Joy to the World! #4

Saturday, December 14, 2019

“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Psalm 45:6,7 KJV).

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

“He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.”

When Satan’s reign on Earth and in Heaven concludes, voices in heaven cry out, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Hebrews 1:8,9 quoted today’s Scripture as true of Jesus Christ’s righteous reign. Notice how Father God addressed Jesus as “God.” Human history has never experienced a global, benevolent, theocratic monarchy. For the first time ever, all power in Heaven and Earth will be consolidated forever in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:8-10). All governments in Heaven and Earth will be cleansed of evil. By faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, we will participate in that operation of God (Colossians 1:16-22). We will reign with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6,7)!

Zechariah 14:9: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” Daniel 2:44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” And, Jeremiah chapter 23: “[5] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. [6] In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Indeed, there will be such joy! Jesus Christ glorified forever, in Heaven and Earth! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What are some tips for faster spiritual growth?

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Saturday, December 7, 2019

“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! 🙂

What Child Is This? #4

Monday, December 2, 2019

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:1,2 KJV).

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

“This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

As the shepherds and angels gathered around Baby Jesus’ manger, we can only wonder what immense joy filled their hearts. In that world of old—plagued by the same basic problems of our modern world—He was a Beacon in the dark and a Solace in the misery. They undoubtedly sang right in the midst of all those farm animals! They were so thrilled to see God working in their presence. They were now standing before His baby crib!

Sinners today are greatly encouraged—yea, urged—to come by faith to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, right this moment. They are not to come by faith to His crib, for He is no longer a Baby. Rather, they are to come by faith to His cross, where He gave up that life for us! “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). What we need to do is rely exclusively on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, His shed sinless blood and His resurrection, as sufficient payment for our sins.

As with Jesus’ birth, for those who do not want to see anything, they do not see anything. Those who see are people who want to see. It has nothing to do with God hiding anything from anyone. What did Jesus tell the Jews? “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

Although Jesus Christ is not physically here today, we can still haste to bring Him laud. We can praise Him highly in a public context. First, we can believe on Him and His finished crosswork. Then, we can tell others how they too can be saved through Calvary!

In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 28, 2019

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see, “What are our spiritual blessings in Christ?

Signs of Shallowness #10

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:11-14 KJV).

Behold the signs of shallowness!

Dear friends and brethren, we grow spiritually by understanding and appreciating the completed Bible canon—particularly the Pauline epistles (Romans through Philemon) that closed it. Unless we notice God’s most recent revelation, we cannot know what He is doing today.

The Holy Spirit instructed and encouraged the baby saints at Corinth (who enjoyed being entertained with spiritual nonsense): “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).

In New Testament Greek culture (the Corinthians’ background), childhood ended for girls and boys at age 13. They would gather their toys and leave them at a pagan temple, signaling they were now adults. Dear friends, if we let the Bible rightly divided impact our minds and hearts, believing it (!), we too will “put away childish things.” Moving from shallow waters, we thus plumb the depths of God’s mystery wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)! 🙂

Signs of Shallowness #9

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:11-14 KJV).

Behold the signs of shallowness!

Ephesians chapter 4: “[11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: [14] That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: [16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

Here is one enormous sentence in Greek! In short, the Lord Jesus Christ gave church leaders for the purpose of bringing the Church the Body of Christ to a place of “edifying” (building up) and “perfection” (spiritual maturity). At one time, there was no completed Bible—now there is. We thus have no reason to be “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” Indeed, if we are shallow in the Scripture, we are vulnerable to such spiritual lies. Just look at church history and modern Christendom!

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Signs of Shallowness #8

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:11-14 KJV).

Behold the signs of shallowness!

The writer of the Book of Hebrews could have written more about Jesus Christ, but national Israel was unable to handle it. So, it was necessary to start with the basics (higher doctrine would be presented later). Hebrews itself is the most fundamental treatise—a “beginner’s guide”—to the work of Christ with respect to Israel. Like Romans does for us the Church the Body of Christ, Hebrews underscores Calvary’s crosswork for Israel. As we do not stop in our edification in Romans, so Israel does not stay in Hebrews-level doctrine. They are to further mature, grasping the Books of James through Revelation.

Building on today’s Scripture (the close of chapter 5), the Holy Spirit began chapter 6: “[1] Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, [2] Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. [3] And this will we do, if God permit.” The “perfection” here is not sinlessness but spiritual maturity. God gave the Bible to Israel to grow her spiritually, and to mature us the Body of Christ spiritually.

Indeed, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That [purpose/intent] the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). We know exactly what God is doing, and we need not be shallow in our understanding….