Coronavirus

Sunday, November 1, 2020

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (Romans 8:22 KJV).

Only temporarily….

Indeed, 2020 has been quite unpleasant for the world. The coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought many new expressions into everyday vernacular: “lockdown,” “distant/virtual learning,” “contactless curbside,” “social distancing,” “isolation,” “quarantine,” “pandemic,” “drive-thru only.” We all know the maxim: “stay six feet or two meters apart.” Handwashing is constant. People wearing gloves, masks, face shields, and gowns are everywhere. Video chats and telephone calls have replaced in-person meetings. Church buildings have been closed. Surgeries have been postponed.

Shipping delays and product shortages have ensued. Hugs and handshakes are limited—if ever. Family gatherings, including weddings and funerals, have been radically changed or cancelled. Business have closed—some permanently. Financial burdens are worsening due to unemployment. Motivated by alarmists and other sensationalists, consumers are stockpiling food and other goods. Families constantly at home has resulted in spousal and child abuse. Individuals are tired of being confined: they have no clubs, bars, casinos, movie theaters, or golf courses to frequent for entertainment. Isolation has produced loneliness, depression, and even suicide. How awful!

However, as the Bible says: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

While our world looks hopeless, friends, let us remember the curse of sin will not last forever!

Not Made Perfect by the Flesh #5

Friday, October 30, 2020

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3 KJV).

Can “the flesh” add anything to the Holy Spirit’s work? Nay, it cannot!

“I will be like the most High,” Lucifer boasted (Isaiah 14:14). As he told Christ, he desires worship: “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me(Matthew 4:9). Employing whatever sneaky means necessary, Satan accomplishes his goal. If he can counterfeit God’s actions, then people will be deceived and credit God. By attributing Satan’s work to God, man unwittingly worships Satan. It is an ingenious strategy, one seldom perceived!

Emotions mislead because the human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). While something may “feel” right, it may not actually be right. Feelings are fickle, changing with our circumstances. Therefore, we cannot use them to gauge truth and error. Adrenaline rushes come and go, so never should we confuse them with the permanent Holy Spirit. If we are externalists or formalists, we run the risk of faking at some point. For instance, if we observe people raising hands or dancing, peer pressure urges us to mimic them. The Holy Spirit is thus quenched and our flesh—namely, the fear of being “left out”—motivates the behavior. Satan smiles. Except for the rare Berean Bible student, no one is able to notice the error.

So-called “Christian revivals” are being held where protests, riots, lootings, and shootings have occurred. It is claimed, “The Devil is active, but God is moving!” Online videos show musicians hosting “Christian rock” concerts. Crowds—mainly young adults—raise their hands, jump, run, sing, sob, and pray. Supposedly, they are “coming to Jesus;” yet, a clear Gospel message is absent. When we compare their activities with the Scriptures, what is allegedly “God’s work” turns out to be a mockery of Jesus Christ. Remember, we are not made perfect by the flesh!

Bible Q&As #779 and #780: “Should Christians observe All Saints’ Day?” and “Should Christians observe All Souls’ Day?

Not Made Perfect by the Flesh #4

Thursday, October 29, 2020

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3 KJV).

Can “the flesh” add anything to the Holy Spirit’s work? Nay, it cannot!

The Galatians were preoccupied with the Law of Moses (cf. Galatians 4:21). Religious rules and regulations captivated them. They were deceived into believing their performance—their “flesh”—could somehow enhance their Christian life (cf. today’s Scripture). Did the Holy Spirit come to indwell these saints because of their religious works? No! Would He need their pious deeds to continue living in and through them? No! Sadly, today’s professing church is equally “foolish.” Nearly 20 centuries later, it still refuses to recognize rites, rituals, and ceremonies are incompatible with God’s grace! Like the Galatians not thinking clearly, we lack even basic spiritual common sense. We too have not let the Message of Grace renew our mind.

Philosophy and other vain speculations of lost (pagan!) people distracted the Corinthian believers. The first three chapters of 1 Corinthians are the Holy Spirit’s instructions to straighten out their confusion. Selfishness abounded in Corinth because spiritual ignorance flourished there. Whereas the Galatians were quite “strict” with their legalism, the Corinthians were quite “loose” with their sensuality. The Corinthians acted like spiritual babies because they also thought like spiritual babies. This too describes today’s professing church. Actually, the conundrums in 1 Corinthians parallel the chaos and confusion of modern “praise and worship.” Recall 1 Corinthians 14:40!

Instead of being thankful for the Message of God’s Grace—what the Holy Spirit has revealed in Pauline doctrine, Romans through Philemon—we unwisely believe we can improve the Christian life. Whether from Galatia or Corinth, we must learn the lesson: neither formalism (strict rules and regulations) nor fanaticism (no rules or regulations whatsoever) will ever replace the Holy Spirit’s work in grace believer’s heart. Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Jesus offer Himself to Israel if He knew they would reject Him?

Not Made Perfect by the Flesh #3

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3 KJV).

