Wed, Sep 29th - 7:54PM
STUDY IN TITUS
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate(1:16).
Many believers today can, and do, deny God by the kind of lives that they live. They deny the truth of God's Word by their actions. There are deacons of churches who outside of the congregation are unloving, impudent, rude, crass, people. They are double-minded people, hypocrites, and do not love Christ as they should. You can carry a Bible around with you all of the time and still have your life deny Christ.
Rituals and ceremonies do not change anyone's heart. Only the Word of God changes a person's heart. When the heart gets changed the life will outwardly show such change. Saving faith produces a godly, holy, life.
We now move into the next chapter and we find a continuation of this line of thought. The theme remains that of the church of Christ teaching and preaching God's Word to others. And as we think about this, it becomes quite logical a conclusion that it is of paramount importance for sound doctrine to be taught by the church. To do otherwise leads to the demise of the church. Here are the identification marks of the early church and of today's remnant church: the apostolic doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. It matters very little how tall the steeple may be, or how ornate the windows may be, or how fine the sound system might be. It is the message going forth from the pulpit which tells us whether the church is actually one of Christ's.
The first chapter of Titus told us that elders must be able to exhort, refute, and/or confute unbelievers. No one is to spend all of their time refuting everybody else who denies Christ. To do so creates a "negative ministry." Each believer must have a balanced ministery. Elders must be able to refute unbelievers and be able to exhort believers from out of the Word of God. Now in chapter two we find the emphasis placed upon the teaching of God's Word.
But speak the things which become sound doctrine(2:1).
Here is reference to the apostles' doctrine as found within the New Testament. What we read in these epistles sent to Timothy, Titus, the Romans, the Thessalonians, and others is all part of the apostles' doctrine. We are not to waste our time debating geneologies, or minor points of interpretation.
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience(2:2).
Sober means that they are to be very vigilant, very serious. They ought to be persons who are respected and self-controlled. They can't be "party animals."
The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things(2:3).
The older women are to be reverent, respectful of God. They are not to be gossipers nor be drunkards. They are to teach the younger women of the good things.
That is all for now, my friends. Guidelines have been laid down by God for how mature believers are to behave, how they are to treat the younger members of their genders within the body of believers. May you experience the blessed rest of Christ and be refreshed to fullness of life! I pray that you return again to continue studying God's Word.
Wed, Sep 29th - 12:13PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"There are two days in the week about which I never worry. Two carefree days kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is yesterday and the other day I do not worry about is tomorrow."
And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh;
And said unto the children of Israel, Thus says the LORD God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you:
And you have this day rejected your God, who Himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said unto Him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands(10:17-19).
The Israelites rejected being governed and led by Jehovah. They wished to be like all of the rest of the Gentile nations and have a king to rule them, and to lead them. These people totally disregarded the facts of their recent past: God leading them out of slavery to the Egyptians, God providing for their needs while traveling to the Promised Land, God defeating all of their enemies so that they could possess the Promised Land. Don't we tend to do the exact same thing today, beloved? We totally forget how Christ lead us out of bondage to sin and Satan, how Christ through grace redeemed us and will give us a glorious new body one day when we enter into the "Promised Land" of heaven. We forget that Christ is with us every minute of every day, that He never forsakes us. We too suffer from memory loss, just as did the Israelites of Samuel's day.
And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken(10:20).
Now begins the separation which shall lead to Saul being introduced to the nation as their new king.
When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul, the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
Therefore they inquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come forward. And the LORD aqnswered, Behold, he has hid himself among the stuff(10:21-22).
Saul tried to hide himself away, avoid coming forward. Modesty on Saul's part? I do not think so. I think he had self-doubts which forced him to hide. Obviously the new heart given him by God did not over ride personal doubts. Saul ought to have simply stepped out and forward and acted as a king should. The message for us here is that we can't hide away from what God has called us to do. We can try to hide among our family duties, among our career duties, or even among our church duties, but we will only be trying to avoid that which God has called us to do for Him. We will end up just like Saul, attempting to hide from God among "stuff."
That is all for this rainy Wednesday, beloved. Friday I shall cover verses 23-27 and finish up this chapter of I Samuel. We shall discover where a rather popular saying came from. Until then, may Christ richly bless you with His grace and peace and love.
Tue, Sep 28th - 6:54PM
STUDY IN TITUS
Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth(1:14).
Paul does not refer simply to legalism here. Around the Mosaic Law there had grown up an immense amount of writings which includes the Talmud and more.
"Commandments of men, that turn from the truth." Jesus rebuked the religious rulers for adding traditions to God's Law, and Paul is speaking about that sort of thing here. The teaching of legalism is usually in two stages; first you are saved by the Law, and the other is that are to live by the Law. If we are saved by the Law, then Jesus Christ would not have had to come and shed His blood upon the cross for us, would He? The truth is that we are saved by the grace of God and are actually called to live upon a higher level that that of the Ten Commandments. Those commandments are given for the entire world to obey and as a sign that everyone needs Christ as their Savior.
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled(1:15).
Many people claim that this verse proves that once we are saved by grace it does not make any difference how we live. We are pure, they say, and can live as we please. Wrong!. Paul isn't speaking of moral issues here at all. Paul is talking about the issue of legalism and the eating of meats. Legalistic cults often concoct bizarre diets that all are to follow without fail. Paul says here that to the pure all things are pure, that there are no restrictions any longer. If you decide to not eat meat, fine. If you do decide to eat meat, fine. All food is clean.
If you are an unbeliever it makes absolutely no difference what type of diet you decide to adhere to for it will not affect your relationship with God. Diets do not make anyone clean in the eyes of God. In Matthew 15:18-20 we can see that Christ said Himself that it is what comes from out of a person that defiles them, not what goes in through the mouth.
That is all for tonight, beloved. Next time I shall continue along with verse sixteen of this chapter and then delve into chapter two. May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you today!
Tue, Sep 28th - 6:15AM
I SAMUEL STUDY
|And let it be, when these signs are come unto you, that you do as occasion
shall serve you; for God is with you.|
|And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down
unto you, to offer burnt-offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of
peace-offerings: seven days shall you stay there, till I come unto you, and show you what you shall do.|
|And it was so, that, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him
another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.|
And when they came close to the hill, behold, a band of prophets met him; and
the Spirit of God came mightily upon him, and he prophesied among them(10:7-10).
We can see that initially Saul has God's favor for it would appear that God has given him a change of heart. The question, of course, is for how long? Is this a permanent change of heart, or is this something where his old nature will eventually win out? When Saul approaches Gilgal the Spirit of God came upon him and he was able to prophesy with a group of prophets who had come from that place. Isn't this similar to Judas Iscariot? Given much by God, but still the person feels compelled to give in to the temptation of following their own personal agenda?
And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he
prophesied with the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this
that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?
And one of the same place answered and said, And who is their father? Therefore
it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?
And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.
And Saul`s uncle said unto him and to his servant, Where have you been? And he said,
To seek the asses; and when we saw that they were not found, we came to Samuel.
And Saul`s uncle said, Tell me, I pray, what Samuel said unto you.
And Saul said unto his uncle, He told us plainly that the asses were found. But of the matter of the kingdom, that Samuel spoke of, he told him not(10:11-16).
People who knew of Kish and his family questioned what this prophesying implied. A normal reaction to what was going on. But notice once Saul gets to the high place what he does. His uncle is there and begins to ask questions, wanting to know where they have been, what have they been doing all of this time. Saul replies with only part of the truth, he purposely omits a part. He is being dishonest to his own uncle.
Well, that is all for this morning, beloved. We can see that Saul's character begins to show through, even with his "changed heart." This picture allows us to begin to understand the necessity of becoming "born again" in which we receive a new nature and the indwelling of God's Spirit within us; for simply having a changed heart is a temporary thing and does not permanently create anything new at all. May the grace and peace of Christ our Lord and Savior be with you all today!
Sun, Sep 26th - 9:05AM
STUDY IN TITUS
Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers(1:9).
Titus tells us that there are two things an elder ought to do: (1) He should be able to exhort, to teach the Word of God; and (2) he must be able to refute the unbelievers who attack the faith. An elder must be Bible-trained and knowledgeable of what is in the bible and what is not in the Bible. A person can't be converted one night, be asked to give his/her testimony the next night, make him/her an elder of the church on the third night, an evangelist on the fourth night, and the pastor of the church on the fifth night! We too often rush things along too quickly without allowing a person to grow sufficiently in Christ before handing them much responsibility.
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision(1:10).
Paul now wishes to address the issues which existed within the churches on Crete. "Vain talkers" is simply empty chattering, it is talking for talking sake. Paul was not very happy with those who had decided to be circumcised, perhaps even joining Judaism. Deceivers were roaming about, misleading innocent people who were seeking for the truth. This is happening even today.
Whose mouths ust be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake(1:11).
These unruly deceivers were misleading entire families away from following Christ. What they did they did because they were covetous, they desired to gain from what they told these people. Every believer needs to remember that wherever God's Word goes, Satan shows up shortly after. He is our enemy, not people.
One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies(1:12).
The Cretians were rude and cruel. They were lazy gluttons. None of this description is very becoming or complimentary. But obviously this was the reputation these people had throughout the Roman Empire. It did not mean that every Crete was a liar, but the vast majority were. Those who did turn to Jesus Christ showed immensely changed lives which stood out in contrast to everyone else around them.
This witness is true, Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith(1:13).
Titus must be more strict with these Cretians than he would be with others, simply because of their cultural background and nature. We need to keep this in mind today as we deal with newly converted people coming from backgrounds full of dishonesty, laziness, and addiction. These people may very well require somewhat stricter teaching than others coming to a knowledge of Christ. But all must be done in a loving manner.
That is all for today, beloved. I apologize for not getting back to this last night, but I was simply too tired of mind to trust typing anything more. I hope and pray that you can get to fellowship with other believers today and share with them your love of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.
Sat, Sep 25th - 9:27AM
STUDY IN TITUS
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre(1:7).
A bishop is an elder of the church. This person must not be thinking of getting their way. They are to find and do God's will for the church and their life. They are not to get angry very easily, which means not easily offended nor having a "thin skin." "Filthy lucre" usually gets interpreted to mean dirty money from illegal activities, but basically it is covetousness. An elder of the church can't be a covetous person who is always wanting to have just a little bit more; there can't be a desire to have what others already have, possession-wise nor status-wise.
Presbuteros refers to the individual and either term, elder or bishop, can be used. An elder is to be a mature person physically and spiritually. A bishop (episkopos) was an overseer, he ruled the church, and this word refers to the office. But one person is not to be the sole ruler over the entire church save Christ Jesus. There were always several of them. In other words, no Pope.
It would seem that the churches upon Crete already had suitable men acting as elders, they simply needed to be ordained properly by Titus. These particular passages point out the personal characteristics required of a man to be an elder of the church and this is all that Paul is pointing out to us, the reader.
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate(1:8).
Can there be any confusion over what is meant by any of these terms? The elder is to open up his home generously to the brethren and others, to enjoy the company of good men, to not be drunk, or under the influence of drugs to the point of suffering from impaired judgment. He is to be a supporter of justice, to be separated unto doing the work of God, and to not do anything to excess.
That is all for this morning, more to come later today, beloved!
Thu, Sep 23rd - 12:40PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"This "first love" seeks not people, but a Person, the One who alone merits our first love. The "firs love" is the intimate personal relationship of love which one has with our Lord Jesus Christ."
~M. Basilea Schlink
"Persons are to be loved; things are to be used."
And Samuel took Saul, and his servant, and brought them into the parlor, and made them sit in the chief place among them that were invited, who were about thirty persons.
And Samuel said to the cook, Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, Set it by you.
And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, Behold that which is left! set it before you, and eat; for to this time has it been kept for you since I said, I have invited the people. So Saul ate with Samuel that day.
