Whom the Lord Commendeth

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

“But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth” (2 Corinthians 10:17,18 KJV).

While we enjoy praise from others, today’s Scripture reminds us that only “whom the Lord commendeth [praiseth]” is “approved [of God].” Mega-church leaders and bestselling “Christian” authors are not necessarily approved of God. Our work matters only if God Almighty approves of it!

When we do the Lord’s work wholeheartedly, someone will criticize us. People praise us when we sin and encourage us to do it again. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” We should never puff ourselves up with pride when we do something, because we even deceive ourselves at times. Human evaluation of deeds cannot be trusted: we need an unbiased Judge, whose judgment is unimpaired by sin. We need the Lord Jesus Christ, for He alone can fairly and truthfully evaluate our work.

Some Corinthians criticized Paul’s “weak” physical appearance and despised his speech (2 Corinthians 10:10). Notice Paul’s response: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (verse 12).

Let people criticize us for doing good. God is the Judge. We let God praise us. We do not praise ourselves. Today’s Scripture says we glory in the Lord, not in ourselves. We boast in the Lord’s capacity, in His ability, in His work, in His wisdom….

In 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 we read of the day when we Christians will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, where the Lord will evaluate our deeds and the sound doctrine we believed. Here, the Lord Himself will give us, individually, a “job well done.” “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:9,10).

“Only whom the Lord commendeth is approved!”

The Prospering Word of God

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is my favorite Bible verse. In verse 10, God speaks of rain and snow falling from heaven and watering the earth so that vegetation sprouts forth. Just as God designed precipitation to regulate plant growth, God intended His Word to produce spiritual growth. We are sure that no matter how defensive or resistant someone is to hearing God’s Word, the King James Bible has the power to overcome Satan’s opposition and that most hardened heart.

Notice these references to God’s Word prospering during the first half of the first century A.D.:

  • Acts 6:7: “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
  • Acts 8:14: “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:”
  • Acts 11:1: “And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.”
  • Acts 12:24: “But the word of God grew and multiplied.”
  • Acts 13:44: “And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.”
  • Acts 19:20: “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”

Paul wrote: “…The word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth much fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:” (Colossians 1:5,6). Let us never be discouraged when people reject us sharing the Bible with them. God’s Word will take care of itself… it always has, and always will… prosper!

God that giveth the increase (1 Corinthians 3:7).

He Clothed Them

Monday, August 8, 2011

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21 KJV).

The Bible says Adam and Eve “were both naked…and were not ashamed” (Genesis 1:25). How could they be naked, and yet unashamed?

In 1 Timothy 6:16 we read of Jesus Christ “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto….” God’s righteousness and holiness emanate from His body in the form of a bright light. Originally, before the fall, Adam and Eve did not wear physical clothes, but they were clothed with something… they were clothed with the righteousness of God Himself because sin had not entered into creation yet.

God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26,27); man was originally sinless, as perfect as God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed by eating the forbidden fruit, God’s righteousness left their bodies. They were sinners now, so God’s light no longer covered them (spiritually and physically). Adam and Eve were physically and spiritually naked, so they frantically gathered itchy fig leaves and covered themselves (Genesis 3:7).

The LORD God, in His great love and grace, sought these lost souls. Adam and Eve hid, too afraid to approach our holy and righteous God. But, God in His brilliance devised a plan to restore them. Today’s Scripture says that God killed innocent animals. He used the blood to provide Adam and Eve’s spiritual clothes (forgiveness), and the skins served as their physical clothes.

Isaiah 61:10 summarizes (saved Israel speaking): “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” God did that for Adam, Eve, Israel, and us too!

If we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been clothed with God’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ, we are just as Adam and Eve were before the fall, in perfect standing before God.

The Inward Man

Sunday, August 7, 2011

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 KJV).

As the saint progresses in earthly years, he or she gets discouraged. Hair becomes white as snow. The skin loses its elasticity, wrinkling and sagging. Vision dims, memory fails, and hearing diminishes. That once lively body grows progressively weaker and unable to perform the tasks it once did with ease. But, be not discouraged!

God gives this interesting description of dying Moses: “his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated” (Deuteronomy 34:7). Moses, age 120, had excellent vision. His body was as agile as a young man’s. Wow!

In today’s Scripture Paul alludes to the “outward man” (physical body) and its decay and ultimate death (“perishing”). Because of sin, these physical bodies have nowhere to go but to the grave. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Even though death may kill the physical body, Christians are confident that (the second) death cannot harm the spiritual body (the “inward man”).

Furthermore, Paul explains that we need to focus on renewing the “inward man” with sound Bible study, not focusing on the perishing state of the “outward man.” We will get new physical bodies, but the souls we have are ours forever.

