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Our Lord Jesus Christ loves you.
279015 Posts in 26787 Topics by 3790 Members
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1  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: Today at 08:43:15 AM
Prepared Hearts

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” (Ezra 7:10)

It does not come naturally into our hearts to seek, obey, and then teach others the words of God as found in the Scriptures. Therefore, like Ezra, we must prepare our hearts.

The Hebrew word for “prepare” means to “stand erect,” and thus takes special effort. One’s natural “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), not at all inclined to “stand up” for the Word of God.

But Ezra did, even in the court of a pagan king and in the midst of the enemies of God’s people in a far country, and even among the backslidden people of his own nation. He prepared his heart, fixing it in firm faith on the laws and promises of God. And because he did, he could testify: “I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me” (Ezra 7:28).

On the other hand we read, for example, of King Rehoboam whose rebellion and sin led to the dividing of Israel into two kingdoms and eventually into the captivity. These judgments came because, unlike Ezra, Rehoboam “did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD” (2 Chronicles 12:14).

Thus, our hearts need to be prepared to seek God and His Word, but how do we get them prepared? First, we must come to Him in true humility. “LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear” (Psalm 10:17).

God is then the One who actually prepares our hearts! “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:1). We can only prepare our hearts to seek and serve God if we humbly call on Him to do the preparing. HMM
2  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 23, 2018, 09:23:32 AM
The Unequal Yoke

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

This is one of the definitive statements in Scripture on the doctrine of Christian separation. Not only should believers refrain from practicing evil teaching and error, they should not join in any formal association with those who do such things, nor should they enter into a binding relationship of any kind with non-Christians.

There may be a question regarding the full scope of this prohibition, though it probably would not apply to civic clubs, professional societies, and other groups with no religious connotations. The context of this verse implies an association of Christians with pagan idolaters, compromising God’s Word with the immoral pantheism of the Greek religions.

The “unequal yoke” seems, therefore, to be one involving an actual “fellowship” and “communion” in some kind of religious or quasi-spiritual union with unbelievers, and this is forbidden, for how “can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). In the modern scene, ancient Greek pantheism has now become one form or another of evolutionary humanism. Thus, the prohibition would at least apply to membership in secret lodges or fraternities with a pseudo-religious structure and purpose, as well as membership in liberal churches or cults in the so-called “New Age” orbit. It clearly must also include marriage or partnership or other formal unions with individuals who, as unbelievers in Christ, are either knowingly or unknowingly affected by such pagan beliefs or practices. Instead of such an unequal yoke, we should be joined only to Christ and His followers, “For,” said He, “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). HMM
3  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 22, 2018, 09:17:36 AM
In a Moment

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

This is one of the greatest promises in the Bible, assuring us that “we” (i.e., all believers, whether dead or living when Christ returns) shall suddenly be changed, with our dead or dying bodies instantly transformed into incorruptible, immortal bodies, which can never die again.

This great change, when it finally occurs, will take place “in a moment.” The Greek here is en atomo, “in an atom of time.” This word, implying the smallest entity conceivable by the Greeks, is used only this one time in the New Testament. It is further described by “the twinkling of an eye,” where “twinkling” is the Greek rhipe, also used only this once. Evidently there is nothing else in this present world comparable in rapidity to this miraculous change that will be called forth when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

The great shout (probably uttered by Christ Himself as at the tomb of Lazarus) will instantly create new bodies for both dead and living believers. “The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Our new bodies will be like Christ’s resurrection body. He “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:21).

Christ is able thus to create new bodies for us in a moment, just as when He created all things in the beginning: “He spake, and it was done” (Psalm 33:9). HMM
4  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 21, 2018, 08:45:40 AM
He That Is Spiritual

“But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” (1 Corinthians 2:15)

The word rendered “spiritual” is the Greek word pneumatikos, from which theologians have coined the term “pneumatology,” the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Thus, a “spiritual” person is one who is not only born again spiritually through faith in Christ and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, but also tries diligently to follow the leading of the indwelling Spirit and to understand and obey the precepts of the Bible inspired by Him.

