A Life That Will Please

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can live a life pleasing in God’s sight!

Everyone does “good” deeds. Yet, doing “good” is not necessarily good. For instance, people often do “good” just to receive praise/reward, make up for their wrongs, feel good, et cetera. Furthermore, despite our “good” deeds, we have plenty more bad ones! Pride, lying, evil thoughts, being a false witness, and being contentious are some of the things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Mankind cannot even keep 10 simple rules from God. However, religion continues to urge us to keep seven sacraments, utter various prayers, give assorted offerings and “tithes,” attend numerous feasts and festivals, and perform sundry other tasks to “hopefully” please God and avoid hellfire. Whether we attempt to keep a church’s laws, our laws, or God’s laws, our flesh is far too weak to ever measure up. Just look at what God’s religion did to Israel—how much worse some man-made religion does to us!

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a religious leader of Israel. He was a nitpicker concerning Law-keeping, and yet, after his soul salvation, he admitted that all of his religion was “but dung” compared to Jesus Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:3-11). Even for the Christian, to live a perfect life is impossible (read of Paul’s miserable existence in Romans chapter 7). Paul had to forsake his vain religion and learn today’s Scripture: the Christian life is NOT the performance of the Christian, but the Lord Jesus Christ living and working in the Christian, as the Christian walks in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to him or her!

If we trust a Saviour who will save—the Lord Jesus Christ—and trust a Book that will teach—the King James Bible—we can redeem the year for the great God and our Saviour, “who loved [us], and gave himself for [us]!” 🙂

Redeem the Year!

Sunday, January 1, 2023

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17 KJV).

What great advice for 2023!

Despite 2,000 years of Bible schools and seminaries, 2,000 years of a completed Bible canon, 2,000 years of Bible reading in churches, several decades of “Christian” television and radio, and just over a decade of widespread use of “Christian” websites, how sad that Bible ignorance is still quite extensive (it is as if God never gave His Word to start with!).

Frankly, the Church the Body of Christ needs to wake up! The verse previous to today’s Scripture says, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (verse 14). Paul, loosely quoting Isaiah 60:1, reminded us that the spiritual ignorance that gripped Israel in Isaiah’s day seized Christians in his day—and it still grips Christians 20 centuries later. Feel-good sermons, enjoyable “worship” services, and rites, rituals, and ceremonies will NOT solve this problem—they exacerbate it!

“[God] will have all men to be saved…” (1 Timothy 2:4a). Do you want this New Year to count for God’s glory? First, you need to get saved from sins and hell! You need to become a Christian by trusting in and relying on Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for your sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). That is only part of God’s will for you, for 1 Timothy 2:4b continues, “[God] will have all men… to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Now, God’s will for your Christian life is daily, personal Bible study to renew your mind, so your faith in those verses can cause God to work in your life—it will be His life, thus making you “perfect [spiritually mature], throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

Today’s Scripture urges us to buy back the time Satan has robbed from God (time created for God’s glory). By faith, we need to make that time glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by applying His Word, particularly Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, to our lives. Have a good year in Christ! 🙂

You can download our free “One-Year Bible Reading Schedule.”

See our archived Bible Q&A: “What Scriptural advice can you give me for the New Year?

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!”

Religion has done an excellent job (wrongly) teaching us that God likes to rehabilitate humans—that He wants to make us quit doing certain things (“fleshly”) and make us start doing other things (“churchy”). What a very shallow, and actually a false, perception. God wants to do much more than what we could ever do by ourselves.

For good works to reign in our lives, God has to kill us! As sinners, in Adam, we are dead in our trespasses and sins, no life in ourselves (see today’s Scripture). Nothing we can do in our own strength will ever change our (sinful) nature in Adam. However, God offers us death to Adam and a new identity through Christ at Calvary. When we trust that Jesus Christ died for our sins, in God’s mind, we died to sin, too. Christ did not simply die for us but as us. Romans chapters 5 through 8 describe the victory is in Christ, not in Adam or in ourselves. Success is by the power of the Holy Ghost working with the grace doctrines we study and believe, not in our struggles to do right. And so, “Christ [is] formed in [us]” (Galatians 4:19).

Something about which the angels cannot sing, but we can, should, and do! 🙂

Let the Lord Praise Thee

Friday, November 25, 2022

Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips (Proverbs 27:2 KJV).

Friend, instead of praising yourself, let someone else do it….

Writing about himself online, a religious man itemized his many “saintly” accomplishments—how he was active in his community, joining this group, leading that group, and on and on and on. He doubtless impressed his audience and thus received significant commendation.

