Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Webster's Collegiate Dictionary shows ten definitions for the word "grace."  It covers everything from the flowing movement of a ballet dancer, to a prayer before a meal.  However, there is one definition, in particular, which matches what the Bible means by the word:  good will, favor which includes mercy or clemency. 

Students of  God's Word understand Grace to be the unearned, or unmerited favor of God toward sinful man.  The Scriptures teach us that we are sinners worthy of death, that we cannot do enough religious works to make up for our sin, and that it is only by trusting in the finished work of Christ, on our behalf, that we can be saved from the penalty of our sin (Rom. 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; Gal. 3:1-3; Eph. 2:8-9; etc.).  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  not of works, lest any man should boast."
Over the years, I have heard grace expressed as God's Riches At Christ's Expense.  God, motivated by love for fallen mankind, sent His Son to pay for our sin so that we could become children of God (Jn. 3:16; 1:11-12; Lk. 2:36; Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 3:26; 1 Jn. 3:1-2; etc.).  As God's adopted children, we have become joint heirs with Christ; all that belongs to Him will one day belong to us (Rom. 1:15; Gal. 4:5-7; Eph. 1:5; Titus 3:7; Jam. 2:5; etc.).  Do we deserve anything but the wrath of God?  NO!  But God loves us and gives us what we do not deserve; that is grace!  By the way, mercy is not getting what we do deserve!

Do you know the best way to tell if someone is a genuine born again believer?  While many would say it is the Fruit of the Spirit, because Jesus said, "By their fruit ye shall know them" (Gal. 5:22-23; Mt. 7:16, 20), the "fruit" is easy to fake, and the Lord's comment had to do with identifying false teachers.  In my experience, the best way to identify a brother or sister in Christ is by their humility.  A genuine believer realizes that their relationship to the Father is 100% the result of His grace! 

The mark of a true believer is a grateful, humble heart!

Monday, July 30, 2012


Even in the lives of the most Christ-like believers, there are times of great testing.  Jesus told His disciples that they would face trials and tribulations as long as they were in this world (Jn. 16:33).  The Apostle Paul not only experienced many such trials (2 Cor. 11:23-28), he rejoiced in them because He knew that "all things (trials, sickness, and even death) work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).  And, Paul also knew that those very trials were forming him into a greater likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:29-31).

Unfortunately, it is during times of great grief that those going through the fire find it so difficult to "see the bright side!"  They do not want to hear Bible verses.  They do not want to hear about how loving and merciful our God is.  They need time to deal with the reality that their lives will never be the same.  They need time to work through the greater reality that God really does love them, and the trial they are experiencing actually "does have a silver lining."  Just don't tell them that.  That is something they will need to tell you after the Spirit of God has worked His healing in them.

The other day, a friend on Facebook told me about the sudden death of her fiance in an automobile accident.  It had been nine months, and she said she just needed to get on with her life, mostly for her son's sake.  The Lord led me to ask her if he was a born again believer, and she responded, "Oh yes!"  She began telling me of their time together in God' Word and in His house.  When she finished, I asked her if the funeral was one in which the Lord was praised because everyone knew "he was in a better place."  She said yes, and that several of his family and friends had dedicated their lives to Christ at that service.  I then asked her if he would have gladly given his life if he knew many would be saved from an eternity in hell, and she again said yes.  I said, "That's exactly what he did!"  She not only had great peace knowing that, but she saw him as dying in Christ's service.  Quite a change!  Below is a chart I found on Facebook, and it said the author gave her permission; I will simply pass it on.  What it ultimately says is, "time heals all wounds," and "this too shall pass."  Give it time.    

Time, space, and the work of the Comforter is the answer to one's grief.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Chick-fil-A is a fast-food restaurant known mostly for being closed on Sunday and for the Christian music played in its stores.  While being interviewed by the Baptist Press, Dan Cathy, the chain's President, responded to a question by saying, "guilty as charged" for backing "the biblical definition of a family."  In a later radio interview, he stated, "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'"  The proponents of same-sex marriage immediately began reacting to Cathy's statements with a campaign against the restaurants, mostly by picketing Chick-fil-A's stores, but also by some politicians jumping on the bandwagon, stating that they would oppose the licensing of additional restaurants in their jurisdiction.  Students at the University of Louisville, University of North Texas, the University of New Orleans, Mississippi State University, Gainesville State College, Indiana University, and Texas Tech University have all released petitions to kick their respective Chick-fil-A's off campus.

As I see it, Cady and his restaurant chain are being persecuted for making public statements which were based upon the Bible's teachings that call homosexuality an abomination to God (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:27).  According to the U.S. Constitution, Cady has every right to believe as he does, and every right to state his views publicly.  However, while he has the right, was it prudent for him to do so?  Jesus said, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Mt. 10:16).  Having the right to do something does not mean one will not suffer the consequences. 

Just as Cady has his rights protected by the Constitution, so do those responding in protest.  They may demonstrate, picket, boycott, or whatever, as long as they act within the law.  However, why is it okay for supporters of gay rights to demonstrate freely, but Christians are repeatedly thwarted from doing so at abortion mills?  Why do Christians need permits, and why are they required to stay a specified distance from the entrance of the "clinics?"  And, why is it that the liberal politicians jump at the opportunity to support their picketing, but conservatives hesitate to do so for anti-abortion groups?

I commend Cady and Chick-fil-A for publicly standing for the teachings of Scripture, and I certainly hope all those who agree with his statements will do their part by frequenting his restaurant chain.  I hope his supporters will also take note of those politicians' stance and remember it on election day.  I also hope law enforcement will treat all demonstrations, liberal or conservative, equally. 

Jesus also said, before you take a stand for Him, you'd better count the cost (Lk. 14:28). 

Saturday, July 28, 2012


I read an interesting quote yesterday on Facebook which said, "Christianity can be reduced to four simple words:  Admit, Submit, Commit, and Transmit."  It was attributed to Samuel Wilberforce (1759-1833), who, after becoming a member of the British Parliament at the age of twenty-one, did little at first to merit mention.  However, his conversion to evangelical Christianity in 1785 changed him.  Within a year, Wilberforce submitted the first of many rejected bills to Parliament for the abolition of slavery.  Two years after his conversion, he founded the Proclamation Society, and finally, on February 23, 1807, Wilberforce's goal to end slavery in Great Britain became law.  Here is what the Bible has to say about his "four simple words."

ADMIT - The Bible declares that all men are sinners (Rom. 3:9, 23; 11:32; Gal. 3:22; etc.)!  There are two kinds of sin:  1) we sin when break God's Law (1 Jn. 3:4), and, 2) we sin when we fail to do what we know to be God's will (Jam. 4:17).  In order for a man to accept a Savior, he must first be aware that he needs one. 

SUBMIT - The vast majority of mankind realizes that they are displeasing to God in the way they live their lives, and as a result, man has created thousands of religions, all aimed at establishing one's own righteousness (Rom. 10:3).  However, the Bible says that to God, man's righteousness is utterly disgusting (Isa. 64:6).  The lost sinner must acknowledge that his efforts are futile, and he must accept the fact he cannot save himself; he needs The Savior.

COMMIT - The Bible says that a man cannot believe in The Savior if he has never heard of Him.  The Apostle Paul wrote, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of Peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Rom. 10:13-15).  When a lost person accepts the truth of the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4), and he commits to his Savior by acknowledging Him as his Lord (Rom. 10:8-11), he becomes a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17); he is born again (Jn. 3:3-8)!

TRANSMIT - A born again believer not only confesses his faith in The Savior (Rom. 10:8-11), he begins obeying His Lord's command to "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Mt. 28:19)!

