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« Reply #6510 on: May 14, 2019, 09:06:31 AM »

The Light Brigade

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Colossians 1:12-13)

By His grace, we have been snatched from Satan’s darkness and been placed in the kingdom of light. However, we still live in a dark world hostile to the light. We are therefore soldiers of light, but as with any army, we are not to act independently but instead “as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3), we must follow the orders of our commander and act in accordance with established guidelines.

The Supreme Commander in this battle of light versus darkness is none other than God the Father, for “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1).

Perhaps, in this analogy, the field commander can be considered to be none other than Jesus Christ, carrying out the will of the Supreme Commander. He said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).

We, of course, are the infantry, the light brigade, as it were. “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6).

Our marching orders, our objective, and our methods are all found in the war manual, the Bible. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light” (Proverbs 6:23). What more could we ask? JDM
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« Reply #6511 on: May 15, 2019, 04:32:05 PM »

The Promise

“And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)

Has Christ forgotten His promise? After His resurrection, He returned to heaven to wait “until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). Ever since the primeval promise in Eden (Genesis 3:15), God’s inspired prophets have kept assuring His people that He would come as Savior of the world and again as everlasting King, removing the curse of sin and death and bringing in everlasting life and righteousness.

But the centuries have come and gone, age after age, and the world continues to decay, growing worse and worse. With global pollution, disease pandemics, ever-increasing crime, and countless other intractable problems, there may be nothing left if He doesn’t come soon!

Has He forgotten His promise? No! says Peter, in this very same chapter. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

He has not yet returned because there are not yet enough who have “come to repentance”—that is, whose minds and hearts have turned away from the world system and have been renewed through faith in Christ as Creator, Savior, and Lord of all. We need not despair but simply “account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:15), seeking to lead people to Him until He comes.

His promise is sure, and one day He will return indeed! Therefore, Peter concludes, “we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). HMM
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« Reply #6512 on: May 16, 2019, 08:30:16 AM »

The Lord Our Maker

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” (Psalm 95:6)

Psalms 95–100 seem to form a unit with several common themes running through them, all involving praise to the Lord.

One of these major themes is the recognition of the Lord as Maker of heaven and Earth. For example, consider Psalm 95:5: “The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.” Thus, God made the earth, including both land and sea. But He also made the heavens! “For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5).

Higher and far more complex than any planet of the solar system, or any star in the heavens, are the living organisms found only on planet Earth—especially human beings—and He made these too. “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

It is significant that these verses all emphasize the activities of God as Maker, rather than as Creator. In the first chapter of Genesis, both types of activity are stressed, the account finally concluding with the summary: “All his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:3).

The two types of work are almost synonymous when referring to the divine activity, but not quite (otherwise “created and made” would be redundant). Specifically, the three acts of true creation in Genesis are the creation of the physical elements of the cosmos, the entity of biological life, and the spiritual image of God in man (Genesis 1:1, 21, 27). These entities God simply called into being, ex nihilo, by His omnipotent Word.

Everything else He made, or formed or let be, out of the three basic entities that were specially created. He is both Creator and Maker of all things, and we should worship Him as such. HMM
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« Reply #6513 on: May 17, 2019, 08:37:01 AM »

Running to Christ

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

When one realizes that he is lost and that only Christ can save him, he should not delay a moment but come immediately to Christ. There are, in fact, several men in the New Testament who actually ran to Him.

There was the man possessed with a whole legion of demons. “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him” (Mark 5:6), and Jesus set him free.

Then there was a young man who wanted to learn of Christ. When he found that Jesus was going away, he came “running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). Unfortunately, his sincerity failed when he realized the cost. Zeal without sacrifice is dead, as is faith without works.

There was another wealthy man who was willing to pay the price. “And [Zacchaeus] ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way” (Luke 19:4). The conversion of Zacchaeus was genuine, and he demonstrated it by a changed and sacrificial life.

In Christ’s suffering on the cross, He spoke of His awful thirst, and an unknown observer “ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink” (Mark 15:36). Christ will not forget this expression of concern and sympathy.

After His burial, Mary Magdalene came back to tell Peter and John that the tomb was open. “So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. . . . and he saw, and believed” (John 20:4-8).

All who hasten wholeheartedly to Christ, sincerely seeking to know and serve Him, will find salvation in His name, for “the name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” HMM
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« Reply #6514 on: May 18, 2019, 08:07:21 AM »

The Way and the Glory

“Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.” (Exodus 33:13)

“Moses the man of God” (Deuteronomy 33:1) was surely one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was the leader of a great nation, he received the tablets of the law from God, and he compiled and wrote the Pentateuch. It was said that “there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10). Yet, “the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).

