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Adventures in Faith

RIGHTEOUS, BLESSED, AND WASHED

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Solomon stated, “Righteousness exaulteth a nation.” (Prov.14:34). If the nation I am a citizen in does righteous things, does that guarantee my salvation? No. When citizens of a nation do what is morally right, the individuals and nation as a whole enjoy the results. However, salvation is granted by God to individuals, not nations. Salvation takes place in the mind of God. Therefore, man cannot create his own way to be saved. A prophet stated, “The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life (John 14:6). God gave us the way through His Son. Jesus died in our place for the sins you and I committed. When we place our trust in and follow Him, he takes away all our sins.

In Romans 4:7,8 we read, “Blessed and to be envied, are those whose sins are forgiven and put out of sight. Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.” When a Christian stands before Jesus in the judgment, guess how many sins he will have to answer for? None. That’s right. None. Why? Because all his sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten. That person will stand before God as though he had never sinned. He will be perfect because he is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why we must put our trust in Jesus rather than in our accomplishments. Not our works, but his blood puts us in right standing with God.

We often ask in song, “What can wash away my sins?” The answer is also given, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” That song is correct. We sing God’s truth which is called gospel or “Good News.” How can I bath myself in the blood of Jesus? He died 2,000 years ago. By faith I can die to sin and be buried with Christ into his death. Inspiration tells me that I get into this burial by immersion. What a beautiful picture Paul paints in Romans 6 of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. I can be blessed by what he did by being involved in his sacrifice through that immersion. As a sinner, I must die to the body of sin. I bury that body through a burial with Jesus in water and I am raised from that watery grave as a new or saved person because I became a partner with Jesus in his death. Free at last from the old creature and now revealed as the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:3-4).

Regardless of which path my country takes, I can be right with God. When I am right with God, He removes all my sins. All of them. My trust is in Jesus whose blood keeps me in good standing with the Father. God has provided the way, the truth, and the life for us if we will accept it. God saves. Since He does, we can be saved by following his guide lines rather than ours.

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I FEAR!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

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A COMPLETE BIBLE; A BLESSING!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

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WHAT’S YOUR ASSURANCE?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

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Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

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A MASTER MEMORY WITHOUT CONTEXT!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Gus Nichols told about a game he and other preachers of his generation engaged in.  He would begin quoting a passage, from either the Old or New Testament, and the other preacher would finish it.  Then the other preacher would do the same and Gus would finish it.  This continued until one of them made a mistake in his quote.  That’s very impressive.  However, even more impressive is that I know of a preacher who can quote from any version you can name and never miss!

That preacher?  If you are a student of the Bible, you will know him immediately when I tell you that he even quoted scripture to Jesus (Matthew 4:6).  It is easy for him.  However, context is not his forte.  That doesn’t matter to him.  He has mastered using scripture with deception to trouble the hearts of Bible students!

Several years ago a godly man had cancer.  He did not have long to live.  He told me that his imperfections troubled him and he would soon stand before Jesus in all his failures.  Satan had been quoting scripture out of context, causing him to look at his faults rather than to Jesus who had already paid for every one of them (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Revelation 1:5)!

Some folks have been mesmerized by Satan’s quoting than influenced by Jesus’ gift.  Who are these people?

  • They are the saints who have been convinced that their sins are bigger than Jesus’ blood is capable of cleansing.
  • They are the saints who believe God left them the second covenant and it is their responsibility to keep it without violation.  One slip and Satan will own them again!
  • They are the saints who believe they must live perfect lives so when they stand before Jesus with one more good work than the bad ones, their accomplishments are responsible for their salvation.
  • They are the saints who are depending upon their righteousness to save them rather than trusting in the righteousness of God.
  • They are the saints who are void of assurance and their hope is in their efforts being good enough that God will feel obligated to reward them for their efforts.
  • They are the saints who have more assurance in their efforts than they do in the blood of Jesus to keep them right in God’s sight.
  • They are the saints who read Romans 8:1 or 2 Corinthians 5:21 and ignore what God has done through Jesus but interpret those passages to mean everything depends upon their efforts and their righteousness.
  • They are the saints who hope they are going to heaven but are not sure.
  • They are the saints who can quote fifty passage to prove their lack of assurance is gospel and your assurance in Christ isn’t.
  • They are the saints who believe they are saved, more by their perfection rather than the blood of Jesus.

Yes, Satan can quote every passage in any version you have and deceive you with it!

