Jesus, Please Leave! #1

Monday, June 17, 2019

“And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts” (Matthew 8:34 KJV).

Friend, what would you do if the Lord Jesus Christ Himself happened to knock on your front door or ring your doorbell?

It is a sad commentary indeed. When Christ showed up in the midst of His own kinsmen, the Bible says, “And she [His mother, the virgin Mary] brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn(Luke 2:7). A few years pass, and the wise men have come from the east to worship young Jesus. “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him(Matthew 2:3). Was Israel ready for her Messiah? Of course not! Did the inhabitants of Jerusalem welcome its rightful King with open arms? Certainly not! Truly, rank unbelief led to outright refusal.

Over 30 years later, Matthew 8:20 reports: “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath no where to lay his head.” In other words, the foxes and birds have homes where they are accepted and can rest. However, Jesus has been overwhelmingly rejected. In the very place where He should have settled “at home,” there was no room for Him! Did you know that, at the very beginning of His ministry, the convicted Jews attempted to throw Jesus off a cliff (Luke 4:28-31)?!

Doubtless, a believing remnant followed Jesus when He conducted His earthly life—Mary His mother, Joseph His step-father, Anna and Simeon, John the Baptist, the 12 Apostles, Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathaea, Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary, and so on. However, it was indeed a remnant, a little flock” (Luke 12:32): most Jews refused to believe on Him. Their attitude culminated in John 19:15, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him…. The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar!”

Calvary’s cross is just moments away. Yet, we pause the narrative and go back in time, focusing on today’s Scripture….

The War with Amalek! #14

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

In Scripture, water symbolizes the Holy Spirit (and the impartation of life). For example, John chapter 7: “[37] In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. [39] (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”

See also 1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The verb “drink” carries the connotation of a liquid—water. Once we believed on Christ as our personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit identified us with Him, and we received His life. Here is Israel drinking from the rock (cf. today’s Scripture). They had God’s life, His blessings because of His grace, and victory over sin—until they embraced works-religion. The poor Apostle Paul wound up in a similar trap. His Christian life started right (Romans chapter 6), then he abandoned Grace to follow Law and become conquered and miserable (chapter 7). Hope and victory come in chapter 8!

“[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

If we have a clear understanding of Grace (“mind the things of the Spirit”), brethren, there will be no room for Law—or losing to Amalek! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does the Bible say about fatherhood?

The War with Amalek! #13

Friday, June 14, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Here is grace living (as opposed to legalism, Law-keeping): “[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 (Titus 2:11-14).

When we quote Romans 6:14 (“We are not under the law, but under grace”), that does not mean we believe God encourages us Christians to sin. If ever someone objects with, “Grace is a license to sin,” they either do not know what grace really teaches, or (sadly) they have seen a “grace” person regularly behave carnally. The verse says in full, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” All the Law can do is show us our sin; it cannot (!) make us righteous and it cannot (!) cause us to act righteously. The Law functions as a mirror: it reveals our shortcoming, our need for the Saviour Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:21-25).

Scripture says the Law “is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1 Timothy 1:7-11). If we have recognized our lost estate, deadness in trespasses and sins, and have come to Christ by faith alone, then we are righteous in Him (1 Corinthians 1:30,31). The Law has no purpose in the Christian’s life, for the Law has already accomplished God’s intention: it has directed the lost person to trust Christ and become a Christian. For the Christian to then place himself under the Law is to cause sin to dominate him (Romans 6:14). We overcome sin—the flesh—not by striving to make ourselves holy, but realizing we are holy (sanctified, set apart) in Christ and instruments of His works (Titus 2:14)! The victory over sin is in Grace, not Law!

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

The War with Amalek! #12

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Experiencing a new life in a new land, the nation Israel encounters a most ruthless enemy. Their jubilant Promised Land trip was interrupted when the Amalekites arrived. However, through the sword (the Word of God, the Scriptures) and the lifting of hands (prayer), Israel was victorious. God in His grace had given them the ability to conquer sin! In fact, between chapters 14-18, He provided for all their needs. They needed deliverance from Egypt and passage through the Red Sea. He delivered! They needed potable water. He gave drink! They needed food. He gave bread and meat! They needed water again. He gave drink! They needed military might. He gave victory! They needed Divine counsel. He gave wisdom! Grace is what God can do for sinners; sinners can do nothing for God!

Alas, Exodus chapter 19 now appears. Tragically, Israel abandons God’s grace. They now want to work for the blessings God had freely offered them! Having not learned the lessons of grace in the previous five chapters, they insist on performing in religion. Rather than appreciating the identity God gave them simply because He loved them, they want to make themselves God’s people. They honestly believe they can keep all of God’s commandments (conquer sin by their efforts). If they engage in 100 percent righteous living, then they will be His people. Israel was most reckless to enter this covenant. Yet, let us not be hard on Israel, for billions today have been equally deceived. This includes all professing Christians (mere church members) and most genuine Christians (members of the Body of Christ).

Very rarely is a pure Gospel of Grace preached. “Sinner’s prayers,” walking of aisles, confessions of sins, water baptisms, shaking preachers’ hands, and so on, all obscure a clear grace message. What God has done at Calvary for the sinner is overlooked because what the sinner can do in religion for God is stressed ad nauseum. No wonder people are confused! Am I saved or lost?! In Christ or still going to Hell?! They need to approach the Word of God rightly divided, believe it, and prayerfully apply it to life….

The War with Amalek! #4

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

The Amalekites were the first Gentiles to fight Israel after they had passed through the Red Sea. Read today’s Scripture in context once more: “[5] And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. [6] Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. [7] And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not? [8] Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.” It is important to note that this battle did not initiate until after the water ran.

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul provides commentary: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; [2] And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; [3] And did all eat the same spiritual meat; [4] And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians chapter 10).

While Israel literally passed through the Red Sea, and actually drank literal water from a literal rock, spiritual truths are being communicated as well. The Bible says the smitten Rock was Jesus Christ. According to Isaiah 53:4, He was “smitten of God” on Calvary’s cross. Moses striking the rock was a picture of Christ being crucified 1,500 years later. As physical water flowed from the rock, sustaining physical life, so spiritual water flowed from Christ the Rock on the cross, thereby releasing spiritual life. With the flow of spiritual life—and notice it comes first—a war subsequently rages. Now, the victor and the loser….

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 27, 2019

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

The Goodness of God

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17 KJV).

Friend, would you give a cup of water to your enemy? One slice of bread? A piece of fruit? The God of the Bible gives much more to His enemies!

Some people have so offended us, we think twice about letting them drink from our garden water hose (let alone our kitchen faucet!). We hesitate to give them crumbs (much less a full course meal!). Today’s Scripture closes the sermon the Apostles Barnabas and Paul preached to the pagan idolaters in Lystra (southern Turkey). The one true God had given these heathen over to the satanic religion they had desired (verses 11-13,15,16); yet, He sustained their crop production with the natural laws He had ordained in creation. Recall Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:45, “…he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

The God of creation let them have His water (rain). He allowed them to eat His food that grew in His soil with His sunshine. His matter, His atoms, His molecules keep them from starving and dying. Back in Genesis chapter 1, He had created it all from nothing, spoken it all into existence; then, these spiritually blind Gentiles took His provisions and gave them over to worthless false deities! He knew the heathen of the world would ignore Him and worship and serve idols of wood and stone, gold and silver. They would prepare food and drink offerings for pagan gods, not Him (the God of creation, the God of Israel). Yet, He let them have their way. His creation—notice again that it is His creation—would be used to praise everyone and everything but Him. Sad!

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Calvary is the greatest expression of God’s goodness toward His enemies—us!