Perfect Peace #3

Monday, March 16, 2020

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:3,4 KJV).

Despite their grim circumstances, those who trust in the God of Scripture will be kept in “perfect peace!”

Israel will learn she cannot in and of herself be victorious over this evil world system. Her believing remnant must wait for Jesus Christ’s ultimate deliverance at His Second Coming. Psalm 68: “[1] Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. [2] As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. [3] But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. [4] Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.[34] Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds. [35] O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.”

The Holy Spirit, moving the Prophet Isaiah, is looking down through time—at least 2,700 years—to see Israel’s Little Flock at the end of Daniel’s 70th Week. Preparing to enter the Millennium, they are rejoicing. The LORD God has brought them through their horrendous suffering. By reading and trusting their prophetic promises in Scripture, they have been kept safe! Walking by faith in Isaiah, the Book that spoke of both their tribulation and their kingdom, they knew that, no matter what, they would survive to see His earthly kingdom. God was faithful!

Likewise, brethren, regardless of our struggles, heartaches, and uncertainties in this life, we already know our final destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ remains unchanged! Our eternal future is certain; thus, our temporary trials are certainly bearable (1 Corinthians 10:13). “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). Enjoy that “perfect peace!” 🙂

Something in Which to Glory!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:12-14 KJV).

In what shall we glory? About what shall we boast? In what shall we find value?

Religion produces people who enjoy bragging all about their “dedication to God.” “Look what I did—the ceremonies in which I have participated, the many prayers I faithfully recited daily, how much I put in the collection plate, see how many pleasures I gave up to please God! Come, see how much I love Him!” Dear friends, the Apostle Paul found great value in something—but that something was not what he did. All that human flesh can accomplish pales in comparison to the work in today’s Scripture.

As Lent begins, the time when religionists temporarily (a mere 40 days) relinquish some pleasant food or activity, let us remember that our performance is often non-performance. Once we place ourselves on that treadmill of “do, do, do,” we are guaranteed to fail at some point. Human flesh is simply too weak to maintain 100 percent—that is sin! Even concerning one rule, we cannot keep it perfectly. We mess up eventually.

If ever we believe that our puny works are worth bragging about, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s Scripture. While some boast in their religiosity (in the passage, the Judaizers applauding their rite of physical circumcision), and such denominationalists today urge us to obey their church’s instructions so they too may boast in our ability, let us eschew such foolishness. Being imperfect, all their works do not measure up to Christ’s finished crosswork. At Calvary, we find the only sacrifice that will ever please the God of the Bible. If we must boast, let us brag that He did what we could never, ever do!

See our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why is Jesus called ‘the Son of Man?’

God’s Grace on Parade

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

“…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20 KJV).

Today, especially here in southern Louisiana, the Catholic festival of Mardi Gras takes advantage of God’s grace. God’s grace abounds even when drunkenness, lasciviousness, and gluttony are committed overtly on our streets for religion. Because we live in the Dispensation of the Grace of God, they can flaunt their sin without being consumed by fire from heaven!

“Mardi Gras,” French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a day when religious people—professing “Christians”—lose self-control (excess alcohol, food, and partying). The following day, Ash Wednesday, they promise to live “holy” for the next 40 days (Lent). A priest will then place ashes on their foreheads proving that God forgave them for that riotous living. Blasphemy!

Regardless of all its biblical allusions (illusions!), Mardi Gras is still evil and anti-God. It was never Christian, originating from pagan Roman festivals, Saturnalia and Lupercalia (interestingly known for riots, drunkenness, gluttony, and fornication, and subsequent repentance).

The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles Peter and Paul, was clearly against Mardi Gras reveling and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3). So why do professing Christians engage in the very activities that God the Holy Spirit condemned?! As Christians, we should “deny” the activities of Mardi Gras (Romans 6:11-15; Titus 2:11-15).

If I appear offended, I am. Mardi Gras, despite its godly façade, is offensive to the great God and my Saviour Jesus Christ! God’s grace continues to tolerate such foolishness from mankind. Man parades his sin, and God parades His grace, holding back wrath.

Are you a Mardi Gras reveler? I declare unto you the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God. God did for you at Calvary what you could never do: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died to put away all of your sins, Mardi Gras revelry included.

If you rest in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour, God will save you forever, make a trophy of His grace, and then YOUR life will be God’s grace on parade!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see our archived Bible study Q&A, “Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras?

Who is a Christian? #6

Friday, February 21, 2020

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27,28 KJV).

Just who exactly is a “Christian?”

The Old Testament prophets were aware of the doctrine of bodily resurrection (Job 19:24-27; Psalm 16:10; Daniel 12:2,13; et al.). In fact, Paul knows that King Herod Agrippa II is familiar with such Jewish religious beliefs (verse 3; cf. today’s Scripture). He therefore skillfully uses Agrippa’s knowledge of the Old Testament in an attempt to lead him to Jesus Christ: Paul twice mentions the idea of resurrection.

