Preach with Conviction!

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

“And all bare him [the Lord Jesus Christ] witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22 KJV).

Saints, may we preach with conviction!

Many years back, a man approached the pastor after church service and expressed the following observation: “You delivered your message with such conviction that you sounded like you actually believed what you said, like there was no alternate view.” The preacher replied, “If I thought and believed it was some other way, I would have taught it that other way!”

It is rather unfortunate, but that man had grown so accustomed to hearing ministers use the Bible flippantly or lightheartedly. For example, he was in the habit of hearing words to the effect of, “Some believe this verse means this, but others teach it means that, so you can pick and choose what you believe.” (To wit, the preacher is just as unskilled in the Word as his congregation!) Therefore, when the man heard a Spirit-filled preacher use the Scriptures solemnly and deliver an authoritative or well-founded sermon that actually made sense, he was rather shocked. (Likewise, so were the synagogue attendees when the Lord addressed them in today’s Scripture!)

Dear brethren, the preacher’s response encapsulates what should constitute our ministry. Lost people may be spiritually blind, but, sad to say, they are more willing to spot a religious hypocrite from a much farther distance than the average professing Christian. Just as we would not care to hear some boring speaker talk about a topic they have no real passion to teach, individuals know when someone is faking or guessing in the pulpit and they will thus turn away with increasing cynicism. By the tone of our voice, by the depth of our material, and by the authority with which we preach, our audience will know if we are sincere and actually trust what we exhort them to hear from us. If they can sense we doubt what we are telling them, they will fail to appreciate—yea, actually detest—the Scriptures and will see no reason to believe them either. Let us not be hypocrites in the church building… particularly in the pulpit!

Frozen in Death #5

Saturday, June 18, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

Read Matthew 21:18-22 and Mark 11:12-14,20-26. On the Monday before His Thursday crucifixion, Christ Jesus was near Jerusalem when He encountered a fig tree “and found nothing thereon, but leaves only” (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:13). Here was Israel’s religious system symbolized—advertising its superficial “greeneries” (alleged “life”) but, upon closer examination, utterly fruitless inside (spiritually dead and therefore useless to God)! In fact, this narrative of the fig tree is presented in conjunction with the Lord purging the polluted Jerusalem Temple of Satan’s emissaries (see Matthew 21:12-17 and Mark 11:15-19). You can also compare it to The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree in Luke 13:6-9, Christ seeking fruit (faith and good works) in national Israel but finding none during His three-year earthly ministry.

Let us ponder another illustration. Imagine a dead tree with bare branches, with neither leaves nor fruit. We can glue green leaves to it, and hang ripe fruit from it—but that nice external appearance does not detract from the fact that tree is lifeless. Religion is dead, so it cannot produce the life of God. Think of yet another analogy. We can take a dirty, dead battery and clean it with soap and water—but it is still powerless. Religion has no power, so it cannot produce the works of God.

Victorious Christian living occurs when we are strengthened with might by [God’s] Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts by faith…” (Ephesians 3:16,17). If we are alive in Jesus Christ, it is His life, and He will produce fruit: “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11). “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart(Ephesians 6:6). We learn and believe the principles of grace outlined in Romans through Philemon, thereby eschewing spiritual hypocrisy, duplicity, and immobility!

Frozen in Death #4

Friday, June 17, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

In Matthew chapter 15, the Lord Jesus censured the vain, hollow religious system corrupting His nation: “[7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [Isaiah 29:13] prophesy of you, saying, [8] This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Also, the parallel passage, Mark chapter 7: “[6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Verily, they read and heard the Hebrew Bible during synagogue services every Saturday Sabbath. Doubtless, they sang excerpts from the Book of Psalms at their religious gatherings—including the feast days. “How we love God! Praise the LORD!” However, it was empty talk: there was no internal faith in their spiritual heart to correspond to the holy words proceeding from their physical lips. Their unbelief, refusing to trust Jesus as Christ during His earthly ministry, proved that was so. What is far more important is the heart attitude, a love for the LORD’S Book and a sincere quotation of its teachings, not blindly following religious “authorities” who simply and mindlessly utter sound waves for religious duty’s sake!

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16). It is the Word of God’s Grace—His Bible rightly divided—that we trust and then apply to our daily lives, the resultant joy manifesting itself in songs. Here is how we avoid boarding the “frozen ship….”

Frozen in Death #3

Thursday, June 16, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

Christ denounced Israel’s religious leaders during His earthly ministry: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:25-28).

