Meditate in God’s Word

Saturday, June 18, 2011

“I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways” (Psalm 119:15 KJV).

The King James Bible contains 791,328 words. Considering what God could have written, His Word is a rather short book! The Bible is a supernatural book, so it takes studying. It speaks of events that are not what we consider “everyday experiences.” Its occasional symbolic language makes learning it sometimes difficult.

But, if we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Holy Spirit resides in us. He gives us the capacity needed to understand God’s written Word: “Which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13).

The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7). We need to “consider” God’s Word. Think about what you read in God’s Word. Recall that 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us that we need to “study” the Bible, not just casually skim through it: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Christ called Bible study “searching the scriptures” (John 5:39). In Acts 17:10,11, we read only once of the believers of Berea: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The Bereans actually studied the Bible to see if what they heard was true—they did not just shout “Amen!” to everything they heard.

We may not always understand everything in the Bible, but we are to meditate day in and day out in God’s Holy Scriptures! Study your King James Bible, and think about what was written by asking questions. How does it compare to other Scriptures? Is it a doctrine supported by the Apostle Paul? How can this apply to your life?

“Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.”

We Have Now Received the Atonement

Friday, June 17, 2011

“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11 KJV).

This is the only time the word “atonement” appears in the King James’ New Testament. The Greek word translated “atonement” here is usually translated “reconciliation, reconciling, reconciled” elsewhere (Romans 5:10; 1 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

In the Old Testament, once a year, on the Day of Atonement, Israel’s high priest would sprinkle animals’ blood on the mercy seat, the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, to first cover his sins and then the sins of the nation Israel (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:3-34; Hebrews 9:7). But “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). For that reason, “in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year” (Hebrews 10:3).

The book of Hebrews describes how Jesus Christ shedding His own (sinless) blood has done away with the animal sacrifices. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man [Christ Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10:11,12).

That word “atonement”—wrongly translated “reconciliation” in modern Bibles—is needed in Romans 5:11 because it links us with the Old Testament practice of the Day of Atonement. Animals’ blood could never take away sins, the Bible says, but that blood did serve as a temporary forgiveness. When the blood of Jesus Christ was shed, the shedding of animals’ blood became null. What God accomplished for Israel at the cross of Calvary, He also accomplished for us (the Church the Body of Christ).

Notice “we have NOW received the atonement” (Romans 5:11). As Christians we have our sins blotted out today (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13). Israel will not receive her national forgiveness until the Second Coming of Christ (Acts 3:19,20; Romans 11:26,27).

Rejoice, saints, “we have NOW received the atonement!” Praise ye the Lord!

No Ordinary Fishing Trip

Thursday, June 16, 2011

“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19 KJV).

In Matthew 4:18, the Lord Jesus found two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, fishermen casting their net into the Sea of Galilee. Today’s Scripture documents what Jesus told them. Verse 20 says “they straightway [immediately] left their nets, and followed him.” In the succeeding verses, Jesus calls two other fishermen, James and his brother John.

For the next three years, these four men would not be fishing ordinarily. They would be fishing with Jesus Christ. For what would they be fishing? The souls of lost Jews. Surely, it was going to be no ordinary fishing trip! Notice verses 23 and following:

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.”

These fishermen—now “fishers of men”—were serving with their Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. They saw Him perform amazing miracles as He demonstrated the powers of the world to come (Israel’s kingdom; Hebrews 2:3-5). For three years, these “fishers of men” would hear the words of eternal life from the lips of God Himself. Furthermore, they had the privilege of preaching “the gospel of the kingdom” to their fellow Jews.

Jesus later promised them that He would give them the power to teach and do what He did. God would utilize these “fishers of men” to reel in thousands of Jews’ souls to repentance (see Acts 2:41 and Acts 4:4). Surely, for all eternity, they will remember… that was no ordinary fishing trip!

Beware of the Money-Hungry Preachers!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;…” (1 Timothy 3:2,3 KJV).

Today’s Scripture lists a few qualifications of the bishop, the overseer of the local church. One of the qualities of a bishop (sometimes called “pastor”) was that he be “not greedy of filthy lucre” (cf. Titus 1:7). The deacons were to also be “not greedy of filthy lucre” (1 Timothy 3:8). What is “filthy lucre?” Extorted money. Considering those qualifications, many preachers and deacons would be out of a job!

The Apostle Peter instructed leaders of the Jews, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof… not for filthy lucre” (1 Peter 5:2). Titus 1:11 speaks of many Jewish religious leaders who were “unruly and vain talkers and deceivers… who subvert [overthrow] whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.”

