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Dec 30, 2018 - Jesus at Age Twelve
Dec 23, 2018 - “Let the Peace of God Rule in Your Hearts”
Dec 16, 2018 - The Passage of Time in the Bible
Dec 09, 2018 - The Herbs or the Stalled Ox
Nov 18, 2018 - “The Washing of Water by the Word”
Nov 04, 2018 - “Forbearing One Another in Love”
Oct 28, 2018 - “Rejoice, and Be Exceeding Glad”
Oct 14, 2018 - Three-fold Commitment of Evangelism
Oct 07, 2018 - Elijah’s Challenge
Sep 30, 2018 - “God’s Heritage”
Sep 23, 2018 - God Cares for You
Sep 16, 2018 - Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement
Sep 09, 2018 - “For Our Sakes, No Doubt, This is Written”
Sep 02, 2018 - “I Know Thy Works, and Thy Labour”
Aug 26, 2018 - The Bed is Too Short, The Cover is Too Narrow
Aug 19, 2018 - “Victory Through Our Lord Jesus Christ”
Aug 12, 2018 - “Labouring Fervently”
Aug 05, 2018 - The Open Door
Jul 29, 2018 - The Earth Drinks in the Rain
Jul 22, 2018 - “To This End was I Born”
Jul 15, 2018 - “The Keys of the Kingdom”
Jul 08, 2018 - “How Great a Matter a Little Fire Kindleth!”
Jul 01, 2018 - Persecution Cannot Stop the Lord’s Work
Jun 24, 2018 - “Perfect Law of Liberty”
Jun 17, 2018 - What is Natural Affection?
Jun 10, 2018 - “He Will Abundantly Pardon”
May 20, 2018 - “Your Reasonable Service”
May 13, 2018 - Three Generations
Apr 29, 2018 - “His Delight is in the Law of the LORD”
Apr 22, 2018 - Neither Purse nor Sword
Apr 15, 2018 - The Gospel was Preached Unto Abraham
Apr 08, 2018 - “Adorn the Doctrine of God”
Apr 01, 2018 - “The Evening and The Morning Were The First Day”
Mar 25, 2018 - Prayer That Availeth Much
Mar 18, 2018 - “Seek the LORD, and His Strength”
Mar 11, 2018 - “Counted Worthy”
Mar 04, 2018 - The Lord is Longsuffering
Feb 25, 2018 - “Verily, Verily”
Feb 18, 2018 - “If in This Life Only”
Feb 11, 2018 - “Our Word Toward You was Not Yea and Nay”
Feb 04, 2018 - “The Region and Shadow of Death”
Jan 28, 2018 - “Simplicity and Godly Sincerity”
Jan 14, 2018 - “Into a Desert Place, and Rest a While”

Jesus at Age Twelve

Luke 2:40-42
Dec 30, 2018

“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast” (Luke 2:40-42).

In Exodus 23:14 we read, “Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.” We learn from verse 15 that the first of the three feasts is the Passover which began on the fourteenth day of the month Abib, the first month of the year. The beginning of Abib was set by the appearance of the new moon near the time of the Spring Equinox.

Jesus became separated from Mary and Joseph. The company of “kinsfolk and acquaintance” had traveled for one day before they learned that Jesus was not in the company of travelers (Luke 2:44). They returned to Jerusalem (Luke 2:45) and found Jesus “in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:46-47).

I have heard discussions and questions from seminary students. “At what age do you think that Jesus was aware that he was the Messiah, the Son of God?” My answer was, “We have no Bible verses that discuss such a question, and it is, therefore, best not to try to answer and speculate on matters on which we have no scriptural information. We can be sure, if that information was necessary, God would have given it to us in His word.”

The first New Testament words of Jesus that we have recorded are from Luke 2:49, “How is it that ye sought me? Wist [or understand] ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” However, “they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:50-51).

At age twelve, Jesus knew that he had work to do in his Father’s business. Later, in his earthly ministry, he made it known to the Jews who questioned him, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). He also said to them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).

In the prayer of Jesus on the night that He was betrayed by Judas, He said, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5).

With all the information that we have in our Bible, we can answer with the man of Ethiopia, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37).

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“Let the Peace of God Rule in Your Hearts”

Colossians 3:15
Dec 23, 2018

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

Our study of the word “peace” begins in the Old Testament. The promise in Isaiah 9:6-7 that the Messiah (the special coming One) would rule from David’s throne is applied to Jesus Christ, the virgin born Son of God (Luke 1:31-33). In Isaiah, the Savior is named as “The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

The shepherds “abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” were told by the angel of the Lord, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8-14).

We know from the murderous actions of Herod, who commanded that all males from two years old and under be slain (Matthew 2:16), that peace did not prevail in the days of Jesus. We know from all the wars that have killed millions that most people on the earth have not known peace.

Please consider this view of peace and good will TOWARD men. In I Timothy 2:3-4, the Bible speaks of “God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” God in grace makes the offer, and mankind has the choice to receive or reject God’s offer. “n this was manifested the love of God TOWARD us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (I John 4:9). God is “not willing that any should perish” (II Peter 3:9).

The use of the word “let” in Colossians 3:15-16 teaches us that we can make a willful choice in permitting the peace of God to rule (control) in our hearts. You may, as a child of God, refuse to walk in fellowship and obedience to God’s will in your life. “Let not sin therefore reign [rule-control] in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Romans 6:12).

The positive side of the choice that will bring peace to your life is: “but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13). Jesus gave this promise to his disciples, “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” (John 16:33).

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The Passage of Time in the Bible

Genesis 1:14
Dec 16, 2018

“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).

God taught that the passage of time could be measured by numbering the seven days from the “first day” (Genesis 1:5) to the “seventh day” (Genesis 2:3). In the Old Testament, one day ended and the new day began at sunset. The nation of Israel used the cycle of the moon to mark the passage from one month to the next month. The fourteenth day of the first month was set for the Passover observance (Exodus 12:18).

We are reminded of the passage of time by looking at our calendar and seeing that just a few days remain in 2018. We note the passage of time by speaking of “the past, the present, and the future.” Job described the passage of days as “swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6). Job reminded us, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not” (Job 14:1-2).

“Behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2).

Lost people need to be aware that there is no promise of another day. “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). When Felix, the governor, heard the message of Paul concerning “righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:25).

Agrippa and Felix heard Paul explain the suffering and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 26:23). Agrippa replied to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 20:28). Paul answered, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds” (Acts 26:29).

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day” (John 9:4a).

The earthly ministry of Jesus was short but filled with many wonderful works. Jesus prepared his disciples to continue his work after he returned to the Father. “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me” (John 17:8). “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18).

Those disciples were taught by Jesus that “the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4b). We also must understand that the work of the harvest is urgent. We can not procrastinate because the fields are already white and ready for harvest (John 4:35).

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The Herbs or the Stalled Ox

Proverbs 15:16-17
Dec 09, 2018

“Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Proverbs 15:16-17).

Each of the verses from Proverbs 15:13-17 contain a contrast between something that is a blessing and something that is hurtful. The hurtful things are (1) the sorrow of the heart by which the spirit is broken, (2) the mouth of fools which feedeth on foolishness, (3) the days of the afflicted which are evil, (4) great treasure and trouble therewith, and (5) a stalled ox and hatred therewith. The fear of the LORD and the love of the LORD made the difference.

The blessed possessions are (1) a merry heart that maketh a cheerful countenance, (2) the heart of him that hath understanding and seeketh knowledge, (3) a merry heart is a continual feast, (4) better is a little with the fear of the LORD, and (5) better is a dinner of herbs than a stalled ox.

You can understand the reference to a stalled ox by a comparison to Luke 15:23 where the father is preparing for a celebration because his wayward son has come back home. “And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.” The “stalled ox” and the “fatted calf” describe the very best beef available for the feast.

The attention of so many people at this time of the year turns to shopping for the material possessions, and they are convinced that the material possessions will bring satisfaction and happiness. Near-riots break out in some stores as customers push to get that item which they think they must have but will soon be sold out.

Job was a man described in Job 1:3, “His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.” It was not sinful for Job to have great riches.

The problem is “great treasure and trouble therewith.” Paul wrote, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded [full of pride], nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate [to share with others]” (I Timothy 6:17-18).

I have known two extremely wealthy men, and both were very faithful to the Lord and very generous. They did not speak to others about their wealth, but people understood how the qualities of I Timothy 6:17-18 were shown in their actions.

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“The Washing of Water by the Word”

Ephesians 5:25-27
Nov 18, 2018

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

I. Washing and Purifying in the New Birth

“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” (Titus 3:5). This verse speaks of the same new birth that Jesus taught to Nicodemus. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Jesus explained to Nicodemus that this means to be “born of the Spirit.” The way you can receive this “washing of regeneration” is explained, “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).

This cleansing in the new birth is also described as “purifying” when Peter explained that Jews and Gentiles have the same way of salvation. “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9).

