Ministry Priorities #2

Monday, April 24, 2023

“Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables” (Acts 6:2 KJV).

What are the two chief elements of a Christ-honoring ministry?

Verse 4 replies: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Although the 12 Apostles refused to be preoccupied with superintending petty matters such as feeding hungry widows, they were nevertheless sympathetic to the point of allowing seven men to oversee that food distribution. The 12 Apostles had a clear understanding of what was foremost in ministry.

Prayer is us speaking to God according to what He has already told us in His Bible. The Word, of course, is the Bible, God talking to us. Let us be careful not to let even the most innocent-looking situations distract us from God’s ministry. Down through the years, countless church leaders have been drawn away from their primary duties (Word of God and prayer) in order to engage in frivolous or trivial pursuits. Wise counsel can be found here in Acts chapter 6 if we are interested in doing God’s will regarding ministry! “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine(1 Timothy 4:13). “I will [wish, desire] therefore that men pray every where…” (1 Timothy 2:8).

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1,2). Observe the progression—the “good” will of God, the “acceptable” will of God, and the “perfect” will of God. Each level is greater spiritual maturity. As believers in Christ, we go beyond choosing good over evil, and we go beyond acceptable over unacceptable, to identify what is “perfect” (the best choice out of all good choices, the superior decision of all possible acceptable decisions). Pertaining to the work of the ministry and its finest courses for this the Dispensation of Grace, we access Paul’s “Pastoral Epistles”—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

Ministry Priorities #1

Sunday, April 23, 2023

“Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables” (Acts 6:2 KJV).

What are the two chief elements of a Christ-honoring ministry?

Read today’s Scripture in context: “[1] And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. [2] Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. [3] Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. [4] But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”

With the Messianic Church growing at an extraordinary rate, there occurred an organizational crisis that could no longer be overlooked. Widows of the “Grecians”—or Greek-speaking Jewesses—were not receiving their fair share of the food being distributed. The Hebrew widows—or Hebrew-speaking Jewesses—were getting preferential treatment. This unfortunate situation was likely accidental, not deliberate. Nevertheless, it had to be rectified, and the Grecians were complaining for something to be done. Therefore, the 12 Apostles made an informed decision to let them choose seven men who would carry out the daily ministration (food service) with the Grecian widows in mind.

It is striking how the 12 Apostles were able to discern with mature spiritual eyes what they had to do compared to what others could do. That is to say, the 12 Apostles knew their priority was “the word of God” (verse 2). Like all of us, they had limited time and energy, so they needed to make the most of them. It was far more advantageous for these men to concentrate on preaching the Word of God, and suggesting the other members of believing Israel select seven men who could then be ordained to head the food services. This is such basic spiritual common sense, and we can learn something from this too….

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 9, 2023

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂


*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Two Hungry Men! #4

Friday, March 24, 2023

And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry (Mark 11:12 KJV).

Who is this hungry man? Who else is a hungry man in the Bible? What exactly has caused their hunger?

The Lord Jesus during the Books of Matthew through John hungers for spiritual fruit in Israel, wanting Israel to become His kingdom of priests in the Earth. Nevertheless, the majority of Israel refuses Him during His earthly ministry, thus rejecting their opportunity to be God’s channel of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles (see Isaiah 60:1-3; Zechariah 8:20-23; Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 3:25,26; et al.). With Israel in unbelief, lacking a relationship with the one true God through Jesus Christ, that Jewish nation is unable to share God’s words with the nations (Gentiles).

In early Acts, the Apostle Peter is experiencing the same difficulty, so he too is hungry (chapter 10). Despite a believing remnant, Israel as a whole stubbornly remains in unbelief, so the Gentiles cannot be reached. In fact, the Little Flock has undergone much persecution since Christ’s Ascension in chapter 1, and this militant rejection of Christ makes the situation look hopeless. Without Israel’s national conversion, the Jewish people still cannot be God’s channel of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles. The covenants and promises of God are left unfulfilled. It is at this point in chapter 10 that Almighty God intervenes to communicate to Peter how he, in Joppa, will now visit and preach to some Gentiles in Caesarea (about a day away). This departure from the prophetic order of “Israel first” signals to Peter and the rest of the Little Flock that God is doing something different. It is not until many years later that Peter finally realizes his meeting with Gentile Cornelius was to prepare him to defend Paul’s Gentile apostleship in chapter 15 at the Jerusalem Conference.

