Preaching the Word

Sunday, July 3, 2022

“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4 KJV).

As the Jerusalem Church dispersed due to Stephen’s mistreatment and eventual death, these saints were found “preaching the word” in all the places they went!

Many years back, after a major natural disaster, a Christian travelled with a large group of members of his denomination to help with relief efforts. He was also eager to go door-to-door in devastated neighborhoods to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ—and even pass out Gospel tracts and/or Bibles. Alas, he was stunned to discover those “Christians” never brought even one box of Bibles or any Christian literature to distribute! Here, he was so ready to give suffering people the truths of the Holy Scriptures, but his fellow denominationalists were more interested in passing out food and meeting other secular needs. Doing these “good works” was all they wanted. Where was the Bible in this church group? The Gospel tracts? The sincere desire to see lost people dead in their sins come to faith in Christ alone? It was for this reason my friend ultimately and permanently left that denomination. (We would not meet each other until several years later, upon which time he relayed this true story to me.)

Returning to today’s Scripture, Israel’s believing remnant (except the 12 Apostles; Acts 8:1) abandoned Jerusalem when Stephen’s murderers began tormenting Christ’s followers. Acts 11:19 qualifies, “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.” They knew how Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry had commanded them to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom once He returned to His Heavenly Father (Matthew 10:5-7,23). When referencing us the Church the Body of Christ in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul wrote, Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2).

This lost, dying world is hurting and so desperately needs the Word of God’s Grace. Brethren, may we share our Heavenly Father’s desire to reach them while… there is still time.

Superfluous #5

Monday, June 13, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

Read today’s Scripture with its context: “[1] For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: [2] For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. [3] Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: [4] Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. [5] Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.”

Paul knew how “froward” or zealous the Corinthians were in their giving (verse 2, today’s Scripture). This Greek word is also translated “willingness” or “readiness” (Acts 17:11; 2 Corinthians 8:11,12,19). He had even alerted the Macedonian believers (northern Greece) how these Achaian believers (southern Greece, including Corinth)—as much as year prior—had been enthusiastic in giving of their resources to support God’s people (Israel’s believing remnant). That news encouraged other saints to make donations too.

It was thus “superfluous” or redundant for Paul to write to the Corinthians about giving (they were already well informed about the situation). Yet, just in case any Macedonians would visit Corinth, and Corinth be not ready, Paul sent the Corinthians this second epistle (and brethren, including Titus; 2 Corinthians 8:16-18) with guidelines for giving. Unless the Holy Spirit led Paul to pen 2 Corinthians, with chapters 8–10 in place, we would be without principles for giving under grace. Saints, let us be thankful for those “superfluous” words.

Superfluous #4

Sunday, June 12, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

Since the Lord’s introduction of the mystery program (the Apostle Paul’s ministry and message) delayed the conclusion of the prophetic program, it was only natural for Paul’s Gentile converts to then contribute financially to the welfare of Israel’s believing remnant already formed during the prophetic program. If Israel’s God was now the God of non-Jewish heathen—the fruit of Paul’s ministry—then these Gentile saints (the Church the Body of Christ) should support believing Israel (the Little Flock).

Romans 15:27 again: “It hath pleased them [Paul’s saints] verily; and their [Israel’s] debtors they [Paul’s saints] are. For if the Gentiles [Paul’s saints] have been made partakers of their [Israel’s] spiritual things, their [Paul’s saints] duty is also to minister unto them [Israel] in carnal [material, physical] things.” Hence, the Apostles James and Cephas (Peter) and John, leaders of the Jerusalem Church, prompted Paul and Barnabas to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10; the Acts chapter 15 conference). Contrary to popular belief, the “poor” here are not underprivileged people in general: they are the poverty-stricken Little Flock of the Acts period!

In today’s Scripture, the issue is members of the Church the Body of Christ (Paul’s ministry) giving financial aid to Israel’s “saints” or believing remnant (under the leadership of Peter and the 11 Apostles). As Paul established and visited local grace churches, he took up collections of money and goods to bring to “the poor saints which are at Jerusalem” (Romans 15:26; also, remember 1 Corinthians 16:1-3). By the time of today’s Scripture (2 Corinthians), the Corinthian saints (in 1 Corinthians) had already been made aware of the plight of the Jewish believers in Christ in Jerusalem and Judaea; the Corinthians needed no instructions about giving, so it was “superfluous” for Paul to write to them on the subject.

However, the Holy Spirit through Paul taught them again about giving under grace anyway….