A spiritual person will have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), able to judge all things by spiritual standards and biblical revelation. He or she will “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” knowing that “to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:4, 6). As such, spiritual believers prayerfully make decisions seeking God’s will; they are “led by the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:14). And since they “walk in the Spirit,” they “shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

They will often and repeatedly be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) for Christian service. Furthermore, they will manifest “the fruit of the Spirit” in their lives and personalities—that is, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Yet, while “he that is spiritual” is thereby able to discern and evaluate all things by such divine standards, he will find himself often misunderstood by unsaved relatives and acquaintances, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: . . . because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Nevertheless, “he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:8). HMM
5  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 20, 2018, 09:16:58 AM
Things We Ought to Do

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23)

This sharp rebuke by Jesus to the legalists of His day should also be taken seriously by us today. Although we are saved by grace alone, there are many things we ought to do, not as a matter of credit toward salvation, but as gratitude for our salvation. Surely judgment, mercy, and faithfulness are high on such a list.

Other “oughts” of the born-again Christian life would include the following incomplete listing:

1. Prayer: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).

2. Obedience to God as Priority: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

3. Working and Sharing: “So labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

4. Gracious in Speech: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).

5. Walking with God: “As ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1).

6. Heeding God’s Word: “We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1).

7. Sanctified Behavior: “What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11).

HMM
6  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 19, 2018, 08:47:41 AM
What to Put On

“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

People give much attention to what material clothes they should put on, but the New Testament tells us what spiritual clothes to put on. First, we are to be “endued with” power from on high. This Greek word (enduo) is normally rendered “put on.” That is, we are to put on power, and this is imparted only by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), according to Christ’s departing promise.

“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. . . . put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:12, 14). “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

Along with this, we are to “put off concerning the former conversation the old man,” and then to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). Then we must “put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

These items of spiritual clothing—the power of the Holy Spirit, the light of God’s presence, the new man in Christ, the resurrection life of the indwelling Christ, His imputed righteousness and holiness and all our spiritual armor—provide the foundation clothing for beautiful spiritual jewels and accessories. “Ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: . . . Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; . . . And above all these things put on charity [love]” (Colossians 3:9-10, 12, 14). HMM
7  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 18, 2018, 09:17:48 AM
Coming Like the Flood

“So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19)

The great enemy of our souls “the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Yet he can also be “transformed into an angel of light,” and so can “his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). He and his ministers are perhaps most dangerous when most deceptive, quoting Scripture and spiritual sentiments in a superficial show of piety, yet distorting the “Scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16), and we must use the sword of the Spirit against them.

Then there are those times when, angered that their deceptions (sometimes even their own self-deceptions) are not persuading the true people of God to compromise their stand for God’s truth and His great salvation, they resort to great pressure and overt opposition—even persecution—seeking to silence their testimony. The enemy comes in like a great flood, and the waves seem about to engulf us, and we cry with the psalmist: “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul” (Psalm 124:2-4).

But God is on our side, as long as we are on His side and hold fast to His clearly revealed Word. Before the demonic flood can overwhelm us, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up His standard (or, more literally, “put him to flight”), and God will prevail once again, for “the foundation of God standeth sure” (2 Timothy 2:19), and “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). HMM
8  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 17, 2018, 08:54:25 AM
Honoring Our Fathers

“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12)

This familiar command was the fifth in God’s list of Ten Commandments, the law of God, and it has never been abrogated. It was quoted by Christ as His own command, when He said: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. . . . Honour thy father and thy mother” (Matthew 19:17, 19). The apostle Paul also cited it as of special significance: “Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise” (Ephesians 6:2).

This all indicates that God considers the honoring of parents by their children to be of great significance. Since the father has been charged with the primary spiritual responsibility for his family, it is of supreme importance that fathers lead their children properly and the children follow that lead with all due respect and diligence. God blessed Abraham as “the father of us all” (Romans 4:16) because He could say concerning Abraham: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment” (Genesis 18:19).