A genuine born again believer will tell others about his Savior! 



Friday, July 27, 2012


The Our Daily Bread devotion for today focused upon Barnabas, and suggested that, because of his continual edification of Paul and others, he was appropriately named "Son of Encouragement."  Over the years, I have noticed that "Bible scholars" have tended to look at the lives of men and women in the Bible, and have defined the original Hebrew or Greek words accordingly. 

Take for example, "Jacob."  Strong's Concordance defines his name as "heel holder" or "supplanter."  The actual meaning of the Hebrew יַעֲקֹב (Ya`aqob), means "to be behind" or "to come from behind."  Jacob was more likely named as such because of his being the second child born of twins.  And yet, because He "stole" his brother's birthright and the blessing of Isaac, the Hebrew word has come to be defined as "supplanter."  Today, it is much like us calling a traitor, "Judas."

Barnabas' name is actually from an Aramaic origin:  בַּר  (bar) meaning "son of" and נְבִיא (nebiy), meaning "the prophet," as the Hebrew word is used in Ezra 5:1-2 and 6:14.  The New Testament name, Barnabas, is a transliteration from the Hebrew to the Greek Βαρναβᾶς (Barnabas).  Therefore, his name may have come from the fact that his father may have been a prophet.  If that was the case, his actual name would be, "Joses, the son of the prophet" (Acts 4:36).

The same interpretive bias is true for the name "Jesus."  The Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous), was mistakenly translated "Jesus" in Acts 7:45 (KJV), where the context clearly shows that Luke was speaking of Joshua.  There is another mistranslation in the KJV in Hebrews 4:8, where again, the context clearly shows the writer was speaking of Joshua.  This is easy to understand in that the Greek is a translation of the Hebrew יְהוֹשׁוּעַ (Yehowshuwa), or "Joshua."  Joshua's name has been correctly defined as "Jehovah is Salvation,"  and so, our Lord's name has also been define as such.  God's Word supports this.  In Matthew 1:21, He tells us:  "And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins."

I don't know about you, but I am glad that I was not named after my character!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Last Sunday, our church's Music Minister prayed for the offering which was about to be collected by the Ushers, and he asked God to use all that was given to increase His kingdom.  His prayer triggered much thought about what our church does with the "Lord's money."  First of all, the Kingdom of God, as I understand the Bible, will be the Millennium, a one thousand year reign of Jesus Christ on earth (Rev. 20:1-7).  His kingdom is the fulfillment of God's covenant with David.

The Davidic Covenant refers to the promise of God to David, revealed by the prophet Nathan.   It is an unconditional covenant, made between God and David, through which God promised David and Israel, that the Messiah (Jesus Christ) would come from the lineage of David and therefore, from the tribe of Judah, and His kingdom would endure forever (2 Sam. 7:10-13; 1 Chron. 17:11-14; 2 Chron. 6:16).  The Davidic Covenant is unconditional because God does not place any conditions of obedience upon its fulfillment.  The surety of the promises made rests solely on God’s faithfulness and does not depend at all on David or Israel’s obedience.

Because the covenant was with Israel, and not with the Church, and since the Church, as we know it, will no longer exist on earth during Israel's kingdom, I wondered how our offering would be used "to increase the kingdom."  After all, the Church will be removed prior to the Tribulation, a period known as "the Time of Jacob's Trouble," that is, the final seven years of appointed unto Daniel's people, the Jews (1 Thes. 4:13-18; Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:24-27).

I believe the answer lies in the mission of the Church here on earth, and its mission during the Millennial reign of Christ.  Here, we are to take the Gospel message to the whole world; that includes to the Jews (Mt. 28:19-20).  The majority of the Jews will reject our Lord, but we will have planted the seed, the Word of God (Mt. 13:19), and one day, right in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation (Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24:15; Rom. 11:25), that seed will burst forth in faith.  The funds used to spread the Gospel will increase the number of Jews who accept Christ.

A second way the funds will increase Christ's kingdom, is as it wins Gentiles to Christ, those saved will rule and reign with Christ in their glorified bodies.  They will be changed as they are being taken up in the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:50-54), and they will be ever present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8)!  So, while the saved Jews will be members of God's kingdom, born again Christians will be administers in that same kingdom (Jn. 14:1-3; Rev. 5:10; 20:4).

Giving supports the spreading of God's Word, the power of God unto salvation!   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


1 Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is that the Jewish people might be saved. 2 I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. 3 For they don't understand God's way of making people right with himself. Instead, they are clinging to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. They won't go along with God's way. 4 For Christ has accomplished the whole purpose of the law. All who believe in him are made right with God. 5 For Moses wrote that the law's way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. 6 But the way of getting right with God through faith says, "You don't need to go to heaven" (to find Christ and bring him down to help you). 7 And it says, "You don't need to go to the place of the dead" (to bring Christ back to life again).  

8 Salvation that comes from trusting Christ -- which is the message we preach -- is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, "The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart." 9 For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed. " 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord, who generously gives his riches to all who ask for them. 13 For "Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" 16 But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, "Lord, who has believed our message?" 17 Yet faith comes from listening to this message of good news -- the Good News about Christ. 18 But what about the Jews? Have they actually heard the message? Yes, they have: "The message of God's creation has gone out to everyone, and its words to all the world." 19 But did the people of Israel really understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, God had said, "I will rouse your jealousy by blessing other nations. I will make you angry by blessing the foolish Gentiles." 20 And later Isaiah spoke boldly for God: "I was found by people who were not looking for me. I showed myself to those who were not asking for me." 21 But regarding Israel, God said, "All day long I opened my arms to them, but they kept disobeying me and arguing with me."

Whosoever believes, trusts, accepts Jesus shall be saved! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Whenever there is some kind of horrible event, we often hear someone ask, "Where was God when that happened?"  Perhaps it is even we ourselves who cry out in disbelief that a merciful, benevolent, loving God could allow such horrible things to transpire.  Born again believers, who voice their disbelief, and that is exactly what it is, soon feel guilty for their response.  They often require Christian counseling to deal with their guilt at questioning God. 

Any born again counselor worth "his or her salt," will remind them that even Jesus experienced the feelings that accompany what He perceived as being abandoned by His Father.  It was at noon, the time when the sun is usually its brightest, that our Lord experienced, for the only time in all of eternity, past or future, the literal darkness of that horrible day, and the ultimate darkness of feeling separated from God by sin (2 Cor. 5:21).  In Matthew 27:46, we read "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"  However, Luke's Gospel tells us that the Lord's expression of feeling deserted was followed by His final words on the cross:  "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost" (Lk. 23:46).  So don't beat yourself up over your momentary disbelief, but do as Jesus did and declare your trust in God.

People tend to have one of  two very opposite reactions on such occasions:  they feel betrayed by God and begin to doubt whatever faith they have, or they begin to pray for those who have suffered what is often an unspeakable and unexplainable tragedy.  It is amazing how often one hears believers praying for victims and for those responsible.  Most mature believers are aware that but for the grace of God, we ourselves could be involved.  I believe that is partly the reason believers pray for the Jeffrey Dahmer's, Ted Bundy's, Osama Bin Laden's, and James Eagan Holmes' of the world.  The other reason is that people who commit horrible crimes sometimes come to salvation by trusting in Jesus Christ for forgiveness, and accepting Him as their Lord; Dahmer and Bundy are good examples.  Unfortunately, most do not.

But, the real answer to where Jesus is when tragedy strikes is in heaven, where He is making intercession for us (Acts 2:33; Rom. 8:26-27, 34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 7:25; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; etc.).

God understands our doubts and frustration; His Son "has been there!"        


