Keep Your Fork! #12

Saturday, August 20, 2022

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6,7 KJV).

Will Heaven be a boring place? (It is a resounding “NO!”)

Dear saints, we “keep our fork” because we know “dessert” is coming: Heaven is real, it is organized, it is defiled, and it will be restored (here is our eternal destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ). Even the “best thrills and chills” that life on Earth has to offer us do not compare to what lies ahead for we who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour. Only the depths of God’s infinite wisdom are the limit!

It has been estimated that there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on all of Earth’s beaches. (Try to wrap your mind around that!) These celestial bodies, where the angels live, are mostly unknown to us because of their extreme distances from us. There are innumerable worlds—planets, bodies of rock, ice, and gas—no human has ever visited. Father God has deemed them our realm of influence in the ages to come. Therefore, we must receive glorified physical bodies that can function in outer space.

“For our conversation [lifestyle reflecting citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things [the offices of government!] unto himself” (Philippians 3:20,21). After reflecting on God’s magnificent plans for us in the ages to come (covered in the first three chapters), the Apostle Paul burst into a doxology or praise of God: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen (Ephesians 3:20,21). May we too reply with a hearty, “Amen!”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is a ‘sop?’

Keep Your Fork! #11

Friday, August 19, 2022

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6,7 KJV).

Will Heaven be a boring place? (It is a resounding “NO!”)

For many, “church” is just a “humbling” place where someone prattles in monotone about superstitious nonsense. Yawns can be frequently heard, and sagging heads and closed eyes can be seen regularly: here, it is a sin to whisper anything save a prayer. (Now we see why this strict, ceremonial setting is usually abandoned for an assembly “more exciting.” At this new “church,” dancing, jumping, lifting of hands, singing for hours—such entertainment, such “praise and worship”—will attract newcomers indefinitely!)

Though religion is tiresome and Christendom dull, life in Christ (whether now or in Heaven) is something else entirely. According to today’s Scripture, we the saints in the Body of Christ are bound for the heavenly places. In God’s mind, we already share in Christ’s influence there. We have been ascended and we sit together (as in seats of authority) in heavenly places in Christ. Father God’s purpose or intent in the endless ages to come is to “shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Grace, all that He can do for and with us through Christ’s finished crosswork, can be appreciated to some degree now, though its fullest extent surpasses our finite minds.

Furthermore, it is not merely “grace” but “the exceeding [beyond, above] riches [resources, treasures, reserves] of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” How we are so undeserving, but what Father God will do in and through us in eternity future is something so exceptional that it will take a literal forever to completely fathom it. His kindness to involve us in what He is doing and will do with His beloved Son—instead of letting us go to a permanent Devil’s Hell that we have so merited as sinners—is something that still escapes our total comprehension even now.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Keep Your Fork! #10

Thursday, August 18, 2022

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6,7 KJV).

Will Heaven be a boring place? (It is a resounding “NO!”)

Prior to the Apostle Paul’s execution, he wrote: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18). This loops back to chapter 2: “[8] Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: [9] Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. [10] Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. [11] It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: [12] If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: [13] If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Remember, there is a kingdom in Heaven (currently defiled by Satan’s angels, but a kingdom nonetheless). Jesus Christ, heir to King David’s throne, will extend His earthly government into the heavenly places—and here is our “inheritance” and destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ (recall Ephesians 1:8-12). “Eternal glory” is the praise and honor the Lord Jesus Christ will receive in and through us because of the fulfillment of our Father’s “eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11).

To wit, Father God’s plan to exalt His Son throughout the endless ages to come involves our appointment in the heavenly offices of government and Israel’s appointment in the earthly offices of government. All saints—filled with Christ’s life and teaching His doctrine—glorify Him by “reigning with him” in their respective roles. As today’s Scripture reveals, Heaven, like Earth, will be a realm of intense activity and profound instruction in eternity future….

Keep Your Fork! #9

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6,7 KJV).

Will Heaven be a boring place? (It is a resounding “NO!”)

Obviously, Heaven is where angels live (see Matthew 24:36, Mark 12:25, Luke 2:15, Revelation 12:7, et cetera). Yet, they can (and do!) look down at our tiny planet and watch us as we go about our daily routines. Ephesians 3:9-11 informs: “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:….” To wit, Paul’s goal in ministry was to reach everyone, every nation, he could with the Gospel of Grace, so more human souls would believe and join the Body of Christ. God’s “manifold [multifaceted, complex] wisdom” would then be displayed in these saints’ lives, and the angels of Heaven would view and learn spiritual truths!

By God’s design, while angels have intellects far superior to our own, they must rely on believers in Christ to learn Bible truth (especially that which pertains to our salvation, which they can never experience themselves). First Peter chapter 1: “[10] Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: [11] Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. [12] Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”

As our ministry on Earth involves teaching angels Bible truth, so will our ministry in Heaven….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Was Christ’s earthly ministry an ‘epic failure?’

Categorized! #1

Saturday, April 23, 2022

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night (Revelation 12:10 KJV).

Behold, the evil categorizer!

In “the ages to come,” after our (“but now”) Dispensation of Grace has terminated, today’s Scripture will be brought to pass. Let us read it in context to get the flow of meaning: “[7] And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, [8] And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

“[10] And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. [11] And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. [12] Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”

These verses provide us with several names or titles for God’s chief enemy—“the great dragon” (Greek, “drakon;” a huge, snake-like monster), “that old serpent” (a sneaky or dishonest being that has existed for a long time; Genesis 3:1 and 2 Corinthians 11:3,4), “Devil” (Greek, “diabolos,” “throw through” or divide; as in creating rifts between Creator and creation or creature and creature), and “Satan” (Hebrew, “satan,” “adversary;” as in, rival of the truth). Another designation is he is the “accuser of our brethren.” Let us study this label by searching the Scriptures….

