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1  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: Today at 08:20:43 AM
The Serpent in the Wilderness

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” (Numbers 21:8)
 
This might seem an incredible story, but it was confirmed by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).
 
A plague of poisonous snakes had infested the camp of Israel, sent as a divine judgment because of their complaints and ingratitude, and many people had died. When they confessed their sin and Moses prayed for their deliverance, God in His grace prescribed this unique remedy.
 
There is, of course, no naturalistic process that can heal a deadly snakebite merely by a look. Neither, of course, is there a naturalistic explanation for the salvation of a sin-poisoned soul merely by looking with faith upon the crucified Son of man. Both are mighty miracles, with the first being beautifully designed by God to be a prophetic foreshadowing of the other.
 
The symbolism is striking. The brass serpent impaled on the pole represented the poisonous serpents slain, but it also spoke of “that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan,” eventually cast forever into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:2, 10). Thus, it also symbolized the judgment on sin itself and its final banishment from God’s creation.
 
All of this, however, was only the symbol. The real deliverance required Christ to be made “sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Son of man must be lifted up on the cross, and then all who see Him, and believe, receive life instead of death. HMM
2  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 24, 2017, 08:54:31 AM
How to Handle a Multitude of Sins

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” (Proverbs 10:12)
 
There is an old familiar cliché to the effect that we should “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” This may sound a bit trite because of overuse, but it is nevertheless both biblical and practical. It is easy and tempting to be critical and condemnatory toward someone who has sinned (especially if the sin has affected us directly), but such an attitude seldom, if ever, produces repentance on the part of the sinner. As the above proverb reminds us, it will more likely generate an angry, defensive response and further strife.
 
An attitude of loving concern, on the other hand (not of condoning the sin but of personal understanding and sincere interest in the person) will much more likely lead to a genuine change of heart and restoration. Two New Testament writers (Peter and James) cite this Old Testament text in their own advice to Christian believers. Peter says, for example, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). “Charity,” of course, is the Greek agape, which is more often translated “love,” even in the King James Version. The translators used “charity” here, no doubt, because “love” might be, in this context, misunderstood as erotic love, or even brotherly love (different Greek words), whereas “charity” (as an attitude toward others) more nearly describes the agape kind of love. Note also that this “charity” is to be fervent charity.
 
James, like Peter, understands “all sins” in the Proverbs text to imply “a multitude of sins,” and he stresses the true goal in using this kind of love in dealing with a sinner. “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). HMM
3  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 23, 2017, 07:44:20 AM
With Christ

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17)
 
One of the greatest doctrines of the Christian faith is the identification of Christ with His people in all the key events of His great work of salvation. For example, we are considered by God as dying with Him since He died for us. As Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20).
 
Furthermore, when Christ was buried, we were in effect buried also. “We are buried with him by baptism into death” (Romans 6:4). Then we are also resurrected with Christ. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).
 
But that is only the beginning of our great salvation. Christ then ascended to heaven, sat down on the right hand of the Father, and we are there with Him! “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. . . . And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6).
 
Not even is this the end, for we are joint-heirs with Christ, as our text assures us. He has been “appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2), and we share His inheritance. “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:11-12).
 
Identified with Christ in His suffering, His death, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension, and then in His eternal reign! This is our position by faith. When He returns, it will become actuality, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). HMM
4  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 22, 2017, 08:58:26 AM
Praise at the Incarnation

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” (Luke 1:68-69)
 
These words of praise, uttered by Zacharias the priest at the birth of John the Baptist, comprise one of seven great doxologies given by men and women in connection with the entrance of the Savior into the human family. Even before this was the testimony of His mother Mary in her Magnificat: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (vv. 46-47).
 
But the first was uttered by Elizabeth: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. . . . And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (vv. 42, 45).
 
Then, when Christ was born, there were the shepherds who, after seeing Him, “returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (2:20). Eight days later, at His circumcision in Jerusalem, the aged prophet Simeon “blessed God, and said . . . mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (vv. 28, 30-32). The prophetess Anna “gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (v. 38).
 
