Praise and Thanks to the LORD

Thursday, June 30, 2016

“And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid” (Ezra 3:11 KJV).

Just imagine Israel’s joy as the Temple is being reconstructed!

The Babylonian armies had come many decades earlier and destroyed Jerusalem. Solomon’s Temple, the house of the LORD, the magnificent center of Israel’s religious life, was burned to the ground! The Jews of the southern kingdom (Judah) were violently carried away to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 36:14-21).

JEHOVAH God commissioned Persian King Cyrus the Great to rebuild His Temple (Isaiah 44:28—written nearly two centuries previous to Cyrus!). Obeying Cyrus’ decree, Zerubbabel leads some of his Jewish brethren from Babylon back to Jerusalem to begin the construction (2 Chronicles 36:22,23; Ezra 1:1-11). These Jews have given of their material riches to construct the Temple. As chapter 2 of Ezra says: “[68] And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: [69] They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments.”

In today’s Scripture, they are excited that they have now laid the foundation for this new Temple. Literally, they are “re-laying the groundwork” for their Mosaic religion. They want JEHOVAH’S presence to return to them. They desire for Him to dwell in Jerusalem with them as He did before their Babylonian captivity/exile. It is a very emotional time. The older men, those who had seen Solomon’s Temple before it was destroyed over 50 years earlier, observe the construction of this new Temple’s foundation and they “wept with a loud voice” (verse 12)! They recognize that they had sinned (leading to their punishment in the captivity) but their God has been faithful in bringing them back into the Promised Land. Not because of their faithfulness, but because of His!

Helpers, Not Policemen

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

“Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand” (2 Corinthians 1:24 KJV).

Behold, a ministry verse worth memorizing!

A grace pastor or Bible teacher should use today’s Scripture as a litmus test for his own ministry. Does he bully people into believing what he does, fussing them about everything they are doing wrong? Or, does he lovingly teach them God’s Word rightly divided and cause them to rejoice in believing it? Seeing the Apostle Paul conduct his ministry allows us to recognize how the Holy Spirit would have us operate our ministry.

The Corinthians were the most carnal (fleshly) believers in all the Bible. Although citizens of heaven, they acted like people from hell! Such poor examples of Christian living! Such immature believers! Such grievers of the Holy Spirit! First Corinthians chapter 3 says: “[1] And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. [2] I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. [3] For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

Paul wrote the epistle of First Corinthians to instruct them in solving their problems. By the time he wrote Second Corinthians (today’s Scripture), they still had unresolved issues. They had matured some, but other difficulties remained in their thinking and behavior. Paul wrote, “Moreover, I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth” (verse 23). Today’s Scripture follows: “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.”

Paul did not visit Corinth as a bully and forcibly reform these still wayward Christians. As a parent would want his or her child to grow up, he gave them opportunity to resolve their problems. In letting them sort out their own issues by allowing them to exercise faith in God’s Word to them (First and Second Corinthians), they could experience God’s joy. May we do likewise in our ministry! 🙂

A Prayer for Enlightenment Answered

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17 KJV).

Friend, if you truly desire to do God’s will, you shall know God’s doctrine!

I recently sat with a new Christian only one year old in Christ. Having grown up in a “Christian” cult, having since come to recognize the errors of that works-religion, having since trusted Jesus Christ alone as her personal Saviour, she was interested in now learning the Bible. The other day, she was so desperate to hear the Word of God taught that she visited a local denominational assembly. She was sorely disappointed upon hearing their noisy, “contemporary worship” service. When I asked her if she learned anything there, she said, “I learned nothing.” She had even met another confused lady who had been attending services there for some time.

This precious new Christian was genuinely searching for the truth. However, like so many, she could not find it. She said she had prayed for God to give her enlightenment. As it turned out, her brother, also a Christian, recommended she and I meet for Bible study. She agreed. When I came to her house, and she told me how she had asked God to teach her His Word, I replied most cheerfully, “He answered your prayers by sending me!” We ended up having a four-hour-long Bible study. After we settled the issue of her soul salvation unto eternal life (just to be sure), she was introduced to the Bible timeline. While she admitted she was a “slow learner,” she was ever so grateful for that Bible study. She heard many strange things, things she had never heard before. Nevertheless, she finally had the answers to so many of her Bible questions.

Friend, there are just so many people not interested in learning anything from Scripture. They have several Bibles in their homes, but they know nothing about the Bible because they do not want to know. This lady, however, wanted to know, and she discovered answers to her questions. She would not find them in religion, but rather in the King James Bible rightly divided! Friend, please never forget that, either.

*NOTE: Today, dear friends, I mark 10 full years in the writing ministry! Praise our Lord Jesus Christ! 🙂

Fast Teaching and Preaching

Monday, June 27, 2016

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now” (John 16:12 KJV).

Jesus said it to His disciples; Bible teachers say it to their students!

Pauline dispensational pastors and Bible teachers are often known for “going too fast.” A Christian sister expressed some concern regarding one such minister. While difficult to follow someone who teaches Scripture very quickly, who speaks faster than most, remember that the Bible is an extremely rich book. Its in-depth topics are not for the average (lukewarm, shallow) Bible skimmer!

Frankly, denominational preachers are often normal-paced in their speaking because they have to draw out the message to cover the allotted period. They know few verses and must fill the rest of the time with stories. I know. One of our former pastors years ago first read a familiar Bible passage (five minutes or less) and then spent the rest of the hour telling jokes and short stories (sometimes unrelated to the passage).

