The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 4, 2017

“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!” 🙂

Two Questions, One Response

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him (Matthew 2:2 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is the first question in the “New Testament” Scriptures. The first question in the “Old Testament” is Genesis 3:9: “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” What comparisons and contrasts do these two questions allow us to make?

Notice Matthew 2:1-3: “[1] Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, [2] Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. [3] When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

Going back to Genesis chapter 3: “[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.”

Genesis records Adam, the king of earth, losing his crown through willful disobedience: in Genesis, we see Satan’s rise to assume man’s God-given power over the earth. Matthew has God’s Son coming to restore His authority over the earth: in Matthew, the last Adam purposes to undo the damage that the first Adam incurred. In Genesis, the question highlights God seeking man. Adam and Eve have fallen into sin, are hiding amongst the trees, and need to be brought to accountability there in the Garden of Eden. In Matthew, it is some Gentile wise men from the east coming to Jerusalem, looking for Israel’s King-Messiah. Adam and Eve were troubled when facing a meeting with the one true God. Likewise, sinful Jerusalem was disturbed upon realizing the one true God was in their midst!

(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?

Crown of Thorns

Thursday, May 11, 2017

And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,…. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! (John 19:2,5 KJV).

Why was the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus Christ?

Throughout the Bible, man functions as a free agent. He is not a puppet, God controlling His every thought and movement. Rather, man does just about anything he wants—God permitting, of course. At times, God has selected an event in someone’s life, and made a note of it in His Book. While the performer is often unaware of the spiritual truth expressed by the deed, God will record it in order to convey that information to the reader. For example, take today’s Scripture. What can we glean from it?

God’s Word refers to the “crown of thorns” on four occasions. Two instances are found in today’s Scripture. The other two are in Matthew and Mark; notice these parallel verses. Matthew 27:29: “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” Mark 15:17: “And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,….” The soldiers braided thorny branches to form a crown, and then jammed it on and into Christ’s scalp. They intended it as degradation and torture. However, God the Holy Spirit documented it to provide us a glimpse of why Jesus Christ came to Earth at all

It always does us well to remember “the law of first mention” when studying Scripture—the first occurrence sets the Bible’s tone about a particular subject. Thorns first appear in Scripture immediately after Adam’s fall into sin. Genesis 3:18 says: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;….” Why did the Lord Jesus wear the crown of thorns? For all the crowds to see that He bore the curse of sin for you and me!

The Awareness of a Temporary Earth

 Saturday, April 22, 2017

“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).

The Mess We Call “the World!”

Friday, April 7, 2017

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:1,2 KJV).

“The world is a mess!” Those were the words a depressed Christian brother told me after hearing certain recent international news.

While the brother has been saved for many years, and he has read the Bible for decades, he still has not grown up in the Scriptures to see that “mess” has been an appropriate description of our world going all the way back to Genesis chapter 3! Beloved, why does it shock us that we live in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4)? As soon as Adam willfully followed his wife Eve in rebelling against God, the world system God entrusted to Adam (Genesis 1:26,27) was passed on to Satan who was guiding Adam. Thus, in the temptations of Christ, we see Satan smugly offering to return to the Lord those kingdoms of the world if He would bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8)!

Friend, in case you have not noticed, sin complicates life. There is an internal, spiritual struggle in the soul of every person, and that is the reason why there are fightings and wars. Wars exist outside because evil exists inside. No matter how peaceful we attempt to be, someone will always seek to steal from us, harm us, or kill us. Terrorism is nothing new and it will exist all around our globe until the Lord Jesus Christ returns to vanquish evil in earth’s governments once and for all: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

While we certainly do the best with what we have, and attempt to get along with all, war is not avoidable as pacifists would have us believe. “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name” (Exodus 15:3).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How could Satan access heaven in the Books of Job and the Revelation?

Help Meet

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him…. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:18,22-25 KJV).

Behold, the first marriage!

Two close friends in the ministry just celebrated 57 years of marriage. When I asked the man if it felt like it had been that long, he said no. Their wedding seems like only yesterday. For the last 40 years or so, they have been Christians. They credit God’s grace as the reason for their long-lasting union. (Lord willing, they are planning a big celebration for their 60th anniversary!)

Sadly, divorces, once overwhelmingly shunned, are so common in this day and age. People are not getting acquainted enough and rushing into marriage, only to learn “too late” that they did not actually know their spouse as well as they thought! Unwanted pregnancies are often forcing unions (which may eventually dissolve). Husbands are not exercising their God-given role as leader of the marriage relationship. In-laws are not being advised to respect the marriage. Pornography and other illicit issues threaten the union. In short, Satan is weakening society by attacking its basic unit (the family, at the core of which is the marriage)!

There are three passages that deal directly with marriage as it pertains to the Dispensation of Grace—1 Corinthians 7:1-40, Ephesians 5:21-33, and Colossians 3:18-19. It would do Christian couples well to take these verses, study them, and apply them to life by faith. The Creator of marriage Himself wrote these passages, and they are the keys to godly, successful, healthy, long-lasting marriages! 🙂