Shine as Lights #6

Sunday, May 21, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

“Holding forth the word of life….” As we reprove the works of darkness by preaching and living the truth (Ephesians 5:1–6:9), so we “hold forth the word of life” by preaching and living it. “Holding forth” means “identifying it, paying attention to it, seizing it, and extending it to others.” Notice related usages. Jesus “marked” how some guests chose prominent positions at the feast (Luke 14:7). The lame man “gave heed” to Peter and John, expecting to receive something (Acts 3:5). Paul decided to “stay” for a while in Asia while he sent Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia (Acts 19:22).

“The word of life,” of course, is the Holy Bible, especially rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15). Jesus said: “It is the spirit that quickeneth [gives life to and makes active]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (verse 68). “Life” here is God’s life—how God lives—how Jesus Christ lives—how we Christians (should) live. God created physical life from nothing by using His spoken Word; He provides spiritual life similarly.

When we “hold forth the word of life,” we urge others to receive it (after all, eternal life through Christ is a gift offered—Romans 6:23). Again, we are not merely preaching the Gospel of Grace; we are living it. Titus 2:11,12,14 says: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;…. [14] [Christ Jesus] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Let us see the result….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle?

Shine as Lights #5

Saturday, May 20, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

No matter our country, it is a “crooked and perverse nation.” Governed by Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), it is thus turned away from God and wholly corrupt. (That evil world system will remain until the Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.) God has left us on this planet as “outposts of the third heaven.” Since we are from another world (“the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son”), we are to behave differently from this world controlled by “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13).

“…Among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” In the midst of the unbelieving masses, we Christians live—nay, rather, we shine. As luminous celestial bodies contrast the deep, dark recesses of outer space, so we “stick out” in this lost and dying world. We are lighthouses, guiding souls away from danger and destruction. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, describing Israel’s believing remnant, excerpted: “[14] Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Ephesians chapter 5 adds: “[7] Be not ye therefore partakers with them [children of disobedience, verse 6]. [8] For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: [9] (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; ) [10] Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. [11] And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” We return to Philippians….

A Higher Education: It Is Up to You!

Friday, May 19, 2017

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 KJV).

Eleven years ago today, I graduated high school. Consequently, we dedicate this devotional to high school students who are nearing graduation.

Are you about to graduate high school? What would God have you do afterward? Go to college? Trade school? Something else? What career should you pursue? If you do plan on education after high school, where should you attend school? These are tough questions, and while God’s Word does not answer them, you can make decisions that conform to sound Bible doctrine—that is God’s will.

In today’s Scripture, Paul encourages downcast Timothy. Timothy was considerably younger than the Apostle Paul. Older people who are teaching false doctrine are intimidating young Timothy: “Tim, you are too young to teach God’s Word. Let us handle it.” Young Timothy conceded, became silent, and allowed the (“older and wiser”) false teachers to continue teaching their damnable heresies (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 1:5-8). Paul replied, “Timothy, Speak up! Let no man despise thy youth!”

Christian youth can be just as effectual in their station in life as Christian adults. The lost world is watching us Christians, and we need to be sure that our actions are in accordance with the sound Bible doctrine we claim to believe (lest we be guilty of confusing the already-puzzled unbelievers). Whether “young or old,” our speech, our lifestyle, our acts of love, our determination, our belief in sound Bible doctrine, and our separation from that which God hates, is the way we communicate to the lost world God’s Word and its preeminence in our lives and hearts (today’s Scripture).

Above all, dear graduates, whatever you do post-graduation, “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). After all, it really is not your life—it is Christ’s life in you (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4), so He alone deserves the glory! 🙂

*Based on a Bible study by the same name, which can be read here. Also, see the study “The Spirit-Filled Student.”

By the way, you may also be interested in reading this archived special-edition study about my own college experience.

Shine as Lights #4

Thursday, May 18, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

We ought to be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke.” Instead of behaving like mature sons of God, there is often childishness in our lives—this should not be. “Without rebuke” means “not worthy of being faulted or discredited.” That is, no one has grounds for calling us hypocrites. As the famous dictum goes, “We practice what we preach.” We claim to be God’s children—we act like God’s children. We say we are saints—we behave like saints.

“In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation….” The life of Jesus Christ is to be lived in and through us the saints as we function in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). We should “do all things without murmurings and disputings,” we are to be “blameless and harmless,” we should be “the sons of God” practically, and we are to be “without rebuke,” while living in a world abounding with those very spiritual evils. What a distinction!

The word “crooked” here in Greek is skolios, from which we get “scoliosis” (curvature, warping, winding of the spine). It is rendered “untoward” (turned away from God) in Acts 2:40. “Perverse” is stronger—it means “corrupt, distorted.” “And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither” (Luke 9:41; cf. Matthew 17:17). Speaking of perversion within the “Christian” community, Acts 20:30 warns: “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” And, 1 Timothy 6:5: Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (These last two references contradict the behavior encouraged in today’s Scripture.)

