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16  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: September 05, 2018, 08:47:14 AM
Leadership Situational Awareness

“Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 7:2-3)

When God calls a dedicated leader into His service, He almost always gives a vision to go with that calling. With Moses, the vision was given at the beginning, specified in advance throughout the implementation, and reiterated as the great exodus came to fruition.

The 10 plagues were thrusts from the mouth of God at the gods of Egypt’s polytheistic pantheon. Just so, our warfare is “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Just as Moses was told Pharaoh would resist each display of God’s power, so we are told to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Yet, even the Enemy of God’s people is subject to the Word of the Creator. While Satan may “roar” and “devour,” he will also “flee” when God’s leaders “submit . . . to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

There are times when the bad guys seem to have it their way. God does not see time the same way we do and will expect His godly saints to wait patiently for Him. Our instructions are to not be “envious against the workers of iniquity” but to “trust,” “delight,” and “commit” our way to the Lord, “and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:1-5). HMM III
17  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: September 04, 2018, 09:13:49 AM
Leadership Challenges

“And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?” (Exodus 6:12)

Once the mantle of leadership has been accepted, God expects an unreserved commitment to follow through with the task. Moses had to leave Midian and likely saw little of his family afterward (Exodus 4:18-31). Jesus noted, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Rarely is leadership simple or easy. Moses must first meet with and win over the elders (Exodus 3:16). Nor is it likely the people would fall in line without a challenge. Moses felt the rejection of Israel long before he received their honor (Exodus 6:9-27).

Opposition from the godless is a given. Our Lord Jesus taught, “The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20). Moses faced the power and wrath of the court of Egypt (Exodus 5:2), which extended that power through their taskmasters to the people of Israel (Exodus 5:10-11).

The Lord is obviously in charge of events. “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them” (Exodus 7:5). God always has a reason for His actions. Human leaders are His means to accomplish His purpose.

Also, the direct purpose will not overshadow the long-term objective. “And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 30:26). Human leaders seldom see the ultimate purpose fulfilled in history, but they will know the reality of it in eternity (1 Corinthians 13:12). HMM III
18  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: September 03, 2018, 08:21:49 AM
The Gift of Labor

“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)

When God first created man, He gave him work to do. Although “the LORD God planted a garden” for man (Genesis 2:8), it was up to man to take care of it if he would continue to eat its fruits. Thus, having to labor for one’s living is not a divine punishment for man’s sin as people sometimes interpret it, but rather a divine benefit for man’s good.

Similarly, even in the new earth, when sin and suffering will be gone forever, there will still be work to do. “There shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him” (Revelation 22:3).

We don’t know yet what our assignments will be there, but they will somehow be commensurate with our faithfulness in serving the Lord here. “My reward is with me,” says the Lord Jesus, “to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).

It is, therefore, a God-given privilege to be able to do useful work, whether that work consists of preaching God’s Word or improving God’s world. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do” (whether being paid for it or not), “do it with thy might; for there is no work . . . in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). As Jesus said, “The night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).

No matter what the job may be that has been provided for us to do, it is important to remember and obey the admonition: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24) and “your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). HMM
19  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: September 02, 2018, 09:30:43 AM
Leadership Training

“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.” (Exodus 3:1)

Moses was 40 years old when he began to recognize the burdens of Israel (Exodus 2:11). He expected acceptance because of his position in society, but they rejected his potential help and leadership (Exodus 2:13–14).

Moses attached himself to the family of Jethro in Midian, married Zipporah, fathered a son, and spent 40 years herding sheep before he heard from God (Exodus 3:1–2). Most of us need God’s training in humility before we can assume real servant leadership (Matthew 20:26–28).

Once God got Moses’ attention with the sight of a burning bush that was not consumed, the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses out of the bush (Exodus 3:2), demanding that he immediately submit to God’s authority in worship and deference (Exodus 3:5–6). God’s leaders will be God’s servants or they will not lead God’s people.

No doubt the burden that had been simmering in Moses’ heart over the decades was stirred to life again when God Himself identified with the affliction of Israel’s slavery (Exodus 3:7–9). But that renewed passion was tested when God insisted that Moses would be sent to do God’s work (Exodus 3:10).

Moses needed to be told and shown several times that whatever he lacked God would supply before he yielded to God’s order to “go!” (Exodus 4:12). Godly leaders can feel inadequate to the task God has set before them (Exodus 3:11), but God never assigns a task for which He does not empower the servant with the spirit “of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). HMM III
20  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: September 01, 2018, 09:37:18 AM
Leadership Preparation

“Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10)

Moses was 80 years old when God issued this official call for him to lead Israel out of slavery and head up a new nation. Many people had been used by God to prepare Moses for that moment—including a wicked Pharaoh who “knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8) and who set awful taskmasters over Israel to keep them subjugated (Exodus 1:10-11).

