Careful—But Not Careful! #4

Tuesday, March 31, 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!”

The coronavirus pandemic has brought many drastic changes to our daily life. We are social beings, so confinement to our houses is difficult. It is particularly vexing for children, for many cannot play outside and/or go to an actual school building. While all the transformations are inconvenient, some are actually beneficial. For example, today’s society is spoiled—especially we in America. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having possessions, taking trips or vacations, eating out at restaurants, or seeking various forms of entertainment, it can be (and usually is) overdone. If our lives are so bound up in these, how traumatic is their absence! Coronavirus precautions and restrictions have eliminated or reduced these experiences.

With such distractions removed, and added stress due to medical and economic concerns, the world’s people are actually more receptive to spiritual truth than ever. They have come to realize what the Scriptures laid out 2,000 years ago: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Material possessions are “uncertain.” While we will certainly lose them (due to theft, economic downturn, death, et cetera), the timing of their forfeiture is unknown.

Another reality they are learning firsthand is James 4:14: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Living for the “here-and-now”—as if this life is the only one, as if there is no afterlife—has its limits. Life on Earth is ever so fragile, as any small threat (illness or accident) can immediately end it. Is it prudent to enjoy this life at the expense of the next one? No! At this time, people are contemplating their own mortality, and they had better keep heading toward the Scriptures….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Feeding the 4,000 and feeding the 5,000—same or different?

Without Honour #10

Friday, March 27, 2020

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4 KJV).

What valuable lesson can we learn from Nazareth—a moral the Nazarenes deliberately failed to learn?

Firstly, it is infinitesimally important that we positively respond to the Scriptures rightly divided as soon as possible. If we do not immediately react in faith, it becomes less and less likely that we will ever believe it. The Nazarenes were exposed to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, for almost three decades. He grew up among them, so they knew Him better than any other group in Israel or the world. Unfortunately, the Nazarenes started off with ungratefulness. As the years passed, they grew increasingly opposed to Him. Their animosity toward Him became so great they finally attempted to throw Him headfirst off a hillside. If only they had believed on Him the very moment He arrived in their town. Alas, they did not! If only they had believed their own Hebrew Bible as soon as they read it. Alas, they did not!

Secondly, it is unfathomably critical that we believe the Bible in the heart. This is more than knowing, reading, or hearing Scripture—the Nazarenes did that for centuries, and still wound up in unbelief. It is more than a mental assent or agreement—the Nazarenes did that for centuries too, and were still unbelieving. This is more than “playing church,” attending services out of “obligation” or “duty”—the Nazarenes did that for centuries as well, and still wound up in unbelief. Having the Bible is not enough—the Nazarenes did that for centuries as well, and were still unbelieving.

Dear readers, as soon as we learn the Gospel of Grace—“Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)—we need to exercise heart faith in it. Immediately after we discover the Apostle Paul is God’s spokesman to us—“the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13)—we should exercise heart faith in it. If there is any delay, and anything other than heart faith, we will treat Jesus Christ and His Word with more dishonour than Nazareth did long ago!

Perfect Peace #3

Monday, March 16, 2020

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:3,4 KJV).

Despite their grim circumstances, those who trust in the God of Scripture will be kept in “perfect peace!”

Israel will learn she cannot in and of herself be victorious over this evil world system. Her believing remnant must wait for Jesus Christ’s ultimate deliverance at His Second Coming. Psalm 68: “[1] Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. [2] As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. [3] But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. [4] Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.[34] Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds. [35] O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.”

The Holy Spirit, moving the Prophet Isaiah, is looking down through time—at least 2,700 years—to see Israel’s Little Flock at the end of Daniel’s 70th Week. Preparing to enter the Millennium, they are rejoicing. The LORD God has brought them through their horrendous suffering. By reading and trusting their prophetic promises in Scripture, they have been kept safe! Walking by faith in Isaiah, the Book that spoke of both their tribulation and their kingdom, they knew that, no matter what, they would survive to see His earthly kingdom. God was faithful!

Likewise, brethren, regardless of our struggles, heartaches, and uncertainties in this life, we already know our final destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ remains unchanged! Our eternal future is certain; thus, our temporary trials are certainly bearable (1 Corinthians 10:13). “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18). Enjoy that “perfect peace!” 🙂

Perfect Peace #2

Sunday, March 15, 2020

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:3,4 KJV).

Despite their grim circumstances, those who trust in the God of Scripture will be kept in “perfect peace!”

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace….” Here, the LORD will “keep” in the sense of guarding. Satan’s evil world system is endeavoring to harm the saint’s soul. “Perfect” should be taken as “complete, thorough.” The word “peace” carries the meaning of “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.” If we combine all these concepts, our understanding of the phrase is thus: Almighty God is protecting the saint from the destructive spiritual effects of living in this sin-cursed world, this fallen creation.

“…[W]hose mind is stayed on thee….” Almighty God works in the mind—not through the emotional seat—of the saint (more on this later). “Stayed” is synonymous with “depending on, fixed to, leaning on.” Psalm 112:7,8 contains the parallel idea: “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings [news]: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established [same Hebrew word as “stayed”], he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.”