II. The Washing of Water by the Word Prepares for Christian Service

“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). Jesus taught his first disciples, His first church, to be faithful, fruit-bearing disciples. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-10). He was teaching them a lesson about being prepared for Christian service. Those disciples were already saved. Walking in this world with all the wickedness around us, we will become contaminated by sinful influences. I Corinthians 5:10 explains that, if you want to get completely away from sin, you will need to “go out of this world.” We still have our own sinful flesh to fight against. Paul describes the fight in Romans 7:14-25.

You will have failure, and you will need cleansing. The word of God will teach you what is wrong. The word of God will show you how to have your fellowship restored. The word of God will show you how to make confession so that you can have forgiveness. This is the washing of the water by the word.

The Old Testament gives us an illustration of the need to be clean and ready for our service to God. “And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Exodus 40:12-13).

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“Forbearing One Another in Love”

Ephesians 4:1-3
Nov 04, 2018

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).

There are no commands given in the New Testament for unbelievers to be in regular attendance when the members of one of the Lord’s churches “come together therefore into one place” (I Corinthians 11:20, 14:23). One verse showing that visitors could be in the church meetings is James 2:2. I Corinthians 14:23-24 specifically speaks of “one that believeth not” who was in the services.

The Lord gave to the church at Corinth the spiritual gifts of speaking in other languages (or tongues) and the gift of interpreting the different languages. A disorderly service could cause a visitor to say, “Ye are mad” (I Corinthians 14:23). These services were to be conducted “decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:40) with the qualities shown in Ephesians 4:1-3 so that the meetings would show Christian love and fellowship.

A recent bulletin used the first section of the booklet Three-Fold Commitment To Evangelism by Brother Paul Goodwin. In the introduction to the second section, Brother Goodwin writes, “Evangelism involves a commitment to help each other. A church patterned after the teachings of the New Testament is a close knit spiritual community. It provides a proper spiritual atmosphere for growth and development of God-given talents. There is strength and protection for the weak and the challenge of hard and creative work for the strong. We are so constituted as to need each other. The Bible does not teach us to be ‘Lone Ranger’ Christians.”

Brother Goodwin used the study of geese flying in the “V” formation to illustrate how we can do more by helping each other. “Two engineers calibrated in a wind tunnel what happens in such a “V” formation. Each goose in flapping his wings creates an upward lift for the goose that follows. When all the geese do their part in the “V” formation, the whole flock has a 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. Each then depends on the other to get to its destination. Something else, when a goose begins to lag behind, the others “honk” him back into place.”

“When one goes in his own self-willed way ignoring the needs of his brothers and sisters in Christ, he becomes a weight to drag down rather than a wing to lift up. God’s ideal is that his children, as well as his creatures, be committed to helping one another. A commitment to help one another makes for health and happiness for the individual, gives strength to the church body, and bears a powerful testimony to those on the outside. As outsiders observe the warmth of love and care that church members have for each other, the Lord uses that to cause a desire for them to experience the same love and caring spirit. Thus, as Christians help each other, they help a lost world.”

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“Rejoice, and Be Exceeding Glad”

Matthew 5:12
Oct 28, 2018

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12).

I. Why are words so similar in meaning used together? The two words “rejoice” and “glad” are so close in meaning that it seems like repetition. Another New Testament example is in Revelation 19:7. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”

We find the combined use of these words very often in the Old Testament (I Chronicles 16:31, Psalm 9:2, 31:7, 32:11). Psalm 32:11 is especially interesting because of the use of three words that are similar. “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart” (Psalms 32:11). In the word definitions in the Hebrew lexicon, “rejoice” is described as “jump for joy.” The use of both words has the effect of putting extra emphasis on the truth of the statement.

II. “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Jesus taught the seventy disciples who were sent “two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come” (Luke 10:1) that having their names written in heaven was a greater cause of rejoicing than having the devils “subject unto us through thy name” (Luke 10:17).

III. “I joy, and rejoice with you all” (Philippians 2:17). These words, along with Philippians 2:13-18, show Paul’s joy because of the Lord’s blessings as the Lord worked through the church of the Philippians. They shined as lights in the world. They held forth the word of life. When any one of the Lord’s churches will stand as a “pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15), we have cause for gladness and rejoicing. We can even rejoice in persecution (Matthew 5:10-12).

IV. “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1). There are commands and examples of Israel gathering at the tabernacle, which is called the house of the LORD (Exodus 23:19). Before the temple was built, the tabernacle was a special place of God’s presence, a place of making offerings, and a place around which the congregation gathered for worship (Leviticus 9:23-24). The temple built in the days of Solomon is also called the house of the LORD. That house was a special place of prayer and a place of God’s presence (II Chronicles 6 and 7).

V. The use of the word “glad” in Psalm 122:1 reminds us that to go into the “House of the Lord” is a joyful privilege. We do have a plain Bible command that tells us to assemble as a church body. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

The word “exhorting” explains one of the reasons for being in the church services. This word speaks of standing beside another person to lift them up with encouragement.

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Three-fold Commitment of Evangelism

II Timothy 2:15, 3:16-17
Oct 14, 2018

This article is adapted from a 35 page booklet written by Brother Paul Goodwin (1915-2004) who served as my teacher in the Evangelism and Church History classes at the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas (1958-1964). Brother Goodwin has passed on to be with the Lord. This article is from the introduction to the booklet.

The Bible is the Source Book on Evangelism

“There is no room for man's vain philosophies of fast easy evangelism. Every motive, every emotion, every experience must be tested under the white light of God's eternal Word. Evangelism that will stand the test of time and eternity is Bible based. It is narrow; no wider than the Book.”

The Bible Defines Evangelism

“No clearer definition of Bible evangelism can be found than in the Great Commission: Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Leading a person to accept Christ as his sin-sacrifice and to experience the new birth is not the sum total of evangelism. The work is not finished until that saved sinner has been scripturally baptized and is learning to observe all that Christ commanded. Hence Bible based evangelism will produce self-supporting churches which are evangelistic in belief and practice.”

The Bible Commands Evangelism

“Go ye” is a divine imperative. God has given us a definite work to do. Our only choice is to obey or disobey. If we obey Him, God will enable us to do what He has commanded, therefore evangelism is not an impossible mission. It is the normal work of a normal church. Zero evangelism is the result of an abnormal church, a sick church body.”

The Bible Furnishes Instruction for Evangelism

“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” (II Timothy 3:16-17). “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

After the introduction, Brother Goodwin gives his outline of these three divisions of commitment.

  • Commitment To Jesus Christ
  • Commitment To Helping One Another In The Church
  • Commitment To The Lost

It is my plan to prepare lessons based on the Bible principals of these three divisions.

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Elijah’s Challenge

I Kings 18:21
Oct 07, 2018

“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (I Kings 18:21).

I. Elijah Lived in Dangerous Times

King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, led the nation of Israel in the worship of the false god, Baal. “And Ahab made a grove; and 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).

At the beginning of Elijah’s ministry, he delivered the message of the severe drought to Ahab. “As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (I Kings 17:1). “Elias [or Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17).

II. The Lord Took Care of Elijah During These Perilous Time

The LORD provided for Elijah in an amazing way during the drought. “And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook” (I Kings 17:6). The LORD directed Elijah to a widow in Zarephath who was down to her last small amount of food. “And Elijah said unto her, 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)

III. Elijah Challenged the Prophets of Baal to Prove That the LORD is God

“Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again” (I Kings 18:37). Elijah stood against the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the groves (I Kings 18:19). The false prophets utterly failed, and the LORD heard Elijah’s prayer. “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God” (I Kings 18:39).

IV. Lessons from Elijah’s Challenge

The overwhelming numbers of the false prophets did not determine the LORD’s will. The widow of Zaraphath faced her own challenge. Would she prepare the last food she had for herself and her son? Would the widow trust the true servant of the LORD? She faced the challenge with faith in the LORD and the LORD’s prophet.

This lesson from the Old Testament reminds us that we need to pay close attention to the teaching of the Old and New Testaments. Remember that the book of James uses the lesson of Elijah in teaching the New Testament Christians about prayer.

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“God’s Heritage”

I Peter 5:3
Sep 30, 2018

“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (I Peter 5:3).

I. The Context for I Peter 5:3

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (I Peter 5:2).

This scripture is specifically directed to the pastors, shepherds, overseers, of the Lord’s churches that were in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (I Peter 1:1). All the members of those congregations could learn valuable lessons by careful study of Peter’s inspired letters. Another passage that has a similar message is Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” This verse is the instruction of the Apostle Paul to the elders of the Lord’s church in Ephesus.

A very common description of a church congregation is the word “flock.” Jesus, to his first church during his earthly ministry, said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

II. “Heritage” Defined

The word “heritage” is a common word in the Old Testament. It is used in Exodus 6:7-8, “And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.”

This verse supports the teaching that the nation of Israel was a special covenant people with a special purpose in the work of God and reaffirms the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12.

The word “heritage” is only used one time in the King James Bible. The word “inheritance” in Ephesians 1:11, 14 is from the same word in the Received Text. In the study of this word in Strong’s Concordance and Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, we learn that the meaning is: “a chosen possession.”

