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….

Something in Which to Glory!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

“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?

The Misunderstood Messiah #4

Saturday, December 29, 2018

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Society’s anti-Bible, anti-Christian attitude is nothing new. While today’s Bible-believing, Bible-quoting Christian is accused of “hate speech” and “bigotry,” the “non-narrow-minded” face no repercussion for their slandering of the Lord Jesus Christ and their trampling His Word under foot. Due to sin, the world is upside down, and when the Christian attempts to expose it, he or she is to blame. The world wants Romans 3:4 to read, “Let every man be true, but God a liar!”

Like the (self-righteous) Pharisees of old, lost mankind, despite religious participation, has no capacity to stop sin. Never become angry at the world and never let their behavior puzzle you. Sinners do nothing but sin: by nature, man literally knows nothing but sin. As Jesus said to the lost Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44a). What they need is not simply to stop their activity (sins); they need a new nature from God! Today’s Scripture demonstrates the Pharisees’ willful ignorance of their sinful state.

Like the (“educated”) Pharisees of old, lost mankind, despite several degrees, has no capacity to understand the Bible. The Pharisees studied their Old Testament scrolls, yet they were equivalent to today’s average seminary graduate—years of Bible “study” and no (!) Bible understanding. Today’s Scripture demonstrates the Pharisees’ willful ignorance of one of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that foretold Jesus Christ’s coming. They had plenty of philosophy and religion, but they had no capacity to understand and appreciate the Bible. People today do not need degrees to comprehend the Bible; they need the Spirit of God! “But the natural [lost] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [judged, evaluated]” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Let us summarize and conclude this devotional arc….

The Prince of Peace, Born in the Middle East

Saturday, December 22, 2018

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 KJV).

Ironically, God’s wisdom ordained the birthplace of the Prince of Peace to be the contentious Middle East….

Almost from the very beginning of time, the Middle East has been a battleground, the chief war zone of good and evil. Originally the peaceful home of Adam and Eve, today it is the most contentious region on the globe. Because of Adam’s sin, what was a paradise is now known as the area where man joined Satan in his rebellion against God. Adam and Eve utterly failed to reign over the earth for God’s glory (Genesis 1:26-28). Instead they united with the opposition, and were banished from God’s presence and the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23,24).

“Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). Verse 14 says that Adam “is the figure of him that was to come.” God would send another Man, Jesus Christ, and He would accomplish what Adam failed to do: glorify God on the earth by dispossessing it from Satan, and reigning in righteousness. This is the “government” spoken of in today’s Scripture.

“For if by one man’s [Adam’s] offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (verse 17). Adam plunged the human race into sin and made it God’s enemy; Jesus Christ offers mankind eternal life, forgiveness of sins and a reconciled relationship with God! This was God’s goal in sending Jesus Christ.

As our world desperately continues to seek peace, let us remember there will be no peace on earth until the Prince of Peace returns to His nation, Israel, and rids our planet of Satan and his policy of evil (the root of the Middle Eastern turmoil). At Christ’s Second Coming, there will be peace on earth (Luke 2:14), and especially in the Middle East.

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 Misunderstood Messiah #4

Friday, December 29, 2017

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Society’s anti-Bible, anti-Christian attitude is nothing new. While today’s Bible-believing, Bible-quoting Christian is accused of “hate speech” and “bigotry,” the “non-narrow-minded” face no repercussion for their slandering of the Lord Jesus Christ and their trampling His Word under foot. Due to sin, the world is upside down, and when the Christian attempts to expose it, he or she is to blame. The world wants Romans 3:4 to read, “Let every man be true, but God a liar!”

Like the (self-righteous) Pharisees of old, lost mankind, despite religious participation, has no capacity to stop sin. Never become angry at the world and never let their behavior puzzle you. Sinners do nothing but sin: by nature, man literally knows nothing but sin. As Jesus said to the lost Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44a). What they need is not simply to stop their activity (sins); they need a new nature from God! Today’s Scripture demonstrates the Pharisees’ willful ignorance of their sinful state.

Like the (“educated”) Pharisees of old, lost mankind, despite several degrees, has no capacity to understand the Bible. The Pharisees studied their Old Testament scrolls, yet they were equivalent to today’s average seminary graduate—years of Bible “study” and no (!) Bible understanding. Today’s Scripture demonstrates the Pharisees’ willful ignorance of one of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that foretold Jesus Christ’s coming. They had plenty of philosophy and religion, but they had no capacity to understand and appreciate the Bible. People today do not need degrees to comprehend the Bible; they need the Spirit of God! “But the natural [lost] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [judged, evaluated]” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Let us summarize and conclude this devotional arc….

The Prince of Peace, Born in the Middle East

Friday, December 22, 2017

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 KJV).

Ironically, God’s wisdom ordained the birthplace of the Prince of Peace to be the contentious Middle East….

Almost from the very beginning of time, the Middle East has been a battleground, the chief war zone of good and evil. Originally the peaceful home of Adam and Eve, today it is the most contentious region on the globe. Because of Adam’s sin, what was a paradise is now known as the area where man joined Satan in his rebellion against God. Adam and Eve utterly failed to reign over the earth for God’s glory (Genesis 1:26-28). Instead they united with the opposition, and were banished from God’s presence and the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23,24).

“Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). Verse 14 says that Adam “is the figure of him that was to come.” God would send another Man, Jesus Christ, and He would accomplish what Adam failed to do: glorify God on the earth by dispossessing it from Satan, and reigning in righteousness. This is the “government” spoken of in today’s Scripture.

“For if by one man’s [Adam’s] offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (verse 17). Adam plunged the human race into sin and made it God’s enemy; Jesus Christ offers mankind eternal life, forgiveness of sins and a reconciled relationship with God! This was God’s goal in sending Jesus Christ.

As our world desperately continues to seek peace, let us remember there will be no peace on earth until the Prince of Peace returns to His nation, Israel, and rids our planet of Satan and his policy of evil (the root of the Middle Eastern turmoil). At Christ’s Second Coming, there will be peace on earth (Luke 2:14), and especially in the Middle East.