NO LONGER A SLAVE

August 17, 2014

Rom. 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 

Mankind was brought into slavery in a garden. We became slaves of sin that first day we turned our backs on God. You may say, “I never did that”. The truth is, we all did. We were in Adam and Eve that fateful day that they ate from the tree, that day, we all died. We died to freedom and were slaves to our own sinfulness until another fateful day in a garden. The day was the day the prison that man had been kept in for thousands of years suddenly burst open. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes that day. 

Matt. 28:2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 

“Death was being upheaved, and all the bars of the sepulcher were beginning to burst. When the King awoke from the sleep of death, he shook the world; the bed chamber in which he rested for a little while trembled as the heavenly Hero arose from his couch: Behold, there was a great earthquake. Nor was the King unattended in his rising: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven. It was not merely one of the angelic host, but some mighty presence angel, ‘the angel of the Lord’, who came to minister to him on that resurrection morn. Jesus was put in the prison of the tomb as a hostage for his people; therefore he will not break out by himself, but the angelic sheriff’s officer must bring the warrant for his deliverance, and set the captive at liberty. When the angel had rolled back the stone from the door, he sat upon it, as if to defy earth and hell ever to roll it back again. That great stone seems to represent the sin of all Christ’s people, which shut them up in prison; it can never be laid again over the mouth of the sepulcher of any child of God. Christ has risen, all his saints must rise, too.”

This is the greatest news of all time. I am no longer a prisoner, I can never be a prisoner again. The prison door has been blown off, I will never be ensnared again. 

DO I HAVE A FREE WILL?

August 16, 2014

May your will be done.

MATTHEW 26:42

Our will is a huge part of our life. Desire and the pursuit of happiness are pretty much at the bottom of all of our decisions and actions. When man was first created, our free will was a beautiful part of our being, choosing to love and honor God was at the core of everything we did. That all changed in a moment at the fall of man. It was our free will, our ability to make good choices, that was effected most by the fall. Rather than worshiping and loving God, our heart began to pursue other interests. What had happened? Our free will became ensnared in the quagmire of sin We became slaves of our own lusts and as Paul said, “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” That pretty much sums it up, our free will is messed up until Christ sets us free. Here is how Andrew Murray explained it. 

“God created man with a will of his own and the power to choose and make decisions for himself. And after man had fallen and yielded himself to the will of God’s enemy, God in His infinite love set about the great work of winning man back, that man would make the desires of God his own once more. As in God, so in man, desire is the great moving power. And just as man had yielded himself to a life of desire after the things of the earth and the flesh, God had to redeem him into a life of harmony with Himself. And so the Son came into this world to reproduce the divine desires in His human nature. Jesus yielded Himself to the perfect fulfillment of all that God wished and willed. He was even prepared to be forsaken by God, so that the power that had deceived man might be conquered and deliverance procured. It was in the wonderful and complete harmony between the Father and the Son, when the Son said, “May your will be done,” that the great redemption was accomplished.”

Christ became a man to liberate fallen man. That work of liberation began as Jesus spilled great drops of blood praying in Gethsemane, “Not My will Father, but your will be done”. The work of redemption begins with the will. The obedience of Christ changed everything. Through the disobedience of Adam, all of us became sinners, slaves of our fallen will. Through the obedience of Christ, whoever believes on Him experiences this powerful liberation from our fallen will. What a salvation! I can now shout with Jesus, “I delight to do your will oh God”.  

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

August 15, 2014

John 8:12 ¶ Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

You often hear Christians say, “We live in a dark world”. Have you ever really thought about that statement? What is a ‘dark world’? All darkness is, is the absence of light. In this case, it is the absence of spiritual light. Jesus said that He is the light of the world. While He was present on earth, everywhere He went the light shined. It was shining through His words and shining through His actions. The light shone when He declared “I am the light of the world”. This radiant light maybe shined its brightest as He prayed on the cross, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”. When He multiplied the bread and fish, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, and when the lame danced for joy; His light was piercing the darkness. Here are some thoughts from Tyndale’s Commentary on today’s verse.  

“Jesus presented himself as the light of the world at the Feast of Tabernacles; a festival during which great candles lit up the courtyards of Jerusalem every night. However, Jesus’ claim to be the light of the world contained more than allusions to the great illuminations of the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus promised, Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Those who followed him by accepting his teaching would no longer walk in the darkness of ignorance under the power of the evil one. As the apostle Paul said, ‘he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves’. As life in the darkness culminates in death, life in the light of Christ culminates in eternal life; it is ‘the light of life’. In the Prologue the evangelist said of the Logos, ‘In him was life, and that life was the light of men’. To come to Christ means coming to the one in whom is found the life of God, and that life is the light of men, the light of life.”

