The Person of the Year

Thursday, December 31, 2015

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” (Philippians 2:9,10a KJV).

Let us praise the 2015 Person of the Year—our Lord Jesus Christ!

Society’s most stressful time of year, the Christmas Season, is winding down. The year 2015 is nearly over, and a new year, 2016, will dawn soon. At this time every year, various groups and publications feature their particular choice for “Person of the Year.” Whether a chief of state, a philanthropist, a religious leader, a distinguished author or scientist, a television or radio personality, or some other “professional” who impacted society in a negative or positive way the most during the past year, they are all still people with limitations and frailties. One can accomplish all sorts of praiseworthy, generous, and awe-inspiring feats. However, what carries the most weight is the attitude, the heart, underlying the action, not the action. Was it Jesus Christ, or simply the flesh?

The one single event in history that pleased God the Father most was when His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, went by faith in His Word, to an awful Roman cross to suffer the worst possible and most graphic death a human ever experienced, to pay for our sins. “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Mark 1:11). It is through that finished crosswork of Jesus Christ that He is still doing mighty works, 20 centuries later. How our Lord Jesus Christ has saved countless souls from sins and hell this past year, and how He has saved innumerable Christian souls from false doctrine and spiritual ruin.

Jesus Christ, who in death defeated His greatest enemy (Satan), was raised by God the Father and is now the ascended and glorified Lord Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture). Saints, may we ever thank and praise our Saviour Jesus Christ for what He has done for us, what He has done with us, and what He will do with us next year… and all the countless ages thereafter….

As we close another year of ministry, we look forward to serving you for another! 🙂

The Misunderstood Messiah #5

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Once Christ replied with sound doctrine (verses 42-47), Israel’s religious leaders simply resorted to name-calling again (verse 48): “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” A Samaritan was half-Jew/half-Gentile, and “the Jews [had] no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Notice Jesus was insulted twice more—they called Him a “Samaritan” and “devil possessed.” Throughout the rest of John chapter 8, Israel’s religious leaders continue arguing with Jesus and nearly stone Him to death (verse 59)!

Why did Jesus not simply “zap” these religionists and instantly throw them into hellfire? They belittled and blasphemed Him several times in this one account, and then attempted to murder Him, but rather than Jesus killing them with His spoken word (which would have been justified), He only conversed with them. Why?

Remember, when the Apostles James and John saw how the Samaritans refused to accommodate Jesus, they asked Him if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven and consume those sinners, He replied, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55,56). This First Coming of Christ was His “meek and lowly” coming: He did not come to judge man’s sins, but to die for them!

Even today, God is still not pouring out His wrath on wicked mankind (2 Corinthians 5:19), creatures who still snicker at Jesus Christ, deceive others in His name, persecute His saints, ignore His Word, and “rub His nose” in their sins. Lost mankind is wasting God’s grace and mercy that He is offering so freely. When His grace is finally exhausted, the undiluted wrath that has accumulated will finally be poured out (His Second Coming). May we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour now so we have our sins forgiven now, lest we face that angry, righteous God in judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!

For more information, you may also see our archived Bible Q&A: “Did God ‘rape’ Mary?

The Misunderstood Messiah #4

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Society’s anti-Bible, anti-Christian attitude is nothing new. While today’s Bible-believing, Bible-quoting Christian is accused of “hate speech” and “bigotry,” the “non-narrow-minded” face no repercussion for their slandering of the Lord Jesus Christ and their trampling His Word under foot. Due to sin, the world is upside down, and when the Christian attempts to expose it, he or she is to blame. The world wants Romans 3:4 to read, “Let every man be true, but God a liar!”

Like the (self-righteous) Pharisees of old, lost mankind, despite religious participation, has no capacity to stop sin. Never become angry at the world and never let their behavior puzzle you. Sinners do nothing but sin: by nature, man literally knows nothing but sin. As Jesus said to the lost Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44a). What they need is not simply to stop their activity (sins); they need a new nature from God! Today’s Scripture demonstrates the Pharisees’ willful ignorance of their sinful state.

Like the (“educated”) Pharisees of old, lost mankind, despite several degrees, has no capacity to understand the Bible. The Pharisees studied their Old Testament scrolls, yet they were equivalent to today’s average seminary graduate—years of Bible “study” and no (!) Bible understanding. Today’s Scripture demonstrates the Pharisees’ willful ignorance of one of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that foretold Jesus Christ’s coming. They had plenty of philosophy and religion, but they had no capacity to understand and appreciate the Bible. People today do not need degrees to comprehend the Bible; they need the Spirit of God! “But the natural [lost] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [judged, evaluated]” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Let us summarize and conclude this devotional arc….

The Misunderstood Messiah #3

Monday, December 28, 2015

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

The Pharisees are personally attacking the reputation of Jesus Christ, attempting to humiliate Him by saying, “We be not born of fornication.” After denigrating His virgin conception (that is, His deity), they exalt themselves by declaring, “We have one Father, even God.” What irony!

