The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 7, 2020

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28 KJV).

On this Labor Day, we talk about work, “the thing which is good.”

In this day and age of increasing “government assistance,” people are becoming less and less aware of our hard work being the Lord Jesus’ preferred method of the source of our incomes. While the physically and mentally disabled are obvious exceptions, the God of the Bible expects all of us to contribute labor in order to provide for ourselves. For children and young adults, even being a student in school is work enough!

Observe the doctrine being communicated in today’s Scripture. The grace life does not merely teach us to quit doing bad things, but it also instructs us to start doing good things (Titus 2:11,12). Once a thief trusts the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins, then God expects that thief to quit stealing and find a job so he can provide for his needs!

The God of creation calls work “the thing which is good” (today’s Scripture). Work is not something to be avoided; it is something to be embraced for the Lord’s glory!

When the Lord Jesus Christ put the first man, Adam, on earth, that man had a divine commission. Adam was not to simply loaf around and do nothing: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to protect that garden, to till its ground, to prepare it for Jesus Christ to come down and dwell in with he and Eve (because of sin, that earthly kingdom over which Jesus Christ will rule is still awaiting fulfillment!).

Saints, may we work to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), and may we work to help those who truly are needy (today’s Scripture). In the words of God the Holy Spirit, that is “good!” 🙂

The Holy Land

Thursday, September 3, 2020

“And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again” (Zechariah 2:12 KJV).

A common expression in Christian parlance, what exactly is “the Holy Land” anyway?

The phrase appears just once in the King James Bible. Nevertheless, the idea is not isolated to today’s Scripture. Dating back to ancient times, even pagan idolaters have understood the Middle East as special. Of course, before there was a Bible, early man had verbally passed down from generation to generation the news of the Garden of Eden being in modern Iraq (see Genesis 2:14, the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers).

Isaiah (chapter 40) speaks of the LORD as Creator: “[21] Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? [22] It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:….” God intended the universe to be His house!

Among the hundreds upon hundreds of billions of celestial bodies, God placed “the blue marble” (planet Earth). “For the LORD hath chosen Zion [Jerusalem]; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:13,14). Of course, Adam and Eve sinned and never saw God’s earthly kingdom. Many centuries later, the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt: “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation” (Exodus 15:13). Verse 17: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O LORD, which thy hands have established.” The words “sanctuary” (think “saint!”) and “holy” are synonymous, meaning “set apart for God’s purposes.” Alas, Israel also sinned, also never seeing that kingdom.

Yet, the Prophets foretell: “The LORD is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). Jesus is thus called, “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14). Today’s Scripture is Israel and her (His) land finally restored at Christ’s Second Coming, His (her) Millennial Kingdom!

A Naughty Tongue! #8

Thursday, July 16, 2020

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue” (Proverbs 17:4 KJV).

In today’s world of widespread social media, “wicked doer,” “false lips,” “liar,” and “naughty tongue” are all appropriate nouns!

As people who live in this Age of Grace, and members of the Church the Body of Christ, we should exercise great caution as to how we use our tongues. Many are still utilizing their speaking organs to communicate lies of all kinds in all circles, so we should be careful not to fall for this false teaching or repeat it. Otherwise, we will be yet another extension of Satan’s policy of evil—his lie program being perpetuated further!

“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits [enticing voices], and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;…” (1 Timothy 4:1,2). “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair [beautiful, embellished] speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17,18).

The Apostle Paul himself, being led by the Holy Spirit, did not employ man’s wisdom or clever philosophical gimmicks to convert people to Christ. Read 1 Corinthians chapter 2: “[1] And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God…. [4] And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:….” In chapter 4, verse 19, there were Christians in Corinth using their tongues to express their pride in being “independent believers,” enjoying a life of sin and freedom from all apostolic influence or guidance: “But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.” Our tongues should rather convey God’s grace….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What are ‘the secret chambers’ of Matthew 24:26?

A Naughty Tongue! #7

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue” (Proverbs 17:4 KJV).

In today’s world of widespread social media, “wicked doer,” “false lips,” “liar,” and “naughty tongue” are all appropriate nouns!

Moving into “the ages to come” (Ephesians 2:7) Bible Books, Hebrews through Revelation, we see Israel’s prophetic program accomplished. Whatever evil work Satan began in the Earth with Adam and man’s Fall 6,000 years ago, he continues that labor until Jesus Christ returns to destroy the lie program and establish a new world system, one of truth and righteousness.

Re-read James 3:1-8. The peak of Satan’s lie program is man repeating the falsehoods his evil world system originates. Just as God communicates His truth, so Satan counterfeits it with erroneous information. When God’s messengers speak, the Devil commissions his preachers to contradict and discredit. Once the Antichrist arrives, man’s “naughty tongue” will literally be “singing his praises.” Jewish believers in Jesus Christ will be disparaged, wrongly accused of teaching error because the Antichrist will be seen as the true Messiah. Here are the “wise,” “righteous,” and “good” of Proverbs. Additionally, the Antichrist’s followers will be believing and spreading his deceit. These are the “fools,” “sinners,” and “wicked” of Proverbs.

Now, read some of James’ parallels. “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing [criticism] for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew [avoid] evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Peter 3:9-11). “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;…. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error” (2 Peter 2:12,18). “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage” (Jude 16).