And when they had come down from the high place into the city, Samuel communed with Saul upon the top of the house.
And they rose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Arise, that I may send you away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad.
And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand still a while, that I may show you the word of God(9:22-27).
Here we can see the formality which they went through. Samuel invites Saul and his servant to join him and a group of about thirty persons for a meal. They all eat and then Samuel communes with Saul upon the top of presumably Samuel's house there. The next morning the two have another conference upon the top of Samuel's home before Saul's departure for home. Samuel wishes to share God's word with Saul later when he accompanies the two men to the edge of the city to bid them farewell. And now we continue this account in chapter ten.
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD has anointed you to be captain over His inheritance(10:1)?
Samuel officially chooses Saul to be king after sharing God's word with Saul. The anointing with oil and the kiss are rituals to seal the deal, so to speak.
When you are departed from me today, then you shall find two men by Rachel's sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto you, The asses which you went after are found: and, lo, your father has left caring for the asses, and sorrows for you, saying, What shall I do for my son(10:2)?
Kish, Saul's dad, believes that his son is lost, gone forever. He is totally unaware that his son is involved in serious business with the prophet of God. Saul is being anointed king somewhere near Bethlehem. Samuel is prophesying what will happen in the very near future of Saul.
Then shall you go on forward from there, and you shall come to the plain of Tabor, and there you shall meet three men going up to God to Beth-el, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:
And they will salute you, and give you two loaves of bread; which you shall receive from their hands.
After that you shall come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when you have come close to the city, that you shall meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp before them; and they will prophesy:
And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you shall prophesy with them, and shall be turned into another man(10:3-6).
Saul is told exactly what he is going to encounter upon traveling back to his home. Samuel informs him what he is to do once he gets near to Beth-el on the plain of Tabor. We find here an experience upcoming for Saul which suggests a conversion. Does Saul become converted? If we were to have nothing else to read following this point in time we would probably think that Saul was converted to being a man of God. But there are other things still to come. This was not a conversion, it was a touch by God. Momentarily Saul was a changed man, but he did not become a new man. There is the difference. The Spirit of God came upon Balaam, didn't it? Was he a new man? What about Judas Iscariot? Judas performed miracles, but he turned out to not be a new man in Christ. Thus it would be prudent for each of us to not rush into making any final decision about Saul, or anyone else in life.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time we shall find out what these events' impacts upon the perceptions of the people will be. And we can continue to ponder whether Samuel comprehended God's intent in giving Israel Saul as their first king. May Christ's grace, peace, and love permeate your heart and life today!
Wed, Sep 22nd - 1:04PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"Yes, love is the magic key of life---not to get what we want but to become what we ought to be."
And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him, Behold the man whom I spoke to you about! this same shall reign over My people(9:17).
The Israelites had been crying out to God to give them a king so that they could be like all of the other nations around them, and now God is readying to give them exactly what they had requested. Saul was an impressive looking man, kingly in stature, and even impressed Samuel. He simply did not impress God and his true nature eventually was revealed under stress.
Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray you, where the seer's house is.
And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before me unto the highplace; for you shall eat with me today, and tomorrow I will let you go, and will tell you all that is in your heart.
And as for your asses that were lost three days ago, set not your mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you, and on all your father's house(9:18-20)?
Was Saul God's choice for king? No, he was not. God gave Israel the kind of man that they desired. Saul was a man's man, tall, strong, skilled in combat, good looking, pleasant to listen to. He sure looked like he ought to be king. So God granted the peoples' wish to have a king and gave them Saul.
Samuel obviously had been given the location of the missing asses by none other than God. Saul's mind is put at ease. And now Samuel unloads the bombshell on Saul.
And Saul answered and said, Am I not a Benjaminite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? why then speak this way to me(9:21)?
Doesn't he sound much like Gideon? Gideon said..."Oh my LORD, how shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house(Judges 6:15)." Gideon was a coward and was afraid because Israel was at war and badly outnumbered. Saul had no reason to be afraid at all. There was no war at that time. He had simply been out trying to locate, and bring home, his father's missing donkeys. Gideon was a humble man, Saul was not. How many of our Christain leaders today appear to be humble but in reality they are not? This causes many problems within their ministeries, and it adversely affects their witnessing power before people. It hurts the overall work of the true church of Christ due to its impact reputation-wise. This is why each of us ought not to consider too much of ourselves when it comes time to assume a leadership role within our congregations. We should consider what the next person does to be more important than what we do. This keeps everything in proper perspective.
That is all for today, beloved. Tomorrow I will cover the passage in which these two men sit down to share a meal and have, in essence, a conference. Until then, may you experience the grace and peace of Christ in your life!
Tue, Sep 21st - 10:02PM
STUDY IN TITUS
For this cause I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you(1:5).
Titus had been left in Crete by Paul in order to organize the local churches with elders as spiritual leaders. Crete had a great amount of past mythology and tradition connected with it, as did all of the Greek islands. Through someone's great effort churches now existed in all of the largest cities on Crete. It may have been Paul, or Titus, who founded these churches there but Paul says that he left Titus there to organize them properly.
The Cretans were known as liars, but many of them turned to Christ. It seems probable that the churches on Crete had elders but that they had never been ordained. These men had the gift of supervision and were exercising that gift without authority. So Titus is instructed to ordain them, appoint them, or set them aside for God's work.
Paul informs Titus that he has been appointed to do these things. In too many churches today there are men who have been made elders who have absolutely no gift for it at all. That creates many problems within the church. The other part of the problem is that there are men within the church who have the gift of elder and are not made officers in the church. Paul now is going to give Titus the requirements for the men who are to hold such an office:
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly(1:6).
This verse does not intend us to think that a man must be perfect in order to be an elder in the church. It does mean though, that any accusation brought against him must be found to be false. His life has to be free of bad reputation, free of hints of wrong-doing, free of thievery, free of immorality, and all other sins.
The elder must be married to only one woman, no multiple marriages at the same time. His children ought to be under control, respectful, honorable to their parents. Some say that they must be saved, I do not say that. Each child must make his/her own choice concerning Christ, the father is accountable only to the extent of having presented them with Christ and the redemption message. If he has established a well balanced Christian home environment his children are most likely leaning towards accepting Christ.
Time has run out for this night. Tomorrow I hope to continue with these requirements of being an elder in the church. I pray that each of you return to follow this study. Grace and peace of Christ be yours.
Tue, Sep 21st - 12:24PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"Salvation is from our side a choice, from the divine side it is a seizing upon, an apprehending, a conquest by the Most High God. Our "accepting" and "willing" are reactions rather than actions. The right of determination must always remain with God."
~A. W. Tozer
Then said Saul to his servant, Well said; come, let us go: so they went to the city where the man of God was.
And as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said to them, Is the seer here?
And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you: make haste now, for he came to-day to the city; for there is a sacrifice of the people to-day in the high place:
As soon as you shall enter the city, you will straightway find him, before he goes up to the high place to eat: for the people will not eat until he comes, because he does bless the sacrifice; and afterwards they eat that are invited. Now therefore go up: for about this time you will find him.
And they went up into the city: when they had come into the city, behold, Samuel came out meeting them, to go up to the high place(9:10-14).
Saul and his servant seek out some information so that they know if they are in the right place to see the prophet Samuel. Some maids tell them that they are. So Saul and his servant go on up into the city. Now Samuel comes out, and in some versions of the Bible we find the word used is "against" rather than "meeting." This does not mean that the prophet of God came out in opposition to Saul. How could it since God had told Samuel that this man was coming to him and was to become Israel's first king? It simply indicates that Samuel came out and met them on his way to the high place.
Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying.
To-morrow about this time I will send you a man out of the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be captain over My people Israel, that he may save My people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon My people, because their cry is come unto Me(9:15-16).
I believe that when the Old Testament says that God spoke, He actually spoke. The words of the Scriptures are what are inspired, not just the thoughts. In this instance, God spoke in Samuel's ear the day before Saul showed up. Many times we may cry to God to free us from what we perceive as unbearable affliction only to have Him answer us and then we find ourselves in an even worse situation, simply because we must reap what we have sown previously. Israel cried to God for a king, so He gave them a king. These things point out the importance today of believers praying in the name of Christ, and asking according to God's will and for His glory. All of our requests of God must revolve around this extremely important point.
That is all for today, beloved. From time to time in each of our lives God speaks to certain individuals to alert them to our coming into their presence. They may not always understand why they were expecting you, but they just knew someone just like you was to come at that particular time. God is always incredibly interested in our every day lives, and desires the best for us. It is up to us to decide to believe that we deserve the best from Him. May you have a blessed day in the Lord!
Mon, Sep 20th - 6:17PM
STUDY IN TITUS
Today I begin a new study in the Book of Titus. Titus was a Gentile. We can read in Galatians that Paul took Titus with him to Jerusalem. We are going to find out in this epistle that the ideal church (1) has an orderly organization, (2) is sound in doctrine, and (3) is pure in life, ready to every good work. This is the real picture of the New Testament church.
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness(1:1).
"Servant" here actually is more like a bond slave. Paul says that he is bonded to God. A bond slave was someone who chose to remain a slave of his master for life. Paul also points out his position as an apostle of Christ for he will be giving instructions to the church.
"According to the faith of God's elect" refers directly to the standard of faith established by Christ Jesus. What a person believes about Christ, about His death on the cross, about His resurrection from the grave, and what it means to them; whether they believe the Bible to be the Word of God. All of these things allow me to determine if they are a child of God or not.
"The truth which is after godliness." This truth from God leads to a godly life. If a person's "truth" does not lead to a godly life there is a problem there which must be corrected. We can't use the doctrine of the grace of God to excuse sin. Salvation by grace always leads to a godly life.
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began(1:2).
We have a promise from God in this verse. This hope of eternal life is a future thing. Not the hope, but the eternal life. I do not experience eternal life today, beloved. I experience everyday mortal life. But God has promised me eternal life which shall be mine in the future.
We also notice that God can't lie, it is not a part of who He is. He also can't deceive people for that is not a part of His nature either. We might lie and deceive others but God can not do this.
But has in due times manifested His word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Savior(1:3).
God manifested His word at those times which He deemed appropriate. God does not move nor act in haphazard fashion. The fruit tree buds in the spring, flowers, and bears fruit either at the end of summer or in early autumn. It is in an orderly way that things move in nature.
"Preaching" in this verse comes from the Greek word kerux, which means "a herald, or trumpet." Trumpets were routinely used to announce a coming proclamation. Paul informs us that God decides when it is an appropriate time to proclaim His Word to us. Paul then proceeds to state that he has been chained to proclaim the Word of God to all who will listen.
to Titus, my own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior(1:4).
Paul had lead Titus to salvation through Christ and so Titus was his "spiritual son." The common faith spoken of here is that faith shared by all, and that is affirmed by the Holy Spirit. One faith, one Spirit, one body of like-minded believers.
God has extended mercy to us, and His abundant grace has embraced us. I am very grateful that God extended mercy to me and then His grace. I have experienced His mercy, grace, and peace.
That is all for today in this study, beloved. Grace and peace be with you all.
Mon, Sep 20th - 12:16PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"This is the mystery of the riches of divine grace for sinners; for by a wonderful exchange our sins are now not ours but Christ's, and Christ's righteousness is not Christ's but ours."
And the asses of Kish Saul's father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take one of the servants with you, and arise, go seek the asses(9:3).
People say that God does not have a sense of humor, and yet here we see evidence of Him having one. Saul is out looking for his father's asses, and the "asses" of Israel are out looking for a king. It is a wonderful moment in the Bible.
And he passed through mount Ephraim, and passed through the land of Shalisha, but they found them not: then they passed through the land of Shalim, and there they were not: and he passed through the land of the Benjaminites, but they found them not.