It is not easy being such a father, but it is vital if our children are to come also to honor their heavenly Father. “For what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? . . . Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:7, 9).

“And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). If we fathers diligently follow God’s Word in leading our children, then they will honor their fathers, not only while they are children, but all their lives. HMM
9  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 16, 2018, 09:36:17 AM
The Proof of Obedience

“And hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3)

Jesus once said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Poignant question. A familiar complaint of those who despise Christian teaching is that “Christians” don’t act like Christians! It is a sad commentary on the condition of the Lord’s family when the ungodly are more aware of the expected behavior of God’s people than the Christians are.

Of course, the issue is not unique to the New Testament times. Israel’s historical saga is replete with seasons of rebellion and repentance—so much so that the psalmist prayed: “That the generation to come . . . . might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God” (Psalm 78:6-8).

The emphasis by John in his first epistle, however, is not on the reasons for willful disobedience, but on the results of willing obedience.

    Walking in the “light” ensures fellowship (1 John 1:7).

    Constant and willing obedience produces an effective prayer life (1 John 3:22).

    A lifestyle of obedience brings an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (1 John 3:24).

    Loving God produces obedience, which in turn brings joy in that obedience (1 John 5:3).

Our deeds show whom we serve (1 John 3:7). Our righteous deeds prove whom we serve (Matthew 7:16-20). HMM III
10  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 15, 2018, 09:16:27 AM
Asking in Jesus' Name

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)

In the gospel of John there are at least six promises that if we pray in Jesus’ name, God in Christ will answer our prayer. The first is in our text, which promises that God the Father may be glorified in God the Son. Note also the equivalent promises in John 14:14; 15:16; 16:23-24, 26.

Such promises seem almost too comprehensive and unconditional to be understood literally. The key, however, is the significance of the phrase “in my name.” This obviously means more than simply beginning or ending our prayer with this or some similar phrase.

In the first place, we must recognize that it is only through Jesus Christ our mediator that we dare enter the presence of the omnipotent God at all. “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6), He said. That being true, it also implies that our prayer must be in agreement with what Christ Himself would pray. No Christian should ask for something he knows to be against God’s will. “If we ask any thing according to his will . . . we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

When we come to the Father in Christ’s name, we are in a very real sense representing Him. Therefore, we must come with clean hands and motives worthy of the One in whose name we profess to come. Unconfessed, unrepented sin would surely misrepresent Him, and we could hardly speak in His name in such a case. Finally, acknowledging His power and promise, we must come believing, not doubting His Word.

Then, not only is the Father glorified, as says our text, but we shall rejoice. “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. . . . ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24). HMM
11  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 14, 2018, 08:20:42 AM
The Opened Prison

“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1)

The Lord Jesus appropriated this beautiful verse of the prophet Isaiah to Himself, preaching from it one day in the Nazareth synagogue and proclaiming: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). Note that He came to preach the gospel to the meek, not the arrogant, and to bind up the brokenhearted, not the hardhearted.

He also came to set the captives free. This was not, however, to deliver the Jews from Roman bondage as many had hoped, but a far greater deliverance. In the Hebrew, the phrase “opening of the prison” is only one word (a doubled word), and it occurs only this one time in the Old Testament. When Christ quoted it in the synagogue, He actually expanded and interpreted it as follows: “recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18).

The “prison” that Christ came to open is evidently a spiritual prison, a binding of the soul, a blinding of the mind. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36)—free from the bondage of sin, translated “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

There was also another prison, a very real prison, deep in the heart of the earth to which He came. While His body slept in the tomb, His spirit descended into Hades where the spirits of all who had died in faith were awaiting Him, and “when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and . . . ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:8, 10). HMM
12  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 13, 2018, 08:20:40 AM
Love, Faith, Joy

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Peter had seen the Lord, but he was writing to those who hadn’t, including us. Like them, we can have a personal relationship with the Lord, even though we haven’t physically seen Him. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Also like them, we can have terrible trials (1 Peter 1:7). Their responses to Christ while in the midst of trials, as given in our text, are likewise appropriate for us.

