Aging Grace-fully

Friday, November 30, 2012

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 KJV).

As the aging process degrades our physical bodies, let us allow God’s grace to “renew” our minds.

I just heard people share their anxiety about their aging physical bodies. They loathe their gray hairs, sagging skin, and wrinkles, and do whatever they can to “look younger.” They are not focusing on the things of eternal importance, for they probably never have trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. All they think about is the here and now, failing to understand that there is more to life than this physical dimension.

In one recent year, Americans spent $10 billion (!) on cosmetic surgeries. These efforts to slow down and even reverse aging and its effects are futile. Death and elderliness will still come. Beloved, no matter what we do to these physical bodies, they will still age, and short of the Lord’s coming, they will die. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). These are “vile bodies” affected by sin, and thus they must die (Philippians 3:21). They cannot enter heaven.

Thankfully, one day (the rapture), these physical bodies will be redeemed from death (Romans 8:23): we Christians will receive new bodies “eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5). As a dear brother in Christ always states, “In heaven, there will be no [from head to toe] baldness, bifocals, bridgework, bulges, and bunions!” Yes, we have those here, but be not depressed. We will not be here in this sin-cursed world forever. We are not bound forever in these limited (and weakening) bodies.

Today’s Scripture shows us that this physical body—the “outward man”—will ultimately die, and give way to a new glorified body. What we need to focus on is the “inward man,” our soul and spirit. We will leave these physical bodies behind, but we will take with us our spiritual bodies. When we daily study and believe the King James Bible rightly divided, it will “renew” and strengthen our souls, the bodies that count for eternity. And thus, we will age “grace-fully.” 🙂


Thursday, November 29, 2012

“And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3 KJV).

Although the name of the Christian is unknown, the name of Jesus Christ, which the unknown Christian preached, is well known.

I recently met a dear brother in Christ who has a television ministry. He explained how viewers do not always know his name when they write him letters, but they do remember what he taught from the Bible. His mentality was, “As long as they took notice of what God’s Word says, my name is unimportant.” We should share that attitude, dear brethren in Christ.

We read about “a brother” whom Paul sent with Titus to Corinth, but he is never named (2 Corinthians 8:18,22; 2 Corinthians 12:18). In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul exhorts an unknown Christian (signified by the second-person singular pronoun, “thee,” as opposed to the plural “you”). We read about one, Clement, but that “true yoke-fellow” charged to help the women who worked with Paul in the ministry, is nameless. What mattered is that that person’s name was “in the book of life” (God’s record of the Christians’ names).

To the world, we Christians are “nobodies.” As 2 Corinthians 6:9 expresses, “[We are] unknown, and yet well known…” They know about the message we preach, but they know little to nothing about us individuals. What matters most in life is not that we Christians become the most famous people in the world. In light of eternity, what matters is to know God through Jesus Christ, and thus, become “known of God (Galatians 4:9).

If no one remembers our names, despite our ministry work in the Lord, let us rejoice that at least the name of the Lord Jesus Christ went forth. After all, only His name “is above every name,” and furthermore, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Let us Christians in the ministry be content to remain “anonymous.” 🙂

To Gamble or Not to Gamble?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

“But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6 KJV).

Should a Christian play the lottery and/or gamble? Today’s Scripture and its context shed some light on the subject.

In our materialistic world, “gain is godliness” (verse 5). If a church has thousands of members, it is automatically assumed that God must be working there. If someone is financially successful, it is commonly understood that God must be blessing him or her. In light of Scripture, however, material riches and prosperity can be the result of—or even lead to—ungodliness.

With the United States’ Powerball jackpot at $550 million, Americans are scrambling to purchase tickets. These consumers claim that if they win, they will quit their jobs, buy new houses and cars, take vacations, and help their families and friends. These plans are noble and appealing to our flesh, but gambling just does not agree with the Scriptures.

Remember the warnings of 1 Timothy 6:6-10: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

The Christian is cautioned not to be deceived and swept away by the “love of money.” We live in a world that uses currency, so we cannot avoid money. Money is not sinful; loving it is sinful, and it will lead to other sins (murder, greed, extortion, et cetera). There is nothing sinful about wanting material possessions. However, it is sin when the desire to purchase them consumes and controls us (“I will have it, and I will do whatever it takes to get it!”). Furthermore, if we want material possessions, the Bible says “work,” not gamble, to purchase them (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15).

Let us spend our (technically, God’s) cash wisely, and not waste it on gambling.

The “Foolishness” of God

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

“Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” (Genesis 17:17 KJV).