Can “the flesh” add anything to the Holy Spirit’s work? Nay, it cannot!

When we hear of people “filled with the Holy Ghost” and “praising Jesus,” we should not automatically assume the Lord Jesus Christ is being honored. Lies are everywhere. We discern truth and error by considering Bible verses—especially Scripture “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15). If anyone claims individuals “going wild” is a sign of praising the Lord, or masses acting ridiculous is evidence of the Holy Spirit being “poured out,” these are simply false claims. The Bible establishes the standard for Christian behavior. Yea, the Pauline Epistles, Romans through Philemon, show us what God the Holy Spirit is doing today.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20,21). In the Scriptures, we read of what the Holy Spirit is doing and not doing. He Himself is speaking through the Holy Bible.

If the Holy Spirit is working in a particular area, or He is operating in a specific person, this rule is always true: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). A lack of modesty and discipline means it is not the Holy Spirit! Again, Galatians chapter 5: “[22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” The Holy Spirit produces “temperance,” self-control. If there is no restraint, it is man’s flesh and not God’s Spirit….

Not Made Perfect by the Flesh #2

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3 KJV).

Can “the flesh” add anything to the Holy Spirit’s work? Nay, it cannot!

To be sure, the general public is gullible. Times get so tough, people become desperate to the degree they will do practically anything for relief. Add to that the fact human nature seeks amusement. It is a recipe for spiritual disaster! Take the current tense societal conditions in the United States. People, particularly religious individuals, have grown bored at home locked away and isolated from just about all their pleasures. Consequently, “worship leaders” can lure them with all the promises of “delight.”

What is being passed off today as “Christianity,” “revival,” “hope,” “healing,” and “worship” is anything and everything but. Videos of these music concerts show people raising their hands in “praise and worship,” jumping up and down (like hopping on pogo sticks!), dancing, praying, and being water baptized. It has been said, “People are going wild for Jesus!” Claims of healings and other miracles are touted as proof “God is present and the Holy Ghost has been poured out!”

This is a prime example of how Satan’s policy of evil works. While we would hope these people are sincere, their doctrine is counterfeit. It is rooted in the Charismatic Movement, which is nothing but Pentecostalism (emotions, experiences, entertainment) spreading into other denominations. False teaching “bewitches” (today’s Scripture); a spell has been cast over people, making them behave like zombies or robots. Of course, they are having a “good time”—and that “adrenaline rush” just “has to be the warm, fuzzy feelings of the Holy Ghost” (wrong!). Sound Bible doctrine is not underlying the behavior, so even if it has a “ring” of genuineness, the conduct is silly and utterly vain….

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What does ‘froward’ mean?” and “What does ‘untoward’ mean?

Not Made Perfect by the Flesh #1

Monday, October 26, 2020

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3 KJV).

Can “the flesh” add anything to the Holy Spirit’s work? Nay, it cannot!

Our country, the United States of America, has plenty of problems besetting it—including inflammatory charges of “systemic racism;” violent protests featuring rioting and looting; an unprecedented, highly toxic political climate; strict pandemic restrictions and risks such as isolation, depression, and suicides; and extensive damage from destructive natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and so on). It has been repeatedly stated, “Just when 2020 could not get worse, this new challenge arises!”

In recent months, a repetitive narrative has been peddled as “Christian” news. A particular “worship leader” traveling far and wide, visiting the large cities that are experiencing great civil unrest, has been heralded as “hope” and “healing.” Tens of thousands are supposedly “coming to Jesus.” It is “a move of God,” allegedly, to counter the evils troubling our society. These “worshippers” are purportedly “hungry for God”—eager to escape their lockdowns and have “church” outdoors. It is proclaimed, “Let us stand up for religious freedom, for our First Amendment rights!”

Now, never do we fault souls for having good intentions. They may not outright reject God and the Bible, but that does not necessarily imply they are behaving correctly. We remember Christ’s words: “…the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him…. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth(John 4:23,24). Contrary to popular belief, it is not enough to merely “worship God.” According to the Scriptures, He wants people who worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” Truth, not error, must undergird our worship. Spirit, not flesh, should support our worship. Let us be careful never to forget the danger in failing to conduct ourselves accordingly….

All Joy and Peace in Believing

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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 KJV).

With coronavirus restrictions gradually being relaxed around the world, society has begun to transition back to “normal.” It remains to be seen, however, exactly how this new world will be different from the old world of just a few months ago. Regardless, in Christ, we can be “filled… with all joy and peace in believing, that [we] may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Some individuals cannot fathom how 2020 could get any worse—and we are not yet halfway through the year! Hundreds of thousands of people have died. Schedules have been severely disrupted or even abolished. Fortunes have been greatly reduced or completely lost. Businesses have closed—some permanently. Loneliness, depression, and other mental stresses have set in due to prolonged confinement and isolation. Face masks, gloves, and “social distancing” are still seen in various and sundry places.