We have scriptural support to value a New Testament church as a chosen possession of the Lord:

  • “The church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
  • “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
  • “To behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15).

III. We Show Our Value for God’s Heritage

After receiving Christ as our Savior, we follow the example of Christ in obedience to his example. Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17). Jesus observed the first communion with his church (Matthew 26:26-30). Jesus gave the commission to be a witness in all the world (Acts 1:8). Working to serve Christ in his church, his heritage, we can give glory to God. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).

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God Cares for You

I Peter 5:6-8
Sep 23, 2018

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:6-8).

I. The Positive Statement of God’s Care

The word “care” in I Peter 5:7 is the interest and concern involving forethought and provision. The same care and provision is shown in Luke 10:34-35 with the care of the Samaritan for the man who had been wounded, robbed, and left half dead. The same care is used in I Timothy 3:5 speaking of the care and concern that the pastor is to have for his flock, the church of God. The word is also used in the negative way in John 10:13, “The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.”

II. You Need God’s Loving Care

The devil is your enemy. The devil desired to shake and sift the Apostle Peter as wheat to damage his testimony (Luke 22:31). Peter was told by the Lord, “Thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me” (Luke 22:34). Jesus still cared for Peter and made this promise: “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). The statement of Jesus about Peter being converted is not about Peter receiving the new birth, but that statement is about Peter coming to repentance for his denial of the Lord and his coming to a position of being less arrogant and more surrendered to the Lord.

III. Be Careful for Nothing

“Be careful [or full of care] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Vine’s Bible Dictionary shows us that there is a difference between the word “care” in I Peter 5:7 and the word “care” used as part of “careful,” which means worry and anxiety, in Philippians 4:6. The Old Testament word “fret” is similar to the word “worry.” “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity” (Psalm 37:1). “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass” (Psalm 37:7).

IV. Help and Care from the Lord

There is help and care from the Lord when worry, anxiety, and fretfulness come upon you. “There hath no temptation [trial ] taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted [tried] above that ye are able; but will with the temptation [trial] also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13).

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Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement

Leviticus 23:27-28
Sep 16, 2018

“Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God” (Leviticus 23:27-28).

The seventh month in the Jewish calendar began with the first day of the new moon. This year at sunset on Tuesday, September 18, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, will begin and continue for 25 hours. The Hebrew name for this day is Yom Kippur.

The words “holy convocation” mean a holy gathering. Leviticus 23:27-32 teaches that this day of atonement is a “sabbath of rest.” It is very important to understand that a sabbath day may not be the seventh day of the week. This fact is essential in learning the time in the week for the crucifixion of Jesus.

The word “atonement” is used one time in the King James New Testament. In Romans 5:11, the word means “reconciliation.” “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” The exact same word is used in Romans 5:10. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” The word “propitiation” also means the same as reconciliation or atonement.

Vine’s Bible Dictionary shows that the Yom Kippur has a connection to the word “propitiation.” “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25).

If properly understood, the day of atonement in the Old Testament would teach Israel and the Gentiles that God’s grace could be received by faith. God’s true prophets were preaching that message. This statement is proven in the message of Peter to the household of Cornelius. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

The sacrifices on the day of atonement (one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs, Numbers 29:2) were a picture that the Messiah, who was to come, would offer himself for an atonement. The message of the suffering Messiah was made clear in Isaiah 53.

Romans 5 was addressed to the people in the congregation, the church, in Rome. People not saved and/or not a part of any Bible teaching church can benefit greatly from these lessons in the word of God. By faith in Jesus Christ, who died for us on the cross of Calvary, we can have (a) Justification, (b) Peace with God, (c) Hope, (d) The love of God in our hearts, (e) The Holy Ghost which is given to us, and (f) Joy (Romans 5:1-11).

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“For Our Sakes, No Doubt, This is Written”

I Corinthians 9:9-10
Sep 09, 2018

“For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope” (I Corinthians 9:9-10).

The Old Testament scripture about the oxen is Deuteronomy 25:4. I Corinthians 10:11 also teaches a valuable lesson concerning the deliverance of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” These two examples show us the principal of “The Specific Command” and “The General Lesson.”

In understanding any verse, we are to consider “To whom is the verse directed?” Consider “The Specific Command” to Abraham in Genesis 22:2, “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Only Abraham was given the specific command to offer Isaac for a burnt offering. We still can learn a beneficial lesson from the testing of Abraham, as Hebrews 11:17-19 teaches us.

The sending of Paul and Barnabas from the church in Antioch is another example of the “Specific Command.” Acts 13:1-4 shows the specific command to the church in Antioch. The specific command was: “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” We can correctly use the example of the Antioch church for mission work in this time.

The age of the Apostles has ended. The Bible is now a completed book. The age of direct audible commands has ended. There is no Bible verse that has your name included in the verse, but we do have plain examples that you can consider as a message from the Lord.

A religious man without Christ as Savior can read the message to Nicodemus, a religious man. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Jesus also said to Nicodemus, “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). That man does not see his name in these verses, but he can see the word “Whosoever” and know, “these verses apply to me. I can believe on Jesus Christ and have everlasting life.”

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“I Know Thy Works, and Thy Labour”

Revelation 2:2
Sep 02, 2018

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars” (Revelation 2:2).

The Lord’s church in Ephesus is the first of the seven churches addressed in the book of Revelation. This church had a unique history (Acts 18:19-19:41). Paul, Apollos, Aquila, and Priscilla had important influence in the establishment of this church.

Paul determined that the initial immersion received by the first disciples in Ephesus was not valid for church membership, so he correctly baptized them. The effectiveness of the Lord’s work in Ephesus is described in Acts 19:10, “so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” We also learn from Acts 19:20, “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”

Very good work for the Lord was done in Ephesus. Revelation 2:2 is a commendation of their work for the Lord. The word “labour” [Old English form of “labor”] is used in 2:2 and 2:3, and it stresses the toil that causes weariness. The motivation of these disciples in this church is given in 2:3, “And hast borne[as a burden], and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.”

Revelation 2:5 is a reminder of their responsibility to “do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

Dr. Fred G. Stevenson explains the removal of the candlestick in his Commentary on Revelation. “There is a threat to remove the candlestick from the Ephesus church. This is to be done unless the church remembers from whence it has fallen, and repents, and does the first works. The candlestick is the empowering and guiding office of the Holy Spirit, which came on the church on Pentecost. The continuance of the Holy Spirit in this office to any given church is based on the adherence of the church to the New Testament rule of faith and practice. Either the church repents and returns to the Scripture rule or the guiding Spirit is withdrawn. When the Spirit is withdrawn, the body ceases to be recognized as a church by Christ. It goes on operating as a religious body, but, without the guiding Spirit, it always drifts further into apostasy and unscriptural beliefs and practices.”

No individual loses his salvation in the removing of the candlestick from the church, but he does lose the fellowship with Christ through the Spirit if he gives his consent to the unscriptural ways of his church.

It is so serious that a church such as the one in Ephesus, working and laboring for the name’s sake of Christ, could leave their first love, then lose their position as a lighthouse for Christ. The Lord’s churches today needs to be on guard against this danger.

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The Bed is Too Short, The Cover is Too Narrow

Isaiah 28:20
Aug 26, 2018

“For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it” (Isaiah 28:20).

One commentary refers to the language of this verse as “proverbial,” the lesson given in a simple way (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown). Another commentary introduces this section of Isaiah with the heading, “Inadequate Religions” (The Interpreter’s Bible). We can picture a cold night when a comfortable bed and adequate blankets would be such a comfort.

  1. There was no protection from heathen nations. Israel in the time of Isaiah was surrounded by enemy nations. At times, Israel sought protection by making a covenant with Egypt. This is shown in Isaiah 30:2-3, “That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.” Protection from Egypt was like a bed too short and a covering too narrow.
  2. There was no satisfaction in wine and strong drink. “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat [rich] valleys of them that are overcome with wine!” (Isaiah 28:1). “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment” (Isaiah 28:7). The confusion with the priest and the prophet was like a bed too short and a covering too narrow.
  3. There was no stability with a foundation of shifting sand. This truth is made plain in Matthew 7:26-27. “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” The opposite of the shifting sand is the sure foundation of tried, tested stone. This is described in Isaiah 28:16 and quoted in I Peter 2:6, “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” Any religion or any faith based on mortal, sinful man is like a bed too short and covering too narrow.
  4. There is no eternal salvation by man’s own works. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Trusting your own works and righteousness is like a bed too short and a covering too narrow.

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“Victory Through Our Lord Jesus Christ”

I Corinthians 15:57
Aug 19, 2018

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:57).

When we examine the word “victory” in Vine’s Bible Dictionary, we see that there are three other words in our King James Bible that are translated from the same Greek word.

I. Conqueror

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:35-37).

None of these afflictions can be victorious in any attempt to pull us away from the Lord. The word “conquerors” means “pre-eminently victorious” (Vine’s Bible Dictionary). The victory is through our Lord Jesus Christ.