Superfluous #3

Saturday, June 11, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

To prepare them for the Antichrist’s satanic religious-economic system (Revelation 13:15-18), Christ directed His disciples to relinquish and sell their material goods (Matthew 19:21-30; Mark 10:21-31; Luke 18:22-30). Guarding against Satan’s distractions, they were not to be attached to this world’s riches (Matthew 6:19-34; Luke 12:13-34). In Acts 2:44,45 and Acts 4:32-37, Israel’s believing remnant obeyed Christ: they literally sold their personal possessions and lived off a common fund.

Of course, our dispensation introduced in Acts chapter 9 postponed the prophetic program, so the Antichrist is still future and their common fund went bankrupt. In Acts 11:27-30, a “dearth” or famine struck Judaea (the neighborhood of Jerusalem), further compounding the Little Flock’s dire financial straits: “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul [another name for the Apostle Paul].” Hence, in some of Paul’s “Acts” epistles, we read such verses as the following.

“But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things” (Romans 15:25-27). “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality [kind donations] unto Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

Here is “the ministering to the saints” of today’s Scripture….

One Letter Makes All the Difference

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

“For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead” (1 Peter 4:3-5 KJV).

While two letters distinguish “believer” from “unbeliever,” there is (in another sense) only one letter that makes all the difference between them.

The Apostle Peter, writing to the believing remnant within his Jewish nation, reminds them of their old lifestyle and identity. Having “lived it up” in sin as lost or unsaved souls, they have since trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Essentially, the Holy Spirit instructed them in today’s Scripture (paraphrased): “You have had your fill of evil, living like the pagan Gentiles, walking in looseness and carnality, evil desires, drunkenness, partying and socializing with the alcoholic idolaters, gluttonous feasts, and terrible or disgusting occasions of worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator. Now that you have come to faith in Christ, it is high time you live according to the will of God!”

Verses 1 and 2: “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” Yes, their unsaved family and friends will view them as “weird” or “crazy” for abandoning their old lifestyle and conduct (today’s Scripture)—but God will think it proper, and these saints with their renewed mind will see it suitable too (1 John 2:15-17). Dear Christian friends, our Apostle Paul concurs in Romans 13:11-14!

Therefore, a new Christian told her unsaved friend who could not understand how her lifestyle had changed so radically: “Just one letter of the alphabet makes all the difference between us now. You love the world and I love the Word!” 🙂

To Endure Forever

Thursday, April 21, 2022

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:23-25 KJV).

An eminent philosopher and critic of Christianity once bragged that, within a quarter-century, the Bible would be forgotten and Christianity would be no more. Forty years after he died, his house was converted into a print shop—wherein was published the Bible and other Christian literature! (That was 200 years ago, by the way.)

Beloved, our sinful flesh refuses to submit to final authority. We all want to think and do whatever we want. To evade accountability, we must devise schemes or excuses so as not to trust what God has already stated in His Book. We convince ourselves why we have no reason to be a Christian or believe anything in the Scriptures. Through the centuries, innumerable souls have deceived themselves into assuming Christianity will disappear. With that false hope, they have diminished any real severity in rejecting Christianity.

When addressing Israel’s Little Flock, the Jewish believing remnant, the Apostle Peter in today’s Scripture quoted Isaiah 40:6-8 to remind these saints they had been given eternal life through the living and life-giving Word of God. That Divine message they heard and believed—Jesus is Messiah/Christ (the Gospel of the Kingdom)—would remain ever-present, as would all other Scripture. Their souls were permanently secure because God’s promises to them were certain. On the other hand, man in all his arrogant intellectualism and self-sufficiency, is like grass and flowers. He is breathtaking, stunning, astounding for just an instant… only to die and shrivel away to nothingness!

The Scriptures are not temporary, but their opponents are. While critics are usually angry with religion and bitter regarding religious hypocrisy, they must realize they are fighting a losing battle. History testifies that God’s words have survived thousands of years of relentless satanic attacks. If they have outlasted all their enemies thus far, they doubtless will abide throughout the endless ages to come! 🙂

The Lowest Room #4

Friday, October 29, 2021

“But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee” (Luke 14:10 KJV).

What is this “lowest room?” Can we gain any counsel from today’s Scripture?

Read Christ’s words immediately following: “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (verse 11). Their fundamental problem, of course, was that ugly sin of pride! Never should we forget this concerns religion, self-righteous people who considered themselves gods and therefore worthy of worship. “I give more than anyone else, pray more than anyone else, and fast more than anyone else!” The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:1-18, exposes and condemns this attitude.

Also bear in mind that expression appears in another religious context, Luke chapter 18: “[9] And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: [10] Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. [11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. [12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. [13] And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Finally, we dare not forget Matthew 23:12, also regarding religious pride: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (see entire chapter for context). The arrogant will be brought low, for apostate Israel will be destroyed in God’s wrath; however, believing, humble Israel will be magnified in God’s Kingdom (Matthew 18:1-4).

