What Child Is This? #2

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

“And they [the shepherds] came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds” (Luke 2:16-18 KJV).

The second verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spears shall pierce Him through,
The cross He bore for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

It was just as the angel of the Lord had told them. The Saviour, Christ the Lord, the King of Israel, was indeed born in Bethlehem, but not in a palace. The shepherds found Him lying in a trough, a structure out of which farm animals ate! How odd!

There were just so many things about Jesus’ nativity that did not make sense in the human mind. Firstly, a virgin had conceived and borne a child. Secondly, the God of creation had confined Himself to a tiny body that could be held in human hands. Thirdly, that the King of Israel had been born in a stinky, dirty barn and His crib was literally a trough. Lastly, that Someone so important did not have thousands of people flocking to His crib. Strange!

As the shepherds left Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus, they spread the news about what they had heard and seen. The Bible says that this audience “wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” They could not fathom how it was possible, either. Even today, the natural (lost) mind of man not only struggles with, but outright refuses, to believe the simple truths of the Bible. They rather rail against and reject that which they do not understand, than acknowledge that they do not know everything and the God of the Bible is wiser than they are. To accept those truths would mean validating how Jesus Christ came to live that He would die for us sinners.

Yet, some hearers believed!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does God ‘call’ people to the ministry?

What Child Is This? #1

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:30-33 KJV).

The first verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

Such an event had never before happened in human history. God had promised “the seed of the woman” to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), but it was 4,000 years later that Mary was identified as that “woman.” That the Creator God would take upon Himself the flesh of sinful man, though Himself never being defiled by sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22). Unheard of in pagan religions!

The angels understood the Old Testament prophecies about God’s Son being born of a human mother. She was a “virgin,” a young woman (perhaps in her teens) who had never had any sexual relations with a man (Luke 1:34). On the night of Baby Jesus’ birth into the human race—the culmination of humanity added to His deity—the angels appeared in the sky and sang, to encourage the shepherds in the nearby fields to hurry to Bethlehem to see a little Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 2:8-14).

“[15] And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

Once the shepherds came to Bethlehem, and found Baby Jesus, they beheld such a strange sight!

To Know Your Christian Life

Monday, November 28, 2016

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6,7 KJV).

Friend, may you come to know your Christian life as God wants you to know it!

Sadly, the average Christian is burdened, confused, frustrated, and miserable. What do we expect, since the average local church does not teach true Christian living anyway? Two primary passages seen as guidelines for Christian living are The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. However, these verses were never spoken to us Gentiles and are not God’s operating system for the Church the Body of Christ. They are God’s Word to the nation Israel under the Law! We must go to Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, for God’s instructions to us Gentiles under grace. The Holy Spirit said, in Ephesians 3:2, “the dispensation of the grace of God” was committed to the Apostle Paul, that he teach it to us. We should not go to Israel’s verses and try to force them on us.

Two Bible books that could help so many Christians are Paul’s epistles to Rome and Galatia. Romans is the foundational book of grace thinking and grace living; Galatians is the correctional book for legalistic (Law-keeping) people to be re-oriented toward grace thinking and grace living. Most Christians need to learn Romans and Galatians! Romans 6:14 says: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” If you are not grace-oriented, you will be legalistic and disorientated! Rather than Law, God’s grace teaches us how to live and gives us victory over sin. Paul writes in Titus 2:11,12: “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….” (Sin is not who we are in Christ!)

Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

For more information about Christian living, you may see: https://forwhatsaiththescriptures.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/lords-will-for-christians/.

NOTE: Having expanded upon the “Original 7 studies” for the fourth time, our fourth foundation (studies #2001-#2007) is now installed. Onward we press in maturity… and to #2500! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How was Paul ‘rude in speech?’

To Know Your Apostle Paul

Sunday, November 27, 2016

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office” (Romans 11:13 KJV).

Friend, may you come to know your apostle as God wants you to know him!

Who is your apostle? The average preacher or church member, if not silent, will say, “I follow the 12 apostles….,” “I follow Jesus…,” or “My apostle is my preacher.” Very rarely will they give you the correct answer—today’s Scripture.

Jesus Christ, “the Word” (John 1:1,14), the Godhead Spokesman, speaks on behalf of God the Father and God the Holy Ghost. Not many people know, however, His earthly ministry was to the nation Israel, not us Gentiles. Matthew 15:24 says: “I am not sent [apostello] but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (To wit, Jesus said, “I am not the Apostle of you Gentiles. I am the Apostle of the Jews.”—cf. Hebrews 3:1) The 12 Apostles were sent to Jews, not to Gentiles: “These twelve Jesus sent forth [apostello], and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5,6).