Today that light shines through the faces of His sons and daughters. We are now the light of the world. He shines through our words and our actions. As we walk with Him, His love penetrates the world we live in. You effect your world more than you know. 

BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM

August 14, 2014

John 8:58 ¶ Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

I learned about the error of the Jehovah Witness doctrines out in the streets. Actually it was at a Jehovah Witness Convention in Fresno, California where a number of my street preacher buddies and I stumbled into the JW conference. The leader of our team that night managed to get hold of the microphone on the stage in front of about 10,000 Jehovah Witnesses. His text was today’s verse, “Before Abraham was, I am.” That pretty much says it all. You have to do some fancy doctrinal foot work and distortion to get around that statement. Jesus was making a blatant claim to deity. He is the eternal Son of God. Needless to say, the leaders of the conference were not very happy. You could say they were quite angry with all of us as we were tossed out of the building. Their stern objection to Christ’s claim to deity seemed strangely similar to the reaction the religious leaders showed toward Jesus. With that much animosity, I knew what Christ said was true. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this passage.

“I am, is the name of God (Exod. iii. 14); it denotes his self-existence; he does not say, I was, but I am, for he is the first and the last, immutably the same (Rev. i. 8); thus he was not only before Abraham, but before all worlds, Jn.1:1; Prov. viii. 23. Secondly, As Mediator. He was the appointed Messiah, long before Abraham; the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. xiii. 8), the channel of conveyance of light, life, and love from God to man. This supposes his divine nature, that he is the same in himself from eternity (Heb. xiii. 8), and that he is the same to man ever since the fall; he was made of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, to Adam, and Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and Shem, and all the patriarchs that lived and died by faith in him before Abraham was born. Abraham was the root of the Jewish nation, the rock out of which they were hewn. If Christ was before Abraham, his doctrine and religion were no novelty, but were, in the substance of them, prior to Judaism, and ought to take place of it.”

This great ‘I am’ is with you today. He is not only eternal, He is all powerful. He has each of us safely in His hand. No matter what we face, ‘I am’ will be with you every step of the way.

THE PLEASURES OF GOD

August 13, 2014

Psa. 16:11 ¶ You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 

Let’s face it, sin is pleasurable. There I said what everyone knows and pretends to not notice. The common approach for a Christian to avoid temptation is self denial. That seldom works for very long. The biblical solution to overcoming temptation is not the denial of pleasure but the pursuit of pleasure, it’s just the pursuit of a different kind of pleasure. Actually it is a greater pleasure that the Bible challenges us to pursue. It’s the pleasure that comes from intimacy with God. Young Jonathan Edwards discovered the Biblical way to overcome the pleasures of sin, he discovered that the pleasure found in God was the way out of the traps that sin lays for our soul. Here is how Edwards describes this truth in his sermon Pleasantness of Religion. 

“The most common argument that is used to urge men to godliness is the pleasures of the life to come; but this has not its effect for the sinner [who] is in pursuit of the pleasures of this life. Now, therefore, we urge to you the pleasures of this [life]: therefore you can have nothing to say. The common argument is the profitableness of religion, but alas, the wicked man is not in pursuit of profit; ’tis pleasure he seeks. Now, then, we will fight with them with their own weapons, {for religion does not deny us outward delights and pleasures}. If it be so, that ’tis worth the while to be religious if it were only for the pleasantness of it, then how exceeding great is the reward of the godly. What a reward have they in the world to come; what joys {in another life}. But yet this is not all; no, they have a reward in this life. In the very keeping of God’s commands, there is great reward (Psalms 19:11). The reward they have in hand, besides that which is promised, is well worth all the pains they take, all the troubles they endure. God has not only promised them a great reward, and exceeding great beyond conception; but he has given them a foretaste in this world. And this taste is better than all the pleasures and riches of the wicked.”

Edwards said that the foretaste of the joys of heaven are far superior to the pleasures that this world offers. The foretaste of heaven is the Baptism in the Spirit or the Promise of the Father. If the foretaste is that grand, I can’t even imagine the pleasures associated with the world to come.

