Strong Participants Wanted

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14 KJV).

The nation Israel should be matured in God’s Word—alas, they are not!

I attended my nephew’s recent basketball tournament. For the last few months, our team had diligently practiced and played regular games. At the tournament, we competed against several proficient teams and won… first place! One particular player did exceptionally well, scoring numerous points all by himself (some amazing distant shots). After our final victory, I asked his mother, “He practices a lot, huh?” She replied, “Oh, yes, all the time!” Indeed, it showed.

Watching all those young men playing basketball, I could see who was expert and who was novice. All were clumsy at times—tripping, falling, slipping, and/or throwing too high or too far. A select number were remarkably skilled. These particular individuals strategized: they were not aimlessly wandering the court. They knew how to block opponents, pass the ball to their teammates, outmaneuver rivals without dropping the ball, and so on. Knowledgeable coaches, careful training, focused teamwork, and good sportsmanship were all key to first place!

If only the members of the Church the Body of Christ cooperated as players of a sports team do. Instead, we see it as a competition against other believers in Jesus Christ: the flesh envies, complains, pouts, and attacks. If only we could be as skilled in handling the Word of God rightly divided as undefeated sports players. There is always room for improvement but, sadly, more room has been given to ignorance, immaturity, slothfulness, and carelessness. Israel of old was rebuked in today’s Scripture. Let us learn the lesson she never did! 🙂

The LORD Shut Him In

Monday, January 22, 2018

And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in (Genesis 7:16 KJV).

Who shut whom in?

It is commonly assumed that Noah shut the door after he, his family, and all the animals entered the Ark. However, Scripture says, the LORD shut him in:” it was an act of Almighty God. Had Noah shut the door, there was no guarantee it would stay closed. He might not have pulled hard enough, or secured it tightly enough. Since God closed it, though, it certainly could not be opened.

Why was it important that God shut the Ark’s door? Remember what was aboard: the last remaining eight people, the last of the beasts of the field, the last remaining fowls of the air, and the last of the creeping things. All these creatures would have been exposed to the extreme weather outside and would have surely died. Satan had tried to corrupt the whole human race before the Flood; he failed. Now, he would try to destroy it entirely (when God intended survivors). The good news is that what God does, Satan cannot undo. Dear, friends, not even Satan could open that Ark door!

Jesus Christ told Israel’s believing remnant: “[27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: [28] And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. [29] My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. [30] I and my Father are one” (John 10:27-30). Noah’s secure Ark pictured that Little Flock that will live during the end-times, to survive God’s judgment in an “ark” themselves (1 Peter 3:20,21).

The Apostle Paul spoke of himself as a secure member of the Body of Christ, not because of his faithfulness but because of God’s ability: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep [guard] that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Do Matthew 9:18, Mark 5:23, and Luke 8:42 contradict?

A Better Body

Sunday, January 21, 2018

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18 KJV).

Amen!

An elderly friend and coworker in the ministry recently slipped and fell on icy pavement. His resultant severe hand injury required medical attention. Days later, his hip and leg began to hurt and now he limps—probably another injury he sustained in the fall. He will probably have to seek medical help for that as well. Now, likely due to his earlier hospital visit (regarding another sickness), he has the flu! His wife suffers chronic maladies herself. Since her immune system is so weak, she is temporarily living elsewhere so as to avoid contracting her husband’s illness.

Saints, we all have our various bodily afflictions, physical disabilities, limitations, and the like. It is certainly no fun to be sick—especially in life-threatening or terminal situations. Remember, just because we are Christians does not mean we will not suffer. We grow sick, we grow old, and we die. That is the curse of sin, one aspect of living in an unredeemed body. Therefore, we anticipate the Rapture, our gathering together unto Christ and the receipt of our new, glorified bodies that will never grow ill, age, or perish!

“[19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

Outnumbered?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents:… (Exodus 7:10-12a KJV).

What will happen next?!

Never forget, dear friends, that Satan is the master counterfeiter. Whatever God does, Satan endeavors to copy it as closely as possible. After all, Lucifer’s original goal was to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). In Satan’s policy and plan of evil, he has a wide variety of tools—false brethren, false apostles, false bibles, false prophets, false teaching, false churches, and so on. Overall, Satan seeks worship that God alone deserves (cf. Matthew 4:8-10).

