Beware False Finger-Pointing

July 31, 2013 at 11:18 am | Posted in Exodus, The Fives | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Hebrews in Egypt had been enslaved and forced into strenuous labor. But their population – under the blessings of God – had increased exponentially. Pharoah’s motivation for keeping them so busy was probably twofold: (1) They were an extremely cheap but productive labor force, and Egypt’s building program was flourishing; (2) People who are exhausted from working tend to have little time to organize, or to even think about insurrection, escape, freedom, or reform. When Moses and Aaron confronted Pharaoh and informed him that God was demanding a three-day sojourn into the wilderness for sacrificing, feasting, and worshiping, Pharaoh’s response was hostile and accusatory:

And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.

Exodus 5:5

Pharaoh did not want the Hebrews to stop, slow down, or take a break. He laid the blame for an alleged decrease in production at the feet of Moses and Aaron. The fact is, however, that Moses and Aaron had orders from a higher authority.

And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.

Exodus 5:3

When we, as Christians, resolve to fear and obey God in this present world, we will face opposition, persecution, and undue blame. This can be uncomfortable to say the least. Few of us enjoy being blamed, condemned, or judged for stating – or living out – what we believe. When someone points the finger of blame at you for your faith, do not point your finger back at them (nor at some handy or hapless third party). Instead, point upward to God. The fear of man is a snare, but the fear of God is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom.

This Is Not a Negotiation

July 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Exodus | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

During the time when Moses was trying to convince Pharaoh to let God’s people go because of the plagues, Pharaoh sometimes treated the discussions like a game of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Given the absolute holiness of God, we should know the absurdity of a pagan king trying to bargain or negotiate with Him. Only those who have some privileged standing before Him – and even that would had to have been granted by Him – may petition God to relent and have mercy. Pharaoh clearly did not get what manner of God with which he was dealing.

And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

Exodus 5:1

Pharaoh was doing two things here. First, he was negotiating: “I’m a god. If your God is going to make demands on me, he’s going to have to show me He’s a real God first.” Two, he was giving voice to the response that people still have today: “Maybe He’s Lord to you, but he’s nothing to me.” This is the voice of the relativist who obeys absolutes in everything but moral matters.

And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.

Exodus 5:6-9

Pharaoh sounded like the obnoxiously pretentious and self-important restaurant manager who tells his employees, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean,” when he said, “If you’ve got time to worship, you’ve got time to work.” In other words, he was saying, “Let’s see how serious your God is about this ‘let my people go’ thing [wink, wink] – if He’s real.”

And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.

Exodus 7:13-14

Do these verses contradict James 1:17? “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Let’s think of it this way: Did God make Pharaoh’s heart hard? Yes. Disobedience to God is evil and sin. Did God create fresh evil in Pharaoh’s heart? No. He withdrew His gracious restraint and allowed Pharaoh’s own evil to have full reign. We need to be careful – that could happen to us too if we decide to barter and compromise with God. God’s greatest judgment against a person may be to let him have his own way.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs:

Exodus 8:1-2

The Egyptians had their own god who was supposed to be in charge of the frogs, so this was a direct assault on their belief system.

And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.

Exodus 8:3-7

Obviously, their frog deity was no match for the true God.

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD.

Exodus 8:8

Pharaoh’s ploy was to say, “Okay, fine, tell your God that I’ll give in a little to get rid of these frogs.”

And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only?

Exodus 8:9

Moses allowed Pharaoh a little input here: Did he want the frogs gone completely or just back in the river?

And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God.

Exodus 8:10

It is curious that Pharaoh wanted the frog-removal held off for another day. Did he want a little more time to see if they might go away on their own? Was he hoping his own magicians or priests might finally come through? I doubt he was going to miss the frogs when they were gone! Maybe he was suffering from extreme hardness of heart and was torn between caving in to Moses’s God and maybe offending or angering his own frog-god.

And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only. And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto the LORD because of the frogs which he had brought against Pharaoh. And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields. And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

Exodus 8:11-15

We must remember to avoid the pattern of Pharaoh here. May we never make a promise to God to get Him to fix our problem, and then back out on the promise when He comes through.

And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land.

Exodus 8:25

Pharaoh said they could worship, but they had to stay in Egypt while they did it.

And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?

Exodus 8:26

Moses did not accept the offered compromise. God had called His people to come out from among the heathen and be separate. They were not going to be worshiping just another god in the pantheon of Egyptian gods. They were going to worship the One True God.

And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me.