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What does ‘choler’ mean?” and “What does ‘sith’ mean in Ezekiel 35:6?

The Good Samaritan #5

Saturday, August 21, 2021

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Luke 10:33,34 KJV).

How can this classic passage, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, enlighten us concerning God’s purpose and plan for the nation Israel?

The man leaving Jerusalem for Jericho represents wayward Israel, forsaking the center of God’s presence and words (cf. 1 Kings 11:36; Isaiah 2:3) and preferring a cursed, idolatrous city as its destination (cf. Joshua 6:26; 1 Kings 16:29-32). As the thieves robbed the traveler, so Satan’s evil world system spoiled and fatally wounded Israel. Distracted, unrighteous (lacking spiritual clothes), and now dying, she can do nothing to save herself. Her sin has found her out!

Along walks a Levitical priest, but this Jew cannot help the man, for the man is mortally wounded and unable to offer a sacrifice. Here comes a Levite, a teacher of the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 31:9-13,24-26; Deuteronomy 17:18; 2 Chronicles 15:3; Ezra 7:6,10,11). However, while this Jew can teach the man what he needs to do according to Moses’ instructions, the dying man cannot perform according to the LORD’S strict rules and regulations. The priest and the Levite, both having looked at the unfortunate soul and gone on their way, can do nothing for him. All hope is lost!

Suddenly, there appears a Samaritan—a societal outcast in Israel. He notices the dying man and pities him, applying antiseptic wine and soothing olive oil to treat his wounds. Whereas the Jews (priest and Levite) did none of this, the Samaritan takes it a step further. He pays to lodge the man in a hotel, that he recover from his injuries. The next day, the Samaritan entrusts the man to the innkeeper, and finally leaves after promising his return. Here, Christ turns Israel over to the 12 Apostles (cf. John 19:25-27; Luke 19:12-27), dies, resurrects, and ultimately ascends to His Father’s right hand wholly rejected. He is coming again to repay them for their service (Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12)! Indeed, the Samaritan of that noteworthy parable symbolizes Jesus Christ Himself and His work on Israel’s behalf….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Whose are the ‘words’ of 1 Samuel 3:19?

Throwing Them Out! #11

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying (Mark 5:40 KJV).

Why did Jesus throw these people out?

Jairus besought the Lord Jesus: “My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live” (verse 23). Alas, as Christ approaches the house, a (living) woman suffering chronic blood loss puts her hand on His clothes. She knows there is healing in His garment hem: “If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole [well, cured]” (verse 28). Instantly, her issue stops and she feels something extraordinary in her body!

“And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press [crowd], and said, Who touched my clothes?” (verse 30). Much more than “power” (as in modern English versions), it is “virtue” that has proceeded from Jesus. Such moral excellence or uprightness from God imparts physical—and more importantly, spiritual—restoration. The Lord turns around, confronts her, and then comforts her: “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague” (verse 34). This symbolizes the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, having God’s righteousness imputed to their account.

Christ proceeds to Jairus’ house. Unfortunately, dealing with the hemorrhaging woman has caused him to be late in treating the little girl. “While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe” (verses 35,36). Unlike the aforementioned woman, this child is “hopelessly” dead! Onlookers mock Jesus’ comment that her state is “temporary.” Throwing them out of His presence, He speaks to her and raises her up! She walks and eats! Here is Israel’s national resurrection at Christ’s Second Coming, unbelieving Jews removed and prohibited from witnessing their nation’s miraculous return from the grave. In the Millennium, Israel functions as God’s kingdom of priests.

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….

Throwing Them Out! #10

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying (Mark 5:40 KJV).

Why did Jesus throw these people out?

Read from Mark chapter 5 again: “[25] And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, [26] And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, [27] When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. [28] For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.” This woman literally reaches out in faith to touch Jesus’ garment. Matthew 9:20 adds: “[she] touched the hem of his garment.” Luke 8:44 has it like this: “[she] touched the border of his garment.”

The Mosaic Law, Numbers chapter 15, instructed this concerning the hem or border of a Jew’s clothes: “[37] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [38] Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: [39] And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: [40] That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.”

For 12 years, this woman has been hemorrhaging (bleeding profusely). Life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11,14): life is flowing from her. Yet, she recognizes her sickness. Here is Israel’s believing remnant, admitting their only hope for righteousness is in Jesus’ perfect obedience to God’s commandments (symbolized by His garment hem). These believing sinners reach out in faith and receive God’s righteousness. Before Jesus raises up the nation Israel via the New Covenant (Jairus’ dead little girl), He pauses to form the Little Flock (the hemorrhaging woman). Let us now summarize this devotionals arc….