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Weekly Bulletin Article 2013

By Bro Jim Brasseal, Pastor Landmark MBC

2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006


Dec 29, 2013 - Jesus Spoke Words of Prophecy
Dec 22, 2013 - Jesus Describes Blessings for His Disciples
Dec 15, 2013 - Jesus Spoke the Words of Eternal Life
Dec 08, 2013 - Jesus Spoke with Authority
Dec 01, 2013 - Gracious Words From Jesus
Nov 24, 2013 - Thanksgiving
Nov 17, 2013 - Godliness and Honesty
Nov 10, 2013 - Dual Citizenship
Nov 03, 2013 - “Be Ready Always to Give an Answer”
Oct 27, 2013 - Thorns, Snakes, and Bitter Waters
Oct 20, 2013 - Words Against the Lord
Oct 13, 2013 - Absent From the Body, Present with the Lord
Oct 06, 2013 - “Make Me A Blessing”
Sep 29, 2013 - A Blessed Visit to the Church in Choir
Sep 22, 2013 - Enjoying The Fellowship in Uginoor
Sep 15, 2013 - Holidays, Holy Days, and False Worship
Sep 08, 2013 - We Took Sweet Counsel Together
Sep 01, 2013 - The Servant Who Loves His Master
Aug 25, 2013 - “Ye Which Are Spiritual”
Aug 18, 2013 - Delight Thyself in the Lord
Aug 11, 2013 - The Gospel from Four Angles
Aug 04, 2013 - Prophecy From Malachi Fulfilled
Jul 28, 2013 - Can Jehovah God Become Weary?
Jul 21, 2013 - A Report on Camp: “Grow In Grace”
Jul 14, 2013 - God Saw That His Creation was Very Good
Jul 07, 2013 - Egypt in History and Prophecy
Jun 30, 2013 - Bondage or Freedom
Jun 23, 2013 - “Occupy Till I Come”
Jun 16, 2013 - My Heavenly Father’s Hands
Jun 09, 2013 - Redemption
Jun 02, 2013 - How Does God Handle A Disobedient Child?
May 26, 2013 - A Fitting Memorial
May 19, 2013 - Building on the Sure Foundation
May 12, 2013 - God Provides for an Obedient Mother
May 05, 2013 - A Letter Written in the Heart
Apr 28, 2013 - The Prudent Who Prepare
Apr 21, 2013 - For What the Law Could Not Do
Apr 14, 2013 - Illustrating A Change in God’s Positive Law
Apr 07, 2013 - God’s Positive Law
Mar 31, 2013 - “Touch Me Not”
Mar 24, 2013 - Respect For God’s Law
Mar 17, 2013 - Wisdom or Foolishness
Mar 10, 2013 - “In All Thy Ways Acknowledge Him”
Mar 03, 2013 - Promises Made in Psalm 119
Feb 24, 2013 - When the Compass Does Not Work
Feb 17, 2013 - The Golden Rule
Feb 10, 2013 - Treasures in Heaven
Feb 03, 2013 - Conflicts Between Israel and Syria
Jan 27, 2013 - The Seed and the Sower
Jan 20, 2013 - Accountability to God
Jan 13, 2013 - Complete in All the Will of God
Jan 06, 2013 - “For Seasons, and For Days, and Years”


Jesus Spoke Words of Prophecy

Deuteronomy 18:15
Dec 29, 2013

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

The words of our text spoken to Moses are quoted by Stephen in Acts 7:37 referring to our Lord Jesus Christ. The Jewish people, to whom Stephen preached, needed to understand that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the true messenger of God. Unto Jesus should they hearken.

God’s true prophets in the Old Testament had the same message of salvation that Jesus Christ and his New Testament witnesses proclaimed. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him [Jesus Christ] shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

There is an unusual warning against false prophets in Deuteronomy 13:1-4. God told how he would test the people by using the false prophets. If the sign or wonder foretold by the prophet came to pass, yet the prophet said, “Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them” (Deuteronomy 13:2), then the people were not to listen to that prophet.

Jesus Christ was able to speak the truth of things yet in the future, such as his approaching death and his resurrection. “Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again” (Mark 10:33-34).

Many of the prophetic messages of Jesus are about the conditions on this earth as we approach his second coming. Matthew chapter 24 describes many of those conditions. Many of the Lord’s own people will be deceived by false teachers (verses 4-11). Iniquity will abound causing the love for the Lord to weaken (verse 12). The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world (verse 14). False Christs and false prophets shall show great signs and wonders (verse 24). Conditions on the earth will become similar to the days of Noah (verses 36-39).

The same truth about the days of Noah is repeated in Luke 17:26-27. Luke also adds this comparison to the days of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30).

Our Lord Jesus Christ always speaks the truth, so we can be sure that all he told us about the future will come to pass. Are you ready for his return?

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Jesus Describes Blessings for His Disciples

Matthew 5:6 and Acts 20:35
Dec 22, 2013

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

In the past three weeks, we have had bulletin articles on these subjects: Gracious Words From Jesus, Jesus Spoke With Authority, and Jesus Spoke the Words of Eternal Life. We now give attention to the words of Jesus on the subject of being blessed.

The words “blessed” in Matthew 5:3-11 and in Acts 20:35 are translated from the Greek “makarioi,” which indicates a condition of happiness. Another word for “blessed” is translated from the Greek “eulogeo,” which refers to good words or a good message. The word “gospel” is from “eulogeo.”

In Luke 1:42-45, Elisabeth, the cousin of Mary, uses both words. In verse 42, she speaks of Mary and the babe being praised with good words. In verse 45, Elisabeth speaks of happiness for Mary because she believed the message from the Lord.

In his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29), Jesus never gives a command for his disciples to seek happiness. Jesus does give this command, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

In Matthew 5, Jesus taught his disciples are to be:

  1. humble
  2. meek
  3. hungry and thirsty for righteousness
  4. merciful
  5. pure in heart
  6. peacemakers
  7. exceeding glad when they are persecuted and falsely accused

In Matthew 6, Jesus taught his disciples to

  1. pray
  2. forgive
  3. go beyond the standards of the Old Testament in their Christian service
  4. lay up true treasures in heaven

Happiness is not found in setting your attention and efforts on obtaining happiness. Set your attention and efforts on knowing and doing the will of God. His will may involve persecution, hardship, and suffering. God has promised to supply your need (Matthew 6:33 and Philippians 4:19). There is true satisfaction and enjoyment in being in the center of God’s will. Paul and Silas could sing, even in prison (Acts 16:25).

Consider the description of the blessed man in Psalm 1:1-2: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

I pray that each of you may experience the happiness described by our Lord in that wonderful sermon on the mountainside.

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Jesus Spoke the Words of Eternal Life

John 6:67-69
Dec 15, 2013

“Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:67-69).

Great multitudes gathered around Jesus as he preached and worked miracles near the sea of Galilee. Jesus multiplied the five barley loaves and two small fish to feed more than five thousand people. The result is seen in John 6:15. “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” These people were considering the advantage of having a king who could supply all their food. Jesus said to them, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27).

Jesus gave a plain message on the way of everlasting life. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:47-51)

This multitude enjoyed having their belly filled but did not want their heart changed by trusting Jesus Christ for everlasting life. The crowds left and only the twelve remained (John 6:70 shows that Judas, numbered with the twelve, was not a true disciple. “Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?”).

Having everlasting eternal life is different from eternal existence. Satan, the demons of hell, and all the lost will never go out of existence. Please notice that the words “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever” (Revelation 14:11) and that the words of II Thessalonians 1:8-9 speak of “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” These verses speak of everlasting death and condemnation.

God’s word is filled with wonderful verses that describe the everlasting life of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and the blessed assurance that we will enjoy the fellowship and blessings of heaven with Jesus for eternity. Revelation 21:1-7 describes the blessings.

Jesus spoke these words of everlasting life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

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Jesus Spoke with Authority

Matthew 7:28-29
Dec 08, 2013

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).

The article for 12/01/2013, using Luke 4:22, showed that Jesus spoke gracious words. Our text for this article is set at the end of our Lord’s sermon on the mount. The word translated “authority” is the word that speaks of the legal power that Jesus had to speak as God’s messenger.

Jesus could speak with authority because he had total understanding of the subject. He was God in the flesh and possessed the divine attribute of omniscience, having infinite understanding and insight. Consider the truth of John 2:23-25. “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”

Jesus could speak with authority because he was righteous in his words and in the actions of his life. He practiced what he preached. Jesus warned his disciples about the scribes and Pharisees, “But do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:3). This world still needs Christian witnesses who live truthfully according to the truth of God’s word.

Jesus could speak with authority because he understood his commission from the Father. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The prophets of the Old Testament had a special place in the work of the Lord, but Jesus Christ is far greater than all those prophets. The book of Hebrews shows us that Jesus is greater than the angels (Hebrews 1:4-5). Jesus, our High Priest, is far greater than any of the priests that came from the tribe of Levi (Hebrews 5:1-10).

In Hebrews 12:18-25, there is a lesson about God using Moses to give His law to the nation of Israel. Hebrews 12:25 is a key verse in the lesson. “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth [Moses], much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him [Jesus Christ] that speaketh from heaven”

We need to prayerfully search the Bible to understand the message of Jesus Christ. We also need to go farther than understanding. We need to walk in obedience to our Lord’s will.

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Gracious Words From Jesus

Luke 4:22
Dec 01, 2013

“And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?” (Luke 4:22). [Please note that the question asked at the end of the verse does not teach that Jesus was Joseph’s son but that those people considered him to be Joseph’s son.]

There are five Sundays in the month of December. Beginning with this article, Pastor Brasseal’s plan is to write an article each of the five weeks highlighting the qualities of the messages of our Savior.

After his temptation by Satan (Luke 4:2-13), Jesus returned to Galilee. On the sabbath day, he read from the book of Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

The message of Jesus was a gracious message of hope for the poor broken-hearted blinded captives. Their distress was not just physical. The spiritual aspect of their blindness is shown in the words of Matthew 4:16, which are a quote from Isaiah 42:7. “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” The chains that held them captive were the chains of sin, lack of faith, and the darkness of a false and corrupt religious system.

The religious system taught by the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders discounted God’s grace and promoted the view that one could earn God’s favor by good works and the keeping of the Jewish ordinances. Paul describes these zealous people with these words, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:2-3).

Paul had learned by his own experience of God’s grace that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4).

John 3:16 is a gracious message, which proceeded from the mouth of Jesus. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

So many people are still in the region and shadow of death, living in hopeless desperation. God’s grace is still available. The gracious words of Jesus can show them the way of everlasting life. The gracious words of Jesus can show them the way of Christian service with “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). We can be the messengers of Jesus Christ to carry his gracious words to this sinful world.

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Thanksgiving

II Corinthians 9:15
Nov 24, 2013

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15).

This article will be an acrostic, which follows a pattern that we have seen in Psalm 119.

THANKSGIVING is commanded in Psalm 100:4.

HAPPY is that people whose God is the LORD (Psalm 144:15).

ALL good and perfect gifts come from our heavenly Father (James 1:17).

NOTHING past, present, or future, can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).

KNOWN and kept in the hand Jesus Christ are all his sheep (John 10:27-28).

SALVATION is in Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12).

GRACE is greater than any sin (Romans 5:20-21).

IMPUTED righteousness is given by faith, not works (Romans 4:5-7).