II. Overcome

“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” (John 16:33). These words were spoken to encourage the Lord’s disciples as they faced tribulation. A similar promise is given by John: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:4-5).

III. Prevail

“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Revelation 5:5). The book is a legal document that gives us title to all the blessings purchased for us through the blood of the Lamb of God. Only Jesus Christ could be victorious and accomplish what was required to purchase those blessings for us.

IV. Victory

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (I Corinthians 15:54). James tells us that “sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). Paul explains, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Jesus completely prevailed, overcame, conquered and was victorious over death. Because Jesus Christ rose from the grave, we who are in his grace will have total victory over death. The entire fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians proclaims this truth and ends with this conclusion, “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).

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“Labouring Fervently”

Colossians 4:12
Aug 12, 2018

“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).

When we look at the different Bible verses where the word “fervent” is used, we see that the meaning is “intense,” “earnest,” or “zealous.” In II Peter 3:10-12, the “fervent heat” that causes the earth and the works that are therein to dissolve is an intense heat.

A person may be fervent, earnest, and zealous in a work or religion but be terribly wrong in their goals and actions. For example, those Jews who had a “zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” tried to establish their own righteousness, refused the imputed righteousness of God, which is received by faith (Romans 10:2-4).

Apollos is a good example of a servant of the Lord who needed to be instructed more completely in the way of God. “This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:25-26). The helpful attitude of Aquila and Priscilla was a blessing to Apollos and to the other disciples in Ephesus.

Obeying the commission of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8) is so important that the churches of the Lord need to take on the work with zeal supported by Bible knowledge. Enthusiasm guided by truth is always in order. The opposite of being fervent and having enthusiasm is described in Romans 12:11 as being slothful in business.

The prayers of Elijah show us a good example of fervent prayer. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:16-17).

The hymn “Sunlight” (In Spirit and In Truth, Hymn 380) has these words in the third verse:

While walking in the light of God,
I sweet communion find.
I press with holy vigor on,
And leave the world behind.

The word “vigor” means “with intensity of action or effect,” and it fits very well with “fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

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The Open Door

John 10:7, 9
Aug 05, 2018

“Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7). “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 10 is often compared to Psalm 23, which begins with “The LORD is my shepherd.” In Psalm 23:2, we read, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” This verse and John 10:9 speak of the good shepherd providing the necessary food and water for his sheep. The Lord’s protection and provision is also taught in Matthew 6:31-33, “Therefore take no thought, 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.”

I. Jesus Christ is the One Door Into Salvation

Romans 5:1-2 teaches us about “access,” which has the meaning of gaining entrance, a doorway into God’s grace. “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.”

II. God Opens A Great Door For Effectual Service

In the following three scriptures, the word “door” is used to indicate an opportunity.

  1. “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (I Corinthians 16:9). From the mention of Ephesus in I Corinthians 16:8, it is often thought that the place of this “great door” was the three years of Paul’s work with the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:31).
  2. “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord” (II Corinthians 2:12).
  3. “Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds” (Colossians 4:3).

III. God Opens A Door That No Man Can Shut

“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8). This open door was a blessing from God because the church in Philadelphia had been faithful.

IV. The Door To the Laodicean Church was Closed

The Laodicean church needed to repent. They thought that they were rich and had need of nothing. In fact they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). Jesus said to that church, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). This church was so far out of the will of the Lord that Jesus was on the outside, knocking on the door, wanting someone to open the door so that he could come inside and have fellowship.

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The Earth Drinks in the Rain

Hebrews 6:7-8
Jul 29, 2018

“For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:7-8).

The last few verses of Hebrews 5 have a rebuke to those who received this letter. They were not growing stronger in the word of the Lord. They were still babes (Hebrews 5:13) using milk when they should have been able to digest strong meat. “Let us go on unto perfection” (Hebrews 6:1). “Perfection” refers to maturity, growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18).

When we consider our text verses, we learn this lesson: “We have been blessed of the Lord, like the earth drinking in the refreshing, nourishing rain. Just as the earth brings forth beneficial fruit, even so we, with God’s blessings, should bear fruit for the Lord.” Jesus taught a similar lesson, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5) and “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). Note: The word “abideth” refers to making our home in Christ, settled down in Him, day after day. Abiding is not just coming to fellowship with Him once in a while for a short visit.

When the LORD gave His law in the book of Leviticus, he gave these promises: “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit” (Leviticus 26:2-4).

The lack of rain is used as a picture of the LORD’s chastisement. The refreshing rain is used in the Old Testament as a picture of God’s blessing. In the time that king Ahab and his wife Jezebel were leading the nation of Israel to worship and serve the false god, Baal, Elijah prayed to the LORD God, who stopped the rain for three and one half years (I Kings 17).

Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal, “Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (I Kings 18:19-21).

Elijah proved that the LORD was the true God, and the prophets of Baal were destroyed. After this, the LORD sent the “great rain” (I Kings 18:45, James 5:17-18).

The Lord God still works today to chastise his own people. The Lord does this “for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 12:6-10). The LORD still sends the rain of his blessings to us so that we can bear fruit for him.

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“To This End was I Born”

John 18:37-38
Jul 22, 2018

By: Jeffery K Barron II

“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:37-38).

This past week, four churches (3 from Colorado and 1 from Georgia) were represented at our annual RMMBA Camp at Camp Eden. We all enjoyed fun in the activity center, on the zip line, in the human foosball house, and in boats on the cool waters of the pond. The Lord blessed us with good weather and great fellowship.

In our daily lessons, we studied the Life and Ministry of Christ.

On the first day, we gave our attention to the birth of Jesus. While we know that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is not deity (as some may teach), we can be sure that she had “found favour with God” (Luke 1:30). In fact, she demonstrated her faith and submission to the will God when she said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).

On the second day, we studied the work of Jesus concerning the start of his church. He called out his assembly, his church, to follow him and taught to prepare his church for the work of the kingdom.

On the third and final day, we discussed the mind, misery, and mercy of Jesus on the cross. The Father made Jesus “to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:21). Jesus “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 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” (2 Peter 2:22-24).

While on trial before Pilate, Jesus explained why he was born: (1) to be a king, and (2) to bear witness of the truth! In establishing his church, he instituted the means to declare and defend the truth until the his return. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15). “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10).

Pilate may not have understood what Jesus meant by “the truth,” and he didn’t wait for Jesus to answer, but we can know why Jesus was born! Do we believe it? Can we say in faith and confidence that we are “of the truth” and hear and understand the voice of Jesus? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

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“The Keys of the Kingdom”

Matthew 16:18-19
Jul 15, 2018

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [a pebble], and upon this rock [a huge foundation stone] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).

Some important questions need to be answered in regards to Matthew 16:18-19. Was Peter the foundation and the pope for the first church? No! The word “pope” is never used in the Bible to speak of Peter or of any other church leader. In fact, Jesus Christ is shown to be the foundation. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3:11). In I Peter 2:6, we read, “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” Please notice that the words “a sure foundation” are in Isaiah 28:16.

Why do you believe that the “keys of the kingdom” refer to the authority by which Jesus has commissioned his churches to take care of his business described in Matthew 28:19-20? Consider these three examples of a local church body taking care of the Lord's work.

  1. When Matthias was selected and numbered with the eleven apostles, the selection was done by the body of disciples, the church (Acts 1:22-26).
  2. When deacons were selected, the whole church body chose seven men (Acts 6:1-6).
  3. When Paul and Barnabas were called of the Lord, they were sent forth by the church at Antioch. This fact is also shown in Acts 14:26-27. “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.”

Why do you teach that the “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven” is connected to the Lord's churches? We cannot use the language “kingdom of God” to mean “salvation.” In the parable of the vineyard of Matthew 21:33-46, we find that the “kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). Salvation will never be taken from a child of God! However, one of the Lord’s churches can lose their authority to do his work in the kingdom.

“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16). Consider our word “oppression,” which comes from the same Greek word translated as “presseth.” Some translate the word as “press violently.” The message of John the Baptist and Jesus, “Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” was not a new way of salvation. God’s prophets had preached salvation by faith throughout the years of the Old Testament (Acts 10:43).

John was sent “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Jesus called out those “people prepared for the Lord.” That called out body (ekklesia or church) began to use the keys of the kingdom to do his work. From the great commission, we see that his churches are to keep working to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).

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“How Great a Matter a Little Fire Kindleth!”

James 3:5
Jul 08, 2018

“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 3:5).

There are ten destructive wildfires burning in Colorado. Other wildfires are burning in Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California. The Spring Creek fire in Colorado has destroyed more than 130 homes and burned more than 100,000 acres. The truth of James 3:5 is shown in this fire: it started with a small campfire that the camper thought he had extinguished.

The Bible reminds us of other small things that can cause great trouble. “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (I Corinthians 5:6). Bread dough with a small amount of leaven [yeast] would quickly be permeated throughout the lump of dough. Jesus warned his disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matthew 6:16). Jesus continued, “How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees”(Matthew 16:11-12).

