Upside Down #2

Saturday, November 28, 2020

“But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus” (Acts 17:5-7 KJV).

Is society right side up, or upside down? It all depends on our perspective!

Carefully consider these two scenarios. If we are upside down, then what appears “upside down” to us is actually right side up, and what seems “right side up” to us is really upside down. Once we see things for what they really are though—and not what we assume them to be—then we can proceed to addressing our world’s problems. While our hearts deceive us into thinking we can fare without God, the truth is we cannot.

Read Romans 1:18-32, Ephesians 4:17-19, and 2 Timothy 3:1-5. The Bible—especially that Romans passage—describes terrible conditions that resulted because man departed from God’s revelation to him. The Lord gave the nations over to Satan because that was their preference. “[T]urn from these vanities [idols] unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:15,16). Read Acts 17:22-31 as well.

Yet, through the Apostle Paul’s ministry and message, the Lord Jesus Christ reaches out to the heathen (nations), to rescue them from their upside-down world (a world that looks right-side up to them). Sinful hearts view the transformation as detrimental—and it most certainly is to those who desire to retain their darkness and ignorance. Applying renewed minds, we Christians share the Gospel of God’s Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3,4) with this lost and dying world, that they may come to see they are really upside down and only the Lord can turn them right side up!

NOTE: Brethren, this is our final original devotional for 2020. Now we begin our classic Christmas studies—and they will run until after New Year’s.

Upside Down #1

Friday, November 27, 2020

“But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus” (Acts 17:5-7 KJV).

Is society right side up, or upside down? It all depends on our perspective!

A Christian brother and longtime coworker in ministry recently told me, “We live in a mixed-up world!” Satan and sinful man have made a real mess of God’s once-perfect creation. What was originally order is now chaos; complicated situations and circumstances have replaced simple ones. An easy life of pleasure has given way to difficulties and pain. Darkness has taken the place of light.

The really absurd part is that man’s heart has deceived him to such a degree he actually believes he can make the world a better place (cf. Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, one group suggests our reformation of the planet will entice Jesus Christ to return and live down here with us. The fact of the matter is, however, things are not improving, are they? Confusion and corruption are becoming more widespread. Churches are split. Families are divided. Nations are fragmented.

Back in the A.D. first century, the Apostles’ time, the Roman Empire was the world government. Christianity, while deemed an “illegal religion,” was mightily used of God to bring spiritual enlightenment to abject pagans. Still, like today, many were comfortable in their ignorance. Thus, they bitterly fought against the truth. In today’s Scripture, unbelieving Jews accused the Apostle Paul and his ministry co-laborer Silas of “turn[ing] the world upside down” with their “nonsensical” Gospel message. Heathens were trusting Jesus Christ, breaking free from all the “societal norms,” and enjoying new (sanctified) lifestyles. What lost people had labeled “turning the world upside down” was really the Lord “turning the world right side up….”

In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 26, 2020

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see, “What are our spiritual blessings in Christ?

Fret Not! #7

Sunday, November 15, 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).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

The upcoming weeks will be quite interesting for our country. Whatever happens, whoever is ultimately declared president, the next four years will be challenging. Maybe the “fatal blow” has already been inflicted—maybe not. Only time will tell. In light of eternity, this is really but a minor issue.

No matter what shocking or distressing information we uncover in this life, Father God already knew about it. In fact, He is aware of every single scintilla of bad news. The curse of sin and Satan’s influence are literally universal. Nevertheless, God, with complete knowledge of all that is wrong, is not fretting. Why? He knows how it will ultimately be made right one day. We simply take the position of faith. Yea, we agree with Him!

Never forget Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [the Son, Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

Through Christ’s shed blood, saints will occupy Earth’s governments and Heaven’s governments. Redeemed Israel will accomplish God’s purpose and plan in the Earth; the Church the Body of Christ will do likewise in the Heavenly Places. Evil will be dealt with, and permanently removed from creation. Hasten that wonderful day, Lord, hasten that wonderful day! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is a ‘charger?’

Fret Not! #6

Saturday, November 14, 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).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

Today’s Scripture encourages us to worry about nothing. In our circumstances—good or bad—we can and should come to Father God in prayer. Whatever the case, we talk to Him in light of what we have read in His Word rightly divided, thereby giving us “the peace of God.” “Peace” is in the sense of tranquility, freedom from distress or anxiety. Our hearts (souls) and minds (spirits) will be guarded through Christ Jesus, the one and only Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).

Verily, verily, we live in a fallen world; the Bible calls it “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). This is because Satan is called “the god [ruler] of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), Adam giving him possession of it back in Genesis chapter 3. Hence, he boasted to Christ in chapter 4 of Luke: “[5] And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. [6] And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. [7] If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. [8] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Ultimately, Jesus will indeed gain control of the world’s kingdoms—and He will not have to worship Satan! Revelation 11:15 says of that glorious future day: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” As touching the evil in the world, let us remember that it is only for a time. The Lord, when He is ready, will make things right. We take comfort in that.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Fret Not! #5

Friday, November 13, 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).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

The Book of James comments: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). Romans 16:19 adds: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.”