God claims that Abraham, at age 100, will father a child! Today’s Scripture documents Abraham’s response.

We often think of Abraham as a great man of faith, and rightly so (Hebrews 11:8-10). Nonetheless, Abraham was just as prone to sin as we are. When the LORD told him that his wife would give birth to his son, Abraham actually laughed (today’s Scripture)!

Over 20 years previous to today’s Scripture, God first made that promise of a son for Abraham through Sarah. But, Abraham grew so impatient that he hearkened to his wife’s advice and used her slave-girl, Hagar, as the surrogate mother, by whom he had his son Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-16).

In today’s Scripture, 13 years have passed since Ishmael’s birth. The son that God has promised Abraham still has not been born. Abraham was 86 years when Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:16). Now, Abraham is 99 years old (Genesis 17:1), and unquestionably, his body is unable to procreate. He is just too old to father a baby! And thus, he laughs at God’s Word.

Sarah, Abraham’s wife, upon learning she will bear Abraham’s child, also laughs because now, her body is too old to bear children! Genesis 18:11,12: “Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”

About a year later, “And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so all that hear me will laugh with me” (Genesis 21:5,6). Interestingly, the name “Isaac” means “laughter; mockery.”

Amazing! Barren Sarah and sterile Abraham… parents thanks to Almighty God! God’s plans sometimes seem “foolish” to us (hence the laughter). But, they are always successful, and far wiser than anything we could ever devise! 🙂

The Tale of Two Sons

Monday, November 26, 2012

“And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:” (Luke 23:18 KJV).

One son will be liberated to live, and the other Son will be sentenced to die!

At the time of Christ’s trial, Barabbas is a prisoner (Matthew 27:16). Barabbas is a murderer, a robber, and guilty of “insurrection,” or rebelling against the government (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:18,19; John 18:40).

It is Passover. Roman governor Pontius Pilate has a custom that, at the feast, he releases a prisoner, whomever the people desire (Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:6). “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:20-22).

Israel’s chief priests, rulers, and common people all demand Christ’s crucifixion and Barabbas’ release, so Pilate gives the sentence (Luke 23:23-25). Guilty Barabbas is set free to live, and innocent Jesus Christ is condemned to be crucified. While Barabbas’ involvement in the matter seems insignificant upon first glance, God included it in His written Word because to provide us with an amazing illustration!

“Barabbas” means “son of the father.” Barabbas is a criminal, and he represents sinful, rebellious mankind who is worthy of death. He is bound by sin, and faces eternal death. Spiritually, sinful mankind is the son of Satan—man is of his father the devil (John 8:44). Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, God, “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), but took upon Himself our sins and was punished in our place.

Innocent Jesus Christ took the place of guilty Barabbas, which actually represented Christ taking the place of the whole world, suffering God’s wrath on our behalf! “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust…” (1 Peter 3:18). Thus, through Christ’s finished crosswork, we sinful sons of Adam (and Satan) can be freed from sin, and we can become the righteous sons of God.

Quelling the Questions of Quandaries

Sunday, November 25, 2012

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17 KJV).

Sin makes life very complicated, but today’s Scripture is a great help in attempting to resolve those “quandaries” (“sticky situations”).

Life affords many choices ranging from a variety of topics. “Do I do this, or do I that?” In some cases, there is no one Bible verse that gives us a clear-cut answer as to what specific choice the Lord would have us to make. Furthermore, some situations are so tough, they seem almost impossible to solve. Such predicaments can be quite troubling to the Christian, who is on the verge of screaming in desperation, “Lord, I know not what to do because I do not know Thy will concerning this!”

Dear saint, no matter what quandary you ever face, here are three basic doctrines to bear in mind:

  1. God’s grace—everything He can do for us through Christ’s finished crosswork—gives us Christians the power to stop sin from dominating us: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:11,12). When we make mistakes (sin), we need to acknowledge them by letting God’s Word (these verses) correct our thinking. Grace living is not sinless living. We do and will make mistakes, but we need to learn from them.
  2. If the Bible—especially Paul’s epistles—are silent about how to handle the matter in a specific manner, today’s Scripture provides general counsel: And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Do what best reflects and glorifies Jesus Christ.
  3. The Lord wants you to make the choice that would further and exalt His Word. When we make godly decisions, we promulgate the sound doctrine taught by God’s written Word, the Holy Bible, and we accomplish His overall will to glorify His Son, Jesus Christ, in heaven and on earth (Ephesians 1:10). 🙂

Saved from Religious Tradition!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16 KJV).

