I Pray Thou Discardest Thy Prayer Books #2

Friday, December 2, 2011

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, the Lord Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 to describe the religious Jews of His day. These individuals spoke like believers and claimed to love and obey the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their lips and mouths praised His name, yet God was unimpressed. Why? Because “their heart is far from [God].” It was all put-on (hypocritical, faithless activity)!

Psalm 62:8 says: “Trust in him [God] at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah [Rest].” God wants you to “pour out your heart before Him.” Tell Him your thoughts/heart. Prayer is simply you speaking to and fellowshipping with God in light of His Word. It is not mindlessly uttering some prescribed phrases in a prayer book.

Pray to God in an intelligent, understandable manner (1 Corinthians 14:15): pray as a grace saint, a member of the Body of Christ, not as a member of Israel. We need not pray Israel’s prayers like the “Lord’s Prayer” of Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 (that was God’s will for them, not for us). Also, let us not be guilty of stealing Israel’s prayer promises (i.e., Matthew 18:19; John 14:14; et al.).

Paul’s epistles describe what God is doing today, so let us pay attention to the things for which our Apostle Paul prayed. Ephesians 1:16-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-12 are valid things for which to pray in our dispensation (these describe God’s will for us). Pray for 1 Timothy 2:3,4 to come to pass—that lost souls would be saved, and Christians would be edified (strengthened, built up).

Exact words to pray are not the issue: the heart attitude (faith in God’s Word to us) is the issue. Note that God has given us some model prayers in Paul’s epistles. Thus, if we pray in accordance with them, we will be praying for God’s will to be accomplished. So, I pray thou discardest thy prayer books!

I Pray Thou Discardest Thy Prayer Books #1

Thursday, December 1, 2011

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8 KJV).

Recent news in Christendom surrounds a controversy resulting from the re-translation of decades-old prayers. Church members complain that the re-wording is “difficult” and “confusing.” One dear congregant voiced his frustration: “I am so tired of being told exactly what I have to say, exactly what I have to pray!”

How our souls mourn that these sincere people are not being taught the truth of God’s Word. Not only are they commanded to work their way to heaven, but they are also led to believe that prayer is nothing more than mindlessly repeating a catchy creed that some man wrote! Like the religionists in today’s Scripture, these poor people “draweth nigh unto [God] with their mouth,” yet “their heart is far from [Him].”

Today, you can purchase a variety of prayer books. Oftentimes, these “Christian” books are the devil’s way of having you follow Israel’s program (steal Israel’s prayers, claim the promises God only gave Israel, et cetera). As long as you focus on what God did in time past, you will be totally ignorant of what He is doing today in the but now, our Dispensation of Grace!

God only speaks to us through His written Word, the Bible. Prayer is our way to speak to God. God can certainly read our hearts and minds, but He wants us to verbalize. He wants us to talk to Him personally, not mindlessly recite vain religious tradition. Talk to Him about your life. We who have trusted in Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we have the assurance that we can come to our heavenly Father at any time in prayer.

Pray as a grace believer, in accordance with what God is doing today, and not praying for things that God did with Israel. For instance, notice what our Apostle Paul prayed for in Ephesians 1:16-23, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-12. Exact words are not important—the attitude of the heart is. I pray thou discardest thy prayer books!

This is the Day Which the LORD Hath Made

Friday, November 25, 2011

“This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture mean? Is it talking about today? Many times people quote this verse but they have no idea what it means. As always, we look at the context to determine the meaning, lest we make the Bible say something God never intended it to say.

Notice verse 22: “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” According to Acts 4:10,11, Psalm 118:22 was fulfilled when Israel rejected and crucified her King Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross: “Jesus Christ of Nazareth… is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner” (cf. 1 Peter 2:7,8). Thus, we are led to conclude that today’s Scripture is foretelling the coming of Israel’s Messiah.

Look at Psalm 118:26 for additional insight: Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.” Does this sound familiar? Was this not what rejoicing Jews shouted when Jesus Christ rode on the colt, the foal of an ass (donkey) on the Sunday before His crucifixion? Yes, it was! “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9; Luke 19:38; John 12:13).

Had Israel accepted Jesus as her Messiah-King, that earthly kingdom would have been established. Instead, most Jews rejected Him and demanded His crucifixion. Although God gave Israel a renewed opportunity of repentance in the first one-third of the book of Acts, they still rejected Jesus as King. Today, Israel’s program is postponed, and that earthly kingdom is still future.

In conclusion, today’s Scripture does not describe today (or any day in our dispensation, for that matter). It applied to the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion, often called the “Triumphal Entry.”

Shall the Meek Inherit the Earth?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11 KJV).

Our Lord Jesus Christ quoted today’s Scripture in Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” This is a favorite verse among Bible critics. They haughtily argue that not only has this verse failed to come to pass, but that it says, “the meek shall inherit the earth,” not heaven. So, what are we to believe? Is the Bible mistaken? Not at all, beloved.

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), which includes today’s Scripture, is speaking of a future day, a period after our Dispensation of Grace. Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 apply to Israel’s program (specifically to their future earthly kingdom, or what we call the Millennial [1000-year] Reign of Christ). Notice how the term “kingdom [of heaven]” (the “heaven on earth kingdom”) appears throughout these three chapters (5:3,10,19,20; 6:10,13,33; 7:22).