Joy to the World! #3

Monday, December 13, 2021

“For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3 KJV).

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

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.”

God’s Word to Adam just after he sinned included the following pronouncement, “…[C]ursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee” (Genesis 3:17,18). This is part of the “bondage of corruption” of which Romans 8:21 speaks. Sin tainted creation. Thorns and thistles began to grow, making Adam’s labor in the field even more grueling. Paradise was indeed lost… but not forever!

When God created the heaven and the earth, He selected a special location on Earth as His home. Exodus 15:17,18 say: “Thou shalt bring them [Israel] 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 LORD shall reign for ever and ever.” Isaiah 40:22 says God “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” While Adam’s sinful actions delayed God’s earthly kingdom, God would take care of those mistakes and still accomplish His original intention.

Israel’s mistakes further delayed God’s earthly kingdom. However, God will restore Earth’s ecology to its original, pre-Fall (pre-sin) conditions. This is true especially of Zion, Jerusalem, which will be the global and universal capital city. There will be joy and gladness, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. All believers in heaven (Body of Christ) and earth (redeemed Israel) will join the angels in song. The curse has been lifted, and Jesus Christ has been exalted (Isaiah 11:1-9)!

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #3

Friday, December 10, 2021

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13,14 KJV).

The fifth verse and the final verse of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“Thus spake the angel and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels, praising God, and thus
Addressed their joyful song:
‘All glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease
Begin and never cease.’”

People who know nothing about the Bible carelessly complain that the God of the Old Testament was a “bigot.” They dislike that He dealt almost exclusively with Israel, having almost no dealings with Gentiles. Additionally, they whine that Jesus was a “racist” because He said that His earthly ministry was limited to Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24). What fools and blasphemers!

When JEHOVAH promised Abraham that He would make of him a great nation, that nation was to be the channel of God’s salvation and blessing to reach all the world’s (Gentile) nations. “…[I]n thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Rebuking ignorant Nicodemus, Jesus said of Israel’s earthly kingdom: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus also said, “…[R]epentance and remission of sins should be preached in [my] name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). He told His apostles to baptize and teach all nations(Matthew 28:19). God was dealing with and converting Israel, that redeemed Israel go to all nations on His behalf when Jesus became their King!!! Read Zechariah 8:20-23 and Isaiah 60:1-3 (yet future).

Hence, the angels sang at Jesus’ birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” God wanted everyone“good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (verse 10)—to have a relationship with Him in Israel’s kingdom. Of course, Israel’s kingdom is still future. Romans 11:11-13 says salvation is coming to us Gentiles without Israel, through Paul’s ministry and Paul’s Gospel (Christ’s finished crosswork).

NOTE: I want to say a special “Happy Birthday” to my Mom, who will no doubt read this. Thank you for being faithful to Father God in leading me to Jesus Christ and teaching me the Scriptures all those years ago! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How do we ‘pray without ceasing?’

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #2

Thursday, December 9, 2021

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11,12 KJV).

The third and fourth verses of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“‘To you, in David’s town, this day,
Is born of David’s line
A Savior, who is Christ the Lord;
And this shall be the sign
And this shall be the sign.
The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swaddling-clothes
And in a manger laid
And in a manger laid.’”

Bethlehem-Judah—not to be confused with the Bethlehem of northern Israel—was known for being King David’s birthplace (1 Samuel 16:18). It was also where his great-grandmother Ruth had lived (Ruth 1:19). But, Bethlehem-Judah (or Bethlehem-Ephratah, or Bethlehem-Judaea) was no Jerusalem, or Rome, or Alexandria, major cities at that time. Nevertheless, the shadows/types/previews were present.

Jesus Christ had come to fulfill the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-16). He is the Son of David who can accomplish the governmental part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Reading from Luke chapter 1: “[31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: [33] And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” God had His Son born in Bethlehem of Judah, the same place where King David was born 1,000 years earlier!

The angel said it was easy for the shepherds to find Baby Jesus. There was only one Bethlehem-Judah, and there was only one manger in that little town that held a little Baby tightly wrapped in clothes. That little Baby would grow up to be a Man, mature and thus fully able to reign from David’s throne. No wonder the angels proceeded to sing such wonderful news!

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #1

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:8-10 KJV).

The first and second verses of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around
And glory shone around.
‘Fear not,’ said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds;
‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.’”

Due to the decree of some pagan Roman emperor, Joseph and pregnant Mary traveled some 70 miles (113 kilometers), from Nazareth to Bethlehem-Judah (Luke 2:1-7)! There, in little Bethlehem—a humble town rather than a magnificent world city—Israel’s King, yea the King of kings and Lord of lords, was born. Micah 5:2, written some 700 years earlier, was perfectly fulfilled: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Note that our King James Bible says Jesus Christ is “from everlasting,” demonstrating His deity. Modern versions water this down, saying “from ancient times/days.” Blasphemy!)

Not far from where Jesus was born and laid in the manger, shepherds were out that night guarding their flocks. (See, contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not born in wintertime. There is additional Scriptural evidence that it was early fall, very late September or very early October.) The angel of the Lord appeared to these shepherds. Angels appearing to Israel was usually some sign of judgment (see 2 Samuel 24:15-17, for example). When the shepherds of today’s Scripture saw the angel of the Lord, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, they were very fearful.

The angel reassured them with such wonderful news!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How many Bible teachers should someone have?

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

“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! 🙂