It was such a man as this who made two remarkable requests of God. The first was, as above: “Shew me now thy way.” The second, just a moment later, was: “Shew me thy glory” (Exodus 33:18).

These were not selfish requests. Moses desired the way of the Lord on behalf of his people. God answered this request with the gracious promise: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Exodus 33:14).

But then he also asked to see the glory of God. So God placed Moses “in a clift of the rock,” covering him with His hand as His glory passed by, allowing him to see the remnants of His glory, as it were (Exodus 33:22-23), since he could not have endured any more. With such a vision of God’s glory, Moses was then able to lead the Israelite multitude for 40 years in a terrible wilderness, transforming them from a mob of slaves into God’s chosen nation, ready to bring God’s Word, and God’s Son, into the world.

We also can see His way and His glory. Jesus said: “I am the way” (John 14:6). Then He prayed: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory” (John 17:24). HMM
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« Reply #6515 on: May 19, 2019, 09:14:59 AM »

Separate and Sensual

“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 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 1:17-19)

Jude had previous contact with the apostle Peter and was aware of Peter’s observation “that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (2 Peter 3:3). Peter describes the lusts of these scoffers by pointing out that their derision is focused on the second coming of our Lord Jesus—they deny the very possibility of the creation itself and, therefore, the omnipotent and omniscient authority of God Himself (2 Peter 3:4-6).

Jude, however, focuses on the core character of these mockers, noting that they “separate themselves” and are “sensual.” They are “soulish” (the Greek word is the adjective form of the noun for soul). That is, these kinds of people are driven by their “natural man” and cannot receive “the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). James is even more intense: These people are “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15).

Furthermore, they consciously separate themselves from the godly. The apostle John speaks to this phenomenon: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19). Jesus simply notes that “every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:20).

It is therefore an absolute—these people do not have the Spirit of God dwelling in them. “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). HMM III
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« Reply #6516 on: May 20, 2019, 09:11:01 AM »

Love in Action

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

It is well known that “charity” in this famous “love chapter” is the Greek agape, which is translated “love” three times as often as it is translated “charity” even in the King James Version. Why then did the scholarly translators prefer to use “charity” in this chapter, of all places?

Possibly it is because 1 Corinthians 13 emphasizes what love does rather than what love is. Love is described in this chapter, not with adjectives or adverbs, but with verbs! “Charity,” in the Old English sense, was not merely giving to feed the poor (note v. 3) but meant agape love—an unselfish, enduring, and active concern on behalf of others.

In this passage (vv. 4-8, 13) are listed 17 actions that love, or charity, does or does not engage in. Love acts with patience and kindness; it does not envy others or seek to impress others, neither does it exhibit arrogance or conceit. Love is never rude, does not seek its own way, is slow to take offense, and bears no malice or resentment. Love does not gloat over the sins of others and is delighted when truth prevails. Love will bear up under any trial and will never lose faith; it is always hopeful and unlimited in its endurance.

Finally, genuine love will be eternal. Even faith will cease when it is replaced by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and hope will finally be fulfilled (Romans 8:24), but love will abide forever. Love, of course, is eternal because Christ is eternal, and Christ is God, and God is love.

This classic passage, describing genuine Christian love, could in fact be read as a beautiful description of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. That is, “Christ suffereth long, and is kind,” and so on, finally climaxing in the great truth, “Christ never faileth.” Jesus Christ is, indeed, love in action! HMM
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« Reply #6517 on: May 21, 2019, 08:59:25 AM »

A Soon Departure

“Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” (2 Peter 1:14)

Peter was writing to the scattered believers, persecuted from without and badgered from within by false teachers. He wrote to “put [them] always in remembrance of these things” that they had been taught, and so that they would “be established in the present truth” (v. 12). As he wrote, he viewed his impending “decease” (v. 15, literally “exodus”) as merely putting off his earthly tent and putting on another as one would change clothes (2 Corinthians 5:1-2). But this would, perhaps, be his last opportunity to strengthen the lives of the believers.

Once before, Peter had faced the prospect of death. The church was under attack (Acts 12:1). Of the three who had been in Jesus’ “inner circle,” James had been killed (v. 2), and Peter had been imprisoned and was under heavy guard (vv. 3-6). However, an angel of the Lord (v. 7) escorted him out of prison and out of harm’s way (vv. 8-10). We can only surmise the full impact this made on Peter and his ministry, but we do know he was not afraid to die for his Lord.

Actually, as mentioned in our text, the resurrected Lord Himself had predicted Peter’s brutal death at the hands of the enemy (John 21:19). Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down during the persecution of the church at the hands of Nero, no doubt glorifying God in and through his death.