They loved Him: Love many times makes a trial bearable. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). He loves us too much to abandon us, and we love Him in return.

They believed: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth [or believes] in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). Our faith is well founded.

They rejoiced: “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13). The proper response to trials brings inexpressible joy. The end of such faith as explained in our text is the complete and ultimate salvation of our souls, with many victories of faith along the way. JDM
13  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 12, 2018, 08:34:38 AM
Yet Not I

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

The apostle Paul was, by any measure, one of the most dedicated and fruitful Christians who ever lived. If any man had a right to be proud of his writings, or his works, or his life in general, it was Paul. No doubt he, like others, had to wrestle with the sin of pride, reminding himself again and again that all he had done he owed simply to the grace and guidance and provision of God.

He could well have boasted, as noted in our text, that he had labored more abundantly than any of the other apostles, but then he brought himself up short with the remonstrance: “Yet not I!” All of his work and success therein he owed completely to the grace of God.

This phrase occurs just two other times. The first is when Paul is giving out his advice and wisdom concerning that most basic of all human institutions, marriage. “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:10). As wise (and even divinely inspired) as his words may have been, he must remind his readers that, after all, this was Christ’s command, not his!

The last occurrence is in Paul’s great testimony concerning his new and changed life in Christ. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20). The transformed, holy, powerful life he was living was not his own accomplishment, but due solely to the indwelling Christ. And surely, if Paul must so remind himself and his listeners, then we should never boast of our own life or works or words. Not I, but Christ—that is to be our testimony! HMM
14  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 11, 2018, 09:22:59 AM
Ye Which Are Spiritual

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

According to the New Testament, there are two broad categories of Christian believers, carnal and spiritual—that is, those whose actions and decisions are mainly governed by the “flesh” and those who normally are governed by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Paul noted this fact when he wrote to the bickering Christians in the church at Corinth. “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1).

Even though true believers can behave carnally, the fact that they are “babes in Christ” confirms that they are “in Christ.” They just need to grow up, as it were, into spiritual maturity through partaking of both the milk and the meat of the Scriptures. Note 1 Peter 2:2 (“desire the sincere milk of the word”) and Hebrews 5:14 (“strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age”) for the God-given principle of Christian growth.

But our text also has a warning for spiritual Christians! When confronted with the fact of a “fault” (that is, literally, a willful sin) in the life of a Christian brother, we must remember that our own spirituality does not guarantee that we ourselves are immune from sin. We must be careful to help rather than to condemn such a weak brother because we still can “also be tempted,” even though we usually try diligently to obey God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

It is vital, the apostle reminds us, that “ye which are spiritual” maintain a true “spirit of meekness” in our interactions with fellow believers, as well as with the unsaved. HMM
15  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: June 10, 2018, 08:30:47 AM
The Lamb's Book of Life

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)

God does keep books! In fact, when David was pondering the time between his own conception and birth, he said “in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance [that is, as my days continued] were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). It seems that God has a book for each person who is conceived, and that all these together constitute the Book of Life, one great volume containing the names and deeds of every one who was ever given biological life by his Maker.

But many, during the course of their lives, will reject (or simply ignore) God’s provision that would also give them eternal life. As David prayed in another psalm: “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous” (Psalm 69:28). Note also Revelation 3:5 and 22:19. And that will be a fearful thing, for “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Those whose names will not be blotted out of the book, of course, are those who have been redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). Not one person deserves to be retained in God’s book, for all have sinned, but they have “beheld,” with eyes of thankful faith, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and have therefore been redeemed by the Lamb.

Finally, only these will still have their names written on the rolls of the heavenly city. God’s Book of Life will have become “the Lamb’s Book of Life” on which are written forever the names of all those redeemed by His blood. HMM
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