Friday, December 5, 2008

Trust the Son

"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." (Psalm 2: 2 KJV)

Salvation is promised to those who "kiss" and "put their trust" in "the Son." Faith is placing trust. It is believing and receiving Christ and truth.

"But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee." (Psalm 5: 11 KJV)

Those who put trust in the Lord are they who are promised joy and blessing, and assured of divine protection. Those who trust in the Lord are the same as those who "love thy name."

God and Christ the Son are to be trusted because they are trustworthy.

"Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint." (Proverbs 25: 19 KJV)

Confidence and trust in God and in Christ is to put trust in one who is faithful to his promises, one who will not "let down" those who trust in him.

Men are called and invited to place their hope, confidence, and trust in the Lord. They are called to forsake all objects of trust other than God and his word.

Father, teach us to trust. Help our unbelief.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Virtue of Contentment

"And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages." (Luke 3: 14 KJV)

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." (Philippians 4: 11, 12 KJV)

"Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." (I Timothy 6: 5-9 KJV)

"Let your conversation (manner of life) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13: 5 KJV)

From these words of holy scripture, we are directed to the value and virtue of contentment. We also learn from them how contentment is connected with "gain," with money and wealth. It is viewed as the antidote to greed, a deadly sin.

"Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom." (Proverbs 23: 4 KJV)

"Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." (Proverbs 30: 7-9 KJV)

It is a sin to covet wealth and to horde it. God gives extra to a man and wills that he share it with those in need. God does not give a man wealth so that he may live in luxury while his neighbors suffer in want. The giving of wealth is a test.

The wise king of Israel advised that one desire neither to be rich or poor, for each of these states, without divine grace and instruction, that Paul spoke about in the above words, provokes to sin. The state of wealth tempts to pride and leads to ignorance of the divine. The state of poverty tempts to theft and doubt and rejection of God. We should desire that God give us what we need and anything above that we should recognize as given to us so that we might distribute it to others.

Father, teach us contentment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tyrants of Faith

"Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand." (II Corinthians 1: 24 KJV)

"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; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock. " (I Peter 5: 2, 3 KJV)

It has been said - "God's people are like sheep, not cattle. They can only be "led," not "driven." Ideally, this is true, but, practically, it is often not so, at least with many professing Christians. Some, in respect to their "faith," are "driven with the wind and tossed." (James 1: 6 KJV) These have no firm "anchor," and so, like a ship without one, in rough seas, is "driven" and "tossed about."

"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." (Ephesians 4: 14 KJV)

The community of believers has always had trouble with those who desire to be little "lords" among them, men like Diotrephes who "loved to have the preeminence among the brethren." (III John 1: 9) These want to be "lords" and autocratic rulers in the church.

"A tyrannical ruler lacks judgment." (Proverbs 28:16 NIV)

A "tyrant" is one who is despotic, harsh, cruel, unjust, oppressive, dictatorial, fascistic, totalitarian, brutal, domineering, lordly, autocratic, and bossy.

"This is the portion of a wicked man from God, And the inheritance which tyrants receive from the Almighty." (Job 27: 13 New American Standard Bible)

Tyrants will be judged by Lord God, be they political tyrants, or ecclesiastical tryants.

"Can the prey be taken from the mighty man, Or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?" Surely, thus says the LORD, "Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away, And the prey of the tyrant will be rescued; For I will contend with the one who contends with you, And I will save your sons." (Isaiah 49: 24, 25 New American Standard Bible)

No one can be "lord" over the faith of the believer other than Christ. The above verses teach the right of each individual to come to his own conclusions about faith matters without coercion from others, even from the church. No group of believers has any right to lordship or tyranny over the consciences of individual Christians. Each believer is a priest to God and needs no earthly mediator. Beware of those who use tyrannical practices, such as do the "cults," to enslave your minds and consciences.

