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Preparing the Ground

The following was written 45 ½ years ago. It still applies.

“Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.” (Jeremiah 4:3)


The Lord’s instruction to Judah through Jeremiah was spiritual instruction. He wasn’t speaking about farming. The Bible is wonderful in its clarity, and we can be awfully obtuse in our understanding.

We do not operate like good farmers. We are like a three-year-old child who plants a bean and digs it up every day to see if it is growing. We have a Jack-and-the-Beanstalk view of sowing. We expect a giant plant the next morning.

We are impatient for the harvest so we are impatient in our sowing. We sow in unplowed, undisced, and unharrowed ground. We sow in weeds. We sow in the rocks and on hard ground. We wonder why no harvest. The harvest is dependent on sowing, which is dependent onus. It is also dependent upon the ground. The kind of ground is, in a sense, dependent on us. “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among the thorns” speaks of the need …

Fibromyalgia

I am sending this out knowing that some of you have fibromyalgia. This was not in place of prayer. It was God’s answer to prayer in her life:

“Reaching this point in my spiritual life enabled me about ten years later to marry a man whose work, I knew, would take both of us to new and unfriendly territory halfway around the world. Many people have asked me since that time how I could do it. The answer is simple: I have learned that I couldn’t. It is not about me and what I can or can’t do; it is all about what Christ can do. This move meant many unknowns, but then, God had me living like that for many years – in my own country. I am not an adventuresome person and not a risk-taker, and I am thankful for that, otherwise I might have doubted myself; “Am I really doing this for the Lord – or doing it for myself?” Because it’s not in my nature to take such a drastic step, I will gladly testify that it is the Lord’s hand.

“Having come to a desert in a very out-of-the-way spot, one day God…

Believe

Here are a few scriptures that are not to be obeyed. They are not commands. They are to be believed. Your belief will be the major means of obedience to the adjacent commands.

1. “By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2)

2. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6).

3. “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11)

4. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:22)

5. “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6)

6. “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continu…

Introspection

Regularly I see people who have a tendency to be introspective. When I ask them if this introspection is an “upper” or a “downer” the answer is “a downer.” Then I ask them, “Is it accusatory or convicting?” The answer is “accusatory.”

The accuser of the brethren is Satan. This introspection is not of God. Recently I read an account by Charles Finney speaking of himself in the 1820’s almost 200 years ago.

“Sometimes I would pursue a wrong course in fasting, and attempt to examine myself according to the ideas of self-examination then entertained by my minister and the church. I would try to look into my own heart, in the sense of examining my feelings; and would turn my attention particularly to my motives, and the state of my mind. When I pursued this course, I found invariably that the day would close without any perceptible advance being made. Afterward I saw clearly why this was so. Turning my attention as I did, from the Lord Jesus Christ, and looking into myself, examining my m…

Wonerful Salvation

We all know that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to give us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. We can quote the verses. Here are other verses that tell us of other results of this wonderful salvation:

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (John 2:1)

“By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2)

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6)

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” (Romans 6:8)

“The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” (Romans 6:10)

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11)

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves …

Pornography

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:3-4)

This sin, both kinds “looking and “talking”, is pandemic in the world and epidemic in the church.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everythi…

Anger

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:8)


Wrath and anger and obscene speech have no place in a Christian’s life. I know a pastor who is guilty of anger with his child. I also know he does not discipline his children. The children are wild.

“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)” (I Timothy 3:4-5)

“An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursui…

Sin Against Your Children

“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)


Have you ever been exasperated or been provoked to anger by your father? If “yes” then that is saying that your father was in sin. Have you exasperated your children or provoked them to anger? Then you are in sin. This sin must be confessed and forsaken.

How do you treat your wife?

“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” (Ephesians 5:28-29, KJV)

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4, KJV)


Notice the difference between your wife and your children. Your wife is to be nourished and cherished. Your children are to be nurtured and admonished. Both are to be nourished.

Wives are to be cherished
Children are to be admonished

Wives are not to be admonished. Suppose my wife needs to be admonished. There is a way to admonish people.

“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28)

Admonishing is done with all wisdom, to present everyone perfect in Christ. Husbands do not do it with all wisdom and it does not present y…

Major Sins

Over the years I have gotten to know men, not a few, who were apparently outstanding Christians in their churches and cities who had major sins that no one suspected that they could have been guilty of. For some reason I found out and ministered to them, but was only partly successful with a few of them. The next few posts be on their sins. I do not think all of you are guilty but I know some of you are. If the church does not know, God knows and your wife and children probably know.