Exodus 8:28

But Pharaoh still did not get it. He still thought it was a negotiation. He tells them they can go worship, “but don’t go too far.”

And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?

Exodus 10:7

Pharaoh’s servants saw what Pharaoh could not – or would not – see. “This Moses is kicking our behinds. Let these people go before this powerful and terrible God of theirs wipes us off the face of the Earth!”

And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go?

Exodus 10:8

Pharaoh still wanted to talk logistics.

And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD.

Exodus 10:9

Moses said, “We’re taking the whole shooting match. The God we serve is Lord over our wives, our children, our animals, our possessions. He means business in case you haven’t noticed!”

And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you. Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

Exodus 10:10-11

Pharaoh would only go so far, though. He makes it a “men only” affair. He wanted to keep the wives and kids to make sure the men came back. As Christian men, let us not leave our wives and children out of worship, but let us neither allow our wives or children to be the leaders in worship. In most churches today, Moses would have quite a struggle, trying to get the men off their Egyptian couches, out of their Egyptian fishing boats or duck blinds. They would say, “Do I have to go worship? Can’t my wife do that?”

And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.

Exodus 10:24

Pharaoh was forced to relent and propose allowing the entire family to go, but not the property.

And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God. Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.

Exodus 10:25-27

As Christians our souls and our bodies have been purchased by God. Our material possessions are not to be prized in the same way, but neither are they to be disregarded completely. All ground is holy ground for Christians. There is no asterisk in I Corinthians 10:31 that says everything is for God’s glory except for how we manage our possessions.

And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?

Exodus 14:5

In Pharaoh’s twisted way of thinking it occurred to him that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to have let his whole labor force go because of some frogs and locusts and the death of all the firstborn.

And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.

Exodus 14:6-8

Now that’s a hard heart! There is no room for compromise when the Lord has spoken. Pharaoh’s behavior seems strange, but beware. When you only see the visible it’s easy to convince yourself that the consequences of disobeying God were only coincidental. God is not a compromiser when it comes to sin.

Pride vs. Providence

July 25, 2013 at 9:58 am | Posted in Esther | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In his pride Haman rejoiced with his family and friends, unknowingly bragging about the preparation for his own downfall and death.

Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.

Esther 5:10-13

Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.

Psalm 7:14

Haman was “pregnant” with wickedness and evil plans. Therefore, he gave birth to a “child” which brought evil upon its own “father.”

He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.

Psalm 7:15

Haman had “made his own bed,” and would now have to lie in it.

His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.

Psalm 7:16

On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.

Esther 6:1

Why couldn’t the king sleep that night? Perhaps he was worried, wondering about Esther’s request. Perhaps he was kept awake by the racket caused by the building of the gallows outside. God, in His providence, may intervene supernaturally in obvious ways into the affairs of men, but often He works through what seem to be perfectly natural circumstances. The king could have chosen any manner of entertainment, but he chose to read a book, and not just any old book, but the book of the chronicles. Some historical chronicles are boring enough to put anybody to sleep! The servant picked out which of the chronicles to bring, and God’s providence worked to bring Haman to the king’s gate early that day. Haman’s plan for the day was to see Mordecai hanging all day, but instead he would have to spend all day seeing Mordecai honored!

Could this have been arranged by God to offer Haman a chance to repent? If so, Haman certainly did not seize the opportunity.

And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered.

Esther 6:12

Despite being celebrated and honored all day, Mordecai did not fall into the trap of pride. When the festivities were over he humbly returned to his place. We must not let pride settle down and make itself at home in our hearts.

How God Prepares Leaders

July 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Posted in Exodus, Hebrews | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Old Testament of the Bible contains true historical accounts, and it is accurate, but it also contains numerous types and shadows of what God would do in Christ to save His people. Joseph is one example. He was used to rescue God’s people from famine, and they wound up in Egypt in the Land of Goshen. Joseph became second in command in Egypt, answering only to Pharaoh. But eventually Joseph died, and that particular pharaoh died. Other pharaohs came along that didn’t remember Joseph, and God’s people wound up as slaves. God, through Moses, subsequently delivered them out of bondage, parting the Red Sea and giving them His law. We may discern from this true historical account the following types and foreshadowing:

Deliverance from Egypt = salvation
Red Sea = baptism
Leviticus and Deuteronomy = sanctification

And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

Exodus 2:23-25 (emphasis added)

They were sighing, crying, and groaning – maybe in their prayers to God – maybe just because of the oppression they were experiencing.