Over the decades, especially here in the United States, the professing Body of Christ has gained quite a reputation for taking certain political positions. While this is not wrong in and of itself, Christians should be more familiar with spiritual truth than political platforms. We should be known first and foremost for our doctrinal positions—which are often shallow or nonexistent. As we read in Romans above, it is better to be more familiar with the truth than be experienced in error. After all, “[Jesus Christ] gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:…” (Galatians 1:4). We should have our priorities straight. Sound Bible doctrine, once emphasized, will guard us against the lies of this evil world system.

Like James says, this world is opposed to Almighty God. Thinking like lost people is not for Christians. Let us see 1 John chapter 2: “[15] Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. [17] And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

No matter what happens, we need to remember, “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are we immune to heresy and apostasy?

Fret Not! #4

Thursday, November 12, 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).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

One of the “Christian metaphors” in Scripture is that believers in Christ are soldiers. Read 2 Timothy chapter 2: “[3] Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. [4] No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” A soldier cannot afford to be caught up in civilian life because he is not a civilian! If he is not fully conscious of who he is (and who he is not), then he will be unable to adequately fulfill his purpose. In like manner, we cannot let this temporary world distract us from our identity in Christ.

It has been joked—and, yet, it is more tragic than comic—that when Jesus Christ returns to take His people home to Heaven, He will have to yank some of them twice. They will be so intertwined with this earthly life; it will be hard for them to leave it all behind. Entertainment, possessions, and friends… they will be disheartened and disappointed to see it all fade away. This is not the way it should be. Colossians chapter 3: “[1] If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

As long as the Christian has “set [his or her] affection [focus, attention, attitude] on things above, and not on things on the earth,” that believer, when the Lord returns, will gladly forsake all that this world has to offer. Earth is not our home, and we are “just passing through….”

Fret Not! #3

Tuesday, November 10, 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).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

The Apostle Paul teaches in Titus 3:8: “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” “Careful” here is in the sense of thoughtful, attentive, concerned about. If we Christians must be anxious about something, Scripture says we should worry about maintaining good works! This is an ongoing process, a keeping on laboring in accordance with sound Bible doctrine.

Chapter 2 had already stated: “[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. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” The Bible encourages us also in Philippians 3:20,21: For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

We members of the Church the Body of Christ are destined for Heaven. Consequently, it is ever (!) so (!) important (!) we as believers in Jesus Christ not get attached to this world, preoccupied and overwhelmed with all its problems. Martha of long ago needed to learn that lesson, and the Lord corrected her. In like manner, through Pauline doctrine, He adjusts our thinking to see “[the] one thing [that] is needful….”

In order to bring you a special study tomorrow, we temporarily break from this devotionals arc….

Be of Good Cheer!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

“And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matthew 9:2 KJV).

The (dreaded) United States’ Election Day is here, but Be of good cheer!

Our King James Bible uses the exhortation, “Be of good cheer,” on seven occasions—during depressing circumstances. Today’s Scripture, the first instance, is Jesus encouraging the paralyzed man He is about to heal (physically, but more importantly, spiritually)!

As a storm violently rocks the disciples’ boat, Jesus walks on the water, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14:27). Mark 6:50 reads: “For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” On the night of His arrest, just hours before His crucifixion, Jesus tells His disciples in the upper room: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

After Paul was violently attacked in Jerusalem, he is arrested and stands before the Sanhedrin (Israel’s governing religious body). “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome” (Acts 23:11). While Paul sails to Rome, inclement weather threatens the ship. Acts 27:22 and 25 quote his words to his companions: “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship… Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.” (According to verses 23 and 24, an angel had appeared to Paul to comfort him and his fellow travelers.)

Saints, no matter the election outcome, let us “be of good cheer.” We are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), and this is not our home anyway! Furthermore, as our Lord said, Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world(John 16:33)! 🙂

In light of the U.S. Presidential Election, you may read our archived study: “Is ‘divine right of kings’ a Scriptural teaching?

Arrayed in Hypocrisy

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27,28 KJV).

“Looks can be deceiving” is not only true during Halloweentime, but confirmed year-round within Christendom.

Today is Halloween, when children dress up and feign themselves to be creatures they are not. Likewise, many church leaders today wear “Christian” garbs, but their ministries do not bring the Lord Jesus Christ glory and honor. They promote their denomination, and seek to perpetuate it, rather than serve and exalt the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. The Bible manifests these who appear to be good, as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

In today’s Scripture, Jesus Christ exposed Israel’s corrupt religious leaders who misled the nation in His day. In His Parable of the Tares, Matthew 13:24-30,37-43, Christ explained how just as He had sown good seed (wheat, believing Jews) in Israel, Satan had also sown tares/weeds (unbelieving Jews). Tares resemble wheat; unbelieving Jews resemble believing Jews. The unbelieving Pharisees and scribes, for instance, looked like God’s people (believing Israel). Judas Iscariot was another example of Satan’s tares—the apostles never realized who Judas really was until it was too late!

But Satan’s counterfeit believers are not confined to Israel’s program. Today, within local assemblies of the Body of Christ, there are people feigning themselves to be Christians: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Beloved, beware of the church leaders who are arrayed in hypocrisy, “and avoid them” (Romans 16:17b). If their teaching does not agree with the rightly divided King James Bible, you have no business as a child of God to be listening to them.

*This is excerpted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see our special study, “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?