Religion is the world’s most profitable business, and for good reason. As long as someone occasionally reads from the Bible and mentions the name of Christ, no one would ever suspect the person would be guilty of extortion. Unfortunately, this very thing took place during Christ’s earthly ministry. Israel’s religious leaders “devoured” whole houses—all for the sake of money! Jesus called Israel’s Temple a “den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45,46; John 2:14-17).

Notice Jesus’ rebuke: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation” (Matthew 23:14; cf. Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47). The Pharisees and scribes had a good outward appearance, but they ministered under false pretenses—all for money. Just like today, if you pay enough, churches will pray for you.

Grace is not against giving, but it is against covetous preachers who extort money. Never let someone force you to give, such as binding you with Israel’s tithe. Beloved, beware of the money-hungry preachers!

Casting All Your Care Upon Him

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7 KJV).

The Apostle Peter uses today’s Scripture to encourage the little flock to endure the extreme hardship and persecution of Israel’s seven-year Tribulation. We too should “cast all our care upon [God].” Notice other verses that utilize that Greek word translated “care.”

Paul expressed his “care” (concern) for the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28). The Bible speaks of “caring” for the Christian brethren (1 Corinthians 12:25). Philippians 2:20 affirms Timothy “cared” for the Philippians’ well being.

In Luke 10, Jesus visited the home of Martha and her sister Mary. While Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him speak, Martha was “cumbered [distracted] about much serving” (verse 40). Martha besought Jesus to command Mary to help her serve. Notice Jesus’ reply: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (verses 41,42). “Martha, relax!”

Being “careful” means worried, distracted, and troubled in mind. Two of the best verses in regards to Pauline prayer are Philippians 4:6,7: “Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

God does not want us worrying (“careful,” full of care). He wants us to talk to Him in prayer about the details of our lives in light of His Word. If we want peace in our Christian life, we need to daily practice Philippians 4:6,7. This is easier said than done, I know.

Grace teaches us not to worry because, regardless of our circumstances, we have “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.” God will “keep [guard] our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Saints, relax, ye have the peace of God!

May we learn “to cast all our care [worry] upon him!”

The Wages and the Gift

Monday, June 13, 2011

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23 KJV).

Often used to lead someone to salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, today’s Scripture is loaded with doctrine. Two contrasting phrases catch our attention: “the wages of sin” and “the gift of God.” In addition, we see “death” and its antonym “eternal life.”

“Wages” means “compensation for labor.” Contrariwise, “gift” is “something freely given to someone without him or her doing anything to receive it.” Notice the Bible uses “wages” (plural), indicating sin causes two deaths. Physical death, when a soul separates from its physical body, and spiritual death, the “second death,” when a soul is cast into the lake of fire, eternally separated from God’s holy presence (Revelation 20:14,15; 21:8).

Romans 2:6 says God “will render to every man according to his deeds.” Verse 7 explains that God will give eternal life to those “who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality.” Then verses 8 and 9 say, “but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul that doeth evil.”

God will give eternal life to anyone who is perfect, yet Romans 3:23 says none of us can live up to God’s perfect standard because we are sinners. Death is our “wages.” We have earned death because we cannot keep God’s law perfectly (Romans 3:19,20; Galatians 3:10)!

At Calvary’s cross, God demonstrated His wrath “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” our sin (Romans 1:18). But, at Calvary’s cross, God also demonstrated His righteousness (Romans 1:17). Jesus Christ, God’s perfect Son, bore our sin and suffered our death. Christ paid our sin debt with His blood, and He now offers His righteousness and eternal life as a free gift to you (Romans 3:21; Romans 5:15-18). Will you receive that gift by trusting in Christ as your personal Saviour?

The wages of sin, or the gift of eternal life… your choice!

Lights in the World

Sunday, June 12, 2011

“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…” (Philippians 2:15,16a KJV).

Jesus Christ told His Jewish believers that He was “the light of the world” (John 8:12). He told them they were “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Consequently, He instructed His followers: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Today’s Scripture is an exhortation for us Christians to “shine as lights in the world” and “hold forth the word of life.” Undoubtedly, these are references to Christian good works and us proclaiming to the world the wonderful salvation in Christ Jesus!

In 2 Corinthians 5:20, the Bible says we are “ambassadors for Christ.” We represent our homeland, heaven! The two previous verses, 18 and 19, explain: “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

God has given us the privilege of telling the whole world that He has reconciled the world unto Himself through Calvary’s cross! We Christians are beacons of God’s grace in this cruel dark world. We extend the message of God’s grace to all people. We have something the lost world needs: the salvation found only in Jesus Christ!

While our Christian teaching and preaching seems worthless or futile at times, it never is. We have not run in vain, nor laboured in vain, just as Paul did not run in vain nor labour in vain (Philippians 2:16). Beloved in Christ, continue holding forth the word of life by being a light in the world—the lost world desperately needs your ministry.