For Ye Have the Poor Always with You? #3

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

“For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always” (Mark 14:7 KJV).

“For the poor always ye have with you?”

Contrary to what some have asserted, the Lord was not opposed to assisting poor people or fighting poverty. As today’s Scripture suggests, He endorsed helping those less fortunate. “For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good….” This was in harmony with the will of God already revealed to Israel in Deuteronomy 15:11. The Law of Moses had stated, “For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.”

“But me ye have not always.” This is in contradistinction to the poor never ceasing out the land. Christ Himself had just a few days left to live, for He was on His way to die on Calvary’s cruel cross. His disciples needed to get their priorities straight. They were to honor Him while they still had opportunity—that is, while He was still alive. He was to have superiority because His Heavenly Father had arranged it as such. The Lord Jesus Christ is the most important Person in the whole universe, which is why He will one day head all governments in Heaven and Earth: “…that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell…” (Colossians 1:18,19).

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). We should do what we can to help those struggling financially, especially fellow Christians. “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth(Ephesians 4:28). In this world of escalating inflation and rising unemployment, among several other societal woes, the Church the Body of Christ should be especially mindful of these simple verses.

For Ye Have the Poor Always with You? #2

Monday, May 2, 2022

“For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always” (Mark 14:7 KJV).

“For the poor always ye have with you?”

Whether Mary’s anointing of Jesus in John, or the anonymous woman’s anointing of Him in Matthew and Mark a few days later, there was that asinine complaint of “wasting” costly ointment.

In Matthew and Mark, it was the disciples in general. “But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor” (Matthew 26:8,9). “And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her” (Mark 14:4,5—the context of today’s Scripture). Regarding John’s Gospel Record, it was Judas Iscariot whining. “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence [300 days’ wages, or about 10 months’ salary], and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein” (John 12:5,6).

The Lord defends both women, replying with, “For the poor always ye have with you” (John 12:8); “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always” (Matthew 26:11); “For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always” (Mark 14:7; today’s Scripture). Jesus’ words here are frequently misunderstood. They have often been taken to mean, “There will always be poor people, so it is futile to try to reduce poverty in society.” On the contrary, but He was actually making an unfortunate contrast between Himself and poor people. Indeed, the expensive perfume could have been sold to benefiting the poor (that He did not deny or discourage), for there is always someone less fortunate, but He Himself had less than a week to live, so honoring Him was more important….

For Ye Have the Poor Always with You? #1

Sunday, May 1, 2022

“For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always” (Mark 14:7 KJV).

“For the poor always ye have with you?”

About six days before Passover, John chapter 12 relates the following: “[3] Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. [4] Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, [5] Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? [6] This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. [7] Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. [8] For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.

Only two days before Passover, Matthew chapter 26 tells us: “[6] Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, [7] There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. [8] But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? [9] For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. [10] When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. [11] For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. [12] For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. [13] Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” The parallel is Mark 14:3-9 (see today’s Scripture).

In all three passages, Jesus is quoted as declaring, “For the poor always ye have with you.” Let us study this expression….

Bible Q&As #949 and #950: “What is an “habergeon?’” and “Can you explain ‘bolled’ in Exodus 9:31?

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #2

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Jesus knew Bible prophecy had to be fulfilled: He had to suffer in accordance with the Old Testament prophets. Even when He spoke seven times from the cross, He quoted various Old Testament verses. The Old Testament prophets also gave Him comfort: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (today’s Scripture).

For instance, He remembered that Jonah’s prophecy had to be fulfilled: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). On the third day, He would live again, and be reunited with His heavenly Father!

He knew that His Father would resurrect Him. His spiritual torment and physical death were only temporarily, as David quoted Jesus 1000 B.C., “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:24-31).

Our Lord thought of reigning over that glorious kingdom that His Heavenly Father would give Him after His resurrection. As the psalmist wrote centuries before Calvary’s crosswork, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:6-8). “Begotten” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, not His nativity in Bethlehem (Acts 13:33,34).

Jesus Christ, during His torturous crucifixion, thought about and rejoiced in the promises in the Scriptures that applied to Him. Likewise, we, during difficult circumstances, can remember and joy in God’s promises to us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

We too can share Messiah’s joy amidst grief! 🙂

See our archived Q&A: “Did the disciples go to the wrong tomb on Resurrection Sunday?

Saints and Silly Stories

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

“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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3,4 KJV).

Yea, today’s Scripture can apply even to genuine members of the Church the Body of Christ.

I have a friend in the grace ministry going back more than a decade. Once denominational like myself, this brother (through our ministry) came to understand and enjoy the Scriptures rightly divided. However, over the course of the last eight years, especially since his wife’s death, he has gradually slipped deeper and deeper into doctrinal error. While I have repeatedly advised him to be careful, he just continues listening to all sorts of weird people. He knows better, but he has become so addicted to these self-styled “prophets” and “prophetesses” because they teach just what he wants to hear. They further disorient him, increasingly seducing him from sound Bible doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1,2).