VICTORY over death is through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:57).

INIQUITIES can be confessed to God and be blotted out (Psalm 51:9).

NEVER perish is the same promise as everlasting life (John 10:28).

GOODNESS and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever (Psalm 23:6).

These blessings are just a few of the many that we can consider when we count our blessings throughout the entire year. “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee” (Psalm 139:17-18).

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Godliness and Honesty

I Timothy 2:1-3
Nov 17, 2013

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” (I Timothy 2:1-3).

We are commanded to pray for government authorities. Our goal is that the authorities will conduct themselves in such a way that we may have peace and quiet in all godliness and honesty. Corruption and dishonesty are the enemies to what is good and acceptable in the sight of God.

Honesty is a vital part of the commandments that God gave to Israel at Sinai. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16). The principal of this commandment is continued into the New Testament. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25).

Dishonesty by Ahab and Jezebel caused the honest vineyard owner, Naboth, to lose his vineyard and his life. By Jezebel’s scheme, two false witnesses were hired to accuse Naboth of blasphemy against God. Naboth was unjustly stoned to death (I Kings 21:1-14). God’s righteous judgment was poured out on Ahab and Jezebel (I Kings 22:34-37 and II Kings 9:30-35). This lesson about Naboth shows how greed and selflessness will lead to corruption and lies.

Paul was especially concerned that his witness for Jesus Christ not be corrupted by a false message. Please note Paul’s words, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (II Corinthians 2:17). This same desire for honesty is expressed later in the same church letter. “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God” (II Corinthians 4:1-2).

A false witness is vile and ugly whether it is found in government, family relationships, business contracts, or in the preaching of the gospel.

According to II Peter 2:1-3, the false prophets are motivated by greed and covetousness to spread their feigned (false, hypocritical) doctrine.

May God help us to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

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Dual Citizenship

Ephesians 2:19
Nov 10, 2013

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

The word translated “fellowcitizens” in this verse is a compound word. The first part is “sum,” which indicates a partnership or a joining together. The remainder of the word is “polites,” from which we get the word “politics.” The same word is translated as “citizen” in Acts 21:39 when Paul pleads for the right to speak to the people in Jerusalem after he had been captured and beaten by the mob. “But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean [insignificant] city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people”

When the chief captain commanded that Paul should receive a severe beating (Acts 22:24), Paul raised the issue of his Roman citizenship, which made it unlawful for him to be beaten before being found guilty. We know that Paul received Roman citizenship by birth. “And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born” (Acts 22:28). The word “freedom” is from the same word “polites.” The word “freedom” is used because the context shows the freedom and privileges of Roman citizenship.

In Philippians 1:27, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ,” the word “polites” is translated as “conversation.” The translators could have used the word “citizenship” with the very good meaning that our conduct as a citizen of heaven and a citizen in this world should advance the gospel of Christ. The same thought is in Philippians 3:20. “For our conversation [“polites” or “citizenship”] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ”

As Christians, we have dual citizenship. What a blessing when our heavenly citizenship does not conflict with our earthly citizenship! We do have a Biblical example to follow in the event of any conflict between the two citizenships. The early Christians were commanded by government authorities “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18).

The answer from God’s word is in Acts 4:19-20, “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

We can see things developing in our own nation that makes us fearful that we may find it necessary to use Acts 5:29 in defense of our Christian testimony. “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

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“Be Ready Always to Give an Answer”

I Peter 3:15
Nov 03, 2013

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Peter 3:15).

The words “the hope that is in you” can best be understood when we consider the use of the word “hope” throughout the New Testament. In I Timothy 1:1, the Lord Jesus Christ is described as our hope. In Titus 2:13, we read, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The word “hope” in this verse does not express any uncertainty but a definite trust that the promise from God that Jesus will return for us is absolutely true.

Hebrews 6:18-20 speaks of the “hope [that is] set before us.” We have “strong consolation” and hope that is “sure and steadfast” because Jesus is our High Priest, who has entered into the holiest of holies “within the veil.” This means that Jesus ascended back to the Father and is now in heaven to intercede for us. The anchor of our hope is securely fastened in heaven. Faith, hope, and love are named in I Corinthians 13:13 as the remaining spiritual gifts.

The reason for my hope is based on these truths.

  1. It is an immutable [or unchanging] truth that it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160). God has preserved His true inspired word. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8).
  2. God’s inspired word teaches me that Jesus is the Christ, the only Savior, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 1:1-4, 14; 14:6).
  3. God’s inspired word teaches me that I can now possess eternal life by trusting, receiving, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Confidence and hope that are just based on human emotions and conditions can waver, but confidence and hope based on the word of the Lord are unmovable.

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Thorns, Snakes, and Bitter Waters

II Corinthians 12:8-9
Oct 27, 2013

“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Corinthians 12:8-9).

Paul’s experience with the “thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan” (II Corinthians 12:7) is a very good lesson for Christian people who are praying to God to remove distress from their lives. God did not answer Paul’s prayer in the way that Paul requested, but God did give him a better answer, which was the grace to deal with the problem. God had a purpose for the distress that Paul faced. God used Paul’s problem to teach a lesson in humility.

God had a purpose for the snakes that came into the camp of Israel. “And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:5-6). The people came to Moses confessing, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us” (Numbers 21:7). Moses prayed, but the LORD had a better answer for the people. He did not take away the serpents. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8).

When Jesus told Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Jesus used the lesson of the snakes in explaining God’s gift of His Son, by whom we have eternal life. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15). God had a remedy for the snakes that pictured Jesus being crucified to bear the penalty for our sin.

In their journey out of Egypt, God led Israel out into the wilderness where they found no good water but came to the bitter waters of Marah. God did not lead them to another place. He had a purpose and a plan to change the bitter to sweet. By God’s direction, Moses cut down a tree and cast the tree into the bitter water, which became sweet.

The word “bitterness” is often used to describe the burdens and heaviness of heart faced by the LORD’S people. Consider Hannah when she “was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore” (I Samuel 1:10). God answered her prayer by giving her Samuel who became a great judge in Israel.

In the New Testament, we are told that we will face chastisement from the Lord, but God gives these directions to keep us from being overwhelmed in distress. “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God [Fail to receive and trust in God’s grace (JCB)]; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15). Do not let the trouble turn you away. May the distress draw you closer to the Lord. God can still turn the bitter to sweet.

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Words Against the Lord

Malachi 3:13-14
Oct 20, 2013

“Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?” (Malachi 3:13-14).

The study of the book of Malachi shows Israel in a very worldly rebellious attitude. They were very selfish, keeping the best of the flocks for themselves, and offering the lame and sick animals to the LORD (Malachi 1:8).

They should have been speaking words of praise and thankfulness. “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:2-4).

They were speaking strong false words against the LORD when they said, “It is vain to serve God.”

They were speaking against the LORD when they questioned the value of the “ordinance” [law] of the LORD.

To walk mournfully before the LORD is to walk with humility and sorrow for sin. Yet in their stiff neck pride, they despised that attitude.

Any one who preaches a false gospel is speaking stout words against the LORD. “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).

To twist and corrupt any of the true doctrines taught in God's word is to speak in opposition to God. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15).

Let us not approve, encourage, support, or condone those who speak strong words against God and his truth, but let us follow the words of Ephesians 4:14-15. “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”

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Absent From the Body, Present with the Lord

II Corinthians 5:6-8
Oct 13, 2013

In Memory of Jerry Wayne Brasseal
September 8, 1948 - October 10, 2013

“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:6-8).

I received a call late on Thursday from my brother, Kenneth, in Columbia, Mississippi, telling me that our youngest brother, Jerry, age 63, had died in the emergency room at the hospital. The artery that supplies blood to his lungs had ruptured. Shortly afterward, his wife, Shirley, called to ask if it would be possible for me to come for the funeral and have a part in the service, which will be on Monday at Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church. I promised her that I would start the necessary steps to be there. My brother knew the Lord as his Savior, and, about ten months ago, we had a long conversation involving these scriptures in our text. I have sorrow at his passing, but I do rejoice in his testimony of God’s saving grace.

Death is described as “the enemy” in I Corinthians 15:26, yet Paul knew that the child of God, would have a better home at death. Paul speaks of “having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).

Our confidence and our sure hope of that better home is anchored in the faith that we have in God and in his inspired word. His precious word is the only source of information that we have describing our life beyond death. The precious blood of Jesus is the only payment sufficient to purchase our eternal home in heaven (I Peter 1:18-19). Receiving Christ by faith is the only way to have the gift of eternal life (John 1:12-13).

The words of I Corinthians 15:19 show us that this present life in the flesh is not the totality of our life. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” We do not have to experience that misery. The entire fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians proves with unshakable evidence that the gospel of the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.

The conclusion is: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).


Obituary

Funeral services were held Monday, October 14, 2013 in Mt. Gilead Baptist Church at 11am for Mr. Jerry Wayne Brasseal age 65 years who passed from this life Thursday October 10, 2013 in Hattiesburg, Ms. after a lengthy illness. Visitation was Sunday evening 5 until 9pm at the Colonial Funeral Home in Columbia, Ms. Interment was in the church cemetery. Rev. Ed Steele and Rev. Jimmy Brasseal officiated the services.

Jerry Wayne was a retired mechanic and a member of Mt. Gilead Baptist Church. He is preceded in death by his parents Mr. James David “JD” and Myrtie Alma Foster Brasseal. He is survived by his wife Shirley Temples Brasseal, a daughter Kimberly Ann Smith (Preston) of Foxworth, Ms, three sons Jeffery Brasseal (Ginger), Robert Brasseal (April) all of Columbia, Jessie Brasseal of Purvis, three sisters, Margret Dyess, Cherry Lynn Bryant all of Columbia, Judith Brasseal of Sumrall, three brothers Rev. Jimmy Brasseal of Denver, Co, Kenneth Brasseal and Joe Brasseal both of Columbia, five grandchildren, John Patrick Smith, Crystal Stanley, Tasha Ward, Karen Brasseal, Danielle Brasseal, four great grandchildren, Nick Howell Patterson, Tomas Trey Stanley, Cameron Reese Stanley, and Aubrey Millison Ward. Pallbearers were Patrick Smith, Brian Ward, Shawn Moody, Jonathan Newman, James Bryant, Jason Cook.

Colonial Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.

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“Make Me A Blessing”

Genesis 12:2
Oct 06, 2013

“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2).

This verse is part of the wonderful covenant that God made with Abraham. It is important to consider the promise of God, “I will bless thee.” God did bless Abraham. After many years of waiting, Abraham and Sarah were blessed with the promised son, Isaac. The covenant that was made with Abraham was given to Isaac and then passed on to Abraham’s grandson, Jacob.

Galatians 3:29 shows us that the covenant with Abraham is still important in our New Testament service to God. “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

In this article, the emphasis will be on the last part of Genesis 12:2, “thou shalt be a blessing.” One of the songs in our hymnal (In Spirit And In Truth, Hymn 336) expresses the desire to be a blessing. Consider the chorus of this song.

Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing,
Out of my life. May Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

It is good to rejoice and enjoy the blessings that the Lord gives to us. “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with thee” (Psalm 139:17-18).

A faithful Christian life can be a blessing to others. A father and a mother can be a blessing to each other and to their children. A good friend who encourages you can be a blessing. I think of the neighbor, a widow with several children, who came to our home when I was thirteen and invited me to go to the Vacation Bible School and Revival Meeting at Bunker Hill Baptist Church. I was saved and became a church member that week. I do not remember her name, but I do thank God that she was a blessing to me.

