Not Mixed With Faith

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2 KJV).

We can read and memorize all the verses we want, but, if we are not approaching Bible verses in faith, we will not gain the profit God put in them.

I had a recent phone conversation with a brother in Christ who is in the ministry. He is dealing with an individual who jumps from religious group to religious group (five or six current affiliations). This man, whether saved or not I am unsure, constantly asks the brother various Bible questions. How sad it is that people can ask so many questions and still be so ill equipped, unable to distinguish truth from error. Yea, treating the Bible like some “intellectual gym class” will severely harm rather than greatly help!

Take, for example, the nation Israel in the wilderness (Hebrews chapter 3— previous to today’s Scripture). They heard the voice of God thundering from Mount Sinai. They saw the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them. Unlike the pagan nations around them, Israel had access to the one true God (Deuteronomy chapter 4 in its entirety). Alas, Israel did not believe a word God said (today’s Scripture)! They heard, heard, heard… but they did not believe, believe, believe! Hearing the Word of God does not benefit you if you do not believe it! Paul said this of unbelieving Jews in Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Israel had heard the Word of God for centuries, and yet was still in rank unbelief during his Acts ministry!

The writer of the Book of Hebrews, speaking to Israel during the future time after our Dispensation of Grace, urges the Jews to believe the kingdom doctrines Jesus Christ taught during His earthly ministry. They are to believe on Him as their Messiah, the Son of God, their Redeemer; they must wait for Him to return at His Second Coming to establish that earthly kingdom of God. That wonderful news cannot profit them if “not mixed with faith!”

Shine as Lights #2

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

Today’s Scripture opens with: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” To “murmur” means “express one’s discontent about (someone or something) in a subdued manner.” Grumbling in a low tone, something not easily heard, murmuring is due to ignorance, evil/bad thinking, and unbelief. “Murmuring” was a notable characteristic of the faithless, unthankful Israelites under Moses’ command (Exodus 15:24; Exodus 16:2-12, Exodus 17:3; Numbers 14:27-36, Numbers 16:11,41; Numbers 17:5-10; et cetera).

The Jews of old were not being renewed in the spirit of their mind. They were not mindful of JEHOVAH God’s provisions for them. They thought and behaved like He taught them nothing and did nothing for them. Deuteronomy 1:27 says: “And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” Imagine such pitiful ignorance—“the LORD hated [Israel]” so He delivered them from Egypt! Psalm 106:25 highlights the unbelief and disobedience associated with Israel’s “murmuring:” “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.”

When Jesus received and associated with “publicans and sinners,” the Pharisees and scribes “murmured” (Luke 5:30; Luke 15:2, Luke 19:7). These religious leaders were unbelieving and ignorant of the fact these “evil” people were very ones the Lord had come to save from sin (Matthew 9:10-13)! John 6:41 says: “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.” Again, this was all because of doubt and spiritual ignorance. God does not want us to be ignorant or unbelieving; the Bible is here to educate us in His will and ways, and we are to believe it. As we experience and enjoy the Christian walk, we do so with knowledge, faith, and gratitude….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is grieving the Holy Spirit forgivable?

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #5

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

The offering in the context of today’s Scripture (verses 1-11) is spoken as though the nation Israel has already defeated the inhabitants of the Promised Land. It assumes that the Israelites will go in, conquer all their enemies, and enjoy the fruits of the land God has given to the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God through Moses presents Israel residing in the Promised Land as a fact, even though they will not actually enter it and fight those peoples until Joshua assumes leadership (after Moses dies). As before, God believes that He will give Israel the victory. He expects Israel to believe Him, and to worship Him by offering to Him that fruit when they do arrive in that land of Canaan.

Some 40 years prior, remember again, the Jews had complained that they were unable to enter the Promised Land and enjoy its plenteous food supply. The giants living in the land were just too powerful for them to overcome in war. (Of course, Israel overlooked the fact that God had just vanquished the mighty Egyptian armies, thousands of trained soldiers, using just the Red Sea!) With this new generation of Jews in today’s Scripture, they are to go into the land, dispossess it, and rejoice in God’s goodness. They did not deserve that harvest of enormous fruits, but God had simply given them because of His grace.

