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….

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #1

Saturday, July 10, 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?

Let us read from chapter 8 of Mark: “[31] And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. [32] And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. [33] 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.”

We should also look at the companion passage, Matthew chapter 16: “[21] From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. [22] Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. [23] 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.”

Calvary is only approximately six months away, so the Lord Jesus Christ finally reveals His impending death. He has been thinking of Israel’s persistent rejection of Him—and how the culmination of such rank unbelief will be His horrific mistreatment at His trial and subsequent crucifixion. The Apostle Peter argues against that truth: “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” In other words, “It will never happen to You!” The exchange intensifies further when Christ replies, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” What would merit such a severe criticism of Peter? Let us study….

Impetuous Peter! #15

Thursday, March 4, 2021

And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid (Mark 9:5,6 KJV).

When in doubt, close your mouth!

Much can be gathered about a person’s faith or beliefs by listening to the words from his or her mouth. Although a saved man, the Apostle Peter did not always speak accordingly. He blurted out seemingly impressive statements, later retracting them because they were made hastily and faultily. These comments were often in direct opposition to something Almighty God had already revealed to him. Hence, Peter should have let Divine wisdom become his wisdom, thereby choosing his words prudently.

The Bible speaks of the sin of rashness in 2 Timothy 3:4. It is the adjective “heady”headlong, falling forward, rushing to action without thinking about what we are doing. A “heady” tongue is most especially dangerous, for it is not operating under the control of the Holy Spirit. It therefore is a powerful tool in communicating Satan’s doctrine, false teaching, destructive information (cf. James 3:1-18). If we are to avoid Peter’s bad habit of impetuousness or recklessness, especially pertaining to speaking, we should first have a renewed mind.

Paul’s epistles—Romans through Philemon, God’s current operations with man—are Divine wisdom for us. Grace principles should govern our lips. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice…” (Ephesians 4:29-31). “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him…” (Colossians 3:8-10).

If we know what the Lord spoke through the Apostle Paul, it will never be said of us, “they wist [discerned] not what to say!” 🙂

-FINIS!-

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Impetuous Peter! #14

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid (Mark 9:5,6 KJV).

When in doubt, close your mouth!

Like most of us, the Apostle Peter carelessly used his tongue. In his first ludicrous comment, he expressed doubt in Jesus’ words that he would catch fish (Luke 5:8). As for his second silly statement, he declared he would walk on water to meet Christ (Matthew 14:28). Yet, when given the opportunity, he let his circumstances distract him and he began to sink! Peter’s third foolish response was an outright denial of Divine revelation, arguing against Jesus’ prediction of Calvary (Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 8:32,33).

On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter uttered his fourth silly statement. Instead of listening to Jesus, making Him the object of his complete attention, Peter exalted other “holy figures” (Matthew 17:4; today’s Scripture; Luke 9:33). As touching his fifth thoughtless remark, Peter assumed his forgiveness of others should be limited, demonstrating his ignorance of God’s forgiveness of Israel (Matthew 18:21).

Peter’s sixth mindless pronouncement was his rejection of Jesus humbly washing his feet (John 13:6). As for his seventh foolish retort, Peter boasted he would die for Christ (John 13:37). His eighth dumb comment was two quick, similar statements. Upon hearing Jesus’ warning that all His disciples would forsake Him, Peter again bragged that though all would abandon Jesus, he would never leave—yea, would even die for—the Lord (Matthew 26:33,35; Mark 14:29,31). Peter ended up denying Jesus thrice.

Even after seeing the resurrected Christ Jesus, Peter left his ministry and announced he was returning to his former life as a fisherman (John 21:3). This was his ninth foolish declaration. As for his tenth absurd comment, he grew irritated when Jesus thrice asked him if he loved Him (John 21:17). Instead of complaining, he should have been thankful this threefold inquiry reversed his threefold denial. His eleventh puerile response was focusing on another believer’s responsibility (John 21:20,21). Finally, Peter’s twelfth childish observation featured outright disobedience to the Lord’s instruction to consider all animals clean and suitable for consumption (Acts 10:14).

We now conclude this devotionals arc….

Impetuous Peter! #13

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid (Mark 9:5,6 KJV).

When in doubt, close your mouth!

A tremendous dispensational change occurred once apostate Israel stoned (murdered) her Prophet Stephen in Acts chapter 7. Saul of Tarsus is subsequently converted to Jesus Christ and commissioned as the Apostle Paul in chapter 9. The Apostle Peter needs to be notified of God’s transitioning from prophecy to mystery, Israel to Gentiles. Remember, Peter is still operating as per Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Peter started preaching in Jerusalem in chapter 2 of Acts: the order of his ministry is Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth. He knows he is not to preach to Gentiles until Christ returns, for Israel must be converted first: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come” (Matthew 10:23).

As Acts chapter 10 opens, an angel directs Roman centurion Cornelius to send for Peter. To prepare Peter to preach to this Gentile (without Israel’s national conversion), the Lord gives Peter a vision of various animals. The ascended Christ speaks in Acts 10:13: “And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.” Instead of obeying, “But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean” (verse 14). Peter’s strict adherence to the Mosaic Law is commendable, but his refusal of the Lord’s updated instructions was his twelfth and final rash statement recorded in Scripture. “And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (verse 15). Suffice it to say, many years later, Peter’s encounter with Gentile Cornelius enabled him to defend Paul’s Gentile ministry (Acts 15:7-21).

Let us summarize this devotionals arc….

Impetuous Peter! #12

Monday, March 1, 2021

And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid (Mark 9:5,6 KJV).

When in doubt, close your mouth!

In verses 15-17 of John chapter 21, the Lord used a threefold questioning to restore Peter after his thrice denial. Continue reading: “[18] [Jesus said to Peter] Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. [19] This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

“[20] Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? [21] Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? [22] Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. [23] Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”

Peter’s eleventh crass remark is captured in verse 21: “Lord, and what shall this man do?” As Christ was giving him orders, “Follow me” (verse 19), Peter became distracted and shifted the focus onto someone else. He was extremely silly in resorting to a “what-about” excuse: “Lord, if I am supposed to follow Thee, what does John [?] need to do?” Christ replied in verse 22, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” That is, “Peter, do not worry about John. Thou shouldest mind thine own business and obey what I have instructed thee to do!” In the canon of Scripture, impetuous Peter has one final absurd opinion to express….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who is ‘the wicked one’ in Scripture?