But his main concerns in this passage were the believers to whom he wrote. He even revealed that he had a plan to “have these things always in remembrance” (2 Peter 1:15). This would be through his diligent teaching, through his letters, and evidently also through the ministry of his own disciple, Mark (1 Peter 5:13), who would carry on after his death.

May God grant each of us a similarly fearless, fruitful, and lasting ministry. JDM
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« Reply #6518 on: May 22, 2019, 08:25:20 AM »

Build Yourself Up

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1:20-21)

The New Testament relationship of the twice-born to the eternal condition is compared to a “building” of God (Ephesians 2:22) made up of “lively stones” (1 Peter 2:5). Thus, there is often the exhortation for us to build a holy association with each other (Romans 14:19) and to seek to build a strong assembly as we work together (Ephesians 4:16).

Each of the many references uses some combination of descriptive preposition or adjective along with the term for house. The general application assumes that since we will be “housed” together in eternity, we should seek to be building that house while on Earth. Even those who are in authority in the “house of God” (1 Timothy 3:15) are to be focused on building that house (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Jude addresses the individual. He presumes we are aware that we are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” with “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). Even with a “wise masterbuilder” like Paul to give us inspired instructions (1 Corinthians 3:10), we need to be very careful how we build on the foundation that Jesus Christ has laid for us. Our work can be “gold, silver, and precious stones, wood, hay, [or] stubble,” and will be evaluated by the “fire” of God’s timeless judgment (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).

The construction of the building—both the larger house and the individual “lively stones” that make up the house—are to be built up on the “most holy faith.” Once the foundation has been laid by Jesus Christ, we are to be “rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:7). HMM III
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« Reply #6519 on: May 23, 2019, 09:12:14 AM »

Sit Still

“Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.” (Ruth 3:18)

This was the instruction given to Ruth by Naomi in hopes that her kinsman, Boaz, would be willing to perform his family duty and marry Ruth, whose Jewish husband had died in Moab. Ruth’s behavior had been honorable, and she had done what she could to let Boaz know she was willing to be his wife, but now she could do nothing except to sit still and wait.

This lesson needs to be remembered by Christians today. All too often we rush ahead of the Lord, fearful that things won’t work out unless we take matters into our own hands. When the Jews were being invaded by the Assyrian armies and felt they needed an alliance with Pharaoh, God warned: “The Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still. . . . In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:7-15).

Long before, when the children of Israel were in even more desperate circumstances, with the Egyptian armies pursuing them and the Red Sea in front of them, Moses had said: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD” (Exodus 14:13). Soon, Pharaoh’s chariots were at the bottom of the sea, just as, in due time, Boaz did marry Ruth, and as, 600 years later, the hosts of the Assyrians were slain by the angel of the Lord (Isaiah 37:36).

There is, certainly, a time to work—and work hard—in the service of the Lord. There are spiritual battles to be fought and races to be run. But when we have done the best we know how, according to the Scriptures, and still don’t see the answer, there comes a time when we must simply sit still, and wait for the Lord. He would have us “be still, and know that [He is] God” (Psalm 46:10). HMM
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« Reply #6520 on: May 24, 2019, 08:43:40 AM »

Evidence of the Spirit's Filling

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18)

This classic verse on the filling of the Holy Spirit can be rendered as follows: “And don’t begin to be drunk with wine, which involves profligacy, but be continually being filled with the Spirit.” That is, one cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit (which implies complete control by the Holy Spirit) if he has come to even the slightest degree under the control of wine (or anything else, for that matter).

Being fully controlled and guided by the Spirit is not just a one-time experience. It should be a continual experience—a moment-by-moment control of one’s thoughts and actions by God. In practice, however, it is at best a repeated experience, whereas most Christians experience it quite rarely, if at all.

But how does one have such an experience, and what is the evidence that it is the real thing? To be controlled by the Spirit, one must yield control to Him and not let himself be controlled by anything or anyone else. In practice, this means believing and obeying the Word He inspired, consciously yielding one’s self as often as necessary. Jesus promised that “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

It should be noted that the filling of the Spirit is not necessarily marked by any particular feeling or ecstatic experience. The real proof is in the life, manifested by such characteristics as are described in the context of the passages referring to the Spirit’s filling. In our text, it is obvious that such a filling is accompanied by redeeming one’s time (v. 16), understanding God’s will (v. 17), a happy and Bible-centered conversation (v. 19), a continuously thankful heart (v. 20), and a right attitude and relationship with one’s spouse (vv. 22-25). It is also evidenced by boldness in witnessing and in standing up for God’s truth (Acts 4:31; 13:9-10). HMM
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« Reply #6521 on: May 25, 2019, 09:36:48 AM »

Elijah's Prayer

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (James 5:17-18)

“Elias” is the New Testament name for Elijah, the great prophet who lived during the darkest days of Israel’s apostasy, when Ahab and Jezebel ruled the land and had turned it over to the worship of the demonic god Baal. “Elijah” means “Jehovah is God,” a most appropriate name for a prophet of the true God in a nation and time given over to paganism.