Monday, July 23, 2012


In a day when it seems disaster is all around us, it is easy to become overwhelmed with fear.  The news is dominated by stories of nut-cases slaughtering movie-goers, terrorists blowing themselves up to "take a few infidels" with them, our government weighing the options on entering another foreign conflict (Syria), our country's economy in the toilet, unemployment and underemployment at an all-time high, the constant political mention of "dealing with entitlements" by politicians who haven't even passed a budget in over three years, etc.!  I would almost be worried if people weren't fearful!

And yet, for the mature born again believer, there seems to be a combination of peace and acceptance that everything is under control.  While the lost person says, "We need new leaders," and the immature believer says, "We need to stockpile supplies and be prepared to defend ourselves with "safe rooms" and fire power, there are those who believe what the Word of God has to say about our times, and live in the rest our Lord has given us (Jn. 14:27; 16:33)!  "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).  We not only believe the Gospel which shows how much God loves us, but we trust Him with every aspect of our lives (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; etc.).

While there are dozens of verses in the Bible which tell us of people placing their trust in the Lord, there are seven verses which specifically direct us to "trust in the Lord."  They are:  Psalms 4:5; 37:3, 5; 115:9-10; Proverbs 3:5; and Isaiah 26:4.  In addition, there are many verses which say "trust the Lord."  There are twenty-four in Psalms, four in Proverbs, seven in Isaiah, five in Jeremiah, and two in Philippians.  And, of course, there are hundreds of verses that say we are to "believe."  The word "believe" appears eighty-five times in the Gospel of John alone!

Trusting God in the present is the hardest thing to do.  Of course, we can look back and remember those times He has come through for us in the past, but while we are "in the fire," we often let our eyes overpower our memory.  I honestly believe those who succumb to fear in their current circumstances, can have little faith in God's control of their future.  The only solution I can offer those who live in fear of the present and the future, is read the last three chapters of Revelation!

The battle is awful, but I have good news!  We win!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


When I was growing up in a home with older siblings, I often argued with one of them over his "borrowing" something of mine.  Being smaller than they, I had to appeal to "a higher authority."  Most of the time, it was Mother, and inevitably, the "thief's" defense of "possession is nine-tenths of the law" (an expression meaning that ownership is assumed in a property dispute, in the absence of clear and compelling testimony or documentation to the contrary; the person in actual possession of the property is presumed to be the rightful owner), did not work because it was as much as an admission that the item did not belong to him.  Nevertheless, we all seemed to use it from time to time, always with the same result.  We lost.

Speaking of being "lost," it has finally dawned on me that it is also true with regards to one's relationship with God.  Can you imagine someone saying, "I am ninety percent a child of God."  God doesn't share possession with anyone or anything.  You either belong to Him, or you don't; its all or nothing when it comes to being born again.  He is either your Father, or He is not (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6; Heb. 12:6-8).

God has described Himself as a jealous God (Ex. 20:5; Deut. 5:9).  Moses, the writer of the Law, and Jesus, the Fulfiller of the Law, both stressed that we are to love the Lord with our whole heart; that is one hundred percent (Deut. 10:12; Mt. 22:37).  In other words, when we place our faith in Him and are adopted as His child, He adopts one hundred percent of us:  the good, the bad, and the ugly (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5).  The Apostle John went so far as to say we don't have to hope we are His child, we actually know we are!  In 1 John 5:13, he wrote, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life...."

The Old Testament includes twenty-three named individuals who are quoted as saying God is "my God!"  They are Jacob, Moses, Balaam, Joshua, Naomi, Ruth, David, Solomon, Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Jonah, Micah, Habbakuk, and Zechariah.  In the New Testament, only three make that claim:  Jesus, Thomas, and Paul.  They could all say God was their God because they were His children.

What about you?  Does God have all of you?     


Saturday, July 21, 2012


God knows everything; He is Omniscient!  God knows everything at the same time; He is Eternal and therefore not governed by time (Rom. 1:20; Eph. 1:4)!  It is therefore impossible to surprise Him.  And since He knows all that we have done and what we will do in the future, it is impossible to disappoint Him.  After all, one is only disappointed when something happens that differs from what one expects will occur.  In other words, God is incapable of having expectations.  Instead, He has eternal knowledge.

I often find myself disappointed by the behavior of those I love.  When someone claims to be a born again believer, I expect them to think, speak, and act as such.  Doesn't God's Word say that all who name the name of Christ should depart from iniquity (2 Tim. 2:19)?  In a way, that makes me like the lost of this world who see the imperfections of believers, and question whether or not they are really saved.  I think to myself, "How could a genuine believer do that?!"  It is so disappointing when members of my family, or members of my church, are found to be practicing sin; some of them have even been guilty of adultery, fornication, theft, drug addiction, alcoholism, lying . . . the list goes on and on. 

However, I am most often disappointed in myself, because, like the Apostle Paul, I struggle to live up to the example of Christ.  Paul wrote, "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I" (Rom. 7:15).   And, like Paul, I see myself as a "wretched man" (Rom. 7:24).  And sadly, while I know God forgives me, my disappointment in myself also reveals that I am suffering from the sin of pride; I honestly never expected that I would think those thoughts, say those horrible things, or act in such a hateful way toward others.  And, to make things even more humiliating, I find others are often not quite so forgiving either.  As a result, I have hurt others, broken relationships, and ruined the opportunity to be a witness for Christ.

My problem is, I keep forgetting born again believers are "works in progress."  Paul wrote that he was "confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you (and me) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).  We need to remember our part in the "metamorphosis" is to cooperate with God by allowing ourselves to be transformed into Christ's likeness (Rom. 12:1-2).  We will not be "butterflies" until we are standing in His presence (1 Jn. 3:2). 

The fact that I am disappointed in myself is really a good sign.  It means that I realize I am not what I should be, that I still need to rely upon Christ's righteousness instead of my own, and that, as a sinner, I can relate to those in my family and in my church who are also works in progress.  It keeps me from judging "another Man's servant" (Rom. 14:4), and compels me to pray for their forgiveness from God, just as I pray for my forgiveness from the Undisappointed One!

The only way one can be disappointed in others is if he forgets to look in the mirror!  



Friday, July 20, 2012


I noticed there is some disagreement between biblical harmonisers over the number of anointing of Jesus recorded in the Gospels.  Some believe all four Gospels record a single event, while others see Luke's description as a separate incident (Mt. 26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; Lk. 7:36-50; Jn. 12:1-11).  I am not sure if it really makes much of a difference, but I am curious, so here goes.

The Location:  At the house of a Pharisee named Simon, who had been a leper (Mt. 26:6; Mk. 14:3; Lk. 7:36, 40).  John's Gospel seems to suggest it was at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary (Jn. 12:1-2).

The Woman:  Mary is named as the woman in John's Gospel (12:3), but the other three simply say "a woman" (Mt. 26:7; Mk. 14:3; Lk. 7:37). 

The Anointing:  Two of the Gospels mention that she anointed His head (Mt. 26:7; Mk. 14:3), while the other two say she anointed His feet (Lk. 7:38; Jn. 12:3).  All four describe the precious material as being an "ointment" (Mt. 26:7; Mk. 14:3; Lk. 7:37; Jn. 12:3).  Three mention that it was in a box (Mt. 26:7; Mk. 14:3; Lk. 7:37), while John simply says it was "a pound" (12:3).  Its value was said to be "300 pence" (Mk. 14:5; Jn. 12:5), Matthew says the ointment "could have been sold for much" (Mt. 26:9), and Luke does not mention its value.

The Message:  Three state that her devotion was for His burial (Mt. 26:12; Mk. 14:8; Jn. 12:7), while Luke seems to be saying her action was more out of gratitude for she knew Jesus would forgive her sins (7:40-50). 