Short of the Lord’s coming in our lifetimes, our physical bodies will go into the ground. While it is morbid, that is reality. But, this too is reality: “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you” (2 Corinthians 4:14).

These physical bodies will be redeemed at the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:53; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 3:20,21). Romans 8:23 says: “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies.” Praise the Lord that we are not eternally confined to these weak, limited physical bodies!

* My outward man turns 23 today, saints.

Genesis is the Firm Foundation for the Righteous

Saturday, August 6, 2011

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3 KJV).

The Genesis creation account is diametrically opposed to evolutionary theory. Lest they are forced to abandon their theory, Genesis-haters simply dismiss the first two chapters of the Bible as Hebrew poetry. In order to get around the anti-evolution statements in Scripture, Bible skeptics encourage us to allegorize Genesis chapters 1 and 2, claiming “the Bible does not mean what it says, so do not believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis.”

There is nothing to indicate that Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are allegorical. In fact, there is evidence in Scripture to indicate the first two chapters of Genesis are literal.

  • Genesis 2:7 says: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground….” This is a scientific fact: the human body contains elements—potassium, oxygen, magnesium, et cetera—that are also found in earth’s crust! Why would the rest of chapter 2 not be literal?
  • The Lord Jesus said: “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6-8). Jesus Christ believed in a literal interpretation of Genesis 1:26,27 and Genesis 2:20-25.
  • The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:13,14: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3). Paul supports a literal interpretation of Genesis 1:26,27, Genesis 2:20-25, and Genesis 3:1-13.
  • Exodus 20:8-11 is a literal commandment given to Jews. Obviously this literal commandment is based on a literal event: God really created the heaven, the earth, and all creatures in six, consecutive 24-hour periods, and that He rested on the seventh (Sabbath) day. Exodus 20:8-11 supports a literal interpretation of Genesis chapters 1 and 2.

Hebrew scholars tell us that Genesis chapters 1 and 2 do not exhibit the structure of Jewish poetry, but rather a literal account-narrative. Genesis teaches a literal account of creation, and should be believed literally. If you begin the Bible allegorically (Genesis), then we are left to wonder what is literal in Scripture, if anything at all…?

Do Good Unto the Saints

Friday, August 5, 2011

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10 KJV).

In light of Israel’s coming kingdom of prosperity, Christ commanded His Jewish disciples, “Sell that ye have, and give alms” (Luke 12:31-34). In the early Acts period, this “little flock” sold their possessions and had “all things common” (Acts 2:44-47; Acts 4:32–5:2). Eventually, this pool of wealth ran dry, for the Bible speaks of “the poor saints which are at Jerusalem” (Romans 15:26).

Still, God took care of His people in Jerusalem. God’s Word motivated the Gentiles that were saved under Paul’s ministry to donate goods and money to the poor Jewish saints in Jerusalem. When Paul would travel to Jerusalem, he would take those contributions to the little flock (Romans 15:25-28; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

The Apostle James wrote to his Jewish readers who would experience the famine of the seven-year Tribulation (2:15,16): “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

Notice how the Apostle John agrees with James: “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him” (1 John 3:17)? Does it make sense for a Christian to refuse to help fellow Christians in their time of need? Of course not.

Grace teaches us to do good unto all, but to do good chiefly unto our fellow Christians. When we refuse to help struggling Christian brethren, we are, in effect, refusing to help Christ Himself! When we see Christians who are in need, God’s love working in us motivates us to help them in any way that we can.

In Romans 12:13, we read of Christian service. One act of Christian service is “distributing to the necessity of the saints….”

Thou Art Beside Thyself! (To God’s Glory)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

“And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (Acts 26:24 KJV).

Saints, we are privileged to be called “crazy Christians.” To the world, we are “nuts.” In the context of today’s Scripture (Acts chapter 26), Paul is giving his testimony to King Agrippa. God’s wisdom is always foolishness with lost men, so Festus, Roman governor of Judaea, replies, “Paul, you are mad [crazy]!”

The world’s intelligentsia is skilled in the wisdom of men. These puffed-up individuals consider God’s Word “foolishness.” “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:14: “The natural man [the lost, unsaved man] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:”

Paul preached the wisdom of God’s Word to the “brilliant” philosophers of Athens. These lost individuals considered Paul’s preaching as nothing more than hearsay and folly, so they called Paul a “babbler” (Acts 17:16-21). Interestingly, followers of John Wycliff, who translated the first English Bible in the late 1300s, were affectionately termed “the Lollards” (“the babblers!”).

The Lord Jesus told His Jewish disciples: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11,12; cf. Luke 6:22,23).

God’s Word says in 2 Corinthians 5:13: “For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.” If we are crazy for being Christians, “it is to [the glory of] God!” We must continue, and faint not when individuals call us “crazy.” In the end, the Good Book says it will be worth it (1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9).