The Shepherd Knows Where We Are Going

October 31, 2011 at 11:48 am | Posted in Selected Psalms, Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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The Lord is the Great and Good Shepherd of every true Christian, and He will make sure that His sheep do not lack anything that is truly good.

[A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

This is true in the green pastures (Psalm 23:2), and it is true in the darkest valleys (Psalm 23:4). But the Bible is very specific in telling us that the Shepherd leads the sheep. Since He is leading the sheep, and since He always has a foreknowledge of the terrain, why would the Shepherd ever lead the sheep into a dark valley?

There are a number of reasons, but one of the most obvious is that some of the most beautiful pastures, streams, and places of rest can only be reached by way of a dangerous and dark route. Sheep must stay as close to the Shepherd as possible for maximum safety – even when He seems to be leading in a frightening and confusing direction. He knows that a treacherous journey, with Him as the Guide, is always worth the trip. And we can know it, too, if we will learn to trust in the Shepherd and the “surely” of His promises:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23:6

Fitted by God

October 28, 2011 at 10:28 am | Posted in Romans | 3 Comments
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Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Romans 9:4

The Holy Spirit here is answering the argument of those who say that it would mean that God is unfaithful to His promise of salvation to the Jewish people if He has given grace freely to all people. In other words, if Gentiles can be saved the same way Jewish people can be saved, what’s so special about being an Israelite?

The Holy Spirit’s response to this challenge is:

1. The Jewish people were adopted as “His people.”

2. He gave them the Old Testament covenants.

3. He gave them the privilege of having His glory dwell among them in the Old Testament.

4. He gave them the Law.

5. He saved them from among the nations, and delivered them from bondage in Egypt.

6. He made them special promises.

7. He caused Christ to come through their “family line.”

8. He gave them all the signs that pointed to Jesus being the Christ: the Messiah.

Even though they rejected Him, and crucified Him, God will remain faithful to His promises to Israel.

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Romans 9:13-14

In the history of the Church and in Christian theology this has been a controversial passage of Scripture. People don’t like to think that God could “hate” anyone. Some theologians feel that this refers to “national election.” In other words, God “chose” the nation of Israel (Jacob’s descendants) over the nation of Edom (Esau’s descendants). Others feel that God “hated” Esau only in relation to Jacob. In other words, they say that God didn’t really “hate” Esau – He just really loved Jacob a lot, and therefore His great love for Jacob made His feelings for Esau seem like hatred in comparison. I have to say that I find very little warrant in Scripture for this second interpretation. It seems to come from the dogmatic assertion (and Christian cliche’) that God hates sin but loves sinners. This assertion, we might say, has “some truth” in it, but on its face it is contradicted by Scripture (Psalm 11:5; Psalm 7:11). Part of the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of hatred. Most people who are aware that God is love (I John 4:8) and know that God is immutable can not reconcile in their minds how God can be loving and hateful at the same time. What they fail to perceive is that love and hatred are not mutually contradictory, nor are they even opposites. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. God is certainly not indifferent! It might surprise many modern evangelicals to learn that the Greek word translated as “hated” in Romans 9:13 means – quite directly – “hated.”

Now, let’s think about Esau for a second. He’s the one who made the decision to sell his birthright – his heritage as a primary heir of God’s covenant promise to the children of Abraham and Isaac. And even though Esau made this “decision” he was at the same time under the decree of God Who had predetermined that Jacob, and not Esau, would be the heir of the promise. The Holy Spirit brings up the example of Pharaoh to support the way God works out His sovereignty and providence in the affairs of men. Pharaoh hardened his own heart – in a sense – but the serious student of Scripture can not deny that God also hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Romans 9:17-18 (emphasis added)

Pharaoh made the decision to reject God and His mercy, but God was plainly ruling over this “decision.”

The Holy Spirit anticipates sinful man’s reaction to this revelation of God:

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Romans 9:19

How can God find fault in us for the way we are, when He made us that way?

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Romans 9:20-21

Does the clay argue or talk back to the potter? “You should have made me a dinner plate instead of a cup! I didn’t want to be a cup!” The potter had every right to make the clay into a cup instead of a plate. He could have made the clay into a toilet bowl if he wanted!