Since all four Gospels are Scripture, and therefore true, I believe each is a "witness" to a single event.  A Pharisee named Simon, a former leper from Bethany, had as his servant, Martha.  Lazarus was a guest, and Mary, their sister, was the repentant sinner.  Mary came uninvited, and showed her devotion to Jesus by anointed both His head and His feet with a very expensive ointment normally used for preparing a body for burial.  That the poor will always be with us, that Judas was a thief, and that Simon needed to learn to be more hospitable and not to judge, was the purpose of the Lord's visit.

All Scripture is truth; therefore it is impossible for it to contradict itself!     


Thursday, July 19, 2012


Recently, there seems to be a great deal of attention being paid to the subject of the Kingdom of God, and I am wondering why.  I suspect that most, if not all, of the focus has to do with the doctrinal error which has resulted in Replacement Theology.  Replacement Theology teaches that because Israel rejected their Messiah, God has rejected Israel, and replaced it with the Church.  This teaching borders on heresy.  Paul made it quite clear in Romans that Israel has temporarily been set aside, but will again, one day soon, be the focus of God's "mission" to reach the lost (Rom. 9 - 11).  The prophet Daniel, unknowingly described the Church Age as being the period between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week of his prophecy concerning Israel (Dan. 9:24-27).  The last of the seventy weeks will be the Tribulation, the seven year period in which God chastises Israel; the Church Age will have previously ended with the Rapture (removal) of the Church (Dan. 9:27; Mt. 24:1-29; Rev. 6 - 19; Jn. 14:6; 1 Thes. 4:13-18). 

So, what's all the talk about the Kingdom?  Here are some observations concerning it: 

1)  There is only one Kingdom of God.  Jesus repeatedly referred to it as THE Kingdom.  It is mentioned 118 times in the Synoptic Gospels, but only three times in the Gospel of John.  By the time John wrote his Gospel, the Church was the focus; when the Synoptics were written, the focus was on Israel.  The Kingdom is mentioned only thirty-four times in the rest of the New Testament, nearly half in Acts and Revelation.  Acts 2:1 is the beginning of the Church Age, and Revelation 4:1 is a picture of the end of it, being a picture of the Rapture

2)  Jesus spoke of His Kingdom as being established upon His return (Mt. 24:3, 30; Lk. 22:30; Rev. 19:11 - 20:9).

3)  Like the Tribulation, the Millennium is dealing with Israel.  Notice that there is again Temple worship and animal sacrifice, only this will be a memorial of what Christ had done over 2000 years earlier (Ezek. 40 - 48).

4)  Israel will view Jesus as their King; the Church sees Jesus as our Lord.  Just as He was the Passover Lamb during His First Coming, He will be the Lion of the Tribe of Judah at His Second Coming (Jn. 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7; Rev. 5:5).  He will truly be both King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:16)!

During the Church Age, Jesus is far greater than a king; He is Lord!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Many have been critical of evangelical Christians because of what they see as "easy believism."  And, perhaps they have a point.  After all, many churches teach that a person is saved by simply believing that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, and that He rose from the dead.  That is the Gospel, after all (1 Cor. 15:1-4).  But unfortunately, simply believing does not save a person.  We are told in God's Word that even Satan knows, not believes, but knows that Jesus, the Son of God, died, was buried, and rose again from the grave (Jam. 2:19).  Does that mean he is saved?  Certainly not!

There is a passage in the Gospel of John that illustrates how the word "believe" can be misleading.  In John 2:23, we read, "Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did."  In this verse, the word "believe" is correctly translated from the Greek word "episteusan."  Because John uses the phrase "believed in His name," many connect this verse with John 1:12, which says, " But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name."  But notice that it is not believing on His name that saves one; it is "receiving Him!"  We are saved when we accept Him for who He is:  He is Jesus:   Creator (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1-2); God (Jn. 1:1, 14); the only begotten Son of God (Jn. 3:16); and King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16)!

John 2:24-25 clearly shows that "episteusan" (believing) is not enough.  John wrote, "But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man."  In this verse (v. 24), the word "commit" is the same word as "believed" in the previous verse (v. 23).  In other words, even though they believed in Him, He did not believe in them!  What on earth does that mean?

Notice that the crowd believed something about Him based upon the evidence of miracles (v. 23).  What do you suppose they believed about Him?  Israel was anxiously awaiting their Messiah, a king who would free them from Roman oppression.  They had no clue that Jesus was God, that He came to die for their sins, that His kingdom would require Him to return from heaven.  Even the Lord's disciples required the filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, in order to comprehend who Jesus truly is.  Note the question they ask Him after His resurrection and just before His ascension:  "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6).  It was after they were filled with the Spirit that they understood (Acts 2:32-36). 

In order for us to believe with saving faith, we must be convicted of our sins, believe that Jesus paid for our sins, and that we are saved when we receive Him into our lives for who He is; He is Lord! (Jn. 16:7-11; Rom. 10:8-13).

Confess with thy mouth the LORD Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.




Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I recently heard a great sermon on why Christians suffer.  Chris Birke, one of our church's leaders, suggested there are five sources of suffering:  1) because I sin; 2) because others sin; 3) because of our enemy, Satan; 4) because nature has been corrupted by man's sin; and 5) because God is at work redeeming man.  I would go further and say that the first four are also because God is at work redeeming man. 

1)  When a born again believer sins, he can be sure he will reap what he sows (Gal. 6:7-8).  If  we get caught speeding, we will pay, literally. God may forgive confessed sin, but the courts of man seldom do.  With unconfessed sin, the believer can be sure his Father will not ignore his iniquity (Heb. 12:5-11).  If the Lord does not respond with correction when you sin, then the passage from Hebrews says that you are not God's child!

2)  Because all men sin, the actions of others often effects those around them (Rom. 3:23).  Some examples of how the sins of others effects believers, Jesus was crucified by sinners (Mt. 27:25).  Abel (Gen. 4:8), John (the Baptizer - Mk. 6:22-29), Stephen (Acts 7:59), James (Acts 12:2), and eventually all the Apostles but John were martyred as a result of the sin of others.

3)  Satan is constantly looking for opportunities to mess with mankind, especially with God's children (Job 1:7; 2:2; Eph. 6:12; 1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:9).  Jesus described him as a thief bent on stealing, killing, and destroying (Jn. 10:10). 

4)  Because of the fall of Adam, our planet was cursed by God (Gen. 3:17-18).  The Apostle Paul described the result of that curse this way, "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Rom. 8:22).  Today, our planet is constantly visited by earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, floods, drought, disease, and death. 

5)  We know God is Omniscient (Ps. 139:2), Omnipotent (Rev. 19:6), and Omnipresent (Jer. 23:23-24), and yet, believers still suffer.  But, we also know that all that He allows to effect our lives, is motivated by the love of God (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 8:28-29; Heb. 12:6; 1 Jn. 4:8).  Absolutely no harm can come upon man unless God permits it, and He only permits it to bring about good.  The ultimate example is when Jesus told Pilate, "Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above" (Jn. 19:11).  Because God allowed Pilate to crucify Jesus, our sins have been forgiven!  That's definitely good!

There is peace in knowing God limits our suffering (1 Cor. 10:13)!

Monday, July 16, 2012


Webster's New World Dictionary defines "compassion" as "sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another, coupled with a urge to help; to pity."  When I look at the word, I see the combination of our word "compass" meaning "to surround," and "passion" meaning "to love intensely."  I can almost visualize God's arms wrapped around His humble child as I come to Him for mercy.  I cannot speak for every believer in Christ, but that is how I feel; God has shown me mercy, and has graciously adopted me as His child.  Romans 8:15 says, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." 

