Shine as Lights #3

Wednesday, May 17, 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.” Here, “disputings” are “reasonings, imaginations, debate, doubtful things.” Whereas “murmurings” are complaints engendered by spiritual ignorance and ungratefulness to God, “disputings” are intellectual arguments or criticisms used to question or challenge God’s Word and will.

Jesus Christ spoke of “evil thoughts” proceeding from man’s sinful heart (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21). The Pharisees and scribes used “thoughts” and “reason” to critique Jesus’ healing of the paralytic man (Luke 5:22) and the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:8). Jesus’ disciples engaged in a petty, selfish “reasoning” and “thought” about who would be the greatest (Luke 9:46,47). Before God gave the unbelieving nations over to their preferences in Genesis chapter 11, Romans 1:21 says they were “vain [empty] in their imaginations.” We see “doubtful disputations” in Romans 14:1, discussions that cause weaker Christians to stumble. First Timothy 2:8 speaks of men in the local assembly needing to be “without… doubting.” James 2:4 talks about “evil thoughts.” All of these are examples of the “disputings” discouraged in today’s Scripture.

The purpose or goal of a Christian obeying Philippians 2:14—neither murmuring nor disputing—is found in verse 15. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke….” “Blameless” is not “sinless” but rather “not guilty of wrongdoing; faultless.” “Harmless” means “innocent, unmixed, or untainted”—something not watered down. The word is translated “simple” in Romans 16:19. Positionally, we are God’s children by faith in Jesus Christ, His finished crosswork, the Gospel of the Grace of God (Galatians 3:26). Are we His sons practically, though? Sometimes. Our behavior does not constantly reflect our identity (new nature) in Christ. That is, there are “murmurings” and “disputings” in our lives as Christians. Let us see how we correct this….

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?

(No) Put Asunder

Saturday, May 13, 2017

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matthew 19:4-6 KJV).

If only more people “read” today that of which the Pharisees were ignorant!

While driving recently, I stopped at an intersection where a man was sitting and holding a sign, “She had a better lawyer.” It was sad to see this panhandler in such a predicament. (I did pray for him, that someone share the Gospel with him.) Maybe he really had experienced a painful divorce. Then again, what might he have done to provoke his wife to divorce him? Or, what if fabricated the whole story just to play on the emotions of passersby? Whatever his case, divorce is not fiction in the lives of many others—some 40 to 50 percent of married couples wind up split up!

Divorce is an agonizing event. Young children are particularly devastated by it. While I have never experienced it firsthand, I do know that it is not a part of God’s original plan for mankind (today’s Scripture). I do know that any departure—great or small—from the Creator’s will has always brought about and will always bring about unimaginable, unspeakable suffering. In order to accommodate man’s sinfulness, God commanded Moses to permit (painful) divorces (see Deuteronomy 24:1-4)—the Pharisees tried to use this passage against Christ in the context of today’s Scripture (cf. verses 7-9). Unfortunately, in the days of Christ, the Jews were using any petty excuse they could find to have grounds for divorce! (Sounds familiar, huh?)

The Lord Jesus corrected the wayward Pharisees. While the Law indeed allowed divorce, the Book of Genesis declared that it was not in God’s original plans for mankind. There was to be no “distance” between husband and wife—no “put asunder,” or “separation.” They were to be united“one flesh”not divided (Genesis 2:18-25). God help us provide strong, healthy family units for His glory!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How can God hear all the prayers of all Christians?

Not the Righteous, But Sinners

Saturday, March 18, 2017

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:10-13 KJV).

Jesus Christ came to save the bad people, not the “good!”

You have probably seen videos of police officers working in the field. They encounter people engaging in many activities—robbery or theft, domestic abuse, prostitution, extremely reckless driving, fighting, drunkenness, and drug use or drug dealing, to name a few. Due to their poor decisions, these souls are in some very tough situations. The religious crowd—puffed up in self-righteousness—dismisses these people as “hopelessly hell-bound.” However, these “sinners” are more likely to come to faith in Christ than those sitting in the church pews! Consider today’s Scripture.

Scripture says “many publicans and sinners came and sat down with [Jesus] and his disciples.” The Pharisees found this revolting! Why did Jesus not associate with them (these religious leaders)? How could He, a supposed “prophet of God” and “religious teacher,” eat with such dishonest publicans (tax collectors) and various “sinners” (people with bad reputations)? The Lord Jesus overheard His critics asking His disciples that question, and He responded: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

These publicans and sinners recognized their sin problem. They also saw Jesus as the only Physician who had the cure for their spiritual illness. Too caught up in religion and their own “goodness,” the Pharisees were content in condemning people who were humble enough to admit their sinfulness. We need many such “publicans and sinners” today, and far fewer “Pharisees!”