Finally, perhaps two years later, Gentile wise men, after a long journey from the east, “fell down, and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11). Humble Jewish shepherds and great Gentile scholars joined with priest and prophet and three godly women to praise the Lord for the gift of His Son and to worship Him. Can we do any less? HMM
5  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 21, 2017, 08:49:41 AM
Searching for God

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
 
These are days when few people seem satisfied. Everyone seems to be searching for something—for riches, power, health, adventure, fame, peace, conquests, or escape. Shamefully, even few Christians seem to realize that the permanent fulfillment or redirection of such desires can only be found in the Lord, the One who created them and designed them to operate in a particular, satisfying way.
 
While it is true that in an ultimate sense “there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11) for salvation without the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Christian (and indeed the entire human race) is enjoined again and again to seek God. Note the following passages of encouragement.
 
“If from thence [i.e., captivity due to disobedience] thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). “If thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever” (1 Chronicles 28:9). “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee” (Psalm 63:1). “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17). “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
 
As in our text, our search should be for God and His characteristics. All of man’s desires will either be fulfilled or reoriented as we find Him, and according to the several verses quoted, we will find Him if we truly seek Him. JDM
6  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 20, 2017, 09:44:01 AM
Together in Christ

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
 
This is a wonderful promise. Whether believers come together in church or a home Bible study or even just two together (like husband and wife) to fellowship around the name of the Lord Jesus, He is there also!
 
The Scriptures often speak of our togetherness with Him and therefore with one another. When we followed Him in baptism, we were “planted together in the likeness of his death” (Romans 6:5). Similarly, when He rose from the dead, God “hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6). One day, we are told, “if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
 
In our Christian walk right now, we are being “fitly framed together” as a “holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22). We ought, therefore, to be “knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2), “perfectly joined together in the same mind” (1 Corinthians 1:10), and “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
 
Then one day, when Christ returns and the dead in Christ are raised, “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
 
So, when we are together with Him through the indwelling Spirit of Christ, whether in a congregation of thousands or just together with one or two Christian companions, we rejoice in His presence, for He is our mighty Creator, our loving Savior, our caring Comforter, our unerring Guide, and our soon-coming King. HMM
7  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 19, 2017, 08:36:11 AM
The Word Made Flesh

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
 
This is the definitive verse on the divine incarnation, when “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19), and the wealth of truth implied therein is beyond human comprehension. We can never understand how the infinite God could become finite man, but where the intellect fails, faith prevails.
 
It was the Word who “was God” and by whom “all things were made” (John 1:1, 3), yet He made His own human body, in the womb of Mary, and therein “dwelt among us” for 33 years. The Greek word here for “dwelt” is unusual, literally meaning “tabernacled.”
 
How could this be? “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). This is, indeed, a great mystery, “but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God made a body for Adam; surely He could also make a perfect body in which He Himself could “tabernacle.” He was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3) and “was in all points tempted [i.e., tested] like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Since “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13), and since the Word, who was God, was merely tabernacling in the likeness of sinful flesh, this testing was to demonstrate to man (not to Himself) that He was without sin and therefore able to save sinners. Therefore, John could testify, “We beheld his glory!”
 
Jesus Christ is, indeed, true man—in fact, He is man as God intended man to be. Yet, neither in the womb of Mary, nor on the cross, did He ever cease to be God. HMM
8  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 18, 2017, 09:14:21 AM
No Other Name

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
 
There are many famous names in the history of religious thought—names such as Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Joseph Smith, among a host of others. Each has a multitude of followers who pay homage to his name.
 
But there is only one name that saves eternally, the Lord Jesus Christ. The words of our text were spoken by the apostle Peter. In his epistle, John also stresses this fact: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). The apostle Paul wrote that all those “that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
 
This exclusivity necessarily results from the fact that there is only one God and Creator of all men, and that all men have rebelled against Him. God Himself has become Redeemer and Savior, dying for the sin of the world and rising again. There can, therefore, be no other Savior than God Himself.
 
The Lord Jesus repeatedly stressed this truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).
 
It is urgent, therefore, that anyone desiring forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation come to God through Jesus Christ. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). HMM
9  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 17, 2017, 08:38:47 AM
The Lord Our Maker

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” (Psalm 95:6)
 
In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that God was to “make man in our image,” and also that He “created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:26-27). Similarly, on the seventh day God “rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:3).
 