And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

Exodus 3:7-9

God hears the cries of the oppressed. He delivers the oppressed and He deals with the oppressors. When we feel oppressed we have a tendency to think of ourselves, but we need to remember that God is orchestrating circumstances. He has not left us nor forsaken us.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

Hebrews 11:23-24

Moses chose to side with the slaves rather than the oppressors.

Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

Hebrews 11:25-26

Moses did not have all the information about Christ that New Testament Christians have had since the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but he did look forward by faith to the promise of a coming Redeemer, and he had a much different value system than the Egyptians among whom he lived.

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

Hebrews 11:27

He feared Pharaoh, but he feared God more, and he endured in the desert by faith. Real faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and does the impossible.

Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

Hebrews 11:28-29

God uses times of separation – times of loneliness and soul-searching – to prepare leaders. He is not looking for the mightiest of the worldly. He is looking for outcasts who have gotten to know God. We can be thankful that God does not require us to be strong first before He uses us. He prepares us for victory in times of distress.

God’s Less-Popular Attributes

July 19, 2013 at 8:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The prophet Nahum was from the town of Elkosh, but we don’t know very much about his background – which is okay. When it comes to those who speak for the Lord, His Word is more important than the speaker’s personal experiences.

Just as the prophet Obadiah had pronounced God’s judgment against Edom, Nahum pronounced God’s judgment against Nineveh. Nineveh was a major city of Assyria. Jonah had already gone to them, preaching repentance, and they had repented, but after a little over 100 years they turned again to their evil ways. On a historical timeline 100 years does not seem very long, but many of us have seen people repent in a Sunday morning church service, and turn back to their evil ways by Sunday afternoon!

Assyria had conquered the Northern Kingdom (Israel) in 722 B.C., and had tried to conquer the Southern Kingdom (Judah) in 701, but the Lord intervened and His angel killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night.

Nahum’s name meant “comfort” or “compassion.” He prophesied during the time of Jeremiah and Habakkuk. If we began to name the characteristics of God (or the “virtues” or “attributes” of God), we would speak of His “glory,” which is sort of the “weight” of His attributes and/or virtues – the “manifest substance” of God – and we would probably think of things like His love, His grace, His mercy, His holiness, His righteousness, His patience, His longsuffering, His faithfulness, His truthfulness. But there are three attributes or virtues of God that are often overlooked.

1. His jealousy

God is jealous…

Nahum 1:2

It is wrong for us to be jealous of what others have, because what they have does not really belong to us. Jealousy in a marriage, however, is not always wrong – especially if it is manifested in a desire to protect the God-ordained relationship. Likewise it is not wrong for God to be jealous. He is the owner of everything, and He wants what is best for His people. In fact, He would be an idolator if He sought glory for anything or anyone else. He is jealous over His glory, His name, and the worship and honor that are due to Him alone.

2. His vengeance

God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth…

Nahum 1:2

Vengeance is a sin – for us. Because vengeance belongs to the Lord. All sinners are enemies of God. He has declared peace first, but when man refuses peace, God must declare war. (Psalm 7 is a good place to study this principle.) Because God is holy and just, there must be payment for sin – a price must be paid. Unsaved sinners raise their weapons against God, and His wrath is aimed back at them. If they put their weapons down, but do not come to Him in repentance and faith in Jesus, His wrath is still directed at them. A righteous judge does not let a lawbreaker go free just because he is sorry and says he won’t do it anymore.

3. His anger

God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.

Nahum 1:2

Our anger is almost always close to sin. It usually tips over into sin because we are selfish and because we lack self-control. But there is an anger that is motivated by, and manifested as, righteous indignation. God doesn’t throw a “fit” or a temper tantrum. He is slow to anger – not because His fuse is slowly burning – but because it is His nature to offer repentance and mercy. Assyria was God’s weapon. He used the Assyrians to chasten His people, but they themselves became proud, and pride is an abomination to God.

This was His declaration of peace:

Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.

Nahum 1:15

This was His declaration of war:

He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face: keep the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily.

Nahum 2:1

The “he” in that verse is Nebuchadnezzar, who was being temporarily used as God’s weapon, and God’s warning is in the form of ridiculing his pride. Assyria’s pride took God’s staying hand of patience away from them, and caused God to deal with their sins, including their unwarranted bloodshed.

Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

Nahum 3:1

He also punished them for their idolatry.

Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

Nahum 3:4

Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy. All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.

Nahum 3:11-12

The cup of God’s wrath must be drunk by the sinner unless there is a Savior to drink it for him.

Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars.

Nahum 3:13

Domination of the weak will lead to God treating us the way we have treated them. We must teach this to our children. Teach them that they must take up the cause of the weak and protect the weak.

Nineveh fell in 612 B.C. at the hands of the Medes and Babylonians, and Assyria fell in 609.

Lord, bless each and every person who reads this. Thank you for divinely ordaining the Church, and making a symptom and evidence of our belief in You the love we show for each other. I pray that we will submit one to another, in love preferring one another, not just on this day, but every day, for this is right in Your eyes, and we bring glory to You by doing what is right in obedience. In the name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.

The Day of Distress

July 17, 2013 at 8:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Lord, help us to be diligent, alert, self-controlled, and consistent. Keep us from swinging from one mood to the next based on circumstances or fears. Please use us in Your Spirit to be thermostats and not thermometers. Help us to reflect Your glory, not the attitudes of this world. In the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament. It is about the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau. The Jewish people were supposed to consider the Edomites to be their “brothers.”

Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.

Deuteronomy 23:7

But the Edomites did not feel this way about the Jewish people.

Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end:

Ezekiel 35:5

The Edomites had assisted the enemies of the Jewish people.

For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.

Obadiah vv. 10-11

Watching and assisting was as bad as doing. For Christians today, this is the spiritual equivalent of hindering, or refusing to help with, evangelism. Are we being accomplices to the devil or the world?

The Edomites also rejoiced over what was happening.

But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.

Obadiah v. 12

We must never inwardly rejoice over the problems of others.

The Edomites also assisted in the plundering.

Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.

Obadiah vv. 13-14

Finally, the Edomites had no fear of the Lord.

For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

Obadiah vv. 15-16

We’re drinking in God’s blessings today, but there is a cup of wrath being prepared that some will not be able to refuse. There will be a reaping of what was sewn in cold-heartedness, lack of love, even hatred and gloating over others. Pride is never a good thing before God, and it is extremely important to stay in an attitude of repentance.

How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!

Obadiah v. 6

Nothing is hidden from God. We have nothing stored up in such a way that He can’t take it from us. Let us emulate Christ and empty ourselves out, so that God won’t have to do it for us. The emptying out of self results in the filling of God. Apart from God we are at the mercy of merciless enemies.

Preparation for the Battle

July 15, 2013 at 11:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I sometimes wonder how often the difficulties we experience in life are simply God’s way of lovingly “breaking” us: tearing down our pride in or order to prepare us for glorious victory in some upcoming battle. “Breaking” can be painful, but it is helpful to see it as part of preparation. Even our hurts are appointed by God.

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Philippians 1:29

That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.

I Thessalonians 3:3

By and large, our flesh tends to resist drawing near to Christ while we are experiencing bright sunny days, good health, plenty of money, or worldly popularity. Those things tend to cause us to depend on ourselves and give ourselves the glory for them. However, how many times have you drawn close to Christ – and depended on Him more – and really magnified Him – through intense suffering?

Even when we face the assault of the enemy, we must not rely on our own strength. God’s people needed to remember this fact when they were attacked by the king of Assyria.

With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

II Chronicles 32:8

The way to survive the attack of a spiritual enemy who is stronger than you is not by self-reliance. Our true hope is in turning to God, for His enemies are no match for Him.

There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 33:16-20

We know that when God “breaks” His children He will rebuild us and use us again. Jacob is a good example of this. He was broken by God and then re-used. His brother, Esau, was never broken so he was never used in a favorable way by God. Moses is another example. He was broken repeatedly and was used continuously.

What we learn in our past battles can be used in our future battles.

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

II Corinthians 1:3-4 (emphasis added)

Confidence in God is always better than confidence in self.

In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

Proverbs 14:26

When we are preparing for a difficult task we tend to think that we are making ourselves strong – even spiritually speaking. We pray, we read our Bible, we preach to our own souls, and tell ourselves we will overcome and not back down. But the Bible says that, even though we are God’s Own children, our emphasis is not to be on us. It is to be on our Father. We put on our armor in preparation for a battle, and we remember that we are not really battling against other people. We are battling wickedness in high places. It is a spiritual battle. God is not preparing you to wage a personal vendetta or to settle a grudge against sinners you don’t happen to like.