Elijah suddenly appeared before King Ahab with the ominous prophecy: “As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (1 Kings 17:1). This was not presumptuous. In his commentary, James said Elijah “prayed earnestly” before he spoke, and that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

This remarkable prophecy was miraculously fulfilled. There was no rain in all the land of Israel for 3.5 years (as also confirmed by Christ in Luke 4:25) until Elijah defeated all the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:17-45).

Yet, James reminds us that Elijah was “a man of like passions as we” and that both ends of the miracle—the onset and termination of the nationwide drought—were simply answers to Elijah’s two fervent prayers. James has much to say about how we also can receive wonderful answers to prayer. In addition to praying fervently, we must “ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6). But faith must be expressed by action (as when Elijah confronted Ahab), for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Finally, if we “ask, and receive not,” it may be that we “ask amiss,” wanting the answer only for ourselves (James 4:3). HMM
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« Reply #6522 on: May 26, 2019, 08:47:32 AM »

What God Requires

“And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

This sounds simple enough, and the people of Israel readily agreed with Moses to do these things. Modern religious liberals cite such a lifestyle as all that is necessary to satisfy God. But the rub is this: Who dares claim to “walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD [his] God with all [his] heart”? Anyone who makes such a claim would be breaking God’s commandment against lying.

Solomon reached a conclusion of like kind: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Indeed so, but who can “keep his commandments”? “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

Another favorite verse of the liberals is Micah 6:8: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Yes, but the problem is that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

There was one such man, of course! The Lord Jesus Christ “did no sin,” yet was willing to “bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1 Peter 2:22-24). What we could never do, He has done for us. Now, through faith in the finished work of Christ, we have been set free from the bondage of sin and can indeed “have [our] fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). HMM
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« Reply #6523 on: May 27, 2019, 08:58:31 AM »

What Mean These Stones

“When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know.” (Joshua 4:21-22)

The poet George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In the life of every nation, there are “memories” that must be preserved if that nation is to retain an awareness of its unique role among the nations of the world—indeed, among the long list of nations throughout history.

Long ago, God Himself instituted “memorials” so that the key events of history might be remembered. The rainbow was to remind God of His covenant to preserve life on the earth after the awful destruction of the Flood (Genesis 9:8-17). Jacob set up a stone after he had seen the ladder and spoken with the angel of the Lord (Genesis 28:12-22). Joseph insisted that the children of Israel take his bones with them into the land of promise (Genesis 50:25).

In our text, Joshua is told by the Lord to take 12 stones out of Jordan and make a monument to commemorate the beginning fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham centuries earlier. That day, Israel was to enter the “promised land” and start its conquest of Canaan.

The Memorial Day that we celebrate in the United States began with the ending of the Civil War. Since then, our country has added many memorials. Each of them, whether a mere plaque, a lone statue to a notable person, or a vast and sweeping edifice, are all intended to remember some significant event and the people who made history during that time. Typically, we honor the dead who paid the ultimate price that we might live on—and we should. There are others, though, whose sacrifices in time and treasure were enormous. May our thanks this day “remember” all of them. HMM III
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« Reply #6524 on: May 28, 2019, 09:30:33 AM »

Every Creature Under Heaven

“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” (Colossians 1:23)

Before the Lord ascended back to heaven, He commanded His disciples to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), and one might receive the impression from the words of our text that this had already been accomplished, just 30 years after the command was given.

Yet, it is hardly plausible to infer from this that Christian missionaries had already reached the entire globe. The problem may be our far-too-limited appreciation of God’s witness in the creation. The phrase “to every creature” in our text could better be read “in everything created.” That is, the gospel that was now being brought in explicit terms to the Colossians was consistent with what they already should have known from God’s great witness in the very structure and behavior of everything He had created.

This is the testimony of such familiar verses as Psalm 19:1 (“the heavens declare . . .”); Romans 1:20 (“the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen”); Acts 14:17 (“he left not himself without witness”); and Acts 17:28 (“in him we live, and move, and have our being”). In the verses just preceding our text (Colossians 1:16-22), Paul had defined this universal gospel as embracing the creation, salvation, and consummation of “all things” by Christ (vv. 16-17, 20). The essence of this truth can be seen (if one’s eyes are willing to see it) in “all the world” (v. 6) in the beauty, complexity, unity in diversity, purposefulness, continuance of energy, and process, as found in “every creature which is under heaven.” Every aspect of God’s creation has been designed to reveal Christ as Maker and Savior. HMM
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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