Weekly Bulletin Article 2017
By Bro Jim Brasseal, Pastor Landmark MBC
Jul 02, 2017 - Four Men in Acts 8:26-40
Jun 25, 2017 - Local Church Commission
Jun 18, 2017 - What a Christian Father Should Be
Jun 11, 2017 - “The Laborers are Few”
May 14, 2017 - Women of Faith
May 07, 2017 - Wings of Protection
Apr 30, 2017 - Jesus, Our Kinsman
Apr 23, 2017 - The Witnesses for Jesus
Apr 16, 2017 - New Testament Holy Days?
Apr 09, 2017 - “The Plowing of the Wicked, is Sin”
Mar 26, 2017 - “Gain the Whole World, and Lose His Own Soul”
Mar 12, 2017 - Banquets and Feasts
Mar 05, 2017 - Informed, Transformed, Conformed
Feb 26, 2017 - More Like the Master
Feb 19, 2017 - Change and Transform
Feb 12, 2017 - The Lord’s Church and the Lord’s Wisdom
Feb 05, 2017 - Equipped for Faith and Practice
Jan 29, 2017 - Focus on Bulgaria
Jan 22, 2017 - Anchored Within The Veil
Jan 15, 2017 - “If Our Gospel Be Hid”
Jan 08, 2017 - Take Up Your Cross Daily
Jan 01, 2017 - “The LORD Bless Thee, and Keep Thee”
Four Men in Acts 8:26-40
Jul 02, 2017
I. The Ethiopian of Great Authority
This man had charge of all the treasures of the queen of Ethiopia, the country that bordered Egypt on the South. He had been to Jerusalem to worship, which would indicate some connection with the Jewish religion. He could have been Jewish by birth or could have made the decision to accept the Jewish faith. The law of the Passover shows that a stranger could become part of Israel and be qualified to take the Passover (Exodus 12:43-49). As he returned home in his chariot, he was reading that section of the Old Testament scriptures that we now identify as Isaiah 53.
II. Isaiah, The Old Testament Prophet
Isaiah had been dead for hundreds of years, but his work and message for the LORD were still bearing fruit to the benefit of the Ethiopian. God promised that His word would not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). Consider also that those who had a part in copying, protecting, and publishing the scriptures used by the Ethiopian were being used by the LORD.
III. Philip, the Man to Guild the Ethiopian to the Gospel
The opportunity for Philip to witness came as he asked, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” (Acts 8:30). The next question is a great lesson that the Lord can use his servant to make the gospel known: “How can I, except some man should guide me?” Philip was the “some man” who was ready to explain God’s message.
IV. Jesus Christ, the Other Man of Acts 8:34
You have heard of the “perfect storm” where all weather conditions come together at one area to form a powerful storm. In this lesson in Acts 8, all conditions come together to form the “perfect opportunity” for Philip to preach Jesus Christ (Acts 8:35). The message was received by the Ethiopian. His next question was, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:36). Philip responded, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest” (Acts 8:37a). This man did believe with all his heart and gave this testimony, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37b). This sincere faith is described in John 1:12, “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.”
Consider several lessons from Acts 8 and Isaiah 53: (1) The gospel of Jesus Christ is in the Old Testament and the New Testament. (2) Salvation can be received as a free gift because Jesus suffered for us. “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10). (3) One must have faith in Jesus Christ before scriptural baptism (Acts 8:37).
Local Church Commission
Jun 25, 2017
“And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus” (Acts 13:3-4).
During the past 10 days, I have had the opportunity to speak on behalf of Mongolian Missions. On Wednesday, June 14, I spoke in the services at Marlow MBC, near Sheridan, Arkansas. This church has been a regular supporter for Mongolian Missions. On Sunday, June 18, at Olive Hill MBC near Mablevale, Arkansas, where I had served as pastor during my seminary days, I was given the privilege to give a report before the regular preaching service. At the ABA messenger meeting in Daytona Beach, Florida, a booth was used to show pictures from the different churches in Mongolia. A computer was used for a slide show presentation of the activities in that mission field. Printed reports from the last two months showing God’s blessings were handed out.
An excellent message was delivered on Wednesday night, June 21, by missionary Chase Reynolds who serves in Papua, Indonesia with the Yetfa Tribe. I appreciate the way Brother Reynolds carefully gave a verse by verse exposition of Acts 13:1-4, Matthew 28:18-20, and Romans 10:13-13.