Father, help those whose minds are enslaved to cult dictators. Keep our own minds free of the tyranny of others.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Courage to Stand Alone

"At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (II Timothy 4: 16-18 KJV)

Paul stood his ground for he knew he was right. He had convictions and was willing to stand for them even if no one else did. He stood his ground for his convictions even at the peril of his life. See and admire him in the courage of his convictions about the truth of scripture, especially as it concerns God's religion and the person of Jesus Christ.

Every martyr is one who stood his/her ground for the Lord's sake. But, equally true, is that the Lord stood with Paul and the martyrs.

We can be assured that the Lord stands with us when we ourselves stand for his word and his gospel.

It is not easy to "buck the crowd," to go against common opinion, to think freely and independently, especially when it involves adverse consequences. It requires courage in one's convictions.

To take a stand for morality and righteousness, and for godliness, more and more requires courage from the Lord. The enemies of these things have inordinate wrath for such things, in these depraved times, and therefore "curse the blessed of the Lord" and "bless the cursed of the Lord," and who "call evil good, and call good evil."

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God..." (Ephesians 6: 10-17 KJV)

Father, give us the grace and strength of courage to stand for you and for your truth.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Faces

"Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face." (Matt. 6: 16,17 KJV)

Though Christians are not to attempt to conceal their griefs and mental sufferings, which are often very heavy, and though they often have reason to be downcast, yet they are not to "gloat" in their sufferings nor take "pride" in them, as did the hypocrites.

It is impossible to fully keep our "faces" from showing our griefs, yet Christians ought to be careful not to give the appearance of being an inordinantly depressed and sad people.

When a caring person sees another with their "countenances fallen," as was Cain's, we may ask them, as did God to Cain, "why is your countenance fallen?"

We ought to try to "wear a smile each day" as Christians. We are not to boast of our sufferings, saying to others, thereby, "hey, look at me!"

We Christians are described as being a people who "...worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Phil. 3:3)

We "rejoice evermore." (I Thess. 5:16) We have great reason to rejoice. Of that fact every true Christian may become fully assured.

Jesus, with all his burdens and cares, did not go around with a sad and disfigured face, broadcasting his woes, as did the hypocrites. Such is what Paul called a "false humility." It was not humility at all, but pride, though it was masked and cloked to appear otherwise.

It should be our concern "how we appear to men," yet our concern, in that regard, as Christians, is different from that of the hypocrites.

How Christians reveal themselves to each other, as members of the "family of God," in private confessions and discussions, is altogether different than how they would appear in public, to the world of unbelievers.

We don't call attention to our sufferings, as Christians, but to the sufferings of Christ, and to the reasons why we can rejoice even in the greatest of sufferings.

To do as the hypocrites, and put on an air of self pity, is a form of murmurring and complaining, though done more non-verbally. We communicate to others with the expressions on our faces as well as the words that come out of our mouths.

If we keep the above verses of scripture always in mind, as Christians, we will truly be able to "count it all joy even when we fall into various trials." (James 1:2)

Pay day is both here for us now, for we receive, as Christ said, "manifold more in this present life," but pay day is in a far greater way yet future, to be fully realized "at the resurrection of the just." (See Matt. 19:27-29; Luke 14:13-15; 18:30)

It will be worth it all! That is what Christ is saying to all his faithful followers! You will receive good things now but "the best is yet to come." You have a good taste now, but the full course meal, the banquet, is yet future!

Christian, are you "rejoicing in Christ Jesus" as you should? If not, is it because you need improved spiritual vision to see all the blessings of God now upon you? Pray that you may be shown how blessed and rich you are even now! Father, help us!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Heart Circumcision

"Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." (Jeremiah 4: 4 KJV)

What is circumcision of the heart? How does one "take away" the "foreskins" of the "heart"? In physical circumcision, excess skin is removed from the male body part. In spiritual circumcision, something is cut away or surgically removed from the heart. What is it?

"To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it." (Jeremiah 6: 10 KJV)

"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." (Acts 7: 51 KJV)

Uncircumcision of heart includes the "ear."

