What Pleases God #2

Sunday, November 3, 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….

The Prophet Samuel reminded his ancient Israelite brethren of a historical reality they often disregarded: “For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people” (1 Samuel 12:22). JEHOVAH God was delighted to take the nation Israel and set them apart from all the world’s peoples (Genesis 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 4:1-10). With that special privilege (participation in doing God’s will) came great expectations (chastisement for not doing it). “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2).

Due to religious tradition, most see Him as a grouchy, bloodthirsty monster. However, the God of the Bible is much more than a God of wrath and punishment. When we prefer that He deal with us on the basis of our works (religion!), then, yes, He will be severe. His righteousness means absolute perfection, and His justice demands His righteous standard be met. Sin must be dealt with—a penalty must be meted out!

The God of the Bible takes pleasure in, approves of, His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53:10 speaks of Christ suffering and dying on Calvary’s cross: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand” (Isaiah 53:10). God the Father found value in His Son dying in our place, “the just [righteous] for the unjust [unrighteous]” (1 Peter 3:18). It pleased the Father that His Son be sacrificed for our sins; otherwise, we must pay for those sins by suffering in Hell’s endless flames!! God’s pleasure is that He wants to reveal to us His goodness, not our own. Once we see that, His pleasure can become our pleasure….

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).

A Sure Judgment

Saturday, May 4, 2019

“For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14 KJV).

Here, the Book of Ecclesiastes closes; here, we must rest.

As Bible-believing Christians, we cannot help but yearn for justice. There is far too much evil going unpunished. Even King Solomon, writing Ecclesiastes over 900 years before Christ, lamented: “So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter” (4:1). The downtrodden are helpless—their tormentors are strong!!

Solomon had written earlier, “And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work” (3:16,17). Even in the court system, evil prevailed when righteousness was expected! Life is quite puzzling—innumerable unanswered questions, inexplicable events, heartbreaking reversals, awful ironies!

Once he concluded his investigation, the King penned (today’s Scripture): “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” While there is much in life we simply cannot understand or explain, there is coming a day when all will be evaluated and set right. Righteousness will triumph in the Earth. The truth will be known, and the lie forever suppressed. Evildoers will be punished; God’s people will be delivered from their persecutors. The Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified in Heaven and Earth. Satan will be removed and placed into the Bottomless Pit (and, ultimately, the Lake of Fire).

The lost, or unsaved/damned, of the ages have not escaped God’s justice (see the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15). As for we believers in Christ, our sins are already paid for, and we will not be confronted with them: however, at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9,10), we will give an account for our Christian service on Earth. One way or another, lost and saved alike, justice will be meted out!

What a Stiff Neck! #5

Thursday, April 4, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

Scripture provides a portrait of the “stiff neck,” and it is anything but flattering. Firstly, it is antonymous to “yield yourself unto the LORD” (2 Chronicles 30:8; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:13). Secondly, it means to “resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:51)—refusing to listen to His words and obey them (Jeremiah 17:23). Thirdly, it stems from the heart, an internal sin nature that is contrary to how God designed Adam to function before he fell in sin (Deuteronomy 10:16; cf. Jeremiah 17:9). Fourthly, it originates iniquitous and sinful deeds or actions (Exodus 34:9; cf. Mark 7:20-23). Lastly, it results in God’s judgment (Exodus 33:5).

On one hand, whenever God observes anything that fails to meet His righteous standard, He must act to enforce a penalty. He cannot look at sin (Habakkuk 1:13). On the other hand, He is merciful, gracious, and forgiving toward the sinner (Exodus 34:6,7). He can hold back the wrath they deserve, He can give them pity that they do not deserve, and He can cancel the spiritual debt they have incurred. If we study the above verses as to how “stiffnecked” Israel behaved, and His responses, we see both realities on full display.

When they sinned, when they drew back from His leading, when they did the exact opposite of His commandments, there was chastisement to reform them (if they were willing to listen). Yet, He never completely wiped them off the face of the Earth, did He? Many times they deserved it, but He spared them. Despite all they have done against Him, He still has a plan for them even now, to make them His own and bless them beyond belief!!!

