A Heart Matter

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (Psalm 119:11 KJV).

Today’s Scripture, believe it or not, lies at the heart of prayer.

Like innumerable other Christian subjects, prayer is terribly misunderstood. Superstition thus lurks in this realm. Since not considered dispensationally, prayer is usually such an unspeakable burden, a taxing exercise with mysterious and often unexpected results. Little wonder so many stumble therein!

As God has already spoken to us through His Word, the Holy Bible, so we now speak to Him through prayer. Prayer, of course, must be “Pauline” if it will have the impact Father God intended. The only way our prayers can be Pauline is if our doctrine is Pauline—harmonious with what the Lord says to us through the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:1,2). We cannot force God to do something He is no longer doing. Yanking verses from other dispensations, claiming prayer promises God never gave us, is a sure way to wind up a bitter opponent of Christianity!

God the Holy Spirit speaks in Romans through Philemon, then we read and store or believe that information with the heart (cf. today’s Scripture). Psalm 62:8 comments: “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.” Prayer is heartfelt communion with Father God—not mindless repetition of denominational proclamations!

Watch how Hannah prayed: “And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD (1 Samuel 1:12-15). She read God’s Word to her—particularly the Mosaic Law—and she prayed according to it. Scripture was in her heart, and her prayer was the pouring out of her soul. This led to the birth of the Prophet Samuel.

Brethren, our prayers will be equally powerful when we pray the Pauline way!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Not Willingly Ignorant!

Monday, February 11, 2019

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17 KJV).

Are we ignorant—or actually willingly ignorant?

Recently, a dear Christian brother lamented that he was “ignorant” of the Bible. I quickly corrected him. We are all ignorant of Scripture to some degree. No man on Earth today knows the Bible as he ought to know—even he who has memorized 15,000 verses is not guaranteed exemplary spiritual discernment and superior Bible understanding!

Certainly, it is no sin to be uniformed about Holy Writ. The problem is when we are willfully or deliberately unfamiliar with it. After all, it is easier to remain uneducated. Preconceived notions remain unchallenged. Religious tradition is hard to abandon. Habits are not easy to change. Second Peter chapter 3 speaks of Bible mockers who intentionally overlook historical truth—namely, the Great Deluge of Noah’s day—because it contradicts their “things never change” prejudice:

“[3] Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, [4] And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. [5] For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: [6] Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:….”

The Bible’s definition of “sin” is Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way….” Proverbs chapter 18 adds: “Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself” (verses 1,2). The fool has an agenda, a “pet” idea or system, and has no interest in changing it on account of the Bible. Thus, he pleads ignorance—willful ignorance! Dear friends, may we not be numbered with him. We are ignorant, yes, but we are nevertheless endeavoring to correct and refine our distorted thinking by “studying… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Striving, Not Striving #5

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Philippians chapter 2 continues: “[5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Here is the “mind” all Christians should have. It is a mental attitude of utter selflessness, total humility, and undivided dedication to Father God’s will. Dear brethren, if we would believe and obey these verses, then the inconsequential disagreements and stupid arguments would disappear from our local churches. We would set aside self and look to benefit others. If Euodias and Syntyche followed these Divine instructions, then they would “be of the same mind in the Lord.”

Now, we turn back to Philippians chapter 1: “[27] Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; [28] And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.”

Recall that “the gospel of Christ” focuses on Christ’s finished crosswork. Philippians 2:5-8 reports that a certain mentality drove Christ to Calvary. If we adopt His attitude, then we will “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Our passion will be the defense of sound Bible doctrine as opposed to trifling opinions and self-centeredness. Then, our efforts will make a positive impact in eternity—something well worth our time and effort! 🙂

Striving, Not Striving #4

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

As in every city, there were in Philippi “adversaries” or lost people contrary to the preaching of the Gospel (Philippians 1:28). They labored to frighten the Philippian saints into silence. Hence, verse 27 had exhorted these believers: Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel….” All Christians are on the same team, and should (!) be with each other (in mind and action) in the work of the ministry.

However, our sinful flesh gets in the way. The work of the ministry breaks down when one or more Christians adopt an attitude or opinion the Scriptures do not support. Now, lost and saved, those within and without, are united in upsetting God’s work. Philippians chapter 2 corrects this sin of pride of selfishness: “[1] If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, [2] Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. [3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Like team sports, each member should be thinking about how to make the next point or goal. Inner conflicts are counterproductive: they do not compete against teammates. Likewise, we should not be vying against fellow members of the Body of Christ. It is not about us. We do not have to have the attention or recognition (what the flesh craves). For the sake of God’s work, Paul asks Euodias and Syntyche to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” God’s mind should unite all Christians….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt?’