NOTE: We will temporarily break away from this devotionals arc to bring you a special study tomorrow. Stay tuned for the second half of the “Shine as Lights” series!

Bible Q&A #380: “Can you explain Galatians 6:11?

Shine as Lights #3

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

Today’s Scripture opens with: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” Here, “disputings” are “reasonings, imaginations, debate, doubtful things.” Whereas “murmurings” are complaints engendered by spiritual ignorance and ungratefulness to God, “disputings” are intellectual arguments or criticisms used to question or challenge God’s Word and will.

Jesus Christ spoke of “evil thoughts” proceeding from man’s sinful heart (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21). The Pharisees and scribes used “thoughts” and “reason” to critique Jesus’ healing of the paralytic man (Luke 5:22) and the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:8). Jesus’ disciples engaged in a petty, selfish “reasoning” and “thought” about who would be the greatest (Luke 9:46,47). Before God gave the unbelieving nations over to their preferences in Genesis chapter 11, Romans 1:21 says they were “vain [empty] in their imaginations.” We see “doubtful disputations” in Romans 14:1, discussions that cause weaker Christians to stumble. First Timothy 2:8 speaks of men in the local assembly needing to be “without… doubting.” James 2:4 talks about “evil thoughts.” All of these are examples of the “disputings” discouraged in today’s Scripture.

The purpose or goal of a Christian obeying Philippians 2:14—neither murmuring nor disputing—is found in verse 15. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke….” “Blameless” is not “sinless” but rather “not guilty of wrongdoing; faultless.” “Harmless” means “innocent, unmixed, or untainted”—something not watered down. The word is translated “simple” in Romans 16:19. Positionally, we are God’s children by faith in Jesus Christ, His finished crosswork, the Gospel of the Grace of God (Galatians 3:26). Are we His sons practically, though? Sometimes. Our behavior does not constantly reflect our identity (new nature) in Christ. That is, there are “murmurings” and “disputings” in our lives as Christians. Let us see how we correct this….

Shine as Lights #2

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

Today’s Scripture opens with: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” To “murmur” means “express one’s discontent about (someone or something) in a subdued manner.” Grumbling in a low tone, something not easily heard, murmuring is due to ignorance, evil/bad thinking, and unbelief. “Murmuring” was a notable characteristic of the faithless, unthankful Israelites under Moses’ command (Exodus 15:24; Exodus 16:2-12, Exodus 17:3; Numbers 14:27-36, Numbers 16:11,41; Numbers 17:5-10; et cetera).

The Jews of old were not being renewed in the spirit of their mind. They were not mindful of JEHOVAH God’s provisions for them. They thought and behaved like He taught them nothing and did nothing for them. Deuteronomy 1:27 says: “And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” Imagine such pitiful ignorance—“the LORD hated [Israel]” so He delivered them from Egypt! Psalm 106:25 highlights the unbelief and disobedience associated with Israel’s “murmuring:” “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.”

When Jesus received and associated with “publicans and sinners,” the Pharisees and scribes “murmured” (Luke 5:30; Luke 15:2, Luke 19:7). These religious leaders were unbelieving and ignorant of the fact these “evil” people were very ones the Lord had come to save from sin (Matthew 9:10-13)! John 6:41 says: “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.” Again, this was all because of doubt and spiritual ignorance. God does not want us to be ignorant or unbelieving; the Bible is here to educate us in His will and ways, and we are to believe it. As we experience and enjoy the Christian walk, we do so with knowledge, faith, and gratitude….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is grieving the Holy Spirit forgivable?

Shine as Lights #1

Monday, May 15, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

One charge frequently leveled against us Christians is, “There are so many hypocrites in the church that I do not care to go.” While sinlessness in this life is utterly impossible, it is no secret that the professing Church could have done (and do) better in maintaining a solid testimony for the truths of Father God. What went wrong? They overwhelmingly substituted religious tradition and men’s opinions for the pure and simple truths of the Word of God rightly divided. Rather than “Thus saith the LORD,” it was (and still is) preferred, “Thus saith Mother Church,” “Thus saith Doctor So-and-So,” “Thus saith I,” et cetera.

A brother in Christ, now enjoying Heaven, wrote the following wise words many decades ago: “All believers are saints, and the moment they are [saved] they should begin to live as saints. It is not natural for a king to live like a pauper nor for a prince to live as a peasant. Those of us who are positionally saints should live as saints, and not bring disgrace and reproach upon Him who died on the cross in order that we might BE saints.” Thinking on these words, today’s Scripture immediately came to mind. (We will expound those verses later.)

That brother made a point, one that the professing Church would do well in remembering this present hour. Does it make sense for a king to live like a pauper—a very poor person? Is it not silly to see a prince living as a peasant—a lowly, rural person? Consider a parallel contradiction. Why are saints living like sinners, Christians living as non-Christians? The Holy Spirit wrote today’s Scripture to prevent that very incongruity. We would do well to heed those admonitions, that we “shine as lights….”

