The Burning Fiery Furnace #10

Saturday, March 12, 2022

“Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:4-6 KJV).

Is today’s Scripture “dead history?” Or, could there be any relevance to something in “the ages to come?”

Dear friends, the evil world system of which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was a part some six centuries before Christ, is the evil world system present with us at this very moment, and is the same evil world system from which the Antichrist will arise when the prophetic program resumes. As Israel’s believing remnant in history chose to separate from it—at whatever cost—so Israel’s believing remnant in the future will decide to keep away from it—at whatever cost. With them before us and after us, we are in the middle on the Bible timeline.

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul exhorts us to also isolate ourselves from false religion: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Of course, if we must face capital punishment for the LORD’S sake as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did long ago, so be it! “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

On the Run!

Friday, January 28, 2022

“But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:10-12 KJV).

Read this sobering statement from a Christian living in the Middle East: “Because we don’t have a church building to gather in, we have to keep our groups small, not more than five or six people. We constantly change days, times, and locations to avoid getting caught.” These are current affairs, friends, reminiscent of the days when the early churches had to hide from Roman authorities or risk death!

Although anti-Christian voices have greatly multiplied and increased in volume in recent years here in the United States, we still have our constitutional rights that protect spiritual liberty… for now. Compared to what Christians are undergoing in other countries, we Americans have it good. Dear friends, never take the Holy Scriptures for granted. Be appreciative of them—especially thankful for those saints who died through the centuries just to make sure we had a copy. This cannot be emphasized enough!

It is so tragic we who have the greatest “religious freedom” in the world are usually the ones most spoiled to the non-spiritual. We bicker about the stupidest matters on social media, sit in front of our television and computer screens several hours a day for amusement, and talk and text message and play games on our smartphones the rest of the time. Meanwhile, Christians in other nations are literally being hunted down, imprisoned, tortured, and executed for God’s Book that sits on our shelf collecting dust. Oh, it is a terrible commentary regarding our beloved nation, but it shows just how shallow in the Scriptures we have been all these centuries. Now, our corporate attitude can no longer be hidden because the culture behind the façade has bulldozed through its shell.

Dear saints, if you are suffering for Jesus Christ’s sake today, remember, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). God’s grace is sufficient—even when you are “on the run!” 🙂

Disciples Three #5

Monday, August 16, 2021

“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest” (Luke 9:57 KJV).

Does today’s Scripture and its context have any modern counterparts? (Indeed, they do!)

Recall the first disciple: “[57] And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. [58] And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Today, many people are eager to become “Christians,” but have they really thought about the result? “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). “[W]e must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). If the lost world hates Jesus Christ, will they love us His Body? Our problems compound—not disappear—when we trust Him as our personal Saviour!

Now, the second disciple: “[59] And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. [60] Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” How often do souls today—even so-called “believers”—claim they will follow Christ after they have had a “good time” in the world. Greediness and materialism are not victorious Christian living! “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

The final disciple declared: “[61] And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. [62] And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” If we truly want to follow Christ Jesus, we must remember to not let this world’s affairs sidetrack us: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection [focus] on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1,2).

Diminish Not a Word! #4

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: (Jeremiah 26:2 KJV).

No matter how offensive they are, we never water down God’s words for anyone!

Jeremiah could have altered God’s Word to make it more palatable. Like the feel-good “Christian” celebrities who mislead multimillions to make multimillions today, he could have preached: “I do not make mention of ‘sin’ in my sermons, for such a word only instills pessimism. We need to think positive thoughts. The LORD is so pleased with Jerusalem and King Jehoiakim. No Divine wrath or Gentile army is coming here to destroy us!” (In fact, false prophets were proclaiming this in Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11, and 23:16-40.)

Had Jeremiah joined the false prophets in their “ear-tickling” messages, he would have surely avoided persecution—particularly his torture and name-calling. Howbeit, him changing the message would ultimately not help his audience. It would only make repentance that much harder. A polluted message would not bring about the change in mind JEHOVAH God wanted, whereas a pure message would cause them to come back to God and avoid the wrath against their idolatry. Whatever Jeremiah said, God would not overlook their sin. Therefore, it was far better for Jeremiah to tell them what they needed to hear rather than what they wanted to hear!

Brethren, when we refuse to speak the words “Hell,” “wrath,” “eternal judgment,” and “sin;” indeed, we have gained the lost world’s friendship. However, we have not changed their impending doom at all! Whether we tell them of their sin problem or not, they still have it, and if they die without Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, they will absolutely not get into Heaven! We may opt out in sharing sound Bible doctrine with fellow Christians, so as to have the praise of these people as well. Yet, we have only played the hypocrite again—and deprived them of what would brought them to spiritual maturity and stability. Again, tell them what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear!

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Diminish Not a Word! #3

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: (Jeremiah 26:2 KJV).

No matter how offensive they are, we never water down God’s words for anyone!

Return to the context of today’s Scripture: “[8] Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die. [9] Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. [10] When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the LORD, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the LORD’S house. [11] Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.