Not only has God adopted, as His children, those of us who believe in Jesus, He knew of our response to the Gospel before the world was created (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4)!  Ephesians 1:5-6 says, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved." 

Like His Father, Jesus repeatedly showed compassion on those around Him.  Matthew used the Greek word "splagchnizomai" meaning "to love from one's innermost being, and be moved with pity."  There are four examples of the Lord's love for mankind in Matthew's Gospel:

1)  "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd (9:36)."
2)  "And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick" (14:14).  This occurred immediately before the feeding of the five thousand.
3)  "Then Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with Me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way" (15:32).  This preceded the feeding of the four thousand.
4)  "So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him" (20:34).

Jesus, the Lamb of God, wanted to be Israel's Shepherd.  He cared about their physical needs, for food and healing.  His very coming to our planet, the one He created (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1-2), was the result of God having compassion on fallen man (Jn. 3:16)!  And, since it is God's goal that His children should be like Jesus (Gen. 1:26; 1 Jn. 3:2), ought not we show compassion on the lost?

When I grow up, I want to be just like Jesus!


Sunday, July 15, 2012


It goes without saying that God hates sin; not just the most despicable sins, but all sin.  It was a sin that caused Him to expel Adam and Eve from the garden (Gen. 3:23).  It was sin that caused God to send Noah's Flood (Gen. 6:5).  And, it was our sin that caused Him to send His Son to die for us on Calvary (Jn. 3:16).  It was our sin that separated Him from His Father when He cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Ps. 22:1; Mt. 27:46).   It was our sin that move our loving God to make "Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21).  Yes, God surely hates sin, but not nearly as much as He loves us!  Praise the Lord!   

While God hates all sin, there are some sins that He especially abhors.  "These six things doth the LORD hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto Him:  a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among the brethren" (Prov. 6:16-19).  The word "abomination" means something that is unclean (unholy), detestable, disgusting, or simply abhorrent. The word only appears six times in the New Testament, three in the Synoptic Gospels, and three in Revelation. It appears one hundred thirty-six times in the Old Testament, with one hundred seven found in eight books: the Pentetuech (33), Proverbs (20), Jeremiah (10), and Ezekiel (44). 

Notice that all seven abominable sins are sins are committed by one man against another.  You would think that the most abominable sins, to God, would be those directed toward Him, such as taking His name in vain, but it appears God is more concerned about how we treat each other, than He is about how we treat Him.  Maybe that is why the Apostle Paul could write, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Gal. 5:14)!

All sin has consequences, whether it is my sin, my neighbor's sin against me, Satan's continuing sin against God and man.  Sin effects our whole world so that nature, like we ourselves, groans for the day there will no longer be storms, earthquakes, disease, draught, or famine (Rom. 8:22-23).

We know we are God's child when we hate sin, and when we love our brethren!     


Saturday, July 14, 2012


John's Gospel tells us in 21:25, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."  Even the ones which have been written down number in hundreds, perhaps even the thousands.  I find it interesting that there are only eleven events that managed to be included in all four Gospels.  Even a new believer surely recognizes these eleven hold a special significance to the biography of Jesus Christ. 

1)   Baptism of John:  Mt. 3:1-17; Mk. 1:1-11; Lk. 3:1-22; Jn. 1:15-34.
2)   Feeding of 5000:  Mt. 14:13-21; Mk. 6:30-44; Lk. 9:10-17; Jn. 6:1-15.
3)   Peter's Profession:  Mt. 16:13-19; Mk. 8:27-29; Lk. 9:18-20; Jn. 6:66-71.
4)   Anointing by Mary:  Mt. 26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; Lk. 7:36-50; Jn. 12:1-11.
5)   Triumphal Entry:  Mt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-10; Lk. 19:29-44; Jn. 12:12-19.
6)   Last Supper:  Mt. 26:17-30; Mk. 14:12-26; Lk. 22:7-23; Jn. 13:1-35.
7)   Gethsemane:  Mt. 26:36-56; Mk. 14:32-52 Lk. 22:40-53; Jn. 18:1.
8)   The Trials:  Mt. 26:57-27:31; Mk. 14:43-15:20; Lk. 22:47-23:37; Jn. 18:2-19:3.
9)   The Crucifixion:  Mt. 27:32-56; Mk. 15:21-41; Lk. 23:26-56; Jn. 19:1-37.
10) His Burial:  Mt. 27:57-28:15; Mk. 15:42-47; Lk. 23:50-56; Jn. 19:38-42.
11) The Resurrection:  Mt. 28:1-10; Mk. 16:1-11; Lk. 24:1-12; Jn. 20:1-18.

The eleven appear to have occurred over the three plus years of the Lord's earthly ministry.  The first ten all describe the events of Jesus as the "Son of Man."  Number eleven clearly defines Jesus as the "Son of God."  Numbers five through eight deal with the events occurring during the last week of Christ's sojourn with man.  Numbers nine through eleven are of such great significance that they, combined, are said to be the very "power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16)!  In other words, they are the Good News, the Gospel itself (1 Cor. 15:1-4)!

I challenge you to think on these things, and to learn why each is of special importance to the Gospel message.  If God thought it important to include them in all four Gospels, don't you think they are important enough to spend the time necessary to take note of their significance?

The Bible is filled with truth, but salvation comes from believing the Gospel.  

Friday, July 13, 2012


I love studying God's Word using a harmony of the Gospels.  One can learn a lot about the individual writers by what they include, and what they omit.  For instance, one can see the humility of the writer in Matthew's Gospel from his recording of the negative statements of Jesus concerning publicans (5:46-47; 9:10-11; 10:3; 11:19; 18:17; 21:31-32).  In his listing of the twelve disciples, he describes himself as "Matthew the publican" (10:3).  His is the only name given with a former occupation.

In Mark's account of the arrest of Jesus, only he mentions a naked young man fleeing for his life (14:50-52).  Although he didn't acknowledge that he was that lad, most Bible students believe it was Mark.  Neither did he mention he accompanied Joseph of Arimathaea to ask for the Lord's body, but only he tells of the conversation between Pilate and the Centurion (15:44-45).  If Mark was there, humility prevented him from laying claim to that act of bravery.

Luke's Gospel begins with a humble statement that his account of the events surrounding the life of Christ were taken from "eyewitnesses" (1:2).  I am not sure why, but only Luke records information on the family of John the Bapizer (1:5-80).  Only Luke records the birth and the first eight days of our Lord's life (2:1-38).  And, only Luke records the activities of Jesus which took him most of nine chapters to write (10:1 - 18:14).  While Luke is known as a physician, he should be seen as a great historian because of his research and attention to detail.

John's focus, unlike the Synoptic writers, is on the deity of Christ, the ultimate in humility.  The others describe their three year journey with the Man, Christ Jesus, but John presents Jesus as God, as Creator (1:1-3, 14)!  What man could not be humble when in the very presence of God, Himself?  John's Gospel includes a vast amount of material that does not appear in the Synoptics (1:1 - 12:11; 14:1-31; 15:1 - 17:26).  Many Bible students believe that John's awareness of the Lord's great love for him, was what he found so amazing; he mentioned it three times (20:2; 21:7, 20). Because John was the only disciple who was not martyred, many believe John 21:22 identifies him as the beloved one.

If you were to write a Gospel, what could you share of your relationship with Jesus?   


Thursday, July 12, 2012


In Genesis 11, God, being displeased with man's failure to obey His command to spread out and repopulate the entire planet, caused the people to begin speaking in different languages (v. 7-9).  Not understanding one another, and therefore, not being able to trust those of other languages, the drifted apart.  For all practical purposes, they became nations.  According to my trusty Webster's Dictionary, nations consist of groups have a specified territory, a common culture, and a common language.  The estimated date for this event was c. 2200 B.C. 

