Guarded

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

With today’s Scripture in our hearts and minds, those hearts and minds are guarded!

Second Timothy 3:12 tells us: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Acts 14:22 says of Paul and Barnabas: “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Whenever we purpose to live godly in Christ Jesus, we will suffer persecution. This is a fact of Christian doctrine, even though the popular idea in “churchianity” today is that God wants to remove all of our problems (or remove us from them).

If Satan cannot cause us to change or pervert the doctrine that we teach and preach, then he will do his best in using whatever he can to stop us from teaching and preaching. In other words, after unsuccessfully attacking the message, he proceeds to attack the messenger. Should we worry? Should that bother us? Should we fret? Should that discourage us from even trying to do right at all? No, dear friends, no! Today’s Scripture reminds us not to be “careful”—we should not be anxious, worrisome, taking thought of it.

In our circumstances, regardless of our circumstances, we are “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [to] let [our] requests be made known unto God.” Why? Prayer is not designed to change our circumstances, as commonly thought, but it is to change us within as we endure those circumstances. “The peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall keep [our] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The idea here with “keep” is guard. Satan is out to harm us internally (mentally and spiritually). Thankfully, God has given us the ability—through His written Word and us praying according to it rightly divided—so we can ward off his attacks. Ultimately, it will cause us to think of our circumstances the way God Himself does.

The Final Score

Friday, May 5, 2017

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 KJV).

Lo, the final score!

Friend, have you ever watched a sports game whose score was very close? What about when your favorite team had done so well in previous games, but was now losing so horribly? Surely, the other team would win the game! However, in the final moments, your team surges ahead—beating their opponents by few or many points! See, things can change very quickly in life.

Surveying the realm of Christendom, the truth seems to be losing. The masses flock to the false teachers; very few are interested in sound Bible doctrine. Christians are mercilessly tortured, robbed, silenced, imprisoned, and killed all around the world. God’s Word is ridiculed in many a school classroom and—yes, sadly—in many a “Christian” church! None of this is new, actually. You can study Genesis through Revelation to see that human history is riddled with such depressing news.

From chapter 13 until today’s Scripture, the Lord Jesus has been eating and fellowshipping with His disciples on the night of His death. For much of that time, He has talked to them, telling them various bits of sad news. He informs them that one of them will betray Him (13:21). He will be leaving them (13:33-35). Peter will deny Him thrice (13:38). The world will hate them for following Him (15:18-27). They will be killed for His sake (16:2). They, fearing for their lives, will abandon Him shortly (16:32). What “bad” news! But, will truth lose?

In closing, He says in today’s Scripture, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.” “In the world ye shall have tribulation….” Having awareness of all their upcoming troubles, how could they have peace? The Lord gave them the final score in the battle between good and evil—“but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” He spoke with absolute certainty: no matter what happened to them, no matter how Satan afflicted them, He told them that He (and thus they in Him) had won! Yes, brethren, we win, too! 🙂

An Eternal House in the Heavens #4

Thursday, March 23, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

We look again at 2 Corinthians chapter 4: “[16] For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Notice how, in this the Dispensation of Grace, Scripture emphasizes the “inward man” more than the “outward man.” God is not interested in maintaining these fleshly bodies indefinitely. The Apostle Paul understood this, and we need to as well. What we can see with our physical eyes—including our debilitating physical bodies—is “temporal” (temporary). What we cannot see with our physical eyes—including our “building of God,” resurrected body—is “eternal.” Would you rather focus on the temporal or the eternal, friend?

Paul knew that, while he was enduring those persecutions in the ministry, they were merely a “light affliction.” The word “light” means “easy,” as in “light in weight.” Now, such sufferings were anything but easy to bear because they caused immense grief and pain. Still, compared to spiritual (and more important!) things, they really were “light” (yea, weightless). Those sufferings for Christ’s sake would result in a very heavy reward, one that would be greater than the “light affliction.” It would be “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!”

Friends, we cannot see with our physical eyes the reality of these verses. Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We must adopt Almighty God’s view here, and we can only do this by faith (believing the verses). So, we proceed to read today’s Scripture with its succeeding verses, to see with spiritual eyes what God already sees….

An Eternal House in the Heavens #3

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

Chapter 4 says: “[7] But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [8] We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; [9] Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; [10] Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. [11] For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. [12] So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”

After delineating his various persecutions and bodily sufferings for the sake of conducting his Gospel ministry, Paul closed the chapter with: “[15] For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. [16] For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Like all of us, Paul was tempted to look at his (outward) circumstances. Trouble followed him wherever he went. Jewish unbelievers and Gentile unbelievers alike wanted him dead! His “outward man” (visible, physical body) endured numerous forms of torture, abuse, and degeneration (see chapter 11, verses 23-28). Eventually, it would “perish” (be destroyed), returning to the ground from whence it came. Still, Paul was more focused on the “inward man,” the invisible man, that which was “renewed day by day….”

