Keep Yourselves in the Love of God #3

Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 21 KJV).

How will today’s Scripture benefit the nation Israel in “the ages to come?”

Near the completion of His ministry, in what is called His “Second Olivet Discourse,” the Lord Jesus replied to a question about the “sign of [his] coming, and of the end of the world” (Matthew 24:3). The Bible quotes Him as saying (in part): “[9] Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. [10] And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. [11] And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. [12] And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

Luke 21:16,17 is a companion passage: “[16] And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. [17] And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” (Also see Mark 13:9-13.)

The night before He died, He again prepared His disciples for the time of their coming persecution, “[2] They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. [3] And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me” (John 16:2,3).

Considering all what Israel’s little flock will experience during the time of Jacob’s trouble, the final seven years of God dealing with her national sins, these precious Messianic Jews need to hear, understand, and believe the words of the Holy Spirit spoken through Jude. Today’s Scripture and its context are actually a four-fold method that God will strengthen the Jewish believers as they suffer at the hands of their enemies—yea, their hateful family members—for Jesus Christ’s sake. Let us now briefly analyze this four-fold edification, with today’s Scripture particularly in mind….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Israel have to keep so many ‘strange’ laws?

Kooks for Christ

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake (Matthew 5:11 KJV).

Are you a “kook for Christ?” Happy are ye!

Satan is a very shrewd enemy, having perfected his strategy for 6,000 years. Equipped with above-human intelligence and practice with mankind during all those millennia, he knows us better than we know ourselves. If he is unsuccessful in attacking the message (if he cannot entice us to corrupt/change God’s Word), then he will focus on us—attack us and discourage us, to discredit us, to force us to quit.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that, like he and the other apostles suffered for Jesus Christ, they too should be willing to do so: “[9] For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. [10] We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised” (1 Corinthians 4:9,10).

Our Lord Jesus said to His Jewish disciples in today’s Scripture: “[11] Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. [12] Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11,12). Jesus reminded them that, like all the saints of old, they too would suffer because of Him. Yet, God would not overlook their suffering; He Himself would reward them in due time.

When people give us bizarre looks for preaching the pure Word of God, call us evil names, think of us as crazy, physically attack us, we should be thrilled to suffer for Jesus Christ. What an honor! Even when professing Christians side against us by allying with lost people, we need not be bothered or discouraged. As a dear Christian friend and brother in the ministry says, “I would rather be a ‘fool’ for Christ, than an idiot for the Devil!” 🙂

Cain Came and Brought Shame #9

Monday, June 30, 2014

“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD” (Genesis 4:1 KJV).

Can you identify the very significant phrase our King James Bible contains in today’s Scripture, and why it was said?

Daniel 9:26,27 says, “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary…. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease….”

Firstly, the Holy Ghost moved the Prophet, 600 years in advance, to predict Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Secondly, Daniel foretold that “the prince,” someone after Messiah (a false Messiah), would arise and make a covenant with “many” (chiefly Israel, but probably with her Middle-East enemies also). The Apostle John indicates that this “one-week” covenant, or peace treaty, is actually a week of years (that is, seven years; see Revelation 11:3 and Revelation 12:6, which divide the seven years into two 1260-day periods).

There has not been a Jewish Temple operating in Jerusalem since A.D. 70 (when the Romans destroyed it), so the Antichrist will rebuild it and resume the sacrifices as commanded in the Old Testament (which sacrifices God forbade after Jesus Christ’s once-for-allsacrifice of Himself; Hebrews 10:1-31). Israel’s believing remnant will recognize the Antichrist’s religion as satanic, but the rest of Israel will be duped, captivated by its “godly appearance,” thinking they are serving JEHOVAH (after all, the Antichrist will be quoting Moses’ books as proof of his religion’s “godliness!”).

Halfway into those seven years, the Antichrist will force all sacrifices to cease (Daniel 9:27, quoted above). As Paul wrote, he will then sit in the Temple, “shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The Antichrist will demand worship (Revelation 13:1-18), and just as Abel refused to convert to Cain’s “sacrificial system,” so believing Jews will decline to partake of Antichrist’s wickedness. Hence, we read about the saints “beheaded for the witness of Jesus” (Revelation 20:4; cf. Revelation 6:9-11).

While we have merely scratched the surface, let us summarize this devotionals arc….

Victory in an Unfair World

Saturday, February 22, 2014

“These things have I 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).

No matter what may be done, victory in Christ is surely won!

Injustice—such is the lot of sinners in a fallen creation. The psalmist questioned, “LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?” (Psalm 94:3). Zophar, one of Job’s “friends,” answered, “Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?” (Job 20:4,5).

In the context of today’s Scripture, our Lord Jesus is preparing His apostles to bear the worst life experience they have known. They do not understand it yet, but they will soon witness horrific events—Messiah’s arrest, torture, and death by crucifixion. Their King will perish, and their whole world will be destroyed. Satan will appear to have won, for the Man whom they thought would deliver Israel will be murdered and buried.