As a final addendum, we can remind ourselves of the Apostle Paul’s yearning for unbelieving Israel to be saved during the latter Acts period (Romans 10:1-3). Like the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles Peter and Paul, we should long for Father God’s will to be accomplished in our ministry. Also being “hungry for souls,” we “hold forth the word of life” (Philippians 2:12-16).

Two Hungry Men! #3

Thursday, March 23, 2023

And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry (Mark 11:12 KJV).

Who is this hungry man? Who else is a hungry man in the Bible? What exactly has caused their hunger?

Luke chapter 13 explains why the Lord cursed the fig tree: “[6] He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. [7] Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? [8] And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: [9] And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.”

This Parable of the Barren Fig Tree summarizes Christ’s three-year earthly ministry. Remembering again that figs symbolize religion (see Genesis 3:7, the Bible’s first mention of figs), we establish how the Lord sought spiritual fruit in Israel but found none. Despite an outward appearance of life (green leaves), there was no internal fruit to satisfy God’s hunger for faith and righteousness in the nation (re-read Matthew 21:17-20 and Mark 11:12-14,20-21). The Law of Moses, which rabbinical scholars had watered down with manmade traditions, had not produced a nation that recognized its sin problem (and thus failed to acknowledge its need for the Saviour). The Old Covenant system was faulty—not because anything was wrong with it but because it could not impart life to sinners who had the problem (Jeremiah 31:32; Romans 7:12; Galatians 2:21; Galatians 3:19-24; Hebrews 8:7-13; et al.).

Coming into the early Acts period, the one-year extension of mercy given to Israel following Christ’s three years of earthly ministry (see Luke 13:8), we see the 12 Apostles (Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot) laboring under the power of the Holy Spirit to preach and therefore convert Israel to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is more unbelief and self-righteousness. Those first seven chapters of Acts ended with apostate Israel murdering Stephen, God’s prophet to the nation’s leaders. In chapter 10, Peter (or rather the Holy Spirit through Peter) now hungers for spiritual fruit in Israel….

333’s 4300th – We Want More Light!

Thursday, March 9, 2023

“Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him” (Acts 8:29-31 KJV).

Dear friends and saints, we have reached devotional #4300 today!

Indeed, we do not have all the answers. If we did, we would be God. However, the Bible has all the answers we need—not all we want, but all we need. The Holy Spirit could have given us a record of everything in minute detail—all that God thinks and does and all that man thinks and does—but the Bible would not be mobile. We would never reach the end, and would never be able to read everything in it. In this world of darkness, what God has revealed to us is usually ignored anyway.

Long ago, I often came across the television program of a certain preacher. His theology was greatly perverted—he actually seemed to be an unsaved man—but even liars tell an occasional truth. He said how it always pleased God when we opened our Bible and read it. I disagreed with 99.9% of his statements, but he was right about that. Furthermore, if we are receptive to the spiritual light that we have, the Holy Spirit will provide more light.

The Ethiopian eunuch of today’s Scripture was reading his copy of Isaiah, but could not make sense of it. Nevertheless, since he was a sincere seeker of the truth, the Holy Spirit sent the Evangelist Philip to teach him about Jesus Christ (read verses 26-39). In chapter 10, Cornelius was another lost man, but he was walking in the light that he had, so the Holy Spirit sent the Apostle Peter to teach him about Jesus Christ (verses 1-48). The God of the Bible sent the Apostle Paul to teach us Gentiles about Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18; Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:1-11). We with open hearts (hopefully!) are still learning to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). By God’s grace, we have done this now for 4,300 days—so let us keep on keeping on!

Onward to devotional #4400! 🙂

Worthless Papers #3

Friday, March 3, 2023

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1,2 KJV).

Behold, Saul possesses worthless papers!

Saul is definitely relieved to learn the Lord is working with Ananias to confirm the fact he really is a saved man now. Read verses 10-19. With Ananias restoring Saul’s physical sight, Saul’s conversion thus made apparent, the saints in Damascus receive him. They recognize him as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and no longer feel threatened.

