A Den of Thieves #1

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12,13 KJV).

Religion will not only rob you of monetary wealth, but spiritual wealth too.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in today’s Scripture (cf. Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-47), goes into the Temple in Jerusalem. He notices thieves who, in the name of “God,” sell overpriced doves for sacrifices. The term “moneychangers” refers to those who exchange and convert currencies (in other words, Jews from all over the globe are being swindled when they came to the Temple!).

On another occasion, prior to the one of today’s Scripture, Jesus again finds thieves in the Temple (John 2:13-17). In righteous anger (Matthew 5:22 KJV; Ephesians 4:26), Jesus braids a whip and drives them away. He overthrows their tables and pours out their money, sharply rebuking them, “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise!”

Shortly after Jesus exposed the extortion in the Temple, “the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him” (Mark 11:18). Jesus was “bad for business” indeed—He needed to be silenced!

Sadly, this spiritual robbery occurs today. The “storehouse tithers” quote Malachi 3:8-11 and urge you, “Do not rob God, or He will curse you.” Ironically, they demand you give ten percent of your income, thus robbing you! Rather than explaining to you that you are free in Christ to “cheerfully” give an amount “as [you] purpose in [your] heart” (2 Corinthians 9:7), they place you under the Mosaic Law (tithing). They rob you of your identity in Christ (what Paul calls “spoiling [cheating] you;” Colossians 2:8).

In this the Dispensation of Grace, we give of our resources, but we give willingly as God’s gracenot the Mosaic Law—leads us to give. God’s grace is not against giving—it is against tithing.

Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, our Apostle Paul shows us how to pray!

Notice the three specific things for which Paul prayed for these members of the Body of Christ (this is how we should pray for fellow Christians!):

  • “That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment:” Paul (and the Holy Spirit) wants Christians to have greater desire and love for spiritual knowledge and discernment. Essentially, he wanted these believers in Philippi to long for sound Bible doctrine, so that they could then be able to make wise, godly decisions.
  • “That ye may approve things that are excellent:” Christians should have high standards—values, beliefs, et cetera. We do not conform to social “norms:” we esteem that which God values (what the world disrespects).
  • “That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ:” “Sincere” means “genuine,” as opposed to hypocritical; Paul desired these Christians to be genuine (not simply “put-on,” “phonies,” et cetera). That they would be “without offence till the day of Christ [this is the Judgment Seat of Christ]”—that they would lead godly lives that honored the Lord.

These three qualities are fulfilled when we are “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ.” When we study and believe the Bible dispensationally, the Holy Spirit will use that doctrine to work in us (1 Thessalonians 2:13), to generate His “fruit:” “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22,23). When we allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to work in us and produce that fruit, the Bible calls this “[Holy] Spirit-filled” (Ephesians 5:18). As today’s Scripture says, this will result in “the glory and praise of God!”

Interested in learning more about “Pauline prayer?” Click here.

If Sinners Entice Thee, Consent Thou Not

Monday, May 14, 2012

“My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Proverbs 1:10 KJV).

This world is filled with temptations. Sinful individuals surround us, and they encourage us to sin with them. Today’s Scripture says, “Consent thou not!” Ignore the negative peer pressure!

Saints, even though we are members of the Church the Body of Christ, we still sin. On a daily basis, our new nature in Christ wars against our old nature we inherited from Adam: “the flesh lusteth against the [indwelling Holy] Spirit, and the Spirit lusteth against the flesh” (Galatians 5:17a). But, we have victory over sin when we walk, by faith, in our identity in Christ!

In today’s Scripture (and the verses following it), King Solomon shares God’s wisdom with us: “If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood [murder], let us lurk privily [secretly] for the innocent without cause: let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: we shall find all precious substance [loot], we shall fill our houses with spoil: cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse” (Proverbs 1:11-14).

What is God’s response? Verses 15-19: “My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: for their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.”

When someone encourages you to be partaker of their “killing and stealing,” or any action that does not agree with God’s Holy Word, “walk not thou in the way of them.” In Christ, God has saved us from that lifestyle and its resulting death: we have no need to return to them. “Walk in the Spirit [by faith in our new identity in Christ], and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh [sin]” (Galatians 5:16).

Mother: A Virtuous Woman

Sunday, May 13, 2012

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10 KJV).

Today is Mother’s Day, so we dedicate this devotional to godly women (specifically mothers). I especially dedicate this to the virtuous woman who has been in my life for almost 24 years… my mom!

Today’s Scripture is the first verse of the Bible’s “Virtuous Woman” passage (Proverbs 31:10-31). King Solomon explained that the virtuous woman:

  • has a husband who safely trusts in her (verses 11,12).
  • is not lazy, but is strong because she works to feed and clothe her family and herself (verses 13-19,21,22,24,25,27).
  • pities the poor and needy (verse 20).
  • has a husband who is well-known because of her godly lifestyle (verse 23).
  • opens her mouth with wisdom, and speaks kindly and lovingly (verse 26).
  • has children and a husband who praise her (verse 28).
  • excels in what she does (verse 29).
  • has works that praise her (verse 31).

Verse 30 explains the virtuous woman is “a woman that feareth the LORD.”

The Apostle Paul wrote that godly women should: not slander/gossip, not be controlled by alcohol or emotions (sober minded), be teachers of good things, love their husbands and children, be cautious and modest, maintain the home, be “good,” and should obey (respect) their husbands… “that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). A Christian woman, especially a mother, should be a virtuous woman in beliefs as well as in deed. She needs to set an example for her children (especially her daughters).

