The Awareness of a Temporary Earth

Monday, April 22, 2019

“And, Thou, O Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Hebrews 1:10-12 KJV).

On this Earth Day, let us not confuse the creation with the Creator!

Today, people worldwide celebrate “environmental awareness.” According to the secular, naturalistic worldview, our planet and its sun could last many more billions of years. They claim that we have done so much damage to our planet—climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, pollution, et cetera—that we must change our attitude toward “mother earth” and change our lifestyles before we destroy her and civilization as we know it! You can sense the zeal in their message, can you not? While these people are sincere, they are wasting all of their time, energy, and resources on a temporary planet.

Let us be very clear that the Lord Jesus Christ placed man on the earth, especially the Garden of Eden, to “dress it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to take care of the Earth: he was God’s representative, God’s king, who had a divine commission to rule this planet for God’s glory (Genesis 1:26-28).

It was not long, however, before Satan distracted mankind from understanding God’s purpose for him. Adam began to focus on himself: like Satan, he began to “worship and serve the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). Thus began man’s continual downward spiral into spiritual ignorance. He would continually worship himself, as we well know today.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that, because of sin, this creation will pass away. The Lord Jesus Christ, however, will live forever. Why worship that which is temporary? It makes no sense! The Lord Jesus Christ gave you life, not the pagan goddess “mother earth.” Environmental awareness? Indeed, be aware that our world is temporary, as God will one day create “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who or what are the ‘Cherethites’ and ‘Pelethites?’

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #2

Saturday, April 20, 2019

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! 🙂

A Brokenhearted Father

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is. And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! (2 Samuel 18:32,33 KJV).

What parenting lesson can we learn here?

It is an understatement to say that King David was emotionally shattered. His son Absalom had been killed—murdered by some of David’s impulsive military officials (verses 9-17). Upon hearing of Absalom’s slaying, he probably reflected on his parental shortcomings that had led up to this most disastrous outcome. Indeed, he had not been a good father to any of his children.

Amnon, David’s firstborn, raped his sister Tamar (David’s daughter), but David neither consoled Tamar nor punished Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-21). When Absalom murdered his brother for assaulting his sister, Absalom fled to a foreign land for three years (verses 23-39). Only after being pressurized did David finally send for Absalom from exile (2 Samuel 14:1-24). Nevertheless, when Absalom returned to Jerusalem, David did not see him in-person for two years (2 Samuel 14:28). After meeting his father, Absalom eventually incited a coup and David had to flee his throne (2 Samuel chapters 15–17).

In the chapter of today’s Scripture, David commanded his servants to bring Absalom alive (verses 5,12). Instead, they killed the young man! It was such a terrible, heart-wrenching life that David could have caused his son to avoid. Absalom’s many transgressions could have been minimized had his father taken the opportunity to follow Deuteronomy 6:7 and Deuteronomy 11:19. We find similar wording in Ephesians 6:4: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture [care] and admonition [instruction] of the Lord.” Alas, it was too late for poor Absalom to hear God’s words from his father’s lips—he was dead!

Friends, what we can learn here is to train our children in the Scriptures, before their lives are ruined or tragically cut short.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What advice can be given to Christians coping with the death of another saint?

Logomachy!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers (2 Timothy 2:14 KJV).

Can you spot the logomachy in today’s Scripture?

Every Christian leader—preacher, Bible teacher, evangelist, deacon—would do well to become familiarized with the guidelines found in the “Pastoral Epistles.” These four Books—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon—have been rightly called “the handbooks for the local church.” Therein, we find Divine counsel as to how the ministry should be established and maintained.

There are great threats to God’s work, and they often gain a stronghold in the subtlest ways. Chiefly, there is counterfeit (or false) teaching. Instead of grace-oriented doctrine, it is legalistic (law-oriented—performance) and/or humanistic (man-oriented—philosophical). Other ways Satan thwarts God’s ministry include: foolish questions, petty disagreements with brethren, bitterness and grudges, intimidation, spiritual immaturity, discouragement, selfishness, formalism/ritualism, pride, greed and materialism, carnality/fleshliness among church leaders and common members, and persecution (from other believers, the government, or lost people).

If we concentrate on today’s Scripture, we find the “charge” (or order) to behave a certain way so as to prevent the Adversary from gaining a particular advantage. We are to “strive not about words to no profit.” In Greek, “strive about words” is “logomachein.” As you might have guessed, “logos” carries the meaning of “thought, word, saying;” “machomai” is “war, quarrel, dispute.” That is to say, “striving about words” refers to “word-fights” or “heated debates.” (We actually have a rare English word derived from that Greek term—logomachy, “an argument about words.”)