Years later, in Acts chapter 9, outside Damascus, the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Jesus Christ commissioned Paul to go to us Gentiles. Hence, Paul is “the apostle [apostolos—“sent one”] of the Gentiles” (today’s Scripture). Acts chapter 26 documents Christ’s words to Paul: “[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send [apostello] thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

While all of the Bible is for us, Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, are to and about us Gentiles (and members of the Church the Body of Christ)!

For more information about Paul’s apostolic authority, you may see: https://ambassadorsfortherisenchristministries.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/pauls-apostolic-authority-verses/.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why are ‘the heavens not clean in God’s sight?’

To Know Dispensational Bible Study

Saturday, November 26, 2016

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

Friend, may you come to know the proper system of Bible study as God wants you to know it!

To refute the position of “Bible only” (and bolster “Bible and tradition”), Roman Catholics complain resorting to Scripture alone only leads to confusion and thousands of Protestant denominations. They argue “Sacred Tradition” must be employed to “correctly interpret” Sacred Scripture. (Of course, they ignore the profound ignorance, worse confusion, and innumerable splits within Romanism!) No, there is nothing wrong with “Bible only.” (“Bible and tradition” is faulty because these two competing authorities end up as “tradition only!”) If you use Scripture as it instructs you, recognizing and esteeming the Holy Spirit’s teaching ministry, you will understand it.

Many years ago, two verses helped me grasp the Holy Scriptures. Acts 3:21 first: “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” There is something God has “spoken… since the world began” (since Adam was placed on Earth). The Apostle Peter’s ministry involved this prophetic program. Now, Romans 16:25: “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,….” In stark contrast to Peter, the Apostle Paul declared his ministry involved the mystery program—truth God “kept secret since the world began,” but then revealed to Paul so he could teach us Gentiles (Romans 11:13). This eliminates the majority of Bible confusion!

Paul must never be harmonized with the rest of Scripture. Romans through Philemon, his epistles, are not to be conflated with Israel’s verses (the rest of the Bible). Christendom has experienced much trouble through the centuries because it mixed Israel and the Body of Christ, mixed law and grace, mixed heaven and earth, mixed prophecy and mystery, mixed Peter and Paul. They have not “rightly divided”—or properly separated—the dispensations (sets of instructions) God demands we differentiate. The problem is not with Scripture—it is with those misusing it!

For more information about dispensational Bible study, you may see: https://333wordsofgrace.wordpress.com/whats-dispensational-bible-study/.

To Know the Holy Bible

Friday, November 25, 2016

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17 KJV).

Friend, may you come to know the Holy Bible as God wants you to know it!

Visiting a “Christian” bookstore or website, looking for a Bible, is a most daunting task. There are many translations from which to choose—NLT, Amplified, ESV, the Message, HCSB, the Voice, “God’s Word,” NRSV, NASB, NKJV, NIV, the Living Bible. Which to buy? Oh, but these are the more recent versions. Actually, during the last 135 years, 100 to 200 modern English translations have been published and marketed! Sadly, “scholars”—employing heathen, non-Christian viewpoints—have used their perversions of the Holy Bible to harass and divide the Christian public.

Satan is the master deceiver. Literally, the best counterfeiter there has ever been and ever will ever be! The Devil’s first words ever uttered in Scripture are found in Genesis 3:1: “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Satan attacked God’s Word by questioning it. Even today, he uses the flesh of men who say, “A better translation is…. This passage is not found in the ‘oldest and best’ manuscripts… That word is wrong…. This verse is not inspired…. We need to publish another version with better readings….” Yet, these are often the “educated” people leading our seminaries, Bible colleges, and churches! They echo Satan’s damnable question, “Yea, hath God said…?”

Concerning the New Testament, there are over 5,500 Greek manuscripts (excluding other languages). About 90 to 95 percent agree with our King James Bible. Only a handful of manuscripts disagree with this majority, and that handful (which even disagree amongst themselves!) has been used in “scholarly” circles to cast doubt on God’s preserved Word in English. If the King James Bible has been used by Anglophone Christians for over 400 years, we should hold fast to it today… especially in this day of rampant false teaching!

