To Pray a Better Way #3

Saturday, February 29, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Let us continue reading in Romans chapter 8: “[11] But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. [12] Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. [13] For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. [14] For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [15] For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. [16] The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: [17] And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

As saints, sin does not have to master us; the indwelling Holy Spirit can energize us to walk in God’s ways. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” refers to the inspired Scriptures reinforcing in our mind the fact that we are part of God’s family. If we are His children (and we are), then it naturally follows that we are His heirs—yea, joint-heirs with Christ. Just as we suffer in this fallen creation, following Christ in His suffering, so we will be glorified with Him. We will inherit governmental authority from our Father as He himself will inherit it from our Father. Until then, though, problems will abound….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the ‘vipers’ of the New Testament Scriptures?

To Pray a Better Way #2

Friday, February 28, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Chapter 5 of Romans opens: “[1] Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. [3] And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; [4] And patience, experience; and experience, hope: [5] And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:1-5).

The indwelling Holy Ghost first appears in Paul’s epistles and exits just as quickly. He reemerges in chapter 8—here referenced over a dozen times—as participating in our sanctification. (“Holy Ghost” is His name; “Spirit” infers His role or function.) Read all of Romans chapter 8, at least through to verse 27 (today’s Scripture). If we follow the Holy Spirit leading, we then experience daily the very mentality and conduct of Jesus Christ in our own mind and life.

We read the first four verses: “[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Let us see what else the Holy Ghost does for us….

To Pray a Better Way #1

Thursday, February 27, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Prayer is everywhere in Christendom. Regardless of the denomination, people have all been taught to pray. Even people who do not like the Bible pray—especially in times of trouble and tragedy! We would expect non-Christians not to know how to pray “effectually” (producing the results God intended). Yet, unfortunately, even genuine Christians are struggling ever so greatly in this realm. “I do not know what to pray for.” “Praying seems to be a waste of time. I am just not ‘getting through.’ No one answers me!”

We would do well to consider the Apostle Paul’s experience with prayer in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Is it not strange that even Paul himself had firsthand knowledge in unanswered prayer? Facing major difficulties, bothered by one great affliction in particular, he cried out to the Lord on three occasions, “Please, deliver me!” Notice, it took three times. On that last occasion, Paul finally heard from the Lord. However, it was another unexpected outcome! If he wanted to see results, he needed to pray a better way….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did God ‘forget’ to create Eve?

Something in Which to Glory!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:12-14 KJV).

In what shall we glory? About what shall we boast? In what shall we find value?

Religion produces people who enjoy bragging all about their “dedication to God.” “Look what I did—the ceremonies in which I have participated, the many prayers I faithfully recited daily, how much I put in the collection plate, see how many pleasures I gave up to please God! Come, see how much I love Him!” Dear friends, the Apostle Paul found great value in something—but that something was not what he did. All that human flesh can accomplish pales in comparison to the work in today’s Scripture.

As Lent begins, the time when religionists temporarily (a mere 40 days) relinquish some pleasant food or activity, let us remember that our performance is often non-performance. Once we place ourselves on that treadmill of “do, do, do,” we are guaranteed to fail at some point. Human flesh is simply too weak to maintain 100 percent—that is sin! Even concerning one rule, we cannot keep it perfectly. We mess up eventually.

If ever we believe that our puny works are worth bragging about, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s Scripture. While some boast in their religiosity (in the passage, the Judaizers applauding their rite of physical circumcision), and such denominationalists today urge us to obey their church’s instructions so they too may boast in our ability, let us eschew such foolishness. Being imperfect, all their works do not measure up to Christ’s finished crosswork. At Calvary, we find the only sacrifice that will ever please the God of the Bible. If we must boast, let us brag that He did what we could never, ever do!

See our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why is Jesus called ‘the Son of Man?’

God’s Grace on Parade

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

“…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20 KJV).

