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?

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).

To Know Your Purpose

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:9,10 KJV).

Friend, may you come to know your purpose as God wants you to know it!

How sad it is that some people literally spend their whole lives looking, looking, looking (!) for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. Perhaps they even reach the end of that earthly existence disappointed, having not a stiver of meaningful information more than they started their quest! However, they diligently and frantically explored various avenues—fame, education, money, professionalism, sexuality, entertainment, religion, friendships, science, “inner searching,” marriage, parenthood, and so on. Throughout, their minds and hearts were spun around and rendered senseless with myriads of conflicting ideas and downright fallacies. Having ignored the Holy Bible, they looked in all the wrong places!

Since the living and true God is God, He can withhold information. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God….” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Since we are creatures, not Creator, certain knowledge has been withheld from us. We can search all we want, but we have no such capacity in and of ourselves to grasp it (even if we could find it!). However, the verse continues: “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.” Daniel 2:47 is a pagan king admitting the God of the Bible, JEHOVAH God, is “a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets….”

Today’s Scripture says God has made known unto us “the mystery [or secret] of his will.” He purposed in Himself that we might have a purpose. The God of the Bible wants to make His Son, Jesus Christ, the Head of everything in the universe. His secret will for us is that He wants us to glorify that Son in the heavenly places. The Holy Bible is very clear that we do this first and foremost by becoming members of the Church the Body of Christ!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the Sabbath day—Saturday or Sunday?

Singing and Shouting

Sunday, November 13, 2016

“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7 KJV).

Friend, have you ever heard such wonderful music or singing that you thought it was the most beautiful in the whole world? You were so emotionally moved that it was exhilarating beyond description, right? Perhaps you rated it as the greatest in the history of music. In light of today’s Scripture, you must reconsider!

Today’s Scripture is part of the opening of the final section of the Book of Job. Satan has wrought such heartache and havoc in Job’s life, but God is about to deliver him. God must first teach Job a lesson, however. Job has rattled on and on for many chapters, and now it is time for him to hush so the LORD can talk some sense into him. God begins by reminding Job of the Creation Week. Job was not present to see it, but God tells him all about it.

If we re-read today’s Scripture, we see a contractor laying out materials from foundation to completion. Measurements are taken, underpinnings are laid, the main structure is built, and the finishing touch is added. The Lord Jesus Christ purposefully created the heaven and the earth in a very organized manner, neither accidentally nor sloppily. Today’s Scripture says that, throughout this time, the angels watched their Creator at work. When it became increasingly apparent to them what He was erecting, these creatures responded by singing together and shouting for joy! We are left to wonder just how awesome that sounded. Lucifer, God’s chief song-leader and music director, had not yet fallen and become Satan. Recall, Lucifer’s body has built-in musical instruments (Ezekiel 28:13).

Whatever vocal and musical capacities these millions upon millions of angels fulfilled during and after the Creation Week, we can be sure they would put the world’s most beautiful singers and songs to shame! One day, when we get to heaven, brethren, we can join in with them! 🙂

His Son #10

Friday, October 28, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

The Holy Spirit led the writer of the Book of Hebrews to state God’s Son “uphold[s] all things by the word of his power.” Jesus Christ’s words are infinitely powerful, mighty words never to be taken lightly. In fact, our massive (!) universe is held together—yea, came into existence from nothing—because Jesus Christ spoke the words, “Let there be…!” Consequently, Father God admonishes Israel to listen to His Son speaking. That Son will be crowned King of Heaven and Earth one day. Anyone not submitting to His authority will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire! (Friends, those who reject Jesus Christ today will go to that same place of everlasting torment!)

Although sons and daughters of Adam, the Jews could be cleansed of their sins, and thus be qualified to participate in the glorification of God’s Son in the Earth. Jesus Christ came and “by himself”—omitted from the modern versions!—“purged [Israel’s] sins.” His rich, royal, sinless blood was shed for them, that He might “wash” them from their sins (Revelation 1:5). In the early Acts period, Jews were to come by faith in Jesus as God’s Son, having repented of their wayward thinking (idolatry), and then being water baptized in Jesus Christ’s name to serve as His kingdom of priests (Acts 2:38). All that the Prophets have foretold will be fulfilled one day, with believing Jews becoming “sons of God” because they listened to and believed the words of God’s Son (John 1:11,12)!

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12). 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Do Matthew 10:10, Mark 6:8, and Luke 9:3 contradict?

His Son #9

Thursday, October 27, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

Scripture says of God’s Son, Who being the brightness of his [Father’s] glory….” This “brightness” is radiance, a brilliant light shining forth. Psalm 104:1-2 says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain….” This light—which actually is a rainbow (Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:3)—is God’s righteousness on display. First Timothy 6:16 describes Jesus Christ (verse 15) as: “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto….” The Lord Jesus is literally the perfect reflection of Father God concerning His radiant righteousness and glory.

In today’s Scripture, we also read of God’s Son as being, “…the express image of his [Father’s] person….” The Greek term rendered “express image” is actually “charakter” (from which we get our English word “character”). Jesus Christ resembles God the Father in every way—His faithfulness, truth, wisdom, love, mercy, grace, peace, power, kindness, and so on. There is nothing dark or mysterious about Father God if we look at His Son, for His son is a clear representation, or explicit portrait, of His Father.

Jesus Christ, “the only begotten Son,” declares the invisible Father unto the nation Israel (John 1:18). Our Lord Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). If Israel knows Jesus Christ, they know the Father, and have fellowship with both (1 John 2:22,23). Any Jew who rejects Jesus will never know anything about the Father God whom He epitomizes. He will remain in the spiritual darkness he prefers (John 3:18-20).

Now we conclude this devotionals arc….

His Son #8

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

John the Baptist (Matthew 3:7-12) and Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:30,38-42) warned Israel of “the [fiery] wrath to come.” Peter also announced that impending judgment (Acts 2:34-36; Acts 4:19-26): “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 4:23). Jews who declined to hear God speaking by His Son (cf. today’s Scripture) would be “destroyed”—or, as Jesus said, “ground to powder” (Matthew 21:44). “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 4:26). Peter encouraged Israel to receive God’s Son!

Today’s Scripture says, “[His Son] whom he [Father God] hath appointed heir of all things….” Father God has determined to grant Jesus Christ power to rule everything (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Revelation 11:15). Father wants His Son to have preeminence in “all things,” all governmental offices of Heaven and Earth (Colossians 1:16-20; Ephesians 1:9-11; Philippians 2:9-11). Israel, by faith, can participate in His earthly government.

“By whom [the Son] also he [the Father] made the worlds…” refers to the governmental systems and their various ages of duration. For example, Scripture describes Christ’s future reign as “world without end” (Ephesians 3:21). Ephesians 2:6-7 speaks of these “ages to come.” Jesus Christ is the Creator God (Ephesians 3:9) mentioned in Genesis 1:1, and all things are to glorify Him to Father’s praise: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

Today’s Scripture urges Israel to realize these precious truths concerning God’s Son….