For example, in Matthew 28, the commission was delivered to a local, visible, functioning church body consisting of converted, baptized, disciples, united to obey the commission of Christ. Also, in Acts 13, Brother Reynolds correctly taught that a local, visible, functioning body of converted, baptized disciples were joined in the work of serving the Lord. Notice the pronoun “they” in Acts 13:2, 13:3. “They ministered,” “They fasted and prayed,” and “They sent them away.” This pronoun refers to the church body acting in agreement to send out Paul and Barnabas. It is interesting to note the close connection between the words “separate” and “send.” The idea is “to set free,” “to release,” and “to send away.”
I am in agreement that the “laying on of hands” in Acts 13:3 was by the whole church body, and this action is a statement. “We are joined with you in this work, we desire God’s blessings in this work.” In Acts 14:26-27, we read, “And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. The word “recommended” in verse 26 indicates that Paul and Barnabas had been committed and turned over to the grace of God by the Antioch church.
God’s mission program is shown in the Book of Acts. How that program works is demonstrated in all the books of the New Testament. Just as the churches of Macedonia assisted in Paul’s work in Thessalonica, we can help missionaries sent out by other churches in the same manner and concern.
What a Christian Father Should Be
Jun 18, 2017
This article by Pastor Jim Brasseal was first published in the Landmark MBC bulletin on June 19, 2005 and is being reprinted here today as a means to recall the Biblical principles and expectations for fathers in this world today.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).
First, a Christian father should be a husband before he becomes a father. Even though the moral standards of the world have changed, the Bible is still true and God’s way of raising a family within the pattern set forth in the scriptures is still the best way.
Second, according to Paul, the Christian father is to provide for his family. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Timothy 5:8). The words “and is worse than an infidel” in this verse indicates that the Christian is under a higher law in his responsibility to his family.
Third, the Christian father is to provide loving discipline for his children. The word translated nurture in Ephesians 6:3 is a word that most often means discipline with emphasis on training discipline. This training is not to be done in a way that provokes wrath, but rather provokes respect.
Fourth, we can look to Joshua for the example of a father with a godly example. In a statement of spiritual leadership, he said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
Fifth, the Christian father needs to rely on the grace of God. The job of being a father is too big to do alone and without the Lord’s help. We fathers are in need of God’s forgiveness as we try to raise our children and come up short in so many ways.
“The Laborers are Few”
Jun 11, 2017
“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Two statements that our Lord made about two thousand years ago are still true today. There is much work to be done in the harvest fields. There are few workers to do the work of getting God’s message out to the ends of the earth.
Throughout our nation, there are many churches where there is a great need for pastors and for other church members to work to fulfill the commission of Matthew 28:18-20. Three congregations in our local association are praying that God will lead the man of God’s will to serve as pastor with them. Pray for Greeley MBC in Greeley, Landmark MBC in Delta, and Victory MBC in Cheyenne.
One problem is that many small churches do not have the finances to support a pastor so that he can work full time with the church. The answer to this problem is found in the example of Paul in his laborers in Corinth. “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.” (Acts 18:1-3). More information about Paul earning income by physical labor as he served to help the Lord’s churches is found in Acts 20:33-35. “I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 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.”
When I was a teenager. the pastor, C.A. Walker, served our church, Mt. Gilead MBC, and earned most of his income by farming, teaching music, and tuning pianos. A shortage of pastors back in those days was met by many churches having preaching on every other Sunday. Brother Walker served Mt. Gilead and Friendship MBC in this way. These two country churches were about twenty miles apart. I also have worked in bookkeeping, landscaping, and apartment maintenance.
God can use a servant in His work who is willing to devote himself to the same practice as Paul did in Corinth.
I have known many fruitful pastors who made sacrifices to go to a field of labor, work in some business, and, at the same time, work to serve one of the Lord’s churches. Their attitude of service is expressed in these words of Paul from II Corinthians 12:15, “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”
Women of Faith
May 14, 2017
“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11).
We must admit that the men named in the chapter of faith outnumber the women. However, we do acknowledge that the women of this chapter show strong faith in the living God. Other women, not named in Hebrews 11, do show true faith. Sara had to wait for many years to see God’s promise fulfilled. Her faith caused her to know that God was faithful to keep his promise.
The next woman of faith that we consider is the mother of Moses. Her faith is shown in Hebrews 11:23, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.” The names of the parents are not given in Hebrews 11, but we do get the information from Exodus 6:20 that the name of the father of Moses was Amram and the name of his mother was Jochebed. It was by faith that Jochebed disobeyed Pharaoh’s command and protected her son.