Even as members of the Body of Christ, we should guard our tongues….

Death! #7

Sunday, May 17, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

Second Timothy 1:9-11 states: “[9] Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, [10] But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: [11] Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” As saints, people who trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we have a hope that, when this earthly life ends with death, it is really not the end!

First Corinthians chapter 15 speaks of resurrection life: “[18] Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. [19] If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. [20] But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. [21] For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. [24] Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. [25] For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. [26] The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

The Bible labels death an “enemy.” It was not in God’s original design in creation. Adam’s sin caused it. Therefore, the Lord has gloriously conquered it before (Christ’s bodily resurrection), and He will magnificently overcome it again (all subsequent bodily resurrections). Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Death! #4

Thursday, May 14, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

Only after an arduous lifetime of backbreaking work does man’s soul finally separate from his physical body. He would “return unto the ground.” The LORD God added, for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” While the Book of Genesis is frequently dismissed as figurative or allegorical myth, we cannot help but see this as literal history. Are we not physically placed into actual ground at our burial? Why, yes. There is no other way to look at Genesis: it says what it means and it means what it says.

Draw your attention to the wording: “for out of it [the ground] wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” We compare this to Genesis 2:7, Adam’s creation: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Job 4:19 speaks of man, “How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?” And, Job 10:9 is directed to God, “Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?” “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). 

Adam’s physical body was indeed literally derived from the ground or dirt. The name “Adam” is from the Hebrew word meaning “red, ruddy.” God used preexisting material—a reddish clay, evidently—to shape the first human body. This is not at all far-fetched. An interesting scientific fact is presented here—and, again, we have no other option but to take Genesis literally. Elements found within Earth’s crust are also necessary for life, and they actually form the human body: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, and so on. Once the human body dies, its component elements return to the soil as well….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How shall Elijah ‘restore all things?’

Death! #3

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

Responding to Adam’s deliberate alliance with Satan, the LORD God placed a curse on creation. Keep reading in Genesis chapter 3:

“[13] And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. [14] And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: [15] And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Satan was cursed.

Eve and women were cursed: “[16] Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Mankind as a whole and all the natural world were cursed: “[17] And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; [18] Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;….”

Verse 19, today’s Scripture, is the pinnacle of that curse: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Life for Adam and Eve will henceforth become complicated and difficult. After all that suffering, only then will that earthly life end… with death….

Death! #2

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

Continue in Genesis chapter 3: “[5] For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. [6] And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Adam made a conscious choice to follow his wife in listening to Satan. He deliberately disobeyed God’s instructions to him.

“[7] And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. [8] And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. [9] And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? [10] And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

This “fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was part of the test God placed before Adam and Eve. Would they, like Lucifer had done to become Satan earlier, take it upon themselves to decide what is good and what is evil? In other words, would they attempt to take God’s authority and place it on themselves? Yes, and they indicated that attitude by eating the forbidden fruit. Consequently, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Indeed, death is now our lot in this sin-cursed world….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who were the ‘Rechabites?’

Death! #1

Monday, May 11, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

Funerals, cemeteries, and coffins are rather disturbing sights, are they not? There is a certain “unnaturalness” to them, right? It simply does not make sense for death to end life, does it? Why is the human body born just to live a short while and then die and undergo such horrific decomposition? No matter how hard we try to soften it with phrases (for example, “passed away” instead of “died,” “casket” as opposed to “coffin,” “memorial park” not “cemetery,” et cetera); or glamorize it (with extravagant ceremonies, pricey graveclothes, embroidered box liners, elaborate vaults and crypts, and so on); death is an inescapable certainty. Why?

Turn to Genesis chapter 2 for the answer: “[15] And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. [16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: [17] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” This first man’s name was Adam, and JEHOVAH God ordered him not to eat the forbidden fruit. If Adam did, he would “surely die.” It was indisputable or certain.

Move over to chapter 3, concerning Adam’s wife Eve and her encounter with Satan: “[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? [2] And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: [3] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. [4] And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:….” What a lie….

The Awareness of a Temporary Earth

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

“And, Thou, O Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Hebrews 1:10-12 KJV).

On this Earth Day, let us not confuse the creation with the Creator!

Today, people worldwide celebrate “environmental awareness.” According to the secular, naturalistic worldview, our planet and its sun could last many more billions of years. They claim that we have done so much damage to our planet—climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, pollution, et cetera—that we must change our attitude toward “mother earth” and change our lifestyles before we destroy her and civilization as we know it! You can sense the zeal in their message, can you not? While these people are sincere, they are wasting all of their time, energy, and resources on a temporary planet.

Let us be very clear that the Lord Jesus Christ placed man on the earth, especially the Garden of Eden, to “dress it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to take care of the Earth: he was God’s representative, God’s king, who had a divine commission to rule this planet for God’s glory (Genesis 1:26-28).

It was not long, however, before Satan distracted mankind from understanding God’s purpose for him. Adam began to focus on himself: like Satan, he began to “worship and serve the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). Thus began man’s continual downward spiral into spiritual ignorance. He would continually worship himself, as we well know today.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that, because of sin, this creation will pass away. The Lord Jesus Christ, however, will live forever. Why worship that which is temporary? It makes no sense! The Lord Jesus Christ gave you life, not the pagan goddess “mother earth.” Environmental awareness? Indeed, be aware that our world is temporary, as God will one day create “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).