Paul’s Stocks and Bonds

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks (Acts 16:23,24 KJV).

Financial stocks and bonds are sources of great wealth. The Apostle Paul, although poor (2 Corinthians 11:27; Philippians 4:11-13), had much experience with “stocks” and “bonds.”

As the context of today’s Scripture proves (verse 12 onward), he, Silas, Luke, and others travel to Philippi (northern Greece) to preach the Gospel of Grace. A Gentile religious woman, Lydia, and an unnamed devil-possessed slave girl are two of their converts. The girl’s owners—furious that their “money-making machine” has disappeared—drag Paul and Silas into the marketplace (court). There, they persuade the authorities to arrange for the Apostles to be beaten with rods (“caning”). Paul and Silas receive “many stripes [wounds].”

Paul and Silas are then imprisoned, eventually evangelizing the jailor and his household (today’s Scripture to the chapter’s end). While captive, their feet are “fast [secure] in the stocks.” The “stocks” were an instrument of punishment consisting of an adjustable wooden structure with holes for securing a person’s hands and feet. Confined to such a device, criminals could be subject to public ridicule and abuse of all kinds. What torture Paul and Silas were willing to endure for our Lord Jesus Christ!

Later, in Acts 20:22-24, Paul confessed: “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” These “bonds” are chains, shackles, instruments of imprisonment. The Apostle is in “bonds” in Acts 25:14; Acts 26:29; Ephesians 6:20; Philippians 1:7,13-16; Colossians 4:3,18; 2 Timothy 2:9; and Philemon 10 and 13.

“Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound(2 Timothy 2:9).

Thou Art The Man to Restore—Times Four #6

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

“If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep” (Exodus 22:1 KJV).

How can this help us understand some of the tragic deaths associated with the Davidic dynasty?

Re-reading 2 Samuel chapter 12: “[5] And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: [6] And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. [7] And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man….” David never forgot his solemn words: he DID INDEED restore fourfold!!!

Solomon’s older brother—David’s first child with Bathsheba, an unnamed newborn (?) baby—died. David’s firstborn son, Amnon, was then assassinated. Next, Absalom, Amnon’s younger brother, was murdered. Burying three of his children was most difficult for David. After his demise, though, a fourth son died. Adonijah, Solomon’s older half-brother, twice endeavored to usurp David’s throne that God promised to Solomon; Solomon finally executed Adonijah. Yea, as God predicted, David’s house would perpetually experience violence (see 2 Samuel 12:10). In addition to the above four deaths, several decades later, David’s royal descendants died prematurely in 2 Kings 11:1-2 and 21:23.

Dear friends, stop and think. These Scriptures are not “dead history” or “superstitious fairytales.” Our sin comes at a price—VERY HIGH!! It not only negatively impacts us, but those around us… not just now, but for decades or centuries to come!! It ultimately cost the Lord Jesus Christ His life to pay for our sins! No, David did not die because of his sin with Bathsheba—but four of his sons did! Never forget, dear brethren, sin is serious beyond imagination. BEFORE we act, we had better think long and hard of the consequences!!!!!

As Christians, let us remember: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7,8).

God is Love

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

“…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 may also see our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?

God’s Grace on Parade

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

“…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?

Three Third Chapters

Monday, February 12, 2018

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (Genesis 3:9 KJV).

Adam fell into sin, but God has an answer!

Genesis chapter 3, the fall of man: “[9] And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? [10] And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. [11] And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?”

Romans chapter 3, the forgiveness of man: “[22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Ephesians chapter 3, the Body of Christ: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery;…. [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: [7] Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.”

When we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour (Romans), we escape our separation from God because of Adam (Genesis) and we are joined to Him via the Church the Body of Christ because of Christ (Ephesians). Simple!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What are the ‘posts’ in the Book of Esther?

Just Be Thankful!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened (Romans 1:21 KJV).

Drop the attitude; show some gratitude!

Turn on your television, read a newspaper, scroll through social media sites, talk with others. Everyone is “offended” about something—even the silliest of matters. Unable to keep their mouths shut and their pens down, they bicker, “This is outrageous,” “That is offensive!” We naturally crave such garbage information too. Professionals, parading as “reporters” and “journalists,” are paid enormous sums of money to rile up the public. Attention-seekers eagerly jabber incessantly about something blown way out of proportion. We hear about “my feelings,” “my body,” “my rights”—it is me, me, me, ME, MEEEEE. (How we also love to wallow in self-pity, friends!)

How did society wind up in such a wretched predicament? Today’s Scripture in context: “[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

They first removed any thoughts about the Creator God. Never forget: when we refuse to think about God, when we reject His thoughts, He gives us over to our preferences (read to verse 32). That is how much the God the Bible loves free will. If you want empty thoughts and a foolish and darkened heart, have them (like most)!

Perhaps, though, just perhaps, you are not interested in being like everyone else. Great!!! Today’s Scripture says that God, not you, is God. Believe that. God is the most important Person in the universe—not you! Moreover, be thankful that He has given you life. Remember, He does not owe you anything! 🙂

What Does God Think?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16 KJV).

What does God think?

Friend, have you ever wondered what God’s position would be on any given subject? Some tell us to enter a “prayer closet” and ask. Others encourage us to follow “hunches” and “inner impressions.” Still others say to listen for voices (“just not audible ones”—whatever that means!). How do we go about ascertaining God’s mind?

Fortunately, God wrote a Book, preserved it through history in a multiplicity of copies, and translated it so we could have it today in our language. As English speakers, we have the Authorized Version, or commonly called “the King James Bible.” There is absolutely no need to wonder, beg, or remain uninformed. It requires work to learn God’s information though. The Bible commands us to be “workmen:” we are to “study [it]… rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15). Of course, it is much easier to let the preacher do all the reading and studying, then go sit and listen to him tell us what the Scriptures say. Which shall we choose?

Moreover, we do not have to struggle to understand, re-translate, or nitpick at hard Hebrew, gobbledygook Greek, arid Aramaic, lifeless Latin, and so on. The 1611 translators already did that work for us. Are we going to submit to and study the standard English Bible text—or are we rather interested in fabricating our own private interpretation? Will we accept the spiritual light offered us in the King James Bible—or are we rather willing to remain confused? It is up to us!

“[12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual…. [16] For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” In the form of the King James Bible, we indeed “have the mind of Christ.” Have we wasted it?