An unusual woman of faith is described in Hebrews 11:31. “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” In James 2:25, we learn that Rahab showed her faith by her actions. We learn from Matthew 1:4-6 that Rahab is in the family lineage of David the king and is in the family of Jesus Christ. Her faith gave her courage to protect the two men from Israel and to say to them, “for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11). She knew that the army of Israel would have victory over Jericho, so she made an agreement with the two men that her family would be protected. We read in Joshua 2:18-21 how a scarlet line (rope) became the means of protection for Rahab and her family.
We are not given the names of the women in Hebrews 11:35, “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” In I Kings 17, we read of one woman of faith, the widow of Zarephath, that fits the description of Hebrews 11:35. In II Kings 4, we learn of the woman who asked her husband to build a little chamber attached to their house where the prophet Elisha could have a bed, a table, a stool, and a candlestick. Her son died, but God honored her faith and, through Elisha, her son was restored to life.
We can be thankful to the LORD for women of faith who have been used of the LORD to bring blessings into our lives.
Wings of Protection
May 07, 2017
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37).
Just a few days before Jesus was taken in the Garden of Gethsemane, he had been teaching in Jerusalem. His lessons were filled with warnings of the coming judgments, but we can see his compassion as Jesus desired to draw people under his protective wings. The same kind of illustration is found in Ruth 2:12 where we read the words spoken by Boaz to Ruth, “The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” Her trust in the LORD placed her under his protective wings.
David’s prayer in Psalm 17:7-8 also shows the LORD’s protective care. “Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” There is another picture of protection shown in the words, “Keep me as the apple of the eye,” which speaks of the pupil of the eye. The bone structure around your eye and the nervous system, which reacts quicker than you can plan to close your eye when there is danger, are designed by our great Creator to provide protection to the eye.
I grew up on a farm where I personally saw the lesson of Matthew 23:37 shown in real life. My mother always kept a large flock of chickens (Rhode Island Red and Plymouth Rock breeds). The hens and the roosters were careful guardians for the little chicks. If a hawk flew over the flock, the alarm was called out. The mother hen gathered the chicks under her protective wings while the rooster stood guard ready to attack any enemy to protect his family.
The Lord gave a beautiful picture in Matthew 23:37. He calls you to come under the protection of his wings where he is ready to protect and save you from danger. The first danger you need to consider is being lost and condemned. He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). You also need protection under his wings after you are saved. The lesson in Ephesians 6:10-18 shows that the devil will attack God’s own people. We need to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
Jesus, Our Kinsman
Apr 30, 2017
“Wherefore in all things 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).
In addition to our text verse, we have another verse, Hebrews 2:12, that speaks of those who are the brethren of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament law of “The Kinsman Redeemer” (Leviticus 25) will help explain the connection between that Old Testament law and the verses in Hebrews 2 that speak of our kinship to Jesus Christ.
“And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger's family: After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself” (Leviticus 25:47-49).
It could have been possible from a physical and financial situation in the Old Testament for a person to pay the price and redeem himself, but, with the spiritual condition of a lost person, he could never redeem himself. Peter explains that corruptible things such as silver and gold could not pay the price to free us from our condemnation. Therefore, we are given this truth about our redemption price. “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:19). Paul wrote, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Christ often referred to Himself as “The Son of Man.” This title emphasizes that Christ is in the human family, our kinsman. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22). “And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man” (John 5:27). The Son of man, who will judge every person, knows what mankind faces in this wicked world because he lived and experienced the conditions in this world.
Jesus Christ is our High Priest. In Hebrews 2:17, His position as our high priest is connected to the fact that he is our kinsman who “suffered being tempted.” In Hebrews 4:15, we learn that Christ was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
These verses teach us to be regular in prayer throughout each day to seek help in time of need.
The Witnesses for Jesus
Apr 23, 2017
“And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:46-48).
- Jesus was a witness for himself. In his earthly ministry, he said:
- “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
- “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
- “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
- “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).
- John the Baptist was a witness for Jesus. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light” (John 5:35).
- The works of Jesus were a testimony for him. “But I [Jesus] have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (John 5:36).
- God the Father was a witness for His Son. “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me” (John 5:37a).
- At the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, the Father spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
- On the mountain where Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John, they heard the voice of God, the Father, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5).
- The Holy Scriptures bear witness for Jesus. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
- The resurrection of Jesus is a testimony for him. “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).
- A true, faithful New Testament church is a witness for the Lord. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21). “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).
New Testament Holy Days?
Apr 16, 2017
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17).
Please notice that there is a question mark in the title of this article because New Testament Christians had no law given to observe certain days as more holy than other days. The Old Testament did give the nation of Israel certain days that were to be observed as holy days. For example, Exodus 12 shows that the Passover was to begin the evening of the fourteenth day of the month that begins with the new moon. This year, Passover begins at sundown on April 10 and continues until sundown on April 18. The Passover meal is on April 14, and the remainder of the time until April 18 is called the “Feast of Unleavened Bread.”