Sharpening Your Focus

July 12, 2013 at 11:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

F.uel

When you have no provision or strength for the battle you are facing, then it seems to make little sense to go into the battle. You would not have the ability to do what you have been called to do. But that is never the case for a Christian in spiritual warfare.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:11-13

Philippians 4:13 has become a popular verse in American sports culture, but it is not really a verse about athletes winning ball games or fighters beating up their opponents. It is about drawing strength from somewhere else when you have none of your own. It is about sharpening our focus.

When we talk about drawing strength from somewhere else, when it comes to Christian warfare, what we really mean is from Someone else. When you are preparing for battle, draw your strength from Christ. In preparation you must believe that the message given to us by Christ will work.

F.uel
O.ptimism

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:3-4

It is a message that is comprehensible enough that we should be able to present it straightforwardly, boldly, and with confidence. We have the message.

F.uel
O.ptimism
C.ommission

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20

Our mission is not optional, so lack of preparation is unthinkable. When Jesus commissions His followers there is a a transfer of authority, but it is still His authority. Matthew 28:19 says, “Go ye therefore…” and the “therefore” refers back to the authority which He has the sole right to distribute and supervise. Christians should not be “tale-bearers” (Proverbs 26:20) with this one exception: We carry the “tale” of the incarnation, life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and, because it is His “tale,” it deserves to be told. Most of us really love the idea of, “Lo, I am with you always” but the “I am with you always” is not detached from the “go ye.”

F.uel
O.ptimism
C.ommission
U.nction

And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

Luke 12:11-12

The unction that the Holy Spirit gives to those engaged in the battle is not an excuse not to prepare for the battle. Notice that the people being addressed in Luke 12 are people who are already in the battle and have already prepared. As Christians we must be prepared to speak, but we trust the Holy Spirit to help us when we get a response we don’t expect.

F.uel
O.ptimism
C.ommission
U.nction
S.ubmission

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Philippians 2:13-14

Don’t fall for the excuse that you are too small to make a difference. If you think you are too small to make a difference, then you have never been in a tent with a mosquito! When it comes to spiritual warfare, don’t make excuses. An “excuse” is often just the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. Our comfort is not what is important. The will and glory of God are what is important. He works in us to do His will and His good pleasure. Sometimes (to borrow an overused cliche’) we have to “just do it.” We are under attack from the enemy – there is no doubt about it. We need to prepare to start fighting back, stop grumbling and complaining, and joyfully submit to the Lord.

F.uel: From Whom do we draw our strength?
O.ptimism: Why is it important to have confidence in our message?
C.ommission: Is the battle optional for us?
U.nction: Who do we have in the midst of the battle in case we encounter something for which we are unprepared?
S.ubmission: What needs to be our attitude about preparation?

Influence, Intercession, and Inheritance in Marriage

July 10, 2013 at 10:02 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In the last lesson we looked at two of the duties of Christian spouses:

I. Duty to Inhabit
II. Duty to Investigate

Now we will see the:

III. Duty to Influence

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands…

I Peter 3:1

“Be in subjection” means to be voluntarily submissive – to recognize and honor the husband’s God-ordained headship, to be a loving follower and supporter.

“Likewise” refers back to the previous chapter:

For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

I Peter 2:25

It would be foolish for sheep to rebel against their shepherd, just as it is foolish when Christians rebel against Christ. The shepherd is responsible for the care and protection of the sheep.

Husbands also have a duty here:

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel,

I Peter 3:7

A precious vase is not despised for its weakness. Rather, it is treasured and cherished both for its value (wives are practical and important “helpers”) and for its preciousness (your God-chosen wife is a singular rarity). Husbands are supposed to protect their wives, and to realize their worth before God and to themselves. Husbands must also remember that their wives are “vessels:” containers that Jesus purchased with His blood and filled with His Spirit.

IV. Duty to Intercede

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (emphasis added)

There is an obvious duty for husbands to pray for their wives, and for wives to pray for their husbands, but there are at least three possible meanings to that part of the verse. It could be envisioning a scenario where the husband is not fulfilling his duties to inhabit the marriage relationship, or to investigate and influence his wife, so that his own prayers are being hindered. It could also mean that the husband is not honoring his wife and treating her right, and that, therefore, “their” (both of them) prayers for each other and their marriage are hindered. Finally, it might mean that there is bitterness between the spouses because of the husband’s behavior, and therefore it is too uncomfortable for them to pray together. In other words, the prayer time itself is hindered. I think application can be made for all three. The Greek word translated as “hindered” means to cut off or hew down – the way you would hack down a tree that is producing bad fruit and throw it in the burn pile. The word translated “prayers” is pretty generic, but we know that in marriage the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the Church. When Christ prays for the Church He “intercedes.” He goes on our behalf and pleads our cause and presents Himself as not only our Advocate but our Substitute. Therefore, as husbands and wives pray with each other, they should also pray for each other, making intercession before the throne of God as representatives of the relationship which God joined together.