Give as 'twas given to you in your need,
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless, a helper indeed,
Unto your mission be true.

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A Blessed Visit to the Church in Choir

Philippians 4:17
Sep 29, 2013

“Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account” (Philippians 4:17). This text verse also describes the unselfish labor of God’s workers in Mongolia and the fruit that abounds to us through the support that we give.

On Saturday, September 21, Nara, Pastor Egi’s wife, drove Brother Cooper and me to the train station for our trip to the church in Choir. We had planned to ride in the public car where many passengers would be packed in with a wide assortment of belongings. Nara learned at the station that small private rooms on one train car were still available for a small additional fee, so Bill and I decided to travel in style. After five and one half hours with many stops at small villages along the way, we arrived in Choir. Pastor Egi’s son, Tsambaa, and a member from the church were waiting for us. Tsambaa and Carolyn Cooper had made the trip in the van, which was loaded with many supplies for the church in Choir. Pastor Augii, his wife Olzii, and many members were at the church building preparing for a Saturday evening service and fellowship dinner. Brother Cooper taught a lesson for the men, and Carolyn taught the women. The message that I preached was a verse by verse study from II Corinthians 4. Tsambaa translated for Bill and me. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and time of fellowship.

This church has been blessed very much with many new members who have been saved and baptized. Five new members had been baptized on the previous Sunday, and several more are to become members this coming week. One new member was brought to the services piggy-back style on the back of his best friend, a man who is very strong in physical strength and love for the Lord. Before his conversion to Jesus Christ, this new member’s life was in complete turmoil. His marriage was about to end, and alcohol was controlling his life. He tried to end his life by jumping off a building several stories high. He was badly injured in the attempt to end his life. By faith in Christ, he was saved and his marriage to a fine Christian woman has been restored. I have pictures of the man, his wife, and two children. You can see their smiles, but the pictures do not fully show the excitement of this family and their Christian friends because of the blessings of the Lord. This whole town knows of the testimony of this church, which is known in the community as “The Quit Drinking Church.” Brother Augii teaches a class each week on alcohol abuse and what Jesus Christ can do to change sinful lives. A recent graduation ceremony had twenty men who had finished the class. Family and friends at the graduation totaled 84. Three of the men have been converted to Christ and are now church members.

We had another good service on Sunday with music and Bible lessons. Bill taught a lesson on the end times from the book of Daniel with attention to the deception of the anti-christ. My lesson was on Romans 14:17-18 and Matthew 6:33 describing the blessings of being active in the Lord’s work. At the close of the service, all the new members were introduced. The service began at 10:00 A.M. and ended at 2:00 P.M. with a break at noon for coffee and hot tea.

The Landmark church in Delta, Colorado has been faithful in helping with Brother Augii’s salary.

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Enjoying The Fellowship in Uginoor

Ephesians 4:4-6
Sep 22, 2013

Written from Mongolia.

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

These verses were chosen because you will find the oneness of heart, love, and spirit that you share with God’s precious people in all nations and in all languages where the Lord’s churches gather to study and worship.

Tsambaa, Pastor Egi’s oldest son, drove the van and translated my message to the church in Uginoor. We had to wait and leave on Thursday morning because there were repairs to the steering gear of the van. This was Tsambaa’s first time to translate a Bible message from English to Mongolian. He put my outline with all scripture references on his computer, and we went over the message several times on Friday and Saturday so that he fully understood the English. On Friday morning, Erdenebayer’s family and the two of us drove about 15 miles to Davamaa’s uncle’s home in the country side. Other neighbors, all Bhudists, gathered with the uncle’s family. Erdenebayer presented the Gospel message, and questions and discussions followed. The ladies then prepared a very big meal with dough rolled out very thin, cut into one quarter inch wide noodles, which were then boiled with lamb meat, which was about one half fat. The food and the tea were delicious, but the host served us enough for two big meals.

There were 20 children that came at 9:30 for Sunday School taught in one class by Davamaa, the pastor’s wife. Services for the teens and adults began at 11:00. They have 25 chairs and 30 were present, so teens were sitting two to a chair. They show great interest in the Bible being taught. After my 30 minute message, Erdenebayer, the pastor, gave a 20 minute message explaining how Jesus died for sinners and God’s way of salvation. There were lost people visiting for the first time. This small church is having many blessings from the Lord, and they asked me to say “THANK YOU” to our church in Lakewood for the help we have given. They are the only Christian witness in their entire state.

After the services, there were more hugs and many pictures taken. Erdenebayer, his family, Tsmabaa, and I went to a small restaurant in town and had the Mongolian version of hamburgers, which is a five inch ground meat patty wrapped in a thin dough crust and deep fried in sunflower oil. You do not just show up at the restaurant but go several hours in advance, place the order, tell them the time you will be coming, and then wait about 30 minutes for your food. They do serve tea or coffee while you wait.

They are planting different fruit trees in the yard around the edge of the property, and, with great optimism, they explained that in two years I could share fruit from the trees. Four wonderful days of singing, Bible lessons, food, and Christian fellowship were enjoyed with the humble members of the Uginoor Missionary Baptist Church.

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Holidays, Holy Days, and False Worship

Romans 1:25
Sep 15, 2013

Written from Mongolia.

“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature [creation] more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:25).

Buddhism, the major religion in Mongolia, is one of the pagan religions that do worship the creation. This is shown in the main holiday in Mongolia, Naadam, the national holiday from July 11-13. This holiday involves competitions throughout the entire nation in wrestling, horse racing, and archery. Preserved history of the Chinese Xiongnu period shows that Naadam has a history of these competitions for almost 2000 years.

In 1639, Buddhism had achieved great influence in Mongolia, and 5 year old Zanabazar was installed by the Mongolian lords as the leader of the Buddhist religion in Mongolia. The Buddhist leaders organized the Naadam rituals to worship the mountains and deep canyons. Khaan Mountain, Olgon Tanger Mountain, and Bogd Khaan Mountain were given special honor. Even in this day, the Buddhist leaders organize the holiday festival to honor these mountains. The civil government in 2003 passed the Naadam law declaring, “Naadam is a great traditional festival of the nation symbolizing sovereignty and independence of Mongolia.” Some tourist promoters in the United States call Naadam, “Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Christmas Day all combined into one holiday.”

There is no sin in admiring the purple mountain’s majesty and the amber waves of grain, but it is the sin of idolatry when the creation is given worship that is only due to the LORD God. “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8).

The New Testament uses recreational sports to teach spiritual lessons. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). The next verses (Hebrews 12:2-3) teach us to run the race of life with our eyes on Jesus Christ. When we grow weary, we are to remember how our Savior endured the pain and shame of the cross for us.

God’s Bible declares, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). God’s kingdom servants struggle against wickedness in all forms, moral and doctrinal. God has not removed the enemies, but he has provided the grace, strength, and armor to have victory in the battle. One day, we will have a celebration of victory. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4). Please pray, “Lord, Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

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We Took Sweet Counsel Together

Psalm 55:14
Sep 08, 2013

Written from Mongolia.

“We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company” (Psalm 55:14).

First, I will give you a short report on the very enjoyable flight on Frontier Air to Los Angeles, followed by the pleasant but long (almost 13 hour) flight to Seoul, South Korea on Korean Air, and finishing the trip with a flight of 3 and 1/2 hours on Mongolian Air (MIAT). The trip was more enjoyable because of a couple, the Naills, who sat just to the right of me. I met them on the flight out of Denver. They were headed to Vietnam to work in a private school. She worked for years at Green Mountain Elementary near our church building. They work with an organization that is trying to show the younger generation that most Americans do not hate the people of Vietnam. We discussed the cultures in both countries, and they were very interested in the mission work in Mongolia. They asked me to go with them for supper in the airport and meet their grandchildren, son, and daughter-in-law who were coming from Phoenix to see them. We were on the same flight to Seoul and continued our discussion. Another couple from Mongolia, who now live in Golden, CO, where they have a business, also entered into the conversation on the flight to Seoul, and he asked me to send e-mails about my experience in Mongolia.

Brother Cooper was waiting at the airport, and, in a short time, we were at the Rich Heart building being greeted with big Mongolian hugs from Pastor Egi, his wife Nara, their children, and other members who had gathered there. Soon, I was in the Cooper’s apartment enjoying the fellowship and spagetti supper that Sister Cooper had prepared. I attended services at Rich Heart Baptist for Wednesday Prayer Meeting with a PowerPoint lesson taught by Brother Cooper. The subject was “The Failure and Restoration of King David.”

The words of Psalm 55:14 describe the counsel and plans that were discussed concerning my schedule, some of the needs of the pastors, and the generous support given by our church in Lakewood. Broad economic issues are beginning to worry the pastors and membership here. There have been a number of bank failures because of wild speculation in the mining and construction business.

The railroad that was to be built into China to move thousands of tons of coal each day has been delayed. Markets for Mongolian coal are being lost and is costing thousands of jobs. The government has gone on an uncontrolled spending binge with borrowed money putting fear into many investors. Their willingness to spend borrowed money makes me think of the U.S. government.

Thank the LORD the work of the His churches does not depend on economic conditions or government policies. Consider the advancement of the Lord’s work in Acts 4 even with the opposition of the government. God’s work depends on His blessings for His people. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

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The Servant Who Loves His Master

Exodus 21:5, Ephesians 6:9
Sep 01, 2013

“And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free” (Exodus 21:5). “And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Ephesians 6:9).

Some of God’s laws concerning slavery seem very strange to us in this present time. We might question why God allowed slavery in any form. The answer that satisfies is: “God knows best.” God’s laws did help to make things better for the slave in bad situations. Under God’s law, a Hebrew bought by one of his brethren could go free after six years of service. But there was also the privilege of remaining with the master if he loved that master. New Testament Christian slaves were encouraged to gain their freedom if possible. “Art thou called being a servant? care not [do not have anxious worry] for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant” (I Corinthians 7:21-22).

The New Testament book of Philemon shows Paul interceding between the master, Philemon, and his runaway slave, Onesimus. We can sum up Paul’s message to Philemon, “Receive Onesimus back as your servant, but more than a servant; as a brother beloved. If he owes you anything, put that on my account, but I want you to remember, Philemon, that you owe me your life” (see Philemon 15-19).

One of the great lessons that we learn from Exodus, Ephesians, and Philemon is that the service to our heavenly Master is motivated by love. Christians will labor, deny self, sacrifice, and spend time and assets on behalf of God, God’s kingdom, and family because of abiding love.

The lesson on serving by love is also connected to the theme of voluntary service. When Paul was teaching the church at Corinth using the example of the sacrifices of the Macedonian brethren, he wrote these verses: “Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (II Corinthians 8:11-12).

Do you have a willing heart, with readiness [eagerness] to labor and sacrifice because you love our Lord who loved us and gave himself for us on the cross?

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“Ye Which Are Spiritual”

Galatians 6:1
Aug 25, 2013

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

The Lord’s churches in Galatia were facing very difficult issues. Paul warned them about the false teachers who would preach a perverted gospel. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7).

Paul had to rebuke Peter because Peter was aiding those who did not recognize that Jews and Gentiles were on equal footing in the Lord’s New Testament churches (Galatians 2:11-14). There were false teachers who wanted to place the Galatians back under the bondage of the Pharisee version of the law of Moses (Galatians 4:9-11).