The leaven of I Corinthians 5:6 is the immoral life of one member of the church body in Corinth. The entire church body was in danger of contamination if they did not, in the scriptural way, obey the command of I Corinthians 5:13, “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

The leaven of Matthew 16:6 is the false doctrine. This warning applies to any false doctrine. In the commission of Matthew 28:20, an important section of that commission is: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Consider the church services to be a classroom, and the Bible to be our text book.

The little matter that can quickly become like a raging wildfire is the use of the tongue to spread hurtful lies and malicious gossip. Please notice the strong language of James 3:3-12. The small bits in the horses mouth can be used to control a powerful animal. The small helm can be used to turn a great ship. “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”(James 3:7-8). Mankind in his own strength and wisdom cannot tame the tongue, but there is wisdom and strength from God above (James 3:17). This statement about “deadly poison” can be applied to the teaching and preaching of doctrine contrary to the word of God.

Here is a good positive command to memorize and obey: “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

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Persecution Cannot Stop the Lord’s Work

Acts 4:18-20
Jul 01, 2018

“And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 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” (Acts 4:18-20).

The Lord’s church in Jerusalem, with God’s blessing and the power of the gospel, was winning thousands to salvation and membership. About three thousand had received the word and were baptized on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). About five thousand men had heard the word and believed just a short time later (Acts 4:4). Stephen was a powerful witness for the Lord, and those who opposed him “Were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake” (Acts 6:10). After Stephen was stoned to death because of the gospel message, “There was great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1). This persecution was used of the Lord to get his work into other areas.

We are taught to obey the laws of civil government except when civil laws are in opposition to God’s laws. “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The Baptist churches in the American colonies were facing persecution because they were determined to obey Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Persecution prompted the Baptist people to take a stand for independence from England and her king, George III.

The following accounts are from the book, American Patriots and the American Revolution, written in 1876 by William Cathcart, Baptist pastor in Philadelphia.

The Episcopal church was the official state church in Virginia. Taxes were collected from all citizens to support that church, and Baptist churches could not lawfully conduct their services. In June 1768, John Waller, Lewis Craig, and James Childs, three Baptist ministers, were arrested in Spottsylvania, Virginia on the charge of “preaching the gospel contrary to law.”

“May it please your worship,” said the prosecuting attorney, “they cannot meet a man on the road without ramming a text of scripture down his throat.” In Sturbridge, Massachusetts, the Baptist families who would not pay to support the Congregationalist ministers had a visit from the tax collectors who “took pewter from the shelves, skillets, pots, and warming pans, workman’s tools, and spinning wheels. They took geese, swine, and cows.

As the plans for the war for independence developed, Baptist associations held special prayer services and passed resolutions in support of the movement for independence. Baptist pastors volunteered to serve as chaplains in the Revolutionary Army. John Gano, pastor of the First Baptist Church of New York, served as chaplain with Washington’s troops during the hard cold winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

We can still heed the exhortation of Paul, “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” (I Timothy 2:1-2).

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“Perfect Law of Liberty”

James 1:25
Jun 24, 2018

“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:25).

The “perfect law of liberty” is the word of God and is defined as the “word of truth” (James 1:18). We can look into the word of God, receive it, and continue in it. To be blessed, we need to remember and not be forgetful of the message of the word of God.

Also, consider that the “engrafted word” (James 1:21), the word of God implanted into the heart, is able to save your souls. This word “souls” refers to the lives that can be devoted and used in the Lord’s service. This meaning is also shown in the words of Jesus, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24). The Greek word “psuche” is “life” in Luke 9:24 and “souls” in James 1:21.

The “law of liberty,” according to James 2:12, is the standard for God’s judgment. Jesus referred to this judgment, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

The word “perfect,” meaning “complete,” also describes the word of God in I Corinthians 13:10, “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” At the time this verse was written, the Bible had not been finished, but Paul anticipated that the completion would soon come. So, Paul instructed the Corinthian church so that they would understand which spiritual gifts would continue and which would be taken away. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (I Corinthians 13:13). These three gifts are with us now. The other gifts, beneficial in the early years of the Lord’s churches, have fulfilled their purpose and have been “done away” (I Corinthians 13:10).

Much of the book of Galatians deals with Paul’s efforts to correct the false gospel and the false doctrine that the New Testament Christians were still under bondage to the law of Moses. In Acts 15:1, we read of a conference in Jerusalem with brethren from the Antioch church meeting with the Apostles and elders to confront the false doctrine that “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”

Paul wrote to the Galatians, “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Galatians 2:4).

Paul explains, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” ( Galatians 5:1). He also tells them, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” ( Galatians 5:13). The love of Christ calls us to a higher standard of New Testament dedication in “faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6).

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What is Natural Affection?

II Timothy 3:3
Jun 17, 2018

“Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good” (II Timothy 3:3).

The first five verses of II Timothy 3 are a vivid description of the conditions that prevail in the perilous last days. Our attention will focus on the “without natural affection.” According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, there is just one Greek word that is translated with these three English words.

Consider the word “affection,” which speaks of love of kindred and family (Thayer’s page 82 and A.T. Robertson’s page 333). The word “natural” speaks of that which is the normal condition of our human nature as it is under the curse of sin. The word “without” is from one Greek letter, the “a,” which changes the language to a negative. Mankind’s entire being has been affected by sin, and this includes our physical body, our mind, our spirit, our conscience, our will, and our desires. In the lost condition, we “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:3). “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

The normal, regular condition in family affection is that the parents love, take care of, and provide for their children. The right normal way is that the children love, respect, and obey the parents.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). The blessed condition in the marriage is: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

Sin in the human heart and in human society will cause people to go against God’s will and God’s law. It is not the natural, normal, right way for a father or mother to abandon the children. Yet that happens too many times leaving a broken home where the children suffer the most.

Beautiful illustrations of paternal and maternal affection can be seen in the animal kingdom. Have you ever watched a mother dog gently groom, feed, and protect her litter of little pups. The most serious danger that I ever faced from an animal was when I got too close to a neighbor’s mother dog and her litter. I stepped up on the porch and surprised the mother dog who was all snuggled in her bed with her pups. In a split second, she leaped toward me, her sharp teeth fastened on the sleeve of my suit, and she ripped the sleeve but missed my arm. Before she could do any more damage, Mr. Morris opened the front door, and said, “Come on in Preacher, that dog won’t bite.” I could not blame the mother dog. She was just protecting her family, which was the normal, natural, right thing to do.

With God’s grace and help, the father can do the right thing and follow the commandment of Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

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“He Will Abundantly Pardon”

Isaiah 55:7
Jun 10, 2018

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).

There is a great difference between the pardon offered by the LORD and the pardon offered by the official of civil government. Israel had committed a grievous sin in making and worshiping the golden calf. When Moses pleaded and interceded for the LORD to pardon Israel. God’s reply to Moses included these promises: “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7).

What a blessing for Israel to have Moses to intercede for them! Another situation that shows intercession by Hezekiah, the king of Israel, is in II Chronicles 30. Israel and Judah had neglected the correct observance of the passover for a long time. Many of the people were not sanctified and cleansed to keep the passover, “yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one. That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people” (II Chronicles 30:18-20).

Civil government can shorten the sentence and release from prison, but only God can give a pardon that includes mercy and forgiveness of sin. There are many testimonies of those in prison who have received Jesus Christ as Savior that still having to serve their sentence but now having God’s pardon, peace with God, and eternal life.

There is a very interesting connection between the word “pardon” and the Jewish holy day, the Day of Atonement. The word “pardon” is translated from the Hebrew word “kaphar” (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary). One form of the word is “kippur” as in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

In addition to the word “atonement,” Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary also shows that the words “redemption,” “satisfaction,” and “mercy” are connected to the word “pardon.” In the New Testament, the word “propitiation” has the meaning of “atonement.”

“And he [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2).

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“Your Reasonable Service”

Romans 12:1-2
May 20, 2018

“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).

The change that took place in our heart and soul when we received Christ by grace through faith has placed us in a position to present (yield) our bodies to the Lord. The right attitude for our presentation is shown by the prophet, Isaiah. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Our text scriptures teach us how we should serve the Lord.

  1. Our service is not to be designed and carried out according to the ways of the world. The word “world” (aion) refers to the system that is in opposition to God. We cannot rely on worldly wisdom, but we must search the scriptures to learn God’s way. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
  2. Our service to God is to be “reasonable service” or “intelligent service” (Berry) and is from the Greek word “logikos.” This word indicates “rational” thought. I was surprised that the same Greek word is used in I Peter 2:2 to describe the “sincere milk of the word.”
  3. Our service to God is to be proven to be the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. The word “prove” used in our text is defined as “to test, examine and scrutinize” (Thayer’s Lexicon). In New Testament times, the word was often used of the examination of gold and silver to determine if they were genuine.

In Luke 14:19, a man who had been invited to a great supper made the excuse, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.” He wanted to make a careful examination of the oxen to determine their quality.