And when they were come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant that was with him, Come, and let us return; in case my father stop caring for the asses, and take thought of us(9:4-5).
They looked everywhere and could not find those lost asses. So Saul finally told his servant that they needed to turn around and go back before his father began to think that they were lost as well. Listen to what Saul's servant responds to his master with.
And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he says surely comes to pass: now let us go there; perhaps he can show us our way that we should go.
Then said Saul to his servant, But, behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? for the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God: what do we have?
And the servant answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that I will give to the man of God, to tell us our way(9:6-8).
The servant was aware of where the man of God was dwelling, but not Saul. Saul, to his credit, at least knows that one needed a present to give to the man of God if going to ask for his help. The servant offers to give up his last money in order that they have one last shot at discovering where the missing asses were.
(Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spoke, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was previously called a Seer(9:9).
God made a distinction here. God made a name change so that there would be no confusion in understanding who was who. Necromancers and spiritism practionerers were being called seers and so God renamed His "seers" as Prophets. Samuel became the first of these "Prophets." Moses may have prophesied, but he was not considered a prophet of God. Samuel was all prophet and judge rolled up in one person. Samuel is the "man of God" of whom Saul and his servant are talking about here.
That is all for today, beloved. Tomorrow I shall cover verses 10-20 which are to reveal God's plan for Saul. Grace and peace be with you this wonderful day!
Sun, Sep 19th - 9:14PM
Perhaps the most unpopular Christian virtue today is the commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It is unpopular for it includes your enemies, not just those who do you no wrong.
Forgiveness sounds so nice until we have something, or someone, to forgive. Then the tendency is to retain our anger, our feelings of being offended. How can I forgive serial killers? Or child rapists? Or psychopaths who torture their victims before killing them? I do not know. All that I do know is that as a Christian I am required by God to forgive them. Right smack dab in the middle of all of this is the commandment given to “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Do I wish to be forgiven by God for my sins? Then I must forgive those who have sinned against me. There is no other way given to me. No other terms are offered, or accepted by God. If I do not forgive others then I shall not be forgiven. So what am I to do?
Perhaps I need to begin at a point very early in my life and forgive my parents. That can keep us occupied for quite awhile. But those are things which we must get cleared up in our hearts, or else we are doomed to carry the hurt or anger around with us the remainder of our lives. In order to free ourselves we must forgive our parents for mistakes they have done during our childhoods. Do not forgive expecting anything in return from your parents. This is an act which you must do in order to be forgiven by God for sins that you have committed since becoming saved.
Now, once I have forgiven all those people whom I can recall having grudges against, then I must confront this second part of God’s commandment: Love them as you love yourself. How do I do that?
If I do not find that I really have any fondness or love for myself, and do not always enjoy by own company, then I must search for more meaning in this commandment. “Love your neighbor” would apparently not mean “feeling attracted to them” or “feeling fond of them.“ Therefore I am allowed to hate or loathe some of their actions since I do the same thing with myself. Sometimes I do or say things which I am extremely disappointed with afterwards. So, I am to hate those ungodly actions but not hate the person. Isn’t this what each of us do each and every day?
We are not to decrease the amount of our hatred for cruelty and treachery and degradation to humans. But we are to also feel sorry that the person ought to have done such things, and then to pray fervently that they will turn from such things and return to God’s way. Prayer can’t be prevented by others and is a most powerful tool in changing lives.
Does loving your neighbor mean not ever punishing him for his sins? Are we to never hold him accountable for what he has done? No, for we hold ourselves accountable to our actions and desire to make things right. It is no good to quote “You shall not kill.” There are two Greek words: one ordinary word to kill and the word to murder. Christ quoted that commandment and used the word for murder in all three accounts, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And it would seem that there is the exact same distinction in the Hebrew. All killing is not murder just as all sexual intercourse is not adultery. A husband and father is commanded to protect his wife and family, to keep them from harm. How to do so if confronted with a murderer if he is also to be a pacifist at all times? He can’t if he is to be a pacifist at all costs. Jesus Christ said for us to live peaceably with all men, if at all possible. God knows that at times it becomes impossible to live peaceably with all men. We are then to confront them as Christians, seeking to disarm them or incapacitate them such that they are unable to threaten us further. To confront does not automatically translate into killing people. The important aspect to this is that we are not to, in the long run, come to hating or enjoy hating others. If required to punish we are not to come to enjoy it or take joy from doing it. Yes, it is hard work. But it is what we must do each and every day of our lives.
So we are commanded to love people who have nothing lovable about them. But how much about me is lovable in the eyes of God? Yeah, that is where we must go in our self inventory of our character. We are left with the simple rule handed down to us from God then: we love others simply because God loves us for being creatures called “selves.” God loved us while we were yet sinners, lost, ungodly, corrupted in the flesh, having nothing to offer God of any value. And yet God so loved us that through His infinite mercy He gave us His only begotten Son as a sacrifice to pay in full all of our sins. And that salvation He offered through His infinite grace is as a gift. We only have to reach out through faith in Jesus Christ to receive it and to make it our own.
Forgiveness. It is the hardest thing a Christian must do, and it is also something which a Christian must do in order to be forgiven by God for those sins which are done after salvation.
I hope and pray that you read this post and spend much time mulling it over. Search out verses which speak on forgiveness and discover how they are to apply to your life. Your life will become richer, fuller, more vibrant, once you begin to forgive those people who you feel have sinned against you during your life. You will become freed from the bonds of anger, resentment, anxiety, and the associated means of trying to cope with these emotions: drugs, drinking, fighting, antisocialism, and suicide.
May grace and peace be with you all!
Sun, Sep 19th - 8:06PM
STUDY IN JUDE
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life(Jude 21).
Here are two more things we ought to do during these days of apostasy.
(3) “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” God loves us. It is why we are called “beloved.” We can’t prevent God from loving us, committing horrendous sins does not stop God from loving us. We may be able to create a wall which prevents us from feeling God’s love. We are to allow God’s love to flood our hearts and lives in order to discern and avoid the traps laid by apostasy.
(4) “Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” We are saved because God extends mercy to us, and when we are finally snatched away out of this world it will still be by the mercy of God. God has an abundance of mercy, He is rich in mercy. God is so concerned about you that He extended His mercy to save you by grace.
This word looking is the Greek word prosdechomai, meaning “to expect, to wait for.” God expects us to be living in a continual expectation for His return.
And of some have compassion, making a difference(Jude 22).
(5) “Of some have compassion.” These would be those people who are having doubts about their salvation. We therefore must be patient with them and attempt to lovingly teach them what they need to know. There are also many people who are searching for a way out of the entangling mess of their lives, who come to us with honest questions about everything having to do with Christ, we must be ready to answer them the best that we are able and do so patiently.
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh(Jude 23).
(6) “And others save with fear…” These are people whom we may think of as being hopeless. We may feel that they are lost causes, never to repent and accept Christ. Zechariah 3:2 speaks of this act and makes it evident that no one is beyond redemption, beyond being snatched out of the lake of fire. No sin is too great to be forgiven by Christ, if we really want it to be so.
(7) “Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Flesh refers to the psychological part of us. It can appreciate good music but it can’t be acceptable to God. The word soul is inadequate for it can’t express what it should. It could be called the “selfish” part of man but that falls short as well. The flesh creates works, thoughts, concepts, false beliefs, and all of these are unacceptable to God. They all end up becoming repulsive to God who is holy. The only way to change this is to become born again in Christ and to allow God’s Holy Spirit to work through you to create acceptable works, thoughts, beliefs, etc.
Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.
To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen (Jude 24-25).
Here we find the encouragement, the urging to remain steadfast in trusting God who is completely able to keep us from stumbling and falling victim to sin and doubt. God is fully able to present us faultless, blameless, when we come before His mighty throne at the end of this age.
We are informed to give God all of the glory and majesty and dominion and power. We are to reserve none of these things for ourselves. All authority resides in Him, none with us unless God so desires to designate some to some of us. And then authority is to be exercised with loving tenderness. Believers need to practice giving obeisance to God during their lives for the day is fast approaching when all who are not in Christ shall be forced to bow to Him and give Him glory due to Him, to confess with their mouths that He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
Well, that finishes the book of Jude, beloved. Next time I will begin the Book of Titus which lays out how the church is to be organized, what it is to preach and teach, and what it is to perform.
Until then, may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Fri, Sep 17th - 12:30PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"Eighty percent of success is showing up."
According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them out of Egypt even to this day, by which they have forsaken Me, and served other gods, so do they also to you.
Now therefore listen to their voice: yet protest solemnly to them, and show them the manner of the king that will reign over them.
And Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people that asked of him a king.
And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint [them] for himself, for his chariots, and [to be] his horsemen; and [some] will run before his chariots.
And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and [will set them] to till his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
And he will take your daughters [to be] confectioneries, and [to be] cooks, and [to be] bakers.
And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your olive-yards, [even] the best [of them], and give [them] to his servants.
And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
And he will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your most choice young men, and your asses, and put [them] to his work.
He will take the tenth of your sheep: and you will be his servants.And you shall cry out in that day because of your king which you shall have chosen for yourselves; and the LORD will not hear you in that day(8:8-18).
What a list of conditions shall come with a king to rule over them! Samuel is providing due diligence, as God instructed him. He is advising the Israelites, he is stipulating what this king will have authority from God to do. And what is the response of the Israelites?
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, No; but we will have a king over us;
That we may also be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.
And the LORD said to Samuel, Listen unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go every one of you to your city(8:19-22).
The Israelites did not stop to reconsider what they were getting themselves into, they simply insisted upon getting a king to rule over them. What we must take away from these two passages is that God gave them their request and also sent leanness into their souls. They chose freely, and now would have to live with the consequences of their choice. Which is exactly what we are faced with today, aren't we? God's guidance will now be indirectly through the prophet, Samuel. God will not speak directly to the king, but the prophet will relay to the king what the LORD has said. The king will accept or reject it as he so chooses. Isn't that what happens today? The man of God speaks the Word of God and those hear it either accept or reject it as they so choose.
That concludes chapter eight. Let's begin the next chapter, shall we?
Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power(9:1).
Kish, a mighty man of power. He was the father of Saul, as we are about to discover. If we review the history of the twelve sons of Jacob this tribe of Benjamin originated with the youngest son, a favorite of his father. In the Book of Judges the tribe was decimated due to an episode of gross sin which happened within the tribe. So it is from this tribe that the very first king comes.
And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people(9:2).
Saul is a strange person whom we encounter here in God's Word. Similarly to Balaam, it is hard to interpret him, to understand him. Saul as a young man is the tallest man in all of Israel. He is good looking. Physically he looks like he ought to be a king. By all outward appearances Saul looks the part.
Today in America this emphasis upon "outward appearance" has brought all of us to a very dangerous place. We believe what is televised upon our television sets. We believe the sound bytes flooding our homes. We vote too often for those who look the part. Ultimately, the day is coming when one person shall control America because he/she has an excellent television appearance. Why? Because we are all caught up in the outward world and how people look and how they talk. We do not worry too much over what sort of character they might have.
The children of Israel really wanted a king, someone who could fight their battles for them. They like Saul. He was handsome, tall, good looking. He was kingly-looking. In today's world he could have easily been either a movie star or an ex-professional athlete. Saul was capable of playing the part, he just was not a king at heart.
That is all for today, beloved. On Monday I shall pick this study back up and continue the account of Saul's rise to becoming king of Israel. May grace and peace be with you all this upcoming weekend!
Thu, Sep 16th - 12:37PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
" Non-Christians first need to detect the reality of genuine Christian experience in our lives. Then they will be attracted by our words about Jesus Christ and what it means to know Him personally. After I have spoken to a group, students often approach me with personal questions: "How does it work?" "How can I have the kind of life you've been talking about?" "Is ther any hope for me?" It's always a privilege to sit down and explain how forgiveness, cleansing, and power can be individually ours in and through the Lord Jesus Christ."