One serious problem addressed in Galatians 6:1 is still weakening the Lord’s churches. Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 24:12, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Jesus also taught this same lesson in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:22, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”

These who grow cold in their love for the Lord and who allow the thorns of worldly cares to weaken their life are in need of restoration. The word “restore” in Galatians 6:1 means “to mend.” According to Vine’s Bible Dictionary, “The tense of the verb in this verse is the continuous present, suggesting the necessity of patience and perseverance in the process.”

The spiritual person who is able to help restore the backslider is one who walks in the Spirit, in meekness, submissive to the will of God, bearing the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit which is Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, and Temperance (Galatians 5:22-23).

Beneficial restoration in the spirit of Galatians 6:1 can follow this path: (1) Serious fervent prayer is made for the unfaithful brother or sister. (2) Concerned spiritual Christians speak face to face with the unfaithful brother or sister expressing their love and desire to help bear the burdens. “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2). (3) Concerned spiritual Christians help the brother or sister to understand the Biblical lessons on the responsibilities and the blessings of the fruitful faithful life. (4) The next step is to bring the wayward disciple back into full fellowship and productive service in the Lord’s work. (5) It is sad to say that the prayers and efforts will sometime fail because the wayward person has no desire to be involved in the Lord’s work. God’s work is totally voluntary, and a person cannot be forced to serve and worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. The teaching of II Thessalonians 3:6 must then be obeyed.

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Delight Thyself in the Lord

Psalm 37:4-5
Aug 18, 2013

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:4-5).

The word “delight” is found only one time in our New Testament. “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22). In the inner man, which had been changed by grace through faith, Paul had pleasure in serving God. Other Greek words that are almost identical in spelling and meaning are translated as “to please” or “to give pleasure.” An example is Romans 15:26. “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”

The words “to delight,” “to give pleasure,” and “to please” are used very often in our Old Testament, sometimes with reference to the pleasure and the delight of the LORD. “...the prayer of the upright is his delight” (Proverbs 15:8). God spoke of the land of Zion and Jerusalem, “for the LORD delighteth in thee,” and, “so shall thy God rejoice over thee” (Isaiah 62:4-5).

Psalm 37:4 teaches us that we can have pleasure and delight in the LORD. There are at least four verses in Psalm 119 that teach us that we can delight in the LORD’S word, commandments, statutes, and testimony. The wonderful harmony between delighting in the LORD and delighting in the word of the LORD is highlighted in Psalm 1. The blessed happy fruitful man who walks with the LORD is described, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

Jesus did promise his disciples that there would be tribulation for them in this world. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John16:33). I Timothy 6:17 teaches us to have enjoyment in our Christian life. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”

Delighting in the Lord is not restricted to the time when the Lord’s people are gathered for worship in his house. The gardener who is out at the sunrise filling his basket with peppers, tomatoes, okra, green beans, eggplants, cucumbers, and squash can delight in the goodness of the Lord. The carpenter laboring on his project can meditate on the Lord’s blessings. The family at home or enjoying a picnic together can rejoice in what the Lord has done in their home. Each Christian can delight in God’s wonderful promises. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

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The Gospel from Four Angles

I Corinthians 15:1-2
Aug 11, 2013

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain” (I Corinthians 15:1-2).

1. The Gospel Declared and Preached. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he was ready to preach the gospel to Greeks, Jews, barbarians, wise, and unwise because he knew that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth (Romans 1:14-16). The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who perish, “but unto us which are saved it is the power of God,” and “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:18-21). Paul had a heavy burden to preach the gospel. “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel” (I Corinthians 9:16).

2. The Gospel Received. Paul met with severe opposition when he first preached the gospel in the city of Corinth (Acts 18:6-7). He did not quit but went into the home of Justus. God blessed the preaching of the true gospel. Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, received the message. He and all his household believed on the Lord. Then others received the gospel message. “And many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). Just hearing the gospel message does not make one a child of God. Christ and his gospel must be received by faith. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

3. Standing in the Gospel. The words “wherein ye stand” teach us that the foundation of our faith is the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:4). Human philosophy, man-made religion, and ear-tickling messages are unstable quick sand that offer no assurance and support. Jesus Christ is the solid unshakable Rock, so when you are anchored to him, your anchor holds in the most severe storm and earthquake.

4. The Gospel by which also Ye are Saved. The “if” in I Corinthians 15:2 does not cast any doubt on the power of the gospel. In the statement “unless ye have believed in vain,” Paul wants them to examine the sincerity of their faith. As you continue your study in I Corinthians 15, you will learn that some in Corinth were teaching that there is no resurrection of the dead. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our faith is vain, our preaching is vain, and there is no hope for those who have died (verses 14-17). Your salvation by faith in Jesus Christ is a present day possession. Notice the words “ye are saved” (I Corinthians 15:2). The same truth is taught in John 3:36. “He that believeth on the Son hath [present tense] everlasting life; but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth [present tense] on him.”

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Prophecy From Malachi Fulfilled

Malachi 1:11, Acts 15:17
Aug 04, 2013

“For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 1:11). “That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things” (Acts 15:17).

The rising and setting of the sun speaks of the true worship of God covering the entire world (see Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:18-20). Incense pictures the prayers of God’s people, and the “pure offering” pictures the true worship of God in “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).

The LORD made a special covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. With that covenant as the foundation, the LORD gave the law to the entire nation of Israel at Sinai. Moses was the leader of the thirteen tribes and served as the mediator of law covenant (John 1:17). Under the law of Moses, the nation had special blessings and responsibilities.

The wicked rebellion and failure of Israel is clearly shown in the book of Malachi, but, in the midst of the corruption and darkness, God’s promise in Malachi 1:11 shines forth to show a bright future for the Lord’s witness in this world.

As the New Testament age began, there were a few faithful servants of the Lord. The message of Paul to the Romans shows how the majority of the Israelites rejected the message of God’s grace and true faith. “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).

During the earthly ministry of Jesus and in the early years of the New Testament church, the main attention was given to getting God’s message to the Jewish people. Beginning with Acts 10, we can see the prophecy given in Malachi coming to fulfillment. Another statement shows the same fulfilled prophecy. In Paul’s testimony before the council in Jerusalem, he spoke of the Lord’s command, “And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles” (Acts 22:21). Also in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).

This fulfills the main point of the parable given by Jesus. “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). The Lord’s first church was called out from the Jewish people, but God’s plan, as shown in Malachi, was to turn to the Gentiles.

Landmark Missionary Baptist Church is a Gentile church (the word “Gentile” describes any nation or people that is not Jewish). All our mission work is to Gentile people, and we fellowship with other Gentile churches. We are part of the prophecy given by Malachi.

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Can Jehovah God Become Weary?

Malachi 2:17
Jul 28, 2013

“Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” (Malachi 2:17).

The LORD does not become tired and weary because of physical work. He does grow weary of the foolish words and excuses that we find in the book of Malachi. The same foolish words and excuses are still used in this day. Notice in the text verse how Israel questioned the charges that the Lord brought against them. The Lord rebuked them for offering polluted bread and offering blind, lame, and sick animals for the sacrifices (Malachi 1:8). They gave God the scraps and kept the best for themselves. The very best of the flocks were to be offered because those sacrifices were a picture of God offering his Son, His very best, at Calvary.

Israel profaned God’s covenant (Malachi 2:10). They broke their sacred marriage vows. The “putting away,” which God hates, is a reference to divorce (Malachi 2:16). Israel robbed God by not gladly bringing their tithes and offering to the house of God. Yet, they had the arrogant gall to say, “Wherein have we robbed thee?” (Malachi 3:8-10). The questions that Israel threw back to the LORD indicate a despicable low level of spiritual understanding and devotion to the LORD.

The description of Jesus Christ, who was wearied with his journey through Samaria (John 4:6), can be understood by accepting the truth that Jesus came into this world as a man and experienced life in common with all mankind. “It behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Paul uses the word “weariness” in II Corinthians 11:27. “In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Paul had the outward physical trials (things that are without or outside), but a more serious burden of his inward man was the heavy heart (the care of the churches) that he experienced because of the weakness that he saw in so many Christians. Vine’s Bible Dictionary shows that the weariness of II Corinthians 11:27 is a laborious toil resulting in weariness.

One elderly pastor said in a Seminary class, “You will become tired and weary in the Lord’s work, but I pray that you will never become weary of the Lord’s work.”

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A Report on Camp: “Grow In Grace”

II Peter 3:17-18
Jul 21, 2013

Written by Bro. Jeffery Barron

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (II Peter 3:17-18).

Pastor Jim Brasseal asked me to prepare this week’s article, and it is my pleasure to report to you about God’s blessings this past week at camp.

There were 48 campers from six churches in Colorado and Wyoming who gathered at Camp Eden near Golden, Colorado. The setting was a beautiful example of our Creator’s handiwork with spectacular mountain landscapes, cool crisp air, clear blue skies each day, and twinkling bright stars each night.

Those from our church who attended camp this year included Pastor Jim (master of human foosball, etc.), Sister Sue (co-lead for sports and recreation), Brother Richard (first time camper), Sister Cherie (yes, she survived), Sister Jennifer (sleep is overrated), Kayleigh (never complained about going up the hill from the Lodge to the cabins), and Hannah (lifetime camper). We even had a very special visit from Sister Wanda on Wednesday afternoon, which only added to the blessings of the week. I believe the bond of fellowship with those who went from our church was greatly strengthened by our time at camp.

The theme for the week was “God’s Greatest Desire for His Churches” and was from Paul’s first letter (also Silvanus and Timotheus) to the church of the Thessalonians where it was written, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (I Thessalonians 1:3). Each of the three lessons was intended to focus on the three remaining spiritual gifts, that is, our work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope.

Activities at camp included classes (as mentioned above), sports and recreation (volleyball in the recreation center seemed to be this year’s favorite), crafts, cabin clean up, quiet time, snack time, music, and worship. Each of the activities contributed to learning more about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the overall camping experience.

I have been attending church camp for a very long time, and I first professed Jesus as my Savior at camp. While I do not know for sure about anyone being saved, I do know that those who where there, including myself, had a great opportunity to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Please pray for all of the campers from this past week that they continue on the path of faithful service to God.

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God Saw That His Creation was Very Good

Genesis 1:31
Jul 14, 2013

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

The truth of this statement is also declared in the book of Isaiah. “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18).

God does very good work. The creation as it came from his creative power was not all damaged and in confusion and disorder. The word “vain” in Isaiah 45:18 is the same Hebrew word that is translated “form” in Genesis 1:2. “Not in vain” has the opposite meaning as the “earth was without form.” The answer to this problem is in the fact that there was destructive action against God’s creation by Satan. The verb “was” in Genesis 1:2 is the same verb “became” in Genesis 2:7. When Lucifer, by his own free will, went against the perfect will of the LORD, he fell from heaven. Satan’s fall brought destruction and disorder. I believe that the rebellion and fall of Satan came after Genesis 1:1 and before Genesis 1:2. The earth became without form, without order, through the destructive work of Satan. Jesus said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18).

In creation and in the Lord’s work today, Satan works to destroy and to bring disorder and confusion. James described this devilish work. “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:14-16).