Notice Jesus’ response: “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me” (verse 42). Had these Pharisees really known God on an intimate level, they would have understood His Word (that is, their Old Testament Scriptures) prophesied the coming of the Man they were now ridiculing. Had these religionists believed the prophecy that God had sent His only begotten Son, they would not have insinuated that Jesus was “born of fornication.” They would have known what He meant by the words, “I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.”

Alas, God’s Word was “foolishness” to their dead souls (1 Corinthians 2:14). Jesus explained why they misunderstood Him: “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:43,47). They could hear the sound of Jesus’ voice, but could they hear with comprehension? Nay, they were spiritually dead, not of God like they claimed. Thus, Jesus told them, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (verse 44).

The Pharisees were spreading lies about Jesus Christ because they were lost. Lost mankind has not changed one bit….

The Misunderstood Messiah #2

Sunday, December 27, 2015

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Like the Bible scoffers of today, those during Christ’s earthly ministry rejected the notion of the virgin conception of a human (His own conception).

“Then Joseph her husband, being a just [righteous, fair] man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily” (Matthew 1:19). Joseph, still wondering what happened to Mary, decides to divorce her in secret to spare her from becoming a public spectacle. Suddenly, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and informs him that the Holy Ghost has generated the Christ child in Mary (verse 20).

Imagine the humiliating rumors that circulated: “Mary was a pregnant virgin before she consummated her marriage to Joseph.” The story just did not make sense to most. Evidently, the general Israeli public, unwilling to believe God’s fulfilled Word, believed Mary was unfaithful to Joseph. That gossip lingered for over three decades, which is why the Pharisees said to Jesus what they did in today’s Scripture: “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” In other words, they called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, an illegitimate child, and they claimed they were God’s children! (You can sense the vicious attitude these self-righteous religionists had toward our Lord Jesus, another attempt to intimidate Him into silence, seeing as to they are all in the Temple and a crowd of people is listening to this entire conversation.)

At this point, we need to remember that Satan is actively working in and through these Pharisees. Jesus Christ’s deity is being questioned and His credibility is being attacked, which causes those in the Temple to doubt God’s Word (thereby leaving room for Satan’s error to creep in). Our Lord is aware of this, but He does not waver in His Father’s Word. Let us see how He wisely responds to this insult….

The Misunderstood Messiah #1

Saturday, December 26, 2015

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

During this time of year, we are mindful of the incarnation of God the Son, Jesus Christ, how He added humanity to His preexisting deity. We know of His virgin birth—or more precisely, His virgin conception—and how it resulted in Him being able to shed His sinless blood to pay for our sins.

The Holy Ghost fashioned Jesus Christ’s physical body in the virgin Mary’s womb (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35), and this lack of a human father resulted in the absence of a sin nature in Jesus Christ. To the unbeliever, the Bible rejecter, such a concept is preposterous. (God and man never “speak the same language” anyway [1 Corinthians 2:14]!) Like today, during Jesus’ earthly life, lost mankind scoffed at the notion of His virgin conception: they reasoned in their own “wise” minds, “Surely, a human father was involved.” In today’s Scripture, we see just a glimpse of this mockery that Jesus Christ experienced throughout His earthly life.

In the context of today’s Scripture (the previous 40 verses), the Pharisees have been extensively, yet unsuccessfully, attempting to trap Jesus in His words and discredit Him. Jesus declares how they reject His words and want to kill Him (verse 37). When He tells the Pharisees that they “do that which [they] have seen with [their] father” (verse 38), they arrogantly appeal to their Jewish bloodline, “Abraham is our father” (verse 39), as if being Jewish guarantees them sinless perfection.

Jesus Christ counters their comment with, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham” (verse 40). Today’s Scripture is a continuation of Jesus’ reply, and their rebuttal follows, an insult that makes a mockery of His virgin conception….

The Word Was Made Flesh

Friday, December 25, 2015

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1,14 KJV).

On this Christmas Day, we reflect on the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The candidate who could solve man’s sin problem had to meet two requirements. He had to be God, and He had to be man—a “God-Man.” It had to be God, because God’s righteousness had to be satisfied, but it also had to be man, for it was man who had sinned. God’s righteousness was offended, since “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But, it was also a man who had sinned, “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Consider Philippians 2:5-8: “Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” In short, heaven’s best—Jesus Christ—came to save earth’s worst—us! In summary, Jesus Christ was born to die for us.

Brethren, the salvation that we enjoy today in Christ could not be possible without the shed blood of Christ on Calvary’s cross, and the shed blood of Christ could not be possible without the incarnation of Christ! God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and in order for Him to shed sinless blood, He had to first have blood. Thus, it behooved Jesus Christ to take upon Himself the form of a man. It was at this time of year that God the Son entered the virgin Mary’s womb, possessing a body that was conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Remember, “The Word was made flesh” (today’s Scripture) so we could have an opportunity to be “made the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Merry Christmas!

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

Emmanuel’s Tabernacle

Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we can date the birth of Emmanuel, Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was a priest, “of the course [order] of Abia [Abijah]” (Luke 1:5). Under King David, Israel’s priests were organized into 24 courses (1 Chronicles 24:7-19). A priest from each course served a week in the Temple ministration (and thus served one week twice a year). Israel’s calendar began with Abib/Nisan, equivalent to March 16-April 15 (Exodus 12:1,2; Exodus 13:4). Passover was observed on April 14, starting Israel’s religious calendar.