Decades later, as the Apostle Paul, Saul writes Philippians chapter 3: “[3] For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. [4] Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more [and here is his worthless résumé, all his accomplishments]: [5] Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; [6] Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Saul learned a valuable lesson on the road to Damascus, for here comes the contrast….

[7] But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. [8] Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung [manure!!], that I may win Christ, [9] And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: [10] That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; [11] If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

If you think about, dear friend, there is much for us to learn from these verses too!

Worthless Papers #2

Thursday, March 2, 2023

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1,2 KJV).

Behold, Saul possesses worthless papers!

It is not uncommon in this world to see people parading their “degrees,” whose specialty in one field (or, a few fields) of study has caused them to now be under the impression they can comment authoritatively on any and every topic. To be sure, Saul of Tarsus had rabbinical training, having sat under the most eminent teacher of Judaism of the day (see Acts 22:3 and Acts 5:34)—Gamaliel known to orthodox Jews even now. Saul assumed he knew all there was to know about religion. He was a master at it. He would have had the equivalent of a doctorate in theology, being proficient not only in Hebrew, but Greek, Latin, Aramaic, and perhaps other languages. Knowing the Hebrew Bible, he had also been familiarized with Greek philosophy.

Furthermore, Saul had received from the highest-ranking religious leaders of Israel the legal power to round up any believing Jews who had found refuge in Damascus. Carrying those warrants and leading a party of troops, he is just outside of the city when he meets the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ! Whatever credentials Saul had, he realized they were useless at this point. Such worldly wisdom, such secular power, such religiosity, was worthless. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?… I am Jesus whom thou persecutest…” (Acts 9:4,5). The God he thought he was worshipping was the very God he was upsetting!

“And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him to Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink” (verses 8,9). Once physically sighted but spiritually blind, he is now spiritually sighted but physically blind. His religious training is of no use to him now. Those warrants are unusable. There he is, vulnerable in Damascus, among the very people he had come to destroy….

Worthless Papers #1

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1,2 KJV).

Behold, Saul possesses worthless papers!

Saul of Tarsus was a religious scholar, a rabbi or teacher in Judaism. He led Israel’s rebellion against the Lord Jesus Christ during the early Acts period. Let him tell you himself: “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel [Jewish rabbi/teacher; see Acts 5:34], and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished” (Acts 22:3-5).

“I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange [foreign] cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,…” (Acts 26:9-12).

Saul received from Israel’s governing body (Sanhedrin) letters of authority (warrants) to extradite (bring back) the Jewish saints who had fled Jerusalem and taken refuge in Damascus. Mighty Saul, with his extensive education and dreadful legal power, does not know it yet, but he is carrying worthless papers. He will soon be reduced to nothing….

Joseph and Jesus #12

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

“These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report” (Genesis 37:2 KJV).

Let us search the Scriptures to see how Joseph is a type of the antitype Jesus….

We Berean Bible students have seen how Joseph and Jesus are alike in excess of 20 specific traits and circumstances. This is certainly not coincidental. To those who want to see, hear, and believe, it is as clear as can be. Joseph served as a template, foreshadow, preview, pattern, or outline: by nature, that is a type in the Bible. Centuries later, the antitype (Jesus Christ) shared those same qualities and underwent those very situations. By studying the one, we better appreciate the other, rejoicing how the LORD God was omniscient, knowing well in advance what would occur all along. Joseph’s whole life—even seemingly insignificant attributes and situations—prophesied what another beloved Son would be like and what He would experience.

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10,11). Like the other Old Testament prophets, Moses (who wrote about Joseph in Genesis) possessed limited knowledge. He had no idea the Holy Spirit was using him to present Messiah’s two comings with such vivid details—one arrival to suffer and die, and a return to conquer and reign. Stephen, speaking in Acts 7:9-16, had more light than Moses, for by that time the Lord Jesus Christ had already come once and the saints in early Acts were anticipating His reappearance. With a completed Bible canon, we have even greater insight than Moses and Stephen combined. May we be thankful!

Joseph is just one of several types of Jesus Christ: other examples include Joseph’s brother Benjamin, plus Adam, Abel, Noah, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, David, and Solomon. While beyond the scope of this study, they too are equally fascinating.