Let us conclude this devotionals arc by seeing a parallel concerning God’s dealings with individuals today….

These Three Men

Sunday, October 7, 2018

“Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 14:14 KJV).

These three historical figures—yes, they were real characters—would not have been enough to save Israel’s land from God’s wrath!

Noah lived centuries before the nation Israel was formed. “…Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Second Peter 2:5 remarks concerning the wicked, multimillions of violent people of that day: “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly….”

Daniel, a prophet and descendant of King David, had a ministry throughout the entire 70-year Babylonian captivity and beyond. A believing Jew in pagan and idolatrous Babylon, he risked his life to follow God rather than man. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). “Now when Daniel knew that the writing [law] was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:10).

Job was Jacob’s grandson through son Issachar (Genesis 46:13). His immense suffering under Satan’s hand is highlighted in the famous Bible Book that bears his name. Despite his many hardships, he declined to renounce his faith in his God. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8 cf. Job 2:3). “In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).

If Noah, Daniel, and Job lived in the land of Canaan, God would still not spare it. Israel had defiled it with pagan idolatry, especially Jerusalem (His capital city). The Lord GOD would remove those three men and then judge the land (see also Ezekiel 14:16,18,20)!

The Hottest Places in Eternity #11

Thursday, October 4, 2018

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city (Mark 6:11 KJV).

Are there degrees of punishment in Hell and the Lake of Fire? Indeed!

Lost individuals who received more Divine revelation will be held more accountable before Almighty God (cf. today’s Scripture): “Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

The LORD God gave His Word to Israel and her leaders (Deuteronomy 4:6-8; Psalm 147:19,20; Romans 3:1,2; Romans 9:4,5; et cetera). Gentiles (nations, non-Jews) were not given the Old Testament Bible. As concerning “time past” (or pre-Apostle Paul; cf. Ephesians 2:11-13), God will judge Israel more harshly than He will the Gentiles. Israel had greater spiritual light than the Gentiles, yet Israel lived just as wickedly (Romans 2:17-29)! Of all those in time past, unbelievers during Christ’s earthly ministry will face more serious condemnation than those who lived previously (cf. today’s Scripture).

Out of all the dispensations, frankly, our Dispensation of Grace will carry the worst eternal penalty. Lost people who have died during the last 2,000 years (and onward until the Rapture) have rejected God’s full revelation. They spurned a completed Bible, the most information the Creator ever revealed to mankind (Colossians 1:23-29; 2 Timothy 3:16,17)!!! If Jesus Christ declared His contemporaries would be more strictly judged than Sodom and Gomorrah because they had more spiritual light (Divine revelation) than Sodom and Gomorrah, how much more judgment for those lost today who have a completed Bible and ignored the LORD God’s counsel entirely? Horrors!!!

Friends, the message of God’s salvation available in the Lord Jesus Christ has circulated the globe now for 20 centuries. How kind He has been, how gracious, how longsuffering! With each passing day, unsaved mankind refuses His goodness. “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5). Indeed, the lost are rejecting the Gospel of Grace and “treasuring up wrath….”

The Hottest Places in Eternity #10

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city (Mark 6:11 KJV).

Are there degrees of punishment in Hell and the Lake of Fire? Indeed!

Returning to Revelation chapter 20, “[11] And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. [12] And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. [15] And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Focus on verse 12, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.” The expression “small and great” is ranking: commoners and royalty, irreligious and religious, simpleminded and brilliant, poor and rich, all the unsaved souls of the ages stand before the Lord Jesus Christ individually. Can you picture them? He lets them plead their case before His majestic throne. Why do they think they do not deserve their looming grim destiny? Can you hear their excuses? “But, I did so many good works!” “I was a successful businessman!” “I was a clever philosopher!” “I led millions as a politician!” “I prayed!” “I ‘believed in God!’” “I went to church!” “I loved my neighbors!”

With all their excuses enumerated, the Lord interrupts them. All of that was not enough. Their names, unfortunately, are not written in the Book of Life!! He reviews the written record of their works, and then renders His verdict. They must go to the Lake of Fire….

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