Co-op

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward (Matthew 10:41 KJV).

A “co-op” is a cooperative society, business, or enterprise: people work together to achieve a desired, common end. The Lord’s ministry functions likewise….

Today’s Scripture in context: “[40] He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. [41] He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. [42] And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

Chapter 10 of Matthew is the first installment of the so-called “Great Commission.” The Lord Jesus Christ is sending out 12 disciples or students—the 12 “Apostles” (“sent ones;” cf. verses 5,6)—to preach to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As His Father has sent Him to them, so He sends them to the rest of Israel; they are His representatives, like He is His Heavenly Father’s Spokesman. In closing, He reminds them that whoever receives them into their company also accepts Him and His Father.

Draw your attention now to verses 41 and 42. Those converts or believers who receive the Apostles are also partakers of the Apostles’ ministry. Furthermore, as the Apostles will receive a reward from God, so those who bless the Apostles will partake of the Apostles’ reward. Similarly, the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians chapter 4: “[15] Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. [16] For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. [17] Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.As we labor in ministry with other members of the Church the Body of Christ, so we too will share in their eternal reward!

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #5

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

Re-read Peter’s grand confession as recorded in the three Synoptic Gospel Records. “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). “And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ (Mark 8:29). “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God (Luke 9:20). This, of course, is the Gospel of the Kingdom, that Jesus is Israel’s King-Messiah-Christ. Father God had expected the Jews to believe this “Good News” during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Now, be careful to notice how the Lord replied to Peter’s declaration of faith.

Again, all three Synoptic Gospel Records document it. “Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ(Matthew 16:20). “And he charged them that they should tell no man of him (Mark 8:30). “And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;…” (Luke 9:21). Jesus ordered them, He commanded them, not to tell anyone that He was Christ. Why? Does He not want them to believe on Him? Is not this Gospel of the Kingdom the only way at the time for them to come to His Father by faith? Then, why does He mandate His disciples keep His identity secret?

Remember, this Gospel of the Kingdom has now been preached in Israel for at least three years. John the Baptist proclaimed it, Jesus Himself has preached it, and the 12 Apostles have proclaimed it. In spite of this spiritual light, darkness abounds in Israel. The nation itself is both unable and unwilling to see Jesus as Christ (Matthew 16:13,14; Mark 8:27,28; Luke 9:18,19); they have wasted their time with unbelief and spiritual silliness. Therefore, six months before Calvary, Jesus orders His disciples to stay silent concerning His identity. Essentially, “If they still have not believed, they will not believe, so leave them in their ignorance. Do not tell them who I the Son of Man am!”

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #4

Monday, August 30, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

On another occasion, the crowds of Jesus’ audience thinned because of conviction. Although they had followed Him physically, there was no following spiritually. The conversation’s deterioration throughout the chapter shows just how willfully ignorant they are of the truth: “[Jesus speaking] It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?” (John 6:63-67).

It was here—approximately the time of today’s Scripture—that “many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” Jesus turned to the 12 Apostles, inquiring if they would leave Him too. “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (verses 68,69). (If you read the next two verses, Judas Iscariot, the traitor, is an exception. Like the crowd’s unbelief, his faithlessness will be soon manifested.)

Here again, Peter, spokesman of the Little Flock, has been following the Lord in faith, not mindless adherence or pretending to be a disciple when he is not. Peter has realized and openly declares he has nowhere else to turn, for only the Lord Jesus Christ has “the words of eternal life.” As in Matthew 16:16, Mark 8:29, and Luke 9:20; so Peter confessed in chapter 6 of John, “we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Let us go back to Matthew, Mark, and Luke to read Jesus’ “startling” reply….

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #3

Sunday, August 29, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

After inquiring about the public’s opinion concerning His identity, and hearing all the ridiculous answers, Jesus posed a second rhetorical question. “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” Do the disciples know any better? Indeed! The Apostle Peter, spokesman of the 12 Apostles and the rest of the Little Flock, replies with that simple declaration, that awesome profession of faith. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). “And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ (Mark 8:29). “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God (Luke 9:20).

Peter is an honest man, one of the few spiritually-minded souls left in his nation of millions. He has studied and received his Hebrew Scriptures by faith, and in Jesus he has seen them fulfilled scores, if not hundreds, of times. Going all the way back to John the Baptist’s ministry a few years earlier, Peter heard the preaching of God the Father in regards to His Son. Peter’s brother, Andrew, had also heard Father God’s words through John. “One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:40-42).