There are two extremes that I have observed with the dates considered for the birth of Jesus Christ and for His resurrection. Some think that the date is most important, and they place emphasis on the date and worldly customs while overlooking the scriptural importance of the event. Very little attention is given to the truth that Christ came into this world to be our Savior. We should pay close attention to the fact that, without the resurrection, our message is in vain. It would be so good if more attention were given to Luke 24 and I Corinthians 15.
Another extreme is that people become so upset and negative about the pagan customs connected to these important events. As a result, they let the negative thoughts so rule in their minds that they overlook the wonderful precious truth presented in the Holy Scriptures.
In the years before he came to faith in Jesus Christ, a friend of mine would go to church services at least twice each year to please his wife. His last experience of going with that motive changed his life. He heard a plain Bible message on the resurrection of Christ. The Holy Spirit convicted him of his lost sinful condition. He received Christ as his Savior and became a faithful servant in one of the Lord's Missionary Baptist churches.
A good Bible lesson on the birth of Jesus Christ is always beneficial, even on December 25. A resurrection message is always in order because that message shows the hope that we possess because Christ has power over death. I Corinthians 15:57-58 is an excellent theme for any day. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.”
“The Plowing of the Wicked, is Sin”
Apr 09, 2017
“An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin” (Proverbs 21:4).
How could such a statement be true? We know it is true because it is written plainly in the inspired word of God. Other true statements will help us to understand. Paul wrote, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Another verse to consider says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
If we look at this man out working in his field, we might commend him for being productive, but we must remember that God sees more than just the outward appearance. The LORD explained to Samuel, “the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).
This man is described as “wicked,” which is defined in Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, “Wicked men are those who pursue that which is vain and false with lawless desire, casting off the fear of God, and so come at length to trouble and sorrow.”
Jesus rebuked scribes and Pharisees, calling them hypocrites. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27-28).
It is impossible to be right with God by establishing your own righteousness (Romans 10:3). You need the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 4:5-6). God’s kindness and love have provided the way for us to have peace with God.
“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).
“Gain the Whole World, and Lose His Own Soul”
Mar 26, 2017
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26).
In my early ministry, I used this text in messages to the congregation where I served as pastor in sermons at Youth Meetings, Mission Fellowships, and Association Meetings. I preached the truth but only had one aim in the messages: To make it plain to any lost sinner that if that person had every thing this world had to offer but died without eternal salvation in Jesus Christ, that person died as a loser. Having eternal life was worth more than all the riches of this whole world. God blessed those messages.
I have learned that the scope of our text covers much more than I first understood. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Please consider the link between Matthew 16:24 and the two verses of our text.
To understand the full meaning of these verses, we need to consider the meaning of the word “soul.” This word is first used in Genesis 2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” The same word is used in Exodus 1:5, “And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.” Look carefully at Ezekiel 18:4, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
In these verses, the meaning of the word “soul” is “a living person.” In fact, in the New Testament, the translators of the KJV sometimes used the word “life” (Matthew 16:25) and sometimes used the word “soul” (Matthew 16:26) to translate the Greek word “psuche.” Our word “psychology” is from that Greek word. The Greeks used the word to speak of the immaterial, invisible life of a person. The word “spirit” was also used to describe the life in a person. We know from Hebrews 4:12 that the Lord makes a distinction between soul and spirit, but common usage in our day does not often show the difference.
It is true that a lost man who rejects Christ as his Savior is throwing his life away, wasting all his precious opportunities, to eventually be condemned forever (John 3:18).
It is also true that a saved person should follow Jesus Christ, deny himself, and take up his cross. Sad to say, some of God’s own children do not follow our Lord in faithful, sacrificial service. Jesus warned that such a self-centered life is a life wasted and lost. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Jesus is in the business of saving lost sinners, and Jesus is also concerned about saving lives for his kingdom service.
Banquets and Feasts
Mar 12, 2017
“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:16-17).
Celebrations with great suppers are described in the Old and New Testaments of our Bible. Unger’s Bible Dictionary gives the following information on the different occasions for celebration:
- Birthdays (Genesis 40:20),
- The weaning of a son and heir (Genesis 21:8),
- The separation and reunion of friends (Genesis 31:27, 31:48-55),
- Weddings (Genesis 29:21-22, Matthew 22:1-4, John 2:1-11), and
- Special holy days such as the Feast of Tabernacles observed as a time of celebration by the people of Israel (Nehemiah 8:9-18).
