Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #4

Friday, December 6, 2019

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:8-11 KJV).

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

“Come, Desire of nations come
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart!
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

Angels can sing about God’s operations, but, unlike us humans, they cannot sing about salvation in Jesus Christ. When we read today’s Scripture, there should be leaping for joy! The God of creation, the God of the Holy Bible, the God of Christianity, has attempted to mend the broken relationship between Him and us. He has done everything to save us from our sinful selves and our utter foolishness. He can do no more than Calvary. Those merits of Christ’s finished crosswork cannot benefit us individually unless we individually appropriate them by faith. There is no merit in our faith, but there is immeasurable merit in what Jesus Christ did. We either agree with God by faith that Calvary’s finished crosswork is enough, or we ignore it and continue on our way to eternal hellfire. Simple indeed!

Reading from 2 Corinthians chapter 5: “[19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Do we agree with God by faith?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we pray to ‘bind evil spirits?’

Teamwork!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:20,21 KJV).

It is a group effort—guarding the principles of grace given us.

Recently, I attended another one of my niece’s softball tournaments. Those young women have greatly matured in the last two years. By trial and error, training and careful thought, they have learned exactly what it takes to be victorious. It does not come easy, as “teamwork” really is about cooperating with others instead of operating alone. There are great frustrations. Situations look grim, maybe hopeless. In the midst of it all is the foreboding feeling of wanting to give up. Much effort is required to achieve anything important. The Christian ministry is quite similar.

Brethren, we have the Bible—God’s “playbook” that also lays out how our Adversary (Satan) works as the opposing team. The Holy Spirit has already outlined therein what Father God is doing today as well as what the Devil is doing to contest it. Grace has given us the privilege of serving with other Christians to gain the advantage with sound Bible doctrine.

If we want to “train up” in the world’s way, learning how lost people think and applying that to life, we most certainly can do it. While not what God originally wanted for us, He is more than willing to give us over to “do our own thing.” We will “swing the bat at nothing”—too high, too low, too fast, too slow (struggling and imprecise). If we do manage to run toward a base, again, we run too slow or too fast—not reaching the base, or passing it and being tagged out. Tripping, we fall, unable to achieve that higher level of maturity and work.

We can do the work of the ministry, and see God’s words and will be conveyed to the masses. Or, we can fall victim to infighting and self-defeat. Unless we give careful thought to what we are doing—what Father God is doing—we will be weak and incompetent. Far better we remain in the “dugout” than go out “on the field” inexperienced and stumbling; more harm than good will result with recklessness!

What Pleases God #8

Saturday, November 9, 2019

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we will define exactly what God thinks well of….

“He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me” (2 Samuel 22:20; cf. Psalm 18:19). King David celebrates after JEHOVAH God “delighted” (was pleased with) him and delivered him from all his enemies. This previews believing Israel’s future deliverance at Christ’s Second Coming, liberated from Satan and all other Jew-haters. “For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

When compared to His Son’s perfect sacrifice of Himself on Calvary’s cross, God has “no pleasure” in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin (Hebrews 10:6-8). As concerning us Christians in the Body of Christ, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). God has “no pleasure” in hearts of unbelief (Hebrews 10:38). He was “not well pleased” with a large number of Jews who came out of Egypt (1 Corinthians 10:5); hence, they died in unbelief in the wilderness in the Book of Numbers. As Israel killed Messiah Jesus, and then persecuted and slew His Apostles and their converts during the Acts period, the Holy Spirit commented on how the Jews “please not God” (1 Thessalonians 2:15).

“But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased (Psalm 115:3; cf. Psalm 135:6). “By him [Christ] therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:15,16). “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs” (Psalm 69:30,31). Saints, we know what pleases God! Now, how will we respond? 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the ‘appearing’ of the Lord in 2 Timothy 4:8?

What Pleases God #7

Friday, November 8, 2019

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we will define exactly what God thinks well of….