Passover week (The Feast of Unleavened Bread) lasted from April 15-21. The first course of priests served in the Temple around this time. Zacharias’ course, Abijah, was the eighth course after Passover (1 Chronicles 24:10), thus placing Zacharias’ service roughly eight weeks after Passover (or June 17-23). This was the time when the angel appeared to Zacharias to announce John’s conception (Luke 1:8-22). Once Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth leave the Temple and go home, Elisabeth conceives John (late June; Luke 1:23-25).

Six months after Elisabeth conceived John in late June (Luke 1:26), Mary conceived Jesus—in late December. Contrary to religious tradition, the birthday of Christ is not December 25. Late December is the time of Christ’s conception. The conception of Christ in Mary’s womb, not Mary’s conception in her mother’s womb, is the biblical immaculate conception: it was Christ’s conception, not Mary’s, that was sinless (Luke 1:35).

If a perfect human gestation lasts 280 days (9 months), late September/early October is the time of Christ’s birth. During this time of year, recall that God had Israel observing the Feast of Tabernacles, when Jews would dwell in “booths” (tents, tabernacles) for seven days (Leviticus 23:39-44).

While Israel was observing Tabernacles in September/October, God was born as a man (Jesus Christ) of the virgin Mary, and dwelt (“tabernacled”) with them! Sadly, very few Jews paid any attention to Jesus, “Emmanuel,” “God with us” (today’s Scripture). The rest of Israel ignored “God dwelling among them” (John 1:14).

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus born on the 25th of December?

You may also see our other archived study, “Were there really three wise men?

The Wise Wise Men

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

“…There came wise men from the east… And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:1,11 KJV).

When we see the Nativity Scene, we observe three wise men assembled around Baby Jesus’ manger. Actually, the Bible never indicates how many wise men there were, and the Bible never says they visited Christ as a baby.

According to the Bible, an indeterminate number of wise men from the east (Gentiles) saw the star of Christ in the east, so they travel to Jerusalem, inquiring where to find Christ, the King of Jews (verses 1,2). King Herod and Jerusalem are troubled, and Herod summons Israel’s religious leaders to tell him where the Messiah will be born. They tell him, according to Micah 5:2, “Bethlehem of Judaea” (verses 3-6). Herod then sends the wise men to seek Jesus, hoping to find and destroy Him (lest He become king and end Herod’s reign).

The star leads the wise men to Nazareth, where Joseph and Mary live in a “house”notice this is not the manger scene. Also, note that Jesus is not a baby here, but a “young child” (verses 9,11). In fact, he is as much as two years old (verse 16). By the way, according to Numbers 24:17, that star—an angel (cf. Job 38:7)—that the wise men saw signified the Messiah-King of Israel… they were wise in that they recognized and followed it!

Interestingly, the wise men worship Jesus, not Mary and/or the angel, and they bring Him gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (today’s Scripture)—frankincense and myrrh are aromatic gum resins burned as incense. Gold is for a King, frankincense is for a Priest, and myrrh is for a Prophet—Jesus is all three (Isaiah 9:6,7; Zechariah 6:13; Deuteronomy 18:15,18). Amazingly, Isaiah 60:6, written some 700 years beforehand, even prophesied Gentiles would bring God gifts of gold and frankincense. The Bible is an amazing Book!

Sadly, these Gentiles had more respect for Israel’s King than Israel. These wise men recognized fulfilled prophecy… they were wise men indeed!

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “Were there really three wise men?

The Prince of Peace, Born in the Middle East

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 KJV).

Ironically, God’s wisdom ordained the birthplace of the Prince of Peace to be the contentious Middle East….

Almost from the very beginning of time, the Middle East has been a battleground, the chief war zone of good and evil. Originally the peaceful home of Adam and Eve, today it is the most contentious region on the globe. Because of Adam’s sin, what was a paradise is now known as the area where man joined Satan in his rebellion against God. Adam and Eve utterly failed to reign over the earth for God’s glory (Genesis 1:26-28). Instead they united with the opposition, and were banished from God’s presence and the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23,24).

“Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). Verse 14 says that Adam “is the figure of him that was to come.” God would send another Man, Jesus Christ, and He would accomplish what Adam failed to do: glorify God on the earth by dispossessing it from Satan, and reigning in righteousness. This is the “government” spoken of in today’s Scripture.

“For if by one man’s [Adam’s] offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (verse 17). Adam plunged the human race into sin and made it God’s enemy; Jesus Christ offers mankind eternal life, forgiveness of sins and a reconciled relationship with God! This was God’s goal in sending Jesus Christ.

As our world desperately continues to seek peace, let us remember there will be no peace on earth until the Prince of Peace returns to His nation, Israel, and rids our planet of Satan and his policy of evil (the root of the Middle Eastern turmoil). At Christ’s Second Coming, there will be peace on earth (Luke 2:14), and especially in the Middle East.