Knowing that He is the LORD

December 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Posted in Exodus | 2 Comments
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When you look through the section of the Book of Exodus that deals with what are commonly called the “Ten Plagues” there are several significant themes:

1. God delivering His people. (Exodus 6:7)
2. God choosing a nation of people for Himself. (Exodus 6:2-8)
3. The story of Moses. (Exodus 6:28-30)
4. Moses vs. the Egyptians. (Exodus 8:25-26)
5. God vs. the false gods of Egypt. (seen in the way that the plagues specifically exposed the false gods of Egypt’s geography, economy, culture, and natural resources)
6. The Israelites vs. the Egyptians. (Exodus 7:16)
7. God vs. the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:31-36)

All these themes are present and relevant, although I stated last time that I believe that the theme of God punishing an unfaithful steward (Pharaoh) was the more prevalent theme in Exodus. God wanted Pharaoh and all of Egypt to know Him as “LORD” (Jehovah).

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Exodus 7:5

Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.

Exodus 7:17

And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.

Exodus 8:22

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.

Exodus 14:4

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Pass It On and Pour It On

December 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Last time we examined two principles that exhort Christian men to work hard:

I. Put It On
II. Pack It On

Now we will think about the exhortation to:

III. Pass It On

If you are a Christian, then God is always teaching you a lesson – but the lessons have two purposes. The first purpose is that whatever you are supposed to learn is going to be for His glory and your sanctification. The second is so that you can pass it on to somebody else.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

II Timothy 2:2

The application of true Biblical doctrine that is passed on to us by our brothers and sisters in Christ is not to be kept to ourselves, pridefully “shown off,” or simply meditated upon. No, it is to be passed on to other faithful believers, who, in turn, will likewise share it again. Specifically, the Bible says we are to pass it on to other men. The Bible uses the word “teach” rather than “share” (which coincidentally sounds a little more “manly”). If you are a Christian man, when God teaches you a lesson, teach it to your son or another young man in your church family. Find a single mom who has a son that is being ignored by his selfish dad, and take the kid fishing and teach him what it means to be a man of God. Real men are not sophisticated monkeys, nor overgrown boys who can shave, nor girls with some different body parts. We are imago Dei – the image of God Himself – and we were not created to take up space, to play with toys, to be attractive to women, or to prove how tough we can be. We were made to serve the living God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Great King – and we had better start acting like it and we had better be passing it on to the next generation, or the next generation will be emasculated and routed by the enemies of God.

IV. Pour It On

One of the worst things you could be called when I was a kid was a quitter. God has not called you to be a quitter.

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

Proverbs 10:4

The Bible condemns “slackers,” and contrasts them with hard workers.

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.

Proverbs 12:24

The non-quitter is going to have authority. He’s going to lead. The quitter is going to have to pay an unpleasant price, and he will not be the one making the important decisions.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 22:29

The non-quitter is going to have a good, respectable employer. The quitter is going to wind up working for a petty jerk.

If you are a man, pour it on: Work hard and don’t quit.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

Work hard at your secular job, then work hard for Jesus; don’t be a secular quitter, and don’t be a spiritual quitter. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Did Jesus ever give up? Of course not!

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:2-5

If you are a man, here is what you are called to do: Be like Jesus and bear your burdens, yes, but do not be a “Stoic.” Stay involved with difficult people. Christian men bear their own burdens and they bear other people’s burdens. Your wife doesn’t respect you like she should? Tough – you’re a man – pick up that burden and carry it. Be respectable whether you earn her respect or not. Trouble with your finances? Pick it up and carry that burden, working hard and trusting God! Health problems (physical or mental)? Pick it up! No help with the kids? Pick it up! Difficulties with your nieces, nephews, single moms you know, neighborhood kids? Pick up those burdens and carry them the way Jesus did! You are a man. That’s what Christian men do – they carry other people’s burdens, and they do it in love, fulfilling the law of Christ.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

II Corinthians 5:9 (emphasis added)

Trying to win Christ’s approval (while still knowing the security of our justification and sonship) will often require us to forsake the approval of the world. We are not to care what they think if we are pleasing Him. Let them jeer, taunt, boo, scoff – we are seeking to please our Master! When we are light in this world, burning with candles lit from Christ’s torch, the darkness will push back. We might lose friends, the love of family members, or jobs. We might get passed over for promotions, and the cool people won’t invite us to their tailgate parties or Christmas parties. But we worship Someone who let Himself be tortured, abused, and ridiculed by vile sinners! He took it all for us; the least we can do is take a little for Him!