For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

II Corinthians 5:12

God does not show favor based on His surprise at finding us “worthy” in our outward deeds or appearance. God is omniscient. He can’t be surprised. And He can’t “learn” anything. He makes some vessels unto honor, and some to dishonor. No vessel decides for itself with what it’s going to be filled. As living, breathing vessels, with souls and consciences and consciousness, God made us so that we can think and make decisions. Some vessels are “fitted” to destruction the same way that some spoiled and angry and rambunctious children are said to be “fit to be tied.” Whose fault is it that they need to be tied?

The Gentile vessels, compared to the Jewish vessels, did not have all the advantages outlined above. But God, in order to show His goodness and His longsuffering to the vessels who insisted on being filled with wrath, decided that those who are His vessels will be filled with mercy, instead of wrath.

I will not pretend that these truths are easy to explain. They get us into the sticky doctrines of election and predestination, which, by the way, are Bible terms. For a Christian teacher to say “I don’t believe in predestination” is to seriously call into question his view of Scripture and, therefore, his qualification for teaching. Some people believe God made us like wind-up toys, and that we are mindless puppets. That is not the teaching of Scripture. Others believe that God could not have chosen according to the good pleasure of His Own will to save some people from the penalty for their sin, and not others, because that would violate our “free will.” As finite creatures, we are not going to be able to grasp all the eternal decrees or wisdom of God. God is eternal and infinite, and His ways far above our ways. Here are some things we know for sure:

1. God is righteous, not unrighteous.
2. God is just, not unjust.
3. God is good, not evil.
4. God keeps His promises.
5. God tells the Truth in His Word.

Acting Out Against Acting Up

October 26, 2011 at 10:55 am | Posted in Ezekiel | 3 Comments
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Ezekiel the priest heeded God’s call to be a prophet.

The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

Ezekiel 1:3

He fell on his face when he saw the glory of the Lord.

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

Ezekiel 1:28

God picked him up and told him to stand up, be still, listen, don’t be afraid. He had something important to tell him.

And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.

Ezekiel 2:1-2

Christians go to church to be in the presence of God corporately with other believers, to hear the Word of God through the preaching, and to get our instructions from God. Although we might experience some overpowering emotions when we hear from God, we need to remember that one of the main reasons for attending church is to prepare for battle. We are there to get our marching orders, not to indulge in an emotional outburst.

Christian churches welcome unbelievers, and these who are sin-sick may certainly be excused for their extreme reactions to the truth or (hopefully) their exuberant rejoicing when they hear the Good News for the first time. Christians, though, need to remember that we are to yield our members to righteousness, and not to the emotional desires of the flesh.

After Ezekiel got up, he ingested the Word – God caused him to “eat” it.

But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.

Ezekiel 2:8

Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

Ezekiel 3:1-3

God’s people were captives in Babylon.

Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.

Ezekiel 3:15

Even though they were captives and they were not living the right way, God was promising them a victorious return to Jerusalem. Ezekiel was supposed to prophesy to them using “action sermons:” wordless plays in which he would act out spiritual truth.

But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house.

Ezekiel 3:25-26

Using a tile, he acted out the siege of Jerusalem.

Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.

Ezekiel 4:1-2

Then he had to lie down a certain way for a certain number of days and only eat certain things at certain times.

And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege. Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

Ezekiel 4:8-9

Can you imagine lying 40 days on one side and 390 on the other side? The significance was the 40 years of wandering by the Israelites in the wilderness after they left Egypt, and the 390 years of kings from Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.

To enact the famine in Judah, the Lord had Ezekiel alter his physical appearance. While these sermons were being acted out Ezekiel became quite a spectacle. People were showing up to watch. He cut his hair and his beard.

And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair.

Ezekiel 5:1

Then he burned one-third of it on the “siege brick” to represent the famine and the pestilence of the siege.

Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.

Ezekiel 5:2

A second third he hacked to bits with a sword, and the last third he scattered in the wind, representing the Jews taken to Babylon in captivity, who were spread and lost among the Gentiles. A small amount he bound up in the hem of his garment – representing the “remnant.”

You Can’t Get Blood from a Turnip

October 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Common Expressions | 8 Comments
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If you are trying to convince someone to give you something that he simply does not have, or does not have access to, the person you are entreating might respond, “You can’t get blood from a stone.” It’s a way of saying, “No matter how hard you ‘squeeze’ me, it won’t do any good.” It is unclear whether this expression came before or after the expression, “You can’t get blood from a turnip,” which means the same thing.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/squeezing_blood_out_of_a_turnip.gif?w=300

If the “turnip” expression came first, it might have originally been a reference to the Bible’s account of Cain and Abel.

