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Showing posts from June, 2020

What A Sophisticated Disobedience You Have

“And He said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition’” (Mark 7:9). Rather than dwell on the specific instance Jesus mentions of evading the commandment, I would like to draw attention to His admiration of their abilities when He says, "You have a fine way." J.B. Phillips translates this, "It is wonderful to see how." Jesus may have been speaking in sarcasm, but regardless of how He spoke, He was pointing to the sophisticated effort the religious people made in order to disobey. Jesus quoted Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” Non-religious people do not need sophisticated reasons to disobey. They deliberately disobey, or remain ignorant of the commandments, or just do not care. Religious people come up with involved reasons to make their own wrongs look right. But they are not satisfied unl

An Invitation to Dinner with Jesus

When one of those at the table with Him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Then the master told his servant,

The Good News: How Can They Believe?

"Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?" (Hebrews 3:16). "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, 'So I declared an oath in my anger, "They shall never enter my rest."' And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world" (Hebrews 4:1-3). "For, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is writ

Blinded Minds: Opening Eyes to the Right Source of Revelation

Today an increasing number of people believe that all beliefs are equally valid, that there is no one “right” source of revelation. This leads them to dismiss anything you tell them from the Bible. How do you approach someone who believes this in a way that will open the door to sharing the Word of God with them? The unbeliever does not believe the Word of God. This is natural. Why does he not believe it? “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The Word is the only source of faith. Before he can believe it, he must hear it. What the unbeliever wants or does not want to hear should not determine what you say. We get our orders from God, not from non-Christians. However, that does not mean we should force the Word on people. Before we give the gospel, their eyes must be opened so they can see its light: "I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may re

As You Go, part 2: The Christian Duty of Evangelism

This is an expansion of my post from June 18. This is a part of the Christian life that applies to all Christians. The Commands "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age'" (Matthew 28:18-20). There is a sequence to the commands laid out by Jesus in the Great Commission: • Make disciples of all nations. • Baptize them. • Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. The disciples are to obey everything , which includes these three commands. They are to obey everything, which includes teaching their own disciples to obey everything. We are all converts of that initial command. Every one of us is to make disciples of all nations. "As you go, preach

Praying for Revival in Our Country

There is one major solution to our country's problems. That is Jesus Christ. If you are not doing so already, begin praying that we would turn to Him as a nation. How should we pray for revival? • With confession. Since the last revival, the world has acted according to its nature. The church has not acted according to its nature and needs to take responsibility for the results this has had in the world. • In submission. The Holy Spirit is sovereign in revival and cannot be manipulated by prayer meetings, fasting, etc. We cannot produce revival - it must be given. • With optimism. If we want to ask for revival in a godly way, we should plead the promises of God in Scripture. In order to do this, we must have an optimistic eschatology. • Knowledgably. In order to pray for revival intelligently, we need to know what we are asking for. Read histories of previous revivals. The last revival in America was in the mid-nineteenth century. • With focus. We should pray fo

As You Go: The Christian Duty of Preaching

“And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of Heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 10:7). Then I preached Christ, and when she heard the story, — Oh! is such triumph possible to men? Hardly, my King, had I beheld Thy glory, Hardly had known Thine excellence till then. Then with a rush the intolerable craving Shivers throughout me like a trumpet call, Oh! to save these; to perish for their saving, Die for their life; be offered for them all. - F.W.H. Meyer "But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fearhating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh" (Jude 20-23). In recent Christian history, preaching has been something that takes place only at a certain place, at a certain hour, not too often

Church Growth in a Time of Turmoil

"They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand" (Acts 4:3-4). "Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord" (Acts 9:31). In the first passage, the church was persecuted. In the second, it enjoyed a time of peace. In both cases, the church grew. What did these times have in common? Preaching the gospel in power. Church growth is not directly related to persecution or peace. The church can die under persecution, but it does not have to. It can die in times of peace, but it does not have to. The church died in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey because of persecution. In the last century, the church in Northern Europe died without it. The birthplace of first-century Christians

The Real Solution to Our Country's Problems

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified…My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power" (1 Corinthians 2:1-2, 4-5). "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4). These two texts bring us back to first priorities: preaching the cross and praying for kings. Both of these passages relate to the salvation of men. God, in His wisdom, decided that proclaimin