Put It On and Pack It On

December 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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When you think of the Apostles who comes to mind? Paul? Peter? James? John? Which one of these was the “greatest” Apostle?

For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

I Corinthians 15:9

We sometimes think of Paul as the greatest of the Apostles, but he thought of himself as the least. He didn’t even think he deserved the name “Apostle.” Before Jesus saved him, he had been a relentless bounty hunter of Christians.

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

I Corinthians 15:10

God intervened in his life, and this intervention was what made the difference. Paul, on his own, would never have turned to Christ. He attributed his changed life solely to the grace of God, even though he sounds a little like Popeye the Sailor when we read, “I am what I am.” He recognized that he owed everything to God, and that he was no more and no less than what God had made him. God’s grace motivated Paul to outwork all the other Apostles, but God got all the credit and glory for it.

Becoming a Christian is not a pass to get out of hard work. Christian men, especially, ought to be the hardest workers in the world. God created men to work, and work is not sinful. It was sin that brought a curse upon work.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Genesis 3:17-19

Sin took the joy out of hard work, but in the Gospel we find redemption, and we remember that God made us to work hard, so we can work hard and find joy and fulfillment in it once again because we are in Christ – we have been made right with God.

I want to look at a few principles that remind us – as Christian men – how we are supposed to think about work:

I. Put It On

When a man goes into battle, what should he wear? Armor.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Ephesians 6:10

Don’t be a spiritual wimp. Get in the battle.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11

The armor of spiritual warfare is God’s armor – that He’s provided for us. Our enemy is not an army of Godless sinners. He is not the person who has wronged you, and he is certainly not the person you were close to when he let you down. No, this is a spiritual war, and our spiritual enemy is Satan.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:12-13 (emphasis added)

“Take unto you” the armor. Put it on. Get in the battle and give it everything you’ve got.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:14-17

The belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness and the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace and the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation are all defensive weapons. We need to think about the Gospel and our salvation every day. But the sword of the spirit is an offensive weapon. Here is where we get our “payback” against the devil for attacking us, but we had better be reading the Bible and doing what it says more than once or twice a week. We had better be practicing with our swords and not going around without them.

II. Pack It On

As men, we can never have too much spiritual ammunition, and we must not whine and say it’s too heavy or too hard to carry.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

II Timothy 2:15

As a Christian man I am called to be a workman that will not get outworked. I am called to force some Bible knowledge into my head – to “pack it on.”

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesians 5:18

I must not be lazy, packing on a bunch of indulgent, childish junk. I must not be “packing it on” with with video games and gadgets and a bunch of time-sucking hobbies. I need to be emptying the garbage out of my life so that I can pack on the Holy Spirit – so that I can be filled with Him. I can’t be filled with garbage or vanity and the Spirit at the same time. A real man isn’t afraid to say no childishness, nor to say yes to the Lord.

Next time we will learn to “pass it on” and “pour it on.”

Beware the Freaky Foyer

December 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
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The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence on earth among His people. They placed the Ark in their temple before a statue of their false god, Dagon. However:

…when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.

I Samuel 5:3

The next day, not only was the statue of Dagon lying prostrate before the Ark, but nearby were its chopped-off hands and head! You might think that these incidents would have given them pause to consider that Yahweh was real and that Dagon was just an idol. Or at least that Yahweh was way more powerful than this pathetic “merman” statue they had been worshiping.

https://i0.wp.com/www.hcs.harvard.edu/~ichthus/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/dagon2.jpg

But, no, superstition can be a powerful thing.

Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.

I Samuel 5:5

Instead of acknowledging the one true God, it appears that the Philistines attributed special power to the entryway area of Dagon’s temple. Before we laugh at their foolishness, however, are we enlightened Christians that much better? Do you shiver at the sight of a black cat? Do you call in sick on Friday the 13th? Will you be eating black-eyed peas and cabbage this New Year’s Day in the hopes of obtaining some good luck and extra cash? If you are a Roman Catholic, do you have a special statue of the Virgin Mary that you venerate, or perhaps an anointed relic, some rosary beads, or a figure of St. Joseph buried upside down in your yard? From the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to the American flag that we stand and salute, Christians need to take care and remember that we are not saved by an object or a place. We are saved by Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

The Connection between Giving and Trusting

December 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Posted in Nehemiah | 1 Comment
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It is important for Christians to support the work of the Lord with financial offerings.