Please note that while the meek will inherit the earth in Israel’s program, no believer today will inherit the earth (because Israel’s program is currently inactive). The Church the Body of Christ (believers today) will inherit the heavens, not the earth (2 Corinthians 5:1-3; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6,7; 2 Timothy 4:18; et al.). Conversely, believers in Israel’s program will inherit the earth, not the heavens (Job 19:25,26; Daniel 2:35,44; Zechariah 14:9; Luke 11:2; et al.).

Today’s Scripture also says that the meek “shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Is that true today? Do the meek have peace today? Of course not, for this too will be fulfilled in Israel’s earthly kingdom when the Jews will safely and peacefully dwell in their land (Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 32:37-42; Jeremiah 33:15,16; Ezekiel 28:25,26; Zechariah 14:11; Luke 1:67-75; et al.). No Arabs or Palestinians will be attempting to take that land because Jesus Christ Himself will literally be sitting on King David’s throne in Jerusalem and protecting Israel from her enemies (Zechariah 8:20-23; Luke 1:31-33; et al.)!

Israel’s meek will inherit the earth indeed. But, as members of the Church the Body of Christ, we will inherit the heavens indeed!

Kosher Food Laws

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:” (Colossians 2:16 KJV).

Some professing “Christian” groups prohibit their members from consuming pork products. Is this necessary? While God clearly forbade the nation Israel from eating pork in time past (Leviticus 11:7,8; Deuteronomy 14:8), we are not under legalistic demands (the Mosaic Law) in this the Dispensation of Grace. “Ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14b). God does not want us to be in the bondage of Mosaic Law-keeping (Galatians 4:9-11; Galatians 5:1).

Today, God uses His grace, not the Mosaic Law, to educate us and guide our lifestyles and behavior: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:11,12).

The Apostle Peter, according to Acts 10:9-16, was a kosher-food Jew. When he finally ate non-kosher foods with the Apostle Paul’s Gentile believers, the Jews were upset with Peter (Galatians 2:11,12). These Jews had no idea that God had opened a new dispensation, our dispensation, and the laws that God gave Israel in the Dispensation of Law did not apply to anyone in our Dispensation of Grace. Hence, today’s Scripture declares that we are not bound to observe Israel’s kosher food laws and religious days (including the Sabbath day!).

In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, we read God’s further instructions to us regarding kosher food laws: “…some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrine of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy… and commanding to abstain from meats [foods], which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

Provided that you give thanks to God for the bacon, catfish, and shrimp, God says you can eat them! 🙂

The Worthless Résumé #2

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

“Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Philippians 3:8,9 KJV).

Saul of Tarsus, the most religious man of his day, had persecuted Jerusalem’s Jewish believers in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:1). Now, anger propelled him to pursue believing Jews in Damascus (northeast of Jerusalem).

En route, Saul realized that Damascus was not his only destination—he was headed to hell too! Despite his religious performance (described in Philippians 3:4-6), he did not have God’s righteousness. His religious works could not erase the fact that he was still a sinful son of Adam, a persecutor, and a blasphemer (1 Timothy 1:13,14).

In Acts chapter 9, the Lord Jesus Christ graciously discarded Saul’s worthless résumé and replaced it with something far superior: His (Christ’s) accomplishments on Calvary’s cross. Thus, Saul “suffered the loss of all things [his religious accomplishments]”—his religious activities “but dung” (today’s Scripture). Saul was now “in Christ”: He had been placed into Jesus Christ, and had God’s righteousness.

We who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be ever grateful to our Saviour that our worthless résumés have been replaced with His well-pleasing résumé. We are saved by “the righteousness which is through the faith of Christ(today’s Scripture). Christ’s faith never wavered. Unlike us, He always pleased His Father. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17; cf. Mark 1:11).

As Christians, we are “the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). To wit, in Christ, we are just as pleasing to God the Father as Jesus Christ is! Wow! Like Saul, we realize that our religious activities will never give us this righteous position. It only takes the accomplishments of Christ to get us to heaven—anything less is “but dung.”

*Adapted from the poem “The Worthless Résumé.”

The Worthless Résumé #1

Monday, November 7, 2011

“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:4-6 KJV).

Saul of Tarsus was extremely religious, a strict adherent of Judaism. Instructed by the Pharisee and rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 5:34 cf. Acts 22:3), Saul was “more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of [his] fathers” (Galatians 1:14). Today’s Scripture verifies Saul’s “outstanding” religious performance: if there was one man who thought his righteousness was sufficient to get him to heaven, it was Saul. But….

Continue reading the context of today’s Scripture to discover that, despite Saul’s religious activities, he was still headed to hell! “But what things were gain to me [those of today’s Scripture], those I counted loss for Christ” (verse 7). In order to be saved, Saul had to realize that his “righteousness” was a “filthy rag” in the eyes of the LORD (Isaiah 64:6). Saul’s religious accomplishments amounted to a worthless résumé.

“Yea, doubtless, and I count all things [those of today’s Scripture] but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Philippians 3:8,9).

Saul realized his “righteousness” was “dung” (manure)! The only solution to his sin and sins was God’s righteousness, Christ’s sinless blood. In Acts chapter 9, Saul quit trusting in himself and trusted in Jesus Christ.

Are you like Saul of Tarsus was before he became the Apostle Paul? Are you trusting in your “good” works for salvation? Why not abandon that worthless résumé like Paul did? Why not trust in the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ, the only résumé that impresses God Almighty?