Tags: Biblical swimming, Charles Spurgeon quotes, Ezekiel 47, grace, living water, quotes about swimming, river of life, swimming quotes, water in the Bible
Grace proceeds sovereignly according to the will of God, even as a river in all its windings follows its own sweet will; and wherever it comes it does not wait for life to come to it, but it creates life by its own quickening flow. Oh, that it would pour along our streets and flood our slums! Oh, that it would now come into my house and rise till every chamber were made to swim with it! Lord, let the living water flow to my family and my friends, and let it not pass me by. I hope I have drunk of it already; but I desire to bathe in it, yea, to swim in it. O my Savior, I need life more abundantly. Come to me, I pray Thee, till every part of my nature is vividly energetic and intensely active. Living God, I pray Thee, fill me with Thine own life.
Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Life-Giving Stream,” Faith’s Check Book, Daily Entry on Ezekiel 47:9
Tags: commentary on Matthew, Herod Antipas, Luke 13, Matthew 13, Matthew 14, pearl of great price, Romans 8, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, tested faith
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
This parable is known as the “Pearl of Great Price,” not to be confused with a collection of writings by the heretic Joseph Smith, known by the same name and promulgated by he Mormon cult.
The pearl is a gem of unity. Unlike a diamond or emerald, it loses value if cut or carved. Pearls are the product of suffering. They are formed gradually – alone, in the dark, hidden from the world. Then, one day, they are revealed – in glory. It is important to remember that men, apart from the power of God, don’t seek the Savior, and that we can’t purchase salvation. Jesus sought us, and, in a sense, He “sold everything He had” – He gave His all – He died – to purchase His Church.
Matthew Chapter 14 mentions Herod the Tetrarch, also known as Herod Antipas, the son of “Herod the Great” (who had the male children of Bethlehem killed). Herod the Tetrarch had John the Baptist killed under the manipulation of his wife Herodias. When he heard of Jesus, he feared that He might be John the Baptist resurrected, and he was determined to kill Him once and for all.
Notice Christ’s response when He was warned that Herod had put a hit out on Him.
The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
Jesus used the term “fox” as a feminine reference – a way of letting Herod know that Jesus knew that his wife was calling the shots.
There were multitudes following Jesus. During this time He fed 5000 men, plus women and children, by miraculously multiplying five loaves and two fish. The disciples were learning, and they were right where the Lord wanted them to be, right in the center of His will. So it seems like there should have been “smooth sailing.”
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
Didn’t Jesus know there would be a storm? Why was He praying? Was He praying that there would not be a storm? Why would He do that when He could just command the waves and wind to be peaceful? No, Jesus was praying for the Disciples to prove their faith in the storm.
He is doing the same thing today. He knows we are in the storm. He sees us. He cares. The storm is for our good. He is praying and interceding for us with the Father.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Tags: commentary on Hebrews, Genesis 14, green beans, Hebrews 5, Melchizedek, Psalm 110, spiritual immaturity, spiritual maturity, Sunday School lessons on Hebrews
So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Christ’s priesthood is better than Aaron’s priesthood in numerous ways, including the fact that Christ’s priesthood is forever. It is from a different order of Old Testament priests – the order of Melchizedek.
And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
As a foreshadowing type of Christ, Melchizedek was a priest and a king.
Old Testament priests had to offer sacrifices for themselves before sacrificing for the people, but Christ was the Priest and the Sacrifice. Jesus shared in the suffering, but not in the sin. His shared suffering showed that He would be compassionate.
Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
Even as we touch on the issue of Christ being a Priest after the order of Melchizedek, we must also pause for another admonition – the third one in the Book of Hebrews. Remember, an admonition is not simply a threat: “If you don’t eat your green beans, I’m gonna knock your block off.” No, it’s encouragement, but with a loving warning: “Look, I noticed you have a tendency not to eat your green beans, and I want you to eat them because you won’t be healthy if you don’t eat them, but, if you don’t – because I love you – I’m going to have to discipline you.” The first admonition was: Don’t slip. The second admonition was: Don’t be suspicious. The third admonition is: Don’t be stunted.