Today, especially here in southern Louisiana, the Catholic festival of Mardi Gras takes advantage of God’s grace. God’s grace abounds even when drunkenness, lasciviousness, and gluttony are committed overtly on our streets for religion. Because we live in the Dispensation of the Grace of God, they can flaunt their sin without being consumed by fire from heaven!

“Mardi Gras,” French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a day when religious people—professing “Christians”—lose self-control (excess alcohol, food, and partying). The following day, Ash Wednesday, they promise to live “holy” for the next 40 days (Lent). A priest will then place ashes on their foreheads proving that God forgave them for that riotous living. Blasphemy!

Regardless of all its biblical allusions (illusions!), Mardi Gras is still evil and anti-God. It was never Christian, originating from pagan Roman festivals, Saturnalia and Lupercalia (interestingly known for riots, drunkenness, gluttony, and fornication, and subsequent repentance).

The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles Peter and Paul, was clearly against Mardi Gras reveling and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3). So why do professing Christians engage in the very activities that God the Holy Spirit condemned?! As Christians, we should “deny” the activities of Mardi Gras (Romans 6:11-15; Titus 2:11-15).

If I appear offended, I am. Mardi Gras, despite its godly façade, is offensive to the great God and my Saviour Jesus Christ! God’s grace continues to tolerate such foolishness from mankind. Man parades his sin, and God parades His grace, holding back wrath.

Are you a Mardi Gras reveler? I declare unto you the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God. God did for you at Calvary what you could never do: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died to put away all of your sins, Mardi Gras revelry included.

If you rest in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour, God will save you forever, make a trophy of His grace, and then YOUR life will be God’s grace on parade!

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

You may also see our archived Bible study Q&A, “Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras?

Keep Your Priorities Straight!

Monday, February 24, 2020

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

Friend, if you want to keep your thinking straight, you had better keep your priorities straight!

Every time we turn on televisions or computers, every time we pick up newspapers or books, we are really sitting in a classroom. Not only are we being programmed what to think, we are being trained how to think. The world’s philosophy entices us most subtly. Politicians tell us what is “best” for our country. Educators say what is “good” for our children. Counselors tell us what is “good” for our marriage. Indeed, we are seated in a classroom. Unless we have personal, daily Bible study to counter it all; we will surely adopt the world’s view concerning every aspect of life. Hence, much carnal thinking abounds in most professing Christians!

Reading the Bible for ourselves is unfathomably crucial. It is not enough to possess the Bible. It is not enough to listen to a priest or preacher read the Bible. We must open the Bible and “read” it for ourselves. All too often, the only “Bible” people really know is what they have heard others say about it (usually nothing but assumptions and misconceptions). How dangerous! “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” (Ephesians 3:4). Unless we read the Bible for ourselves, we cannot understand it!

Moreover, it is not enough to read the Bible. We must “study” it too. It is not enough to study the Bible; we must also “rightly divide” it. “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). Lastly, we should “believe” what we read, study, and rightly divide. “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

As Bible-believing Christians, Pauline dispensationalists, we should “exhort” or urge one another to maintain this manner of life, stressing “doctrine” as opposed to sentiments and ignorance.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is ‘Abiathar’ a mistake in Mark 2:26?

Who is a Christian? #8

Sunday, February 23, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

Our English word “Christian” is a transliteration of the Greek “Christianos.” In its most basic form, it means “follower of Christ.” When we look at the Bible’s usage of the title, we can fine-tune the definition. The term was first applied to Gentiles who followed Jesus Christ in Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:26)—modern Turkey. It specifically described the disciples or students of the Lord’s doctrine committed to Saul’s (the Apostle Paul’s) trust. Their core belief was faith or trust in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for sins (cf. today’s Scripture and its context).