Just hours before the awful events on Mount Calvary, Christ encouraged His Little Flock. He consoled them in today’s Scripture, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” No matter what happened—to Him or to them—He declared that He had already won, and that He secured victory for them! Yes, He would be nailed to Calvary’s tree and die, but He would be raised again the third day and triumph over death! Yes, they would be imprisoned and killed for His sake, but He would resurrect them and bring them into their kingdom!

Israel’s Little Flock would have difficult days ahead, but, “in Christ,” they would have God’s victory. Likewise, in this world filled with grief, uncertainty, and suffering, “Nay, in all these things [troubles of life, verses 35 and 36] we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). 🙂

God’s Family #3

Monday, February 3, 2014

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 KJV).

How enjoyable it is to fellowship with other members of God’s family!

Save the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12, the Thessalonians were the most spiritually mature assembly of Christians recorded in Scripture. The Apostle Paul wrote two brief epistles to them, commending their sound testimonies, encouraging their endurance under intense persecution, and urging them to grow even more in Christ. The Thessalonians “received the word [of God] in much affliction” (1 Thessalonians 1:6): they had “persecutions and tribulations,” great sufferings (2 Thessalonians 1:4-7), and 1 Thessalonians 2:14 indicates their fellow Greeks (albeit unsaved/pagans) were responsible for their distresses.

The language of 1 Thessalonians 4:13—“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope”—indicates some of the Thessalonian Christians were being martyred, killed by their pagan neighbors. The Holy Spirit, working in and through Paul, addressed the Thessalonians’ concerns: “What happened to our brothers and sisters in Christ who were killed? Will we ever see them again?” (Being former pagans themselves, their Greek philosophy denied bodily resurrection, so Paul affirmed the doctrine.)

Paul continues, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (verse 14). The verb “sleeping” describes the appearance of their physical bodies, not the state of their souls and spirits (cf. Daniel 12:2; Revelation 6:9-11). Our brothers and sisters who have died in Christ, their physical bodies are here, buried on earth, yet Paul wrote “will God bring [them] with Him.” To wit, the “real” them—their souls and spirits—are in the third heaven! Just as Paul heard some fantastic words and sounds in heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-4), the saints in heaven are enjoying fellowship with other Christians and Jesus Christ (being “far better with Christ” [Philippians 1:23], they are unaware of how long they have been there!).

If you think Christian fellowship on earth is enjoyable, just wait until heaven….

Tips to Timid Timothy to Tolerate Troubling Times #9

Monday, December 9, 2013

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV).

We have often heard the expression “timid Timothy,” but have you ever wondered why he was timid?

It is human nature to avoid trouble (this is especially beneficial for self-preservation!). Consequently, the prosperity theology (“God will rid you of all financial, romantic, and medical problems”) that it is often promoted today under the guise of Christianity, is very popular.

Nevertheless, Paul and Barnabas traveled, “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 (Acts 14:22). Paul and Barnabas knew that Christians would suffer persecution and other troubles (they knew firsthand!), and that Satan would use those dire circumstances to discourage them and subvert their spiritual growth. Thus, Paul and Barnabas encouraged them not to grow weary.

The Thessalonians were model Christians—they were spiritual, the complete opposite of the carnal Corinthian Christians. Despite great persecution and even martyrdom in their midst, the Thessalonians were joyful and, by faith, stood steadfast in their identity in Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3-10; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-17; 1 Thessalonians 3:3-13; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10). They had matured enough to grasp today’s Scripture, and they did not waver when troubles came! God’s Word sustained them, for they, by faith, drew on God’s power contained therein (1 Thessalonians 2:13). May we follow them!

Remember when Paul wrote, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” in Romans 8:35, he listed troubles (things) in the following verses. Why the pronoun “who?” Who is this “who?” Satan will use various difficult circumstances to cause us to lose sight of the love of God we enjoy in Jesus Christ. The Holy Bible rightly divided provides us with “sound” (healthy, nourishing) doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10,11), which gives us a sober mind, one that is mature and steadfast in God’s Word to us, guarding our minds against Satan’s deception (today’s Scripture).

Let us now summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Biblical Stigmata

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

“From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17 KJV).

The Apostle Paul wrote in today’s Scripture that no one could deny his apostleship was of Jesus Christ, for he bore “in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” What were these “marks?”

Interestingly, the Greek word here translated “marks” is stigmata, which in English means “signs of disgrace or shame.” Understand that these stigmata which Paul suffered were Scriptural, and they involved shame and hatred, not awe and pride like the “stigmata” of religious tradition (wounds on one’s hands and feet superstitiously believed to be Christ’s scars, which leads to nothing more than pagan idolatry).

Notice what an apostle endured in Bible times: “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day (1 Corinthians 4:9-13).

How many of today’s (self-proclaimed) “apostles” could write what Paul did in the above verses? Today, Christendom uses the title “apostle,” not to refer to those who have been directly commissioned and sent by Jesus Christ to travel abroad preaching the Gospel (which is the Biblical definition), but to those who have deceived themselves into believing they have a special “anointing” of God. In Paul’s day, “apostle” was a term of scorn and hatred; today, it is one of great fame and wealth.

Read 2 Corinthians 11:22-30, and notice the beatings, stonings, imprisonments, 195 (!) lashes, and other pains Paul suffered for the Gospel’s sake. How many are willing to endure that stigmata for Christ?