~Paul Little, How to Give Away Your Faith
I begin chapter eight today. This chapter's theme could be said to be one of Israel rejecting God and then demanding a king. Hosea 13:11 could be overlaid on the remainder of I and II Samuel: "I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath." This makes it abundantly clear that there is a difference between anger and wrath. I am not going to digress into an explanation of this at this time however. Suffice it to say that there is a difference.
Now notice what happens in Samuel's old age:
And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba.
And his sons did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after money, and took bribes, and perverted judgement(8:1-3).
Isn't it amazing how the children of great believers of God are fully capable of becoming so completely lost? They can become vagrants, drug addicts, immoral, and totally ungodly. I suppose it comes down to the fact that each of us has free will to make choices. Even when presented with the truth we can still choose to not accept it. That is reality in our world.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
And said unto him, Behold, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations(8:4-5).
Granted, the elders clearly identified that Samuel's sons were not going to be acceptable judges once their father died. But they chose to not trust in God, instead they cast about them and decided that it was preferable to have a king to rule over them just like all of the pagan nations around them. The fatal error here was to not trust God. They had fallen into the mistake of trusting in the man, Samuel. In today's congregations many people are snared by trusting in the pastor but not in God. If the pastor leaves, so don't they for there is nothing left for them to trust in. That is wrong thinking on their part. They haven't properly made the connection with Christ.
The people of Israel ask for a king, having been unduly influenced by the pagan nations all around them rather than those pagan nations being influenced by Israel. Their excuse is Samuel's age and his unregenerate sons as judges.
But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
And the LORD said unto Samuel, Listen unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them(8:6-7).
Isn't this what Jesus Christ told His disciples? When people reject the message that you bring to them, they are not rejecting you but are rejecting Me. Don't take it personally. Just move on to the next person or family. Here Samuel's sons are the excuse given, but rejection of God is the actual reason for requesting a king to rule over the nation.
Next time we shall see what Samuel says in response to the peoples' reaction to God's message. I pray that the grace and peace of Christ our Lord will fill your heart this day.
Wed, Sep 15th - 8:49PM
STUDY IN JUDE
But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost(Jude 20).
Jude now begins to mention seven things which believers can do in the days of apostasy. (1) "Building up yourselves on your most holy faith." This means that since our faith grows from out of our reading of God's Word we must study God's Word in order to build that faith up. God gave us 66 books and they all are to provide us with encouragement, growth, and promises. We need to study every single book in the Bible otherwise we are missing something that God intends us to have. The foundation of our faith comes from knowledge of God's Word, nothing else may be built safely until we lay a solid foundation upon which to lay it.
Apostles Peter and Paul both wrote to us urging us to study to show ourselves approved unto God. Why? In order to navigate these times of apostasy. We need to be well rooted in the Word of God in order to survive.
This does not refer to my personal faith. It is speaking about the faith, the body of truth which has been given to us in God's Word.
(2) "Praying in the Holy Ghost." Here is the next thing we ought to be doing in these days of apostasy. "Ghost" comes from the Greek word pneuma which usually means spirit. This phrase can only be found again in Ephesians 6:18 where we are urged to pray always in the Spirit. In verse 17 of Ephesians the second offensive weapon is mentioned in the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."
We need to be going through sword drills on a regular basis, honing our skills in order to be ready for when conflict comes into our lives. Praying in the Holy Spirit is more than handing God a shopping list of "I wants or I needs." How about praise and adoration? Thanksgiving? We need to pray by means of God's Spirit. We need to learn to allow the Spirit to intercede on our behalf.
The disciples, in Luke 11:1, beseeched Christ to teach them to pray like He did. So should we beseech God to teach us to pray properly.
That is all for tonight, beloved. Grace and peace of Christ our Lord be with you.
Wed, Sep 15th - 12:31PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"Man is born with his back toward God. When he truly repents, he turns right around and faces God. Repentance is a change of mind. ...Repentance is the tear in the eye of faith.
~D. L. Moody
So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel(7:13).
The Philistines were never again as dominant and formidable a foe as they had previously been. Their heyday had come and gone for they had turned their back to Jehovah some time previously.
And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel from Ekron even unto Gath, and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites(7:14).
Israel repented of their sins, God heard their cries, Samuel prayed for the people, God heard his faithful prayer, and we see that Israel became liberated from their dire situation involving the Amorites. That which had been lost was regained. Peace was eventually restored between the two nations. We need to not forget this pattern of how God chooses to work amongst His people.
And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.
And he went from year to year in circuit to Beth-el, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.
And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the LORd(7:15-17).
Samuel became a circuit judge for God. All of these areas are to the north of Jerusalem. Samuel held a lifelong position in service to God. I do believe each believer today, likewise, holds a lifelong position in service to God. There is no retirement option revealed within the Bible, is there? I have not found it as of yet. We are simply to run our course, as to obtain the reward of Christ at the finish line, which is when we die unless He returns first.
That is all for today, beloved. We need to remember that without repentance of sin God will not work in our lives and respond to our prayers. The age old pattern still holds true even today. I pray that the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ may be with you this day.
Tue, Sep 14th - 8:59PM
STUDY IN JUDE
But, beloved, remember you the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ(Jude 17).
Jude in this verse essentially turns a page, and begins speaking to the "beloved." The word used here for beloved indicates that they are beloved of God. These are the saints who are experiencing the love of God in their daily lives.
All through the Word of God we are told to remember. Here we are told to remember that which the apostles have spoken, Jesus considers their words to be His words. Indeed they are His. Jude has referred the reader to the apostles in order to corroborate what he has said. What the apostles have done and said are part of the foundation of the Christian church and can't be ignored. We are being directed to heed what the apostles have previously said about the coming apostates within the church.
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit(Jude 18-19).
Now we are given what some of those words were. The apostates seek to satisfy their ungodly lusts. The Word of God can be used like a kind of Geiger counter to identify those individuals who are not true believers in Christ. You can use God's Word to test and discover the unregenerate person who masquerades as a saint of God.
These people will separate themselves from the true believers, forming divisions within the church body. It has tended to be the liberals who have splintered the denominations with the fundamentalists holding to biblical doctrine. The liberals have been called modernists for they sought to change things. But the liberal, rather than being broad-minded, is predominantly very narrow minded. If you do not agree with them then you are the intolerant person, the bigoted person, the mean-spirited person. They leave the teachings of Christ far, far, behind them.
The Greek word psuchikos is translated into "sensual." We get our English word psychology from the Greek term. So we are talking about these apostates being rather wrapped up in themselves. It is an egotistical way of living in which the person becomes all important. It is selfish; it is of the natural world. It reflects the life of the lost person, the person who is not born again.
The natural man wants to get all that he can. He wants to eat whatever he desires. He wants to get all of the money that he possibly can. In essence, he lives totally for himself. We need to understand that man is a tripartite being; that is, he has a threefold nature. Man has a body, a spirit, and a soul, as is written in I Thessalonians 5:23.
In Genesis we find the description of how man was formed from the dust of the earth. When we die our body goes back to become dust of the earth once again. The psychological part of ourselves, our soul, is what directs us in our approach to the physical world around us. It is what contains our personality. So, when our body dies our soul will be moving on out of it. That implies that our soul must go somewhere, it can't simply float around in the atmosphere.
So God gave man a body and a soul. He also breathed into man the pneuma, or spirit. This spirit is above the psychological part of himself. It is that part of man which looks to God, that which longs for God, that which wants to worship.
Thus we see that we are a trinity, as is God. So what happened at the fall of man? In proper order, we ought to have our physical body at the bottom of things, our soul in the middle of things, and our spirit on top of all things. In the fall this got all tipped upside down. We put our physical body on top, our spirit on the bottom, and our soul has gotten lost. It is why we are so preoccupied with the outward world and ignore the inner world. Natural man is caught up in physical appearance, physical prowess, physical desires. But we are self-conscious. We enjoy music, we love beauty. But we also indulge ourselves in immorality. At the fall the spiritual part of us died, at best it became severely crippled.
But each time a person comes to Christ and trusts Him as their Lord and Savior, they are given a new nature, and that nature can now respond to God's Holy Spirit. We are renewed spiritually. But we still have that old nature also. We are still living in a physical body, living in the flesh. The question becomes then, "Which nature shall we feed more? Our old carnal nature, or our new spiritual nature?" We could look at Romans 8:5-6, and I John 1:6, and Romans 8:7-9 and find that we can't please God in the flesh. We can only please God when we yield ourselves to Him and come to the place where He can use us.
Before accepting Christ, we walk around in our sins like dead men walking. We are in prison waiting for execution and do not even realize it. But upon hearing the gospel message and responding positively to it, God applies it to our heart and we trust Christ. We are then born again into newness of life. Our spiritual nature is reborn, we have a capacity for God. The Holy Spirit comes immediately upon rebirth, indwelling us and regenerating us. The Word of God no longer is foolishness to us, a new world and a new life have been opened up to us.
The tension that exists between our old nature and our new nature boils down to this: the flesh pulls us down and the Spirit pulls us up. Apostates never get above the psychological state. Paul wrote in Galatians 5:19-21 what the fruit of the flesh are. There is the list to use as a yardstick to measure where each of us is at. Paul then lists the fruit of the spirit in verses 22-23, these are what ought to be evident in the lives of believers in Christ.
Are we complicated creatures? Most definitely yes! Psalm 139:14 says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Are we connected with the animal kingdom in certain ways? Yes, we are. Are we also quite separate from the rest of the animal kingdom? Again, yes we are. We have a capacity for God. We can worship and serve God through faith in Jesus Christ. We have a capacity to hope for something better, animals can't as far as we are able to determine.
That is all for tonight, beloved. Next time I shall write about what the Bible says believers ought to do in the days of apostasy. I hope that you come back to study this along with me. Grace and peace be with you all tonight!
Tue, Sep 14th - 12:30PM
1 SAMUEL STUDY
"The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it."
And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that He will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.
And Samuel took a suckling lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.
And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.
And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Beth-car(7:8-11).
God granted Israel a great victory over her enemy. It was the first such victory in a very long time. Once they repented of their sins and returned to worshiping and serving God they got to experience the magnificent power of God in action on their behalf. Samuel had exacted a confession of sin and a promise to return to God from his people and then he offered up a burnt offering along with a prayer to God for Israel. God heard the cries of His repentant people and provided them with victory. We need to remember these steps in our own lives today. Repent, promise to return to God, offer up a sacrifice in our lives, pray to God, and expect Him to answer our prayer as long as it is offered up in His will.
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Here has the LORD helped us(7:12).
Eben-ezer means "stone of help." It also became a stone of remembrance to Israel. It was a stone of recognition. It was a stone of revelation. We, today, need such stones in our lives. Stones which are in our past, present, and future.
It is extremely natural for us to spend much time looking back at the past. But we must keep in the forefront of our thoughts Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Has God brought you to this point? Is He leading you today? If so, then you can repeat what Samuel said in verse 12, "Here has the LORD helped me." And if He has already helped you before, then He shall continue to do that in the future.
God gives us the power of memory to help us find warmth in the cold months of the year. Joshua could say that he and his house would serve God. David could say that he would give thanks to the Lord for He is good. The saints of Christ can say that they will give thanks to Him who has redeemed them from the grip of sin. God has helped many people in the past and He shall continue to help people today and in the future.
Do you recognize God in your life each day? That is one thing that Samuel meant by that Eben-ezer stone. It was stone of revelation. It meant "here" but it also meant "henceforth." David, in Psalm 23:1 said, "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want." The first part addresses the present and the second part addresses the future. Someone once said, "I am very interested in the future because I expect to spend the rest of my life there, and I want to be reasonably sure of what kind of a future it is going to be." Romans 8:28 gives us that reasonable assurance of a good future as He works all things together for our good, if we love God. We all need an Eben-ezer stone in our lives, perhaps more than one!