False teachers—especially in the name of supposed “Christianity”—capitalize on vulnerable souls who so desperately seek peace, answers, and relief. For over two years now, the coronavirus pandemic has greatly afflicted the world. People are worrying, hurting, and dying. Unemployment, inflation, sickness, and isolation are just some of the detrimental effects. Widespread political problems also contribute to unrest. Yet, here come “Christian” preachers with all their denominational doctrines, idly speculating as to what they think “God” is doing. Failing to approach the Bible dispensationally, they do not have a clue what the Lord is doing! Hearing my friend’s “tales,” I can see just how confused he is (and they are). Once, he even apologized after distracting me with certain stories he read online. I replied (most politely, of course), “The Devil is using them to distract you!” He was speechless.

Saints, no matter how “strong” or “dedicated” we are, we can always fall. Let us always be mindful that we are in a spiritual battle. If we are not daily arming ourselves according to Ephesians 6:10-20, the Adversary will certainly be merciless as he wounds us!

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What does ‘several’ mean in the King James Bible?” and “What is the ‘maw?’

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!” 🙂

The Good News of Peace #3

Sunday, November 28, 2021

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 KJV).

Having our most severe danger removed, all other problems are but minor….

Romans chapter 8 closes: “[31] What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? [32] He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? [33] Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. [34] Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. [35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? [36] As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. [37] Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. [38] For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, [39] Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Satan uses our troubles to deceive us into thinking we are divorced from God’s love. Yet, the Scriptures declare: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Whatever difficulties we face here until we reach Heaven, all those uncertain matters really do not matter in the grand scheme of things. Our eternity is certain in Christ! “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).

NOTE: Brethren, this is our final original devotional for 2021, as our classic Christmas studies will now run the rest of the year.

The Good News of Peace #2

Saturday, November 27, 2021

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 KJV).

Having our most severe danger removed, all other problems are but minor….

When we trust Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour—that is, when we become a Christian—our difficulties do not magically disappear. Contrary to what we hear from “feel-good” denominational church leaders, we are not spared the pain and suffering of this fallen world. The effects of the curse of sin are random; we know they are not “God’s way of getting our attention,” or Him punishing us for a sin, or some other silly explanation.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 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 12:9,10). Today’s Scripture in context: “[1] Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. [3] And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; [4] And patience, experience; and experience, hope: [5] And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

If we listen to the Holy Spirit’s words here, we come to realize troubles are not something to fear. Our circumstances do not convey God’s words to us; however, they are the context in which we apply God’s words to us. Instead of expecting the Lord to change whatever is around us, we learn He purposes to change whatever is in us. As opposed to removing our problems, He gives us the internal strength to bear them. No other way could ever cause us to be as grateful to Him as this. It would be impossible for us to see His goodness in perspective if He were never given opportunity to show it to us….

Special-edition Bible Q&A #900: “Was Jesus Christ a dispensationalist during His earthly ministry?

The Good News of Peace #1

Friday, November 26, 2021

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 KJV).

Having our most severe danger removed, all other problems are but minor….

Recently, I watched a video from several years ago in which a news anchor broke the serious news to his viewers. His brain cancer had returned. As I listened to him calmly relay that devastating update—it was terminal and he had less than six months to live—his next words really grabbed my attention. He turned to his co-host and then looked at the camera. “I am at peace,” were his words. He stated he was a Bible-believing Christian and he knew God would take care of him in the days ahead. She and all their other coworkers were surprised to see him handle the news so well and deliver it with such great composure. Eight months later, he was in Heaven. Millions have heard of his story ever since.

I do not know exactly all he understood from the Bible, but it was clear from his statements he did recognize he was in the Lord’s hands, and he was a powerful testimony to all who saw him coping with such strength and tranquility. That is the power of the Holy Spirit working mightily in the believer in Christ. Our greatest problem—sin, separation from God—has been corrected through Jesus’ shed blood on Calvary. God is no longer angry with us: we, by faith, have appropriated the merits of Christ to our account. We no longer fear experiencing God’s wrath. If our most ominous predicament has been remedied, any other problems we face simply fade into the background. Our eternal fate is certain in Christ, we are bound for Heaven, so our worst outcome here on Earth simply does not compare.

Our King James Bible says, in today’s Scripture, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Reaching back to the previous four chapters, Paul summarizes our peace with God. This is not, as corrupt modern versions read, “Let us have peace.” No, it is a completed action, “We have [right now, already settled!] peace with God.” We take what we have in Christ, and apply it to life by faith….

In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 25, 2021

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see, “What are our spiritual blessings in Christ?