Mother: A Virtuous Woman

Sunday, May 14, 2017

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10 KJV).

Today is Mother’s Day, so we dedicate this devotional to godly women (specifically mothers). I especially dedicate this to the virtuous woman who has been in my life for almost 29 years… my mom!

Today’s Scripture is the first verse of the Bible’s “Virtuous Woman” passage (Proverbs 31:10-31). King Solomon explained that the virtuous woman:

  • has a husband who safely trusts in her (verses 11,12).
  • is not lazy, but is strong because she works to feed and clothe her family and herself (verses 13-19,21,22,24,25,27).
  • pities the poor and needy (verse 20).
  • has a husband who is well-known because of her godly lifestyle (verse 23).
  • opens her mouth with wisdom, and speaks kindly and lovingly (verse 26).
  • has children and a husband who praise her (verse 28).
  • excels in what she does (verse 29).
  • has works that praise her (verse 31).

Verse 30 explains the virtuous woman is “a woman that feareth the LORD.”

The Apostle Paul wrote that godly women should: not slander/gossip, not be controlled by alcohol and emotions (sober minded), be teachers of good things, love their husbands and children, be cautious and modest, maintain the home, be “good,” and should obey (respect) their husbands… “that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). A Christian woman, especially a mother, should be a virtuous woman in beliefs as well as in deed. She needs to set an example for her children (especially her daughters).

A Christian woman and/or Christian mother places her faith in this sound Bible doctrine, the indwelling Holy Spirit will then take that doctrine and transform her for God’s glory (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Her mind will be renewed by sound Bible doctrine, and that will transform her outward activity (Romans 12:1,2).

Are you a Christian woman or Christian mother who desires to be the woman God intends you to be in Christ Jesus? Place your faith in this sound Bible doctrine, and God will take care of the rest!

 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO OUR READERS WHO ARE MOTHERS!

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

(No) Put Asunder

Saturday, May 13, 2017

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matthew 19:4-6 KJV).

If only more people “read” today that of which the Pharisees were ignorant!

While driving recently, I stopped at an intersection where a man was sitting and holding a sign, “She had a better lawyer.” It was sad to see this panhandler in such a predicament. (I did pray for him, that someone share the Gospel with him.) Maybe he really had experienced a painful divorce. Then again, what might he have done to provoke his wife to divorce him? Or, what if fabricated the whole story just to play on the emotions of passersby? Whatever his case, divorce is not fiction in the lives of many others—some 40 to 50 percent of married couples wind up split up!

Divorce is an agonizing event. Young children are particularly devastated by it. While I have never experienced it firsthand, I do know that it is not a part of God’s original plan for mankind (today’s Scripture). I do know that any departure—great or small—from the Creator’s will has always brought about and will always bring about unimaginable, unspeakable suffering. In order to accommodate man’s sinfulness, God commanded Moses to permit (painful) divorces (see Deuteronomy 24:1-4)—the Pharisees tried to use this passage against Christ in the context of today’s Scripture (cf. verses 7-9). Unfortunately, in the days of Christ, the Jews were using any petty excuse they could find to have grounds for divorce! (Sounds familiar, huh?)

The Lord Jesus corrected the wayward Pharisees. While the Law indeed allowed divorce, the Book of Genesis declared that it was not in God’s original plans for mankind. There was to be no “distance” between husband and wife—no “put asunder,” or “separation.” They were to be united“one flesh”not divided (Genesis 2:18-25). God help us provide strong, healthy family units for His glory!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How can God hear all the prayers of all Christians?

Already Revealed

Friday, May 12, 2017

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself (Ephesians 1:9 KJV).

Have you ever known anyone who constantly begged God to show him or her His will? (“I already have!”) Do you know anyone who prays for God to give him or her wisdom for life? (“I already have!”)

Deuteronomy 29:29 says: “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: 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.” Some 1500 years later, Paul wrote: “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). The Holy Spirit through Paul also said in Acts 20:27: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” With all of God’s will now made known to man through the completed Scriptures, God expects us to follow that Word.

Alas, people enter prayer closets, expecting God to strike them on the back of the neck with the lightning of doctrine. They need to exit their closets and go read the Book! They kneel and grovel at a church “altar” (a misnomer anyway), pleading for divine revelation and victory over sin. They need to get off their knees and go read the Book! They watch numerous televangelists. They need to cut off the television and the computer, and go read the Book! They purchase volumes upon volumes of “Christian” material. They need to set aside the “Christian” bestsellers and go read the Book! If they want to know God’s will, they need to get into God’s Word.

They have been taught to rely on their emotions, inner impressions, hunches, and “signposts” (God supposedly manipulating circumstances to guide them in life). Frankly, this is the why the Body of Christ is so deceived, impotent, and irrelevant. Since it has divorced itself from God’s Word, it is also separated itself from the God’s will and God’s power! They need to appreciate what God has already revealed!