When that failed to contain them, Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all male newborns, but Shiphrah and Puah (the “bosses” of the midwives) refused, lied to Pharaoh, and allowed the nation to grow “very mighty” (Exodus 1:20).

Moses’ mother, Jochebed, made special provisions to save him, caring for him secretly at home for three months (Exodus 2:2). When that was no longer possible, she prepared an “ark” and put Moses in the reeds with his sister, Miriam, to watch over him (Exodus 2:3-4).

The daughter of Pharaoh “had compassion” on Moses and accepted Miriam’s offer to find a Hebrew woman to nurse him. Jochebed was given the task until he was taken into Pharaoh’s house (Exodus 2:5-10), where he was educated by the greatest empire on Earth at that time.

All of that and every one of these people were involved in preparing Moses for his leadership role. Even the evil Pharaoh and the awful condition of the Israelites were part of the human drama God used to bring about the exodus of Israel. We may not be privileged to see God’s plan unfolding in our lives, but be sure that “he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4). HMM III
21  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: August 31, 2018, 09:10:03 AM
Godliness in Form Only

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5)

Those with a “form of godliness” are much more difficult to recognize than those who are openly wicked. Jesus gave His most harsh criticism to the hypocritical leaders of the religious sects of His day. Jesus also warned of “false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

On another occasion, Jesus illustrated the challenge of identifying those who looked like God’s people but were really “tares” that the Enemy had sown among the wheat. In His parable, Jesus indicated that even the “servants of the householder” might uproot the wheat along with the tares (Matthew 13:24-30). The Corinthian church was warned about the same problem when they were told that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

We are strongly urged to “turn away” from these kinds of people. They have the ability to cause serious damage among the churches. They will “creep” into “houses” (a metaphor for churches—1 Timothy 3:15) and will lead “silly women” away with many different desires (2 Timothy 3:6). They will resist the truth and will have power like the magicians of Egypt who deceived Pharaoh and opposed Moses. And like those magicians, their minds are corrupt (focused on sin) and are already condemned (2 Timothy 3:8).

The good news is that they will be forcibly stopped and exposed as foolish (2 Timothy 3:9). Peter notes that they will have swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1-3) and will utterly perish in corruption (2 Peter 2:12-13). Like the magicians who produced snakes, blood for water, and frogs aplenty (Exodus 7-8), they will be unable to go any further and will be forced to say, “This is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19). HMM III
22  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: August 30, 2018, 09:51:28 AM
The Jewels of the Lord
“And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Malachi 3:17)

The jewels of the Lord are not rubies and diamonds but rather are “they that feared the LORD” and who “spake often one to another.” Instead of being mounted in a crown or other adornment as precious stones would be, these jewels will be listed in a very special book. “A book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name” (v.16). What a blessing it would be if, when we get to heaven, we should find our names written in that special book of God’s memories! God does take note of our times of spiritual fellowship with other believers—especially, no doubt, when they occur during times of stress and worldly opposition.

This word (Hebrew cegullah) is not the usual word for “jewels,” more commonly being rendered “peculiar treasures.” For example, Psalm 135:4 says that “the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” The word suggests treasure carefully guarded in a safe place. The word is translated simply “special” in Deuteronomy 7:6, “a special people unto himself.”

Note in particular Exodus 19:5-6: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”

Peter uses the same language in writing to prepare Christians for imminent times of persecution. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). HMM
23  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: August 29, 2018, 09:02:40 AM
Make It as Sure as You Can

“Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.” (Matthew 27:65-66)

Pilate had endured many strange experiences leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. Both he and some close to him (v. 19) had wanted to release Him, finding no fault in Him (v. 23). But, for political expediency, willing to pacify the Jewish leaders and quell a potential riot, Pilate had agreed to the execution. But once Christ was dead and in the grave, Pilate’s troubles did not end.

Perhaps we are justified in reading a tone of sarcasm and impatience in Pilate’s words “make it as sure as you can.” What is there to fear from a dead man? Guard the tomb if you want. But just perhaps Pilate was hounded by unexplained doubts; maybe a guard could prevent the bizarre fears from becoming reality.

From our perspective, however, we can see divine irony in these words. Satan had seemingly won a great victory on the cross, for the Heir had been slain. Thus, the one act that he had to prevent was that of the actual resurrection, for all of Christ’s message depended on His victory over death.