A Life That Will Please

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

“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).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can live a life pleasing in God’s sight!

Everyone does “good” deeds. Yet, doing “good” is not necessarily good. For instance, people often do “good” just to receive praise/reward, make up for their wrongs, feel good, et cetera. Furthermore, despite our “good” deeds, we have plenty more bad ones! Pride, lying, evil thoughts, being a false witness, and being contentious are some of the things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Mankind cannot even keep 10 simple rules from God. However, religion continues to urge us to keep seven sacraments, utter various prayers, give assorted offerings and “tithes,” attend numerous feasts and festivals, and perform sundry other tasks to “hopefully” please God and avoid hellfire. Whether we attempt to keep a church’s laws, our laws, or God’s laws, our flesh is far too weak to ever measure up. Just look at what God’s religion did to Israel—how much worse some man-made religion does to us!

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a religious leader of Israel. He was a nitpicker concerning Law-keeping, and yet, after his soul salvation, he admitted that all of his religion was “but dung” compared to Jesus Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:3-11). Even for the Christian, to live a perfect life is impossible (read of Paul’s miserable existence in Romans chapter 7). Paul had to forsake his vain religion and learn today’s Scripture: the Christian life is NOT the performance of the Christian, but the Lord Jesus Christ living and working in the Christian, as the Christian walks in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to him or her!

If we trust a Saviour who will save—the Lord Jesus Christ—and trust a Book that will teach—the King James Bible—we can redeem the year for the great God and our Saviour, “who loved [us], and gave himself for [us]!” 🙂

The Misunderstood Messiah #4

Thursday, December 29, 2016

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Society’s anti-Bible, anti-Christian attitude is nothing new. While today’s Bible-believing, Bible-quoting Christian is accused of “hate speech” and “bigotry,” the “non-narrow-minded” face no repercussion for their slandering of the Lord Jesus Christ and their trampling His Word under foot. Due to sin, the world is upside down, and when the Christian attempts to expose it, he or she is to blame. The world wants Romans 3:4 to read, “Let every man be true, but God a liar!”

Like the (self-righteous) Pharisees of old, lost mankind, despite religious participation, has no capacity to stop sin. Never become angry at the world and never let their behavior puzzle you. Sinners do nothing but sin: by nature, man literally knows nothing but sin. As Jesus said to the lost Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44a). What they need is not simply to stop their activity (sins); they need a new nature from God! Today’s Scripture demonstrates the Pharisees’ willful ignorance of their sinful state.

Like the (“educated”) Pharisees of old, lost mankind, despite several degrees, has no capacity to understand the Bible. The Pharisees studied their Old Testament scrolls, yet they were equivalent to today’s average seminary graduate—years of Bible “study” and no (!) Bible understanding. Today’s Scripture demonstrates the Pharisees’ willful ignorance of one of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that foretold Jesus Christ’s coming. They had plenty of philosophy and religion, but they had no capacity to understand and appreciate the Bible. People today do not need degrees to comprehend the Bible; they need the Spirit of God! “But the natural [lost] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [judged, evaluated]” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Let us summarize and conclude this devotional arc….

The Misunderstood Messiah #3

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

The Pharisees are personally attacking the reputation of Jesus Christ, attempting to humiliate Him by saying, “We be not born of fornication.” After denigrating His virgin conception (that is, His deity), they exalt themselves by declaring, “We have one Father, even God.” What irony!

Notice Jesus’ response: “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me” (verse 42). Had these Pharisees really known God on an intimate level, they would have understood His Word (that is, their Old Testament Scriptures) prophesied the coming of the Man they were now ridiculing. Had these religionists believed the prophecy that God had sent His only begotten Son, they would not have insinuated that Jesus was “born of fornication.” They would have known what He meant by the words, “I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.”

Alas, God’s Word was “foolishness” to their dead souls (1 Corinthians 2:14). Jesus explained why they misunderstood Him: “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:43,47). They could hear the sound of Jesus’ voice, but could they hear with comprehension? Nay, they were spiritually dead, not of God like they claimed. Thus, Jesus told them, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (verse 44).

The Pharisees were spreading lies about Jesus Christ because they were lost. Lost mankind has not changed one bit….