Grace Abounding

Monday, October 17, 2016

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18,19 KJV).

Grace to hundreds of nations and billions of sinners—God’s abounding grace!

Recently, a Christian sister, experiencing marital difficulties, asked me why God had not yet punished her husband for the despicable evils he was still committing against her. I replied, “We are living in the Dispensation of Grace!” Now, please understand. God still hates sin as much as He ever has. Sin nailed His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to the cross, so He will never change His attitude about sin. Still, that finished crosswork satisfied His wrath against man’s sin. When Jesus’ soul was literally offered for sin (Isaiah 53:10), He experienced on the cross what lost people experience forever in hellfire. God’s wrath came down upon Christ in the utmost severity. Thus, He cried out from His cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The holy God of the Bible forsook Christ, that we, by faith, would have redemption in Him, so He not forsake us in hellfire.

Instead of His wrath and judgment, today’s Scripture says the God of the Bible is offering to all nations (and individuals) of the world to come fellowship with Him through His Son. He changed their status, from being worthy of punishment, to being recipients of His grace. People still die and go to hell today, but they do so having rejected the Gospel of the Grace of God that would have saved them from that penalty of sin. They had a chance to be permanently reconciled to God by His Son’s death, and they refused it. God is not “getting even” with anyone—Christians or lost people—living today. The only divine punishment in the Dispensation of Grace is after physical death. In our Dispensation of Grace, God’s attitude toward the world is highlighted in the opening line of every Pauline epistle“grace and peace.”

“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

Sparrows and Saints

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31 KJV).

A noted atheist once openly ridiculed “soft-hearted” God for “weeping” when a sparrow fell. What is our answer to such a fool?

Today’s Scripture says, in New Testament times, two sparrows were worth one “farthing” (also called an assarius). A “penny” (also called a denarius) was a laborer’s daily wages (Matthew 20:2). The assarius was about 1/16th of a penny. Imagine your wages for working 1/16th of a day. That was the price of two sparrows. Halve that to get the price of one sparrow. One would only have to work 1/32nd of a day to buy one sparrow. You could work a full day and buy 32 sparrows. In other words, sparrows were inexpensive in terms of human assessment. But, in the Lord Jesus’ estimation, every little sparrow was valuable. The Father would notice when an “insignificant” sparrow would “fall on the ground” (assuming death). After all, that sparrow was the descendant of the original birds He had directly created via His spoken word. He never intended even one animal to die! Death was man’s doing, not God’s!

Yet, even “many sparrows” (despite God’s value of them) were nothing compared to His believers. “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Take time today to read Matthew chapter 10 very closely. You can see the Lord Jesus Christ preparing His 12 apostles (and, more generally, believing Israel) to experience very difficult times. They will have to endure the extreme pressures of the coming Antichrist’s rule. Friends, that future persecution of Israel’s Little Flock is beyond our comprehension. For following Jesus Christ, all will lose family members and friends. They will also lose their homes, clothes, employment, and access to food. Some will lose their lives.

What the Lord Jesus skillfully did in today’s Scripture is encourage believing Israel, paraphrased, “Just as My Father notices an inexpensive sparrow dying, He will notice you suffering and dying for His Son’s name! He is watching everything and will punish your persecutors in due time!”

Hated But Humble

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (John 15:18,19 KJV).

We are hated but humble!

A new Christian emailed me in exasperation. Tired of how people had treated him, he wanted to go to heaven and leave this planet of such great evils! He explained he did not care how he lived anymore—even if those frivolous actions made other Christians or lost people stumble! Thankfully, the Bible truths I shared with him helped him recover himself out of the snare of the Devil.

That brother needed to be reminded Jesus Christ was treated most horribly. He was hated without a cause(John 15:25). People have various reasons for hating us. Some are justified. Perhaps we lied to or about them, or stole from them, or cursed them out! However, they had no reason to hate Jesus Christ. He did nothing wrong—to them or anyone else. All Christ did was preach God’s truth and love, and they demanded His crucifixion!! Despite how they treated Him, He still lived righteously for the sake of His Heavenly Father whom He represented. Brethren, let us do the same, remembering not to live unto ourselves, but unto the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Philippians chapter 2 exhorts us: “[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do we suffer?