When you came to Christ by grace through faith, you became a new creation in Christ Jesus (II Corinthians 5:17). The Christian is described as “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” that is, for the purpose of good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

God’s work of grace in your heart and soul is a very good work. Satan cannot wreck that work, but Satan will work through your sinful nature, your flesh, to destroy your Christian testimony in this world (Romans 7:17-25).

God has designed and now works to build his kingdom in this world. Jesus said, “I will build my church...” (Matthew 16:18). That is a very good work. You can have a part in this work if you will surrender your life to our Lord Jesus Christ. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

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Egypt in History and Prophecy

Hebrews 11:27, Daniel 11:43
Jul 07, 2013

“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). “But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps” (Daniel 11:43).

The first Biblical reference to the nation of Egypt is Genesis 12:10. “And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.” Abraham had traveled from Ur of the Chaldees (the present day land of Iraq). For a while, he settled in Haran (near the border of Syria and Turkey). He then traveled south into the present day land of Israel and further south into Egypt because of the famine.

God’s plan for Joseph, when he was hated and sold as a slave by his own brothers, was to place Joseph in a position of power in Egypt to preserve the life of Jacob and all his family during another severe famine. A key verse in understanding all the trials of Joseph is Genesis 45:8. “So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”

Moses had the opportunity to gain great power and wealth in Egypt, but he chose to take his stand with the people of the one true LORD. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).

Mary and Joseph were instructed to take Jesus into Egypt because Herod intended to destroy Jesus. After the death of Herod, they brought Jesus back to Galilee (Matthew 1:13-22).

God used Egypt for His own purpose throughout all the Old Testament time, and Egypt is named in the books of Daniel and Zechariah in connection with the tribulation period and the one thousand year reign of Christ as King over all the nations of the earth.

In Daniel chapter 11, the destructive power of the antichrist is described. Please note the words of verses 42 and 43. “And the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he [the antichrist] shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt.” Egypt is named as one of the nations that God will punish if they do not honor the LORD during the millennial kingdom (Zechariah 14:16-19). Evidently Egypt survives the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-35). Consider this question: will Egypt survive because God’s people (even His only begotten Son) found refuge at different times in Egypt?

As we see all the turmoil in the nations surrounding Israel, let us recall the words of Jesus, “Surely I come quickly” (Revelation 22:20). It burdens our hearts to join in the prayer of John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

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Bondage or Freedom

John 8:32-36
Jun 30, 2013

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:32-36).

It puzzles us that these Jewish people would make the statement that they were never in bondage to any man. Had they forgotten the bondage under the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans? They should have remembered Joseph, Daniel, and Nehemiah who served as slaves under foreign masters.

We have to admit that there is widespread bondage in our own land when we apply the words of Jesus in John 8:34 to the spiritual condition of so many who have not come in saving faith to Jesus Christ. Paul taught the same lesson in his inspired letter to the Romans. “ Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).

In the use of the word “Redemption,” there is the teaching that, through the blood of our Savior, we are bought out of the slave market of sin. Vine’s Bible Dictionary explains the meaning of the word. “Strengthen form of the word 'agorazo,' to buy denotes to buy out, especially of purchasing a slave with a view to his freedom.”

If you are not redeemed, you are in bondage and condemnation because you have “not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). What a blessing to know Jesus Christ, The Truth, and have freedom from condemnation in him. There is also the promise of eternal security in the words of Jesus, “The Son abideth ever” (John 8:35).

We sing, “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” We celebrate Independence Day (often called the Fourth of July). We remember those who sacrificed to establish our nation as a free and independent nation under our constitution. Along with the celebrations, we need to pray that the LORD God will deliver our nation from the enemies (both inside and outside) who seek to weaken our nation and move it so far from Christian principles.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” (I Timothy 2:1-3).

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“Occupy Till I Come”

Luke 19:13, Isaiah 59:1
Jun 23, 2013

“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13).

The text of this lesson is part of a parable that Jesus gave about the responsibility of the servants of the master to use what they have been given to produce an increase in assets for the master. Some servants were very productive. One increased ten-fold, another increased five-fold, but one gained nothing for his master. The non-productive servant expressed fear of failure. Rewards were given to the servants who were faithful in their stewardship.

The word “occupy” used in verse 13 is used with a prefix dia in verse 15, where it is translated as “trading.” The teaching is that the increase was accomplished by working and doing business and not by fearfully hiding the pound. A similar parable in Matthew 25 uses the word “talent,” a measure of money to mean the same as the “pound.”

The lesson for our church is this. We have a message, blessings, and assets, which the Lord has delivered to us. No world conditions, no cultural changes, no hardships, no weariness, and no persecutions should cause us to lose sight of the Lord’s command to “Occupy [do my business] till I come.”

At our messenger meeting in Dallas, Texas, Brother Dennis Carrell and his wife, Charlotte, were doing a wonderful work in their display booth for Mongolian missions. They have worked in that country for almost fourteen years and were able to talk to many pastors about God’s blessings in their work (hundreds of people have been saved and baptized, four new churches have been established, a Bible School has been established, the New Testament has been translated into the Mongolian language, and three Mongolian pastors have been ordained and are serving three of the churches). Brother Carrell serves as pastor in one of the churches.

A group of five pastors, whom I have known and with whom I have worked since 1960, were near the Mongolian booth and were discussing the many blessings that we experienced in church growth, mission work, revivals, and seminary classes in those “Good Old Days.” Some expressed discouragement in this present day.

One brother spoke up, “We cannot go back to those days, but we still have the opportunity for exciting productive work in God’s kingdom. We can still be busy and useful in this sinful corrupt age.”

Remember, “The LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1).

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My Heavenly Father’s Hands

John 10:28-29, Isaiah 45:11-12
Jun 16, 2013

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). “Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. I have made the earth, and created man upon it; I, even my hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded” (Isaiah 45:11-12).

One of my favorite country songs, “Daddy’s Hands,” was written and recorded by Holly Dunn in 1986. My two daughters had memorized the song, and, if it came on the radio while we were traveling, they always sung along. The video can be heard online by doing a search of the song title. The song writer gave honor to her daddy for the love, comfort, protection, hard work, and discipline that she received from him.

I. My Heavenly Father Has Powerful Hands.

In Isaiah 45:11-12, we learn that the LORD is the Creator. By his hands, he stretched out the heavens, he made the earth, and placed man on the earth. Isaiah 45:18 describes the LORD’S creative power. “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.”

II. My Heavenly Father Has Protective Hands.

Jesus made a wonderful promise in John 10:28-29. When we receive eternal life through Jesus Christ, we are then held securely in the hands of our Savior and our Heavenly Father. No evil power can remove us from his protective care. Romans 8:38-39 supports the eternal guarantee issued by Jesus. “FFor I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). You cannot name or even conceive of any thing that can take you from the love of God and the protection of his hands.

III. My Heavenly Father Has Providing Hands.

“Therefore take no thought [anxious worry], saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31-33). Our heavenly Father provides our material needs, and he provides generously in such a way that he brings enjoyment to our lives. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17).

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Redemption

Galatians 3:13, Leviticus 25:48
Jun 09, 2013

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). “After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him” (Leviticus 25:48).

In the article for 06/02/2013, we discussed the price that Jesus paid to redeem us. According to I Peter 1:18-19, that price was the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Because of that payment, we do not belong to ourselves. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's” (I Corinthians 6:20).

This week's article will discuss “From what did Christ redeem us?” Unger’s Bible Dictionary answers the question with this statement: “Redemption implies antecedent bondage. Thus, the word refers primarily to man’s subjection to the dominion and curse of sin.”

The verses in Leviticus 25 show us that a kinsman could pay the price to deliver the bond-slave from bondage. Sin has brought us into bondage. Jesus taught that He was able to free us from that bondage. “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36). Keep in mind what Jesus said about committing sin, which brings us into bondage, and you will better understand why redemption and forgiveness of sins are linked in Ephesians 1:7.

Christ has not only redeemed us from the bondage of sin, He has redeemed us from the “curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13). The word “curse” in this verse refers to a sentence of condemnation or doom, which God has placed on those who break His law. We were cursed and condemned, but Christ took our place under the curse of God. The “tree” of Galatians 3:13 is the cross of Calvary. Now by faith in Christ, we are no longer condemned. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Christ has also delivered (redeemed) us from the power of darkness. The word “power” refers to the authority of darkness. The darkness is the wickedness, unrighteousness, and rebellion to God’s will. Those chains of bondage, which we had no power to break, have been broken by the power of God.

I have searched through the scriptures for many years but have never found any verse that indicates that Jesus paid any price to Satan. We were not redeemed from Satan, but we were redeemed from the bondage of sin, from the curse of the law, from condemnation, and from the power of darkness.

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How Does God Handle A Disobedient Child?

Hebrews 12:7-8
Jun 02, 2013

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Hebrews 12:7-8).

The subject of this article was prompted by a question from a good friend. His inquiry began with the fact that all our sins were placed on Jesus Christ and he bore the full penalty. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24). “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Forgiveness for sin is made possible through the blood of Jesus. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Human reasoning goes in this direction: “Christ suffered for our sins. If we suffer for our disobedience (sins), then does that mean that we pay a penalty in addition to what Jesus has already paid, that is, a double payment?” Pastor Brasseal’s answer to this reasoning is that any human suffering does not pay the penalty for sin. The payment for sin required a sinless sacrifice. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:18-19).

God does chastise his children. In the discussion of the Lord’s Supper in I Corinthians 11:29-32, we are told to judge ourselves, which will result in repentance and deliverance from God’s judgment. When we are judged of the Lord, we receive chastisement. Vine’s Dictionary shows that chastisement involves: (1) Education, Discipline, Training, (2) the infliction of calamities, and (3) To Scourge as in Hebrews 12:6.

Hebrews 12:9 speaks of our earthly fathers who corrected us. Chastening is described as grievous (painful and hard to bear) in Hebrews 12:11. The purpose of God’s chastening of his own children is stated in Hebrews 12:10. He chastens “for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.” God’s chastening or punishment was never designed to be a sacrifice for sin.

The most grievous chastisement, the most painful trials, and the most severe hardships or persecution cannot pay for one sin. So, please put away from your mind any thought that you can pay for your sin. There is no double payment, only the one payment made by Jesus on the cross. That payment should motivate us to walk in obedience to God’s will.

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A Fitting Memorial

Joshua 4:6-7
May 26, 2013

“That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever” (Joshua 4:6-7).

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary gives this definition for the word “Memorial”: “something that keeps remembrance alive: as (a) monument, (b) something (as a speech or ceremony) that commemorates, (c) keepsake, memento.”

The twelve stones placed in the riverbed of the Jordan (Joshua 4:9) and the twelve stones Joshua pitched in Gilgal (Joshua 4:20) served as a reminder of God’s goodness and power in leading the nation. The generations who did not personally experience those amazing events were taught history using the monument of stones.

If you visit the Civil War battlefields at Vicksburg, MS and at Shiloh, TN, you will be reminded of the terrible sacrifice of the soldiers on both sides of that war. In 1976, my family and I visited Valley Forge, where George Washington and his weary, poorly furnished soldiers suffered through a bitter winter. The rough small cabins are a reminder of the sacrifice required for our nation’s victory in The War for Independence.

No war monument has ever moved me like the Vietnam War Wall in Washington D.C. Families searching for, finding, and then, in tears, running their fingers over the names of loved ones carved into that black granite wall moved most visitors to tears also.