How Do You Treat Your Wife?

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (I Peter3:7)

You are to live with your wives

1. in an understanding way
2. as with someone weak, since she is a woman
3. So that your prayers will not be hindered.

Are your prayers hindered? Are you imitating Jesus?

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with…

"Be" and "Do" Commands in the Bible.

There are “Be” commands in the Bible. They are basic or precede the “Do” commands. We “do” out of what we “are.” God “did” out of what He “is.” “God is love,” (I John 4:8 and 16). God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. God loved out of what He is, love.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)

Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Man speaks out of what he is. If our hearts are filled with good things they overflow with good things.

The “Be” commands are heart things. Here are a few of the “Be” commands:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is…

When You Mean It

When I was a young man I had an emotional reaction to the Apostles Creed recited in churches. It was not because I did not believe it, because I did, and do believe it. On the contrary, that’s why I did not like to hear it. It was recited by rote and mumbled by people I assumed did not believe it, or if they did believe it they did not seem to care if they believed it.

Then one Sunday fifty some years ago I happened to be in the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Bala Cynwood, Pennsylvania on a Sunday morning. The congregation stood and shouted out:

“I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH: AND IN JESUS CHRIST HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD; WHO WAS CONCEIVED BY THE HOLY GHOST, BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY, SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE, WAS CRUCIFIED, DEAD, AND BURIED; HE DESCENDED INTO HELL; THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD; HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, AND SITTETH ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY; FROM THENCE HE SHALL COME TO JUDGE THE QUICK AND THE …

Group Bible Study Topic 3 - Faith

Three examples of people of faith have bee taken from that classic chapter on the subject, Hebrews 11. A good introduction to this topic would be to read that chapter through.

Since question 7 calls for a definition of faith, by studying the 8 passages of Scripture, you will finally have 8 definitions. There is certain to be some overlapping, but by keeping a record of the various definitions, you may be able to make a comprehensive definition at the end of the studies.

1. Genesis 6:1-22, Hebrews 11:7 - Noah
2. Genesis 15:1-6, Romans 4:16-25 - Abraham
3. Joshua 2:1-21, Hebrews 11:31 - Rahab
4. Jonah 3:1-10 - People of Ninevah
5. Matthew 8:1-13 - Centurion
6. Luke 7:36-50 - A woman
7. John 20:1-10 - 'The other disciple' (vs. 8)
8. Acts 27:1-44 - Paul (vs. 25)

From a study of each of the above Scriptures decide:

1. What were the circumstances or needs that called for the exercise of faith?
2. Were there obstacles or problems that made belief difficult?
3. Exactly what was believ…

Group Bible Study Topic 2 - Leadership

The purpose of this type of study is to discover from the lives of actual people, whose story is recorded in Scripture, some of the principles of leadership. The subject is more difficult than previous subjects we have studied such as guidance and prayer; because the material is not in such concise form. The complete life of each individual should be studied, but since the time for study is usually limited, one incident or one part of the individual's life has been selected. In this way most of the outstanding qualities, conditions, and problems of Christian leadership will be revealed.


1. Exodus 3:1-18, 4:1-20 - Moses
2. Joshua 1:1-18, 3:1-6 - Joshua
3. Samuel 14:1-23 - Jonathan
4. Nehemiah 1:1-11, 2:1-20 - Nehemiah
5. Acts 27:1-44 - Paul
6. Matthew 8:5-13 - Centurion
7. Acts 3:1-16, 4:1-20 - Peter

In studying each of these Scriptures, come to a conclusion regarding:

1. What were the circumstances in which leadership was shown?
2. What was the particular assignment, and …

Group Bible Study Topic 1 - Miracles

The Next three posts will be on bible study topics. They were designed by Bill Pape in the 1960s in Japan. If you do all of them there will be 23 studies.

MIRACLES

By faith we leave the realm of human impossibilities, and enter the area of divine possibilities. We pass from the ordinary to the extraordinary. The purpose of this study is to discover the principles governing miracles. God's ways astonish men, but they are never haphazard. There is a vital difference between a miracle, and what is commonly known as 'good luck.'

In making your conclusions, do not read into the Scriptures what is not there. The Bible is not a mirror of your own ideas, but a revelation of the mind of God. On the other hand, do not miss what is in Scripture, and which diligent search will bring to light.

If you do not have time for all the questions at one session of study, select those you feel to be most important, but always include the last.