God is, therefore, both Creator and Maker of all things, including the image of God in man. These two terms are not synonymous, though they sometimes seem to be used interchangeably. “Creation” is calling into existence entities that previously had no existence. No one except God is ever the subject of the verb “create.” The work of making, on the other hand, is that of organizing created entities into complex systems.
 
It is interesting that God is called “Creator” five times in the Bible, whereas He is called “Maker” 16 times. God created His image in men and women, but He also made them in that image. That is, He called into existence the spiritual component of man’s nature, not shared in any degree by the animals. He also organized the basic material elements into complex human bodies, the most highly organized systems in the universe, and these were made in that image that God Himself would one day assume when He became an incarnate human being. In this way, He is both Creator and Maker of His image in each person.
 
That image has been marred because of sin, but through the work of Christ we have been “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:10), and our bodies will “be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Created and newly created, made and remade, let us humbly kneel before the Lord, our Maker and Creator. HMM
10  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 16, 2017, 08:43:29 AM
Open Doors

“Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” (Colossians 4:3-4)
 
This was Paul’s prayer request of the Colossian Christians, that God would open the door for His testimony. Paul had written earlier about “when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 2:12). The purpose of an open door is thus to preach the gospel of Christ and to speak the mystery of Christ.
 
Furthermore, these passages indicate that such doors are opened by the Lord, not by human devices. In fact, Christ Himself is “he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” (Revelation 3:7). Doors of testimony are opened by the Lord in answer to prayer, but He also specifies three criteria for keeping the door opened. “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8).
 
These conditions mean, literally, having little strength of one’s own and thus depending only on God, jealously guarding the integrity of God’s Word, and upholding the name of Christ as Creator, Savior, and coming King.
 
Even when the door is kept open by God, there is no assurance of ease in entering it. Paul wrote that “a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). This is the reason prayer is needed, relying on God, not man!
 
The Lord is also seeking an open door into churches that think they “have need of nothing. . . . Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:17, 20). HMM
11  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 15, 2017, 08:39:48 AM
Guarding the Word

“Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” (Psalm 119:2)
 
In the remarkable 119th psalm, there are 176 verses (the longest chapter in the Bible) and 176 references to the written Word of God. Eight different Hebrew words are used for the Scriptures, respectively translated (in the King James Version) “law,” “testimonies,” “precepts,” “statutes,” “commandments,” “judgments,” and two words translated “word” or “words.” Furthermore, this psalm contains 28 admonitions to “keep” the Word, and these are applied to each of the above eight aspects of the Scriptures. The first is in our text, where we are exhorted to keep His testimonies. Note the others also in the following examples.
 
“Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently” (v. 4); “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!” (v. 5); “Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word” (Hebrew dabar, v. 17).
 
“Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law” (v. 34); “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments” (v. 60); “I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments” (v. 106); “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Hebrew imrah, v. 67).
 
This means much more than simply obeying His commands, though this is certainly included. Both words translated “keep” or “kept” in the 28 admonitions noted above basically mean “guard” or “preserve,” as in Psalm 41:2, where both words are used: “The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive.”
 
In these verses and many others throughout the Bible, therefore, we are commanded not merely to obey and proclaim God’s Word, but also to guard, preserve, and defend it against all its many enemies. HMM
12  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 14, 2017, 09:40:48 AM
Lukewarm Laodicea

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; . . . I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:14-16)
 
The Lord Jesus used intense language to rebuke this church, the last of the seven He had John write to in the book of Revelation. Laodicea was dangerously near the brink of being disavowed by He who is the Head of the church.
 
Such churches believe they “have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). Worldly wealth, extensive property, and popular recognition blinded these members and their leaders to their true spiritual condition. They failed to understand that, from the Lord’s perspective, they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
 
The cause of this terrible spiritual destitution is being spiritually tepid. It’s like expecting a glass of cold water or a cup of hot tea but finding everything at room temperature. This church “tasted” just like the world around them. They were neither godly nor in rebellion—just “nice people” who blended in well with the community. Their spiritual reputation did not smell either like life or death (2 Corinthians 2:16).
 