Ephesians 1:6 says Father God “hath made us accepted in the beloved.” The Greek word rendered “accepted” is “charitoo,” translated “highly favoured” in Luke 1:28. (“Charis” is Greek for “grace.”) It naturally follows that since we are God’s children, our activities should reflect our identity. Just as we please God positionally—in Christ, sharing all His traits (righteous, holy, beloved of God, et cetera)—so we should please Him practically by letting that identity transform our lifestyles on a daily basis.

First Thessalonians chapter 4: “[1] Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. [2] For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. [3] For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: [4] That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; [5] Not in the lust of concupiscence [strong desire], even as the Gentiles which know not God: [6] That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. [7] For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

Sinners cannot help but sin; sin is all the “old man,” the old nature, knows! Saints, however, are “freed from sin” (Romans 6:7); sin does not have dominion over us. We can choose to take our stand by faith in Pauline doctrine, and walk in accordance with it. When our conduct matches Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, we please Father God. The Holy Spirit is “grieved” (saddened) when we “quench” (hinder, prevent) Him from working in our lives (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Let us now summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

What Pleases God #5

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we will define exactly what God thinks well of….

Paul’s epistles make four references to God’s “good pleasure.” Ephesians chapter 1: “[4] According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: [5] Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, [6] To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

“[7] In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; [8] Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] 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:….” It delighted Father God to make us the Church the Body of Christ a part of His will for creation! We, a corporate entity, will glorify His Son in the heavenly places!

Philippians chapter 2: “[12] Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. [13] For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Second Thessalonians chapter 1: “[11] Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: [12] That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Until we get to the heavenly places, it is Father God’s good pleasure to use us now on earth….

One Another

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 KJV).

Grace living is living for othersnot for self.

A dear sister in Christ shared her distresses with me regarding appalling posts she had seen on social media from fellow “Christians” (?). The wife of a “grace” pastor wrote something highly inappropriate. On another website, the sister saw a video where members of another assembly acted like fools with their “contemporary Christian music.” Here, their pastor had joined them in the entertainment! Most disastrous!!!

It is lamentable, but Christians often have no one to blame but themselves when lost people refuse to hear them talk about the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures. Unsaved souls see right through hypocrisy—especially in places where “righteousness” is proclaimed loudly and proudly. We have far too many individuals in denominational churches—and that number, sadly, is growing among “grace” circles—engaging in flagrant (open!) misconduct. Have they no shame? The church members? Not even the preachers and teachers? No wonder the complaint is lodged (and certainly with merit): “You Christians use grace as a license to sin!”

In contrast to Judaism, Christianity is certainly not a list of “dos” and “don’ts.” Yet, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 declares: “[1] Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. [2] For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. [3] For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: [4] That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; [5] Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: [6] That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. [7] For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

We are free in Christ—to serve others (not self!).

Once Fallen Short, Now Rejoicing #8

Monday, October 21, 2019

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 KJV).

Here is the bad news… Now, the good news….

Today’s Scripture should frighten sinners: how fearful it is to be “in Adam,” just one breath away from eternal hellfire, perpetually under the wrath of a righteous God! The Creator demands absolute (perfect) righteousness, what we naturally do not have. Struggling and striving to perform our religious “good” works, we offer these measly deeds that cannot and do not compare to Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice of Himself on Calvary’s cross. Our religious performance does not impress God, for it comes from a sinful heart “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). This truth is most offensive to our flesh!

While we look better than some, we also look worse than others, so comparing ourselves among ourselves is not wise. Overall, God’s righteousness is the standard—and all people fall short of it. Being a “sinner” is not being worse than other humans; a sinner is someone unable to express the Creator God’s glory (who He is, what He believes, and what He does). God’s justice demands His righteousness be enforced, and—indeed, a terrifying prospect—endless punishment will eventually come on sinners (those who lack that righteousness)!

Having believed on Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, His righteousness has been credited to our account, and we as saints “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1,2). We need not try to reproduce Christ’s life; it is our eternal possession! We need not fake a relationship with Almighty God; we have it now forever! We need not pretend like we have forgiveness; it is our eternal possession. We need not wonder about the Creator God’s glory. Through Calvary, we know… our eternal life now will carry on into eternity future! 🙂

“That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory(1 Thessalonians 2:12). “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 (2 Timothy 2:10). “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).