Religion emphasizes formalism, adhering to rules and regulations so as to produce a desired outward appearance (but ignoring the inside—a heart of faith). Consider Jesus’ illustrations. Think of washing a cup’s outside, but leaving its inside dirty (and the inside, where the drink goes, is the more important surface!). Imagine cleaning the dish’s bottom, but letting its top remain filthy (and the top, where the food is placed, is the more important surface!). The Jews of the first century scrubbed and painted graves bright white so as to clearly demarcate the location of “unclean” corpses (see Numbers 19:11,16 for the reason). Even though these tombs had a delightful exterior, what really mattered was the disgusting interior: within were human remains decomposing because of sin! What seemed righteous on the outside was actually unrighteous on the inside.

Let us remember the “frozen ship” that we read about earlier. We can be active with our church and ministry programs, conferences, schools, and all the rest. Yet, is it empty works-religion (our spiritually-dead flesh impersonating Jesus Christ) or sound Bible doctrine (the indwelling Holy Spirit working in and through us as we who are alive in Christ walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to us)? It can either be “broken cisterns, that can hold no water,” or “the fountain of living waters.” The choice is ours….

Bowed Together! #8

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

“And he [the Lord Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:10-12 KJV).

What lesson is the Holy Spirit conveying through this passage of the Holy Bible?

Recall the Sabbath Day was to serve as Israel’s weekly reminder to contemplate God’s work during the Creation Week and subsequent rest (cf. Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11). Every Saturday, the Jews were to stop their labors and remember God’s purpose and plan for Creation. Why had the LORD rested that first Sabbath? His work completed, it was time for Him to enjoy the Heavens and the Earth! Alas, sin entered the world through Adam in Genesis chapter 3. Whatever God intended for Creation has yet to be fulfilled. Israel had been formed to take Adam’s place in the Earth, but she too rebelled and willfully followed Satan!

Sabbath rest ultimately looks toward Millennial Kingdom rest, when all Creation is delivered from Satan and sin, and God’s original purpose in Creation is finally brought to pass (see Hebrews 3:7–4:11). Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ performed a series of Sabbath miracles—including the healing of the “bowed together” woman—to highlight the deliverance connected to His earthly kingdom.

Upon hearing God’s wonderful promises to sinful Israel, Satan objects in Isaiah 49:24, “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?” Verses 25 and 26: But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour [!] and thy Redeemer [!], the mighty One of Jacob.

“And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him” (Luke 13:17).

Bowed Together! #7

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

“And he [the Lord Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:10-12 KJV).

What lesson is the Holy Spirit conveying through this passage of the Holy Bible?

Although the disabled woman “glorified God” because of her healing (verse 13), the ruler of the synagogue “answered with indignation” (verse 14). He is angry the Lord Jesus has violated rabbinical traditions, religious rules that forbade the rendering of medical aid on the Sabbath unless in life-and-death situations. “Jesus should have cured her yesterday or tomorrow! Her condition was not urgent enough that He had to help her today!”

Verses 15 and 16: “The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” Wow! Now there is a rebuttal involving great thought. Here these Jewish religionists would work by freeing their animals to drink water even on the Sabbath, but they had the audacity to criticize the Lord loosing a human hostage and leading her to wholesome life on the Sabbath!? Whereas they pitied beasts, they were callous toward their fellow people! Such confusion and nonsense are found among the “animal rights” activists today, with human life meaningless but animal life exalted.

Christ identified the woman’s—and Israel’s—overall problem. Through his lie program, Satan has “bound” her, made her his prisoner by placing her in shackles or chains (sin and false religion). Yet, God can and does free her: “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” In fact, notice she is “a daughter of Abraham” (verse 16), a Jewess. Jesus’ earthly ministry is to liberate Israel from Satanic captivity, and there is no better day than the Sabbath Day to teach such a lesson….

Bowed Together! #6

Monday, January 10, 2022

“And he [the Lord Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:10-12 KJV).

What lesson is the Holy Spirit conveying through this passage of the Holy Bible?

Continue reading the verse following today’s Scripture: “And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” In addition to declaring the powerful words of God—those which impart life and health—the Lord Jesus touches the infirm woman with His hands. Here are the mighty hands of the Creator at work! “Immediately,” she is recovered from the effects of sin and Satan’s evil world system. Unlike the “miracles” of modern “sideshow Christianity,” this is no gradual healing that takes hours, days, weeks, months, or years to realize. No, instantly, her chronic disability is corrected.