Our text in Luke 14 illustrates a common practice in sending out the invitations to a wedding feast. There was a general invitation sent out. Later, those who had responded to that invitation were invited a second time when all things were ready. According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “This after-summons was sent only to those who had accepted the previous invitation, and to violate that acceptance for trivial reasons could only be viewed as a gross insult.”
Please notice that in Matthew 22:1-7, the second invitation was sent out, but “they would not come.” We see that the king was patient and generous, so he sent more servants. He said, “Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise.” Some took the kings servants and entreated them spitefully and killed them. “But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”
Another interesting custom is shown in the Bible Dictionary. “In some cases, each guest was furnished with a magnificent garment of a light and showy color, and richly embroidered to be worn during the banquet. The refusal of such a mark of respect implied a contempt for the host and his entertainment that could not fail to provoke resentment.” This custom explains the very stern action of the king because one of his guests was not wearing this very special wedding garment (Matthew 22:11-13).
As we study the different scriptures connected to the feasts, we learn from the attendance of Jesus at the wedding in Cana of Galilee that Jesus was willing to be with friends and family on special occasions. We see in the generous provisions of the king in furnishing the banquet that our Lord and King is generous in providing all our need (Philippians 4:19).
To refuse the invitation of our Lord in calling you to eternal salvation or in extending His invitation for you to take his yoke upon you to labor as a partner in His work is not a light matter (Matthew 11:28-30). You will answer to Him for the way you respond to his call (II Corinthians 5:10).
Informed, Transformed, Conformed
Mar 05, 2017
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).
This lesson continues the theme that we have studied for the last several weeks. We have considered the precious truth of receiving eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ and passing “from death unto life” (John 5:24). As a new-born child of God, you can grow in grace and thus be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). This renewing of your mind to be more fully informed and “prove” (learn, test, understand) the will of God helps you to develop Christian character so that you can be more like Christ, and, as you show the “glory of the Lord,” your are changed [transformed] into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:18).
God planned before the world began that he would have redeemed people serving and worshiping Him in the new heaven and the new earth. Ephesians 1:10 teaches us that in the fullness [completion] of times, God’s creation and God’s people will be in perfect harmony [together in one] in Christ. God is working out his eternal plan “according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11).
We should never think of the word “predestinate” to mean that, before people were born, God chose certain ones to be redeemed and the remainder of the human family to be condemned to eternal punishment. This doctrine is often called “Five Point Calvinism,” and it is not true according to the Bible.
The key verses to understand this truth are John 3:15, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life,” and II Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.”
Jesus Christ is “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). This verse speaks of the preeminence of Christ in all things (Colossians 1:18) and his kinship to all of God’s redeemed people. “For both he that sanctifieth [our heavenly Father] and they who are sanctified [God’s people] are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11).
Jesus Christ is the pattern for God’s redeemed people. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). Do you remember our lesson on those who are sons [tekna] of God because of the spiritual birth [Greek word in I John 3:2 is tekna]? Another word for “son” is “huios,” and it most often speaks of a child of God who is mature and of sufficient character and strength to be a partner with the Father in the work. See Luke 6:35 where there are requirements to be “children of the Highest.” This word “children” is “huios,” that is, the mature children.
God’s wonderful plan for your life is for you to be saved (II Peter 3:9) and for you to to be a Christian serving in his kingdom so that others will see Jesus in you as your life is conformed to the image of his Son.
More Like the Master
Feb 26, 2017
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
In the past two weeks, we have studied Bible verses that teach how the Lord’s people can “grow in grace” (II Peter 3:18), be changed and “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), and “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). One lesson from Luke shows that when you are more like your Savior you will “love your enemies,” “Bless them that curse you,” “and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28). The compassion of our heavenly Father is our example “for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35).
The word “mind” used in our text is also found three times in Philippians 2:2-3. The words “likeminded” and “of one mind” indicate agreement in attitude and way of thinking. The words “lowliness of mind” speak of a servant attitude and a humble spirit. Jesus is our pattern for the mindset of concern, humility, and obedience (Philippians 2:5).
Jesus fully understands the reason for 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). Jesus knew that those who had no faith in him would face an awful judgment. “Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come” (John 8:21). Jesus returned to heaven, so he is telling these lost sinners that they can not go to heaven if they die in their sins.
Their fate would be to spend eternity in hell. Jesus gave a plain true message about one man who died and was in torment in hell. “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:22-24).
The Lord does not desire that any should perish (II Peter 3:9). The rich man in hell had waited too long to be concerned about mercy and was calling upon the wrong person to receive mercy. There is a promise in God’s word showing that in this lifetime the lost sinner can call upon the Lord for salvation. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
We can follow the footsteps of Jesus in concern, compassion, and in teaching the true Scriptural message of salvation by grace through faith made possible by the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross of Calvary. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).