Our LORD God knows that we are prone to forget his word and his blessings. There are four verses in Psalm 119 about not forgetting his law, precepts, and commandments. The LORD established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel (Psalm 78:5). The purpose is shown in Psalm 78:7, “That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”

Psalm 103 can be used for Thanksgiving Day or Memorial Day. Look at the first four verses. “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”

Our memory might even grow weak in consideration of the suffering and redeeming blood that our Savior offered at Calvary. The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus Christ for his churches, so that there would be a visible continuing material memorial to his death. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come” (I Corinthians 11:26).

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Building on the Sure Foundation

Matthew 7:24-25
May 19, 2013

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).

Jesus taught the basic principles of the faithful Christian life in this wonderful sermon, which covers Matthew 5, 6, and 7. Our text verses are at the conclusion of his message. The people who listened to Jesus were astonished at his doctrine. “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29).

I. Build Your Life On Jesus Christ, The Solid Rock. This is the title that I would choose for our Lord’s message. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the solid rock foundation for your personal salvation. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Jesus Christ is the only sure foundation for the New Testament church. Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). I Corinthians 3:11 also shows us this truth. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Jesus emphasized that in building on the true foundation, we need to hear his word and do what he commands (Matthew 7:24).

II. Living Stones Are Needed To Build God’s House (I Peter 2:5). Individual church members are described as living stones, joined together, to build God’s house and temple. The house of God is described in I Timothy 3:15 as the “church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” “In whom [Jesus Christ] all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22).

An Old Testament example will help us to understand “an habitation of God through the Spirit.” God’s Holy Spirit has always indwelled and worked in the life of every child of God, but God did choose his temple in Jerusalem to be a special place of his presence. “For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (II Chronicles 7:16). God’s eyes looked over the whole world, but he gave special attention to his sanctified temple. Even so, God’s Holy Spirit works to bring conviction and salvation to all mankind, but God has chosen each New Testament church to be a special habitation through the Spirit. The words of Jesus in Acts 1:8 are a promise that the Holy Spirit would come to work in the Lord’s church in a special way. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

III. Building God’s Kingdom Continues. You can have a part in this construction project. Become an active part of a New Testament church. Be faithful to build with gold, silver, and precious stones; not with wood, hay, and stubble (I Corinthians 3:11-16).

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God Provides for an Obedient Mother

I Kings 17:12
May 12, 2013

“And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die” (I Kings 17:12).

Conditions had become very desperate in Israel in the days of Ahab, the king, and his wife, Jezebel. “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him” (I Kings 16:33). Ahab raised up an altar for the pagan god, Baal (I Kings 16:32).

Elijah, God’s true prophet, was in hiding by the brook Cherith. “And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land” (I Kings 17:6-7).

God instructed Elijah to leave the brook, go to Zarephath, and dwell there. “Behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee” (I Kings 17:9). From the standpoint of human wisdom, Elijah could have questioned why God did not keep the water flowing in the brook and the ravens flying on their regular grocery deliveries. God had another plan that would also bless the widow and her son.

This poor woman was in a destitute situation when Elijah came to her and made this request. “Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand” (I Kings 17:10-11). She is facing death by starvation for herself and her son, and now this man is asking for the only remaining food in her home.

Elijah must have seen the worry and fear that she was experiencing, so he said, “Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth” (I Kings 17:13-14).

The words of Elijah were from the LORD. She trusted God’s message and messenger and acted in obedience. Her actions show the truth of James 2:18, “I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

God blessed her obedient faith and provided the needs of this woman, her son, and her house. Read the remainder of I Kings 17 to learn of another great blessing that God provided for this widow.

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A Letter Written in the Heart

II Corinthians 3:2
May 05, 2013

“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (II Corinthians 3:2).

In his inspired letters written to the churches, Paul was very careful not to exalt himself. He describes himself as an earthen vessel, a servant, which God used to carry the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:5-7). Paul’s desire was that those who heard the message would not build their faith on his wisdom and excellent speech. “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:4-5).

Paul was reluctant to speak in his own defense, but the attacks against him by his enemies forced him to defend himself. Accusations against Paul are shown in II Corinthians 10:10. “For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” Paul responded to his critics, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (II Corinthians 10:12).

Paul is raising some serious questions in his two letters to the Corinthian church. “Don’t you people in Corinth know who I am? Don’t you remember the message of Christ that I preached to you? Don’t you remember how you turned from your wicked ways and now 'ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God' (I Corinthians 6:11)?” “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (II Corinthians 12:15).

Paul is explaining to the Corinthian church, “I do not need a letter of recommendation, written on paper with ink. You, your standing in Christ, your blessings in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and your testimony are a precious letter for me. Ye are, 'the epistle [letter] of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart' (II Corinthians 3:3).”

The lesson for us is this: most people do not give serious study to the Bible, but your Christian life can be a living testimony, a living letter for them to see.

One man started coming to church services, and, after just a few weeks, he professed his faith in Jesus Christ and asked for membership. The pastor asked him, “Was there some particular passage that you heard that touched your heart?” “Not that I recall,” answered the man. “My neighbor has lived such a testimony of Christian love that God used his life to open my eyes to see the need of the Savior.”

You can be a living letter for Jesus Christ in this world.

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The Prudent Who Prepare

Proverbs 22:3
Apr 28, 2013

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).

The book of Proverbs is often called the “Book of Wisdom” because of the many references to becoming wise by seeking the way of the Lord. For example, “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler [shield] to them that walk uprightly” (Proverbs 2:6-7). The word “evil” in the text refers to a disaster with the same meaning as the word “evil” in Joshua 23:15.

Prudence is defined as “skill and good judgment in the use of resources, caution or circumspection as to danger or risk, and the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason.”

The prudent man of Proverbs 22:3 is able to consider the dangers that are ahead and make wise plans for the future. He can learn a good lesson from the tiny ant who also prepares for the future. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). The farmer has to plan ahead so that he is prepared when the soil is warm enough to sow the seed.

Those who need to be saved should face the scriptural truth.

  1. Their life as it is now will come to an end.
  2. They will face God in judgment.
  3. Without faith in Jesus Christ, they will be condemned.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).

Please do not be like Felix who trembled when Paul witnessed to him of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. Felix procrastinated and said, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:25).

God’s people also should exercise prudence and be prepared at all times for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13).

Remember the message that John heard and his response to the good news. “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

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For What the Law Could Not Do

Romans 8:2-3
Apr 21, 2013

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:2-3)

Our own human experience has taught us that God’s laws and man’s laws do not produce obedience and righteousness. The State of Colorado passes a law against robbery, which cannot stop the robber, because the robber’s heart and his greed are not affected by State law. The nation passes a law forbidding felons from purchasing firearms, but that does not stop criminals from getting firearms.

The law of sin and death has been in operation from the time that God gave the first command to Adam. Adam willfully disobeyed God’s law and brought death to the entire human race. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Mankind was utterly hopeless and helpless to remove the condemnation or guilt of sin. The sinful weakness of the human flesh nature prevented mankind from achieving righteousness through obedience to the law.

There was a wonderful plan of God’s grace and mercy that could overrule the “law of sin and death.” “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” required that Jesus would come into this world in the likeness of sinful flesh (John 1:14), that the Father would give his only begotten son (John 3:16), and that Jesus would go willingly to the cross of Calvary and become the sacrifice for us.

When you receive Christ by faith, you are no longer under condemnation. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). You are then under the greater law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. We could call this the law of the new birth. By being born again by the Spirit of God, you are born into God’s family. You are then forever free from that death, which would separate you from God’s grace and protection. God’s salvation is wonderful!

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Illustrating A Change in God’s Positive Law

Hebrews 7:12
Apr 14, 2013

“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law” (Hebrews 7:12).

We have discussed in two previous articles the Moral Law of God (03/24/2013) and the Positive Law of God (04/07/2013). The Moral Law is unchangeable, but the Positive Law may change by the authority of God, the Lawgiver. The law in Hebrews 7:12 is the Old Testament law given to Israel through Moses. This law is often called “The Law of Moses.” In God’s law to Israel, the priesthood was to be from the tribe of Levi, the family of Aaron (Exodus 28 and Leviticus 8).

Jesus Christ was of the tribe of Judah, yet he is shown to be our High Priest, which in no way violates God’s Positive Law because the Lawgiver can make changes according to his own will. No one else could change God’s law for the priesthood.

Consider the command (The Positive Law) that God gave to Noah. “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch” (Genesis 6:14). Noah did not have the liberty to change the specification of gopher wood to the fir trees of Lebanon. Remember: “The obligation to obey a positive law arises solely from the authority of the lawgiver” (The Religious Denominations in the United States, Their History, Doctrine, Government, and Statistics).

In the personal ministry of Jesus Christ and in the age of the Apostles, the Lord used miracles, signs, and wonders in his work. I Corinthians 13 shows us that those spiritual gifts have come to an end and we now have “faith, hope, and love” as the vital gifts in the Lord’s work. In changing from the old covenant to the new covenant, our Lord did not change one element of his character.

We must be careful not to misuse Malachi 3:6, “I am the LORD, I change not,” or Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” The character, the attributes, the love, and purpose of Christ will never change. God can change his methods of dealing with man. For example, the law of Moses was the guide for the nation of Israel, but that law has been fulfilled and nailed to the cross (II Corinthians 3:6-11 and Colossians 3:14-17). According to the book of Hebrews, we have been greatly blessed by the change to the new better covenant in which God uses his churches to witness for him in all the world.

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God’s Positive Law

John 14:15, I John 5:3
Apr 07, 2013

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).

The bulletin article of 03/24/2013 discussed God’s Moral Law, which is based on these two great commands: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39). God’s abiding spiritual gifts are faith, hope, and love, and “the greatest of these is charity [or love]” (I Corinthians 13:13). The principal of love will be with God and his redeemed people for the endless ages of eternity.

The discussion on God’s positive law is adapted from the very informative section on The Associated Baptists, from the book, The Religious Denominations in the United States, Their History, Doctrine, Government, and Statistics, published in 1857 in Philadelphia. “The nature of a positive law differs essentially from that of a moral law.” “The obligation to obey a positive law arises solely from the authority of the lawgiver.” “None but the lawgiver himself has the right to alter a positive institution.” “Moral Law is enacted because it is right. But Positive Law is right because it is enacted.”

Please consider the Positive Law of the commission of Christ given to his church disciples in Matthew 28:18-20. The Moral Law of love dates back to the very beginning of God’s creation, but the commission of Christ had its beginning during the earthly ministry of Christ and will cease at the end of the age. Since the authority of the lawgiver is of great importance in Positive Law, Jesus sets forth his authority in Matthew 28:18 before he gives the specifications of his commission. One specification is that his church is to teach his message to all nations. We violate his Positive Law given in Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8 if we neglect even one nation.

By the example of his earthly ministry, the example of his apostles in the book of Acts, and the precise language of Matthew 28:19, we are commanded by his Positive Law to only baptize converted people. Remember the words of Philip when the Ethiopian requested baptism. “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest” (Acts 8:37).

When Jesus used the words, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), he used the precise word for “baptizing” that means “to immerse.” Immersion is in harmony with the words “buried” and “planted” as used in Romans 6:4-5.

Our respect for Christ and his authority in his commission will not allow us to change one specification of his Positive Law. We can carefully study the book of Acts and the letters written to the early churches and learn how they understood the commands of our Savior. With the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us, we can understand and obey the New Testament law of Jesus Christ.