“[12] Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. [13] Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you. [14] As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you. [15] But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.”

Read the rest of the chapter. Whereas Judah’s apostate religious leaders despised Jeremiah and God’s undiluted words, the common Jews appreciated them….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How are we God’s ‘workmanship?’

Diminish Not a Word! #2

Friday, May 28, 2021

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: (Jeremiah 26:2 KJV).

No matter how offensive they are, we never water down God’s words for anyone!

Knowing man’s sinfulness, God advised Jeremiah: “diminish not a word.” Jeremiah was just as human as we are, so he was tempted to make God’s words more attractive to pagan idolaters. When Jeremiah entered his ministry, the LORD had warned him his people would “fight against” him (1:19). Behold the conflict!

Read chapter 20: “[1] Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. [2] Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD. [3] And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur [“liberation”], but Magormissabib [“terror on every side”].” Jeremiah delivered God’s words in chapter 19, and subsequently suffered physical abuse. He was beaten and then placed in the “stocks” (hands and feet held between hinged wooden boards, for everyone to see and ridicule).

Verses 7-9: “O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” Discouraged, tired of the ridicule, Jeremiah refused to preach. Yet, God’s words seethed in his inner man and he started talking again!

Now we get to today’s Scripture, where Jeremiah’s people oppose God’s words once more….

Whose Appeal Do We Seek? #2

Wednesday, April 7, 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).

Do we aim to please God—or men?

In John chapter 9, Christ healed a blind man, whom the unbelieving Pharisees subsequently persecuted: “[19] And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? [20] His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: [21] But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. [22] These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

As opposed to seeking man’s appeal, today’s Scripture exhorts us to be “approved unto God.” If we lack God’s approval, however, He considers us a “castaway:” “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Our service is unacceptable to the Lord who died for us and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15). Having our fellow man’s applause, we are practically useless to our Saviour’s cause! Brethren, let us be mindful of the following passages.

“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free” (Ephesians 6:5-8). “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:22-24).

Whose Appeal Do We Seek? #1

Tuesday, April 6, 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).

Do we aim to please God—or men?

A famous Christian musician once declared that, although he was not ashamed of his faith, he wished to create music with a “universal appeal.” Whether Christian, atheist, Buddhist, or whatever, he wanted all people to enjoy his songs. Another well-known Christian musician disliked his band being labeled “Christian” because that would discourage non-Christians from listening to their work. A celebrity Christian counselor once explained why his writings contained no Scripture verses. Had he included Bible references and quotes, his literature would have had a much smaller audience and his unsaved peers would have never endorsed him!

These are but a few examples of the pitfalls of Christian “fame.” While we might have started out with good intentions, increasing popularity causes us to run the risk of compromising the truth so as to continue “broadening our appeal.” Once endeavoring to draw people to behold the glory of God, we now seek to lure them to see the glory of self. The stigma of being an “outcast for Christ” is simply too much for us to bear. Hence, at the expense of the Lord’s approval, we strive to continue charming our fellow man! Unfortunately, doctrine means nothing to us at that point, for our goal now is to say and write whatever will grow our church, ministry, business, social life, and so on. We remember those striking words of Christ uttered so long ago, just as applicable today: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).

Never should we forget the major thrust of John 12:42,43: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him [Christ Jesus]; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.Here is our choice, dear friends. We either love the praise of men, or we love the praise of God. It is impossible to seek both….

“Fifth-Amendment” Believers

Saturday, March 6, 2021

These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue (John 9:22 KJV).

What are “Fifth-Amendment” believers?

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution affords us the right to refuse to answer questions, especially in criminal trials, which might self-incriminate. In Scripture, we find such “secret” believers in Christ. They dare not publicly declare their faith, lest they be shunned, teased, or even killed!

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:42,43). “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:1,2). (Nicodemus sneaked around in the dark, fearing his unbelieving colleagues.)

Once Jesus healed the blind man in John chapter 9 (cf. today’s Scripture), the Pharisees harass the man’s parents: “[19] And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? [20] His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: [21] But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. [22] These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. [23] Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.”

The Apostle Paul thus besought the Ephesians to pray for him in Ephesians 6:19,20: “…that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

A Naughty Tongue! #13

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

“A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue” (Proverbs 17:4 KJV).

In today’s world of widespread social media, “wicked doer,” “false lips,” “liar,” and “naughty tongue” are all appropriate nouns!

Psalm 63: “[A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.] [1] O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; [2] To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. [3] Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. [4] Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

“[5] My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: [6] When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. [7] Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. [8] My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. [9] But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. [10] They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes. [11] But the king [David!] shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.”

Saints, if we have sound Bible doctrine working in us—as King David did 3,000 years ago—then we will burst forth in song and praise to Almighty God. We can use our tongues to utter man’s foolishness, or God’s wisdom: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). “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). Have not have a “naughty tongue!”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is ‘leasing’ in the King James Bible?