Re-read excerpts of Acts chapter 26: “[6] And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: [7] Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. [8] Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?…. [22] Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: [23] That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”

It is here that Festus interrupts and ridicules Paul, dismissing Bible truth as mere lunacy (verses 24-26). Paul then turns to the king, and we read today’s Scripture once more: “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.” The soul of Herod Agrippa II hangs in the balance. He can either trust God’s words, or disbelieve them. Surely under tremendous peer pressure from Festus, Agrippa takes the latter route and derides the truth as well. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Agrippa has made his decision: he is not swayed! His tone is one of surprise and condescension. “Paul, you will have to try much harder than that to influence me to become a Christian!”

Now, by carefully considering this, we see what a Christian really is….

Bible Q&A #695: “What ever happened to Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather?

God is Love

Friday, February 14, 2020

“…God is love… God is love… We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:8b,16b,19 KJV).

The word “love” is used very flippantly in today’s world. Of the many who speak about “love,” few know what it is. On this Valentine’s Day, we offer sound doctrine from God’s Word to correct the misunderstandings of what love really is. What is love, according to God’s Word?

Today’s Scripture says that “God is love”—God does not simply love, but His very nature is love. What does that mean? In 1 John 3:16, we read: “Hereby we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:” Our Apostle Paul put it this way: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s nature is love—selfless, self-sacrificing!

God’s Word defines love and charity in 2 Corinthians 12:15: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” Love is seeking the best interest of others, even if it costs you something (time, energy, resources, et cetera). Charity is love in deed (demonstrated, manifested in action). God loved us, so He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. It cost God the Father His Son, and it cost God the Son His life. What a selfless act!

Our nature in Adam is selfish, but our nature in Christ is not. Paul declares, “the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). We who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, our Christian lives are driven and motivated by Christ’s love for us, not our love for Him. It is this unselfish love of Christ working in us that causes us to look on the things of others, to seek their edification and their benefit, not ours (Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:1-11). This will result in charity, our selfless actions reflecting that love of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:15).

As the lost world observes our Christian service, they will see, “God is love.”

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

You can see our archived Bible Q&A study: “Should Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Job 32:8?

Sin Divides #13

Thursday, February 13, 2020

“Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:5,6 KJV).

In religious circles, it is frequently bemoaned, “Doctrine divides! Doctrine divides! We should throw away ‘doctrine’ and just assemble around ‘love!’” Today’s Scripture and its context expose that dictum for the utter foolhardiness that it really is….

Doctrine does not divide; doctrine is not the problem. Sin divides; sin is the problem. False doctrine resulting from sin is to blame. True, if we gather around mere sentiments—so-called “love” instead of sound Bible doctrine—we have a semblance of harmony. Alas, such human efforts will not successfully substitute true unity (God’s life). That shallowness will eventually fail because true love—God’s life—is absent. Unless we maintain sound Bible doctrine, we can never have meaningful, permanent concord!

We do not create harmony using “love.” Genuine love—seeking another person’s highest good—is accomplished via sound Bible doctrine. Once we trust the doctrine that defines Almighty God’s life, then we experience in and among ourselves the selflessness that exists among the Members of the Godhead. Looking at Calvary, we see God’s love for us: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Do you appreciate the unselfishness here? The sinless Son of God dying a cruel death to pay for ournot His!—sins? Nowhere else will we find such self-sacrifice! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

When we trust the Gospel of the Grace of God, then God the Holy Spirit will create in us His nature and attitude. Here is how man gets along with fellow man—and woman! “Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7—the verse following today’s Scripture). While sin has caused divisions in Israel, Micah understood that the LORD would take care of it! 🙂

Sin Divides #12

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

“Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Micah 7:5,6 KJV).

In religious circles, it is frequently bemoaned, “Doctrine divides! Doctrine divides! We should throw away ‘doctrine’ and just assemble around ‘love!’” Today’s Scripture and its context expose that dictum for the utter foolhardiness that it really is….

The God of creation designed human life to function the same way life operates within the Godhead. As God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost (unselfishly) seek each other’s benefit and glory rather than their own, so creation was intended to reflect those relationships. Adam was created in God’s image and likeness to be the manifestation of Divine living. The Creator issued parameters—doctrine, or teaching to be believed and obeyed—within which Adam (mankind) was to conduct himself. Harmony existed between God and man, and man and woman, until that Divine revelation was ignored in the Garden of Eden. Sin entered by Adam’s unbelief and disobedience. The doctrine that unifies was intentionally forsaken. Accordingly, selfishness and disharmony permeate human civilization.

When we reflect upon all the world’s problems—and there are more than we can fathom—let us remember that it was sin that caused (and still causes) them. Think of those suffering tremendously with sickness and disease. Creation is cursed because of Adam. Consider the endless wars, crimes, divorces, poverty, ignorance, homelessness, and so on. These are the results of poor decisions. We are stuck in a perpetual cycle of operating outside of God’s will for human existence.

Try as hard as we might, we will not eliminate the selfishness (evil) that resides in every human heart. Legislations, incarcerations, hospitalizations, denominations, conversations, proclamations, denunciations, corporations, approbations, aspirations, ordinations, educations, sensations, and orations cannot eliminate sin. What we need is expiation (payment for sin). What we need is salvation (deliverance from sin). What we need is sanctification (set apart for God’s purposes). What we need is justification (righteousness of God).

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….