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“Touch Me Not”

John 20:17
Mar 31, 2013

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17).

On the first day of the week after the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb before any other person. When she saw that the stone was removed, she ran to tell Peter and John. They quickly examined the empty tomb, then left, leaving Mary Magdalene outside the burial cave (John 20:1-11). We must harmonize the statement in John 20:17 with the words of Matthew 28:9, which show Mary Magdalene and another Mary holding Jesus by the feet and worshiping him.

Jesus would not allow Mary Magdalene to touch him and said, “I am not yet ascended to my Father.” There is no such prohibition when the two women held the feet of Jesus. Later the command to Thomas was given. “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side.” We can conclude that there is the passage of time between John 20:17 and Matthew 28:9 in which Jesus ascended to the Father.

The words of Hebrews 9:11-12 will help us to see the significance of the words of Jesus. “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:11-12).

In his glorified resurrection body, our High Priest “entered in once into the holy place” (Hebrews 9:12) to “appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).

Christ, our high priest, and the heavenly tabernacle were pictured by the priest of the tribe of Levi and the earthly tabernacle. God gave strict laws concerning their cleanliness and consecration. The priest could not touch a dead body and then enter into the holy place. Procedures had to be followed for the priest to be purified (Leviticus 22:1-9 and Numbers 19:11-19).

Mary Magdalene was a sinner saved by grace, but she was still a sinner contaminated by sin and death. The perfect picture of his work as High Priest fulfilling the Old Testament type would have been ruined if Mary had touched him before “entered in once into the holy place” to “appear in the presence of God for us.” Jesus Christ was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification (Romans 4:25). Praise the LORD!

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Respect For God’s Law

I Samuel 8:7
Mar 24, 2013

“And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (I Samuel 8:7).

God’s direct will was that Israel be different from all the other nations. Their laws, their worship, their ordinances, and their governmental structure would set them apart from the idolatrous nations and make them a lighthouse for the one true LORD JEHOVAH in the midst of all the paganism. In opposition to God’s will, Israel desired a king so that they would be like other nations. By his permissive will, God instructed Samuel to follow the will of the people and anoint a king. They were rejecting the direct will of God and thus they were rejecting God.

One of the best articles that I have ever read on the subject of God’s law is in an old book, The Religious Denominations in the United States, Their History, Doctrine, Government, and Statistics, published in 1857 in Philadelphia. The section on the Associated Baptists is excellent and, in a very important manner, that section begins with a discussion of God’s moral law and God’s positive law. Apart from God’s law as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, we have no foundation for our faith and practice. Please consider these quotes from that book.

“The will or law of God is expressed in both moral and positive precepts and prohibitions. Moral law is the eternal and unchangeable rule of right. It is intrinsically 'holy, just, and good,' and is adapted to all the relations of moral beings. When applied to man as related to God, its grand precept is, 'Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.' Applied to man as related to his fellow men, it says, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' Upon these two constitutional requirements, 'hang all the law and prophets' (Matthew 22:40). Moral law commends itself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God (II Corinthians 4:2). 'Yea and why, even of yourselves judge ye what is right?' said the Savior to the Jews (Luke 12:57).”

“Children are under a moral obligation to 'Obey your parents in the Lord for this is right' (Ephesians 6:1). By this law we are to, 'Prove all things; hold fast that which is good' (I Thessalonians 5:21). We are under a moral obligation 'to present our bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service' (Romans 12:1). The obligation to glorify God, therefore, rests upon all created intelligence because it is right in itself.”

To disobey God’s moral law is a rejection of God’s very own moral character and holy will.

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Wisdom or Foolishness

I Corinthians 4:10
Mar 17, 2013

“We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised” (I Corinthians 4:10).

In the first and fourth chapters of I Corinthians, we see a contrast between the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God. “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (I Corinthians 1:23-24). God’s word shows that Christ Jesus is our “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Corinthians 1:30).

God does identify some fools in the Bible. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). “He that uttereth a slander, is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18). “Fools make a mock at sin” (Proverbs 14:9). Jesus described a very foolish man who laid up treasures for himself but was not rich towards God. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee” (Luke 12:20).

Knowing Christ, loving Christ, and serving Christ is not foolishness. In the fourth chapter of I Corinthians, we see the severe hardships that Paul faced. “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (verses 11-13). “Offscouring” is a very descriptive word. When floors were scrubbed, swept. and mopped, the filth that was removed (scrubbed off) is called the “offscouring.”

Paul was not a fool. His devotion to Jesus Christ brought hatred and opposition from worldly people. In the eyes of his enemies, he was a fool for Christ’s sake. He was as filth, even as the dirt scrubbed from the floor.

You can detect some sarcasm in Paul’s inspired letter to the Corinthian church. He knew of the divisions (1:11-13), the spiritual immaturity (3:1-2), the immorality, and the puffed up attitude of that congregation (5:1-2). In Paul’s rebuke of this church, he uses this language: “Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings” and “ye are wise..., ye are strong; ye are honourable” (4:8-10). Really?

Do not expect one of God’s dedicated faithful servants to have the honor and praise of this world. The world still thinks that the faithful servant of Christ is a fool. Do not expect that any of the major broadcasting networks will give days of coverage to the sacrificial labor of one missionary serving God by teaching true Bible doctrine.

That servant will hear God’s commendation. “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23).

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“In All Thy Ways Acknowledge Him”

Proverbs 3:5-6
Mar 10, 2013

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

This third chapter of Proverbs is filled with down-to-earth instructions for the fruitful Christian life. Some of the commandments are negative:

  1. Do not forget God’s law (verse 1),
  2. Lean not to your own understanding (verse 5),
  3. Do not be wise in your own eyes (verse 7),
  4. Do not despise God’s chastening (verse 11),
  5. Be not afraid (verse 25),
  6. do not deceive your neighbor (verse 28),
  7. Do not plan evil against your neighbor (verse 29), and
  8. Envy not the oppressor and choose none of his ways (verse 31).

Good positive commands are given with promises from the LORD.

  1. Keep God’s commandments and you will be blessed with long life and peace (verse 2),
  2. Write God’s word on the table of your heart and you will have favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man (verse 3), and
  3. Trust in the LORD, acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.

New Testament passages show us parallel instructions and promises. See Ephesians chapters four and five.

The word “acknowledge” in Proverbs 3:6 has the same meaning as the same word that is used in II Timothy 2:25. “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” The word is also used in Titus 1:1. “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.”

The Greek word in II Timothy 2:25, Titus 1:1, and II Corinthians 1:13-14 is a compound word, one part meaning “to know” and the second part, a prefix, which means “intensive” or “thorough.”

In the true sense of the word, we do not “acknowledge God” in a lukewarm, half-hearted way. With your whole heart and in all your ways (Proverbs 3:5-6), you make him known, you confess him, and you express your gratitude for him and to him. The “acknowledging of the truth” is done with sincerity and enthusiasm.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).

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Promises Made in Psalm 119

Psalm 119:16
Mar 03, 2013

“I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word” (Psalm 119:16).

Psalm 119 is an unusual section of the inspired word of God. This Psalm has twenty-two sub-sections, each one having eight verses. The sub-sections are arranged in the order of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each one of the verses of the first section begins with the letter “aleph,” the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. All 126 verses refer to God’s law, God’s commandments, God’s precepts, God’s word, God’s judgments, etc. There are promises from the LORD in this Psalm, but this article will focus on the promises made by the servant of the LORD, who was used of the LORD to write these verses.

Promises made to God are very serious as we learn from Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”

Following are a few of the promises make by the Lord’s servant in Psalm 119.

  1. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly (verse 8).
  2. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways (verse 15).
  3. I will delight myself in thy statutes, I will not forget thy word (verse 16)
  4. I will talk of thy wondrous works (verse 27).
  5. I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart (verse 32).
  6. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law, I shall observe it with my whole heart (verse 34).
  7. And I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts (verse 45).
  8. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and I will not be ashamed (verse 46).
  9. And I will delight myself in thy commandments which I have loved (verse 47).
  10. At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments (verse 62).

You can see the same commitment to the holy scriptures in the New Testament. “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15).

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When the Compass Does Not Work

Romans 2:14-15
Feb 24, 2013

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Romans 2:14-15).

The last part of Romans chapter one shows how far in unrighteousness and corruption that mankind will go in rebellion to God’s will. One sad aspect of man’s sin is that sinful mankind has pleasure in those who sin against God (Romans 1:32). The judgment of God is certain and is “according to truth against them which commit such things” (Romans 2:2). An amazing statement of God’s grace is found in Romans 2:4. “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”

Magnet Cove, Arkansas was a puzzle to the early pioneers. Their compasses would not work but went around in circles. Geologists discovered that the area had an abundance of minerals including magnetite, which affected the compass needles. The pioneers had difficulty traveling in the right direction. Sinful man is having difficulty with his inner spiritual compass. Both Jews and Gentiles have an inborn understanding of right and wrong, that is, “the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness” (Romans 2:15).

The law of Moses, given by God to the nation of Israel, could not bring salvation and forgiveness. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). The law was a help in man’s understanding of sin and God’s forgiveness of sin “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).

Mankind’s mind, conscience and inner heart understanding of God’s standard of righteousness can be defiled (Titus 1:15). The compass that should point in the direction of righteousness is being thrown off course.

Satan blinds the mind of those who do not believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:4). The hypocrisy and false teaching of this world’s culture and standards can cause the conscience to be hardened. Consider how many movies and television programs use language and promote a lifestyle of unrighteousness. Even government laws in some instances push an ungodly lifestyle. “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Timothy 4:2).

We cannot change the course of this whole wicked world, but we can show good Biblical direction by our testimony and lifestyle as individuals and as a church body. Those in our field of influence can see the right direction if we demonstrate a scriptural moral compass.

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The Golden Rule

Luke 6:31-33
Feb 17, 2013

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same” (Luke 6:31-33).

As part of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:12 , Jesus teaches the same lesson with one additional statement: “for this is the law and the prophets.” By this statement, Jesus shows us that the principal of the Golden Rule is found in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The law of Moses tells us, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:18). In Matthew 5, Jesus Christ placed greater responsibility on New Testament Christians than was required under the Old Testament law.

There is a very important truth about human nature that we can learn from the Golden Rule. It is natural that each person be concerned about their own interest and their own well-being. Our culture, government, and economic system is built on this principal. We become involved, work, and contribute to have a government system that will benefit us personally. The business owner will put in long hours, plan, and labor to build his business to support himself and his family. Remember how long and hard Jacob worked to have his desires fulfilled. “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (Genesis 29:20).

Jesus, our Savior, did not condemn our self-interest. He expanded our responsibility to concern beyond our individual personal need. How do you want to be treated by others? Do you want others to be honest with you? Then do the same with them (Romans 12:17). Do you want your possessions to be secure from thieves? Then do not steal from others (Ephesians 4:28). Do you want help and encouragement from others? Then help and lift up others (Romans 15:2).

If you ignore the teaching of the Lord, then your self-interest will make you self-centered and greedy. You will not care about the needs of others. This could extend to your spiritual condition as a child of God. Your attitude could be: “I am saved. I have a home in heaven. Why should I be concerned about all the wicked sinners in this world?”

Paul lived the Golden Rule as a Christian. “By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (II Corinthians 6:7). “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged” (II Corinthians 6:11). “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (II Corinthians 12:15).