You may click here for more information about Bible versions: https://333wordsofgrace.wordpress.com/bible-timeline-other-study-aids/.

In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 24, 2016

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.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see, “What are our spiritual blessings in Christ?

To Know Jesus Christ

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6 KJV).

Friend, may you come to know Jesus Christ as God wants you to know Him!

It is the most important question—“Who is Jesus Christ?” Many people, even here in the “Christian” United States, sometimes ask it. Amazingly, despite the myriads of websites, millions of books, and hundreds of radio and television broadcasts, all supposedly sharing Him with the world, people still wonder who He is. They had better find out… and quick! Their eternal destiny depends on what they believe about Him! Do they view Him as “just another way to God,” or as the Way” because He is the one mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5)? Do they consider Him “just another wonderful teacher,” or as the Truth” because He is the God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2)? Do they see Him as “just another religious leader,” or as the Life” because he is the “living God” (1 Timothy 3:15)?

Millions of people worldwide refuse to give the Lord Jesus Christ even one second of their time. They assume He will “go away” if they ignore Him. Sure, they do not have to think about Him in this life if they do not want to. He will gladly give them their preference. However, they will have a rude awakening after physical death! They will realize their folly once they meet Him in judgment! But, so be it!

Friend, I hope and pray you will ignore Jesus Christ no more. Someone, in love, needs to be frank with you: without Jesus Christ, a devil’s hell awaits you! God gave up His Son, and all I can do is give you the Gospel of the Grace of God. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: Jesus Christ died for your sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day. You can either trust that, thereby becoming a member of the Church the Body of Christ, or you can remain dead in your trespasses and sins and wind up in hell. Come to Father God by simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, and be saved unto eternal life today!

NOTE: We will resume this special series of devotionals the day after Thanksgiving. Stay tuned!

To Know Your Purpose

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:9,10 KJV).

Friend, may you come to know your purpose as God wants you to know it!

How sad it is that some people literally spend their whole lives looking, looking, looking (!) for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. Perhaps they even reach the end of that earthly existence disappointed, having not a stiver of meaningful information more than they started their quest! However, they diligently and frantically explored various avenues—fame, education, money, professionalism, sexuality, entertainment, religion, friendships, science, “inner searching,” marriage, parenthood, and so on. Throughout, their minds and hearts were spun around and rendered senseless with myriads of conflicting ideas and downright fallacies. Having ignored the Holy Bible, they looked in all the wrong places!

Since the living and true God is God, He can withhold information. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God….” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Since we are creatures, not Creator, certain knowledge has been withheld from us. We can search all we want, but we have no such capacity in and of ourselves to grasp it (even if we could find it!). However, the verse continues: “but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Daniel 2:47 is a pagan king admitting the God of the Bible, JEHOVAH God, is “a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets….”

Today’s Scripture says God has made known unto us “the mystery [or secret] of his will.” He purposed in Himself that we might have a purpose. The God of the Bible wants to make His Son, Jesus Christ, the Head of everything in the universe. His secret will for us is that He wants us to glorify that Son in the heavenly places. The Holy Bible is very clear that we do this first and foremost by becoming members of the Church the Body of Christ!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the Sabbath day—Saturday or Sunday?

To Know God

Monday, November 21, 2016

“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands” (Psalm 115:1-4 KJV).

Friend, may you come to know God as He wants you to know Him!

In this world of over seven billion souls, there are approximately 4,200 religions. They all have their various gods and goddesses, each known by its own name. Quoting 1 Corinthians chapter 8, verses 5 and 6: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”

As people who are aware of the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible, we understand there is one God. Elsewhere in Scripture, He is called “the living and true God” as opposed to “idols” (1 Thessalonians 1:9 cf. today’s Scripture). Some of His other names are “the God of Israel” (about 200 times) and “JEHOVAH God.” He is not to be confused with the idols of the world (cf. today’s Scripture). For example, Allah, the deity of the Muslims, is not the God of Christians. Allah does not have a “Son,” but the God of the Bible, “Father God,” does.

The God of the Judeo-Christian Bible is “the living and true God” because all life flows from Him. We live because He was alive first. He is the “living” God, not some dead idol, made by men’s hands, and unable to interact with its environment (read today’s Scripture in context). The God of Christianity hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” He is alive, able to think and function, and He is fully equipped to accomplish every detail of His will. In our next six studies, let us get to know Him intimately, that we may learn how He can equip us to learn and do His will, too!