In II Corinthians 8:8, Paul wrote, “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” Paul was writing of the sacrifices made by the churches of Macedonia to help their brethren in need. Their giving was a testimony of their love.

Others are watching us. They put us to the test. They examine the sincerity of our Christian life. We can let our light shine to show that our faith and service to God are genuine.

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Three Generations

II Timothy 1:5
May 13, 2018

“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” (II Timothy 1:5).

Timothy was greatly blessed by his family heritage. His grandmother and mother’s faith is described as “unfeigned faith.” Their faith was not just a pretense, and it was without hypocrisy. The word “dissimulation” is used to explain the word “feign,” which is used of an actor playing a part (Vine’s Bible Dictionary).

I can use the word “feign” from a personal example. Many years ago, I was walking through the woods with two of my brothers. A wild turkey ran in front of us dragging one wing and acting as if she were cripple. We chased her for about one quarter of a mile untill she flew up and quickly disappeared from our sight. I learned later that turkeys and quail would use that pretense (feigning) to draw away enemies from the nest.

We are introduced to Timothy in Acts 16:1-2. Timothy “was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium,” that is, he had a good reputation. Paul writes of Timothy, “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). The Greek word translated as “child” indicates that Timothy was just a toddler when he began to learn from the holy scriptures.

It is sad but true that some children do not have a godly example like Timothy had. The Old Testament book of I Kings gives the family history of many kings of Judah and Israel. We see the example of the wicked influence of three generations of kings. Omri (I Kings 16:25) did worse than all those before him. Ahab, the son of Omri (I Kings 16:29-30), took Jezebel as his wife, and they served Baal. After the brutal death of Ahab and Jezebel, their son, Ahaziah, began his reign. “And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” (I Kings 22:52).

Lois and Eunice are good examples for a mother’s influence. You need to seek the way of the Lord and follow His word in unfeigned faith. Generations who come after you can be blessed by your godly example, or they may be influenced to a life of unbelief and rejection of God’s grace by your ungodly example.

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“His Delight is in the Law of the LORD”

Psalm 1:2, Romans 7:22
Apr 29, 2018

Part I

The word “delight” in Psalm 1:2 has the meaning of “pleasure” or “rejoicing.” This word is used more in the Book of Psalms than in any other book of the Bible. In Psalm 1, there is a description of the actions of the godly person in contrast to the ungodly. “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” (Psalm 1:1-2).

Being blessed of the LORD is connected to your walking or way of living.

  1. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
  2. “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17).
  3. “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2).
  4. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).
  5. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). The word “circumspectly” means that we are to walk carefully, being on guard so that we do not stumble.

Part II

The word “delight” is used only one time in our King James New Testament Bible. Paul wrote, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22). A careful examination of the context of this verse is essential. Paul makes it plain that he was not a sinless Christian. He shows that in his fleshly nature there was no perfection. Notice the words of Romans 7:14, “I am carnal, sold under sin.” The meaning is, “I am still a slave under sin.” See also Romans 7:20, “Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”

So Paul’s fleshly, corrupt nature was in a battle against his new spiritual, inward godly nature. Paul could walk by faith, grow in grace, love the lord, and be a faithful servant even as the warfare between flesh and spirit was being fought.

If you have failures, do not give up! Ask God for stronger faith and grace. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

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Neither Purse nor Sword

Matthew 10:9, II Corinthians 10:4
Apr 22, 2018

“Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses” (Matthew 10:9). “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (II Corinthians 10:4).

This article and title are adapted from a sermon by a missionary, Tarleton Perry Crawford, who with his wife, Martha, served in China from February 27, 1852 until 1900. He received financial support through the Mission Board of Richmond, Virginia, in the beginning of his work. He found conditions in the Baptist mission work in China to be very hurtful to the principals found in the book of Acts. High schools and colleges were being operated with free schooling and free room and board being offered to any student who became a member of one of the Chinese Baptist churches. He found that this brought in members who showed no commitment or sincere faith in Christ. His conviction based in scripture is supported in this sermon. Brother Crawford wrote:

“He did not begin His work in Palestine by brandishing His sword, nor by distributing His gold and silver, His food and raiment, among its oppressed and indigent inhabitants. He did not first relieve their physical wants and then labor to save their souls, as is the modern fashion. He did not reverse the laws of human nature nor attempt to work a moral regeneration by physical means. He offered no money, no temples, no synagogues, no chapels in which they might meet for His worship. He founded no schools, no colleges, no seminaries in which they might study His teachings, but left them to provide all these things for themselves.” “On two occasions, and only two, he fed the hungry multitude that listened to Him all day long, but when they began to follow Him for the loaves and fishes He turned upon them, rebuked them sharply for the grossness of their perceptions, and drove them from Him.” “He did not desire to make religious parasites, paupers, camp followers and moral weaklings, but strong, healthy, self-reliant Christian men and women brave soldiers of the cross, ready and able to spend and be spent in His service.” “On His ascension to heaven, He commanded His disciples to preach it to every creature a long and arduous undertaking.” “Like their Master, they went forth in faith and humility to their work, confining their labors to preaching Christ crucified to the people, to sowing the seeds of spiritual life in their hearts, watering them with their tears, and waiting patiently for them to bear heavenly fruit through the ages.”

A Historical Note

A small booklet, Churches to the Front, was written by Dr. Crawford in 1892. The booklet was reprinted and distributed about 25 years ago by Dr. John Owen and Dr. John Penn, both pastors in Arkansas, who worked with the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock.

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The Gospel was Preached Unto Abraham

Galatians 3:8-9
Apr 15, 2018

“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Galatians 3:8-9).

Abraham lived approximately 2,000 years before Jesus Christ was born. The promise to Abraham that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3) was given when Abraham was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4). We learn more of Abraham’s understanding of Jesus Christ when Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). The promises given to Abraham were “good news.”

The word “gospel” used in our text means “good news.” The word gospel is used in I Corinthians 15:1-4. In these verses, the good news is that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

It was good news (the gospel message) for the Philippian jailer when he heard, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). It was good news (the gospel message) for Cornelius and his household when they heard the message of the Apostle Peter, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

Our understanding of God’s blessings in eternal salvation and God’s blessings in the provisions that he makes for us to have a fruitful abundant life (John 10:10) are greatly expanded if we take the word “gospel” in its literal meaning. When the Lord told his churches to “preach the gospel,” we take that to mean the whole range of the message of John 3:16 and Matthew 6:33.

The disciples of Jesus who heard his message in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, were God’s own born-again children, but it was gospel truth for them to hear, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). “These things” promised are shown in Matthew 6:31-32, “Therefore take no thought, 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.”

In Romans 4:1-5, “Justified by faith” means that Abraham had right standing with God in regards to his eternal salvation. “Justified by works” means that Abraham had right standing with God in his obedience to the command given by God, “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Genesis 22:2).

The words of James 2:18 help us to understand why we should be faithful in our works. “I will shew thee my faith by my works.” We can not see Abraham’s faith, but we can see his works that demonstrate his faith. As Jesus taught, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

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“Adorn the Doctrine of God”

Titus 2:10
Apr 08, 2018

“Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:10).

The word “adorn” is first used in the Old Testament in Isaiah 61:10. Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 in Luke 4:18-19, which describes the wonderful gracious message that Jesus preached. “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). Jesus ended his quote in the middle of Isaiah 61:2, and did not speak of “the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (Isaiah 61:2).

The last part of Isaiah 61 and 62 tells us of the glorious kingdom of Christ established on this earth described in Revelation 19 and 20. The glory of that kingdom is described in Isaiah 61:10, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”

Jeremiah 31 also predicts that the time of sorrow will end, and the LORD will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31-34). “Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry” (Jeremiah 31:4).

In the New Testament, the use of goodly stones for the adorning of the temple in Jerusalem is found in Luke 21:5. A godly woman is described in I Peter 3:4-5 where her beauty is not achieved by outward adorning of ornaments but with the inward beauty of “a meek and quiet spirit.”

The gospel of Christ is glorious (II Corinthians 4:4). The doctrine of God our Saviour is beautiful. Can that beauty be enhanced and adorned? Note: the basic foundation word for “grace” in the Greek New Testament is the word “beauty.”

The commandment of Titus 2:10 shows that God’s doctrine can be adorned by following the will of the Lord as Paul taught Titus. (1) “Speak the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1), (2) “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works; in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity” (Titus 2:7), (3) “Sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:8), (4) “Shewing all good fidelity” (Titus 2:10), (5) “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:10), and (6) “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

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“The Evening and The Morning Were The First Day”

Genesis 1:5
Apr 01, 2018

In Genesis 1, the Bible verses show the events for the first six days. The words “evening and morning” are used with each day. In Genesis 2:3, we read “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” In Judaism, the day is counted as beginning at sundown.

A Jewish rabbi, Maurice Lamm, on his website, Jewish Times, explains that the practice of beginning the day at sunset is logical because of the language of Genesis 1. He wrote, “Beginning the day with the night is, in a sense, a metaphor of life itself. Life begins in the darkness of the womb, then bursts into the brightness of the light and eventually settles into the darkness of the grave, which in turn is followed by the new dawn in the world to come.”