During these last few months, the people of the world have had opportunity to contemplate eternity like never before. Better understanding their own mortality, and how this physical world can change in a moment’s notice, they have become more receptive to spiritual truth. Having additional free time, they have certainly read the Bible more. A portion of them undoubtedly got saved by trusting Jesus Christ alone as sufficient payment for their sins.

While we will not see a global revival until the Lord Jesus returns at His Second Coming, we do expect to see more people around the world continue to come to Him by faith and join the Church the Body of Christ. More and more will realize that if all they are living for is the “here and now,” they will surely be disturbed, disappointed, and hopeless. However, if they are conducting themselves with spiritual eyes, and appreciating and trusting the Word of God rightly divided, the Holy Spirit will cause them to have joy, peace, and hope (today’s Scripture). As verse 4 says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

Careful—But Not Careful! #15

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

“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).

Friend, as we live in these strange times, let us “be careful for nothing!”

Even as Christians, we are never, ever guaranteed a life without pain, suffering, hardship, sickness, grief, or loss. Still, that does not mean God does not love us or care about us. We look to Calvary’s cross—not our circumstances—to see God’s love for us. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

No matter our surroundings—good or bad—Father God has fully equipped us with His grace to handle everything. Second Corinthians chapter 12: “[9] And he [the Lord Jesus] said unto me [Paul], 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. [10] 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.”

Philippians chapter 4 again: “[11] Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. [12] 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. [13] I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Contentment is not automatic but rather something “learned.” Sound Bible doctrine must be continuously absorbed. It also takes a long time to sort through the deception, misinformation, and confusion that often distract us from God’s Word rightly divided. The more difficult the situation, the harder it is to correct the distortion associated with it. Remember, we must be prepared for Satan’s attacks. That evil work is subtle, but with Romans through Philemon, we have “the mind of Christ” and can thus overcome the Adversary (1 Corinthians 2:16)! 🙂

-FINIS-

Careful—But Not Careful! #14

Monday, April 20, 2020

“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).

Friend, as we live in these strange times, let us “be careful for nothing!”

We should always use common sense. Being careful, or alert, is wise. We should do our best to preserve our health and life, and protect the health and lives of those around us. However, being “careful”—as in worrisome, consumed by hypervigilance—is unwise. Anxiety is actually counterproductive, as it weakens our health and shortens our life. Living in fear or paranoia is the very last thing God wants for us, members of the Church the Body of Christ.

Instead of fretting, we should take advantage of the provision our Heavenly Father already put in place for us. Worrying is the result of not knowing the future. However, if we are already familiar with Paul’s Epistles, Romans through Philemon, we know what God is doing with us now and what He will do with us later. Whatever else happens to us really does not matter. Eternity—that which never ends—outweighs anything and everything that could possibly come our way in this temporary world.

Taking a firm stand by faith in the sound Bible doctrine we have read, we now talk to our Heavenly Father. We know that He, as we keep reading that Divine revelation, will supply what we need—strength, wisdom, and so on. Since we have that assurance, we thank Him for it in advance. As long as we prayed the “Pauline way,” we will be neither surprised nor disappointed. If we failed to read and believe His words through Paul, then we had better go back and look to see what God is doing (lest we try to force Him to do something else, and wind up spiritually ruined!). Finally, we have God’s peace, inner tranquility, something far beyond human reasoning or explanation. Protected internally from all of Satan’s attacks—doubts, questions, concerns, and so on—we have the victory over every circumstance!

Let us now conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Titus 1:12?

Careful—But Not Careful! #13

Sunday, April 19, 2020

“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).

Friend, as we live in these strange times, let us “be careful for nothing!”

When we scan Christendom—the professing “Church,” the tens of thousands of denominations that all claim to serve Jesus Christ—we see no spiritual strength. Some two billion church members worldwide all appeal to the Bible… and, yet, there is practically no unity among them. It is quite easy to figure out why! For the last 20 centuries, we have not been consistent in our handling of the Holy Scriptures. What we have done is treated the Bible as a buffet.

Snatching a “plate” in a frenzy, we grabbed from Scripture a little of “this”—but not too much! We clutched a little of “that” from the Bible—but not too much! Then, we simply “retranslated” or outright ignored whatever verses we found unappealing. Next, we heaped to ourselves assorted traditions and opinions of men. Finally, with our plate full, able to receive no more, we ran to sit and eat. Gobbling up that mess like starving animals, we violently wrench with sudden stomach pains. Expectedly, there is such disorder, disability, and disease!

We have utterly failed to obey 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Instead of “rightly dividing,” we have combined everything in the Bible and then “picked and chose” from that jumbled chaos. Had everyone simply followed the Apostle Paul as he follows Jesus Christ, there would be stability and unity. Christians could handle life’s problems—if they had only listened to and believed Pauline doctrine, Romans through Philemon!

Read Philippians 4:9: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Here is the Holy Spirit writing through the Apostle Paul. Provided we listen to this sound Bible doctrine, “the God of peace” will be with us. Let us summarize this devotionals arc….