A Christian woman and/or Christian mother places her faith in this sound Bible doctrine, the indwelling Holy Spirit will then take that doctrine and transform her for God’s glory (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Her mind will be renewed by sound Bible doctrine, and that will transform her outward activity (Romans 12:1,2).

Are you a Christian woman or Christian mother who desires to be the woman God intends you to be in Christ Jesus? Place your faith in this sound Bible doctrine, and God will take care of the rest!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel of Christ #3

Saturday, May 12, 2012

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16 KJV).

Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because it is so powerful that it can save anyone and everyone… from Jews who murdered their Messiah, to pagan Greeks who worshipped idols.

The Gospel of Christ, first preached by the Apostle Paul nearly 2,000 years ago, has saved millions. Paul received that special message directly from the resurrected, ascended Lord Jesus Christ: “But I certify [guarantee] you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11,12).

This Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24) has saved two groups of people: Jews who rejected and murdered their Messiah-King Jesus, and pagan Greeks (Gentiles) who, unlike the Jews, did not even have God’s Word (the Old Testament Scriptures; Romans 3:1,2). It saved Jewish Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul, and it saved us formerly pagan Gentiles.

Although unbelieving Jews could not receive salvation in Israel’s prophetic (kingdom) program after Acts chapter 7 (cf. Matthew 12:31,32), they could receive salvation in our Dispensation of Grace, the mystery program, by trusting Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Before our dispensation, salvation was almost limited exclusively to Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; John 4:22; Acts 3:22-26): non-Jews were to receive salvation in Israel’s kingdom (Matthew 25:31-34; Matthew 28:19,20).

When Israel rejected her King, her kingdom was postponed; through Paul’s ministry, salvation went to the Gentiles without redeemed Israel (Romans 11:11-13). Now, Israel’s works-religion (Judaism) is inactive. Today, God is saving Gentiles, not by their conversion to Judaism (as in time past), but by them trusting Christ Jesus as their personal Saviour; God is saving Jews, not by having them keep the Law (as in time past), but by them trusting Christ Jesus as their personal Saviour (today’s Scripture).

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel of Christ #2

Friday, May 11, 2012

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16 KJV).

Why is the Gospel of Christ given “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek?”

From Genesis chapter 12 (Abraham’s salvation) to Acts chapter 9 (Paul’s salvation), God dealt almost exclusively with Israel. During those 2,000 years, God dealt with mankind on the basis of physical circumcision (Jew) and physical uncircumcision (Gentile) (Ephesians 2:11,12).

During these centuries, the Old Testament prophets reminded Israel of her coming King (Deuteronomy 18:15; Isaiah 9:6,7; Jeremiah 23:5,6; Zechariah 9:9; et al.). When Jesus Christ presented Himself to Israel in the Four Gospels, He came to establish His kingdom on earth, for Israel to then evangelize the pagan Gentiles (Exodus 19:5,6; Isaiah 60:1-3; et al.). Nonetheless, Israel rejected Jesus in unbelief, demanding His crucifixion on Calvary (John 19:15).

After Jesus Christ resurrected, Israel still rejected Him by persecuting and ignoring the Holy Spirit-filled twelve apostles who were calling Israel to repentance and faith (Acts 3:12-26; Acts 4:8-31; Acts 5:29-42; et al.). With uncooperative Israel finally murdering her prophet Stephen in Acts chapter 7, God turns to the Gentiles without Israel (Romans 11:11,12). The ascended Lord Jesus Christ saves Saul of Tarsus (Paul) in Acts chapter 9, commissioning him as his apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13).

From Acts chapter 9 to Acts chapter 28, Israel is “diminishing”—losing her special status before God (Romans 11:12). Thus, in the cities Paul visits in the book of Acts, God has him go to the local synagogue to preach the Gospel of Christ to Jews first: “Brethren [Jews], you have killed your Messiah Jesus, and your kingdom program is falling away, so you can only be saved now by becoming a member of the Church the Body of Christ!” Once these lost Jews refused to listen, Paul preached salvation in Christ to local pagan Greeks (Gentiles) (Acts 9:20-22; Acts 13:5, 14-52; Acts 14:1-27; Acts 17:1-34; Acts 18:1-11,18-21; Acts 19:8-10; Acts 28:20-31).

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel of Christ

Thursday, May 10, 2012

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16 KJV).

What is the Gospel of Christ, and why is the Apostle Paul not ashamed of it?

When we study the Bible dispensationally, we understand that the Apostle Paul has a unique ministry, one that is completely separate and distinct from the ministries of men whom God had previously commissioned (including the twelve apostles). One of the special aspects of Paul’s ministry is that the ascended Lord Jesus Christ committed to him a “mystery,” a secret program (our Dispensation of Grace) that God had kept hidden in Himself until He first revealed it to Paul (Ephesians 3:1-11; cf. Romans 16:25,26).

At the heart of this “mystery” ministry God committed to Paul, we find “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Paul wrote, “the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was to committed to my trust” (1 Timothy 1:11). Paul also called it my gospel” (Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; 2 Timothy 2:8), and in today’s Scripture, Paul referred to it as “the gospel of Christbecause this “good news” belongs to and originates from the ascended Lord Jesus Christ Himself! What is Paul’s gospel? “How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Our Apostle Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ in the sense of not being shy or embarrassed. He is not ashamed of it “for [because] it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” Paul knows that the Gospel of Christ is so powerful, for it is God Almighty’s power, that it can literally reach into the depths of sin and death and eternally save anyone and everyone who simply believes (trusts, has faith in) it! See, no works are needed for salvation: “to everyone that believeth” (no water baptism, tongues, tithing, et cetera).