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Genesis 4:1-5

https://i1.wp.com/www.live4god.org/Cain_and_Abel008.jpg

Abel’s offering was a “blood” offering. This is probably significant as a type or foreshadowing of the kind of sacrifice that God required for sin. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. The price of our redemption was the precious blood of Christ.

We may infer that Abel’s offering was a more “obedient” offering than Cain’s. Surely Cain and Abel would have been aware that God had slain animals in order to cover the sin of Adam and Eve. Abel’s offering was a “faith” offering.

I know that the typical teaching concerning the offerings is that Cain’s offering was a “works” offering, contrasted with Abel’s “faith” offering, but it seems to me that “the fruit of the ground” (which might have included a turnip or two for all we know) was no more a product of Cain’s “work” than Abel’s care of the sheep from which he obtained his offering. I can “grow” turnips or “raise” sheep, but neither one of them really prosper by my own power. God is the one who makes things grow and reproduce. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Abel and Cain had different “jobs.” Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the ground. If you grew up watching the television show, “The Rifleman,” then you might consider Abel to be a “rancher” and Cain to be a “farmer.” Lucas McCain, the main character of “The Rifleman,” used to take his fair share of grief from ranchers, who resented him for his perceived meekness and possibly for fencing off the land around his property.

the rifleman

Invariably one of these “tough” cowboys would call McCain a “sodbuster” and McCain would fill him full of lead with his modified repeating rifle. In the Biblical narrative Cain was the “sodbuster” but he is the villain rather than the hero of Genesis 4.

I would argue that what made Abel’s faith offering more righteous than Cain’s had more to do with the fact that Abel did it “God’s way” and Cain did it “Cain’s way.” Cain got his hands “dirty,” while Abel got his hands “bloody.”

Let us beware of trying to please God our “own way.” God is not impressed with our self-generated ideas. To try to achieve righteousness before God in any way other than the Way He has specifically ordained is like trying to get blood from a turnip: absolutely useless. The only place to find the blood that’s acceptable to God is from the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ – Whose blood has been shed for the remission of our sins.

How Tall Was Jesus?

October 21, 2011 at 10:20 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Teaching | 11 Comments
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When I first became the teacher of an adult Sunday School class my biggest worry was that somebody in class would ask a question for which I didn’t have an answer. So I would tend to “over-study” in preparation for class. Even if we were going to be covering something really simple (Does Jesus say you should love your neighbor?) I would be prepared to do a complete exegesis on the Olivet Discourse and to defend my position on infralapsarianism versus supralapsarianism – just in case. Well, after a few weeks, I stopped worrying about that. I came to realize that I had more pressing concerns than somebody asking a difficult question and putting me on the spot. My bigger concerns had to do with just trying to keep everybody awake for 35 minutes – or trying to make sure the people who preferred the chairs to be arranged in a circle didn’t physically attack the people who preferred to sit classroom-style. Instead of being afraid that someone would ask a difficult question, I actually began to hope that anyone would ask anything – which would at least indicate that someone was listening or had read the lesson. Finally, it happened.

A particular fellow stayed after class one Sunday morning and came up to me as I was shuffling my notes back into my folder. Oh boy, I thought, maybe he wants to know about modalism or the Sabellian controversy! But instead he said in a gruff voice, “Hey you’re one of them Christians – one of them ‘church people.’ How tall do you think Jesus was?”

Of course, I had no idea. And although I don’t think Jesus’s height bears a tremendous significance on the essentials of the Christian faith, I did promise to study the matter and get back to him.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

From the time Jesus was 12 years old He “increased in stature.” Presumably, this means that He “grew up” physically. So, however tall He was at 12, we can assume He got taller as He got older. The last part of that Verse, which says “with God and man” appears to apply to the part about Him growing “in favor,” but I suppose it might also apply to “increased in stature.” If Jesus grew “in stature with other men,” that would not tell us definitively how tall He was, but it would lead us to suppose that He reached an “average” height – similar to other men.

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

Matthew 27:35 (emphasis added)

The Roman soldiers cast lots (gambled) for Jesus’s clothing after He was stripped and crucified. They did this partly to fulfill Old Testament prophecy, but it is unlikely that the soldiers in their own minds even knew this prophecy, much less that they knew the Divine hand of God was causing them to fulfill it. It is also unlikely that they cast lots hoping to win a valuable souvenir or a Roman Catholic “relic.” More likely, they were hoping to obtain some free clothing. (Clothing was relatively expensive back in those days.) From this, we might infer that Jesus was physically around the same size as the average Roman soldier.