In today’s Scripture, Satan empowered Pharaoh’s magicians to mimic God’s miracle. Moses and Aaron had one rod that turned into one snake. According to 2 Timothy 3:8, there were two magicians—their two rods transformed into two snakes. The LORD God’s snake was outnumbered two to one: Pharaoh thought his gods were superior to Israel’s God. Today’s Scripture continues, but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.” Praise God! 🙂

Going back to 2 Timothy chapter 3: “[8] Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. [9] But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” Paul reaches back into Israel’s history to remind us that false teachers will not continue forever. Today, they still oppose the truth in that they still imitate it, but their foolishness will be exposed one day. Just as Jannes and Jambres were revealed to be no match for the one true God, the false teachers who counterfeit the truth today will be manifested as failures too.

In Christian life and ministry, it seems like we are outnumbered. Less individuals are on our side, but so what! We are on God’s side—with Him, we actually have the majority and (as Moses and Aaron know) we already have the victory!

NOTE: Happy 38th spiritual birthday to my parents, who trusted Jesus Christ alone all those years ago!

Bible Q&A #455: “Was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah inhospitality?

The Wise Masterbuilder #15

Friday, January 19, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

The solution to Christendom’s schisms—sectarianism/denominationalism—is “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Paul is our Apostle, God’s spokesman to us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace (Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:1,2): we do not exalt Paul but we “magnify” his God-given “office”/apostleship (Romans 11:13). He is the “wise masterbuilder” who laid the foundation—Jesus Christ “according to the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25,26; cf. today’s Scripture).

We study all the Bible: we do not discard the non-Pauline Bible Books. Nevertheless, we understand that, in Paul’s epistles alone, we find our doctrine, duty, walk, destiny, and hope as members of the Church Body of Christ. Paul is not “just another world religious leader.” He has been God’s messenger to the nations these last 2,000 years—the entire Dispensation of the Grace of God. If we ignore Paul, we discount Jesus Christ who sent him to us. When we emphasize Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew through John), we overlook His subsequent heavenly ministry (Romans through Philemon).

Whenever someone says that doctrine does not matter, remember today’s Scripture. God the Holy Spirit believed that the Corinthians should follow the Apostle Paul as he followed Jesus Christ. In the Dispensation of Grace, Paul is the “pattern”—for salvation unto eternal life and salvation from false teaching (cf. 1 Timothy 1:12-17). Do we agree with Him?

Colossians chapter 1: “[25] Whereof I [Paul] am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory!”

-FINIS!-

The Wise Masterbuilder #14

Thursday, January 18, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

We study all of the Bible—Genesis to Revelation—as God inspired it all. However, we are not the only saints in God’s Word. The nation Israel needs Scripture written to and about her: these are the non-Pauline Books. When we “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), we are simply recognizing distinctions that God has already made in His Book.

Nonetheless, most rebel and voice their excuses and objections. “I follow Jesus; I do not follow some man such as Paul!” “You throw away everything before Paul!” “You Paul-worshipper!” The Holy Spirit anticipated these protestations and mischaracterizations, as 1 Corinthians chapter 14 shows: “[37] 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. [38] But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” Pay close attention to verse 38!!

Do you remember our comments when we started? God values free will. If we want to stay biblically-confused (so as to support our denomination), if we prefer spiritual darkness (so as to keep our preconceived ideas), God will give us our way! To wit, “If you want to be without knowledge of Paul’s special ministry and message, be without knowledge!” (Unfortunately, many church members—and even most genuine Christians—have actually chosen this route. Notice, God gave them their desire!!)

However, for us who are interested in “godly edifying” (1 Timothy 1:4), we remember Paul’s words in 2 Timothy chapter 1: “[13] Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [14] That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How was Jesus Christ crucified among the Galatians?

The Wise Masterbuilder #13

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

Today’s Scripture with its successive verses: “[10] According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. [11] For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12] Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; [13] Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. [14] If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. [15] If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

The Corinthians were not building proper doctrine in their inner man. Such loss of reward will be apparent at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9,10; Colossians 3:23-25). If there is to be grace edification in our lives, we must follow the “wise masterbuilder”—Paul (today’s Scripture). Notice the admonitions throughout the first Corinthian epistle: “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me (4:15,16). Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (11:1). “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(14:37).

To achieve spiritual maturity in the Dispensation of Grace, we follow the Apostle Paul as he follows the Lord Jesus Christ….