Likewise, we read of a boastful religious Pharisee: “And he [Jesus] spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publicanI fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14). Observe the contrasts. Israel was composed of some humble people (believers who recognized their need for the Saviour—such as this publican or tax collector), but it also abounded with the proud (self-righteous, religious, unbelieving people—such as this Pharisaical leader in Israel who was obsessed with “I,” “I,” “I,” “I,” “I”).

“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God (1 Corinthians 4:3-5). Friend, instead of praising yourself, let God do it! 🙂

That I Might Save Some of Them #4

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13,14 KJV).

The operative term here is “some!”

Dear brethren in Christ, the Apostle Paul never realized his ministry would last 2,000 (!) years, that God would extend His grace, mercy, and peace to all people without distinction for 20 centuries. Despite the persecution, his ministry was not a waste of time after all, was it? Has it not eternally touched and benefited even us?

We are not omniscient (all-knowing), so we can never really gauge with certainty whom we are impacting with the Holy Bible and our testimony. For example, as we share sound doctrine electronically (online written studies and videos, especially through social media) and/or physically (Bible and Gospel tract distribution, Christian literature circulation), there is no practical way to estimate just whom that information will reach or may already be reaching. Imagine those tremendous implications.

Leave a Gospel tract in a public place. Potentially, not only will one soul read it and believe its verses, he or she might share it with 100 others (and you will know nothing about it!). Maybe a pastor of thousands will be reached, and he will broadcast those Bible verses to his congregation. You might post an online Bible study video, receive just a few “likes,” and assume you made little to no difference. However, what you do not know is the countless people who saw and accepted that information in secret (if they were to publicly admit it by “liking” it would jeopardize their social status!). What you will never learn until you get to Heaven is the hundreds, thousands, or millions of souls the Lord used you to reach—“strangers” from around the world, to whom you ministered via videos and books, people you influenced decades (or even centuries) after your death!

Overall, though, we do not endeavor to save “most” or even “many” people from their spiritual error (blindness, darkness, impotence, immaturity). We conduct our grace ministries as the Holy Spirit enables, “if by any means… [we] might save some of them.”

That I Might Save Some of Them #3

Monday, November 21, 2022

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13,14 KJV).

The operative term here is “some!”

Writing during the Acts period, Paul lamented in Romans chapter 10, verses 1-3: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Before coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul himself had been a fanatical works-religion man (even a leader) for many years in Judaism, so, as Saul of Tarsus, he was most familiar with self-righteous people who assumed they did not need the Saviour (see Acts 22:1-3, Acts 26:1-11, and Philippians 3:1-11).

Re-read Acts 9:20; Acts 13:5,14; Acts 14:1; Acts 17:1-4,10,11,17; and Acts 18:4,5. These are some of the passages that feature Paul’s “provoking” ministry to apostate Israel (it actually covered Acts chapters 9–28). When lost Jews saw and heard Paul exercising their (Israel’s) spiritual gifts amongst the Gentiles (speaking in tongues, physical healing, and so on—see 2 Corinthians 12:12), that indicated to lost Israel that God had moved from them (lost Israel) and gone to Gentiles through Paul’s ministry! If these lost Jews were receptive to Paul’s miracles and message, they too would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as Paul himself had: they would have to become like Paul’s Gentile converts (believe the Gospel of Grace of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, thereby joining the Church the Body of Christ). However, as the Book of Acts bears out, Jewish opposition against Paul intensified, until his horrendous final pronouncement of Acts 28:25-28 (read verses 17-29 for the context).

Yet, always remember, Paul’s Acts ministry was not a waste, for it had numerous Jewish converts (see Acts 13:43; Acts 17:1-4,10-12; Acts 18:7-11; Acts 19:15-18; Acts 28:23,24). Likewise, though our ministry endeavors seem fruitless, hopeless, and pointless, we never know whom the Lord is reaching….

Arrayed in Hypocrisy

Monday, October 31, 2022

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27,28 KJV).

“Looks can be deceiving” is not only true during Halloweentime, but confirmed year-round within Christendom.

Today is Halloween, when children dress up and feign themselves to be creatures they are not. Likewise, many church leaders today wear “Christian” garbs, but their ministries do not bring the Lord Jesus Christ glory and honor. They promote their denomination, and seek to perpetuate it, rather than serve and exalt the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. The Bible manifests these who appear to be good, as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

In today’s Scripture, Jesus Christ exposed Israel’s corrupt religious leaders who misled the nation in His day. In His Parable of the Tares, Matthew 13:24-30,37-43, Christ explained how just as He had sown good seed (wheat, believing Jews) in Israel, Satan had also sown tares/weeds (unbelieving Jews). Tares resemble wheat; unbelieving Jews resemble believing Jews. The unbelieving Pharisees and scribes, for instance, looked like God’s people (believing Israel). Judas Iscariot was another example of Satan’s tares—the apostles never realized who Judas really was until it was too late!