In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

Matthew 26:55

When Jesus was arrested, He pointed out to His persecutors that He had been among them openly, and the fact that He referred to His teaching as the means by which they might have recognized Him and arrested Him sooner, rather than by His physical appearance, may mean that there was nothing especially noteworthy about the way He looked.

Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 8:59

It is possible that when Jesus escaped being stoned in the Temple He supernaturally camouflaged Himself, but it is also possible that, during the confusion, He simply blended in with the crowd and got away, which, if He was of average height and appearance, would not have been terribly difficult to do.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

If Jesus, during His earthly life, was tempted in all the ways in which we are tempted, might not that have included the temptation that comes with being made fun of for how we look? This does not really tell us anything about His height, but it does tend to support the idea that Jesus was not especially physically attractive. We know from the Gospel records that He was not a wimp, but He was gentle. Great stature (height or size) is usually associated in the Bible – especially in the Old Testament – with sin or great wickedness. (See Genesis 6:4-5; Numbers 13:30-32; I Samuel 17:4.)

These are only clues at best, but it seems that there was nothing glaring or especially attractive about Jesus’s physical appearance.

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:2-3 (emphasis added)

Regardless of whether Jesus was tall or short according to the standards of His day, we know that God looks at men’s hearts more than their outward appearance. Jesus was a giant when it came to righteousness and love. He did not intimidate people with His physical size. He was “tall enough” to bear our sorrows, griefs, and sins and to nail them to His Cross.

While we don’t have a detailed description of the physical appearance of Jesus during His days on earth, we do have something of a description of how He will look when He returns to set things right once and for all:

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Revelation 1:14-15

By the way, that explanation did not satisfy my friend who stayed after class to ask me about it, and I suppose he went down the road to another church where the preacher got “a rhema word from God” and told him without a doubt that Jesus was five foot eleven and a half. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

Get a Life

October 19, 2011 at 9:24 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 3 Comments
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Has anyone ever given you this strange piece of advice? Maybe you were speaking to someone about receiving Jesus as their Savior, or about their relationship with God, or about coming to church or getting involved in Sunday School. Obviously exasperated, they told you, “Get a life! Stop bugging me about all that religious stuff.”

Christians are more interested in the Life than “a life.”

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6 (emphasis added)

Those who have the Life want to tell others to get the Life. When someone tells you to “get a life,” it is a snide way of saying there are many choices about how to live, and you are choosing the wrong way. But the born-again believer knows there are only two choices when it comes to eternal life. You will trust Christ and receive it or you will reject Christ and be denied it.

There are a number of ideas in the Bible which seem paradoxical from an earthly, finite point of view. For example, those who have been redeemed from slavery to sin have true freedom even though they are slaves to Jesus Christ. At the same time, those who are enslaved to sin often believe themselves to be free. It works much the same way with the concept of spiritual life and death.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Romans 8:6 (emphasis added)

The “dead” do not know they’re dead.

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:1-2 (emphasis added)

I couldn’t find the expression “get a life” in the Bible, but the Bible does talk about “finding” life and “losing” life.

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Matthew 10:39 (emphasis added)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (emphasis added)

The Bible says very specifically that Jesus is the way to the kind of life that is stronger than death.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

I John 5:11-13 (emphasis added)

Jesus is not only the way to life. He is the Life.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 11:25-26 (emphasis added)

The issue is not whether you will “get a life.” The real issue is whether you will believe and receive THE Life.

A Designer Marriage

October 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 11 Comments
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So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Ephesians 5:28

If men are supposed to love themselves, why the need for wives? Why not cut out the middle man? Because it is not good for men to be alone. It is not good in general for people to be alone, and it is not good specifically for the man.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

A “help meet” is what we would call a “helper who is a perfect fit” or “a helper who is perfectly suited.” If you are a wife, you were designed by God specifically to help your husband, and you are the perfect one for that job. Wives meet the emotional needs of their husbands. We were made in the image of God, and we do have emotions that survived the fall in the Garden of Eden.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:27-28

Marriage meets society’s need for structure and stability and the proper training of children.

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

I Corinthians 7:1-3

Marriage also meets the physical needs of husbands and wives, but marriage especially meets the spiritual needs of husbands and wives. God designed wives to submit to husbands. He designed husbands to lead wives. He designed wives to give holy counsel and companionship to husbands. He designed husbands to sanctify wives with the Word of God. Just because one spouse is failing to fulfill these God-ordained responsibilities, the other spouse is not excused from fulfilling his or hers.