Change and Transform
II Corinthians 3:18
Feb 19, 2017
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18).
If we will carefully examine II Corinthians 3 and Romans 12:1-2 and examine the meaning of the words “change” and “transform,” we can discover a lesson of wonderful Christian blessings.
- Consider the context of this chapter. Paul is writing to one of the New Testament churches concerning the Old Testament law given to the nation of Israel under the leadership of Moses. Moses, being in the presence of God on Sinai, came back into the camp of Israel with his face shining with such brilliant glory that Moses had to put a veil over his face. The law, as given by God, was glorious, but that law, as a guide for God’s people, would come to an end at the proper time. The law could not bring eternal salvation, but most people in Israel changed the true way of salvation by grace through faith. They invented a system of salvation by works by keeping the law. They tried to establish their own righteousness (Romans 10:3). There is another veil in II Corinthians 3:15, that is, the veil over the minds and heart of Israel. The blindness of mind and heart can be “done away in Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:14-17).
- Consider the blessed position of the New Testament Christians in Corinth. Paul had preached the true gospel unto them, “and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). That church was established with converted, baptized members. Paul reminded them, “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).
The work of the Holy Spirit with that congregation extended beyond their initial conversion. With the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, they could experience liberty. “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17). They did not have a veil that kept them from seeing the glory of the Lord. The words “open face” in verse 18, mean an “unveiled face.” By seeing and understanding the New Testament order of Christian worship and service, they could look to Jesus Christ, and their life and service would be changed to look more like the life and service of Jesus Christ.
Vine’s Bible Dictionary has interesting information on the word “changed” used as a verb in our text. The present continuous tense indicates an ongoing process. The new birth is a once-for-all event. Our text is speaking of a growth in grace that is not once-for-all but is to continue throughout our lifetime “by the Spirit of the Lord.” The glory of the Lord is to show through you and the words “from glory to glory,” indicating an ongoing life which shows the glory of God.
The Lord’s Church and the Lord’s Wisdom
Feb 12, 2017
“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10).
This article continues the subject that we were discussing in this past Wednesday night’s lesson (Proverbs 3:13-19, 8:10-14). The New Testament verses considered were James 3:13-18, which show clearly that there is a vast difference between the earthly wisdom of sinful man and the wisdom that comes from God. We have the promise of God in James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
In Ephesians 3:10, we see that it is God’s plan and purpose that his churches are to make known the manifold wisdom of God. One of the precious truths in God’s plan is found in I Corinthians 1. The wisdom of this world does not bring sinners to faith in Jesus Christ. “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).
“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 concerned that the people in Corinth have true faith, anchored in the truth of God’s word.
Jesus taught the truth and gave this promise. “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).
Paul wrote to Timothy, “Preach the word” (II Timothy 4:2). In the same chapter, he warned Timothy of those who had itching ears and who would heap to themselves those teachers who would satisfy their sinful fleshly desires. “Heap” means to pile up in abundance.
John, the Baptist, was a faithful servant of God. Some received his message, but many rejected it. His straight preaching brought him to a cruel death. Jesus was the Truth, but mobs cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him” (Luke 23:21). Stephen proclaimed a wonderful message giving the history of the nation of Israel. He concluded his message by telling of the coming of The Just One, and he spoke of his listeners as being “betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52). That audience was “cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” (Acts 7:54) and stoned Stephen to death” (Acts 7:55-60).
Teaching the truth is often very dangerous, but God, in his wisdom, knows that the truth is better for mankind than ear-tickling messages based on human wisdom.
Equipped for Faith and Practice
II Timothy 3:15
Feb 05, 2017
“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).
In my formative years as a young Christian and in the early years of my ministry, I was greatly blessed to have teachers who firmly believed that the Bible was the inspired Word of God. I heard time after time, “The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice.” That fundamental truth became more precious as I learned more of the struggles in the Lord’s work between those who were standing firm on Bible principles and those willing to compromise and weaken Bible truth.
Other teachers and I would become concerned when a young preacher would speak out with such statements as: “What we teach about baptism and the Lord’s supper is an obstacle to our church growth.” One student with great zeal “but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2) declared, “I think I could do more good in the Lord’s work if I devoted myself to winning lost souls and did not bother with getting people to become church members.”
