A Life That Will Please

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

“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).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can live a life pleasing in God’s sight!

Everyone does “good” deeds. Yet, doing “good” is not necessarily good. For instance, people often do “good” just to receive praise/reward, make up for their wrongs, feel good, et cetera. Furthermore, despite our “good” deeds, we have plenty more bad ones! Pride, lying, evil thoughts, being a false witness, and being contentious are some of the things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Mankind cannot even keep 10 simple rules from God. However, religion continues to urge us to keep seven sacraments, utter various prayers, give assorted offerings and “tithes,” attend numerous feasts and festivals, and perform sundry other tasks to “hopefully” please God and avoid hellfire. Whether we attempt to keep a church’s laws, our laws, or God’s laws, our flesh is far too weak to ever measure up. Just look at what God’s religion did to Israel—how much worse some man-made religion does to us!

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a religious leader of Israel. He was a nitpicker concerning Law-keeping, and yet, after his soul salvation, he admitted that all of his religion was “but dung” compared to Jesus Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:3-11). Even for the Christian, to live a perfect life is impossible (read of Paul’s miserable existence in Romans chapter 7). Paul had to forsake his vain religion and learn today’s Scripture: the Christian life is NOT the performance of the Christian, but the Lord Jesus Christ living and working in the Christian, as the Christian walks in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to him or her!

If we trust a Saviour who will save—the Lord Jesus Christ—and trust a Book that will teach—the King James Bible—we can redeem the year for the great God and our Saviour, “who loved [us], and gave himself for [us]!” 🙂

Redeem the Year!

Sunday, January 1, 2023

“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).

What great advice for 2023!

Despite 2,000 years of Bible schools and seminaries, 2,000 years of a completed Bible canon, 2,000 years of Bible reading in churches, several decades of “Christian” television and radio, and just over a decade of widespread use of “Christian” websites, how sad that Bible ignorance is still quite extensive (it is as if God never gave His Word to start with!).

Frankly, the Church the Body of Christ needs to wake up! The verse previous to today’s Scripture says, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (verse 14). Paul, loosely quoting Isaiah 60:1, reminded us that the spiritual ignorance that gripped Israel in Isaiah’s day seized Christians in his day—and it still grips Christians 20 centuries later. Feel-good sermons, enjoyable “worship” services, and rites, rituals, and ceremonies will NOT solve this problem—they exacerbate it!

“[God] will have all men to be saved…” (1 Timothy 2:4a). Do you want this New Year to count for God’s glory? First, you need to get saved from sins and hell! You need to become a Christian by trusting in and relying on Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for your sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). That is only part of God’s will for you, for 1 Timothy 2:4b continues, “[God] will have all men… to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Now, God’s will for your Christian life is daily, personal Bible study to renew your mind, so your faith in those verses can cause God to work in your life—it will be His life, thus making you “perfect [spiritually mature], throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

Today’s Scripture urges us to buy back the time Satan has robbed from God (time created for God’s glory). By faith, we need to make that time glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by applying His Word, particularly Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, to our lives. Have a good year in Christ! 🙂

You can download our free “One-Year Bible Reading Schedule.”

See our archived Bible Q&A: “What Scriptural advice can you give me for the New Year?

The Person of the Year

Saturday, December 31, 2022

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” (Philippians 2:9,10a KJV).

Let us praise the 2022 Person of the Year—our Lord Jesus Christ!

Society’s most stressful time of year, the Christmas Season, is winding down. The year 2022 is nearly over, and a new year, 2023, will dawn soon. At this time every year, various groups and publications feature their particular choice for “Person of the Year.” Whether a chief of state, a philanthropist, a religious leader, a distinguished author or scientist, a television or radio personality, or some other “professional” who impacted society in a negative or positive way the most during the past year, they are all still people with limitations and frailties. One can accomplish all sorts of praiseworthy, generous, and awe-inspiring feats. However, what carries the most weight is the attitude, the heart, underlying the action, not the action. Was it Jesus Christ, or simply the flesh?

The one single event in history that pleased God the Father most was when His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, went by faith in His Word, to an awful Roman cross to suffer the worst possible and most graphic death a human ever experienced, to pay for our sins. “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Mark 1:11). It is through that finished crosswork of Jesus Christ that He is still doing mighty works, 20 centuries later. How our Lord Jesus Christ has saved countless souls from sins and hell this past year, and how He has saved innumerable Christian souls from false doctrine and spiritual ruin.

Jesus Christ, who in death defeated His greatest enemy (Satan), was raised by God the Father and is now the ascended and glorified Lord Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture). Saints, may we ever thank and praise our Saviour Jesus Christ for what He has done for us, what He has done with us, and what He will do with us next year… and all the countless ages thereafter….

NOTE: Saints, believe it or not, we close yet another year of grace ministry. Thank you for your continued prayer and encouragement these last 12 months. We surely needed it. While we have come so very far, we still have so much more ground to cover, so much more sound Bible doctrine to learn and believe, and we look forward to serving you here for at least another year (provided our Lord Jesus Christ wills it). So, with that, I sign off for 2022. See you in 2023! 🙂

Scrooges and Christians

Friday, December 16, 2022

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

To the old identity, we say, “Bah, Humbug!” To the new, we say, “God has blessed us, everyone in Christ.”

