Careful—But Not Careful! #2

Sunday, March 29, 2020

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Friend, as we live in these strange times, let us “be careful for nothing!”

There are over a dozen references to “joy” and “rejoicing” in the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Philippians (1:4,18,25; 2:2,16-18; 2:28; 3:1,3; 4:1,4,10). The most famous is: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (4:4). When the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to write to Philippi, Paul was not reclining in an air-conditioned palace, flying on a private jet, or dining at his favorite restaurant. Where was he?

When the Book of Acts closed, the Holy Spirit reports: “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:30,31). Paul, for preaching the Gospel of Grace, was under house arrest for two years (his legal problems began back in chapter 21). Yea, Philippians was written from a prison! On four occasions within the document itself, Paul refers to “bonds” (1:7,13,14,16)—literal, physical shackles. At least one Roman soldier was always present with him, likely chained to him at the hand (see Acts 28:16,20; cf. Acts 21:33). Here was where serving Jesus Christ got him!

Read today’s Scripture within context: “[4] Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. [5] Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. [6] Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [7] And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [8] Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Indeed, a prisoner wrote today’s Scripture….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus’ last name ‘Christ?’

Careful—But Not Careful! #1

Saturday, March 28, 2020

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Friend, as we live in these strange times, let us “be careful for nothing!”

As you have heard, society around the world has undergone a significance transformation in recent weeks. The word “coronavirus” is now a part of everyday speech. At this point, we seem to be living on a planet other than Earth. It feels like we are cast in a science-fiction movie!

“Social distancing” is another term added to our vernacular. Individuals keep their distance when out in public. There is neither handshaking nor hugging. Face masks and gloves are commonplace. People have been forced to stay in their houses, trapped inside tiny apartments for weeks. They have a sporadic work schedule—if at all. People cannot return to their home countries because of travel restrictions. Governmental officials, with no real experience in such large-scale health issues, are scrambling to relieve and assist their citizens in whatever ways they can.

Non-essential stores, golf courses, theme parks, casinos, and schools are closed. Conferences and sporting events are cancelled. Restaurants are either shut, or accepting only drive-thru or delivery orders. Airlines, hotels and motels, and cruise lines are struggling to stay open. Some businesses have even shuttered permanently. Noisy and busy streets are now empty. Hospitals are being constructed rapidly; medical supplies are slow in arriving or non-existent. Millions upon millions of students, unable to enter physical classrooms, are now taking classes online at home. To think that this is all on a global scale is inconceivable!

What makes coronavirus so dangerous is how little we know about it and how quickly it spreads. Some 150 countries have cases now. The elderly and those with serious preexisting health issues are especially at risk. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure or vaccine. Experiments are being conducted to better understand how to fight this infectious respiratory disease. Emotions are running, people are fearful, and misinformation and disinformation are rampant. We should be careful in exercising caution who we meet, where we go, and what we do. However, as touching worrying, we should “be careful for nothing….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How is Jesus Christ ‘Prophet, Priest, and King?’

Without Honour #10

Friday, March 27, 2020

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4 KJV).

What valuable lesson can we learn from Nazareth—a moral the Nazarenes deliberately failed to learn?

Firstly, it is infinitesimally important that we positively respond to the Scriptures rightly divided as soon as possible. If we do not immediately react in faith, it becomes less and less likely that we will ever believe it. The Nazarenes were exposed to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, for almost three decades. He grew up among them, so they knew Him better than any other group in Israel or the world. Unfortunately, the Nazarenes started off with ungratefulness. As the years passed, they grew increasingly opposed to Him. Their animosity toward Him became so great they finally attempted to throw Him headfirst off a hillside. If only they had believed on Him the very moment He arrived in their town. Alas, they did not! If only they had believed their own Hebrew Bible as soon as they read it. Alas, they did not!

Secondly, it is unfathomably critical that we believe the Bible in the heart. This is more than knowing, reading, or hearing Scripture—the Nazarenes did that for centuries, and still wound up in unbelief. It is more than a mental assent or agreement—the Nazarenes did that for centuries too, and were still unbelieving. This is more than “playing church,” attending services out of “obligation” or “duty”—the Nazarenes did that for centuries as well, and still wound up in unbelief. Having the Bible is not enough—the Nazarenes did that for centuries as well, and were still unbelieving.

Dear readers, as soon as we learn the Gospel of Grace—“Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)—we need to exercise heart faith in it. Immediately after we discover the Apostle Paul is God’s spokesman to us—“the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13)—we should exercise heart faith in it. If there is any delay, and anything other than heart faith, we will treat Jesus Christ and His Word with more dishonour than Nazareth did long ago!

Without Honour #9

Thursday, March 26, 2020

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4 KJV).

What valuable lesson can we learn from Nazareth—a moral the Nazarenes deliberately failed to learn?