Approximately two hundred years later, the Lord called Abram, to leave the city of Ur, and to go to the Land of Promise.  Abram, became Abraham,  and he and his descendants, the twelve tribes, had a land, a unique culture which included circumcision, and they also had a unique language:  Hebrew.  Because of their language, they were known as Hebrews, but because the Tribe of Judah became the dominant tribe, the people soon became known as Jews.

Approximately two thousand years later, the long-awaited Messiah, their King, came as was prophesied of Him, and the Jews rejected Him.  He was crucified and buried, but miraculously, after  three days, He was resurrected.  Because His chosen people had rejected Him, God temporarily set them aside for a period of time known as "the times of the Gentiles."  It is during this time, the age in which we now live, that the Lord formed the Church.  It began on the Day of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus ascended into Heaven.

On that day, there were local Jews, strangers (Jews from other nations), and proselytes gathered together for the feast in Jerusalem (Acts 2:10).  Perhaps they all spoke Hebrew, the language of worship at the Temple, but those in the crowd also spoke the native languages of their homelands.  At least fifteen different native languages were represented, and yet, the disciples spoke in such a way that each heard the Gospel in their own language.  Why do you suppose that happened?

The Word says that the Jews require a sign in order to believe (1 Cor. 1:22), and according to the same epistle, tongues are specifically said to be just such a sign (1 Cor. 14:22)!  God has scattered the peoples of the earth, and thank God, He has gathered a people out of every nation, to be His Church! 

He has scattered "the herd," so that He can gather the weak unto Himself!         

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Who do the Gospel writers present, and what is the Gospel ? 
Matthew 1:1, Mark 1:1; and John 1:17 all use the words "Jesus Christ" together in their Gospels.  Luke, never uses "Jesus Christ," but his Gospel clearly presents Him as such (Lk. 1:32; 2:11).  The Gospels are statements of eyewitnesses, testifying to the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God, all according to what the Scriptures had prophesied (1 Cor. 15:1-11).

Why is the Gospel called the "Good News?" 
It is called that because God's Word says all of us are sinners, and as such, we must be sentenced to die; but because Jesus died in our place, we don't have to die for our sins (Rom. 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 8:1; 2 Cor. 5:21).  It is "Good News," because we are taught by the Scriptures of our inability to perfectly obey God's Law, and therefore, without the sacrifice of Christ, we would be doomed to an eternity in the Lake of Fire (Gal. 3:24; 1 Cor. 15:17; Rev. 20:11-14).  God has done the necessary "work" to purchase our salvation, not only because we, ourselves, are incapable of doing so, but because if we were able, we would take credit for the righteousness that is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-9).

When and how does the Gospel work? 
Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit, on occasion, convicting us of sin, righteousness, and judgment, moves us to place our trust in Him, Jesus, and when we do, we become a new creature; we are spiritually born again (Jn. 3:3-8; 16:7-15; 2 Cor. 517).  When the Gospel, "the power of God unto salvation," is preached, those who believe what they hear are said to have faith; faith in Christ produces salvation (Rom. 1:16; 10:8-17).  "Salvation" is the word we use to describe the moment one is saved from the penalty due them for their sins.  In Christ, we are saved from the penalty of our sins; we are being saved from the power of sin over us, and we shall be save from the presence of sin forever (Rom. 6:23; Gal. 5:16-25; 1 Jn. 3:2; Rev. 19:8).

However, it is possible to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died, was buried, and was raised from the dead, without being saved.  The Bible says Satan believes, and yet he has chosen to reject Jesus as authority over him (Jam. 2:19-26).  Notice that salvation comes from a faith that is displayed by a changed life.  Believers are to stop sinning and do good works (2 Tim. 2:19; Eph. 2:10)! 

We are not saved by works, but saved people do good works!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Even though my conversion experience was "a masterpiece of God's handiwork," every once in a while, I have little visits from Satan in which he, like with Adam and Eve, plants the seeds of doubt.  Had my forty plus years as a believer not included several miraculous confirmations of my relationship to the Father, and a handful of occasions where I heard God speaking to me, I would probably let those doubts take root.  Past events remind me of God's love and gentle direction through the "mind fields" of life.  And amazingly, doubt disappears in an instant!

Doubt is not a sign of weakness, but rather an opportunity to remind ourselves of what and why we believe as we do.  John, the greatest prophet of God according to Jesus, had the privilege to baptize Jesus, and to have His identity confirmed by the Holy Spirit and the voice of God, Himself (Mk. 1:9-11; Lk. 7:28).  Even John had one of those days when began to question whether or not Jesus was really the Messiah.  Perhaps he thought, "If Jesus is really the Messiah, why am I in prison?"  In Luke 7:17-28, John sends his disciples to ask Jesus to verify that He is the Christ.  He told them to observe the miracles and to go and tell John.  He did not rebuke John, nor did He remind him of His baptism; He gave John more evidence of His identity to strengthen his faith.  He was preparing him for the trial he would soon face (Mt. 14:12).   

Looking back on past events in order to keep one's faith alive, is very Scriptural!   The Word has several examples of the times when the Lord told men to view something as a reminder of His work on their behalf.  Here are just a few examples.  He told Noah that the rainbow was a sign of promise (Gen. 9:15-16).  He told the people of Israel to remember how He led them for forty years through the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night (Deut. 8:2; Ex. 13:21).  And, He inspired Joshua to have the children of Israel create a pile of stones, taken out of the dry Jordon, to be a remembrance of their entering the land of promise (Josh. 4:1-24).

Christians also have something Jesus left us to remind us of God's amazing love and sacrifice.  In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul writes, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread:  and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.  After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come."

The Lord's Supper is a reminder that He came, and He is coming again!


Monday, July 9, 2012


Ephesians 4:1-7
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-16
And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:17-32 
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk....
putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour....  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath...steal no more: but...labour...to give to him that needeth....Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth....Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:  and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Jesus thought unity was absolutely essential for winning the lost (Jn. 17:21-23)!


The very last instructions Joshua gave the people of Israel before they marched around Jericho seven times, is found in Joshua 6:18-19, which says, "And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.  But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD."  The next chapter begins with a description of one whose greed got the best of him.  Joshua 7:1 says, "But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.

Notice that by the sin of one man, Achan, the entire nation suffered the loss of God's favor.  In Joshua 7:2-5, God's anger can be seen in Israel's only loss in battle as they attempted to occupy their God-given land.  I am not certain how God narrowed down the list of suspects, but the Word says one tribe was "taken," then one family was "taken," then one man was "taken."  Achan confessed, and he, his family, and his livestock were stoned to death; the bodies and all he possessed were burned. 

This story makes me wonder if the reason so many churches are weak and sick and dead, is that "there is sin in the camp?"  Look around!  There are churches on nearly every corner, and while some of them are well attended, many could be described as was the Church of Laodicea; they are operating with Jesus standing outside trying to get in (Rev. 3:14-22)! 

There are two philosophical approaches to the purpose of the church:  1) It is the place where the lost come to hear the Gospel and get saved;  and 2) It is the place where born again believers gather to become equipped to go into our lost world, and to proclaim the Gospel.  Most churches that have the slightest desire to see people saved, fall under the first category.  The lost are welcome, they need not change their way of life, and as a result, there is always "sin in the camp."  However, the biblical approach to a church's membership is found in Acts 2, where the disciples went to where the lost were and preached the Good News!  The Church's purpose is described in Ephesians 4.  Notice it is a place of preparation for going to do God's work!  Also notice that sin is not acceptable!