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

Ephesians 5:29

The natural inclination of men apart from God is to nourish, to feed, our own flesh. What we are called to do, though, is to feed our wives spiritually and to feed the marriage relationship. We are also called to “cherish” it – to treat it well. As husbands, we must treat our wives and our marriages as valuable. We must protect our wives and protect the marriage. What a tragedy if I protect my marriage from everyone but me. Christ nourishes the Church in these same ways.

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17

Now, if you are reading this and you are a wife, I am aware that your husband may not be doing any of these things. (Most aren’t!) But in a previous lesson we discussed the importance of creating in the home a climate where he could start doing these things. You must humbly express the need to be fed and cherished, and to be ministered to spiritually. Trust the Lord to miraculously change your husband’s heart and create in him a desire to do these kinds of things. Also, remember that, if you love Jesus, you must love those that Jesus loves. The best way to make sure that you are obeying Christ is to love your spouse. A marriage where one spouse is obedient, even if the other is not, still honors Christ.

Light Wakes You Up

October 14, 2011 at 10:22 am | Posted in Biblical Light, Romans | 4 Comments
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Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

Isaiah 60:1.

The human body can only operate in a state of wakefulness for so long before exhaustion sets in. Mental and physical fatigue are remedied by sleep. Sleep is our minds’ and bodies’ way of recovering and recharging. With the invention of the light bulb and all the artificial forms of light we have today, people acquired the ability to work and play during the night as well as the day, but night time is certainly the traditional time for sleeping. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t sleep as well unless my surroundings are absolutely dark.

Spiritually speaking, however, Christians should live in light and not in darkness. God wants His people to be alert and vigilant, not dull and inattentive. Furthermore, although physical sleep is necessary for good health, there is no place in the Christian life for spiritual sleep. The Lord wants His people to be active. Are you alert, attentive, and active, or are you dozing through life in a state of spiritual passivity? “Rise and shine!” says the Lord. It’s time for Christians to reflect God’s goodness, grace, and glory in a dark, desperate, dreary, depressed, and dying world.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Romans 13:11-12

Things New and Old

October 12, 2011 at 11:49 am | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Matthew | 6 Comments
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Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Matthew 13:51-52

I have read this passage of Scripture so many times, but it still surprises me that the disciples could say “yes” when Jesus asked them if they had understood everything He said. Over 2000 years later we are still studying, but that’s the job of a Bible teacher – to be instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven – to learn from the Bible and to bring out of it treasures both new and old.

We are supposed to be reinforcing the great truths that have been taught since the beginning, but every time they are taught, these “old” truths are new to someone.

Furthermore, we are teaching new and old truths to new and old students. Some Christians are “new” as to their age, and some are “old” in years. Some are “new” to the Christian faith, and some have been Christians for many years. We learn more and more about God every week, and He never gets “old.” Is it possible that your spiritual life has become routine? You attend church. Maybe you pray at home and have devotions at home. Maybe you tithe and live a somewhat holy life. You don’t get drunk or swear or abuse your spouse. You are living on “old” things that you got settled early in your walk with Christ. Old things are good, but they become familiar. Familiarity costs us our sense of “awe.” You are going to lose your sense of awe and excitement about the Bible unless you are willing to take a dare. Take a chance by committing more of your time, talents, resources, effort, and gifts to the Lord. Ask Him to excite you as you as you study His Word. Neither the God of the Word, nor the Word of our God are ever boring or dry. They contain treasures – and few things are more exciting than discovering treasure!

Leavenless Lump

October 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 7 Comments
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Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

I Corinthians 5:7

The Passover feast was Christ’s appointed time – the time when the spotless Lamb of God would shed His blood for the sins of the world. A little over 2000 years later, under the New Covenant, we remember this occasion by observing the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.

At the Jewish Passover there was to be no leaven in the lump of dough used to make the bread. Leaven is a picture of sin in a congregation. Leaven may be small, but it is powerful. It works secretly. It “puffs up.” It spreads.

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11

Sometimes the Lord’s Supper is called “Communion,” a word which speaks of common unity. When a group of New Testament Christians assembles to observe the ordinance of Communion, one the worst instances of “leaven” would be feelings of hatred among different members of the body.

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I Corinthians 5:8

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