Note the limitation in the words “as sure as you can.” How tightly sealed and well-guarded must a tomb be to contain the Creator of all things? If His purpose was to die and rise from the dead, would man’s or Satan’s efforts be able to thwart it? “As sure as you can” was surely not sure enough!

Today we know that the tomb’s sealed entrance was breached, not so much to allow Him out but to allow us to see inside. Satan’s henchmen still deny the resurrection, but their efforts are just as futile as those who tried to keep Him inside. The fact remains, He left the tomb, triumphantly offering eternal life to all who believe! JDM
24  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: August 28, 2018, 09:00:41 AM
Confession

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

The Bible book in which this glorious promise is given was written entirely to the saint of God, not to the unbelieving sinner.

    Confession is what saints do when they sin.
    Repentance is what sinners do before they become saints.
    Confession is agreement (identity) with the sin against God.
    Repentance is reversal (changed mind) to trust (from me to God).

Psalm 51 is a classic prayer of confession. King David poured out his heart of sorrow for the terrible affair with Bathsheba and yearned for God to “wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (v. 2). David acknowledged that “against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (v. 4). He confessed his sin, and asked God, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (v. 12).

Three of the gospels record the declaration of Jesus that “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17). Repentance is not an apology for specific sins, it is a heart-mind-soul turning from self-righteous sufficiency to God’s holiness. It is the lost that repent, not the saved: “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

One day, however, “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). Far better to repent in sorrow today than confess in terror at the Judgment. HMM III
25  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: August 27, 2018, 09:18:02 AM
The Danger of Diluting Scripture

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:19)

This final testimony and warning of Christ to those who profess to be His followers is a clear command not to either augment (Revelation 22:18) or dilute the inspired “words” (not just “thoughts”) of the Bible. There are many people in the various cults following some leader who thinks he or she has received some new inspired word from God. That is very unwise. But it is usually certain leaders in the mainline denominations who presumptuously either cull out or explain away those Bible verses they consider unscientific or offensive in some way. That is even more dangerous, for those whose names are not found “in the book of life” will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Whether men believe it or not, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. It is true that any two Christians may interpret certain passages in different ways. But they won’t be too far apart if they believe the Bible to be the inerrant, understandable, inspired Word of God, especially if they really believe that God is able to say what He means. The Bible authors do occasionally use figurative language, of course, in which case any symbols are usually explained in context. When the writer clearly intends to be understood literally, as in the first chapter of Genesis for example, it is dangerous to impose some metaphorical meaning on the passage because of outside considerations. This seems to be what Paul called “handling the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2) and can become a very slippery slope for those who choose that broad and easy way. It will be easier at Christ’s judgment seat to explain why we believed God than why we believed men who questioned God. HMM
26  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: August 26, 2018, 09:19:24 AM
The Danger of Adding to Scripture

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18)

This sober warning almost at the end of the Bible was given by the glorified Lord Jesus Himself (note v. 20) so should be taken very seriously.

The Bible is not just a great book. It is The Book! Its content had been “for ever . . . settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89) but had been gradually transmitted to men on Earth through God-called prophets, whose writings were “given by inspiration of God”—that is, literally “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). “God . . . at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).

In various ways—sometimes by direct dictation, more often by Spirit-guided research and meditation using each man’s individual style and abilities—God conveyed His message down to mankind. Finally, the New Testament was given through Paul and others “by revelation . . . revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:3, 5). John was the last of the “apostles and prophets” when he wrote Revelation (all the others had been martyred), and Christ then indicated (see text above) that nothing more could be added, not just to John’s obviously finished book of Revelation, but really to the now-completed body of inspired Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

Those “false prophets” (Matthew 24:11) who have tried to add some new revelation to the Bible (e.g., Mohammed) need urgently to go back to the Bible alone. We need no new revelation. The Bible is more than enough for our salvation (2 Timothy 3:15, etc.) and all needed guidance until Christ returns (2 Peter 1:19). HMM
27  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: August 25, 2018, 09:47:40 AM
Delusion from God

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” (2 Thessalonians 2:11)

This is a startling declaration! Why would God want to deceive people and cause them to believe a lie? The “cause” that would activate such an extreme decision on God’s part must be very serious. The preceding verse states it plainly. It is “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Because they “resist the truth” (2 Timothy 3:8), they will “believe the lie”!