Yet, is it not good to “defend the truth?” Hold it, friend. Read the entire verse: Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. There is “no profit” in such word-wars. Actually, the audience will be “subverted”—spiritually overturned, demolished, apostate (the Greek is “katastrophe!”). It was nothing but a “flesh parade:” there was destruction instead of edification. God the Holy Spirit was not involved; it was sinful man operating under the guise of “godliness.”

Brethren, may we exercise great discernment in this regard, lest we fall into such a trap!

What a Stiff Neck! #6

Friday, April 5, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

The Scriptures say, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Mankind refuses that truth: he resolutely believes he is good. Here, the lost person sees Jesus Christ as unnecessary. Commandments are viewed as “help” to get to God and merit His favor. A sinner, instead of realizing his or her “lostness,” stubbornly cleaves to works-religion. Man does not see himself as the evil monster he really is; he just cannot agree with God and take a negative view of himself. Falling for the strange delusion that he can keep God’s laws perfectly, his efforts replace (!) Christ’s finished crosswork. It is truly a miracle when the unsaved escape such trickery: that enlightenment comes through the Scriptures to a sincere heart.

God’s Word pronounces, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Christ’s finished crosswork offends the Christian’s flesh (sin nature) as it upsets the lost person’s flesh (see above). Christians also obstinately cling to works-religion: they come to faith in Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone, knowing Calvary alone can save them, but then they labor to please God for rewards (material blessings, physical health, et cetera). It is truly a miracle when the Christian escapes such deception: that enlightenment comes through the Scriptures to a sincere heart.

Honestly, God does not want our “good works;” He desires our trust in Christ. Grace not works! Jesus Christ gave His life to us, not for us to then use a legalistic system to simulate it, but for Him to live it in and through us as we believe His words to us. It is our faith in His faith—His faithfulness not ours, His crosswork not ours, His efforts not ours! Let us cease being “stiffnecked!”

What a Stiff Neck! #5

Thursday, April 4, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

Scripture provides a portrait of the “stiff neck,” and it is anything but flattering. Firstly, it is antonymous to “yield yourself unto the LORD” (2 Chronicles 30:8; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:13). Secondly, it means to “resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:51)—refusing to listen to His words and obey them (Jeremiah 17:23). Thirdly, it stems from the heart, an internal sin nature that is contrary to how God designed Adam to function before he fell in sin (Deuteronomy 10:16; cf. Jeremiah 17:9). Fourthly, it originates iniquitous and sinful deeds or actions (Exodus 34:9; cf. Mark 7:20-23). Lastly, it results in God’s judgment (Exodus 33:5).

On one hand, whenever God observes anything that fails to meet His righteous standard, He must act to enforce a penalty. He cannot look at sin (Habakkuk 1:13). On the other hand, He is merciful, gracious, and forgiving toward the sinner (Exodus 34:6,7). He can hold back the wrath they deserve, He can give them pity that they do not deserve, and He can cancel the spiritual debt they have incurred. If we study the above verses as to how “stiffnecked” Israel behaved, and His responses, we see both realities on full display.

When they sinned, when they drew back from His leading, when they did the exact opposite of His commandments, there was chastisement to reform them (if they were willing to listen). Yet, He never completely wiped them off the face of the Earth, did He? Many times they deserved it, but He spared them. Despite all they have done against Him, He still has a plan for them even now, to make them His own and bless them beyond belief!!!

Let us conclude this devotionals arc by seeing a parallel concerning God’s dealings with individuals today….

What a Stiff Neck! #4

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

Isaiah 53:6 contains the greatest definition of the word “sin:” “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus Christ, as the context shows, died for sinners. Sheep going astray, each one turning to his own way, is a graphic illustration of how sinful man (whether Jew or Gentile) drifts from his Creator. Man’s self-will stems from his desire to be independent, wanting to be his own “god,” a being wishing to decide for himself what is right and what is wrong. (Genesis 3:5).

Reflecting on Israel’s history in chapter 9, Moses commented in chapter 10 and verse 16: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” As he learned from God, there was a heart problem underlying Israel’s sins. Fifteen centuries later, Stephen said to Israel in Acts 7:51, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” Man’s nature is thoroughly corrupt, as the Lord Jesus observed in Mark chapter 7: “[20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

If a sinner is to be not “stiffnecked,” he or she must undergo a spiritual circumcision. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). There must be a cutting off of the flesh, the sin nature passed down from our father (going all the way back to Adam). Herein is the realm where God works on the sinner’s behalf….