The War with Amalek! #11

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Dear brethren, having trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we have passed from Adam to Christ, death to life, Hell-bound to Heaven-bound. But, why did God bother to save us? Why not let us go on to our deserved eternal damnation? Ephesians 2:10 explains: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” He desired to do a mighty work. We werewe are—His work. He worked to save us from Hell, to the intent that He would work in and through us to express His life in and through us. It is His words that “effectually work” in us who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Galatians chapter 5: “[16] This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh…. [24] And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. [25] If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” How do we “walk in the Spirit?” We read and believe Pauline doctrine. The indwelling Holy Spirit will take that doctrine and work in us, and we will thus walk in accordance with it.

The heart of grace living is thus: since we belong to Jesus Christ, our sin nature has been crucified with Him (Romans chapter 6), and now we believe the Holy Spirit’s words about our new identity in order to have victory over daily sins (Romans chapter 8). Sin does not have to dominate us: “For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:7). We have now been resurrected with Christ “to walk in newness of life” (verse 4). Read Romans chapters 6 through 8: they are the key to successful Christian living. Read chapters 12 through 16: they are specific examples of grace living. Read Ephesians chapter 4, Colossians chapter 3, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Titus. Here are “the things of the Spirit” that we are to “mind,” the teachings on which we should concentrate. Like Israel, we can win the fight with “Amalek….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is ‘purloining?’

Human Eyes Versus Divine Eyes #3

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth (Matthew 27:39-44 KJV).

It is the same event, viewed from two different perspectives. Which assessment is reality and which is folly?

Approximately 1,000 years before Calvary, the Holy Spirit moved King David to write Psalm 22. That psalm is “Messianic,” as it is a vivid portrait of Jesus Christ’s suffering on the cross and subsequent resurrection. Christ is quoted throughout the chapter. Verses 6-8 are most interesting in light of today’s Scripture: “[6] But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. [7] All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, [8] He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.”

Yea, 10 centuries in advance, the Bible predicted the very insults of Jesus’ ridiculers. They had crucified Him in unbelief, declaring at the closing moments of His trial, “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15). However, Almighty God was not surprised or outsmarted. He knew beforehand His Son would be rejected. Yet, He let it come to pass. By letting sinful man crucify Jesus, God’s grand purpose would be accomplished. From man’s perspective, it appeared to be a complete failure. Israel had given His Son over to Rome, and Rome carried out His execution! Despite the outward “weakness” of Christ on Calvary (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:4), He was fighting a spiritual battle in the invisible realm.

Through man’s eyes, it looked hopeless—through Divine eyes, victory was certain….

 

A Momentary Separation

Friday, May 10, 2019

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV).

Yes, we sorrow, but not as “others which have no hope.”

Recently, I counseled a dear brother in Christ who has been mourning the loss of his believing wife nearly two months now. He has “his good days and his bad,” struggling with bitterness and loneliness. It was a privilege for me to remind him again of our Christian hope. She is “absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). We are “at home in the body and absent from the Lord” (verse 6). This is temporary; she has left us but for a moment.

We have unlimited confidence or courage. If Jesus Christ went to such great lengths to save us from our sin—and was completely victorious over sin and death—then we too have conquered sin and death. Short of His coming at the Rapture, we will age, grow sick, weaken, and die. That really does not matter. Bodily resurrection is inevitable for lost and saved alike, non-Christian and Christian alike. See the Bible’s great “resurrection chapter,” 1 Corinthians chapter 15.

Today’s Scripture and its context show us that, at the Rapture, we will be reunited with our Christian loved ones: “[14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [18] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Brethren, let us find boundless solace here, for herein can be found great hope! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does the Bible say about motherhood?

Complete in Thee! #2

Monday, May 6, 2019

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God (Romans 6:6-10 KJV).

Today’s Scripture highlights the second verse of Aaron Robarts Wolfe’s 1858 hymn, “Complete in Thee!”

“Complete in Thee—no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.”

We continue reading: “[11] Likewise reckon [think like this!] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. [13] Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. [14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

“[16] Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? [17] But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. [18] Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”

The Bible is clear: we as believers in Jesus Christ do not “have” to sin. We have complete victory over sin because we are dead to sin (we died when Christ died) and we are alive unto God (we resurrected when Christ resurrected)! Now, we simply let these verses renew our mind and be whom Father God has already made us in Christ!

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The Bible’s Season of New Life

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

“God that made the world and all things therein… he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24,25 KJV).

May we never forget the true meaning of Eastertime!

Satan is the master counterfeiter: from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal how the devil schemes to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Whatever God does, Satan defiles that work by introducing false doctrine, distracts mankind from God’s truth by mimicking His actions, discourages God’s people from His ministry by using incorrect thinking patterns, and so on. Why? Satan wants the worship that God alone deserves (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Consider Christmastime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping the birth of the sun god in early winter—near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) took upon human flesh in the virgin Mary’s womb! Now, consider Eastertime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping fertility deities and new life in early spring, near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) died for our sins and resurrected victoriously over sin, death, hell, and Satan to give us new life! (To Satan’s delight, today’s average church member is not mindful of relevant sound Bible doctrine during Christmastime and Eastertime—the devil’s distractions have never lost their efficacy!)

The God of the Bible instituted in Israel a festival, Passover (the killing of a spotless lamb and its bloodshed in early spring), while they were still in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12)—Passover’s annual observance reminded them of JEHOVAH delivering them from Egyptian slavery unto new life. Israel did not understand its meaning until 1,500 years later. The true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ, died and shed His sinless blood during that annual Passover feast (early spring), and He resurrected in new life to give them spiritual life and liberty.

Yes, the pagans may have “hijacked” this time of year for the devil’s glory, but we can disregard their ignorance: spring is God’s season for new life. We can still use this season to bring the God of the Bible glory by remembering that He has given us physical life (today’s Scripture), and He offers us new life (that is, spiritual life) through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! 🙂

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 21, 2019

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

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

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #2

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Jesus knew Bible prophecy had to be fulfilled: He had to suffer in accordance with the Old Testament prophets. Even when He spoke seven times from the cross, He quoted various Old Testament verses. The Old Testament prophets also gave Him comfort: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (today’s Scripture).

For instance, He remembered that Jonah’s prophecy had to be fulfilled: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). On the third day, He would live again, and be reunited with His heavenly Father!

He knew that His Father would resurrect Him. His spiritual torment and physical death were only temporarily, as David quoted Jesus 1000 B.C., “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:24-31).

Our Lord thought of reigning over that glorious kingdom that His Heavenly Father would give Him after His resurrection. As the psalmist wrote centuries before Calvary’s crosswork, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:6-8). “Begotten” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, not His nativity in Bethlehem (Acts 13:33,34).

Jesus Christ, during His torturous crucifixion, thought about and rejoiced in the promises in the Scriptures that applied to Him. Likewise, we, during difficult circumstances, can remember and joy in God’s promises to us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

We too can share Messiah’s joy amidst grief! 🙂