That is all for today, beloved. I hope this post has lightened your heart, given some hope for your troubled soul. I pray that you are able to recognize God in your life each day. I hope that you able to look back over your life and see Eben-ezer stones still standing tall. Be assured that if they were present in your past, they will be present in the rest of your life yet to come.
Mon, Sep 13th - 6:55PM
STUDY IN JUDE
Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever(Jude 13).
These apostates were described as clouds without any rain in them. They generally speak on current events every Sunday rather than preach God's Word. Now Jude furthers the description of these people by saying that they are raging waves of the sea. They will stand in the pulpit and rant about things, governed by their inner passions and not by God's will.
Wandering stars signify lawlessness in that they follow no specified path. All of these things which have been described are then reserved to go into the blackness of darkness for ever. This signifies the lake of fire, eternity. One symbol of eternal torment and damnation is fire, the other is darkness. Much emphasis gets placed upon fire. Will there be literal physical fire there? I think not since physical fire consumes that which it burns. We shall all be changed, the condemned souls will inhabit bodies which will survive for ever in the lake of fire, their pain and anguish to last for all of eternity. Our sins are of the spiritual kind and thus no physical punishment can suffice as payment. But this "blackness of darkness" is much more disconcerting to me. Lost people seem to carry their personal darkness around with them. This darkness is to be total, beloved. Ever been down in a cave when all of the lights get turned off? I have been inside of Dixie Caverns here in Virginia when the lights got turned off temporarily. You could not see anything. Nothing. It was just, black. I knew that there were around twenty to thirty people near me, but I could not see them at all. Imagine being there for all eternity.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the LORD comes with ten thousands of His saints,
To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him(Jude 14-15).
Enoch's prophecy is not to found anywhere else in the Bible except here. We can read about Enoch in Genesis 5, but there is not an account of his prophecy. Enoch walked with God and later God took him home before the man ever physically died. Sometime in the future God will also take true believers home to be with Him, before they physically die.
At the time of this "snatching up" of saints Jesus Christ will still not be here on earth. It will be the effective removal of the church of Christ. This event must take place prior to Christ returning to earth with His saints. Christ spoke of this in His Olivet discourse. This prophecy concerns those people who remain part of the organized church and are apostates, unbelievers in Jesus Christ's deity. The true believers leave earth for heaven, and the make-believers remain to be judged by Christ when He returns.
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaks great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage(Jude 16).
We are given five more identifiers of apostates. (1) They are murmurers. This means to mutter complaints. No loud outspoken dissatisfaction is voiced by these individuals, they simply complain in undertones in the background. (2) They are complainers, they grouse about their lot in life, discontented with what they have, never satisfied. They may even blame God for everything that has gone wrong in their lives. (3) They walk after their own lusts or desires. These desires could be good ones and not bad. But by doing so they leave God out of their lives. (4) Their mouth speaks great swelling words; they are arrogant and immoderate, they use extravagant language. They may say an awful lot of words, but they do not end up saying much of anything in reality, they commit themselves to nothing. (5) They have the intent to puff up the egoes of others. They respect others, they give certain people more of a place within the church than others. They wish to gain the admiration of others rather than seek the approval of God.
That is all for tonight, beloved. May the grace of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ be with you!
Mon, Sep 13th - 12:30PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mispeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD.
And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh(7:5-6).
Samuel becomes the nation's judge as well as its prophet. Israel is turning from idolatry to a return to worshiping Jehovah. Samuel is praying for them and they in turn confess openly their sins. This is how it always works for God's people. Today, we need people to be praying for us and then we need to confess our sins to them. That is how to return into a right relationship with God. We need to clearly see ourselves in the light of God's Word. If we do so, then we can readily identify with Romans 3:23. We can then be assured that Christ's shed blood will continue to cleanse us from all of our sins(I John 1:9).
Server glitches forced me to cut this posting short. My apologies, beloved.
Sat, Sep 11th - 2:18PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.
And the kine took the straight way to the way of Beth-shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Beth-shemesh(6:11-12).
The Philistines did not want to get anywhere near the ark while it went back to Israel. They had had enough experience with it amongst them. But notice that they followed along behind the cart in order to see which way the cows went. The cows were not moving in the direction which they would want to go, they would wish to go to their calves to feed them. So this was convincing proof to the Philistine lords that all of their tribulations had been caused by the God of Israel.
And they of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Beth-shemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD.
And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD(6:13-15).
The Israelites properly accepted nothing from the Philistines, they instead placed them upon the stone and offered them up to God.
And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day(6:16).
So the Philstine lords did follow far enough to witness the ark being received back into the possession of the Israelites. They immediately turned and went back to Ekron to report this event. But they missed witnessing what befell the the Beth-shemites.
These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the LORD---one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron.
And the number of the gold mice was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers---the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock, on which they set the ark of the LORD, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh.
And He smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even He smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter(6:17-19).
These people had done what God had expressly forbidden ever be done: look inside the ark of the covenant. The ark belonged inside of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle. Only the high priest was supposed to see it, and that just once per year. Whenever the ark was transported anywhere it was carefully covered.
And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall He go up from us(6:20)?
The point was also that the ark was a box where God met with His people. But He was not meeting with them now for they had turned away from Him. Their rebellion and idolatry are revealed to us through their disobedience, and because of this God brings judgment down upon them.
And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come down, and fetch it up to yourselves(6:21).
Israel obviously is unprepared to receive back the ark of God. They are almost as bad as the Philistines in that they are begging others to come and rid them of it. They have suffered over 50,000 dead since it's arrival, they wish nothing more to do with it. The judgment of God can be a very heavy burden to carry, these people have discovered this to their dismay.
That completes chapter six. Let us move on to chapter seven and continue this account of the ark's return to Israel.
And the men of Kirjath-jearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.
And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjath-jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD(7:1-2).
It took twenty long years before Israel turned away from Baalim and Ashtaroth worship. They finally reach the place where they want God.
In our world there is a renewed interest in the Word of God. It is something to rejoice in for God's people must get back to the Bible. All sixty-six books are necessary in order to live holy lives in service to God. Many people over the past two to three years are getting extremely tired of listening to politicians make promises and more promises, and then do not fulfill them. We have predictions of gloom and doom almost every year, and they do not come to pass. Who to listen to then? Listen to the Word of God which does not change. Perhaps in desperation America will begin to listen to God once more.
And Samuel spoke unto all the house of Israel, saying, If you do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve Him only: and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only(7:3-4).
This actually marks the beginning of Samuel's ministry. Israel had been deep into idolatry and then they repented of their sins and returned to worshiping and serving God. They had been defeated in battle repeatedly and were very discouraged. We too, are discouraged and are serving other gods. We too, need to repent of our disobedient ways and return to serving the true and Living God. But it means that we all must come through the door of the Word of God, for there is no other way.
That is all for this study today, beloved. Tomorrow I shall continue, God willing, and perhaps we shall discover more about what Samuel's ministry would be. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you!
Thu, Sep 9th - 7:46PM
STUDY IN JUDE
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core(Jude 11).
Jude gives us three more examples of apostasy from the past in this verse. The Greek word translated as "Woe" is ouai. It expresses a wail of grief or of denunciation. Cain was a relgious man but a natural man. He knew God existed, he knew what God expected, yet he did things after his own will. He denied that he was a sinner, rejected redemption by blood, and figured that he could come to God his own way. Hebrews 11:4 relates the story to us and points out that the sacrifice made by Abel was better than Cain's. The way of Cain is to refuse to bring a little lamb which pointed to Jesus Christ. Cain did not come to God by faith. Cain thought that he could come to God his own way, which is the picture today of the apostate. The apostate frequently refers to himself as a liberal and/or a modernist; but in reality he is simply following in age old footsteps of apostasy.
In Balaam we find an error. In II Peter we saw that it is the way of Balaam; and in Revelation we saw that it is the doctrine of Balaam.
In II Peter it is seen that the thing which undermined the man was covetousness which is idolatry. Balaam wanted to make a buck, get rich with the gift which apparantly came to him from God. This extends to the seeking of other things also. It could be seeking fame, status, power, or position. Jude points out that this marks apostates.
In Numbers 22-25 we are told that Balaam couldn't bring himself to issue a curse against the Israelites, yet he advised Balak to bring Moabite women into the Israelite's camp for this would bring fornication and idolatry into their homes through mixed marriages. God is rather consistent in His being against believers being yoked with unbelievers. It always results in great amounts of unhappiness in the marriages of these people.
Balaam's error here in Jude is that he figured God had to punish Israel for their sins through their mixed marriages with the Moabite women. He did not understand the morality of the coming Cross of Christ. He was oblivious to the fact that there is a morality which is above natural morality. Balaam did not comprehend that God would forgive Israel when they turned back to Him. This is the trap which sinners fall prey to today in trying to understand how someone can be converted to a believer in Christ.
Perhaps you remember what happened with Korah(Core) in the Old Testament? He led a rebellion against Moses(Numbers 16). He figured that Moses wasn't the only person who had access to God. He rebelled against God's authority so that he could trespass into that which was sacred. Korah contradicted the authority given to Moses by God; he intruded into the office of the priests, and thus he died. He rebelled against God, and this characterizes the apostate today.
Cain did not believe that one need come to God by faith and that a bloody sacrifice was needed because man is a sinner. He felt that his way was sufficient. Balaam thought that a holy God must punish sin and that sinners can't be forgiven. The apostate will say, "How in the world can the sacrificial death of Christ save anyone? A man must pay this price himself." Korah assumed an authority which was not his. The apostate will stand in the pulpit and issue politics instead of giving out the Word of God. Rather than tell people what God says, they tell everyone what they say and what they think is right. And this encapsulates what today's apostates are like.
These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withers, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots(Jude 12).
We find here the beginning of a description of today's apostates. Apostates can be very much likened to rocks upon which ships run aground. The love feasts were held in the early church before the communion service. It was a time of fellowship, food, and shared meal. The apostates came in and ate overmuch. They did not feed the flock of believers, only themselves.
Apostates may appear as if they are filled with the Word of God but they are actually empty and dry. They may speak with great authority. They have been taught public speaking and homiletics. They can sound very convincing while not preaching the Word of God accurately.
Jude tells us that apostates have withered fruits, having no value. Dwight L. Moody once said that when a man is born once, he will have to die twice and that when a man is born twice, he will have to die only once. These apostates are destined to become twice dead, and yet are attempting to lead others spiritually!
That is all for now, beloved. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all.
Wed, Sep 8th - 8:08PM
STUDY IN JUDE
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The LORD rebuke you(Jude 9).
Here we see that even an archangel would not personally bring an accusation against Satan. To do so brings the opportunity to commit sin. Michael left the rebuking to God, as should we.
Satan is now a fallen angel and an outspoken enemy of God, his Creator. There were several possible reasons as to why Satan wished to interfere with the resting place of the body of Moses. He may have argued that the physical body belonged rightfully to him since he was the ruler of this world. Satan may also have argued that Moses was a murderer. He may have wished to hinder the later appearance of Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Before he was known as Satan, this angelic being was known as Lucifer. He was perhaps the highest creature created by God. But eventually evil was found in him. Having evil within him does not mean that Lucifer went out and murdered anyone in heaven. No, his evil was in committing theft against God. He put his will against that of God. He allowed himself to become puffed up with pride, and he ended up desiring to become separate from God, even dethroning God. In this sense Lucifer stole God's rightful position in all of creation. To the lost of this world it appears that God created evil and allows it to run amok, out of control. The fact is that God allows Satan to carry on his ill-fated rebellion until an appointed time, and that God has some holy purpose in allowing it. Satan still believes that he is able to seize control over a part of God's creation and be the rightful ruler over it.
