333 Turns 7!

Friday, June 1, 2018

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 KJV).

Dear brethren, it has taken us seven years to get this far—only by God’s grace, we have made it!

Today’s Scripture says that God’s Word, the Holy Bible, is “quick” and “powerful.” The word “quick” is zao, “life” (think zoology)—it is not dead but alive. Christ Jesus said in John 6:63: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” When the Bible is said to be “powerful,” that term is energes, “effectual” (think energy)—it is operational or active. First Thessalonians 2:13 says: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”

Every day for the last seven years, we have gathered here to read excerpts from the Word of God rightly divided. We have been imparted the doctrine that can provide us with the life of God Himself. There is no reason for any of us to be lost, unsaved, without the life of God. Also, there is no reason for any of us to be saved and not have the life of God evident in our life. Furthermore, we have been given the doctrine that can provide us with the energy of God Himself. There is no reason for any of us to be helpless, defeated, without the power of God.

In Scripture, seven is the number of completion, and eight symbolizes new beginnings. However, that does not mean that we have ended our devotionals project. Rather, we are opening up another seven years. There is still more to learn about God’s life. There is still more energy to gain from God’s Word. Our key is to believe what we read in the Scriptures… “the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” Onward to Year 8!

Special-edition Bible Q&A #500: “How do we identify false teachers?

A Miserable “Law-Keeper!”

Thursday, May 31, 2018

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin (Romans 7:24,25 KJV).

As Paul closes Romans chapter 7, he is miserable and despondent. How he wants to be delivered from daily failures (religious bondage, legalism)! Suddenly, he realizes that he needs to thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Chapter 8 is the key to being rescued from all his daily disappointments and faults. He is to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh! He is to mind the things of the Spirit and not the things of the flesh!

Romans 8:1-6 is the key to Paul’s dilemma at the conclusion of chapter 7: “[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” We are to think the way the Holy Spirit thinks (grace), and that is how we guard against the predicament in chapter 7.

Today, read Romans chapters 6-8 in one sitting. Watch the truths in chapter 6 be ignored in chapter 7. Then, notice how they are reaffirmed and expanded in chapter 8. We are dead to sin (chapter 6), we are dead to the Law (chapter 7), and we are alive unto God by the indwelling Holy Spirit (chapter 8). “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).

Dear friends, we now close seven full years of “333 Words of Grace!” Only by God’s grace, onward into Year 8! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How did the Law kill Paul?

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 28, 2018

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should women speak in church?

A Higher Education: It Is Up to You!

Friday, May 19, 2018

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 KJV).

Twelve years ago today, I graduated high school. Consequently, we dedicate this devotional to high school students who are nearing graduation.

Are you about to graduate high school? What would God have you do afterward? Go to college? Trade school? Something else? What career should you pursue? If you do plan on education after high school, where should you attend school? These are tough questions, and while God’s Word does not answer them, you can make decisions that conform to sound Bible doctrine—that is God’s will.

In today’s Scripture, Paul encourages downcast Timothy. Timothy was considerably younger than the Apostle Paul. Older people who are teaching false doctrine are intimidating young Timothy: “Tim, you are too young to teach God’s Word. Let us handle it.” Young Timothy conceded, became silent, and allowed the (“older and wiser”) false teachers to continue teaching their damnable heresies (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 1:5-8). Paul replied, “Timothy, Speak up! Let no man despise thy youth!”

Christian youth can be just as effectual in their station in life as Christian adults. The lost world is watching us Christians, and we need to be sure that our actions are in accordance with the sound Bible doctrine we claim to believe (lest we be guilty of confusing the already-puzzled unbelievers). Whether “young or old,” our speech, our lifestyle, our acts of love, our determination, our belief in sound Bible doctrine, and our separation from that which God hates, is the way we communicate to the lost world God’s Word and its preeminence in our lives and hearts (today’s Scripture).

Above all, dear graduates, whatever you do post-graduation, “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). After all, it really is not your life—it is Christ’s life in you (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4), so He alone deserves the glory! 🙂

*Based on a Bible study by the same name, which can be read here. Also, see the study “The Spirit-Filled Student.”

By the way, you may also be interested in reading this archived special-edition study about my own college experience.

Dear Friends Divided!

Monday, May 14, 2018

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17,18 KJV).

Doctrine divides, dear friends—doctrine divides dear friends!

When the ecumenist laments, “Doctrine divides,” he or she (for once) is telling the truth. Dearest of friends, doctrine divides dearest of friends. It is asserted that false teachers “really are not that bad,” that “they can be reformed or salvaged,” that “they are entitled to their opinions as we ours.” We are urged, “Stop causing trouble by emphasizing doctrine and just preach the ‘love of Jesus!’ We can all be united as ‘Christians’ if nothing more.”