1. Exodus 14:1-31 - Dividing the sea
2. 1 Kings …

Fear

Fear is an emotion that is happening now about the future. It is a future that is negative and it is always false. It is a lie from the enemy.
It is a temptation.

Hope is also an emotion that is happening now about the future. It is a future that is positive and sure to happen. It is true. It is based on the promise of God. Hope is not “iffy” as in “I hope I pass the exam.” Hope is a glad anticipation of something that is sure to happen. “We have this hope as an anchor of the soul firm, and secure.”

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” (Hebrews 6:19)

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)


God made woman to need love, provision, protection, and security. God provides them b…

Favorite Verses

You May have figured out a few of my favorite verses of scripture. They include:

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all… But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin...If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:5, 7, and 9)

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him.” (Colossians 2:6)

“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:28-29)


These favorites have been expanded to include I Thessalonians 5:16-18 and Philippians 2:14.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; fo…

Hope

Hope is one of the three survivors in 1 Corinthians 13:13. Let's look at Hope.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)


“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

“For the g…

Speech

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.” (1 Peter 3:1)

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:8)

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:22)

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks …

Delight

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)


There are two promises based upon this delight.

1. He will give you the desires of your heart.
2. You will be like a tree planted by streams of water.

The object of this delight is the Lord and His law. Psalm 119 has nine assurances of delighting in the Law of the LORD.

In today's use 'delight' is used in some other enjoyment. It is used humanistically.

Repentance

Here is God’s wonderful provision for salvation and its rejection in the same verse:

"For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
'In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.'
But you were unwilling." (Isaiah 30:15)

"The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts." (Revelation 9:20-21)


People do not repent even though judgment happens on the earth.

Here is a means to get people to repent:

"Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gent…

Who Can Be Saved?

One of the times that the apostles understood Jesus was in Mark 10:24-25.

“The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24-25)

They understood it by saying ‘Then who can be saved?’ That was the message Jesus wanted them to understand when he mentioned threading needles with camels. He responded, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’ This is the message of the Gospel of grace. It is something of God not of man.

We see this in Romans 10:3-4,

“Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 10:3-4)

Righteousness is from God. Man cannot produce it.

“How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

Identification 2

All of the verses quoted in the previous post are past tense sentences.

Here are a few more.

1. “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:6)
2. “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9)
3. “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations.” (Colossians 2:20)
4. “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)
5. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me...And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desire…

Identification

The last nine posts have been scriptures that require us to imitate God. The imitation requires an act of the will on our part. It may not be done by will-power. It requires our will, but not our power. The same goes for many commands that seem to be over the top. They require an 'aye, aye sir,' but not our power. The teaching in this post does not require an 'ayye, aye sir,' or any kind of power, ours or His.

This is just so. It is already done. We can accept it and thank God. There is no obedience and no imitation involved. This is basic truth.

“How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:2b)

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:5-6)

“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but ali…

More Like Jesus

Concerning my last few posts, I would like to know which of you seriously would like to be more like Jesus. Do you think I could be of some help in this journey?

I do not wish to impart more knowledge of truth. I would like to teach how to 'obey everything Jesus commanded his apostles.' I do not think I have arrived. I am willing to be a pace setter.

Imitation 9

Do you want to be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect?

Do you want to be holy because He is holy?

If there is no desire for holiness it will not happen. St. Paul said it this way:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

“And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10)

Imitation 8: Winning many to salvation

“Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:32-38)

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Before we can imitate we must be close to the one we are imitating. In each of the eight clear examples study Jesus so much we cannot help imitating.

Imitation 7: Winning an Unbelieving Husband

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:21-28)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperish…

Imitation 6: Loving the Brothers

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Even as I have loved you. We imitate Jesus in loving our brothers.

Imitation 5: In Love

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32-5:2)

Be imitators of God just like children imitate their fathers. Just as God in Christ has forgiven you. Just as Christ loved you and gave Himself up for us.

See how Jesus did and imitate Him.

Imitation 4: In everything

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ʻYou shall be holy, for I am holy.ʼ” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

But like the Holy one who called you, be holy in all you do for He is Holy.

Just like the Lord Jesus in everything.

Imitation 3: Humility

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” We are told to imitate Jesus in an attitude which he had.

He voluntarily made himself low, lower and lowest. Because of this he was elected to the highest place.
Jesus said the same truth several times.