The lesson for us in this verse is that we are to respect the position which Lucifer once held in heaven. For far too many of us we have not learned to bow even to God. What right do we have to question the Creator of everything? How can we rationalize questioning/doubting anything that He says or does? We may rightly desire to understand why He does certain things, but we need to remember that God is the Creator; He is also our Redeemer. Our God is also high, holy, and lifted up in glory. He is a just and righteous God. He never makes any mistakes. He is never surprised by anything that happens. We can therefore trust Him. Do we? Do we respect His authority? We can't be saying "Lord, Lord" and then go our own way and do what we think is right in our own minds.
But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves(Jude 10).
Jude says that these apostates actually blaspheme the things of God. It comes from the Greek word blasphemeo which by transliteration is our English word blaspheme. Jude also mentions another term twice in this passage. The word "know" is first translated from the Greek eido which means "mental comprehension and knowledge" which refers to the whole range of invisible things. Knowledge is not confined to what can be contained within test tubes or flasks in a laboratory, or what can be observed by looking through a microscope or revealed through CT scans or x-rays. Many today believe that this is the only type of knowledge that is real. But this position does not address the factuality of love, faith, or the appreciation of fine music or art.
The second word used for "know" is epistamai, which means "to understand." It was used in reference to palpable things; objects of sense; and the circumstances of sensual enjoyment. These are the things that one can "pour" into test tubes and quantify. You can generally handle and see these things. Jude says that these apostates understand those things known by instinct. These people have not reached the higher plane of knowledge, what the apostle Paul called epignosis. People who understand just physical things believe that they know all that is needful to know and then they corrupt themselves in these same things.
That is all for tonight, beloved. Next time I shall write about Cain, Balaam, and Korah who are all examples of apostates. Until then, may our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ's grace be with you all!
Wed, Sep 8th - 12:46PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"The Devil comes along with something the natural man wants, and he paints the town red to let them know he is coming. The church comes along with something the natural man doesn't want, and thousands of pastors seem to think a mere announcement of the project from the pulpit is quite enough."
~W. E. Biederwolf
The Philistines at the end of chapter five had one question burning in their minds: "What shall we do with Israel's ark of the covenant?"
And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months(6:1).
Seven long months they held onto the ark of God. It wasn't a boon to them, it was more like trying to hold onto an extremely hot potato. Each city of the Philistines discovered that death and destruction swiftly followed the movement of the ark of God, and the Ekronites wanted no part of the ark. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us where we shall send it to His place.
And they said, If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it away empty: but in any wise return Him a trespass offering: then you shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.
Then they said, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to Him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords(6:2-4).
Wanting to get rid of the ark but unsure how to safely do so, the Philistine lords inquired of their own diviners and priests. Their suggested trespass offering points out how vile they were in their idol worship and why God kicked them out of the Promised Land. Why did God not want these people in the Promised Land? Because this was the crossroads of the world at this time and He did not wish the Philistines to be influencing everyone with their idolatry. The Philistines had turned completely from God and here He is still giving them an opportunity to repent of their vile ways. The Philistine's idea of a great offering was five golden mice and five golden hemorrhoids/tumors. Yuck!
Wherefore you shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and you shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure He will lighten His hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
Wherefore then do you harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when He had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there has come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which you return Him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
And see, if it goes up by the way of His own coast to Beth-shemesh, then He has done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that smote us; it was a chance that happened to us.
And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:(6:5-10)
Being superstitious, the Philistines were hedging their bets here. They weren't going to return the ark themselves, they were going to simply load the ark upon a cart which two milk cows were to carry. If it went one way they would know that it was the God of Israel which judged them, and if it went another way then they would know that it was just by accident what had befallen them. They were still feeling that it was a great evil which had fallen upon them, not that they had brought these things upon themselves through their actions. They were feeling like so many of us today feel: Someone else's actions forced us to do what we did. Right! I had to punch you in the face repeatedly because you did not jump up and get me my supper when I yelled at you to do so. I had to beat you senseless because you did not iron and fold my clothes exactly the way I have told you to do so innumerable times before. I had to throw burning hot coffee in your lap because you refused to engage me in an argument.
Next time we shall find out which way those two milk cows went. Until then, may the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all!
Tue, Sep 7th - 7:55PM
STUDY IN JUDE
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like maner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire(Jude 7).
Here is Jude's third example of apostasy from the past. These cities were completely judged and probably can't even be found today. They may very well be buried under the Dead Sea. God destroyed these cities because the people defiled their flesh. They were given over to homosexuality.
Isn't it interesting that today sodomy is called homosexuality, adultery is called free love, the drunkard is just an alcoholic, and the murderer is temporarily insane or else a product of his/her childhood. Satan is doing an excellent job of indoctrinating the entire world with a new vocabulary. Still, sodomy in God's sight is gross immorality and the vilest sin of all. The facts are that God has judged men in the past for these sins of sensuality and He shall do so again. God will judge any nation or civilization that moves too far in this direction. This is a warning we ought not to ignore.
Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities(Jude 8).
Jude comes back to the apostates who were infiltrating the church. They pretended to be something they were not. There are four points of identification of these apostate teachers which Jude gives to us in this verse.
(1) These people are "filthy dreamers." In the Authorized version the word "filthy" is in italics which means it was not in the better manuscripts. It is not really needed to understand these people. They are dreamers, they live in an unreal world. Liberalism is rather romantic. It always sounds and looks good on paper. But when put into practice it ends up creating problems on top of the problems sought to be solved.
An example of liberalism's dreaming is found in their anti-war philosophy. It sounds so noble to declare that all war ought to be avoided at any cost since it runs counter to all that God stands for. However, we live in a big, bad world in which other people will attack without provocation. Are we to not defend ourselves at all? God has authorized governments to protect the people, so that would appear to mean that God understands the nature of our world. Too bad so many liberals do not also understand the nature of our world.
How can the liberal person claim that war runs opposite of what Jesus Christ taught? Do they deliberately forget such verses as Luke 11:21? "When a strong man armed keeps his palace, his goods are in peace." Of course none of us wish to start a war, but we surely must be prepared to defend ourselves when attacked by others.
(2) Jude also says that the apostate teachers "defile the flesh." He is addressing the fact that they engage in abnormal immorality. Many churches have gone and approved homosexuality, some even ordaining them as preachers.
(3) These apostates "despise dominion," which means they reject authority. They wish to eliminate the death penalty. They wish to turn everyone loose to do his/her thing any way they wish. Society is breaking down like a cancer has attacked it. We think that we are civilized when in reality we are nothing but savages dressed up nice. We want certain laws repealed. We don't want divorce for there is no reason to have them. Let anyone live with anyone else if they feel like it. This cuts directly across the morality of a nation. The home is the basic building block of any nation, dismantling the home therefore corrupts the structure of the nation as a whole.
(4) These apostates "speak evil of dignities." They disrespect dignities. They protest against rules and those in authority. The police are the enemy, the courts are the enemy, elected officials are the enemy in their minds. The other political party is all to blame for what is going on, the mayor is to blame, or even the President is to blame for everything that is wrong. Why is this? Due to a loss of respect for those in authority. Granted there are some people in authority who have not been worthy of respect, but the office remains demanding respect.
Just as mighty Troy was defeated by a small band of hidden soldiers, so too the church of Christ has been harmed from the inside. Christ was betrayed from the inside with Judas Iscariot, His nation of people betrayed Him over to the Romans. His church is being betrayed every day now by the ones who have gotten in by a side door.
In very many places the church has become cold and fallen into a deep freeze which is devoid of any warmth. Wesley provided a time of warm incubation for Christian life. Today I don't think that fundamentalism, as it is, provides the proper answer. There seems to be a basic weakness there. It is this: fundamentalism has been exact and precise in doctrine, but in many places it has been lacking of ethics and morals. There has been a moral breakdown in society and it is now mirrored too often in the conservative churches.
We live in days of apostasy. I do not think I am exaggerating any of this. Perhaps I am under emphasizing it. Here are some results from an older poll taken of pastors. "Out of a poll of 700 preachers, the following results were given: 48% denied the complete inspiration of the Bible; 24% rejected the atonement; 12% rejected the resurrection of the body; 27% did not believe that Christ will return to judge the quick and the dead." Still think that I am overstating the problem we face in our churches today?
That is all for today, beloved. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ flood your soul today! May you experience the peace of God which surpasses all understanding~
Tue, Sep 7th - 12:36PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"The very same Holy Spirit who led these men to write, longs to lead us today so we can understand. Without the Holy Spirit, the Bible is like an ocean which cannot be sounded, heavens which cannot be surveyed, mines which cannot be explored, and mysteries beyond unraveling. We must---we must---yield to the leadership of the Holy Spirit."
Chapter five relates to us the experiences of the Philistines with the captured ark of the covenant in their possession. Let us join them in this account of their prized possession.
And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod.
When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
And when they arose early on the next day, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him (5:1-4).
I suppose that the Philistines thought that once they had the ark of God that they would be protected by Jehovah. They showed utter ignorance of God by setting the ark next to a statue of their god, Dagon. What transpired over the first couple of days illustrates God's humor. He toppled the statue over the first day. Then He cut off its hands and head, pointing out the complete powerlessness of the Philistine god. Did the idol worshippers get the message? No. They did not sense that the ark was a very real danger to them all.
Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and He destroyed them, and smote them with enerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not remain with us: for His hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god(5:5-7).
The Philistines soon figured out that there was no merit in their having the ark of God. Ashdod's people were judged severely by God and they decided to send the ark of God elsewhere.
They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thusly.
And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and He smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.
Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people(5:8-10).
The Philistines were afflicted with hemarhoids. I am sure there were other afflictions as well otherwise they would not have desired the ark to be somewhere else. By the time it reaches the city of Ekron they have already heard about what happens when this ark of God resides within a Philistine city and they do not want it in their city!
So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to His own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven(5:11-12).
The Philistines finally call for a "pow-wow" to decide what to do with the ark of God. They had had enough of the destruction and physical affliction that Jehovah was handing out. Their leaders decide to send the ark back to Israel. What a turn of events!
That completes chapter five of I Samuel, a rather brief chapter. Tomorrow I will begin chapter six which contains the account of how the Philistines handled the return of the ark to Israel. Hope to find you back to discover more of God's Word tomorrow! May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all!
Mon, Sep 6th - 1:39PM
STUDY IN JUDE
We have arrived at a point where Jude is going to give us six examples of apostasy in the past. Let us be clear on what apostasy is. The Greek word aphistemi is used in II Thessalonians and it means "to remove, to withdraw, to go away, to depart." Thus it means in this usage a departure from the true faith in Christ. By the time Christ Jesus returns to this earth there shall be a total departure from the faith, total apostasy. Now for those six examples.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though you once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not(Jude 5).
Out in the wilderness Israel in unbelief was destroyed, and that because they did not believe that God could deliver the Promised Land into their possession. They were afraid of the people who already inhabited the land. So God judged their unbelief. Spies had been sent into the land and reported back to the leaders that the land was as God had said it would be. But the spies also gave report of how fearsome the people were who lived in the land. The people ended up not trusting that God would deliver the land into their hands as promised. Apostasy. They departed from God's promise to deliver them from out of Egypt and to bring them into the Promised Land. And so God left Israel to wander out in the wilderness for forty years until all of the adult generations had died, except for Caleb and Joshua who had believed God out of all of the spies.
Those people had used their children's welfare as an excuse to not enter into the Promised Land, and many times we do the exact same thing. Instead of doing what God wishes us to do, we excuse ourselves due to our duty to our children. It sounds noble at first, but it is merely selfish and disobedient on the parents' part. God will take care of us and our children when we obey Him.
So the generations which had apostatized did not enter into the Land but their children did.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day(Jude 6).