V. Duty to Inherit

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (emphasis added)

God grants a special grace to married people to enjoy life together. It is an “extra inheritance,” and because marriage is a lifelong commitment and union, the grace is for all of life: memories, children, conversations, physical intimacy, shared secrets, trust, appreciation, peace and joy in the household. But we have a duty to accept the inheritance. We must cultivate it, and not waste it in “far countries” like the prodigal son. Spouses are joint heirs – no more “yours, mine, and ours.” In marriage it’s all “ours:” from money to moments to ministry – if you are married these things bring great joy when shared and cause complications when hoarded away from each other.

From What Were You Saved? (A and B)

July 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Posted in Salvation | 9 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Lord, thank You for Your great plan of salvation – offered freely to us even though it cost You so much. When we look in Your Word we see that we are so unclean, and we have no excuse – we are undone. All our reasoning, all our speculation, all our schemes and imaginings apart from Your Word must be crucified. Lord, help us to recognize that You are now, have always been, and will always be worthy of all praise, honor, and glory, and to recognize that You alone can save and sanctify. In the holy name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Have you been “saved?” If your answer is “yes,” and if you understand the term “saved” to be synonymous with “born again” or “regenerated,” then let me ask you this: From what were you saved?

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 (emphasis added)

The “He” in that verse is Jesus. The “our” is you and me.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 (emphasis added)

“The LORD” is God the Father. The “Him” is Jesus. The “us all” is you and me.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:7-10 (emphasis added)

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him” means that it pleased God to bruise Jesus. Does that surprise you? Have you heard it before? Is your understanding of salvation limited to a Gospel tract containing the “ABC”s of salvation: “A.dmit (that you are sinner); B.elieve (that Christ died for you); C.onfess (with your mouth the Lord Jesus)?” To help us have a deeper understanding of what it means to be saved – and from what we need to be saved – I want to present to you a different set of “ABC”s.

Christ’s A.gony

Most people have either seen a film called The Passion of the Christ, or have been in a church service where someone has preached about some of the graphic and violent details of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. You have probably heard about the crown of thorns, and the beatings, and the Roman whips, and the spear piercing His side, and the blood pouring down (not the discreet trickle of blood that is depicted in popular Roman Catholic art, but a veritable blood bath). If so, you may have the idea that this type of physical suffering is what Christ endured in our place, and I certainly do not believe we should try to minimize the importance of the physical suffering of Christ on the Cross. But there was much more to it than that.

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Luke 22:42-44

Before His arrest and subsequent crucifixion, Christ was in agony as He prayed in the Garden of Gesthemane, and it was more than the agony of knowing that He was going to endure a painful physical death. As He sweated out great drops of blood He was thinking about more than Roman whips and punches – about worse than thorns and spears and nails and thirsting and physical torture. As Christ looked forward from the garden to the Cross, He saw the moment when He must say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me..?” We are talking about the perfect Son of God Who had never for a fraction of a moment been out of the loving graces of His Heavenly Father. He was a Son who had never grieved His Father – had done nothing but bless Him for all eternity. When Jesus accepted the Father’s will, and agreed to drink the cup instead of letting it pass from His lips, He suffered agony that went beyond the physical. If you have been “saved,” it is true that the physical “stripes” on the back of the Lord Jesus were endured in your place, but what you have been “saved” from is so much worse than sickness and physical pains and infirmities and ailments.

Christ’s B.ruising

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him…

Isaiah 53:10

We use the word “bruising” to mean a little discoloration of the skin due to a relatively minor injury. But the word being translated as “bruise” in Isaiah 53:10 means “to crush.” It contains the idea of the way grain was placed into a millstone to be ground into bits – crushed and utterly shattered. How could it please the Lord – God the Father – to bruise – to crush – His Son?

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.

Proverbs 17:15

If you are truly “saved,” then God has justified you, meaning that He has declared you to be righteous, even though, as a sinner, you are truly wicked. How is it that God can declare you righteous without being an abomination unto Himself? And how is it that He allowed Christ Jesus – the only truly “just” human being to ever walk the earth – to be unjustly condemned? The answer lies in understanding exactly what transpired on the Cross of Jesus Christ, which we will look at next time.

Next Page »


Entries and comments feeds.