Despite the Lord’s distaste for such a condition, He loved and counseled them to “buy” from Him the gold of the Kingdom’s true wealth, righteous clothing that would cover their shameful exposure of worldly behavior, and to anoint their spiritual eyes so that they could see eternal values rather than temporal things.
 
As the Lord graciously closed His letter, He “stands at the door” of the church, waiting for anyone to open and let Him in (Revelation 3:20). Tepid spirituality keeps the Lord outside. What a shame that such could ever be said about any church. HMM III
13  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 13, 2017, 09:49:35 AM
Strong Philadelphia

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; . . . I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:7-8)
 
Philadelphia and Smryna are the only churches that did not receive warnings from the Lord in the seven letters recorded in Revelation. Philadelphia had “a little strength” because they had built their church on the two foundations of the Word of God and the name of the Lord Jesus.
 
The foundation of Jesus Christ Himself (1 Corinthians 3:11) and the foundation of the writings of the “apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20) that are inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) make the church “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Philadelphia had faithfully held these eternal principles and was therefore given an “open door.”
 
The Lord’s introduction to Philadelphia cites the “Key of David,” suggesting a reference to the treasure house of the king (1 Kings 7:51) and to Christ’s authority as the heir to the kingdom (Isaiah 22:22). The treasure of the eternal Kingdom is not physical riches but the gold, silver, and precious stones of God-ordained work for the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).
 
But just as the talents and the pounds granted to the servants in the parables (Matthew 25; Luke 19), the open door is an opportunity to use the resources of the King for His benefit—not a guarantee of success. The Lord grants the resources, but the work and the use of those resources are our responsibility. We will be held accountable.
 
If we use those resources well, even those of the “synagogue of Satan” will “come and worship” (Revelation 3:9) and “every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). HMM III
14  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 12, 2017, 08:09:10 AM
Dead Sardis

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” (Revelation 3:1)
 
The church at Sardis received the saddest of the Lord’s seven letters in Revelation. Sardis seemed to want to remain known as a “live” church, but the Lord saw their real testimony and reputation and concluded that they were “dead.” Many such places around the world today are enshrined with stained glass, statuary, crosses, and inscriptions that have the “name” of Christianity emblazoned throughout their property, yet they are dead spiritually. Such churches might be compared to the monuments and gravestones erected in cemeteries to honor the memories of faithful men and women of past generations who were alive for a time with a solid reputation for godliness yet whose families have drifted away from the Lord.
 
Yet, “even in Sardis” there was a small number who had remained faithful in spite of the drift of the church itself, as there are also in families now adrift but with a Christian heritage. The advice to Sardis (and certainly to families as well) is this: “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent” (Revelation 3:3).
 
The Philippian church received the same counsel: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9). The verb is “do.” Heritage is wonderful, but each church—and each of us—will be held accountable for what is actually done. HMM III
15  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: July 11, 2017, 08:04:22 AM
Tolerant Thyatira

“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; . . . I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee.” (Revelation 2:18-20)
 
The Lord Jesus’ letter to the church at Thyatira is the longest among the seven recorded in Revelation. Although they were faithful in their works to the city, had a strong charity among themselves, and were evidently growing in their reputation and perhaps even in number, the Lord Jesus used some very harsh language to rebuke their behavior.
 
Whether or not the woman who held influence in the church was actually named Jezebel, she had entrenched herself as a prophetess. Her namesake in the Old Testament (1 Kings) was the wicked queen and wife of King Ahab of Israel during the days of Elijah. Her evil deeds are recorded throughout seven chapters—more than any other woman in Israel’s history!
 
The Jezebel of Thyatira had been allowed “to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (Revelation 2:20). It is not clear if the Lord spoke of physical fornication among the church members, but the practice of sacrificing to idols was a serious rebellion against the second commandment and a clear violation of God’s Word (Exodus 20:4-5).
 
Those who were committing “adultery with her” (Revelation 2:22) had entered into “the depths of Satan” (Revelation 2:24). Whether this behavior was a physical practice or not (as was common among the pagan religions of the day), it is most certainly identified as spiritual adultery when those who name the name of Christ worship other gods (Jeremiah 3:1, 20; Hosea 9:1; etc.). May God protect us from such horrible leadership. HMM III
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