Jesus is “Christ” (Greek), “Messiah” (Aramaic), God’s “anointed” (Psalm 2:2; Acts 4:26). Peter, like the remainder of Israel’s believing remnant, understands the Son of Man is also the Son of God, occupying the unique office of Humanity and Deity. Furthermore, he titles Jesus “the Son of the living God,” as opposed to dead idols of wood and stone that the heathen worship in nearby Caesarea Philippi (Psalm 115:1-8; Psalm 135:15-18)….

The Good Samaritan #7

Monday, August 23, 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 lawyer in the context of today’s Scripture was incorrect (verse 29). Using Jesus’ definition, a “neighbour” is anyone we encounter in life whom we can and should help—not necessarily someone whose house is next to ours, but even complete strangers. Here was the original teaching of Leviticus 19:18, as JEHOVAH God Himself described for us here during His earthly ministry (verses 30-35). To show the impossibility of a sinner keeping the Law, the Lord ordered the lawyer to love everyone (!) he met to the degree (!) the Samaritan loved the wounded traveler (verses 36,37). Yet, have carefully examined that well-known story, we can look at it with mature spiritual eyes to see more than the common, simple Sunday school children’s lesson of “Jesus wants us to do good to others.” The Parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates what the Lord Jesus Himself did and will do for Israel.

Whereas the Law of Moses (the priest and the Levite) could do nothing but condemn Israel as a nation of sinners worthy of death (spiritual and functional), Christ (the Samaritan) offered them grace, forgiveness, and restoration through the New Covenant. He delivered her from deception in Satan’s evil world system by imparting spiritual light to her (preaching during His earthly ministry). When they rejected Him to the point of crucifixion and exile to Heaven, He temporarily left her in the care of His 12 Apostles, kingdom doctrine being their “goods” to trade until His Second Coming (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 12:35-48; Luke 19:11-27). When He returns from His Heavenly Father’s right hand, He will bless Israel with the New Covenant, forgiving their sins and making them His kingdom of priests (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-28; Acts 3:19-21; Romans 11:25-32; 1 Peter 2:9,10). No more will they be helpless and hopeless, for the Samaritan was “neighbour unto them!” 🙂

Paul, the Viper, and the Barbarians #3

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm (Acts 28:3-5 KJV).

What is the Holy Spirit teaching through this bizarre passage?

Throughout Acts, national Israel obstinately remained in unbelief. Only a remnant trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether increasingly persecuting the Apostle Peter and the other 11 Apostles during the opening chapters, or constantly mistreating the Apostle Paul for the remainder of the Book, corporate Israel was undeniably hostile toward Christ’s representatives. Contrary to what denominationalism has taught us, Acts is not a Book of doctrine. Instead, it is the progressive record of how God was just or fair in transitioning from Israel to us Gentiles, from Peter’s ministry to Paul’s ministry, from Little Flock to Body of Christ, from Prophecy to Mystery, from Law to Grace. Chapter 28—the context of today’s Scripture—is the Holy Spirit’s final commentary on Israel’s status during the Dispensation of Grace.

Remember, unbelieving Jews did everything they possibly could to hinder, discredit, or kill Paul (Acts 9:23; Acts 13:45,50; Acts 14:2,5,19; Acts 17:5,13; Acts 18:12; Acts 20:3,19; Acts 21:11,21; Acts 22:30; Acts 23:12,27,30; Acts 25:7,15,24; Acts 26:2,21). Hence, the Holy Spirit also places into the record of Acts interspersed accounts of pagan Gentiles (non-Jews) accepting him and believing the Gospel of Grace. Today’s Scripture is one such example, especially as Luke has begun concluding Acts. Chapter 28 opens: “And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. And the barbarous people [foreigners ignorant of Greek language and culture—namely, Phoenicians or Punics] shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.” The negative—“shewed us no little kindness”—means these Gentiles were extremely friendly or hospitable to Paul and his companions. This was certainly in contrast to apostate Israel’s behavior toward him….

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #5

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture and its context teach us about Satan’s policy of evil?

“Savour” means “give oneself to the enjoyment of, appreciate to the full, set affection on, place interest in.” Jesus’ “flavour” was the “indication of His essential character;” that is, He had fully given Himself over to delighting in working with His Heavenly Father. When we savour the flavour of the Saviour, we are thinking in accordance with the Head of the Church the Body of Christ: after all, His mind should govern us! (Recall Romans 8:5, Philippians 2:5, and Colossians 3:2.)

“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). As the perfect Man, the Lord Jesus Christ exhibited this lifestyle during His earthly ministry. Consequently, Satan attacked Him by using the sinful world system around Him. In fact, the Adversary even used Peter, Christ’s chief Apostle of Israel. Never forget today’s Scripture!