“And [JEHOVAH God] hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is Jesus Christ God’s ‘one and only Son’ or ‘only begotten Son?’

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #4

Monday, March 6, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

Forty years earlier, just before entering the land of Canaan, the Jews’ ancestors had spied it out. Numbers chapter 13 explains those scouts actions’: “[23] And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. [24] The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. [25] And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. [26] And they … came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. [27] And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.”

Sadly, verses 28-33 say that 10 of the 12 scouts voiced fear: they doubted Almighty God would give Israel victory over the land’s gigantic residents! Disbelieving and discouraged Israel was thus banned from entering that wonderful land of God. Now, in the context of today’s Scripture, that unbelieving generation has died. A new generation of Israelites will go in and possess that land. That expression “floweth with milk and honey” (Numbers 13:27) appears with today’s Scripture—“And [God] hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey” (verse 9). Canaan is an agricultural paradise: its grape clusters require two men to carry them!

Now, with the firstfruits offering of today’s Scripture, God wants Israel to admit He gave them the military victory to enjoy that fruit of that land….

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #3

Sunday, March 5, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

The special offering delineated in today’s Scripture and its context serves to instruct Israel concerning a most basic principle. Notice: “[1] ….the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance… [2] …thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee,…. [3] …I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us…. [8] And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: [9] And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. [10] …I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me…. [11] …rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee….”

Friend, do you see the constant emphasis on what the LORD (JEHOVAH God) has done for Israel? By offering this sacrifice, the Jews are reminded of God’s provisions for them. They had not gained that land by their own efforts. Simply in His grace God had promised it to their father Abraham many centuries earlier (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 13:14-17; Genesis 15:1-21).

Additionally, their father Jacob and his family were ready to die of starvation in Canaan, but God had sent Joseph into Egypt ahead of time so Israel (a tribe of 70 souls) would migrate southward and survive (Genesis chapters 46-47). Eventually, they became Egyptian slaves. The Israelites could not deliver themselves from harsh Egyptian bondage. Forty years prior to today’s Scripture, Almighty God had given their ancestors victory over Egypt and Satan. They had refused to enter the Promised Land and died in the wilderness. However, now, in today’s Scripture, 40 years later, this new generation of Jews can enter God’s land, where Abraham had once lived, to now enjoy its bountiful harvests….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How is Joshua a high priest in Zechariah 3:8 if…?

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #2

Saturday, March 4, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

Once the nation Israel enters the Promised Land under Joshua’s headship, the Jews are to gather the firstfruits of the land. They are to place those fruits in a basket, and bring it to the priest as an offering to the LORD (verses 1-4).

Verses 5-10 continue: “[5] And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: [6] And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: [7] And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: [8] And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: [9] And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. [10] And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me….” (We will return to this confession shortly and analyze it.)

For now, we read the rest of verse 10 and today’s Scripture: “[10]…And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: [11] And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.” Friend, are you starting to see a recurring phrase in this passage? What could God possibly be teaching Israel with this special offering? Take some time to think about it and we will proceed to dissect the verses….

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #1

Friday, March 3, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

Aged Moses will soon die, pass off the scene. Joshua will assume leadership of Israel. Today’s Scripture is part of Moses’ final instructions to his fellow Israelites. They are to observe those rules—yea, all of the Law—for one particular reason. After wandering throughout the Middle East, they will now enter the Promised Land under Joshua’s command. More specifically, they will inhabit God’s land, so He expects them to follow His rules. One of these orders is found in the context of today’s Scripture.

We read at the beginning of Deuteronomy chapter 26: “[1] And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein; [2] That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there. [3] And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us. [4] And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God.”

In other words, every Jew is to gather the firstfruits of the land of Canaan, put those fruits in a basket, and take that basket to the Tabernacle to give it to the priest. This is to be done as a gesture of gratitude to JEHOVAH God, that He was faithful to His promise that He swore to their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are to remind themselves of their “humble” beginnings….

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