Read Matthew 8:20: “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” The Lord said it another way in John 5:43: “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” He was “without honour” among His own family, “friends,” and neighbors (today’s Scripture; cf. Matthew 13:57). This Greek term is rendered “despised” in 1 Corinthians 4:10. In other words, His acquaintances, contemporaries, and peers spent so much time not appreciating Him that they now began to hate Him with an unparalleled passion. It was now impossible for them to hide their unbelief. Animosity was seething in their souls—and they responded most violently in Nazareth by trying to take His life (Luke 4:28,29)!

Really, when we consider their detestable attitude, it would have been far better had they never known the truth. It would have been far better had they never lived with Jesus Christ for 30 years. Having so much opportunity to know the truth—and yet squandering that time by vehemently rejecting it—their accountability before God is increased considerably. Recall those somber warnings of Christ spoken in John 12:48: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

Second Thessalonians chapter 2 says of these very people: “[10] And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [11] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: [12] That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” They fervently rejected Christ, but they will gleefully receive Antichrist!

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Bible Q&A #705: “Who was ‘Herod?’

Without Honour #8

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4 KJV).

What valuable lesson can we learn from Nazareth—a moral the Nazarenes deliberately failed to learn?

Romans 1:18-32 explains how the world declined in its morals and ethics to result in the worldwide problems we see today. All people once had opportunity to be the LORD God’s instruments in the Earth, but they willfully refused His revelation. Therefore, human civilization deteriorated in the centuries following Adam’s creation. In Genesis chapters 6–8, God finally sent the Great Deluge of Noah’s day to cleanse the world of evil (violence, murder). During chapters 9–11, the nations gather around the Tower of Babel. Such paganism summarizes man’s attitude during his first 2,000 years. The Creator God gave the nations over to their preferred spiritual darkness!

In chapter 12, the LORD God sets aside one man to begin a new nation—Abraham, the father of Israel. Through Abraham and his descendants, God will reach the entire world. Romans 3:1,2: “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles [Word, revelation] of God.” God gave Israel His Word, so Israel can teach it to the Gentiles. “He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 147:19,20).

Moses told Israel in Deuteronomy 4:6-8: “Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?”

Israel had that Word of God for 16 centuries, but she did not appreciate it. By the time her Messiah arrived, fulfilling that Word, she dishonoured Him too….

Without Honour #7

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4 KJV).

What valuable lesson can we learn from Nazareth—a moral the Nazarenes deliberately failed to learn?

Christianity’s bitterest enemies, the Bible’s most outspoken critics, are often people who grew up in “church.” Why? Although they were “close to the truth,” they did not walk in the light they had or have heart faith in that information. It was just mental gymnastics, merely “playing church.” They did not “honour” the sound doctrine they had opportunity to learn.

Look at it another way. Some Protestants endlessly ridicule their own Protestant Bible—the King James text and its underlying manuscript witnesses. For over 400 years, the Authorized Version has protected Bible-believing Christians from the doctrinal errors of Roman Catholicism (the manuscripts underlying the modern English versions). However, the Church the Body of Christ has overall demonstrated it has not received God’s Word with a grateful heart (just like the Nazarenes!).

Romans chapter 1: “[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

“[22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. [24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”

The Nazarenes are just a small sample of this worldwide problem….

Without Honour #6

Monday, March 23, 2020

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4 KJV).

What valuable lesson can we learn from Nazareth—a moral the Nazarenes deliberately failed to learn?

The word “Nazareth” means “the despised place.” Its stigma is evident from John 1:45,46. Here, Jesus spent nearly all His childhood and adulthood until around age 30 (see Matthew 2:19-23). This entire time, Israel has been comfortable in having Gentile rulers govern them. Unfortunately, they do not want Him as their King! Apparently, even Nazareth—the very place where Israel has sent the “despised” Son of God to live out His first three decades—has no interest in Him. Leaving Nazareth, He travels south to be water baptized of John at the Jordan River. After His temptations, He moves north, returning to Galilee to start His earthly ministry. Leaving Capernaum, He comes back to Nazareth (delivering His synagogue sermon there in Luke chapter 4).

Situated on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, the fishing town of Capernaum featured a heavy Gentile population because of Israel’s Assyrian Captivity seven centuries earlier (cf. 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:24). It was home to a Roman garrison or fort, thus explaining the presence of a Gentile military commander (Matthew 8:5; Luke 7:1,2). The Nazarenes therefore took offense that Jesus ministered in Gentile Capernaum when He should have been “at home” among them “His family and friends” (Luke 4:23)! Yet, remember, Nazareth had treated Him with such disrespect for all the years previous. Verse 24, “And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country” (cf. today’s Scripture).

Recall our earlier comments about the Prophets Elijah and Elisha who lived many centuries earlier. Using Luke 4:25-27, its context, and the pertinent Old Testament quotes, we can infer these spokesmen of God were rejected of apostate Israel (unbelievers). God therefore guided them to minister amongst Gentiles (who were ready to believe Him!). Likewise, the Lord Jesus Himself was “without honour” among His own people. As the old adage says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Extensive but unappreciated exposure to the truth is more damning than contact with error….