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23: 7 KJV)

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4: 23 KJV)

The "heart" is the source of man's thoughts, feelings, and desires. It is where he "hears" mentally, where he receives thoughts and ideas, and where he understands, and where cognition occurs. It is where he inwardly listens and pays attention. It is the place where decisions and choices are made, and where plans and intentions are formulated. It is the place of wisdom and fear, the place of both condemnation (guilt) and salvation, of both sin and righteousness.

"And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." (Colossians 2: 10, 11 KJV)

This "putting off," mentioned by Paul, is no doubt the same thing Jeremiah spoke of as a "cutting away." Paul says the "body (foreskin) of the sins of the flesh" are removed. It involves what is called spiritual circumcision of the heart, by both prophet and apostle.

This surgical operation done by Christ and the Father through the Holy Spirit, is a radical procedure and has lasting results. The organ of sin that is "cut away" in this heart and ear circumcision can never be put back. Spiritual deafness is cured. Heart disease, hardness, coldness, and deadness of heart, is remedied. The disposition to and craving for sin is removed.

"For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." (Romans 2: 25-29 KJV)

"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Philippians 3: 3 KJV)

Father, circumcise our hearts and ears!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Saluting Others

"Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you." (Romans 16: 16 KJV)

Salute is from the Greek word "aspazomai" and means:

1) to draw to one's self
a) to salute one, greet, bid welcome, wish well to
b) to receive joyfully, welcome (Strong)

In the AV it is translated as "salute" 42 times, as "greet" 15 times, as "embrace" 2 times, and as "take leave" 1 time.

Vine said:

"It also signifies "to bid farewell," e.g., Act 20:1, RV, "took leave of" (AV, "embraced"). A "salutation or farewell" was generally made by embracing and kissing (see Luk 10:4, which indicates the posibility of delay on the journey by frequent salutation). In Hbr 11:13 it is said of those who greeted the promises from afar, RV, "greeted," for AV, "embraced." Cp. aspasmos, "a salutation.""

"Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household." (Philippians 4: 21, 22 KJV)

"All the saints salute you." (II Corinthians 13: 13 KJV)

"Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them." (Romans 16: 15 KJV)

Romans 16 is filled with apostolic "salutes" to certain named persons! Is is used 21 times!

From these verses we learn that Christians should have a genuine fondness for other professing Christians, even if they are of a different sect of denomination of Christians. Christians are to recognize, welcome, and fellowship with each other, within the limits of scripture. Christians should be hospitable to all, but especially to the "household of faith."

"And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so?" (Matthew 5: 47 KJV)

We should show kindness and friendship to all, but especially to the brethren in the Lord. Our greeting and saluting of others should not unfairly discriminate.

"And when ye come into an house, salute it." (Matthew 10: 12 KJV)

This is just common courtesy, a common act of respect.

"Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you." (Hebrews 13: 24 KJV)

Again, this is to be understood as an especial salutation and greeting, a particular and more abundant welcoming and recognizing.

"And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!" (Mark 15: 18 KJV)

This was a mock salute, intended to ridicule the Lord Jesus. We must never be insincere in our salutings, welcomings, and greetings of others.

"Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way." (Luke 10: 4 KJV)

It takes a little time to greet, salute, or welcome others. In the military, it is a formal affair, with proper hand gestures. In Oriental countries it involves the bowing of the head, or embracing and kissing. Jesus was telling these disciples, while on their errand, not to be delayed by these formalities.

The idea of "saluting" is connected with "receiving" or "welcoming."

"Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God." (Romans 15: 7 KJV)

"Receive" is from the Greek word "proslambanō" and means:

1) to take to, take in addition, to take to one's self
a) to take as one's companion
b) to take by the hand in order to lead aside
c) to take or receive into one's home, with the collateral idea of kindness) to receive, i.e. grant one access to one's heart
1) to take into friendship and intercourse
e) to take to one's self, to take: i.e. food

It too may be translated as "welcome," yea to joyously and kindly welcome.