How do those in the synagogue respond to this miraculous demonstration? Verse 14 relates: “And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.” This caretaker of the synagogue and organizer of its services is outraged. Vaguely appealing to Exodus 20:8-11 and Genesis 2:1-3, as well as Judaistic traditions, he exclaims, “Jesus, today is the Sabbath Day, and this is to be a time of rest not work! Furthermore, as you know, according to rabbinical interpretations of these passages, medical aid is not to be rendered on the Sabbath unless in the case of life-threatening situations! You should have let her come on a non-Sabbath day to heal her! How dare you work on the Sabbath!”

Of course, hypocrisy and confusion abound in these statements of the synagogue ruler. Like his apostate nation, he has taken the position of doubt not faith. Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ cleverly answers him in a most unexpected way….

Not Showboats!

Monday, May 17, 2021

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

Many years ago, a brother who was teaching on today’s Scripture was wise and careful to point out a striking fact. Indeed, we are to study to shew ourselves approved unto God, and not be showboats!

“Showboat” is an informal title for someone who performs outrageously or ostentatiously to draw attention. Such a pretentious person is also called a “show-off.” Brethren, it is completely (!) unacceptable (!) for us to use dispensational Bible study for an occasion to the flesh. Father God never intended us to utilize His Word rightly divided as a way to show others how “smart,” “studious,” or “religious” we are. Denominationalism can be summarized as display—people intentionally behaving a certain way with the sole purpose of impressing onlookers. Are we denominationalists? No! Then why would we want to act like them?!

Dear saints in the grace ministry, why do we study the King James Bible dispensationally? Our attitude, not our activity, matters the most—and God knows what our intention really is! We should ask ourselves questions. Do we rightly divide the Word of Truth to worship the Lord, to learn about what He is doing today, so that we can then, by faith, join Him? Or, do we rightly divide the Word of Truth to be at the center of attention, engender fights, and think ourselves superior to others? Be careful!!! Do not let Satan corrupt the Lord’s ministry!!!

“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God (1 Corinthians 4:1-5).

Found Out and Fractured in Twain #35

Friday, February 12, 2021

“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23 KJV).

Doubtless, we never want to sensationalize or exaggerate. However, the fact remains, some dark days are ahead for the United States and the rest of the world. What can we Bible-believing Christians do?

In the context of intense social difficulties, including religious deception, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul penned in chapter 3 of 2 Timothy: “[14] But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; [15] And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (Read the whole chapter for the contrast.)

Proceed into chapter 4: “[1] I charge 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 in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure 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.”

Christians should “continue… in the things” they have “learned,” remembering these “things” are Pauline doctrine, the grace principles of Romans through Philemon. The very reason the professing church is in such shambles today is because it refused to heed this advice 2,000 years ago (cf. 2 Timothy 1:15). Believe and preach the Word rightly divided! If we believers in Christ save ourselves from the erroneous teachings of Satan’s evil world system, then we have a pure message to share with lost people, that they might also believe and pass from death to life, that their sin not find them out in eternity and perpetually fracture them in twain.

-FINIS!-

Found Out and Fractured in Twain #34

Thursday, February 11, 2021

“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23 KJV).

Doubtless, we never want to sensationalize or exaggerate. However, the fact remains, some dark days are ahead for the United States and the rest of the world. What can we Bible-believing Christians do?

We recall Galatians 6:7, although with the next two verses now: “[7] Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. [8] 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. [9] And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Firstly, we can sow to the flesh, and the flesh will give us a harvest of corruption (losing our battle with sin). Let us not be misled into thinking the flesh (our sin nature from Adam) will result in something other than failure. Or, we can sow to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will give us a harvest of life everlasting (winning our battle with sin). Let us not be tricked into thinking the Spirit (our new nature from Christ) will result in something other than victory.

We can have either no Christian living or triumphant Christian living. If we are not living with Galatians 6:7-9 in our thoughts, we are walking “in the vanity [emptiness, worthlessness] of [our] mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in [us], because of the blindness of [our] heart” (Ephesians 4:17,18). As the lost world has sown to the flesh—that is, lived in sin—and its sin has found it out and divided it (negative), so we can sow to the Holy Spirit—that is, live in righteousness—and our righteousness will find us out and unite us (positive). Our maintaining grace doctrine as Bible believers will hinder the lie program from advancing faster. Yet, if we continue in our ways of false teaching, the Body of Christ itself will be divided and hasten the furtherance of evil. It is our choice.

Let us (finally!) conclude this devotionals arc….

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