I can see a similar metaphor in II Corinthians 4:3-6. There is first the blindness and darkness of mankind without the gospel of Christ and “them which believe not” (II Corinthians 4:4). Then in salvation by grace through faith, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6).

Consider this: if Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday, how was he in the tomb for three days and three nights as shown in the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:40? Some answer by saying, “I do not see the words of Jesus as literally true.” Wrong answer!

The right answer must take into consideration the fact that the Jewish Passover could be observed on any day of the week, depending on which day the first month of the new year began, which was counted from the appearance of the new moon in the Spring. On the tenth day of the first month, the Passover lamb was selected (Exodus 12:3). In the evening of the fourteenth day, the Passover lamb was killed (Exodus 12:6).

The right answer also takes into consideration that Israel had one Sabbath each week, always on the seventh day, but they had other special Sabbaths. There could be two Sabbaths in one week. “And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands” (Luke 6:1). The idea that Jesus was crucified on Friday before the weekly Sabbath is based on the assumption that John 19:31 speaks of the regular weekly Sabbath. “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (John 19:31). Please note that the legs of Jesus were not broken (John 19:33).

By recognizing that John 19:31 is referring to a special Sabbath, we can see that the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:40 can be absolutely true. A schedule of events can be seen with Jesus in the tomb all of Wednesday night, Thursday night, and Friday night. Jesus was in the tomb all of the daylight hours of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The statement of Luke 24:1-3 does not set the time of the resurrection on the first day of the week. When the women came very early in the morning, Jesus was no longer in the tomb. The number of hours that he was no longer in the tomb are not given.

“He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:6).

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Prayer That Availeth Much

James 5:16
Mar 25, 2018

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

I must admit that I am not an expert in the subject of prayer. I am in need of understanding more about “effectual fervent” prayer. Perhaps you along with me are like the Lord’s disciples who requested, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).

Solomon is an example of praying for wisdom and knowledge (I Chronicles 1:7-11).

Daniel faced death at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel made the situation known to his three Hebrew friends and offered prayer to God. God provided their need (Daniel 2:13-23).

Elias [Elijah] is an example for us to learn about earnest prayer (James 5:17).

Paul is an example of praying for one of the Lord’s churches. “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).

Jesus Christ is the example of praying that the Father’s will be done (Luke 22:42).

Please notice some key words that are used in James 5:15-18.

“Effectual.” Thayer’s Lexicon gives the meaning as “To be operative,” “be at work,” “to put forth power.” The Greek word used here has the meaning of “energy.” One good way to explain this word is to say, “Put work with your prayers.” For example, the farmer who prays for a good harvest prepares the soil, plants the seed, cultivates and waters his crop, and then thanks God for the harvest.

“Fervent.” The Greek word used is “zeo,” which means “to boil” and “to have zeal.” The meaning is “to be earnest”. The word is the opposite of “Lukewarm”. The lukewarm condition of the church in Laodicea displeased the Lord (Revelation 3:16).

“Availeth.” This word means “to be strong,” “to prevail,” “to accomplish.” The lesson in Ephesians 6:10-18 about the armor for the Christian warrior begins with, “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Ephesians 6:18 tells us, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

We need effectual fervent prayer in all our worship and work for the Lord.

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“Seek the LORD, and His Strength”

Psalm 105:3-4
Mar 18, 2018

“Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore” (Psalm 105:3-4).

Another scripture that teaches us to seek the LORD’s face is II Chronicles 7:14. The LORD makes a promise to Solomon and the nation of Israel at the time the temple in Jerusalem was dedicated. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” To seek the LORD'S face is to seek his favor and blessing. We can seek his face and his strength.

Isaiah 55:1-6 has an invitation that can apply to the lost or to the LORD’s people, especially Isaiah 55:6, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” This verse implies that a time may come when the LORD cannot be found and is not near.

Jesus used the word “seek” in the physical sense in John 6:26 after he had fed the multitude of 5,000 men. “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” These people wanted to take Jesus by force and make him their king (John 6:15).

Jesus explained to Zaccheus that he had come “to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). Jesus was most concerned that the lost of this world come to him to receive him as the Son of God, the Savior. (John 1:12-13) Jesus also seeks those who will worship the Father “in spirit and in truth for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)

Jesus also taught his disciples to seek first the kingdom of God. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). In the kingdom of God, we can serve in this manner: “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” (Romans 14:17-18).

Paul preached in Athens, Greece on Mars Hill, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:27).

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“Counted Worthy”

II Thessalonians 1:5, 11
Mar 11, 2018

“Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer” (II Thessalonians 1:5). “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power” (II Thessalonians 1:11).

There is no self-glory in the words “counted worthy” in our text verses. We notice in II Thessalonians 1:11 that it is our God who counts them worthy of this calling. We do see that Paul by inspiration of God commended these faithful servants of the church of the Thessalonians for their work and suffering in the kingdom of God. There is a very big difference between those who seek to exalt themselves and those who hear the Lord say, “Well done, thou 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 25:21).

Consider how the word “counted” is used in Romans 4:3. “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” In Romans 4:5, Paul wrote, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” In these verses, there is no hint of boasting. It was by God’s goodness and grace that Abraham’s faith was counted for righteousness. Romans 4:6-8 shows the blessedness of God imputing righteousness without works, forgiving iniquities, and covering sins. “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” It was God who counted Abraham’s faith for righteousness and not Abraham who was doing the counting.

There are several verses in First and Second Thessalonians that teach us that these Christians “were ensamples [or examples] to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia” (I Thessalonians 1:7).

  1. “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).
  2. Their faith grew exceedingly and their charity [love] toward each other abounded. [increased]. “So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure” (II Thessalonians 1:4).
  3. They had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (I Thessalonians 1:9-10).

It is not surprising that this church was counted worthy of the kingdom of God. Note: the kingdom of God for the church age is the realm of Biblical service to God fulfilling the New Testament commission of Jesus Christ.

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The Lord is Longsuffering

II Peter 3:9
Mar 04, 2018

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).

This article will highlight three great Bible truths.

First: We can be sure of God’s promise. Since the word “promise” is singular, we need to examine the context to learn which promise of God is sure and steadfast, without slackness. That promise is shown in the next verse. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up”(II Peter 3:10). We can also say that all of the promises of God will not fail and “there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant” (I Kings 8:56).

Second: The LORD is longsuffering. Abraham interceded for Lot and the other people in Sodom and Gomorrah when God pronounced judgment on those wicked cities. The LORD delayed his judgment when Abraham asked God to spare the city if 50 righteous people could be found. Abraham then began to move the number lower; to 45, then to 40, to 30, finally to 20. God waited patiently but ultimately destroyed those cities.

God could have destroyed David the same day that he committed adultery, but God in mercy sent Nathan to warn David. David repented and sought God’s mercy (Psalm 51). In the New Testament, Peter cursed and denied Jesus Christ, but his remembrance of the words of Jesus caused Peter to go out and weep bitterly (Matthew 26:73-75). God in justice could have never used Peter again, but, in mercy, Peter was restored to useful service.

Third: God is not willing that any should perish. In John 3:15-16, Jesus uses the word “perish” to mean the opposite of having eternal life. God in grace desires that lost sinners receive eternal salvation. God’s will is that “all should come to repentance.” Some in their own will go against the will of God and do reject the gospel message. In John 5, Jesus preaches to the unbelieving Jews who sought to kill him. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40). Jesus does not say, “Ye cannot come to me!” He preaches, “Ye will not come to me!” Jesus warned those Pharisees who heard these words, “Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also” (John 8:19).

“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). “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).

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“Verily, Verily”

John 3:3
Feb 25, 2018

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

The scriptures for the message on Sunday night, 02/18/2018, were Revelation 3:14 and I Corinthians 1:20. We studied the use of the word “Amen” used in the Old and New Testaments. In Deuteronomy 27:11-26, the people of Israel answered, “Amen,” when Moses delivered God’s law to them. The meaning is: “God’s law is true, and we agree.” In Revelation 3:14, Jesus Christ is described as “The Amen, the true and faithful witness.”

The questions and discussions after the message showed the need for further lessons on the use of “Amen” in God’s word. Specifically, the use by Jesus of the term, “Verily, verily,” which is used 24 times in the New Testament and all of them in the Gospel of John. When Jesus said “Verily, verily,” which is “Amen, amen” in the Greek text and can be translated as “Truly, truly,” He is giving great importance to the subject under consideration.

When we study all 24 of the verses that have “Verily, verily,” we find a very wide range of Bible subjects. For example, in John 5:19 and John 8:58, Jesus speaks of the special relationship of obedience of the Son to the Father and shows that his relationship with the Father precedes the life of Abraham. This same truth is taught in John 17:5, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

The way of the new birth, eternal life, and salvation are taught John 3:3, 5:24-25, and 6:47. Connected to these verses are the verses that speak of Jesus as “the door” (John 10:7) and “the true bread from heaven” (John 6:32). The eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of Jesus are necessary for this everlasting life (John 6:53). Please understand this figurative language as speaking of receiving Jesus Christ 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).