If you have a grace Bible teacher or grace pastor who teaches the Bible quickly, relax. At least he actually teaches the Bible instead of merely talking about it! Honestly, I would rather spend one day in a church where the rightly divided Bible is taught quickly, than one year in a denominational church where a preacher delivers a very shallow, slow-paced message. Pauline dispensationalists teach and preach quickly because they have a limited amount of time to cover in-depth doctrine. On average, they spend more time studying the Bible and preparing messages than denominational people (who simply repeat the same basic verses and ideas every week that the denomination approves).

Friend, if you have a Bible teacher or pastor who teaches God’s rightly divided Word, but you have trouble following him in the verses because he reads them quickly, record him, or listen to his DVDs or CDs or MP3s. Pause and replay the media until you get the doctrine. Follow along in your Bible. It does not matter if it takes you a few hours to watch a one-hour message, do it. It is never time wasted. (By the way, written Bible studies such as these are advantageous in that you can use them at your own pace!) 🙂

Our three latest Bible Q&A articles: “Can you explain 1 John 5:8—‘the Spirit, the water, and the blood?’”, “What does the Bible mean, ‘Jesus Christ came by water and blood?’”, and “What does, ‘Born of water and of the Spirit,’ mean?”.

Walking in the Light We Have

Sunday, June 26, 2016

“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:15,16 KJV).

Today’s Scripture tells us just how to walk in Christ.

Recently, I visited an elderly friend and she showed me her high school yearbook from 1955. After I browsed through it, I asked her what advice she would give to her younger self if she could go back in time. In other words, what wisdom would she impart to herself had she known back then what she knows now? She replied she would not have married at age 17. Furthermore, she would have not married her now ex-husband. Sadly, neither of them was happy during their 40-plus years of marriage. She wished she had made wiser decisions!

Although not a Christian, she reminds us we should walk with whatever wisdom we have at the time and learn from our mistakes. As believers, we should be striving to spiritually mature, to become even better acquainted with God’s purpose and plan for us. Whatever verses we know, we apply them to life as best we can. Whenever we learn more verses, or more about those verses, we then better apply them or learn they have nothing to do with our situation. This is what Paul is instructing the Philippians to do in today’s Scripture (see verses 10-16). After all, Paul himself was also a man. Although matured in Christ, he had more growing to do as well. Just as older people are physically mature but continue maturing, so it is in the spiritual realm.

Brethren, God expects us to walk in the light that we have from His Word. None of us knows everything in the Bible—the incentive to study more! In His written Word, God will reveal to us a better way to think and live. We should progress daily in spiritual maturity. Our spiritual vision will adjust, becoming increasingly clear. As the years pass, we will look back and say, “My, how little we knew then … and still know now!” 🙂

God Was Turned to Be Their Enemy

Saturday, June 25, 2016

But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them (Isaiah 63:10 KJV).

Every nation today would do well to take note of today’s Scripture!

Friends, we all have stories of how ungrateful people stabbed us in the back. After we did so much for them, they treated us most horribly. We tried to be kind, patient, and loving, but they would have none of it. They were only interested in serving themselves and getting their needs met. When we ceased doing what they wanted, they had nothing else to do with us or say to us. This parallels today’s Scripture.

Verse 9 says, “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” JEHOVAH God had been so generous in what He had done for the nation Israel. He had given them so much. Most importantly, He had pity on their souls and had given them a way to fellowship with Him and escape hell! He was so loving in picking them up and carrying them along when they were too weak to help themselves.

Now, the opposite: But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.” As any group of sinners would be, the nation Israel was unappreciative. As they (sinners) could never do anything to please God, so God could never do enough to please them. They provoked His Holy Spirit, constantly murmuring and complaining, always forgetting just how good He had been to them for so many centuries. Finally, He was “turned to be their enemy.” That is, He was no longer on Israel’s side. The nation would face military defeats, economic hardships, sicknesses, and so on. “And he fought against them.” Oh, what a travesty! Thousands of years later, Israel has yet to recover.

After 2,000 years of God’s longsuffering, and their ungratefulness, the world’s nations should never forget that that same holy, righteous God will be coming after them once our Dispensation of Grace closes!

Ye Would Not!

Friday, June 24, 2016

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37 KJV).

As in Christ’s earthly ministry, so today—God never takes free will away!

Recently, a brother in Christ shared his heavy burden with me. One of his relatives is in dire health, suffering 99 percent brain damage. His doctors say, even if he survives, he will be in a vegetative state. The brother explained to me that he shared the Gospel with this man years ago, but had not heard from him since. He is still worried the now-dying man never did anything with the Gospel—especially sad now that he is holding to life by a thread and maybe drawing closer to hell.

This brother had to understand it is beyond his control. He has shared the Gospel most faithfully, and there is nothing he can do for his relative but pray for him now. His brain is not functioning properly anymore, but he still may be aware in his soul. We cannot be sure just how alert such people are spiritually. If they so desire, God can always bring His Word to memory in those who have heard it years before.

Beloved, we should never beat ourselves up wondering if we shared the Gospel enough with someone who is dying or who has since died. If they only heard us share the Gospel with them once, that one time was all that we were able to do. While we care for them deeply, we cannot force people to trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. The God of the Bible is all about freedom. If people do not want Him, He will not force them to accept Him. After three years of ministry, with a heavy heart, Jesus looked at Jerusalem and wept. They had no interest in Him or anything He had to say to them (today’s Scripture).

God has done everything to keep people out of hell by sending Jesus Christ to die for their sins. If they want to ignore that, that is their choice. Let it not be ours!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Jude 9?