Finally, the name became attached to the Apostle Peter’s converts, especially in the sense of following Christ in suffering persecution according to God’s will. First Peter chapter 4: “[12] Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: [13] But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. [14] If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. [15] But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. [16] Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Paul’s final recorded words to King Herod Agrippa II were: “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds” (Acts 26:29). That is, “King Agrippa, I would you and all my listeners to be like me in trusting the Gospel of Grace!” Whatever subsequently happened to Agrippa is unknown. Regardless, he had heard directly from God’s Apostle of the Gentiles how to become a Christian… and now have we!

Who is a Christian? #7

Saturday, February 22, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

Verses 22 and 23 again: “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”

It is greatly helpful to notice Herod Agrippa II had Bible awareness before he ever met the Apostle Paul. Even as a Gentile, Agrippa was familiar with the Hebrew Old Testament. Read today’s Scripture again: “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Herod did not deny he believed the Hebrew Scriptures. What he refused to do was agree with—believe—Paul’s Gospel presentation.

Moreover, it is surely insightful to appreciate how Paul was not trying to influence Agrippa II to join a local church, get water baptized, say a “sinner’s prayer,” walk an aisle, “feel sorry” for his sins, keep commandments, partake of a holy meal, confess his sins, ask God for forgiveness, kneel and weep at an “altar,” promise to “do better,” or obey any other such common appeals prominent at “invitation time” in most local churches today. Paul wanted Agrippa to believehave faith in—the Word of God’s Grace!

Agrippa had head knowledge and head belief, but not heart knowledge and heart belief. It was just intellectual assent with the Old Testament, which therefore rendered him unable to receive Paul’s further revelation in heart faith. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10a). The same is true of most people today—even church members. Aware of the Bible, seeing some historical facts in it, they nevertheless cannot trust it in the heart. They speak of “God,” “Jesus,” “the Holy Ghost,” “grace,” “righteousness,” and so on, but there is no faith in the soul concerning Jesus Christ.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Who is a Christian? #6

Friday, February 21, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

The Old Testament prophets were aware of the doctrine of bodily resurrection (Job 19:24-27; Psalm 16:10; Daniel 12:2,13; et al.). In fact, Paul knows that King Herod Agrippa II is familiar with such Jewish religious beliefs (verse 3; cf. today’s Scripture). He therefore skillfully uses Agrippa’s knowledge of the Old Testament in an attempt to lead him to Jesus Christ: Paul twice mentions the idea of resurrection.

Re-read excerpts of Acts chapter 26: “[6] And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: [7] Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. [8] Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?…. [22] Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: [23] That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”

It is here that Festus interrupts and ridicules Paul, dismissing Bible truth as mere lunacy (verses 24-26). Paul then turns to the king, and we read today’s Scripture once more: “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.” The soul of Herod Agrippa II hangs in the balance. He can either trust God’s words, or disbelieve them. Surely under tremendous peer pressure from Festus, Agrippa takes the latter route and derides the truth as well. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Agrippa has made his decision: he is not swayed! His tone is one of surprise and condescension. “Paul, you will have to try much harder than that to influence me to become a Christian!”

Now, by carefully considering this, we see what a Christian really is….

Bible Q&A #695: “What ever happened to Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather?

Who is a Christian? #5

Thursday, February 20, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

Upon hearing the Apostle Paul speak about his conversion for the last 23 verses, King Herod Agrippa II and Governor Porcius Festus respond: “[24] And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. [25] But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. [26] For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. [27] King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. [28] Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

Festus, not convinced, raises his voice to interrupt: “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (verse 24). He accuses the Apostle of being crazy! Paul sounds like an educated man, but he seems “too educated.” To Festus, Paul’s testimony is the simply ramblings of an insane, renegade Jew! “But the natural man receiveth not the things of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Paul replies to Festus’ charge of madness: “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:25,26). Festus and Agrippa could check the record to see if Paul was fabricating lies or telling the truth. His radical transformation was a historical fact to the land of Palestine, and his apostolic ministry has been conducted for last 30 years. However, sinful Festus is not interested in truth. He finds an excuse: “I do not believe the Gospel of Grace because its preacher is nuts!”

Let us expound Agrippa’s response in today’s Scripture….