Brethren, the application we can make here is quite simple. If we are working with our Heavenly Father in the “family business”—the grace ministry—we can be absolutely (!) sure (!) Satan will use whomever or whatever he can to distract, discourage, and destroy us. Whether fellow Christians (even beloved pastors and fellow grace saints!), spouses, sons and daughters, or dear friends, if they are not submissive to the aforementioned renewed mind; they will become Satan’s mighty vessels in causing us to stumble in sin (apostasy and/or carnality). Still, we follow Christ’s pattern in today’s Scripture. He was not sidetracked from the Father’s plan: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8)! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘noisome’ mean?

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #4

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture and its context teach us about Satan’s policy of evil?

Go over to Matthew 16:23 and read it once again: “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” We want to focus on two particular concepts—“offence” and “savour.” Since Peter did not believe God’s Word as just spoken to him, Matthew reports Jesus called Peter an “offence” (Greek, “skandalidzo”). Peter is unknowingly functioning as a scandal, a stumblingblock, an occasion to sin. Essentially, the chief Apostle of Israel declared, “Lord, while You assume You are heading to Calvary, You really are not!”

Now, let us concentrate on “savour.” The King James (British) spelling of our American word “savor,” it is defined as “to give oneself to the enjoyment of, or to appreciate to the full.” In Greek, it is “phroneo,” as in “regarding, having set affection on, putting interest in.” Actually, the word is rendered the following ways elsewhere in the Authorized Version. “For they that are after the flesh do mind [phroneo] the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5). “Let this mind be [phroneo] in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Set your affection [phroneo] on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

Although Christ delighted to accomplish His Heavenly Father’s will, while He “savoured” the things of the Father, Peter was opposed to such spiritual truths because he was too focused on human thinking and carnal preferences. Today’s Scripture again: “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.Peter was not using his renewed mind (Romans 12:1,2)! Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc by making application….

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #3

Monday, July 12, 2021

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture and its context teach us about Satan’s policy of evil?

The Bible is always honest, even about its heroes. Peter the Apostle was a mighty vessel of the LORD—and will be throughout the endless ages to come! Yet, Peter was just a man like all of us. He had his faults, weaknesses, limitations. His faith wavered. Many times, he blurted out silly comments without thinking. He meant well, but he should have simply agreed with the Lord Jesus in Mark chapter 8 and Matthew chapter 16. When he learned of Calvary—Christ’s death—he should have responded, “Amen! So be it!”

Jesus Christ was undiminished Deity and full humanity. As a Man, there came days when He was reading His Hebrew (Old Testament) Scriptures, those Messianic prophecies, and exclaimed, “Hey, that is Me being described there! I need to fulfill these verses. My Father wants Me to do that—and I will enjoy doing it with Him too!” Let us be mindful of Psalm 40, a direct reference to Calvary: “[6] Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, [8] I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart(cf. Hebrews 10:5-10).

When the Lord Jesus revealed His impending suffering and death in the context of today’s Scripture, He was fully aware of the prophecies that had to be fulfilled (Psalm 22, Isaiah chapter 53, and so on). Yet, Peter was walking in the flesh, thinking like a lost man, encouraging Jesus not to fulfill Bible prophecy. Therefore, Jesus was prompted to reply most sharply to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” (That is, “Move out of My way, Adversary!”) Indeed, Peter was inadvertently functioning as Satan’s spokesman….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why forgive ‘seventy times seven?’

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #2

Sunday, July 11, 2021

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture and its context teach us about Satan’s policy of evil?

Although certain individuals have great difficulty accepting the following truths presented in Luke chapter 2, we who follow the leading of the Spirit of God simply believe what the Bible says. “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him (verse 40). “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man(verses 51,52). In these two opening chapters of Luke, Christ’s infancy and childhood are outlined. True to his major theme, throughout his Gospel Record, Luke underscores Jesus’ humanity.

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew chapter 16), Christ has been studying the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) for over a quarter-century. He is a Man of 33 years of age. His earthly ministry, underway for the last three years, is now finally drawing to a close. We remind ourselves of the Prophet Isaiah quoting Him over 700 years prior: “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:4-6).

Like us, as a Man, Jesus grew physically, mentally, and spiritually. He listened to His Heavenly Father teaching Him. The more He learned from the Prophets’ writings, the more He realized His horrific death by crucifixion was imminent. It was His Father’s will for Him, and He would not be rebellious or turn away back….