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
The problem is not that the message of God is too difficult; it’s that the ears of the hearers are unfocused and have become dulled. There are symptoms of being stunted spiritually. They mirror the symptoms of failing to grow physically.
1. Immature children don’t like to share.
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God…
2. Immature children can only have milk.
… and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
3. Immature children have no discernment. (They’ll put anything in their mouths.)
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Immature children are often too immature to know that they are immature. Here are some ways to know if this admonition is for you:
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then the solution is not to find something more entertaining, but to “grow up.” You play a part in your own growth. Be intentional about “eating” (hearing the Word). Get some “exercise” (get involved in ministry in your local church).
Thank You, Lord, for providing most of us with a safe and comfortable place to meet and study and fellowship together. Cause us to be truly led by the Holy Ghost, and use us in magnifying and lifting up and glorifying our crucified and risen Savior. In His name I pray. Amen.
Tags: Aaron, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 31, Exodus 32, golden calf, Holy Spirit, idolatry, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, syncretism, the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
One of the key differences between the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and the New Testament is that, under the Old Testament, certain people were periodically “anointed” or “filled” with the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit permanently indwells born-again believers from the moment of salvation.
Bezalel, who seems to have been in charge of the construction of the Tabernacle, had certain talents – which are gifts from God – but not necessarily the same as the New Testament “gifts of the Spirit,” such as administration or evangelism or preaching and teaching or mercy or giving. Basically, Bezalel got an “upgrade” to his talents for working with gold and silver and bronze and metals and stone and wood, so that the work of the Tabernacle and its furnishings would be excellent, and would have a supernatural level of beauty, durability, and function.
Exodus Chapter 32 features one of the climactic moments of the Book of Exodus, and possibly even the climax of the narrative that runs through the entire “Hexateuch” (Genesis – Joshua). The events recorded here constitute in a key moment in redemptive history. The Old Covenant (which was then still a very new covenant) had just been given, confirmed, ratified, accepted, and sealed with blood. Moses had gone back up Mount Sinai to get the specifications for the Tabernacle and for Tabernacle worship. We know he was up there for 40 days, but, during that time, the people did not know how long he would be gone, and they were worried. They still lacked faith, despite everything they had experienced, seen, and heard.
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
What if, while Moses was away, they came under attack like they had from the Amalekites? Had Moses abandoned them or died? Had Yahweh left them here? (His presence could not be seen in the pillars of fire and cloud anymore at this point, because He was with Moses on the mountain.) They still had manna and water, but who was going to lead them now?
Exodus 32:1 says that “the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron.” Aaron was supposed to be in charge while Moses was away, and it is possible they did this in order to oppose him or coerce him. It is also possible they simply plead or demanded, but, either way, Aaron still felt the pressure of the crowd. He was older than Moses, but had been with Moses, and was known as a priest, so it was natural that they would seek his leadership or his endorsement upon their desires. Besides, who doesn’t like a “leader” that can be controlled by his people, rather than one who answers only to God?
The people said to Aaron, “Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” What kind of “gods” have to be “made?” And it wasn’t, strictly speaking, “this Moses” who had brought them out of Egypt. It was really Moses’s God Who had done it. Maybe they wanted some help from the Egyptian gods, or maybe just something that they could see and touch to represent Yahweh for them. This was a definite violation of the 2nd Word, and probably the 1st, too.
And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
They asked for a “graving” tool, despite the specific language which warned them and forbade them from making “graven” images! The “calf” was supposedly to be the image of a young bull, which was a cultic god in Egypt, but which also would have been representative of their idea of what a powerful god should be like – a god that could drive out their enemies in the promised land. When the people said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,” this was an instance of either outright lying, self-deceit, or a syncretisitc attempt to remake Yahweh into the images of another religion. What tragic, rebellious, disobedient, shameful, and sinful thinking!
