Merciful to a Sorry World

Thursday, June 15, 2017

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (1 Timothy 1:15,16 KJV).

You can trust that!

The United States—yea, the world—has been rocked by so many tragedies in recent days. Current trends on social media read, “Sending our thoughts and prayers.” Scoffers ask, “How is that working out?” To wit, despite all the “thoughts and prayers,” well wishes, and hopes of religious people, violence and bloodshed remain “front page” news. Where is God? When will He get enough? Will He ever show Himself? Does He even care? When will enough be enough? Is “He” even there?

Christians, who have the Holy Bible, the true Word of the true God, should be leading the world in understanding prayer. They should know what prayer is, and what it is not. Alas, how ignorant they are—how unbelievably and pathetically uniformed! They have the Scriptures but have no idea what they say about prayer. Now we see why skeptics say what they do—they mock people who really do not know the truth either! Beloved, religious people talk about “God” so flippantly we need not criticize the scoffers for doing likewise!

Friends, here is the simple truth. God is not working according to the way most people are praying. Hence, people pray for a certain outcome that actually does not come. They pray for violence to end, for peace, for God to come and judge the evildoers. Actually, here is a shocker…. God is not working today as He did in time past. What He is interested in today is having people come to His Son, Jesus Christ, by faith, that they receive forgiveness of sins and a home in Heaven. Rather than God pouring out wrath today, ushering in world peace today, He is pouring out peace and grace on undeserving sinners!

He will come back in due time and judge this wicked world. Today, He silently offers grace, extending an opportunity for all to be made right with Him! 🙂

Shine as Lights #6

Sunday, May 21, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

“Holding forth the word of life….” As we reprove the works of darkness by preaching and living the truth (Ephesians 5:1–6:9), so we “hold forth the word of life” by preaching and living it. “Holding forth” means “identifying it, paying attention to it, seizing it, and extending it to others.” Notice related usages. Jesus “marked” how some guests chose prominent positions at the feast (Luke 14:7). The lame man “gave heed” to Peter and John, expecting to receive something (Acts 3:5). Paul decided to “stay” for a while in Asia while he sent Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia (Acts 19:22).

“The word of life,” of course, is the Holy Bible, especially rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15). Jesus said: “It is the spirit that quickeneth [gives life to and makes active]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (verse 68). “Life” here is God’s life—how God lives—how Jesus Christ lives—how we Christians (should) live. God created physical life from nothing by using His spoken Word; He provides spiritual life similarly.

When we “hold forth the word of life,” we urge others to receive it (after all, eternal life through Christ is a gift offered—Romans 6:23). Again, we are not merely preaching the Gospel of Grace; we are living it. Titus 2:11,12,14 says: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;…. [14] [Christ Jesus] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Let us see the result….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle?

Shine as Lights #5

Saturday, May 20, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

No matter our country, it is a “crooked and perverse nation.” Governed by Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), it is thus turned away from God and wholly corrupt. (That evil world system will remain until the Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.) God has left us on this planet as “outposts of the third heaven.” Since we are from another world (“the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son”), we are to behave differently from this world controlled by “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13).

“…Among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” In the midst of the unbelieving masses, we Christians live—nay, rather, we shine. As luminous celestial bodies contrast the deep, dark recesses of outer space, so we “stick out” in this lost and dying world. We are lighthouses, guiding souls away from danger and destruction. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, describing Israel’s believing remnant, excerpted: “[14] Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Ephesians chapter 5 adds: “[7] Be not ye therefore partakers with them [children of disobedience, verse 6]. [8] For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: [9] (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; ) [10] Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. [11] And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” We return to Philippians….

Shine as Lights #4

Thursday, May 18, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

We ought to be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke.” Instead of behaving like mature sons of God, there is often childishness in our lives—this should not be. “Without rebuke” means “not worthy of being faulted or discredited.” That is, no one has grounds for calling us hypocrites. As the famous dictum goes, “We practice what we preach.” We claim to be God’s children—we act like God’s children. We say we are saints—we behave like saints.

“In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation….” The life of Jesus Christ is to be lived in and through us the saints as we function in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). We should “do all things without murmurings and disputings,” we are to be “blameless and harmless,” we should be “the sons of God” practically, and we are to be “without rebuke,” while living in a world abounding with those very spiritual evils. What a distinction!

The word “crooked” here in Greek is skolios, from which we get “scoliosis” (curvature, warping, winding of the spine). It is rendered “untoward” (turned away from God) in Acts 2:40. “Perverse” is stronger—it means “corrupt, distorted.” “And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither” (Luke 9:41; cf. Matthew 17:17). Speaking of perversion within the “Christian” community, Acts 20:30 warns: “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” And, 1 Timothy 6:5: Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (These last two references contradict the behavior encouraged in today’s Scripture.)