God said "Go," but we want the lost to come join us!     

Sunday, July 8, 2012


About eighty percent of Americans claim to be Christians.  But it is obvious by the morality exhibited by our citizens, that many who profess to be believers in Christ, in reality, are Christians in name only.  But how are we to tell the difference?  A carnal Christian appears to be a lost person, and lost people often are the majority within a local church!  It always amazes me, when someone I have believed to be a brother or sister in the Lord, turns out to be a wolf in sheep's clothing, and someone I was certain was unsaved, turns out to actually be saved, but living in the flesh rather than in the Spirit.  The Word of God says we will know them by their fruits (Mt. 7:16, 20), but unfortunately, genuine believers who are walking in the flesh, produce the same fruit as those who belong to Satan.

I believe the best way to discern between a genuine believer and a "religious unbeliever," is to see what the Lord does to them when they sin.  If they are living contrary to God's will for believers, and nothing happens, then they are not really children of God (Heb. 12:5-8).  But, if they are rebellious children of God, you can be certain that He will not tolerate the rebellion for long!  And God has warned His children, in Numbers 32:23, that no matter how hard they to hide sin, it will be brought to light; you as a child of God can "be sure your sin will find you out!  You cannot hide!     

God's Word says, "Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD.  Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD" (Jer. 23:24).

 Again, it says, "O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me.  Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off.  Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether.  Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.  Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?  Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.   If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.   If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.  Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee" (Ps. 139:1-12).

Do believers really think they can get away with sin?  How stupid!

Friday, July 6, 2012


Chapter Eleven of the Gospel of John speaks of a "roller-coaster" of emotions.  Verses 1-3 tell of the fear of the sisters of Lazarus over his serious illness.  Jesus, hearing of this, and fully knowing what His Father was doing in the situation, calmly waited two more days before going to His friend, assuring His disciples that the sickness was not "unto death" (v. 4-6).  Finally, when Jesus was ready to go, His disciples tried to persuade Him not to go for fear of the Jews who sought to kill Him (v. 7-14).  But, when Jesus told them Lazarus was dead, it was Thomas, of all people, who bravely said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (v. 15-16).

They travelled to where Lazarus had been buried four days earlier, and it was to Martha, the busy host of Luke 10:38-42, that Jesus told of His being the Resurrection and the Life (v. 17-27).  Jesus met the mourners and Mary, the "spiritual one" of Luke 10:38-42, and He wept with them (v. 28-36).  They knew that had He been there, Lazarus would not have died (v. 37).  Jesus commanded that the stone covering the grave entrance be removed, and He cried out, "Lazarus!  Come forth!"  Great sadness was turned to joy, and the unbelief of many was replaced by faith (v. 38-45).  Unfortunately, hardened hearts were steeled by the raising of Lazarus, and the Jewish leaders hatred for the Man who was a threat to their "cushy" position, conspired to kill Jesus (v. 46-57).  NOTE:  Lazarus was raised (resuscitated), similar to those described in other passages of Scripture (1 Kg. 17:17-24; 2 Kg. 4:20-27; 13:21; Mk. 5:35-43; Lk. 7:11-16; Acts 20:7-12).  He could not have been resurrected because Jesus was the first to actually be resurrected (Mt. 27:52-53; 1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5).

Last night, I spent some time at the funeral home, praying and listening to those wanting to tell me about their fond memories with, and the last days of, a dear brother in the Lord.  Tom Hammond had suffered for years with dialysis and its almost unbearable effects on his deteriorating physical condition.  Wanting no longer to be a burden on others, and after much prayer and Christian counsel, Tom had peace about stopping treatments, knowing full well that it meant that he would have but days to live.  He lasted longer than most; he lived twelve days before entering the presence of Jesus, his Lord and Savior (2 Cor. 5:8).  Because his family and friends knew of his relationship with his Father, there was great joy for Tom's "graduation."  His son Mike had been by his father's side moments after his passing, and his reaction was a huge smile, raised hands to heaven, and a shout of "praise the Lord!"  Then, there in the funeral home, Mike told me that later, seeing the footstool he had made for his father so he could get into his truck to go to dialysis, he "totally lost it."  There will be sadness at the void left by Tom's passing, but there will also be great joy every time we remember we will see Tom again; some us will not need wait long!

The greatest gift you can give your family is the peace they will have at your passing!
Those who have trusted in Jesus, will spend eternity rejoicing together in His presence! 


Thursday, July 5, 2012


Recently, there has been some discussion among believers concerning family pets, and whether or not they will go to heaven when they die.  Let me begin by saying, "I do not know the answer to that question."  I might add that those who dogmatically say they do have the answer, either have a closer relationship with God than I, or they have a much higher estimation of their knowledge than they ought. 

First, I think it important to determine whether or not animals have souls.  After all, it is the soul which lives eternally.  In the creation of mankind, God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Gen. 2:7).  Later, when God decided to destroy all life except those on the Ark, animals were described as also having "the breath of life." (Gen. 6:17; 7:15, 22).  It seems logical to me that if God breathing into man made him a living soul, it would also do the same for all those species on the Ark.

The soul is the life force, the very uniqueness of an individual; the personality, if you will.  It is who you are.  You have a body, and with mankind, you have a spirit.  Those born again are said to be alive spiritually; those who are unsaved are said to be dead spiritually. (Jn. 3:3-8; Rom. 6:11-13; Eph. 2:1-5).  This is what Jesus referred to when He said, "Let the dead bury their dead." (Mt. 8:22).  But I digress.

Animals clearly have emotions, memory, attitudes, etc.  Animals have value to God.  We read in Luke 12:6, "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?"  The Psalmist wrote, "The LORD is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works.  All Thy works shall praise Thee, O LORD; and Thy saints shall bless Thee.  They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, and talk of Thy power; to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom." (Ps. 145:9-12).  In other words, creation, including animals, praise God and give testimony to His glory.

And finally, we know there are animals in heaven because the Lord will appear at His Second Coming, riding a white horse, and He will be accompanied by the armies of heaven, all riding on white horses (Rev. 19:11-14).  One might also consider these verses (Eccl. 3:21; Ps. 36:6; Prov. 12:10; Isa. 65:25).

The righteous care for their animals;
the wicked treat them cruelly (Prov. 12:10)!   


Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Today, whenever someone says he is an independent, he is usually talking about being unaffiliated with the Republicans and the Democrats.  The name of the church I attend is Charlestown Independent Church, and in our case, we are stating that we are not affiliated with any denomination.  We are, of course, totally dependent upon Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. 

Since this is the Fourth of July, I think it would be a good idea to take the time to read the Declaration of Independence.  Once you have read it, ask yourselves, "How does it line up with God's Word?"  Here is what the Apostle Paul had to say about the believer and government:

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?  Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.  Wherefore [ye] must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.  For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." (Rom. 13:1-8)

Now please!  Do not shoot the messenger.  I wrote neither the Declaration nor Romans (although my name is Paul).  I would just like to point out that Romans does provide a basis for the colonies to unite and resist the English King.  God's Word indicates a government is to praise good works, and to punish the works deemed evil by law.  As long as it is fulfilling God's will for all governments, we are to pay our tribute (taxes), show proper custom (respect), fear the consequences of breaking the law (reverence), and esteem the leaders to be honorable (faithful).  When a government ceases to function according to God's will, those governed have a right to express their grievances. 

I like to think of one's relationship to his government as being like one between two individuals.  In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus tells us how we are to deal with those who offend us.  First, we privately make our grievance known, in this case, to the government officials responsible.  Second, we are to include two or three others witnesses to the offense.  If changes are not made, we have the right to severe the relationship.  I believe, in this light, the colonies followed those steps perfectly.