Our oldest teacher and I had the opportunity to privately offer good advice to that student. We began with some questions. Does Jesus know what is best for his work? Was it right and good for the Lord’s work when Jesus “made and baptized more disciples than John” (John 4:1-2)? Did Jesus make a mistake when he gave the commission to his first church and included these three elements: (1) Make disciples, (2) Baptize those disciples, and (3) Teach those baptized disciples the same things that Jesus taught?
Was the ministry of Paul very fruitful? Was the church at Antioch involved in Paul's work (Acts 13:1-4)? Does the entire ministry of Paul show that he had great love and concern for the churches that he helped to establish? (Acts 20:17-38).
That particular student left the Missionary Baptist work and became a part of the interdenominational movement. Thank the Lord there were others who accepted the Bible as their rule of faith and practice and are still serving faithfully among the Lord’s true churches.
God in his wisdom knew how to convey the truth that is needed to equip us for his service throughout all the years since he established his first church. God could see into the future, so he provided the lessons that were good for the first century and are still our guide in the twenty first century.
In II Timothy 3:16-7, we are told, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The word “perfect” in this verse means “mature, full-grown,” and the words “throughly furnished” mean “completely equipped.”
The truth for faith in Jesus Christ is in the Bible.
The truth for putting into practice the will of Jesus Christ is in the Bible.
Focus on Bulgaria
Jan 29, 2017
“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” (Acts 1:8).
One of the countries where we are helping to fulfill the command of Christ given in Acts 1:8 is the country of Bulgaria. This ancient country has about one half the land area of the state of Colorado but has nearly twice the population. The Northern border with Romania is marked by the lower Danube River. The eastern edge extends to the Black Sea. Bulgaria borders Turkey at its Southeast corner. Turkey was called Asia in New Testament times and was the location of the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 1:4). The Southern border begins at the Northwest section of Turkey and extends along the border with Greece, and the border along the Western section of the country is with Macedonia and Serbia.
Bulgaria was under the control of the Muslim Ottoman Empire until the late 1800s. After World War II, the Soviet Union took control of Bulgaria, and the country did not secure freedom and independence until the early 1990s. The history helps us to understand the strong influence of the Russian Orthodox Catholic Church and the Muslim Religion.
Our church began support for Brother Jim Black and his family when he first began working in Romania (about 12 to 14 years ago), and we continued our support when the family moved to Bulgaria. Following is from Brother Black's report for January 2017.
We praise God for family, friends, good health, another year to serve the Lord in Eastern Europe, our sending church, and for everyone that loves missions and missionaries. We could not be here without you.
Being so far away from family and loved ones during the holidays never gets easier. Hannah is finishing up her last year of high school. We are making plans to return to the states with her sometime in June, so that she may begin college in the Fall.
In Sandanski, we moved the services back into a home. Attendance has not suffered, and we have 10 –12 adults in most services. In 2016 we saw three adults saved through the work there.
Praise (that’s his name) came into our home last June. We did our very best to help his mother reunite with him. Unfortunately there was much more at play than we realized. She returned to Cameroon in December.
Special Thanks to everyone that sent a special offering during the holidays. It was a BIG blessing and help.
Language Helper -- Our landlord’s son has been coming to our home to help us strengthen some of our weak areas in the Bulgarian language.
Many of the people we are reaching out to speak Arabic, Farsi, Dari, or Kurdish. Very few are English speakers. If they have been in Bulgaria very long, we can usually communicate some in Bulgarian.
Love in Christ ---
Jim and Sherry Black
Anchored Within The Veil
Jan 22, 2017
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:19-20).
We have many hymns in our song books in which we find the themes of sailing on stormy seas, finding calm waters in a safe harbor, and the security of a sure and stedfast anchor. One of my favorite hymns is “We Have An Anchor” (In Spirit And In Truth, Hymn 289).
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.
Many of our Lord’s lessons were around the Sea of Galilee. Men who made their living on the sea were called “to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Jesus was asleep in the back part of the ship when a great storm of wind and waves beat upon the ship. The disciples awoke him with and asked, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). Jesus said to the storm, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39, see 4:36-41).
A very descriptive account of the storm and shipwreck of the ship transporting Paul as a prisoner across the Mediterranean Sea is recorded in Acts 27. Paul remained calm throughout the storm because he had received a message of assurance and peace from the Lord (Acts 27:21-26).
The sure and steadfast anchor of Hebrews 6:19 is the anchor of hope. The anchor may be heavy and unbreakable, but the most important feature of this sure anchor is the object to which the anchor is fastened. This sure anchor is fastened within the veil where Jesus has now entered. We learn from Hebrews 9:24 that Jesus has entered the true Holy Place, which is heaven itself, where Jesus now appears in the presence of God the Father on our behalf.