Tags: Christian liberty, Colossians 2, free will, God's decretive will, God's dispositive will, God's preceptive will, God's secret will, Romans 2, Romans 7, will of God
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;
Romans 2:17-18 (emphasis added)
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
There is nothing good in our flesh. Have you come to grips with this in your life? Have you preached this to yourself and to the children entrusted by God into your care? God’s will can sometimes be described as dispositive, as can ours, but, in a stark contrast to His, our disposition, apart from His Spirit controlling us, is toward evil.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Our wills are always subject to God’s decretive will, but they are often in abject rebellion against His preceptive will. Our wills are subject to our desires, but there is hope in Christ, for He can change our desires and thereby make our wills subject to God’s will.
One important thing to remember about God’s hidden will is that it is intentionally hidden. God has His reasons for not revealing His secret will to us, and those reasons are good. Historically, though, this has not sat well with everyone who claims to be a Christian. There were those in the early Church – including ascetics, gnostics, and legalists – who wanted to add their beliefs to Scripture’s teaching about God’s preceptive will, and to insist that their additions were binding, when in fact God had not revealed them to be so.
Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
The “things” referred to were possibly things like refusing to eat and wearing itchy clothes – things that appeared to mortify the flesh in an attempt to exercise “self”-control over the will. These denials of self and comfort were supposed to ““prove” how spiritual the practitioners were by demonstrating their own “will power,” but they were basically worshiping their own will by pretending it was God’s will.
The truth is that there are certain areas where Scripture grants liberty and the application of personal conscience – for example, exact clothing choices, which holy days to observe, and what to eat or drink. In these areas, we ought to acknowledge that, where God has chosen to close His holy mouth, we ought not to be loud with ours.
Tags: atonement, Biblical Violence, Cozbi, ecumenism, God's wrath, Numbers 25, Phinehas, the Gospel, truth, Zimri
In a previous lesson I discussed the blessings that Phinehas somewhat surprisingly received from the Lord for his violent attack on Zimri and Cozbi. When thinking through the reasons for this it is important to remember that Phinehas, unlike so many of his compatriots, had not joined himself unto Baal, and so his thinking was not cloudy or unclear or tainted by self-interest. He was thinking like God, and therefore He had a zeal – even a violent passion – for the holiness of God
Phinehas expressed God’s wrath in an atoning way. He did not kill the offenders because Zimri had personally ticked him off. It wasn’t because he was jealous that Zimri appeared to be getting away with what he wanted to be doing. It wasn’t because Phinehas wanted to show off, or because he was a sadist who just liked a good spearing. What motivated Phinehas was his intense hatred for what Zimri’s actions said about the Lord his God, and he discerned that it was time for something extreme.
As stated in the previous lesson, though, extreme physical violence inflicted upon sinners is not commanded for New Testament Christians. A principle to be taken from Phinehas’s attitude, however, is that there is a time for something as extreme as telling the truth in actions, not just words. Too many Christians today are sleeping with the enemy – if not physically, then intellectually, practically, and even spiritually. This is seen most blatantly in the ecumenism invading Christian churches, homes, and families. An adulterated, watered-down version of the Gospel deserves pointed and harsh truth. A hybrid bastardized version of the Gospel – part Christianity and part pragmatism, right in the midst of the camp, right in the middle of a ministry that calls itself by the name of the Lord Jesus – deserves pointed and harsh truth.
When Phinehas took up his spear, it looked like it was over – like it was too late. Have we lost the battle for the truth in our culture? Is right now wrong, and wrong now right? Is there now just no such things as “right” or “truth?” This is going to sound bad, but, in a way, I hope so. I hope the battle that we’ve been trying to win in our strength is over – that we’ve lost – that it’s too late. God often comes to the rescue when all seems lost. It was too late when Phinehas stood up and executed judgment. It was too late for the Israelites, and it may be too late for us, but when it’s “too late” by our estimate, that is often when God shows up – when He sends someone with the courage and the conviction, with the disregard for popularity, to take a stand and to symbolize atonement.