Other than Jesus Christ’s conception and birth as found in the Holy Bible, there is one other classic story associated with Christmastime. British author Charles Dickens’ 1843 book, A Christmas Carol, focuses on the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge (the novella has some Christian influence).

From the onset, Scrooge is a wealthy, miserable, mean, stingy, and selfish old man. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is underpaid (yet, strangely, Ebenezer observes, Cratchit is cheerful). Scrooge refuses to donate to charities collecting for the destitute—to him, Christmastime is a time for others to “pick his pocket.” He even refuses to attend his nephew’s Christmas party. What a miser!

Through visitations by four Spirits—his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley; and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future—Scrooge is forced to realize what a thoroughly rotten man he is. Once confronted with his future, the awful events that lie ahead, he asks for another chance to make things right (which, thankfully, he receives and does!). The Scrooge at the end of the book is drastically different from the Scrooge at the beginning. Scrooge is now loving, warm, cheerful, and generous—he is a brand-new man.

Bible-believing Christians recognize parallels between Dickens’ work and the Holy Scriptures. The sinner starts off rotten, a rebel from birth—selfish, miserable, and mean. When he or she comes to realize that pitiful condition he or she is in, and comes by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins, God gives him or her a new identity (today’s Scripture). That identity is designed to influence subsequent actions. Scrooge did not simply change his outward activity; he had a change in heart first. This Christmas, let us be submissive to God’s Holy Spirit working in our hearts, as He uses sound Bible doctrine to manifest in our behavior our identity in Christ, that we be not Scrooges.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!”

Religion has done an excellent job (wrongly) teaching us that God likes to rehabilitate humans—that He wants to make us quit doing certain things (“fleshly”) and make us start doing other things (“churchy”). What a very shallow, and actually a false, perception. God wants to do much more than what we could ever do by ourselves.

For good works to reign in our lives, God has to kill us! As sinners, in Adam, we are dead in our trespasses and sins, no life in ourselves (see today’s Scripture). Nothing we can do in our own strength will ever change our (sinful) nature in Adam. However, God offers us death to Adam and a new identity through Christ at Calvary. When we trust that Jesus Christ died for our sins, in God’s mind, we died to sin, too. Christ did not simply die for us but as us. Romans chapters 5 through 8 describe the victory is in Christ, not in Adam or in ourselves. Success is by the power of the Holy Ghost working with the grace doctrines we study and believe, not in our struggles to do right. And so, “Christ [is] formed in [us]” (Galatians 4:19).

Something about which the angels cannot sing, but we can, should, and do! 🙂

Lead By Good Example

Monday, November 28, 2022

“And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself” (Luke 23:35-37 KJV).

When we compare today’s Scripture to Matthew chapter 27, we can make an interesting deduction….

As the Lord Jesus is crucified, they make fun of Him, taunting and insulting Him. They simply cannot fathom how this “great” “Saviour,” this “mighty” “King,” could now seem so defenseless while they mercilessly torture Him. Why does He not deliver Himself? The Roman soldiers tease Him, “If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.” From where did they get this notion?

If we turn to the Book of Matthew, we find these remarks: “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” (Matthew 27:41,42). These “chief priests,” “scribes” (Bible copyists and teachers), and “elders” (aged men) are all members of Israel’s leadership. Apparently, once the Jews ridiculed the Lord, the Gentiles heard it and copied them! This was a reversal of God’s Old Testament hope for Israel, for the Jewish people (the worshippers of the one true God, sole possessors of His Book) were to be good spiritual examples to the Gentiles (who had nothing but mere idols and darkness).

“Therefore I [a Jew] will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen [Gentiles], and I will sing praises unto thy name” (2 Samuel 22:50). “O praise the LORD, all ye nations [Gentiles]: praise him, all ye people” (Psalm 117:1). Declare his glory among the heathen [Gentiles], his wonders among all people” (Psalm 96:3). Saints, lest we be like ancient, apostate Israel at Calvary’s cross, may we properly represent the LORD before the unsaved world around us—leading them to honor the LORD instead of dislike Him!

NOTE: Brethren, this is our final original devotional for 2022, as our classic Christmas studies will now run the rest of the year.

Saved or Lost? #25

Sunday, September 25, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

They were really saved people, just thinking and acting like lost people. Such is still true of millions! Had God’s Word rightly divided actually been received and believed in the heart, we the Church the Body of Christ would be walking in God’s power and will: “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 (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

While the number of genuine Christians has always been low, the percentage of confused Christians has always been high. It is not that “Satan is so powerful,” but rather they have allowed his evil world system to place them into a mold of silly thoughts and unsightly deeds. The Holy Spirit wishes true believers in Christ heed His advice in Romans 12:1,2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren [Christians!!!], by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world [it can happen!!!]: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We close with the following true story. Several years ago, I tried to prevent it but nevertheless witnessed it come to pass. It was the fall of my spiritual mentor, someone under whose ministry I trained for over a decade and whom I still love dearly in the Lord. The entire controversy was painful and devastating beyond words, but, lest I fall with that grace Christian leader, I had to separate from him because of his apostasy (willful doctrinal error and unapologetic dishonesty and treachery). Indeed, we will meet in Heaven and only then will we be restored to fellowship, two saved men whose ministries Satan’s evil world system targeted—one destroyed and the other still not immune from ruin!