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles h…

Imitation 2

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.” ( Ephesians 5:25-29)

We are to imitate Jesus in our relationships with our wives and for the same reason: to present her to ourselves in glory, “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless.”

You may say, “I cannot do that.” No, but we are still told to do it 'just like Jesus.'

We should spend the rest of our lives studying how Christ loved the church and then do it. I will not go into detail but I started this study in 1956. We had b…

Imitation #1

You probably know that example is the best means of teaching and imitation is the best way of learning.

Did you know that we have been told to imitate God, several times?

1. Loving our enemies
2. Loving our wives
3. Humility
4. In everything.
5. In love
6. Loving the brothers
7. Wining an unbelieving husband.

Let's look at them.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:44-48)

Jesus tells us to love our enemies then he teaches us how: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (verse 48).

We are to imitate …

The Mouth

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

All of the words are great words but I want to emphasize the word mouth. The mouth says what the heart believes.

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

Out of the heart the mouth speaks.

There is many “a Christian” who believes the gospel in his heart but is afraid to say it with his mouth. Jesus calls it being “ashamed of me and my word” (Luke 9:26).

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I bel…

"Be" Commands

Here are a lot of “be” commands. These “be” commands always precede the “do” commands. These commands determine what you are.

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

Be joyful – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Be kind – Ephesians 4:32
Be prayerful – Matthew 5:48
Be self-controlled – 1 Peter 1:13
Be holy in all you do – 1 Peter 1:15
Be holy because I am holy – 1 Peter 1:16
Be transformed – Romans 12:2
Be joyful in hope – Romans 12:12
Do not be proud – Romans 12:16
Be willing to associate – 12:16
Do no be conceited – 12:16
Be careful to do what is right – 12:17
Be devoted to one another – 12:10
Never be lacking in zeal – 12:11
Be adopted – Ephesians 1:5
Be to the praise of the glory of His grace – Ephesians 1:6
Be to the praise of His glory – Ephesians 12
Do not let yourself be burdened – Galatians 5:1
Be reconciled to God – 2 Corinthians 5:…

Giving Offense

Again, these next few posts are written because I am finding many Christians to whom they apply. If they apply to you, fix it. That is, confess the sins and then obey.

You know that taking offense is sin. You do not seem to know that giving offense is the greater sin.

“Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:32-11:1)


“And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.” (1 Corinthians 8:11-12)

“If my conscience is clean that does not make me innocent.” (1 Corinthians 4:4)

Our conscience is not absolute on right and wrong.

In my short acquaintance with you it seems that what you think, you also say – and you think that what you are saying is…

Commands vs. Orders

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

The key words in verse 31 are “Get rid of all”. This is a command, an imperative. It is not an order. What is the difference? A command is something to be obeyed right now in the right way. “About Face.” “Forward March!” “Halt!” There is nothing “iffy” about a command. If it is not obeyed right now it is disobedience. An order still has to be obeyed, but it might take some time and may be done in different ways. “Invade and occupy Europe.”
“Get rid of all” is a command. If it is obeyed there will be no bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, or malice by tomorrow. If any of these attributes are still here tomorrow, “Get rid of all” was not obeyed.
We see this command again in Colossians 3:8.
“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such thing…

Day and Night: Fighting

One time, many years ago, I was on the telephone. I got off the phone to tell the kids to hold down the noise. When I finally got off the phone a neighbor kid said to me, “Mr. Wilson, you think this was a fight? Come over to our house.”
Ever since then I have found that it was considered normal for siblings to fight and husbands and wives to fight. I encounter it almost daily. This is in Christian families. I grew up in a family of six sons. I can remember two squabbles; one was recorded with a switching on our bare legs and the other with a razor strap. (The other function of a razor strap was to keep a straight razor sharp.) I never heard my parents fight or talk with raised voices. This does not mean it did not happen but it was not apparent to the kids. Here in Moscow I have three sons with their wives, their children and their children’s children. I have not heard, or heard of, a fight in parents, children, or grandchildren, or cousins. I am not saying that they are sinless. I a…

Day and Night: Colossians 3:1-10

Over my years of ministry across several denominations, states, and nations, I have encountered Christians with sound doctrine but not a sound Christian life. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16)
Some of these encounters have taken place after a tragedy has happened, in which case everyone know about the unsound, sinful life. In many cases, few other people know about the inconsistency between the person’s life and doctrine. The local church might not know. In every case the person with the sin does not get easily fixed. Some Christians seem to watch their doctrine more closely than they watch their lives. They have adjusted to their own lives.
Here is a little open-book quiz. It is self-graded, or better yet, God-graded. Use a 3 x 5 index card. Please copy the descriptive phrases or words from the following quotation on the card. There are nineteen of them.

