In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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?

Overseer, Not Dictator!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous” (1 Timothy 3:1-3 KJV).

A dear religious lady vented exasperation when describing to me the pitiful conditions in her local “Bible-believing, fundamental” assembly. She had been there all her life (many decades), but the new pastor, for the last two years, had become increasingly tyrannical. He was nothing like today’s Scripture!

As she described that pastor, I sat totally amazed (!) that any sensible group would retain him for any period! He “lashed out” at everyone with harsh words—refusing correction when his erroneous ideas were exposed, disrespecting the elderly members, and telling people not to question him since they were too ignorant in the Bible. He was even rude to those outside the assembly. In fact, someone who witnessed his evil ways asked the lady who talked to me, “What kind of preacher do y’all have down there?” Yes, the church’s reputation was tainted in the community because of him!

It gets worse. He had stolen money from the church! Furthermore, she said the only deacon who really knew anything in the Scriptures was “booted off” the board without notice. When I asked her if they could force that despotic pastor out, she said the congregation was equally divided. Half wanted to keep him (!); the other half wanted him gone. Dear friends, the blame for this spiritual circus actually falls on the previous pastor. He taught them nothing in the Scriptures to enable them to withstand the heretic now destroying the Lord’s ministry and people!

As today’s Scripture says, the “bishop” (episkopos, “overseer;” cf. Acts 20:28) should be the guardian of the local church. He should always be vigilant to spot error and defend the congregation from Satan’s policy of evil. However, sadly, so many church leaders today are nothing but Satan’s tools, wolves in sheep’s clothing (Acts 20:28-32). Let us beware of them, brethren, and either remove them from our midst, or remove ourselves from theirs!

Evil Communications #7

Saturday, November 18, 2017

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:33,34 KJV).

What are “evil communications?” Are we immune to their effects?

First Corinthians chapter 5 was written to warn those Christians who say they can associate with sinful individuals and not be corrupted. Galatians chapter 5 was written to admonish those Christians who say they can keep attending denominational churches and not be deceived. They are just as human—prone to failure—as the Corinthians and Galatians. If the Corinthians and Ephesians were prone to spiritual slumber as the Adversary worked, we should not be surprised that believers in Christ today exhibit poor to dead Christian living!

Today’s Scripture thunders, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not!” Dear brethren, if we are those with functionally-dead Christian lives, it is not too late for us to reform. We may have reverted to the lifestyle we had before we trusted Christ, but the Holy Scriptures rightly divided can lead us to repentance. That change in mind will then transform our behavior.

Second Timothy chapter 2: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Let us not fall into Satan’s trap!

Whether the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, or reverted Christians today, they should be walking in light of Titus chapter 2: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is there time in Heaven?

Evil Communications #6

Friday, November 17, 2017

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:33,34 KJV).

What are “evil communications?” Are we immune to their effects?

For almost 2,000 years now, the Church the Body of Christ has had a completed Bible. Howbeit, instead of letting it transform them, and then allowing it to enlighten others through them, the church permitted the world to alter the Bible and them! Whether 20 centuries ago, or today, “evil communications corrupt good manners.” This is true of both wicked behavior and false teaching.

Sinful conduct, except it is addressed according to God’s grace, will certainly pollute the local church. First Corinthians chapter 5 says of humanism (worldliness—namely, philosophy): “[6] Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? [7] Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: [8] Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” As a small amount of yeast taints the whole lump of dough, so a little misbehavior corrupts many! If you read the chapter, you see it is about a fornicating Christian man whom the Corinthians overlooked. God commanded they excommunicate him until he reformed…lest he contaminate them all!

Evil doctrine, unless corrected using rightly divided Scripture, is sure to corrupt the local church. Galatians chapter 5 speaks of legalism (works-religion—namely, Law-keeping): “[7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” As a small amount of yeast taints the whole lump of dough, so a little false teaching corrupts many! If you read the chapter, you learn that false teachers (denominationalists) had tricked the Galatians to abandon grace and return to works-religion (specifically, the Mosaic Law). God commanded they separate from those false teachers…lest they continue deceiving them all!