Paul's Prayers in Ephesians, Philippians & Colossians

Paul’s prayers are gradually making an impression on me. I have been conscious of them for 67 of my 72 years as a Christian. Notice some of the phrases from his prayers in Ephesians 1:15-19, 3:14-18, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-12: • “His incomparably great power to us who believe” • “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” • “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth and insight” • “that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ” • “that you may please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work” • “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” • “the hope of His calling” • “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints” • “to know this love that surpasses knowledge” • “that He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being” • “to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” • “that you may live a life worthy of the Lord”

An Overwhelming Change

“But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (Colossians 1:22-23). Wonderful phrases these: holy in His sight; without blemish; free from accusation. This is in contrast to the phrases in the preceding sentence: alienated from God; enemies in your minds; evil behavior. This is what reconciliation means. It changes our relationship with God. The change is not minimal like from aliens to friends, but overwhelming: “alienated from God” to “holy in His sight”; similarly, from “enemies in your minds” to “without blemish” and “evil behavior” to “free from accusation.” Let us praise Him for His grace. This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us! Written December 1980.

Love without Discernment

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10). In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul writes of a knowledge without love. Here in Philippians it is suggested that it is possible to have love without knowledge. Paul here assumes that love is normal for believers. He prays that their love might abound more and more. He also prays that this love be accompanied with knowledge and all discernment. There seem to be two reasons for this discerning love: 1) So that we may approve what is excellent. 2) So that we may be pure and blameless. These two reasons are close together. If we have love without discernment, we may end up approving things we should not approve. If we approve what we should not approve, we will not be blameless. One of the reasons that love sometimes occurs without discernment is because love does not have

Reconciled to God & One Another

“His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:15-18). From this we find out there were two kinds of people in the world, both kinds estranged from God and from each other—Gentiles and Jews. Both kinds were sinners—sinners far away and sinners close at hand. They both needed reconciling to God through the cross. The cross put to death their hostility. Jesus Christ is our peace. He preached peace to both and died for both. Now we have three kinds of people in the world, Jew, Gentiles and the church of God (1 Cor. 10:32). This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us! Written

So We Speak of It: The Fellowship We Have with the Father

“We write to you about the Word of life, which has existed from the very beginning: we have heard it, and we have seen it with our eyes; yes, we have seen it, and our hands have touched it. When this life became visible, we saw it; so we speak of it and tell you about the eternal life which was with the Father and was made known to us. What we have seen and heard we tell to you also, so that you will join with us in the fellowship that we have with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1-3). “And we have seen and tell others that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever declares that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he lives in God” (1 John 4:14-15). This is the Christmas story in 1 John. It is wonderful in itself; however, the incarnation is not the only truth here declared. Notice verse 2: “so we speak of it and tell you about the eternal life.” Verse 3: “we tell to you also.” Verse 14: “and tell others.” Verse 15: “Whoever d

God's Rich & Merciful Grace Towards Us

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:4-9) God has great love for us, is rich in mercy, and saves us by His grace. And grace is a gift, not earned. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6) As God’s love is great and He is rich in mercy, so His grace also comes in great quantities. His love

It’s Either/Or

I was reading John 15:15-21, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” I was impressed again with the either/or of belonging to Christ or the world. And it is the world that recognizes the difference and takes action. The question is, does the world recognize you as someone to love, or someone to hate?" This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us!

His People: What We Can Learn from Jeremiah 24

My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. (Jeremiah 24:6-7) This was written of the exiles of Judah in Babylon, so it does not apply directly to us. However, since God does not change, we can learn something about Him from it. • He watches over His people for their good. • He will build them up. • He will not tear them down. • He will plant them. • He will not uproot them. • He will give them a heart to know Him. • He will have them for His people. • He will be their God because they will return to Him with all their heart. We are His people, too. God is good.

Not Just For Our Benefit: Being An Artesian Well

“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink’” (John 7:37). “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ … Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:10, 13-14). This spring of water is an artesian well, a flowing well, welling up to eternal life. Welling up has a sense of “leaping up.” This well provides living water in quality and abundance so that streams of living water will flow from within the Christian. Notice in both texts that the person does not drink from this well. He does not have the well until after he drinks. “Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring ... If anyone

Who Is Like You, O Lord?

The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5) This is God’s declaration of the sinfulness of man. God can speak about man’s state because His judgment is absolutely right. However, whether I can speak about God’s holiness is another thing. Even though I am redeemed and looking forward to the completion of that redemption, I do not yet see Him as He really is. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2b) Until that time, we know Him as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. The Song of Moses Moses and the Israelites sang about God’s holiness after Israel passed safely through the sea and the Egyptians were drowned: Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11) This song describes God in transcendent terms, not physi