-FINIS!-

Saved or Lost? #24

Saturday, September 24, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

The Apostle Paul’s last epistle (2 Timothy) communicates in chapter 4: “[1] I charge [instruct, order] thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant [ready, prepared] in season [convenient times], out of season [inconvenient times]; reprove [cause them to see], rebuke [criticize them], exhort [encourage, urge them] with all longsuffering [patience, put up with it, suffer it a long time!] and doctrine [teaching worth trusting].” Why?“[3] For the time will come when they will not endure [bear/tolerate/stomach] sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. [5] But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Timothy was (we are) to keep on with ministry (sound Bible teaching, Pauline, grace-oriented information), despite the prevalent doctrinal perversion and apostasy (forsaking the truth, whether in or out of churches). Saints, we should be willing to do what we can to reach confused Christians and confused non-Christians alike—and, yes, they are usually nearly impossible to distinguish from each other. I know it is easier to throw up our hands and give in, exclaiming, “This is just not worth it! No one wants to listen! We live in a hopelessly chaotic world! Let them all go to Hell in their ignorance!” Yet, the fact remains we have in sound Bible doctrine all the answers they need—and, if we escaped their errors, they can too… those few who want it. We should make special effort to be a light to them, if at all possible, particularly those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe.

Let us (finally) conclude this devotionals arc….

Saved or Lost? #23

Friday, September 23, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

Scripture describes church leaders as God’s doorkeepers, watching over and guarding local assemblies from any and all error (re-read Acts 20:28-32!). If pastors, bishops, teachers, and preachers would believe and teach sound Bible doctrine (God’s Word rightly divided), false teaching (even non-rightly-divided verses) could be easily refuted. Neither these leaders nor their vulnerable congregants would be led astray.

Alas, for 20 centuries now, the professing church (especially its leadership) has paid almost no attention to the Lord’s special ministry through the Apostle Paul. Sure, they know of Paul, and a great many actually study and quote his writings, but nearly all people throughout church history have made Paul’s ministry a continuation of the 12 Apostles’ ministry, a mere commentator on “the church Jesus founded in Matthew to John,” an extension of the prophetic program, thereby hiding and destroying the very reason for Paul’s ministry (to operate the mystery program, separate and distinct from prophecy—to form the Church the Body of Christ, separate and distinct from the nation Israel).

For 2,000 years now, to Satan’s delight, we have wasted an unfathomable amount of time and energy teaching “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:3,4)—too willful and proud to change our course even up to this present hour. Behold, the dismal results! So many souls profess “belief in Christ,” but it is extremely difficult to discern who is a confused Christian (bound for Heaven, yet thinking like someone headed to Hell) and who is a confused non-Christian (bound for Hell, and lacking discernment to realize it).

Verily, verily, the Lord reads the hearts of all, and He knows the difference between a true (albeit misinformed) member of the Body of Christ and just some lost member of a counterfeit group. Brethren, we need to make sure we are walking in the spiritual light that we have, for, if we are grateful, we will gain more understanding concerning God’s will for us.

Let us (finally) summarize this devotionals arc….

Saved or Lost? #22

Thursday, September 22, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

Re-read Acts 20:28-32, Paul counseling the church elders of Ephesus: Take heed [Watch out!!!! Beware!!!!] therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous [savage, merciless] wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

The Holy Spirit through Paul recognized the hazards were real. People not only outside the church—but inside it too—would seek its ruin. Individuals promoting sundry belief systems would corrupt God’s people, seducing them with foreign doctrines, splintering them into innumerable groups. Paul spent three years cautioning these Ephesian saints. Now bidding them farewell, he “commend[ed] [entrusted for safekeeping] [them] to God, and to the word of his grace,” for grace (Pauline) doctrine would keep them spiritually strong and fit to resist Satan’s lies. Remember, sound Bible doctrine “is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

Roughly six years later, as Paul awaits his martyrdom, he writes to Timothy in Ephesus. That epistle includes a horrible (!!) commentary: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me(2 Timothy 1:15). Christians in “Asia” (modern Turkey; included Galatia, Colosse, Antioch of Pisidia, Lystra, Derbe, Ephesus [!!!]—regions Paul’s ministry had reached for the last 35 [!] years) had predominately forsaken Paul. Yes indeed, the Church the Body of Christ was apostate (fallen from grace/Pauline truth) 20 (!) centuries (!) ago (!)….

Our three latest Bible Q&As: “What are ‘sheaves?,’” “Who or what is ‘Belial?,’” and “What is a ‘concord?’