But Satan’s counterfeit believers are not confined to Israel’s program. Today, within local assemblies of the Body of Christ, there are people feigning themselves to be Christians: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Beloved, beware of the church leaders who are arrayed in hypocrisy, “and avoid them” (Romans 16:17b). If their teaching does not agree with the rightly divided King James Bible, you have no business as a child of God to be listening to them.

*This is excerpted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see our special study, “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?” In addition, “What does the Bible say about ghosts?

Saved or Lost? #25

Sunday, September 25, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

They were really saved people, just thinking and acting like lost people. Such is still true of millions! Had God’s Word rightly divided actually been received and believed in the heart, we the Church the Body of Christ would be walking in God’s power and will: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

While the number of genuine Christians has always been low, the percentage of confused Christians has always been high. It is not that “Satan is so powerful,” but rather they have allowed his evil world system to place them into a mold of silly thoughts and unsightly deeds. The Holy Spirit wishes true believers in Christ heed His advice in Romans 12:1,2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren [Christians!!!], by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world [it can happen!!!]: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We close with the following true story. Several years ago, I tried to prevent it but nevertheless witnessed it come to pass. It was the fall of my spiritual mentor, someone under whose ministry I trained for over a decade and whom I still love dearly in the Lord. The entire controversy was painful and devastating beyond words, but, lest I fall with that grace Christian leader, I had to separate from him because of his apostasy (willful doctrinal error and unapologetic dishonesty and treachery). Indeed, we will meet in Heaven and only then will we be restored to fellowship, two saved men whose ministries Satan’s evil world system targeted—one destroyed and the other still not immune from ruin!

-FINIS!-

Saved or Lost? #24

Saturday, September 24, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

The Apostle Paul’s last epistle (2 Timothy) communicates in chapter 4: “[1] I charge [instruct, order] thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant [ready, prepared] in season [convenient times], out of season [inconvenient times]; reprove [cause them to see], rebuke [criticize them], exhort [encourage, urge them] with all longsuffering [patience, put up with it, suffer it a long time!] and doctrine [teaching worth trusting].” Why?“[3] For the time will come when they will not endure [bear/tolerate/stomach] sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. [5] But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Timothy was (we are) to keep on with ministry (sound Bible teaching, Pauline, grace-oriented information), despite the prevalent doctrinal perversion and apostasy (forsaking the truth, whether in or out of churches). Saints, we should be willing to do what we can to reach confused Christians and confused non-Christians alike—and, yes, they are usually nearly impossible to distinguish from each other. I know it is easier to throw up our hands and give in, exclaiming, “This is just not worth it! No one wants to listen! We live in a hopelessly chaotic world! Let them all go to Hell in their ignorance!” Yet, the fact remains we have in sound Bible doctrine all the answers they need—and, if we escaped their errors, they can too… those few who want it. We should make special effort to be a light to them, if at all possible, particularly those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe.

Let us (finally) conclude this devotionals arc….

Saved or Lost? #23

Friday, September 23, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

Scripture describes church leaders as God’s doorkeepers, watching over and guarding local assemblies from any and all error (re-read Acts 20:28-32!). If pastors, bishops, teachers, and preachers would believe and teach sound Bible doctrine (God’s Word rightly divided), false teaching (even non-rightly-divided verses) could be easily refuted. Neither these leaders nor their vulnerable congregants would be led astray.

Alas, for 20 centuries now, the professing church (especially its leadership) has paid almost no attention to the Lord’s special ministry through the Apostle Paul. Sure, they know of Paul, and a great many actually study and quote his writings, but nearly all people throughout church history have made Paul’s ministry a continuation of the 12 Apostles’ ministry, a mere commentator on “the church Jesus founded in Matthew to John,” an extension of the prophetic program, thereby hiding and destroying the very reason for Paul’s ministry (to operate the mystery program, separate and distinct from prophecy—to form the Church the Body of Christ, separate and distinct from the nation Israel).

For 2,000 years now, to Satan’s delight, we have wasted an unfathomable amount of time and energy teaching “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:3,4)—too willful and proud to change our course even up to this present hour. Behold, the dismal results! So many souls profess “belief in Christ,” but it is extremely difficult to discern who is a confused Christian (bound for Heaven, yet thinking like someone headed to Hell) and who is a confused non-Christian (bound for Hell, and lacking discernment to realize it).

Verily, verily, the Lord reads the hearts of all, and He knows the difference between a true (albeit misinformed) member of the Body of Christ and just some lost member of a counterfeit group. Brethren, we need to make sure we are walking in the spiritual light that we have, for, if we are grateful, we will gain more understanding concerning God’s will for us.

Let us (finally) summarize this devotionals arc….