of salvation. Hope is born. Knowing God never lies, and all His promises come true, the hopeful heart will live daily with a firm determination of courage wrapped in the blanket of hope. The Ethiopian eunuch went on his way rejoicing because he had found salvation in the waters of baptism, which gave him the greatest hope of his life. A man is saved by grace, faith, love, baptism, and hope. It will change your life when you live with the hope and expectation of eternal life. Having obeyed the will of God, salvation awaits. Hope in Christ. Hope saves.

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Eager Like A Roman

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:18-25)

Eager Like A Roman

The first-century Christians lived within the lifespan of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Many of the early saints were disciples of Jesus who had walked with Him, saw His miracles, and heard His stirring sermons. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to more than five hundred people. The early church consisted of those who had seen Jesus after He died. During the ministry of the Lord, He told how He would return from the Father. One of the primary teachings of the early church was the imminent return of the Son of God. It was to this belief that many held firmly to their expectations of the return of Christ.

Two thousand years have passed since Jesus promised to return, which has jaded the feelings of God’s people to expect His return at any moment. There is little eagerness for the return of Jesus. Life is so busy for most people that little thought or care is given to considering that at any moment, the shout of the archangel and the trumpet of God will sound, and the world will end. Unless the preacher presents a lesson on the second coming of Christ, no thought is given to its reality. People are eager to know what next week will bring or how the economy will survive in the new year. Jobs consume the thoughts of the heart, worried about paying the bills and taking care of the family. Everything weighs heavy on the mind but eagerly waiting for the Lord is noticeably absent.

Paul wrote to the Roman Christians in the spirit of the quick anticipation of Jesus’ return. Life was difficult for the apostle, but he could see the sufferings of this world could not be compared to the glory awaiting the faithful. Because of this, Paul expressed an eager anticipation for the coming of the Lord. He knew there was much to do in this life, but he could not wait to see his Lord face to face. He was eager for the adoption that was sure and steadfast. His salvation was promised by God, who cannot lie, and Paul lived to be adopted. His hope in Christ came from his eagerness to serve the Lord and his desire to die in the Lord.

Having a desire of eagerness is to fill the heart with a promised hope. This eager spirit was not trusting in the wisdom of men. Paul’s eager spirit fully trusted in the promises made by God to save him. He was looking forward to the coming of the Lord with great anticipation as though it would take place in his life. For the Christian thousands of years removed from the life of Jesus, it becomes hard to be eager about the return of the Lord. There is more anticipation for the events of life than the joy of eternity. Death is feared and dreaded. There is little thought given to eternal life.

The earnest expectation for the coming of Christ can only come from hearts longing to leave this world and seek for eternity. Life will take on a different meaning when, instead of being anxious about this world, the heart is eager to embrace the world to come. Having an eagerness requires faith to take the eyes away from the comfort of this short life and fill the heart with a “can’t wait” attitude of being with God. Learn to be eager. Allow the promises of God to loosen the chains of a world destined for destruction. Be excited. Eternity is coming.

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


Life is better lived with a proper perspective. To have a perspective of a thing is to look at something with a point of view or confident attitude. Whatever perspective is taken about a subject will enhance or diminish the worth of the object. If a man has an optimistic viewpoint about his job, he will do an excellent job. When the perception changes and negative thoughts fill the mind, it isn’t easy to do a good job. This is true in every aspect of life. How a person views life will largely determine their happiness or lack thereof.

The Christian possesses the greatest perspective. Through the knowledge of the word of God, life is defined by its beginning, the present day, and what happens in death. The Bible tells man where he came from and why he was created. Moses opens the book of Genesis with the creation of man as an eternal creature loved and nurtured by his Creator. Man is not a blob that crawled out of a primeval soup of chaos but the highest of creation formed in the image of the Divine. The worth of a man is found in whose image he is made. No creature is of a higher order than the human spirit.

Questions arise about why man exists and what his purpose is. God created man for His glory and, through that glory, identified the man as of value to his Maker. When men view life as the perspective of the carnal nature, he defeats the purpose and design of man’s creation. The human spirit is not to serve the flesh because there is no lasting joy and fulfillment. Life is filled with suffering, agony, pain, and sorrow. This comes about because sin brings death; spiritually and physically. Finding the peace of God that passes understanding gives purpose to life. Serving the Lord will not take away the sorrows of life. Carrying the cross of Christ removes the burden of sin and provides joy in the face of the grief of the world.

Paul suggested to the Romans that perspective changes the view of life. There is no doubt life is filled with suffering. As an apostle of Christ traveling throughout the Roman world, Paul was destitute, despised, hungry, shipwrecked, stoned and left for dead, mistreated, and misunderstood, but he never wavered in his faith. He endured the afflictions of life because of what he could see beyond the vale of death. Paul concluded what a man suffers now is nothing compared to the glory God will reveal later. The value of a proper perspective is to realize that happiness comes later; not now.

Too often, the realities of life cloud the eternal view. Life can be hard. Plans do not turn out the way a person hopes. Death invades. Sickness changes life. The reality of life is that life is not fair. When the heart can turn the perspective of what life on earth means compared to the glory of eternity, the burdens of life begin to be lifted away. What a man experiences in this life is like a microscopic atom of what eternity will be. A man could live to be one hundred years, but what is that to the vast tapestry of an eternal world without end? The sufferings of this world (short) are not worth being compared with the glory (eternal) that the child of God will realize. Perspective changes everything. You will live life according to what you see as of more value. Consider this world. Then peek behind the door of eternity and see God’s glory.

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Blasphemy Against The Spirit

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

Blasphemy Against The Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Way To Spiritual Satisfaction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It Pleased God To Crush Jesus

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

It Pleased God To Crush Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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He Wanted Israel To Sing About His Sin

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

He Wanted Israel To Sing About His Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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Callus Hands And Callous Hearts

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

Callus Hands And Callous Hearts

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

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

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

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

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

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Teaching Children To Know The Lord

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

Teaching Children To Know The Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Holy Spirit And The Completed Revelation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John Testifies That Jesus Died

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

John Testifies That Jesus Died

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

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

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

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

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

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We Are Able

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

We Are Able

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Teach Me

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

Teach Me

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

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

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

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

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

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There Will Always Be

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

There Will Always Be

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

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

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

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

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

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When Sunday Becomes An Option

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

When Sunday Becomes An Option

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Holy Spirit And The Christian

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

The Holy Spirit And The Christian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Hireling Christian

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

The Hireling Christian

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

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

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

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

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

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Blessings Come From How Many Vessels You Have

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

Blessings Come From How Many Vessels You Have

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

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

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

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

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

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I Love Money

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

I Love Money

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

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

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

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

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The Holy Spirit In Conversion

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

The Holy Spirit In Conversion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sacrifice Is Worship

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

Sacrifice Is Worship

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

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

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

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

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

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He Was Famous

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

He Was Famous

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

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

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

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

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

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The Holy Spirit And His Gifts

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

The Holy Spirit And His Gifts

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

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

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

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

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

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Voices From The Past

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

Voices From The Past

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

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

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

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

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The Fickle Crowd

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

The Fickle Crowd

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

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

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

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

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