Phinehas stopped the plague because God really stopped the plague. Jesus didn’t make atonement by impaling us sinners on the point of God’s wrath, although that’s what we clearly deserved. He stopped God’s wrath by offering Himself as the atoning sacrifice. Will you and I weep rightly? Will we stop creeping around with the enemy? Will we stop sleeping with the enemy? Will we get out of bed with the enemy and get on board with God? May He help us.
Tags: Cinco de Mayo devotions, despair, hope, hopelessness, Lamb of God, Lion of Judah, Revelation 5, throne of God, victory, Victory in Jesus
John, in a revelation like no other, had seen wondrous, dramatic, emotional, and frightening things. But he had also seen the partial unfolding of God’s miraculous plan of redemption. Completely fixated upon the idea of seeing the culmination of God’s will in Heaven and on Earth, he saw with great hope a book which would reveal even more of God’s glory to him. But, alas, his hope was turned to despair upon realizing that the book was bound with a seal, and that no one was worthy to open this seal!
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
John’s reaction was to break down weeping.
And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
Only a truly unique and a truly supreme being would capable of breaking this seal and opening this book. He would have to be both Almighty and all-worthy God, while at the same time being perfect, sinless, and guiltless man. It seems to some a paradox beyond resolution. How easy it is for us to fall into sorrowing and hopelessness – to think that this world is spinning out of control and has us overmatched! How easily we weep in our fixation and false belief that the purposes of our God have somehow been frustrated.
One of the elders gave John the hint, but it wasn’t until he looked for himself that saw the divine solution: the One Who was both Lion of Judah and Lamb of God!
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
The purpose and will of God would not be frustrated, for this holy Lamb had been slain, yet He lived. He was truly worthy beyond measure – not only to take the book… not only to open the book… not only to unleash the judgments and fulfilled prophecies contained in the book… not only to induce the rightful worship which God alone deserves… but to sit upon the throne of the Most High! To rule and reign and to fulfill all the promises made from the beginning, to the glory of the Father and to the everlasting joy of all His people! Praise His name forever!
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Tags: commentary on Matthew, King Jesus, Kingdom of God, Matthew 12, Matthew 13, parable of the sower, parable of the wheat and the tares, parables, Sunday School lessons on Matthew
A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
The nation of Israel rejected Jesus during His earthly ministry, but, by making themselves His enemies, they were breaking and burning themselves out without realizing it.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
Jesus did not destroy His enemies, the Pharisees, although He had the power to do it easily. He did however, as their true King, address the evil in their hearts.
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
Words can be evidence of evil in the heart. In this case, Jesus warned of unregenerate evil. There was an ongoing rejection of Him by the people of Israel in Jesus’s time. First they rejected John the Baptist, which was also a rejection of God the Father, since His prophets were His means of revealing truth under the Old Covenant. Second, their rejection of Jesus was a rejection of God the Son. Third, their rejection of the Holy Spirit would be the rejection of the final witness. Today, life-long rejection of Christ (which is the blasphemy of His Spirit) is the only unpardonable sin.
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian
Lift up Your voice and sing
To Jesus Christ the King!
Alfred Ackley, “I Serve a Risen Savior”
Now He began to give some secret information to His closest followers. The words “hear” or “heareth” or “heard” or “hearing” are used 21 or 22 times in Matthew 13, as Jesus taught in parables, giving ordinary examples to help us understand an extraordinary Kingdom.
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
Jesus compared the Word of God to seed that is sown. He compared the human heart to the soil in which it is sown. He compared the heat of persecution to the light that shines down upon the sprouting seed. Sometimes the seed lands in soil that is too shallow. Other times it lands in soil that is too crowded. Other times it does not even land in the soil – it just falls by the wayside. However, sometimes it does land in good soil.
When Satan can’t steal the seed that lands in good soil, he plants imitations of what the seed will become next to the real plants. This changes the symbolism. Now the field is not a picture of the heart. It is a picture of the world. Satan has false professors (tares), a false church (the mustard seed tree), and false doctrine (leaven). He has fake Christians who believe a fake gospel. He promotes a false righteousness. In the Tribulation he will introduce a false christ.