Jesus foretold the sorrow that his disciples would experience at the time of his crucifixion. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy” (John 16:20). Two verses are directed to the Apostle Peter. In John 13:38, Jesus foretold that Peter would deny him three times. Jesus also told of the great persecution that Peter would face in his old age (John 21:18).

Many of the “Verily, verily” verses speak of the servants of the Lord. John 13:16 teaches us that we as servants are not greater than our Lord, and that we are to be submissive to our Lord as Jesus is submissive to his Father. When Jesus ascended back to his Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to empower his true servants to do greater works (John 14:12).

When we study the word of God or hear it correctly taught, we can say, “Amen, amen” or “Truly, Truly.”

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“If in This Life Only”

I Corinthians 15:19
Feb 18, 2018

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Corinthians 15:19).

In I Corinthians 15:12-19, we have 8 verses that present an argument using supposition to show the awful consequences should the resurrection of Christ be a false teaching. I Corinthians 15:17-18 give a summary, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” This message is not a false message. We are not the most miserable. The truth is stated in I Corinthians 15:20, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”

An important Bible principal is shown in the text verse, which shows that there is more to life than this present physical life, “If in this life only.” This present life is very precious.

The source of life is the LORD. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Life is compared to an athletic race in which we should put forth our best effort and laying aside the things which weigh us down and beset [hinder] us. We are to run this race of life with patience and keeping our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Life is a journey, and the walk on this journey is to be the walk by faith. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7). Abraham is an example of walking by faith and obeying the command of God even though Abraham did not fully understand what was ahead on his journey. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8).

The purpose of life is described in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Paul’s letter to the Lord’s church in Corinth teaches a similar lesson. “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).

In Luke 9:18-26, the Lord taught his own disciples a very important lesson about saving their lives. These disciples had everlasting life, and there was no danger of their losing their eternal salvation. The Lord’s promise to his disciples was, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

Jesus told his disciples, “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. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:23-24). The Christ-centered life is a useful life, a fruit-bearing life, and an abundant life. The self-centered life will be lost and not giving glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. This self-centered life is shown in I Corinthians 3:15 where the judgment for the Lord’s own people is described. “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Hopefully, these scriptures will teach us that life is precious and is to be used to glorify our Lord.

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“Our Word Toward You was Not Yea and Nay”

II Corinthians 1:17-18
Feb 11, 2018

“When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay” (I Corinthians 1:17-18).

Paul and Silas left from the church in Antioch in Syria to visit and strengthen churches in Asia (present day Turkey). At Mysia in the Northwest corner of Asia, they desired to go on into Bithynia along the Southeast coast of the Black Sea (Acts 16:7). However, the Lord had a different plan for their missionary work and made His will known with the vision of a man of Macedonia who said, “Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:9).

Obedience to the Macedonian call brought them into Philippi (Acts 16:12), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1), and Athens (Acts 17:15). Paul departed from Athens and came to Corinth where the church there was established. “and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). “And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:11).

In II Corinthians 1:11, Paul speaks of the church at Corinth “helping together by prayer for us.” He writes of his rejoicing and their rejoicing because of the Lord’s blessings in Corinth. Paul is planning a trip to Macedonia. It appears from the words in II Corinthians 1:15-16 that Paul will stop at Corinth on his way to Macedonia and visit again on his return trip. “That you might have a second benefit.” The word “benefit” is from the Greek word “charis,” which means “Grace or Blessing.” It would be a great blessing for the members of the church in Corinth to hear Paul teach God’s word.

From II Corinthians 12:15-21, 13:1-5. we learn that some in Corinth were questioning Paul’s dedication and honesty. There is a very interesting question in II Corinthians 1:17, “Did I use lightness?” Vine’s Bible Dictionary uses the word “fickleness,” which means deceitful, not steadfast to describe “lightness.” We would say, “Don’t make light of Paul’s word because he is truthful.”

“But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay” (II Corinthians 1:18). Paul was not giving them a confusing message, mixing some truth and some falsehood. He did not speak with a forked tongue. He was not a double minded man (James 1:8).

The gospel message is the message of truth and stability. “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (II Corinthians 1:20).

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“The Region and Shadow of Death”

Matthew 4:16, Isaiah 9:2
Feb 04, 2018

“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” (Matthew 4:16). “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2).

The light described in these two verses is our Lord Jesus Christ. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). Jesus also used light to represent the testimony of his disciples. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Paul instructs the church at Philippi to “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:15-16).

To walk in the light, according to I John 1:5-6, is to walk in fellowship with God. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:”

The “region and shadow of death” in Matthew 4:16 do not define a physical territory but rather speak of a spiritual condition. That spiritual condition of death and darkness which has affected all mankind is described in Romans 5:12. “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.”

The abounding grace of God (Romans 5:20) has provided a doorway so that every lost sinner may be delivered from the bondage of spiritual death. Jesus described this passing from death into life and said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

We speak of a person who dies as “passing away.” They pass from having physical life into the experience of death and to be in the presence of the Lord if they are saved (II Corinthians 5:8). With God’s grace in salvation, the order is reversed, and the new born again child of God “is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

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

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“Simplicity and Godly Sincerity”

II Corinthians 1:12, 11:2-3
Jan 28, 2018

“For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward” (II Corinthians 1:12). “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Corinthians 11:2-3).

Satan, in the Garden of Eden, used lies and confusion to beguile and deceive Eve. Paul feared that the members of the Lord’s church in Corinth would have their minds corrupted by lies and false doctrine. Paul writes of a bride engaged to be married to the Bridegroom, Christ, to encourage the church to remain true and faithful to Christ.

Several key words will be examined to help us understand these verses.

  • “Subtilty” speaks of cunning deceit.
  • “Corrupted” means to be defiled and damaged.
  • “Fleshly wisdom” shows man’s thinking as influenced by the sinful human nature.
  • “Simplicity,” according to Thayer’s Bible Lexicon, speaks of “sincerity,” “mental honesty,” “free from pretense,” “open and straight forward.”

Paul’s use of “simplicity” in our text verses fits so well with Paul’s statement in II Corinthians 4:2, “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.”

The teaching of God’s message in “simplicity and godly sincerity” emphasized that the faith of these New Testament Christians did not “stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:5).

The teaching of this true message showed that God, not man, received the glory. “That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:29-31).

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“Into a Desert Place, and Rest a While”

Mark 6:31
Jan 14, 2018

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:31).

The news sent by Brother Bill Cooper is that Brother Dennis Carrell made the trip back to the states for the examination by his cardiologist. The conclusion is that this was brought on by exhaustion. Brother Dennis is now doing fine, and, after a time of rest, he and his wife, Charlotte, will return to Mongolia to resume work on the Old Testament translation. Thank the LORD for this good news.

This report brought to mind the scripture in Mark 6:31 where the scripture shows us that a time of rest can be beneficial to the Lord’s disciples. Jesus and his disciples were experiencing some very stressful times. When they returned to Galilee, they were not received gladly. Many “were offended at him” (Mark 6:3). “And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching” (Mark 6:5-6).

There was no failure because the Lord and His disciples delivered the wrong message with the wrong motivation. The failure is shown in one statement: “because of their unbelief.”

In Mark 6:31, Jesus called his disciples into a desert place to “rest a while.” We are also told that they “had no leisure so much as to eat.” The Lord knew that a time of rest was needed. The beheading of John the Baptist is reported in Mark 6:22-29 and Matthew 14:10-12. The Lord’s disciples buried John’s body “and went and told Jesus” (Matthew 14:12). The death and burial of John influenced Jesus to go “into a desert place apart” (Matthew 14:13).

The very best of the Lord’s servants are still weak, earthen vessels who face many difficulties. Consider the list of problems in II Corinthians 4:8-10, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”

We need the encouragement, edification, and help of each other so that we do not faint (II Corinthians 4:1).

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Written by Brother Jeffery Barron and details the Old and New Testament scriptures concerning John the Baptist.

Scriptural Mission Work

Presented by Brother Jim Brasseal at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting held at Loveland Baptist Church, Loveland, Colorado on August 8, 2008.

The Trail of Blood

A small booklet written By Dr. J. M. Carroll (1858-1931) that details the history of the Lord’s churches through the ages and identifies the marks of a true New Testament Bible teaching church.

Five Points of Calvinism Refuted

Written by Brother Jeffery Barron and examines the false teaching of Calvinism based on the scriptures.

The Influence of Baptists

This article originally appeared in the May 1999 edition of the “West Florida Baptist News” (a publication of the West Florida Baptist Institute). Used with permission.

Verses That Seem Impossible

Presented at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting held at Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, Lakewood, Colorado on August 10, 2007. Bro Pierce is Pastor of Black Hills Missionary Baptist Church in Rapid City, South Dakota.