We now summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Spirituality or Futility? #8

Friday, November 10, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

God sent the Apostle Paul to us Gentiles to give us the Dispensation of the Grace of God, or Jesus Christ’s heavenly ministry (Ephesians 3:1-9). From Heaven, not Earth, Christ is speaking today. In this dispensation, God is forming the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly people whom He has blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We are not the nation Israel; God is not finished with Israel. She will rise again after our dispensation (Romans 11:1-36)!

We are saved by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (Romans 3:23–4:8)—apart from any works of any kind. Upon believing the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13,14). We need no water (or any other) ceremony to “enhance” our Christian life. God gave us a new nature in Christ, power that produces good works and gives us victory over sin (Romans 6:1-23). The Law serves no purpose in our life because God’s grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,” and “to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11,12,14). Jesus Christ died to put away sin, so we put it away in our life. Our hope is not God’s earthly kingdom (Israel’s hope) but rather His heavenly kingdom (Ephesians 2:6,7; 2 Timothy 4:18).

Romans is the most basic Book for this dispensation. It outlines justification, how to have a right standing before God. Therein we also discover sanctification, how God has set apart believers to do His will. Moreover, we see Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. Finally, there are basic but specific grace principles for everyday living. Three useful Pauline passages are Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3.

We study all the Bible, but anything other than Pauline doctrine and duty is but futility!

Spirituality or Futility? #7

Thursday, November 9, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

Dear friend, a sure way to engage in futility is to reach back into previous dispensations and/or reach forward into future dispensations, and force those verses on us today. To use Bible verses God once applied before our dispensation, or to follow Scriptures God will apply after our dispensation, is to fall prey to Satan’s “wiles” or deceitful strategies (Ephesians 6:11). If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, such Bible mishandling frustrates or hinders God’s plans for your Christian life! If you have not trusted Christ, such Bible misusage hides from you God’s current Gospel message! Christians remain confused and defeated; lost people stay unsaved and Hell-bound!

Satan would never discourage us from quoting Bible verses because he did it in Matthew 4:6. Yea, he used Scripture… but did not handle it dispensationally. As long as God’s Word is not “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), it furthers Satan’s agenda most ingeniously (without suspicion!). “We are in God’s will because we are Scriptural. Satan cannot deceive us.” Of course, to not use the Scriptures God’s way is to, by default, achieve Satan’s goal!

God is not currently forming an earthly people—the nation Israel. There is no water baptism and no tithing (mandatory giving) today. God is not telling us to confess our sins, follow the Mosaic Law, keep the Sabbath, offer blood sacrifices for our sins, sell everything we have and give to the poor, drink poison, heal the sick, raise the dead, look for “signs,” build an ark, and so on. God told other people in other dispensations to pursue and do those things, but He did not tell the Apostle Paul to instruct us concerning them. What futility to try to make God do something He is not doing today! If we will know what He is doing today, and will do His will today, we heed the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….

Spirituality or Futility? #6

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

One can be “Scriptural” and still be completely outside of God’s will. We must be Scriptural and dispensational, aware of God’s current program. Yea, we should always respect a Bible verse’s dispensational context before we try to apply it to ourselves.

Notice Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:….” With national Israel temporarily fallen, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ sent the Apostle Paul to us Gentiles with a special dispensation (or set of instructions for our faith and obedience).

Ephesians chapter 3: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;….”

What Paul wrote in Romans through Philemon was not made known in Genesis through Malachi, Jesus’ earthly ministry (Matthew through John), or early Acts. Therefore, to constantly emphasize the non-Pauline Bible Books to the extent of diminishing the Pauline Books is to ignore a secret God was deliberately withholding at that time. Now that He has revealed that secret through Paul, ignoring Paul is to be completely ignorant of God’s current operations….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Philippians 2:14-16?