Striving, Not Striving #3

Friday, February 8, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Of all the tens of thousands of “Christian” assemblies, many are simply specimens of denominationalists as opposed to members of the Church the Body of Christ. They have neither known the clear Grace Gospel nor believed it. Most of all, saved or lost, the vast majority are spiritually immature. To them, drapery colors, upholstery fabrics, flooring, and wallpaper are worth fighting over. They, ignorant of sound Bible doctrine, cannot contend for the more excellent. Envy and gossip, not Bible study and charity, pervade their services. They engage in philanthropy but not spirituality.

In today’s Scripture, two Christian women are striving with each other concerning some unspecified disagreement. Whatever the case, it was a petty issue causing major disruption. There is a running joke, with some basis, that these believers in Christ are “Odious” (as obnoxious or unbearable) and “Soon-touchy” (as grumpy or quarrelsome). Notice Paul—yea, the Holy Spirit—never bothered to say whether Euodias was right or Syntyche was right. Why? Ultimately, they were both wrong! They were reminiscent of the childish, schismatic saints at Corinth from years earlier: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

The undisclosed issue between Euodias and Syntyche was not one of doctrine—for we should always contend for the faith, defend the doctrine—but something insignificant. It was not worth fighting over. Time and energy would continue to be wasted in pursuing this trivial matter that was hindering God’s ministry at Philippi. Rather than striving together for the Gospel, they were full of strife and thus contrary to the Gospel. Essentially, they were doing the Devil’s work for him! Satan does not have to labor, for even Christians, unfortunately, can (and often do) undermine God’s work….

Wise or Foolish? #7

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:…. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand…” (Matthew 7:24,26 KJV).

Dear friends, are we wise—or foolish?

Contrary to popular belief, the Gospel message preached in Christ’s earthly ministry was not our message. Jesus dying for people’s sins was not their good news; nevertheless, God had words for them to believe. In an abbreviated form, it is, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus Himself preached it in Matthew 4:17. Matthew 9:35 summarizes, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” This is not “the Gospel of the Grace of God,” the title of the message we preach today (Acts 20:24; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

Matthew 16:15,16 summarize the heart of the Gospel of the Kingdom: “[Jesus] saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” There is nothing here about Calvary (Jesus dying for sins). Contrariwise, it is all about who He is—He is Christ/Messiah, God’s Anointed One, Israel’s King (John 1:41,49). It is not about what He will do (as in the crosswork), but rather who He is. These believers are safe from being deceived when (counterfeit) Antichrist arises.

Jesus Christ is “the Rock” of the Bible, the sure foundation (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Peter 2:3-8; 1 Corinthians 3:11). However, if we fail to build on Him, it will be a disaster (cf. today’s Scripture). There will be such dissatisfaction if we neglect to see Jesus Christ according to the preaching of the revelation of Paul’s mystery (Romans 16:25,26). Furthermore, beyond our dispensation, those who accept Antichrist when he is revealed will be disappointed after they see the ruin and misery he brings them. As Christ said Himself, they are deceived, debilitated, and great will be their fall—eternally damned!

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Wise or Foolish? #6

Monday, February 4, 2019

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:…. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand…” (Matthew 7:24,26 KJV).

Dear friends, are we wise—or foolish?

In Israel’s prophetic program and our mystery program, having the right doctrine is essential. Without sound Bible doctrine, we will fall for Satan’s lie program. Millions of confused people currently attend “Christian” church services. They could not identify the truth if their lives depended on it. Millions upon millions more—those in the world religions—do not use the Holy Bible at all. If anyone is using Scripture, it is often not handled dispensationally. Dear friends, it is not enough to have Bible doctrine; it is much more important to have sound Bible doctrine.

“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). We must, must, must (!) rightly divide God’s Word—making the distinctions that He Himself has already made. Therefore, Paul spoke of himself as “a wise masterbuilder” (1 Corinthians 3:10), and warned us to be careful what we build into our inner man. If it is not God’s wisdom for this dispensation, His knowledge for this dispensation, His understanding for this dispensation, then it is not applicable to this dispensation. The Lord Jesus Christ gave to the Apostle Paul “the Dispensation of the Grace of God,” and he gave it to us Gentiles (Ephesians 3:2). If we disregard Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, we will be just as unwise as the foolish man of today’s Scripture. We will be susceptible to Satan’s wiles, his tricks, designed to fool us.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ cautioned His audience concerning false prophets. We have many such liars in our midst even now—people who claim to be speaking for the God of the Bible, but they are not. Their words do not match Paul’s inspired writings. May we rather be like the wise man of today’s Scripture, who built on the things Jesus Christ spoke to him….