Father, help us not to be forgetful to "entertain" the saints, to be kind in greeting others, and especially to the saints.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


"And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger." (Luke 17: 12-18 KJV)

Parents, if they are wise, teach their children "gratitude." They teach them to say "thank you" to others for all acts of kindness. They are telling their children that ingratitude is unbecoming, a fault in character. It is important, in "building character," to learn to be "thankful."

According to the above story, nine out of ten people are careless about giving God thanks. They receive of him many good things and yet they do not express to him praise for his graciousness and his goodness. Only one in nine "return to give thanks" to God for his manifold benevolence.

Ingratitude is no little sin. If we feel obligated to tell men "thank you" for any act of kindness, we should especially feel obligated to say it to God.

This is because "every good and perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights." (James 1: 17)

Giving thanks is giving God glory and praise. To fail to thank God is to rob him of what belongs to him.

It is a beautiful thing to behold! How comely is thanksgiving! How ugly is ingratitude!

Father, fill our hearts with thanksgiving and praise! Let us not be as the nine, but as the one.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Need for Buffetting

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (II Corinthians 12: 7-10 KJV)

The word "buffet" means - 1 : a blow especially with the hand 2 : something that strikes with telling force.

"And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say (mock) unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands." (Mark 14: 65 KJV)

The Greek word is "kolaphizō" and means:

1) to strike with the fist, give one a blow with the fist
2) to maltreat, treat with violence and contumely (Strong)

"Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace." (I Corinthians 4: 11 KJV)

"For what glory [is it], if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God." (I Peter 2: 20 KJV)

The disciples of the Lord Jesus are a "buffeted" people. All are "buffeted" or "beaten down" by sins. Sin strikes a blow at us. But, to be "buffeted" for our sins is one thing, but to be "buffeted" by Satan and evil men, for our obedience to Christ, is quite another thing.

Paul was beaten down and struck with the "messenger of Satan," his "thorn in the flesh," which seems to be a physical malady that Paul had, an eye disease, and which the Lord Jesus was unwilling to remove from Paul. This experience of being "buffeted" and "beaten down" by this "thorn" had good effects for Paul. He was taught how to endure hardness and suffering for Christ, how to rely on Christ.

All the Lord's people have their own "thorns" that the Lord refuses to remove. We pray for them to be removed, but they remain. We don't understand why the Lord refuses to remove our thorns. We say, why Lord?

The reply of Christ to Paul is the answer. Had Christ removed the "thorn," then Paul's pride would have had no restraints upon it.

The thorn that we discover that the Lord will not remove must be embraced and accepted. It must be seen for what it is, a means of keeping us from pride.

What is your "thorn"?

Father, help us, like Paul, to accept our thorns and to trust and rely upon you in dealing with it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Disciples Indeed

"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." (John 8: 31 KJV)

"Indeed" is from the Greek word "alēthōs" and means "truly, of a truth, in reality, most certainly" or "surely."

"Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" (John 1: 47 KJV)

In these verses Jesus is being emphatic in his declarations and exclamations. His purpose is to remove doubt and questioning and to declare what is genuine.

There are genuine disciples, those who are believers indeed, or truly and really, and who are no pretenders, but actual disciples and believers.

"Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, (then) he will keep My word..." (John 14: 23 NKJV)

True love and devotion produces genuine works of kindness to the objects of affection.

Oftentimes what one thinks is "true" love is really not such, but a lower emotion. True love "never fails" and "endures all things." (I Corinthians 13: 4-8 KJV)

How do we know if we truly love Christ? Besides the deep emotions we feel towards him?

Do we spend time talking to him in prayer? Do we spend time listening to him speak to us? Do we read and meditate upon his teachings? Do we daily "stand amazed in his presence"? Is he daily in our "awe"? Do we see him as "awesome"? Do we delight in knowing him? In hearing his voice? Do we enjoy being with his people and hearing people talk about our Master?

Father, in Jesus' blessed name, and by the intercession of the Spirit of truth, make us disciples indeed.

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