STAYING IN LOVE

August 12, 2014

Eph. 3:19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 

It’s funny how something that is so uninviting to the natural man can be such a passion to the spiritual man. What am I talking about, I am talking about the strange attractiveness that becomes irresistible to the one caught in the attracting love of Christ. This love of God makes the things we had no interest in, the passion of our lives. What kinds of things? Things like the Bible, church meetings, worship music, and especially talking about Jesus Christ. He becomes the center of our world when we yield to His grace and love. A. B. Simpson talks about this grace and love found in Christ in this excerpt from one of his teachings.  

“It is by faith that the sinner first experiences the forgiveness of sins. Together with the free grace of our Lord Jesus, the new believer also receives the sincere, fervent love for God and his fellow man. When we approach the throne of grace, it is in answer to the eternal love of God and of the Lamb. Paul calls it an “undying love” (Ephesians 6:24). This is the description of a special quality of love—a love that you can also have within you!

We should strive to live in the incorruptible, unbroken love of Jesus as the Father desires of us. If we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, the pure love of God will enter and we shall find that His grace is exceedingly abundant.”

What an amazing truth, this love not only draws us, it actually converts us and comes to live inside of us. This love that captured our heart begins to fill our whole being. Suddenly, we are consumed with an incredible love for God. Not only do we love God, we begin to experience a supernatural love for people. Those who once aggravated you now have a special place of affection in your heart. This is the sure litmus test for conversion. This is how John described it. 

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” 1 John 3:14 

How can we continue in this love? It is really quit simple, as we abide in Christ this love abides in us. 

John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 

PROVIDENCE

August 11, 2014

“God plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.” Ps.77:19

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“It is Well” by Bethel Music
“Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name
It is well with my soul”

Sometimes life can really slap you right in the face. If I don’t watch out, my footing begins to slip. Between the Word of God, past experiences, worship and fellowship with my brothers and sister’s I always manage to “be all right”.
Spurgeon and the “good ole boys” talked a lot of about Providence or the Sovereignty of God. Us modern day thinkers would do well to pick up the old books and read.
Spurgeon brings comforting words to my soul when he says; “God has a plan when he begins, and he carries that plan out: he lays the foundation, and always finishes the topstone. With the divine Being the whole goes on, and what he has ordained shall be. God moves the wheel and the wheel goes on; and though a thousand armies stand to stop it, it goes on still. There is no half way between a mighty God that worketh all things by the sovereign counsel of his will and no God at all. A God that cannot do as he pleases – a God whose will is frustrated, is not a God, and cannot be a God.”
Most of us Americans have to push through pain and grief when it comes, even though the rest of the taste these emotions everyday. I am thankful the Word of God anchors me and I can go “beyond the veil”.
Spurgeon goes onto say; “Every thing in this world is working for some one great end. Fate does not say that. Fate simply says that the thing must be; Providence says, God moves the wheels along, and there they are. If any thing would go wrong, God puts it right; and if there is any thing that would move awry, he puts his hand and alters it. There is all the difference between fate and Providence that there is between a man with good eyes and a blind man. Fate is a blind thing; it is the avalanche crushing the village down below and destroying thousands. Providence is not an avalanche; it is a rolling river, rippling at the first like a rill down the sides of the mountain, followed by minor streams, till it rolls in the broad ocean of everlasting love, working for the good of the human race. The doctrine of Providence is not, that what is, must be; but that, what is, works together for the good of our race, and especially for the good of the chosen people of God. The wheels are full of eyes; not blind wheels.” AMEN!

PLEASANTNESS OF RELIGION

August 10, 2014

Prov. 24:13,14 My son, eat honey because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste; so shall the knowledge of wisdom  be to your soul; 

We live in a beautiful world. Even though this world bares the marks of the fall of man and the resulting curse upon the earth, it still is permeated with unspeakable beauty. The handiwork of the Creator is clearly seen in the intricacies of His beautiful flowers to the majestic peaks of His towering mountain ranges. His infinite power and creativity are clearly seen when gazing deep into the universe. Creation displays the Glory and beauty of God Himself. Actually, this is creation’s purpose, not only to sustain and satisfy His creatures but to boldly portray the beauty of the Lord. Twenty year old Jonathan Edwards had captured this and preached powerfully about the beauty of the Lord in his sermon ‘Pleasantness of Religion’. Here is a short clip.       