The specific context refers to those who elect to follow the coming “man of sin,” but the principle is timeless. It tells us that God’s attitude toward men is determined by their love of the truth rather than by their knowledge of the truth. When people love God’s truth, there is no limit to the amount of truth and blessing they may receive from God. Note the attitude of the writer of Psalm 119: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste!” “Thy testimonies . . . are the rejoicing of my heart.” “I love thy commandments above gold.” “Thy law is my delight” (Psalm 119:103, 111, 127, 174).

But when people begin to exhibit a disdain for God’s truth, there may soon come a time in their lives when they find it impossible even to comprehend the all-important truth of God’s saving gospel (creation, salvation, and reconciliation through Christ).

Because they refused the love of His truth when it would have been easy to believe, a blindness gradually engulfs their minds until they love the deceptive philosophies of the world, and they never escape the strong delusion that God has allowed to engulf them. Henceforth, though they are “ever learning,” they are “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). How important it is, as early in life as possible, to receive from God His proffered gift of the love of His truth! HMM
28  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: August 24, 2018, 09:19:04 AM
Thou Hast Rejected Knowledge

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6)

This lament over the ancient apostasy of Israel embodies an agelong principle that surely applies to those nations today that once professed Christianity but are now dominated by humanism. Our own nation is experiencing an awful scourge of moral anarchy among our children and young people, and the reason why is because their parents and grandparents have largely “forgotten the law of thy God.”

America—particularly its intellectual leadership—has “rejected knowledge,” so its people are being “destroyed for lack of knowledge.” This ignorance exists despite an abundance of supposed actual knowledge (i.e., “science”) in our educational institutions, for such facts are almost universally taught in a secular context. Our teachers have forgotten that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).

Even in evangelical and fundamentalist churches and schools today, there is often too little emphasis on knowledge and too much on experience. Christian faith is not “feeling”; it is volitional commitment to a true intellectual understanding of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” said Christ (Luke 13:5). The Greek word for “repent” means “change your mind!” One can only believe right if he first thinks right, and this requires true knowledge.

Listen again to Hosea’s warning: “The LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy [i.e., kindness], nor knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). “They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). HMM
29  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: August 23, 2018, 08:22:54 AM
Understanding the Word of God

“So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:8)

Most people—even most Christians—devote very little time to the Scriptures, complaining that they are either too hard to understand or too uninteresting. Yet, when Ezra read “the book of the law of Moses” to the whole congregation of Israel, he read “from the morning until midday,” even “one fourth part of the day,” and “all the people stood up” as he read (Nehemiah 8:1, 3, 5; 9:3). Such a scenario is almost impossible to imagine today.

Ezra’s congregation evidently understood what he was reading and found it of vital interest. “For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law” (Nehemiah 8:9). For “another fourth part [of the day] they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God” (Nehemiah 9:3).

Yet, all they had were the books of the Pentateuch! How much more concerned we should be, and how much better we should understand, when we have the entire Bible.

Note that Ezra and his colleagues simply read the Scriptures and gave a straightforward exegesis. That was enough to enable the people to understand, and this brought repentance, confession, and worship. No emotional appeals, no gimmicks, no technology, just the Scriptures—taken naturally and literally.

The Scriptures are not hard to understand—just hard to believe, and even harder to obey. Like any book, the Bible is intended to be understood, and its author—the Holy Spirit—was able to say what He meant. The secret is in the attitude of heart with which one approaches it. “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. . . . Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:97, 104). HMM
30  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: August 22, 2018, 08:58:33 AM
Ungodly Lifestyles

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:2-4)

The warning in the previous verse to our text for today insists that “perilous times” will characterize the last days. This list describes the types of people who will dominate the last days, and it is frightful.

The “self love” of these people is demonstrated by internal motivations driven by the sin nature. Such people will be “covetous”; the Greek term means “fond of silver.” They will also be “boasters” (braggarts) who revel in their sinful behavior. That boasting is driven by a “proud” spirit that is arrogant, willing to show off gaudy ostentations of their conquests. Such behavior, of course, leads them to be “blasphemers,” speaking evil with low, vulgar taunts designed to be injurious.

Part of this list includes Greek words with an “un” prefix. There are those who are un-persuadable by parents, obstinate, stubborn, and inflexible. Many are un-thankful, without grace, without thanks, and without any pleasantry. All are un-holy, without the nature to be just or moral. Some are un-affectionate, without a natural love for family or friends. There are also those who are un-reconcilable, not able to make or keep a promise.

Finally, there will be those who are diabolos (like the devil). They are slanderous liars, “incontinent” (without self control), savage “despisers” who are opposed to “those who are good.” They will be treacherous, rash, and “high minded” people who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”

But, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). HMM III
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