NOTE: We will temporarily break away from this devotionals arc to bring you a special study tomorrow. Stay tuned for the second half of the “Shine as Lights” series!

Bible Q&A #380: “Can you explain Galatians 6:11?

Shine as Lights #3

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

Today’s Scripture opens with: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” Here, “disputings” are “reasonings, imaginations, debate, doubtful things.” Whereas “murmurings” are complaints engendered by spiritual ignorance and ungratefulness to God, “disputings” are intellectual arguments or criticisms used to question or challenge God’s Word and will.

Jesus Christ spoke of “evil thoughts” proceeding from man’s sinful heart (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21). The Pharisees and scribes used “thoughts” and “reason” to critique Jesus’ healing of the paralytic man (Luke 5:22) and the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:8). Jesus’ disciples engaged in a petty, selfish “reasoning” and “thought” about who would be the greatest (Luke 9:46,47). Before God gave the unbelieving nations over to their preferences in Genesis chapter 11, Romans 1:21 says they were “vain [empty] in their imaginations.” We see “doubtful disputations” in Romans 14:1, discussions that cause weaker Christians to stumble. First Timothy 2:8 speaks of men in the local assembly needing to be “without… doubting.” James 2:4 talks about “evil thoughts.” All of these are examples of the “disputings” discouraged in today’s Scripture.

The purpose or goal of a Christian obeying Philippians 2:14—neither murmuring nor disputing—is found in verse 15. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke….” “Blameless” is not “sinless” but rather “not guilty of wrongdoing; faultless.” “Harmless” means “innocent, unmixed, or untainted”—something not watered down. The word is translated “simple” in Romans 16:19. Positionally, we are God’s children by faith in Jesus Christ, His finished crosswork, the Gospel of the Grace of God (Galatians 3:26). Are we His sons practically, though? Sometimes. Our behavior does not constantly reflect our identity (new nature) in Christ. That is, there are “murmurings” and “disputings” in our lives as Christians. Let us see how we correct this….

Shine as Lights #2

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

Today’s Scripture opens with: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” To “murmur” means “express one’s discontent about (someone or something) in a subdued manner.” Grumbling in a low tone, something not easily heard, murmuring is due to ignorance, evil/bad thinking, and unbelief. “Murmuring” was a notable characteristic of the faithless, unthankful Israelites under Moses’ command (Exodus 15:24; Exodus 16:2-12, Exodus 17:3; Numbers 14:27-36, Numbers 16:11,41; Numbers 17:5-10; et cetera).

The Jews of old were not being renewed in the spirit of their mind. They were not mindful of JEHOVAH God’s provisions for them. They thought and behaved like He taught them nothing and did nothing for them. Deuteronomy 1:27 says: “And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” Imagine such pitiful ignorance—“the LORD hated [Israel]” so He delivered them from Egypt! Psalm 106:25 highlights the unbelief and disobedience associated with Israel’s “murmuring:” “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.”

When Jesus received and associated with “publicans and sinners,” the Pharisees and scribes “murmured” (Luke 5:30; Luke 15:2, Luke 19:7). These religious leaders were unbelieving and ignorant of the fact these “evil” people were very ones the Lord had come to save from sin (Matthew 9:10-13)! John 6:41 says: “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.” Again, this was all because of doubt and spiritual ignorance. God does not want us to be ignorant or unbelieving; the Bible is here to educate us in His will and ways, and we are to believe it. As we experience and enjoy the Christian walk, we do so with knowledge, faith, and gratitude….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is grieving the Holy Spirit forgivable?

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #5

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

The offering in the context of today’s Scripture (verses 1-11) is spoken as though the nation Israel has already defeated the inhabitants of the Promised Land. It assumes that the Israelites will go in, conquer all their enemies, and enjoy the fruits of the land God has given to the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God through Moses presents Israel residing in the Promised Land as a fact, even though they will not actually enter it and fight those peoples until Joshua assumes leadership (after Moses dies). As before, God believes that He will give Israel the victory. He expects Israel to believe Him, and to worship Him by offering to Him that fruit when they do arrive in that land of Canaan.

Some 40 years prior, remember again, the Jews had complained that they were unable to enter the Promised Land and enjoy its plenteous food supply. The giants living in the land were just too powerful for them to overcome in war. (Of course, Israel overlooked the fact that God had just vanquished the mighty Egyptian armies, thousands of trained soldiers, using just the Red Sea!) With this new generation of Jews in today’s Scripture, they are to go into the land, dispossess it, and rejoice in God’s goodness. They did not deserve that harvest of enormous fruits, but God had simply given them because of His grace.

“And [JEHOVAH God] hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is Jesus Christ God’s ‘one and only Son’ or ‘only begotten Son?’