These last several months, I have learned firsthand (and most painfully!!) the closest-knit congregation is not immune to being split so mightily because it falls away from sound Bible doctrine. Intimate, long-time friends in the ministry have turned on me in the blink of an eye, becoming my enemies like I have never even dreamed. Once Christians turn away from the truth, Satan wastes no time to penetrate the group with as much as error as he possibly can. When the assembly reaches that point, your numerous warnings have been ignored, it is apparent that you can do nothing but apply today’s Scripture. With a broken heart (!), you have to give those precious brethren over to what they want.

So emotionally driven, these brethren passionately defend the false teacher and make you appear as the evil one. Be not surprised! When they have no sound Bible doctrine on which to stand, they, being deceived, will speak vicious, offensive words about you for calling attention to doctrinal error. You can and should pray for them (1 Corinthians 1:4-10), you can and should forgive them as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32), but things will never be the same between you and them as long Heaven is far away. The ministry is not for wimps, dear friends, the ministry is not for wimps!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What do you mean—‘the prophetic program’ and ‘the mystery program?’

Mother: A Virtuous Woman

Sunday, May 13, 2018

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10 KJV).

Today is Mother’s Day, so we dedicate this devotional to godly women (specifically mothers). I especially dedicate this to the virtuous woman who has been in my life for almost 30 years… my mom!

Today’s Scripture is the first verse of the Bible’s “Virtuous Woman” passage (Proverbs 31:10-31). King Solomon explained that the virtuous woman:

  • has a husband who safely trusts in her (verses 11,12).
  • is not lazy, but is strong because she works to feed and clothe her family and herself (verses 13-19,21,22,24,25,27).
  • pities the poor and needy (verse 20).
  • has a husband who is well-known because of her godly lifestyle (verse 23).
  • opens her mouth with wisdom, and speaks kindly and lovingly (verse 26).
  • has children and a husband who praise her (verse 28).
  • excels in what she does (verse 29).
  • has works that praise her (verse 31).

Verse 30 explains the virtuous woman is “a woman that feareth the LORD.”

The Apostle Paul wrote that godly women should: not slander/gossip, not be controlled by alcohol and emotions (sober minded), be teachers of good things, love their husbands and children, be cautious and modest, maintain the home, be “good,” and should obey (respect) their husbands… “that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). A Christian woman, especially a mother, should be a virtuous woman in beliefs as well as in deed. She needs to set an example for her children (especially her daughters).

A Christian woman and/or Christian mother places her faith in this sound Bible doctrine, the indwelling Holy Spirit will then take that doctrine and transform her for God’s glory (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Her mind will be renewed by sound Bible doctrine, and that will transform her outward activity (Romans 12:1,2).

Are you a Christian woman or Christian mother who desires to be the woman God intends you to be in Christ Jesus? Place your faith in this sound Bible doctrine, and God will take care of the rest!

 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO OUR READERS WHO ARE MOTHERS!

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

Manage Your Time Wisely

Saturday, May 5, 2018

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-17 KJV).

A wise Christian brother recently explained to me that, since he would rather study his Bible, he had not watched television in four years. (I told him he had not missed anything important anyway!)

Thanks to various distractions, we could all study Scripture more (yes, even me). To study more verses, we would have to give up time spent on other activities—movies, games, television shows, vacations, social media, and so on. Indeed, we are to hold down a job and spend quality time with our families: these cannot and should not be infringed upon. However, the fact remains that we should spend our (free) time wisely.

Pleasures per se are not sinful, for God “giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Contrary to popular belief, Christian living is not about how much one can suffer and give up to please God. It is about recognizing the significance and brevity of this earthly life, this “training period” before eternity, with our goal being to have gold, silver, and precious stones (sound Bible doctrine) rather than wood, hay, and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:9-15). Therefore, some centuries ago, a man declared that he would be locking up all his books for seven years—except his Bible! Those distracting volumes were no longer his priorities. He would finally stress the eternal rather than the temporal!

Today’s Scripture is Paul’s admonition to the Ephesian saints who, in part, have become thoughtless and wasteful. Verse 14, sadly, says they are spiritually asleep. This could have easily been written to today’s professing Body of Christ. They have grown dull to perceiving the Satanic policy of evil working mightily around them in this present world. Their spiritual ignorance means they participate in the Devil’s plans to thwart God’s will for them! Having already had plenty of opportunity to learn, they still lack a clear understanding of what God wants for them. They (we) need to learn and believe sound Bible doctrine. Satan is foolishly wasting his time, but that does not mean we have to join him!