“The godly man takes unspeakable delight in thinking that God, the governor of the world and the most excellent Being, loves him and is his friend. What delight do men take sometimes in the love of their fellow creatures, that they think ['em excellent]. And can we be so foolish as to think that there is any comparison between this and the delight that the godly take in thinking that God is their friend, yea, that he loves them with a very great love, has given himself to them, and the like? ‘Tis most sweet to the godly to behold the beauty and enjoy the love of Christ the Mediator. He appears the most beautiful to them of anything in the world; he is to them as the rose and lily, as a bundle of myrrh; his love is a sweet fragrancy. None can tell the power of that joy that they feel from the consideration that so lovely a person loves them so as to lay down his life for them.”

This is the advantage the Christian has in this life. Not only does he see the beauty all around him in creation, he can actually “behold” the beauty of the Lord. Now I am not talking about seeing with our physical eyes. Its that other set of eyes, the spiritual ones,that behold the beauty of the Lord. These are the eyes darkened by the fall but are opened when you are born again. If you are a Christian, you can look beyond the beauty of the physical world and begin to perceive true beauty, the kind that radiates from Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

FREEDOM FROM SIN

August 9, 2014

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.John 8:36

The gospel is so simple that even a child can grasp it; yet it is so profound that the most intelligent often miss it. We are saved and set free from from the bondage of sin by faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. It is the same old story, but with those who have ears to hear it, it is new and refreshing every day. We are all effected daily by the culture that we live in; from off color comments to complaining, from temptations to catastrophic news, it is easy to fall under the sway of this world. The new old story found in the gospel will cleanse us and settle us, there is life and power in the word of God. Here is how Martin Luther explained it in his day. 

“True freedom is being free from sin. How does this happen? It happens when we hear his Word—Christ was born of Mary, suffered, was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again from the dead on the third day. “Oh,” we might say, “I know that message well. It is a very familiar sermon.” But let’s learn this lesson again from our children, for it tells us how we can be saved and be set free. “Yes,” we might even say, “This teaching is too simple. That’s why it won’t work.” But it’s a virtue that children can pray these words and understand them so easily. We are old fools. The more educated and intelligent we become, the less we know and understand.

So we must sit with the children by the stove and learn the lesson again. There are some who say they have already been taught the message and think they know everything about it. But when troubles come, they desperately need someone to recite these words to them again. They end up needing a four-year-old child to show them how to believe.”

So maybe you are down in the dumps or struggling with compromise and sin. The solution is the same as it has been from ancient days, look to God’s word. It may be old fashioned but it is alive and as new today as it was when it was first written down. Delight yourself in His word, you will suddenly have a new way to look at everything.

SMALL BEGINNINGS

August 8, 2014

Zech. 4:10  For who has despised the day of small things?

For these seven rejoice to see

The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.

They are the eyes of the LORD,

Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.” 

We live in a world that judges everything by the outward appearance. From the good looks of a potential partner, to the curb appeal of a new house, how something appears can be a deal breaker or a deal maker. Outward impressions are not only not always accurate, they can be out right deceiving. Looking at the pathetic progress in rebuilding the temple in Zachariah’s day was pretty discouraging. I am sure the twelve ragamuffin disciples weren’t much to look at when the crowds stopped following Jesus. Zechariah’s temple was built and the band of followers following Christ were the foundation stones for the church that is still being built today. An appearance of outward success may not tell the whole story. Here are some comments by Matthew Henry on this passage. 

 “Who, where, is he now that despised the day of small things, and thought this work would never come to any thing? The Jews themselves despised the foundation of the second temple, because it was likely to be so far inferior to the first. Their enemies despised the wall when it was in the building. In God’s work the day of small things is not to be despised. Though the instruments be weak and unlikely, God often chooses such, by them to bring about great things. As a great mountain becomes a plain before him when he pleases, so a little stone, cut out of a mountain without hands, comes to fill the earth.”

The Fire Bible brings out the importance of the work of the Spirit in finishing God’s work. 

“Some thought that the work on the temple was not important. However, nothing that is done with God’s blessing and in the power of his Spirit is ever unimportant; instead, it has eternal value and meaning. We must never think that our lack of ability or resources will cause God’s purposes to fail. From the time of creation and throughout history, God has always done great things by starting with very little.”

Some times people give up and quit not being able to see the forest for the trees. If you are involved in God’s work, stay with it. Touching and changing even one person is huge. Be faithful with the little, sometimes (like the little boy’s lunch) the little is the beginning of something great. 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,745 other followers