For the shewbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.

Nehemiah 10:33

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21). Giving your best to God shows trust, but it also keeps your focus on God.

In Nehemiah Chapters 11 and 12 the people, having dedicated themselves to the Lord, dedicated the walls and the gates and the city to the Lord. Chapter 13 shows that when the promises made to God – and our part of the covenant – are broken, it’s a serious matter, but not a reason to throw up our hands and quit. Standing with God is a fight, and problems must be dealt with: sometimes with separation, but always with love.

When God Makes Fun of Your Name

December 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Posted in Micah | 3 Comments
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The Old Testament prophet Micah’s name meant “Who is like God?” He was a contemporary of Isaiah, but he prophesied to the rural people in Judah, whereas Isaiah prophesied mainly to the courts in both Jerusalem and Samaria. Micah was from Moresheth, about 25 miles from Jerusalem. He warned of God’s judgment coming upon Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom).

For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, [and] as the waters that are poured down a steep place.

Micah 1:3-4

The people of Judah saw what the Assyrians had done to Israel, and it should have caused them to repent. The northern kingdom became openly idolatrous and competed with Judah’s “true” worship. The Assyrians and other gentile peoples brought in by the Assyrians intermingled with the Israelites and became the despised, half-breed Samaritans. Spiritual adultery – in the form of “watered-down” worship – is contagious, and the sickness of Israel began to infect Judah.

For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?

Micah 1:5

You can call it worship, but if it’s idolatry, it’s idolatry. You can call it spiritual, but if it’s flesh, it’s flesh. Micah prophesied about the cities in Judah and God mocked their names. God has a way of taking what is nearest and dearest to you, and, if you disregard Him, taking it away, or turning it into a curse.

Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust.

Micah 1:10

“Gath” meant “declare it” and “Aphrah” meant “house of dust.”

Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing.

Micah 1:11

“Saphir” meant “beautiful,” “Zaanan” meant “come out,” and “Bethezel” meant “taking away.”

For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.

Micah 1:12

“Maroth” meant bitterness.

O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee. Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moreshethgath: the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel. Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel. Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.

Micah 1:13-16

“Lachish” meant “team of fast horses,” “Achzib” meant “deception,” and “Mareshah” meant “conqueror.”

These were God’s covenant people, but being in a covenant does not excuse sin. The first sin addressed in Micah Chapter 2 is covetousness.

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time is evil.

Micah 2:1-3

The second sin addressed is false prophecy.

Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?

Micah 2:6-7

Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.

Micah 2:10-11

Prophets who are truly from God are seldom popular. One of the marks of a false prophet is that, in telling people they are good, he is loved by the people. Note how the sins of covetousness and false prophecy often go hand in hand.

Free Pastor Saeed Abedini

December 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Pastor Saeed Abedini is a Christian pastor and American citizen who has been imprisoned in a brutal prison in Iran after being arrested and imprisoned in the summer of 2012, and unjustly accused and convicted in January, 2013. He has been sentenced to serve eight years in prison, and is suffering greatly while being denied much-needed medical care and treatment. He is a father and husband, and has been abandoned by the U.S. government. If you are reading this and you are a Christian, may I encourage you to pray fervently and diligently for the persevering of Pastor Saeed’s faith in Jesus, his health and safety, and for comfort for his wife, children, parents, and loved ones? Please pray, too, that Christ would be glorified and that souls would be saved. Let me also encourage you to contact your Representatives, Senators, and other elected government officials, and to try to persuade them to secure Pastor Saeed’s release.

#SaveSaeed
#FreeSaeed

http://beheardproject.com/saeed

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:34-40

Ezra, Ezra, Read All about Him

December 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Ezra | 1 Comment
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Ezra Chapter 10 is an example of sin being dealt with clearly, quickly, and decisively.

Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.

Ezra 10:4

During a time of exile, God’s people had become unclean. They needed to feel the remorse that comes with true repentance, and they needed to take action, which is the evidence of true repentance.

Below are links to the previous lessons on the Book of Ezra:

1. Returning from Exile
2. Different Levels of Separation
3. Leading by Example
4. Beware Fractious Frustraters
5. Getting a Hand, Giving a Hand, and Handing It On
6. Returning to Holiness
7. Post-Exilic Confession


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