“But mark this: There w…

Obedience and Love

We have seen that obedience and faith are very closely connected. Therefore obedience is a good word. Now we will see that love and obedience are closely connected.

Here is the greatest command, “Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

Jesus gives further expressions of the same truth.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

"And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister." 1 John 4:21

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12

“This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:17

The commands in all six verses are to love.
Now we will see how we express love. It is not by saying that we love, it is by obeying.

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar…

Day and Night- 2 Timothy 3:1-5

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be…
• Lovers of themselves
• Lovers of money
• Boastful
• Proud
• Abusive
• Disobedient to their parents
• Ungrateful
• Unholy
• Without love
• Unforgiving
• Slanderous
• Without self-control
• Brutal
• Not lovers of the good
• Treacherous
• Rash
• Conceited
• Lovers of pleasure rather that lovers of God¬––having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

Put a mark by each word that describes you. Count the marks. Put that number here: _______.

There is a possibility that you are not a Christian. Read Assurances of Salvation. If you are a Christian then keep this list in your Bible until all of your check marks are gone.

Day and Night

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

This is very clear teaching. Even with its clarity it is easy to disobey it by changing verse 16 to read: Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise you for your good deeds. The following is a comment on that practice,

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do …

Accusing the Brethren

When you accuse others, you are speaking for the devil, not for Jesus. Of course, you think that what you say is true. It probably isn’t true, but even if it were, you may not say it.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (Colossians 3:8)

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.” (Colossians 3:8)

Judging Others

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew7:1)

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.’” (Revelation 12:10)

“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer.” (John 16:8-10)

The devil accuses, and the Holy Spirit convicts. If you are accusing anyone of any sin true or false, you are speaking for…

The Same Mind

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:3-11)

Have the same mind in humility as Jesus.

Children of Light

“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.” (Ephesians 5:8-13)

We are not allowed to expose sin by speaking of the sin. It is exposed by the light of our character.

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12)

Do you compare yourself with others?

How We Love

The next few posts are written because I am finding many Christians to whom they apply. If they apply to you, fix it. That is, confess the sins and then obey.

In Greek, there are three words for love:

Agape – sacrificial love for the good of others
Phileo – friendship love
Eros – sexual love

When we are saved we are given the fruit of the Spirit, which is agape (Galatians 5:22, and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love is patient – Are you patient?
Love is kind – Are you kind?
Love does not envy or boast – Are you envious?
Love is not proud – Are you proud?
Love is not rude – Are you rude?
Love does not insist on its own way – Do you?
Love is not irritated – Do you get irritated?
Love is not resentful – Do you get resentful?

Whom are we to love?

Our neighbor (Matthew 22:39).
Other Christians (John 13:34-35).
Our enemies (Luke 6:27-36).

We are to love these people with this kind of expression of love.

What Precedes Good Works

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” (Psalm 37:3)

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” (Titus 3:7-8)

“But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” (I Peter 1:15)


In these verses trusting, saving grace, believing, and holiness all precede our good works.

In the Lord Jesus Christ,
Jim Wilson





Giving Thanks

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Cry out, ‘Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.’ Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the Lord.’” (I Chronicles 16:34-36)

This is the first even in the Bible where three things happened and were recorded in worship. It is the return of the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David. The three things are:

1. Music
2. Singing
3. Thanksgiving

David may have been the bravest man in the history of the World. He may have been the greatest general in History. He may have been the greatest musician and the greatest poet, and he was a man after God’s own heart. We see David making music earlier in I Samuel 16:18 and in vs. 23. Look for thanksgiving in the Psalms and in Paul’s letters.

Another "If"

Here is another “if”: “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“ (Colossians 2:20 ESV).

“If” this is true, why are you living as if you still belonged to the world?

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)


“If” this is true, set your hearts and minds on things above.

“If” has a consequence of “then” or “therefore.”

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5)

In the Lord Jesus Christ,

Jim Wilson

"If"

“If” is not a certainty. Sometimes people think it is.

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30)

This “if” is not so. The “right eye” or the “right hand” do not cause sin. “If” they did, it would be a good trade to get rid of the cause.

“For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” (Mark 7:21-22)

Jesus does not say “cut out your heart.” He says clean your heart.