Declaring one's independence should always be the last resort; God prefers unity!  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


The Word of God indicates that in the last days, there will be a falling away from the faith.  The Apostle Paul wrote, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first . . . ." (2 Thes. 2:3).  The  NASB translates it "the apostasy," and the HNV has "the departure."  Regardless of which translation you use, the idea is that something is going to happen to the Church prior to the Tribulation. 

A "falling away" seems to be described in 1 Jn. 2:19:  "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." 

"The apostasy" seems to be speaking of born again believers who get caught up in false doctrine, as in 1 Timothy 4:1, which says, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils."

"The departure" may very well be referring to the Rapture of the Church (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Thes. 4:13-18; Rev. 3:10).  In this interpretation, the Church, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, is serving as a restraining force, which is preventing the appearance of the Antichrist (2 Thes. 2:7-8; Rev. 13:1-8;19:19-20).
Based upon the view that the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 2 - 3) represent both, literal churches during the time of the Apostle John's writing, and symbolic representations of historical periods throughout Church History, the Church of the last days will be made up of two kinds of Christians:  professing, that is, "the tares," and the possessing, or "the wheat" (Mt. 13:24-30).  I believe these two groups are described as co-existing today in the Church of Philadelphia and the Church of Laodicea (Rev. 3:7-22).  Notice that the Church of Philadelphia is promised to be removed, that is taken in the Rapture prior to the Tribulation (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Thes. 4:13-18; Rev. 3:10).  The Church of Laodicea, a church in name only, is described as operating with Jesus standing on the outside (Rev. 3:20)! 

Jesus was speaking of "the tares" when He said, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. (Mt. 7:21).  Jesus said that the will of God was for man to believe in Him (Jesus), the One sent by the Father (Jn. 6:29).  Believing in Jesus results in being born again by the working of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3:3-8).  For the born again believer, using the title, "Lord," denotes a turning from a self-controlled life, one best described as Godless, to accepting the authority of Jesus Christ.  For those who are merely religious, it is nothing more than a form of religious jargon, a blasphemous form of "name dropping."

We only have the right to call Jesus Lord if we allow Him lordship over us!


Monday, July 2, 2012


I have only recently discovered that many, if not all Calvinists, do not believe in a dispensational approach to "rightly dividing" God's Word.  I do not understand this, unless, it is necessary to reject Dispensationalism in order to believe in Calvin's T.U.L.I.P.  Perhaps that is the reason I do not agree with Calvin; I am a strong proponent of Dispensationalism.  I see a clearly defined pattern in God's dealings with man throughtout the centuries.  I observe that by time's end, there will have been seven separate, distinct periods containing God's instructions, man's responses, and God's judgments.  I also see that God changes often included changes in man's diet.  Here are the seven as I see them.

1)  INNOCENCE - God said "Don't eat!"  Man ate (THE FALL).  God removed access to the Tree of Life, and Adam had to start farming to eat (Gen. 3:17-18).

2)  CONSCIENCE - God said "Do the right thing."  Man refused and became so wicked, God destroyed every living thing but those on the Ark (THE FLOOD).  Noah's generation was the first to eat meat (Gen. 9:1-4).

3)  HUMAN GOVERNMENTS - God repeated His command to spread out and repopulate the earth.  Man congregated aroung the tower, so God "rewired their brains" and they could not understand each other (THE SCATTERING).  There was no change in man's diet.

4)  THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT - God told Abraham to live in the Promised Land.  Abraham's descendants moved to Egypt, where eventually, the became slaves (THE BONDAGE).  Again, there was no change in man's diet.

5)  THE MOSAIC COVENANT - God gave Moses the Law which contained restrictions on the diet of the Jews.  They broke God's Law, and He punished them (THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES).  The Times of the Gentiles will end with the seven year Tribulation, also known as the "Time of Jacob's Trouble" and "Daniel's Seventieth Week" (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:24-27).  Jews are still under the "kosher rules."

6)  THE CHURCH AGE - God instructed Christians to spread the Gospel to the whole world.  Two thousand years later, we have not only failed in that task, many professing believers have drifted from the faith.  Because this age is the "Age of Grace," God's judgment (for rewards and not punishment - 1 Cor. 3:10-15) will occur at the Judgment Seat of Christ (THE RAPTURE - 1 Thes. 4:13-18).  Born again believers can eat anything they desire (Acts 10:9-28).

7)  THE MILLENNIUM - Christ will rule for one thousand years (Rev. 20:1-7), and He will rule with a "rod of iron" (Rev. 19:15).  This dispensation ends with world-wide rebellion against Christ, and God destroys the armies of the earth, which is followed by the (GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT -  Rev. 20:11-15).

Calvinist or not, dispensationalism is undeniably the best way to understand God's Word!


Sunday, July 1, 2012


The Scriptures, when interpreted in their natural, literal sense, reveal divinely determined dispensations or rules of life which define man’s responsibilities in successive ages.  A dispensation is a unique stage in the outworking of God’s program in time, whereby mankind is responsible to believe God and to be a good steward of the particular revelation which God has given (Eph. 3:2,9; Col. 1:25; Ex. 34:27-28; Gal. 3:10-12; 1 Tim. 1:4; Eph. 1:10; etc.).  Three of these—the dispensations of Law, Grace, and the Millennium—are specifically mentioned in Scripture (Jn. 1:17; 1 Cor. 9:17; 2 Cor. 3:9-18; Gal. 3:13-25; Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:24-25; Heb. 7:19; Rev. 20:2-6).
In order to be “rightly dividing the Word of truth” it is essential to distinguish things that differ and to recognize certain basic Biblical distinctions.  Examples of these would be the difference between God’s program for Israel and His program for the Church (Acts 15:14-17; Rom. 11:25-27), the separation of 1000 years between the two resurrections (Rev. 20:4-6), the difference between the various judgments which occur at different times (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15), the difference between law and grace (Jn. 1:17; Rom. 6:14-15 Rom. 7:1-6) and the difference between Christ’s present session at the right hand of the Father as the Church’s great High Priest and Christ’s future session on the restored Davidic throne as Israel’s millennial King (Heb. 1:3; 10:12-13; Acts 15:16; Lk. 1:32).
The Church is a distinct body of believers which was not present on earth during the Old Testament period and which was not the subject of Old Testament prophecy (Eph. 3:1-9; Col. 1:25-27).   According to God’s timetable, the Church is on earth between the two advents of Christ.  The beginning of the Church took place after the conclusion of Daniel’s 69th week (Dan. 9:24-26), on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.  The completion of the Church’s ministry on earth will take place at the Rapture, just prior to the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week (Dan. 9:27).  During this interval of time God is visiting the nations to call out a people for His Name (Acts 15:14-16; Eph. 3: 1-11; Rom. 11:25). Indeed, the Church is God’s called-out assembly.
God will literally fulfill His covenant and kingdom promises to the nation of Israel just as the prophets foretold (Gen. 12:2-3; 15:18-21; Deut. 30:3-10; 2 Sam. 7:4-17; Jer. 31:31-37; 33:15-26).  The promises of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12,15,17), the Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7) and the New covenant (Jer. 31), were made unconditionally to national Israel, and they will be literally fulfilled during the Millennium (Jer. 31:31-37; 33:14-26; Ezek. 36:25-28, 40-48; Rom. 11:23-32). 
Dispensations are not ways of salvation, but rather divinely ordered stewardships by which God directs man according to His purpose, and in every dispensation, salvation has been by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8; Gen. 15:6; Heb. 11:4-7; Rom. 4:1-8). 

God's will during this dispensation is that you tell others about Jesus!