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Treasures in Heaven

Matthew 6:20-21
Feb 10, 2013

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).

A few years after the close of World War II, one of my uncles bought a war surplus metal detector. My dad, two of his brothers, my grandfather, and four of his grandchildren made a treasure-hunting trip back to Honey Island, Mississippi along the Pearl River where my grandfather was born and had grown up. He had heard stories all his life about pirate treasure buried in the woods. We found broken rusty farm tools and parts of old junked cars, but not one item of value. We did have a good picnic and the fun of exploring and fishing.

My grandfather was converted to the Lord at age ninety, professed his faith in Christ, was baptized, and became a member of the Baptist church in Bridge City, Texas. His precious treasure of everlasting life was worth more than all the plunder of the Gulf of Mexico pirates.

That area suffered severe damage during Hurricane Katrina. Last December when I flew into New Orleans, I drove through some of the Honey Island area on my way to visit with my brothers and sisters near Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Rebuilding is still being done.

Material possessions are always in danger. Fine clothing can be destroyed by moths. Good tools can rust away, and precious gold and jewels can be stolen by thieves. Houses can be destroyed. Investments in the stock market or certificates of deposit can lose value.

There is one sure way to have treasures that will last for eternity. The words “lay up” in verse 20 are translated by George R. Berry as “treasure up.” What we use of our material possessions for the advancement of the Lord’s kingdom work are an investment that will reap fruit for all eternity. That is the only way that you can send your possessions on ahead as a treasure in heaven.

Keeping the lighthouse of a New Testament church shining forth with the gospel message will treasure up treasures in heaven. When I read the good reports that come from the work that we support in Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, and Mongolia, I am blessed for the present time, and I know that precious souls are being saved to enjoy an everlasting home in heaven. I look forward to fellowship with them in our heavenly home.

In the Lord’s work, we are making an investment that cannot be destroyed by moth, rust, or thieves.

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Conflicts Between Israel and Syria

II Kings 6:8
Feb 03, 2013

“Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp” (II Kings 6:8).

During this past week, a very serious and dangerous event happened in the southwestern corner of Syria close to the border with Lebanon and Israel, not too far north of the Sea of Galilee. Israeli fighter jets crossed over the Syrian border and destroyed trucks loaded with rockets that were being taken into Lebanon. Information gathered by Israeli intelligence showed that the rockets were to be used by terrorist forces to attack Israel. Syria and Iran have threatened war over this action.

This event is a reminder that conflict and warfare began between Israel and Syria thousands of years ago. We read about one of the battles in II Kings 6. The army of Syria besieged the city of Samaria and brought severe starvation to the Israeli citizens.

In II Kings 7, we read the message of victory that Elisha, the true prophet of the LORD, delivered to the starving people. When we see how the LORD worked to deliver his people, we have a beautiful illustration of how the poor lost sinner can be delivered from eternal condemnation. The message of salvation in Jesus Christ is better than food for the starving people.

Four leprous men faced the danger of starvation or they faced the danger of being killed by the Syrians. They decided to grasp the slim chance of surviving by surrendering to the Syrians. Before the leprous men arrived at the Syrian camp, the LORD had sent the sound of a mighty approaching army. The frightened Syrians fled, leaving their abundant food supplies. Outside the walls of Samaria, there was plenty of food for all the starving people, but they did not understand how their desperate need had been met. The four leprous men, who had discovered the supplies, said one to another, “Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household” (II Kings 7:9).

II Kings 7:12 shows that the king in Samaria thought that the good news was a trick that would be used to capture the city. Please consider the lesson from II Kings 6 and 7. Are you in bondage to sin and Satan (Romans 6:20)? Are you suspicious of the motives of those who bring the gospel message to you? Do you think that the message of God’s grace sounds too good to be true? Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life for your starving soul (John 6:47-50). Jesus Christ is the Water of Life for your thirsty soul (John 4:13-14).

The four leprous men who discovered the supplies give us a good lesson. We do not need to keep the good tidings, the gospel of Jesus Christ, to ourselves. We need to follow every good example that we find in the word of God and to sound out the message. “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord...” (I Thessalonians 1:8).

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The Seed and the Sower

Matthew 13:23
Jan 27, 2013

“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23).

In this parable taught by Jesus to his disciples, the good seed is the word of God. It would be very good if we could help distribute a good Bible translation in all the languages of this world to all nations. It would be much better if that precious seed could be delivered personally by one who has received Christ, who loves his inspired word, and is living a Christian life in harmony with the word.

Consider the question asked by Philip in his witness to the Ethiopian. “Understandest thou what thou readest?” (Acts 8:30). The Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53, a plain section that describes the suffering and sacrifice of the Messiah. Another question followed Philip’s question. “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:31). With the seed and the sower having influence in this man’s heart, he came to faith in Christ and followed the Lord in baptism.

The first chapter of I Thessalonians shows how the church of the Thessalonians was a lighthouse of witness. “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (I Thessalonians 1:8).

In chapter 1, we see that these good spiritual qualities abounded.

  1. Their work of faith, their labor of love, and patience of hope (verse 3). These are the abiding spiritual gifts described in I Corinthians 13.
  2. Their receiving of the gospel was in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance (verse 5).
  3. They received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost (verse 6).
  4. They became examples to other believers (verse 7).
  5. They waited for Christ to return from heaven but were busy while they waited (verse 10).

The church of the Thessalonians gives us a far better example than the church of the Laodiceans, who placed material prosperity above spiritual well-being. The church of the Thessalonians was commended while the Laodiceans were severely rebuked with these words, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16), and “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19).

May our Lord help us to understand the value of His word and the value of a faithful witness who sows the word.

P. S.: The very best commentary on the book of I Thessalonians was written by Pastor Joe Looney of Gillette, Wyoming. I have a copy and will loan it under very strict conditions.

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Accountability to God

Matthew 12:36 and Romans 14:12
Jan 20, 2013

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).

This article will show how the word “account” is used to show the responsibility of saved people to serve the Lord. The word also shows a wonderful picture of God’s grace when Jesus bore our sins on the cross and paid the cost of our redemption with his own blood.

The use of the words “accountability” or “responsibility” will help us to understand how each individual person will answer to the Lord in the day of judgment. Saved people will stand before the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10). Lost people will stand before the Lord at the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

Even in this life, we are accountable to God for our words and course of life. God’s present day judgment can bring chastisement into our life. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth [gives punishment to] every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6-7).

In learning more of God’s grace, an interesting use of the word “account” is found in Philemon 1:18. Paul is appealing to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, an escaped slave. The language of verse 10 indicates that Paul was used of the Lord to bring Onesimus to faith in Christ. Paul writes, “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account.” Paul’s use of the words “mine account” means that Paul is taking responsibility for any debt owed to Philemon by Onesimus. This is a beautiful picture of God’s grace showing that our sin debt was paid by Jesus on the cross.

God’s grace in salvation is also explained in Romans 4:5. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” The word “counted” is exactly the same word as “accounted.” God put all of your sin on the account of Jesus Christ, and Jesus bore the penalty on the cross. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). The righteousness of Jesus is absolutely necessary for salvation and is applied to your account when you receive Christ as your Savior.

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Complete in All the Will of God

Colossians 4:12
Jan 13, 2013

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12).

This article will continue the Pastor’s lesson from Ephesians 1:22-23 taught on Sunday morning, 1/06/2013. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” The word “which” is a pronoun referring back to “the church” in Ephesians 1:22. The words “complete” of Colossians 4:12 and “fullness” and “filleth” in Ephesians 1:23 are from the same Greek word. We learn from Ephesians that the Lord’s church was designed, established, equipped, commissioned, and placed under the authority and leadership of Jesus Christ to make known the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10).

You can be sure, personal salvation, eternal life, and the new birth are not in church membership. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

You can also be sure that membership and active participation in a New Testament church will bless you with the opportunity to “stand perfect [mature] and complete [having fullness] in all the will of God.” Please notice that in Colossians 4:12, the prayer was made for the members in Colosse that they might stand complete in all the will of God. Paul also prayed that the members in Ephesus “might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). I pray for each member of Landmark MBC that we may have the abundant fullness of the Christian life that Jesus described in John 10:10. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

The word “opportunity” is used because there is no guarantee that the members in Ephesus, Colosse, or Landmark MBC would continue in their faithfulness. The parable of the sower in Matthew 13 shows us that some of the seed fell on good soil and began to develop toward fruitfulness, but then the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches began to choke the word so that the person became unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).

There is a mission component to this subject. I know a community where there is a small group of people who desire to establish a true Bible-teaching New Testament church. Should we say to them, “You do not need a church to tell others about Jesus. You do not need a church to pray.” These statements are true, but we need to say, “You do need a church to observe the ordinances of Jesus Christ, you need a church to fulfill the commission of Christ, and you need a church to follow the New Testament example.” The normal, regular way of operation was for Paul to go into a city, preach the gospel, baptize the converts, and remain with them for a period of time. Paul was in Ephesus for three years (Acts 20:31) teaching and helping the members to grow in grace. May our Lord help us to be a blessing to those who need the gospel and need the fellowship of a true church.

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“For Seasons, and For Days, and Years”

Genesis 1:14
Jan 06, 2013

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Genesis 1:14).

The creation of the sun and the moon was on the fourth of the seven days described in Genesis 1:5-2:3. Please note that there were days counted with evening and morning before the creation of the sun and the moon. Adam was created on the sixth day, and God gave man the seventh day as a day of rest. Jesus said, “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).

Some of the news reports that I saw about New Year celebrations prompted me to read material about how different cultures mark the beginning of a new year. Of special importance is the New Year as taught in the Old Testament.

The New Year as observed by strict Jews has two different dates, both measured from new moons. In the spring, the first day of the month Abib or Nissan marks the beginning of the sacred year (our calendar date is sundown of March 11, 2013). The Jewish Passover begins fourteen days after the sacred New Year (Exodus 12:1-6).

The second New Year (Rosh Hashanah) for 2013 begins at sundown on our date of Wednesday, September 4. This seventh month (Ethanim or Tisri) begins with the new moon. “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation [gathering]. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD” (Leviticus 23:24-25). Please note from this verse that a Sabbath day can be set at a day other than the seventh day. Ten days after the beginning the civil New Year, Israel had another Sabbath day, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27). On this holy day, the High Priest offered a bullock for himself. He went behind the veil into the second room of the Tabernacle. Using a censer (small pot) filled with hot coals from the altar, he burned a hand full of sweet incense before the mercy seat. He then sprinkled blood from the bullock with his finger seven times upon the mercy seat. Two goats had been brought to the door of the Tabernacle. By casting lots, one goat was chosen to be the scapegoat, which was presented to the LORD, then taken to the wilderness and set free. The other goat was sacrificed at the altar and then the blood taken behind the veil and offered in the same manner as the blood of the bullock to make atonement for the sins of the nation. The High priest, the animal sacrifices, the Tabernacle, the veil, and the incense teach us lessons about our need of a Savior, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life (Leviticus 16:3-34, Hebrews 9:1-15).

The Passover is closely connected to the sacred New Year, and the Day of Atonement is closely connected to the civil New Year. We have no New Testament date set for the beginning of a New Year, but we can connect the seasons, days, and years of our life to the life and purpose of Jesus Christ, our Passover, our Atonement. We can do that by trusting and faithfully serving Him.

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