“The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god…” (Psalm 24:4)


“He did not discriminate between us and them, for he pu…

Today is Our Wedding Anniversary

This was preached at our wedding in 1952 and we put it into practice:

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)

I memorized the following two years before our wedding:

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

We considered our children to be “faithful men”.


Before Douglas was born, Bessie and I decided that if one of us corrected a child, that correction would not be contradicted by the other. The ch…

Clean Your Heart

“If” is not a certainty. Sometimes people think it is.

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30)


This “if” is not so. The “right eye” or the “right hand” do not cause sin. “If” they did, it would be a good trade to get rid of the cause.

“For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” (Mark 7:21-22)

Jesus does not say “cut out your heart.” He says clean your heart.

“The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god…” (Psalm 24:4)

“He did not discriminate between us and them, for he pu…

Light of the World

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5)

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)


“In Him was life and life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)


“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV)


Do others see the light of Jesus Christ in you? Is your light under a basket?

Life

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

“If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust.” (Job 34:14-15)


When God breathed into man, man became a living soul. If God withdrew his breath we would all die at the same time. St. Paul says it this way in Colossians 1:16-17,

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17)

God holds everything together. That is present tense. He is doing it right now. When HE will end things all he will have to do is to quit holding things together.

Sound Doctrine

There is a Christian cultural expression – “sound doctrine.”

There is a biblical expression – “sound doctrine.”

Unfortunately the definitions are not the same. The cultural expression has been used to identify the distinctive doctrines of certain movements. The word “sound” gives these doctrines biblical authority.

The word “doctrine” simply means “teaching.” There is nothing good about the word itself. The Bible speaks of the doctrines of men, devils, strange, Balaam, the Nicolaitans, and every wind of doctrine. It also speaks of the doctrine of Christ, of God our Savior, and the doctrine which is according to Godliness. When the Bible speaks of sound doctrine it is speaking of the gospel of salvation and the teaching of holiness. Here are a few examples:

“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer…for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and l…

Teaching 9

St. Paul makes a few declarations on how he teaches and how he doesn’t teach.

“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (II Corinthians 4:1-2)

“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (I Thessalonians 1:4-6)


“We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.…

Teaching 8: Teaching Obedience (cont.)

All of the commands in the New Testament are in the superlative (Over the top!) the same with the prayers and the promises.

Teach the text as is. Do not try to make it fit the audience. Read the text. Ask the question “Is this true or false?” If you answer “True”, then thank God for it and keep on thanking God until this “over the top” command is part of you.

If this is so, then the next best teaching method comes into action. It is example. You are now living out the text and people can imitate you.

“Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (I Timothy 4:11-12)

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (I Peter 5:2-…

Teaching 7: Teaching Obedience

There are means of teaching information to the head that are very effective and probably should be used for all secular information. One of them is Classical Education, grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The difficulty with these methods, all of them, is that they can be used to teach misinformation, falsehood.

The methods are so effective that the person taught cannot discern any falsehood. It is fairly harmless in secular education. If false, the next generation will discover it but not the generation that was taught.

In Christian teaching, this method is more deadly. A catechism is a use of the grammar method. In young children this repetition is used. Most of the questions are good questions and good answers. There may be a bad question and a bad answer. It is memorized along with all of the true ones. To check this out, look at the different catechisms you know and compare them with the Bible you know.

Catechisms are not limited to one generation. If there is a falsehood in the cat…

How Not to Teach

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:14)

“Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (II Corinthians 4:2)

“For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.” (I Thessalonians 2:3-6)

“Don’t have a…

How to Teach

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” (II Timothy 2:24-25)

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (II Corinthians 4:5)

Read the New Testament in 67 Days!

There are many Christians who read the Scriptures sporadically in time and place. In other words, they read the Scriptures “now and then” and “here and there.” They gravitate to their favorite chapters. If asked the last time they had read the New Testament through, they would not be sure they had ever read it through. Consequently there is an appalling ignorance of the God’s Word in the body of Christ, and a consequent lack of obedience. Listening to the best Bible teachers in the world will not make up for the personal ignorance of the individual.

There are several reasons why there is an unwillingness to read through the New Testament or the Bible: 1) “It is difficult to understand the “thees and thous.” 2) “I ran into the “begats.” 3) “When I don’t understand a verse, I stay with it, trying to understand it; so then I don’t progress.” 4) “It’s dull reading.” 5) “It’s too long; it would take forever.”

Here are a few suggestions to overcome these complaints.

First, obtain a Bible. …