Having returned from a very refreshing Bible study meeting, I shall recount for you some of the highlights.

Although brief, our Bible study meeting was a spiritual “jumpstart!” Firstly, we discussed how, if we neglect to study the Bible “rightly divided,” as 2 Timothy 2:15 clearly declares, we will wind up in confusion, and our Christian lives will be in shambles. Secondly, we learned that the order of the Bible’s books—particularly Paul’s epistles—is no coincidence. It is meant to spiritually grow Christians from “babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1) to “full age” (Hebrews 5:14). If we fail to recognize how God has constructed His written Word—how God the Holy Spirit arranged the Bible’s canon (the order of its books)—it will hinder our spiritual maturity.

God purposed the wisdom contained in the Bible to help us know Him and what He is doing. Alas, sin and religious tradition keep us ignorant, shackled, and miserable, which makes Bible study burdensome and impossible. Oh, but what joy to simply study the Holy Scriptures as God designed them to be studied, for they radically transform the way we think! Oh, what a thrill it is to simply believe the Holy Bible, for it certainly revolutionizes our lives!

How refreshing it was to hear a faithful servant in the ministry teach God’s Word dispensationally. It was thrilling to see new Christian faces. How encouraging it was to see curious souls turning the pages of Scripture, and writing notes. Surely, I was “godly edified” (1 Timothy 1:4), and indeed the rest of the class was, too. These dear saints were just as eager to soak up sound Pauline Bible doctrine as I was. We share life in Christ, and it was very enjoyable to fellowship with them, eating and talking with them.

By simple faith in the precious Bible doctrine we learned yesterday, we saved ourselves from religious tradition (see today’s Scripture), and we rejoice in this liberty in Christ (Galatians 5:1)! 🙂

Give Attendance to Bible Study Attendance

Friday, November 23, 2012

“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13 KJV).

Due to “the fellowship of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:9), we grace Christians should give attendance to fellowshipping with each other.

In a few hours, I will be privileged to assemble with fellow grace believers, individuals who have trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, and who also understand and appreciate the special message and ministry that our ascended and glorified Lord gave to the Apostle Paul. I will be meeting many of these Christians for the very first time. How thrilling!

Literally, had it not been for God’s grace, none of us would be saved, and we would have probably never even met. We Christians are all partakers of the grace life in Christ, and it is around this precious Bible truth that we are united forever. Because of our salvation, all of us members of the Body of Christ are eternally linked to one another. We will be spending a literal eternity with each other, so we might as well get a head start now! 🙂

There will be about four hours of Bible study. During that time, we hope to cover basic grace doctrine, and especially how God the Holy Spirit has arranged the books of the Bible’s canon to accomplish our edification (building up, strengthening). This priceless doctrine that we learn, we can then apply to life by faith, and we can also share it with fellow Christians and the lost world.

When our King James Bible says, “give attendance” in today’s Scripture, it means, “pay attention to.” As the Bible declares here, we should emphasize three elements in the local church: “reading, exhortation, doctrine.” We should not only read the Bible, but study it and consider what we read. We are to pay attention to “exhorting” (urging, encouraging) our Christian brethren to continue in sound Bible teaching and grace living. Lastly, we are to pay attention to doctrine itself, for sound doctrine sets us apart from the cults, sects, denominations, and false religions of the world.

Attending Bible studies is very profitable—both now, and (more importantly) forever….

In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 22, 2012

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

*Excerpted from a larger Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Your Right to Eat Meat

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

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

Before we advocate animal rights, let us understand that we have a God-given right to eat them!

An animal rights activist recently appeared on television to complain about the consumption of turkeys on Thanksgiving. He argued that turkeys “feel pain” when they are slaughtered, and thus we should not eat them. His line of reasoning was, “If we would not eat our pet dog, then we should not eat turkey.” Such people, despite their sincerity, are ignorant of today’s Scripture.

Originally, all people and animals were herbivores; they only ate vegetation. “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Genesis 1:29,30).

Then, sin entered, and God incorporated meat into the human diet: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat” (Genesis 9:3,4).

When we ignore the fact that God gave us animals to eat, and we demand that others must also abstain from meat for religious (nature-worshipping) purposes, that is a “doctrine of devils” in this dispensation (1 Timothy 4:1-5). The creature should not be worshipped; only the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, should be worshipped (Romans 1:25). As long as we thank the Lord for whatever creatures we eat, consuming animal flesh is acceptable and godly. It does not sit well with the pantheists—who exalt nature as God—but it is approved of the living God, and that alone ultimately matters.