We get a picture of the angelic rebellion lead by Satan here that is not found elsewhere in the Bible. God created angels with a free will, just as He did with human beings. Angels do not reproduce like we do, therefore, they do not inherit a sinful nature as we do. Some of these spiritual creatures were caught up in a rebellion and now they are reserved in chains until the final judgment of creation.
Apparently, these fallen angels are divided up into two groups. One group is chained up and are not allowed to roam freely in God's creation. The other group are allowed to move within creation and are under Satan's authority. It is evident that these fallen angels are the demons we find in the gospel accounts. They knew who Jesus Christ was, there was no doubt in their minds. These demons are still loose out in our world today, and they continue to deceive people each and every day.
For very many years there was outright denial of the existence of angels or any supernatural beings. We live in a materialistic age and yet, increasing numbers of people are becoming interested in angels. Here is a quote from Ben Hecht's article of 1963 titled, "New God for the Space Age."
"The most amazing event to enter modern history has been generally snubbed by our chroniclers. It is the petering out of Christianity. Not only are the Bible stories going by the board, but a deeper side of religion seems also to be exiting. This is the mystic concept of the human soul and its survival after death.
Parsons are still preaching away on this topic and congregations are still listening. But congregation and parson both seem to have moved from church to museum.
Fifty years ago religion was an exuberant part of our world. Its sermons, bazaars, tag days, taboos and exhortations filled the press. Its rituals brought a glow to our citizenry. At their supper tables a large part of the voting population bowed its head and said grace.
Religion today is a touchy subject, not because people believe deeply and are ready to defend such belief with emotion, but because they do not want to hear it discussed. They do not know quite what they feel and they do not know what to say about God, His angels and the record of His miracles. Not wanting to sound anti-Christian (or antisocial or anti-anything not under general condemnation) they settle for silence. In this silence, more than in all the previous agnostic hullabaloos, religion seems swiftly disappearing."
That was written back in 1963. Faith in Christ isn't dead yet. There have been some great revivals since then, but we are back to the exact same position once more. People do not want to discuss faith in God because they do not know what they believe anymore. Others have decided that God does not exist, or if He does exist, He is unreachable by humans.
The contemporary liberal church is what is on death's doorstep. These churches have lost all relevancy to people today, they are entertainment centers trying to meet the amusement needs of the populace.
What is interesting is that over the past twenty years there has been growing interest in that which is supernatural. It did not arise from the fundamental churches or the liberal churches, it came from on the campuses of colleges.
Men and women have become concerned as they glance around at a world of materialism that has gone out of control on so many levels. We know how to get a man to the moon but we do not know how to control human nature. We can build great skyscrapers but we do not know hos to build great educational systems which do not fail their students. We have almost half of the seniors failing to graduate in all of our largest cities here in America, that is disgraceful.
Not all that long ago this materialistic generation said that human nature was getting better, people were getting better and treating each other better. Is there proof that this concept is true? No. We still witness people brutalizing others, people shooting into crowds indiscriminately. We still are witnessing nations utilizing genocide to eliminate their perceived problems. We in America are still embroiled with terrorists who believe that chaos and terror are perfectly reasonable tools to achieve their goals. This is how people are getting better? Thus the question gets asked more and more frequently, "Where does all of this vileness and evil come from?" The answer, which so many do not want to acknowledge, is that it is inherent in the human heart because of our sin nature.
The Bible has something to say about all of this. It is the Bible which tells us about the angels which rebelled against God and are still roaming this earth, creating havoc and evil where ever they go. The Word of God also has plenty to say about the judgments which are coming. In I Corinthians we are given the order of the resurrections.
The Book of Revelation has several references to the judgment of fallen angels. We learn that Satan will be responsible for severe persecution of believers and Israel during the Last Days. Satan shall be cast into the pit and bound there for 1000 years. Finally, Satan is to be loosed from the pit and will then be judged and consigned to the lake of fire for all eternity.
So there are the first two examples of apostasy from the past. Next time I shall cover the next examples. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!
Sun, Sep 5th - 10:17PM
STUDY IN JUDE
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints(Jude 3).
"Beloved" is used to show that these people were loved of God and loved by all of the brethren, especially Jude in this case.
The New Testament was written in common Greek and not in classical Greek. Jude wrote about the common salvation which must have been something which people throughout the Roman Empire would clearly understand. Jude states that he was intending to write to them about the common salvation but instead he exhorted them to contend for the faith.
It would appear then that the Holy Spirit of God intervened and inspired him to write on a different theme, one that was too important to wait for another time to be written of. The apostasy is a departure from the faith, from the apostles' doctrine. Apostasy was a small cloud in Jude's day, but it has become a dark force of hurricane proportions. Jude is going to write to us about many things concerning apostasy, and many of them are occuring today in our world. Apostasy is not something of which we are looking forward to, but it is something which we are living amongst today.
Jude states that it was "needful" to write of the coming apostasy. This implies that there was a compulsion, a necessity, a constraint placed upon Jude. He was compelled to exhort the believers to contend earnestly for the faith.
"Contend" has at times been interpreted to mean to be upon your knees. I am unsure of the basis for believing this point of view. We are to contend without being contentious or aggressive or offensive to others. We need to remember II Timothy 2:24-26, "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, ready to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." Jude's idea about contending for the faith has little to do with wimpiness. The Greek work used here for contend is epagonizesthai, and we get our English word agony from it. Jude says that we are agonizingly contend for the great doctrines of Christ.
"The faith that was once delivered unto the saints" is said in the Book of Acts to be the apostles' doctrine. The apostles' doctrine is mentioned first and indicates its overall importance. A church is not a church of Christ unless it is contending for this body of truth given by Christ.
Contending for the faith means that we must speak the truth in love. The two can't be separated from one another. Check out Ephesians 4:15, I speak accurately. But we are to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us, we are to answer in meekness and fear of the Lord. We can't have a short fuse and become angry when someone differs with us in their beliefs.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ(Jude 4).
The word for ordained here is prographo, meaning "to write beforehand." These men were written of in previous times by other prophets of God. Apostasy had been around for a very long time.
"Crept in unawares" comes from the Greek word pareisduno. Duno means "to enter;" the preposition eis means "into;" and para means "beside." So this word in whole means "to enter alongside" and this is how these apostates have come into the church all through the ages.
These apostates enter churches by professing one thing but believing another. They never openly declare their doctrinal position. They deceive others. Scripture has warned us about them. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in II Corinthians 11:13-15 about these apostates and how they deceive true believers.
Paul knew that apostasy was just over the horizon. He warned the Ephesians in Acts 20:29-31 of wolves entering into the flock. Despite all of the warnings, various congregations still allowed themselves to be deceived by apostates and their churches ruined.
One of the greatest things to occur in the last fifty years is the rise of women's bible study classes all across America. But it needs to be watched carefully because due to its success somebody will attempt to slip in and circumvent its direction to meet their personal agenda. So women need to be very aware of who is taking over leadership of these women's associations and conferences. All Christian movements must move within the bounds of the church and not outside of its boundaries.
Of course, the acid test for any movement is the teaching regarding the person of Jesus Christ. Any movement which denies the deity of Christ is not a Christian movement. But it can be rather difficult to determine quickly a particular movement's true doctrine. They can utilize various means to deny the deity of Christ and still appear that they are actually believers in Him as the Savior of the entire world.
Paul also wrote warning to the Galatians in Galatians 2:4. Thus it becomes extremely clear that we today must guard every movement which God is blessing. We must guard our congregations against these false teachers, the apostates. We must be aware of the fact that the ministers of Satan are waiting to enter in through the side door and grasp control of the flock of believers through deceit.
These apostates are ungodly people, and they do two things: They distort and deny the grace of God; and they deny the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. They leave God out of their lives, He is not involved in any aspect of their lives. It becomes of utmost importance to evaluate whether or not a man who claims to teach and preach the Word of God is actually a godly man. Their personal lives must be looked at to see if they live in a godly fashion.
Lasciviousness is a word which cannot be glossed over as being archaic. A good synonym could be wantonness because this word contains the concepts of lawlessness and arrogance. In other words, doing whatever you please even if you offend others. Paul warned the Galatians to not use their liberty as an opportunity to serve their flesh but rather through love serve one another. The apostates will serve their flesh and their immorality will eventually show through.
Gross immorality characterizes the apostasy of our day. All of the great precepts of Scripture concerning morality are chucked overboard. We are told that there is a "new morality." Someone once said that one of the troubles with our world today is that people mistake sex for love, money for brains, and electronic gadgets for civilization. Here are six concepts that seemingly govern the vast majority of people today: God is a creation of wishful thinking; religion is a mechanism of escape from reality; man is a glorified gorilla who asks too many questions and represses too many desires; morals are a matter of taste; love is an art; and life is a racket. I know that I have come across many people who believe these things to be facts.
Marriage is flouted and considered unessential in growing segments of our society today. You may live whomever you desire to live with in total disregard of the morality which builds strong homes and strong nations. The fact is that moral decay is an acute national problem of which none of our leaders in Washington D.C. seem to be aware of. There is no sense of urgency upon their part to correct the moral decay of our society. Jude warns us to beware of these things.
In Jude's day Gnosticism was the representative of apostasy. They believed that the flesh was evil and that the spirit alone was good. Their conclusion was that it didn't matter what a man did with his body. He was free to indulge his desires/lusts, he could practice gross immorality, sin, and do so arrogantly and proudly in public.
Today we find that many of these same ideas are reappearing in society. There is no new morality, it is simply recycled old Gnosticism. Another part of the Gnostic's belief was a denial of the true God and true Man, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says that there is nothing new under the sun, that mankind simply recycles old concepts over and over. I would have to agree completely with God's assessment of the state of mankind.
I have spent much time on this verse simply because of the fact that there is so much packed into it. Jude gives us concentrated advice which God has distilled down to the basics, things which impact our way of living as Christians. Tomorrow I hope to pick up this study with verse five, I hope that if you celebrate Labor Day that it is a joyful time for you and your families. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all!
Sat, Sep 4th - 9:56PM
STUDY IN JUDE
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called(Jude 1).
Jude intended to write about our salvation but the Spirit of God intervened and instructed him to call attention to the days of apostasy which would be coming upon the church as a whole.
In the New Testament there are three men who bear the name Judas, but we have very good evidence which identifies the writer of this epistle as the half brother of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Servant" here is literally "bond slave." He makes no claim to blood relationship with Jesus to avoid any feelings that he has a superior position. This aided in defusing the notion that the entire family of Jesus ought to be reverenced. Both James and Jude were half brothers of Jesus and James was the writer of the epistle which bears his name. Paul mentioned him to be one of the pillars of the church found in Jerusalem.
We are sanctified by God through His love for us. We are preserved in Jesus Christ as we are called to lives of faith. There are several words that are rather important in this passage and ought to be understood. The first one is the term preserved. Jude gives the reader assurance through the use of this term as it means to keep unchanged. Our salvation in Christ is preserved in Him, it will not change at all.
In general, there are two ways to preserve food. One is with vinegar, and the other is with sugar. Salt may be used with meats also. Today there seem to be saints who are preserved in vinegar, they act that way. There are also saints who are preserved in sugar. They are sweet and tender hearted.
Jesus gave us a parable to describe the relationship between Him and us. In John 10 Jesus said that He is the good shepherd and we are the sheep. If a sheep is kept in safety it is due to no credit of the sheep itself. Sheep can't defend themselves. They can't run away quickly either. Sheep are helpless. And God describes us that way. Christ keeps us safe. He can preserve us. God tells us that no created thing can take us from out of His hand. It is not a question of our holding onto God, it is about God being able to hold onto us. He says that He can hold onto us, it becomes then a matter of trusting Him.
Salvation rests upon the Word of God and therefore our assurance of salvation rests upon that for God has made it very, very clear that we have a sure salvation.