“…[B]ecause he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever.” This further amplifies the earlier statement concerning the saint relying on the LORD. Notice how “trust” and “stay” are identical concepts—resting or being wholly confident in Him. The exhortation is as follows: “No matter what, never cease such dependence on the LORD!”

…[F]or in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” Why should we trust in the LORD? In Him we find “everlasting strength.” Whereas Satan’s evil world system attempts to weaken and destroy us, we have endless might in “the LORD JEHOVAH.” This Hebrew title—“JAH JEHOVAH”—is unique. It appears only one other time in the King James Bible (more on this later). “JAH” is an abbreviated form of the frequent “JEHOVAH” (often rendered “LORD” in English). According to Psalm 68:4, “JAH” is the title that Jesus Christ will hold as He returns victoriously at His Second Coming in great power and glory….

Perfect Peace #1

Saturday, March 14, 2020

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:3,4 KJV).

Despite their grim circumstances, those who trust in the God of Scripture will be kept in “perfect peace!”

Friend, life under the curse of sin is filled with innumerable surprises. (You did already know that, right?!) In a literal heartbeat, one’s life can change forever. Tragedy strikes in a variety of forms, and all are emotionally traumatic. Sin complicates life. It makes our existence difficult and risky. Yet, the people in today’s Scripture have learned how to make it through this rollercoaster we call “life!”

Let us read more from Isaiah chapter 26: “[1] In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks [fortifications, defenses]. [2] Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepth the truth may enter in. [3] Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. [4] Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.”

Scanning the surrounding verses (especially the earlier chapter), we realize that this is Israel’s restoration at Christ’s Second Coming. The “righteous nation” is the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, joyfully singing a tune. (Can you hear them?) They have been delivered from that dreadful time of Daniel’s 70th Week—commonly called the seven-year Tribulation. Yes, they have survived the darkest and worst period of human history. Now, they are jubilant! Entering the Jerusalem of the Millennium, they are ready to enjoy the kingdom that the LORD God promised their forefathers all those centuries ago! With the city gates opened, these believing Jews literally walk into Jerusalem, and thus begins their eternal, face-to-face communion with their King Jesus Christ!

How did they make it through that time of tremendous distress and heartache? What was their secret? If we look closely at today’s Scripture, it becomes abundantly clear how we too—despite our distresses—can enjoy the peace of the God of the Bible….

A Sickness to Guard Against!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

“But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:12,13 KJV).

The world’s deadliest illness—and we have all contracted it!

Friend, as you have heard, the coronavirus has been circulating worldwide for several weeks now. Unfortunately, much of the mainstream media and many politicians seem to be generating hysteria. It is better to listen directly to medical officials. We should certainly take such health threats seriously—especially if elderly and suffering preexisting health conditions (such as respiratory issues). To minimize risk, we should sneeze into our sleeves or disposable tissues, and wash our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If feeling ill, we should seek medical treatment.

Scripture speaks of something far worse than coronavirus or any other such physical illness. Jesus Christ came to the nation Israel on a “medical mission.” As a “physician,” He diagnosed sinners as “sick.” Healthy people do not need the doctor; sick individuals require medical attention. Yet, many Jewish religious leaders assumed they had no sin problem. They were self-righteous, as found in 1 John chapter 1: “[8] If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [10] If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Like most today, national Israel refused to see their sin problem. Content with their “goodness,” they were oblivious to their fatal illness. Let us not be foolish in rejecting the Saviour! The Gospel of Grace is, “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

To Pray a Better Way #10

Saturday, March 7, 2020

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26,27 KJV).

How does the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God?”

Father God “searcheth [investigates, looks into] the hearts;” He is aware of “the mind of the Spirit” (today’s Scripture). The Holy Spirit works in us by activating His inspired words that we have read and believed rightly divided. Consequently, we can pray in agreement with Father God’s current will. The Holy Spirit uses sound Bible doctrine to work in the grace saint as that child of God prays with a heart of faith. He enlightens the believer’s understanding, so that saint not only perceives God’s will for the present age, but can also pray accordingly. Unlike in religion, in the Bible, the Christian is not left clueless, wondering how to pray!

Provided we are aware of “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2)—the doctrine outlined in Paul’s Epistles, Romans through Philemon—then we will not be disappointed with “unanswered prayer.” We cannot make God do something He is not doing. If the content of our prayers conflicts with Pauline doctrine, then displeasure and doubt will constantly beset us. Praying like a saint in Israel’s prophetic program, will get us nowhere because we are the Church the Body of Christ and we are in the mystery program. We cannot take Israel’s verses, assume God will respond that way, and then complain He “lied” when our expectations are not met. Indeed, non-dispensational prayer is more harmful than no prayer!

Saints, if we have any hope in the world of praying effectually, we must let God speak first. He has already spoken in Paul’s Epistles. Have we listened to Him before asking Him to listen to us? Or, are we operating in unbelief, naming and claiming non-Pauline Bible passages as though they are to and about us? Articulating dispensationally-correct prayers is to pray a better way! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the ‘Scythians’ and the ‘Barbarians?’