Faith connects us to that stedfast anchor, and we can be sure that the anchor cannot be pulled loose. The life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ was totally accepted by God. God saw the travail of His soul and was satisfied (Isaiah 53:10-11). His resurrection and ascension into heaven declares that He is the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:3-4).
An understanding of the promises which God has given to us in his word will strengthen our faith and give us “full assurance of hope unto the end” (Hebrews 6:11).
“If Our Gospel Be Hid”
II Corinthians 4:3-4
Jan 15, 2017
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3-4).
The gospel of Christ is also described as the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) and “the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). The basic meaning of the word “gospel” is “the good message.” In Ephesians 1:12-13, we read of the connection between trusting in Christ and the gospel message. “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”
Paul understood the power of the gospel in the change that the Lord brought into his life. He wrote by inspiration in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The life-changing power of the gospel is effective for all nations and races of people, so the command of Christ to his churches is to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
The word “gospel” encompasses more than the message of salvation from eternal condemnation. The scriptures show that Jesus preached the “gospel of the kingdom.” “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23). Luke 8:1 describes the same preaching of Jesus and uses these words to describe his preaching: “shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.”
My many years of study on the subject of the Kingdom of God convinces me that the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom covers the full range of (1) seeking God’s will in your life (Matthew 6:33), (2) serving faithfully in the work that Jesus gave to his churches (Matthew 28:19-20), and (3) having the lifestyle taught in Romans 14:17-18. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.”
The good messages of God’s grace in salvation and God’s blessings in Biblical service are so precious that we should make them known in “Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It would be a sinful shame to keep the glorious gospel covered or hidden.
Satan is described in II Corinthians 4:4 as “the god of this world,” and he is an enemy to Christ, to God’s people, and the true Bible message. Satan uses every method in his power to hinder and corrupt the gospel message. Let us not be a tool in his hands to hide the good news of salvation and Christian service.
Take Up Your Cross Daily
Jan 08, 2017
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
This verse of scripture is part of a discussion that Jesus had with his disciples. In his lesson, Jesus had asked them, “Whom say the people that I am?” (Luke 9:18). Their reply was that some thought he was John the Baptist, others said that he was Elias [ElT mean to give up your life to be a living sacrifice. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
A very important consideration in Luke 9:23 is the word “daily.” Giving our life as a living sacrifice is not just once in a while and not just when it is convenient. Sacrifice for the cause of Christ and being faithful in our witness is to be regular every day.
Our prayer for our basic needs, such as food, is to be, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).
God’s blessings come to us daily. “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah” (Psalm 68:19).
“The LORD Bless Thee, and Keep Thee”
Jan 01, 2017
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:22-26).
There are five different blessings that are named in these verses:
- “Keep thee,” which means that the LORD will guard and protect you.
- “Make his face shine upon thee,” and when the LORD makes His face to shine upon a person or a nation, the meaning is that the LORD looks with favor and good will toward that person. When the LORD told Israel to seek his face (II Chronicles 7:14), He was telling them to seek His will. To have God’s blessing is one of the most important assets in our work for the Lord.
- “Be gracious unto thee,” which means that God provides His grace. Paul learned that God does not always remove the things that trouble us (a “thorn in the flesh,” for example), but God does provide the sufficient grace to bear the difficulty (II Corinthians 12:7-10).
- When the LORD lifts “up his countenance,” the meaning is very similar to making his face to shine. That is, He is watching and looking out for you.
- “Give thee peace,” which is explained by the words of Jesus in John 16:33, “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.”
The LORD gave the words of this blessing in Numbers 6:22-26 to Moses with instructions that Moses would teach these words unto Aaron and his sons to be used to bless the children of Israel. The LORD desired to give his blessing to Israel. Any time God’s blessings were withdrawn and Israel faced God’s chastisement, God was trying to turn them from their sinfulness and turn them back to his favor.
A very clear explanation of this principle is shown in II Chronicles 36:15-18. Verse 15 shows how the LORD God sent His messengers to warn the people “because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place.” “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand” (II Chronicles 36:16-17).
The New Testament shows that our Lord still desires to bless His people. A very good lesson on this truth is found in the sermon taught by Jesus in Matthew 5-6 and 7. Notice carefully the way of blessing that Jesus taught his disciples:
- Be humble, poor in spirit,
- You will be comforted when you mourn,
- Be meek, not arrogant and self-centered,
- Hunger and thirst after righteousness,
- Be merciful,
- Be pure in heart,
- Be a peacemaker,
- Endure persecution for righteousness' sake,
- Endure false accusations for Jesus' sake, and
- Rejoice and be exceeding glad in the face of persecution for great is your reward in heaven.