"And called." This term, as used in Scripture, is not only an invitation which is sent out, but it is an invitation that is sent out and accepted and made real because of the Holy Spirit of God. Look at I Corinthians 1:22-24 and you find this term being used. When we accept God's call we become born again and receive salvation. We become one of "the called."
Mercy unto you, and peace and love, be multiplied(Jude 2).
As has already been pointed out, there are differences between the words mercy, peace, and love. They are all related to each other however.
Love is an attribute of God. Because He is love, He is merciful and has provided us with grace. Back in Exodus 33:19 God pointed out that He does not answer prayers due to anyone's merit. We can keep from experiencing God's love, but He does not stop loving us.
Even though God loved me, He did not save me by love. Because He is also holy and righteous and just He can't simply allow me to enter heaven while still corrupted by sin. God therefore showed mercy to all of us and provided His Son as the substitute to pay for our sins. God can now save a sinnner if he will come to Him and accept His salvation. This is the grace of God which comes through faith, and that is a gift of God as we find in Ephesians 2:8-9.
So we see that the grace of God and not the love of God is involved with the sins of mankind. God has provided a Savior who has paid the penalty for sins. It is on that basis that God saves sinners, it is the grace of God.
But sin has brought tragedy to the family of man. There is disease, genetic disorders, and death. God sees the misery that sin has caused, and God sends mercy out to mankind. Because He is rich in mercy, He will extend that mercy to you and I. He will bring comfort to our hearts, He will help us through the misery.
God must pardon before He can heal us. We must be justified before we can be sanctified. The grace of God must go before the mercy of God. The grace must go before and take away and make way for the mercy of God.
The "peace" of God is that experience which comes to the heart that is trusting Christ completely. Romans 5:1 tells us this. We are no longer at war with God, there are no hostilities in existence. I now know that God is not making it hard for me. He is on my side now. The world may point its finger at us and reject us, but God has accepted us. He loves us and He wants to give us that peace so that we can rest blissfully each and every night(Romans 8:28).
That is all for tonight, beloved. Tomorrow I will continue with verse 3 which begins a change of theme. We will find Jude writing about contending for the faith, something which each saint must do today in our world. May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all!
Fri, Sep 3rd - 12:26PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"Rome also persecuted the Scriptures; but chiefly in this way: that instead of being the custodian of Scripture it became the jailor of Scripture, and for many centuries the Word of God was hidden from the people, and legends and traditions of men became the food of the human mind."
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelled between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phenehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the eath rang again(4:4-5).
Israel believes that they are invincible now that the ark of the covenant is in their midst. Eli's two boys have absolutely no comprehension as to why this movement of the ark will be fruitless. So the Israelites have a great rally, they idolize that box. Have they consulted God? No. Are their hearts close to God's? No. How does this reflect some of our beliefs today? Do we idolize our church building, or the altar area, or the preacher? How close to God are our hearts? Are we consulting God at all before attempting to do things for Him?
And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What does it mean with this noise of a great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp.
And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there has not been such a thing before this.
Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness(4:6-8).
The Philistines believe that the ark contains God. They serve idols and that is what they automatically think. They have heard of God's power, but they are ignorant of the living and true God.
Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O you Philistines, that you be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.
And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain(4:9-11).
So the two sides fight, and the Israelites are routed. The ark of the covenant is taken and Eli's two boys are killed just as God said that they would. Judgment of God has arrived at its appointed time.
And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.
And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God.
And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.
And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What is the meaning of the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.
Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled today out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there has been also a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck broke, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years(4:12-18).
The high priest still had a real concern for the things of God. News of his sons' death did not force him to pitch backwards off of his seat, no, it was news of the loss of the ark of God that caused Eli's death. Eli may have been a weak, indulgent father but I think that he was still a man of God in his heart.
At any rate, this tragedy brings Samuel into the position of being God's spokesman to the nation of Israel.
And his daughter in law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.
And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for you have born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it.
And she named the child I-chabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken(4:19-21).
The insight here is that even though Phinehas was not a man of God, his wife obviously was. She clearly understood what the loss of the ark of God indicated. The glory of God was departed from Israel, the nation had lost the presence of God from among it. She clearly comprehended that her husband and her father-in-law had much responsibility in the capture of the ark by the Philistines.
That is all for today, beloved. May the grace of Christ our Lord and Savior be with you all this Labor Day weekend!
Thu, Sep 2nd - 12:43PM
Downfall of a Nation
Here is an offering from the pen of Dr. McGee.
In the Book of Judges a great principle of government is presented, a principle which is also stated very clearly in the prophecy of Isaiah. All of the subsequent prophets simply bear out and apply this principle which has already been stated. The principle is this: There are three steps in the downfall of a nation. First of all, there is religious apostasy. The second step is moral awfulness. And the third step is political anarchy. These are the three steps by which all nations pass off the stage of human history. That has always been the way it has moved. You see, the primary problem never was political anarchy. The primary problem never was moral awfulness. As bad as these are, the root problem goes back to religious or spiritual apostasy, a turning away from the living and true God.
The downfall of a nation begins in idolatry; it begins in turning away from the living and true God. We wuold like to think that idolatry has gone out of style, that no one today in this country is bowing down to an idol. That, of course, is not true. Many a man today is worshiping the almighty dollar. Many a man worships sex. Many a man worsips pleasure. May I say to you, anything that you give yourself to, anthing that takes all your time or energy, anything that takes all of you is what you worship. That, my friend, is your god, that is your idol, and that is what God condemns. God says that He is a jealous God. He says, "I made you. I created you. I have redeemed you. And I want you." When a man turns his back on God, he is doing the worst thing any man can possibly do.
But the LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him(Habbakuk 2:20).
Personally, I believe this looks to the future when the Lord Jesus Christ will come to the earth. When He is in His temple down here, the whole earth will be silent before Him. All of the noise, all of the clamor, all of the protest, all of the confusion will disappear at that time. But it is also true that it applies to today. The reason we are having all these difficulties and problems down here is that, although He is yonder in heaven, although the Lord is in His temple, man does not bow before Him and recognize Him. It would be a wonderful thing if we could just have a week of silence. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone in Washington D.C., would keep his mouth shut for a week? Wouldn't it be wonderful if all of us preachers on radio would keep our mouths shut? Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if everyone who is doing so much talking would just keep quiet and wait before almighty God?
Just like Habbakuk's questions, the psalmist asks, "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing(Psalm 2:1)?" Why all the clamor? Why all the protest? Because they are far from God. Our problem today is a problem of man's relationship to God. My friend, there is only one alternative, there is only one way out: "The just shall live by his faith(Psalm 2:4)."
America, your people need to begin to live by their faith and stop turning away from the living and true God. The people need to stop making so much noise, stop protesting so much against Christ. I hope that this quoted piece from the writings of J. Vernon McGee forces some to pause and think about how they are living their lives each day. We all need to become less "noisy" and become quieter in our lives.
Wed, Sep 1st - 9:50PM
III JOHN STUDY
Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that does good is of God: but he that does evil has not seen God(3 John 11).
John once more emphasizes that the person who practices righteousness is a child of God but the person who does not practice righteousness is not born of God.
Now we are coming to a third man, Demetrius. You can't help but rejoice in this man. Demetrius is a dependable brother.
Demetrius has good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yes, and we also bear record; and you know that our record is true(3 John 12).
This is a man sound in the faith. He has good record of all men, of the truth, and of John himself. Demetrius obviously was one of those saints whom Diotrephes had banned from his church. Demetrius is never mentioned in the Bible again after this. But this verse gives great insight into the character of the man. His name means "belonging to Demeter," that is, Ceres, the goddess of agriculture. He is therefore a convert from paganism. He now goes about teaching the Word of God. He was true to the doctrine of Christ and of Scripture.
The real test of the Christian life does not come in the limelight to the sounds of applause. Nothing spectacular, nothing sensational or outstanding, but the life of faith is in living for God. You have a purpose, a direction, and you have a thrilling experience. Back in the decadent first century Roman Empire, with its low morals and erosion of character, there came the message from God that He had given His Son. Multitudes came into contact with Him and they got involved. Today's society is reaching the same point and the time has come for people to come into contact with Christ and get involved. Saints of God need to be doing the small things, touching peoples' lives right where they live. These things may very well go unseen by the majority of people, but they are vital to reaching people with God's good news.
I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto you.
But I trust I shall shortly see you, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to you. Our friends salute you. Greet the friends by name(3 John 13-14).
John had much still to say to them, but he desired to do so face to face. Someday this will be true for you and I, we will be able to speak in person with each other and with John. We will be able to ask him what were all of these things which he wished to speak to them about.
John's salutation is warm and friendly. The one thought that I would leave you with at the end of this study: The message of Christianity must get back down onto the highways and byways of the world. It must be delivered via shoe leather in action. It must be delivered via hammers in hand, building homes for the needy. Providing meals for the hungry. Childcare for parents in need of a small break. Movie nights for the entire family in a safe, secure, atmosphere. Believers must get back to relating to people and meeting them where they live. It means developing relationships and becoming friends with lost people. It takes work.
That is all for this study, beloved. It has revealed several interesting and important facts. The next book of the Bible up for study will be Jude, which follows on the heels of 3 John. Jude's subject matter is the coming apostasy. He gives us the most vivid account that we can find of the apostasy. He has hung out a red light on the most dangerous curve along the roadway the church of Christ is traveling. This small epistle is like a burglar alarm. Apostates have broken into the church, through the side doors and through the backdoor, while no one was watching. Jude gives us the only record in Scripture about the contention of Satan with Michael the archangel over the body of Moses. He also records the prophecy of Enoch. I think this epistle shall be interesting and exciting to study next!
May the peace of Christ our Lord and Savior be with you all.
Wed, Sep 1st - 1:02PM
I SAMUEL STUDY
"Periods of staleness in the life are not inevitable but they are common. He is a rare Christian who has not experienced times of spiritual dullness. Sometimes our trouble is not moral but physical. The Christian who gets tired in the work of the Lord and stays tired without relief beyond a reasonable time will go stale.
We can keep from going stale by getting proper rest, by practising complete candor in prayer, by introducing variety into our lives, by heeding God's call to move onward and by exercising quiet faith always."
"The question is not "How much may I indulge in and still be saved?" God forbid! I must rather ask, "What about Christ's will and the example I set for my fellow Christians?""
~ Robert Cook
And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD(3:21).
God spoke to the boy and thus revealed Himself to him. God reveals Himself to us today through His written Word. He illuminates, through His Holy Spirit, various passages of scripture. It is through this process that we get to know Him and His will. Samuel conversed with God within the tabernacle, the place of meeting Jehovah. God approached man, once more demonstrating that He takes the initiative.
We now begin the fourth chapter. This chapter showcases what transpires when men take it upon themselves to act rather than seek out counsel with God first. Israel sets themselves up to have a massive failure in battle, all because they refused to seek out the will of God before beginning any fighting with the Philistines. It is applicable to how we function today.
And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Eben-ezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.
And the Philistines put themselves in array against Irael: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.
And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore has the LORD smitten us today before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it comes among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies(4:1-3).
This scripture provides us with a view of Israel's superstition and of how far from God they actually were spiritually. They had become self sufficient and selfish. No thoughts of seeking God's will or direction occured to them. Instead, they went out to battle and were soundly beaten. Does it occur to them to turn to God? No! They recall how the ark of the covenant exhibited power seemingly by itself and therefore go to take it out of the tabernacle. They totally had forgotten the fact that the ark only had power due to the presence of God. Without God's presence the box had nothing to offer. God does not reside in any box. Too many of us today operate under the unspoken premise that God is in some sort of box or method and we simply need to utilize that method in order to be successful. It does not work that way beloved. Merit resides only in Christ and our success is determined by whether or not we are in Him.
May the grace of Christ our Lord and Savior be with you all!
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