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8 KJV).

Put your trust in Jesus, not yourself.  “Because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4 NKJV).

A FIB IS A FIB IS A LIE?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, May 20, 2019

Children will usually hear statements made by older folks which are remembered when they reach that age.  One from my childhood is, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”  I think that was a softer way of saying, “You’re a liar and going straight to hell.”

The apostle John stated, “All liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimestone” (Revelation 21:8 KJV).  Paul told the Ephesias, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25 NKJV).   We know what scripture says, but sometimes we find ourselves in “a gray area” which we paint white because we’re in it!

When truth seems too harsh for the ears of others, we justify the telling of “a little white lie.”  Some religions encourage lying if it will hide the more sinister aspects of their faith.   We usually think that is true of those religions which engage in terrorism.  Perhaps that thought is predominant in order to justify a lie we tell because we think no one will be hurt by it?  Are there circumstances where a lie is needed rather than the “truth”?

If a murderer asked if there is anyone else in the house, should the one being questioned be truthful by answering, “Yes, my four-year-old daughter is hiding in the closet and my twelve-year-old is under the bed”?  Who would condemn that parent’s “No,” under those conditions?  An abused spouse may lie to the abuser to avoid further abuse.  Life and circumstances may produce conditions where silence is better than the spoken truth.  Some would disagree and give their children up to the murderer or endure further beatings and broken bones by revealing all.  Each must decide the proper course for himself under his circumstances.  Paul stated, “Blessed are they whose sin the Lord will never count against him” (Romans 4:8).   Is it wrong to want to protect your children?  Paul later stated, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20).  Doesn’t God know our heart and understand the reasons for our actions?  Further on Paul wrote, “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).  When he wrote to the Corinthians, he said, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  James stated, “Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).  Is it “good” or “bad” to want to protect your loved ones?

How many Christians treat the sins of others as worthy of punishment, but ignore their own?  Aren’t we lying to ourselves?  How many base their judgments of another on information that is “think-so” rather than “know-so”?  Aren’t we building a foundation to construct our conclusions that are based upon unreliable sources?  Isn’t that lying?  In what ways do we continue to lie about our feelings of being more faithful than others?  Are our sins not as bad as theirs?  Didn’t Paul warn, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12)?  He also admonished, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).  None are above temptation.  It’s easier to tell others about someone’s sin rather than confront the sinner himself.  Paul even stated, “I do what I don’t want to-what I hate” (Romans 7:15).  Did you know that the worse lies are those which we tell to ourselves?  Shouldn’t we rebuke ourselves?

The next time you and I are quick to point a finger and shout, “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” look, you have four pointing in your direction?  Perhaps there is a reason!

THE DIRTY SAVIOR!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Funerals present opportunities to pick and choose statements about the deceased which illuminate the good side of the departed.  In reality, all of us possess the dark side.  Paul wrote, “There is none righteous, no, not one” and “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23).  If you wish to argue, John’s rebuttal to your folly is, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).   You will notice that both Paul and John included themselves in those statements.

There is only one person, from the Garden of Eden to all future tomorrows, that had and has no sin.  His name is Jesus (1 Peter 2:22).  He was willing to leave a realm beyond our understanding to enter one that offered little more than a garbage dump.  He came to give hope where emptiness was preached as a substitute.  He entered a realm where righteousness was sold as an earned commodity.  He came, offering a better tomorrow, but his gift was rejected as fool’s gold.  He offered eternal nourishment to crowds that could see no further than sitting at the next dinner table (John 6:66-67).  One day the multitude honored him with, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” and more loudly the next with, “Crucify him, crucify him” (Matthew 21:9; Luke 23:21).  Jesus’ definition of “Savior” was not their standard.  Their qualifications for a Messiah were different from his.

For Jerusalem’s elite, Jesus was never good enough.  His goals were never right.  His teachings were wasted words.  His religious thoughts, blasphemy.  His rhetoric originated from hell.   His miraculous deeds were attributed to Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15)!  He was without culture.  His illustrations were offensive.  His positions were embarrassing, even to his disciples (Matthew 13:57; 15:12).  His family wanted to get him off the public platform (Mark 3:21 NKJV, NIV).  The priests and their friends misrepresented Jesus and attempted to turn anything he said into a lie.

Jesus’ attitude toward certain women in society was shocking and caused his qualifications as a prophet to be questioned (Luke 7:36-39).  His teaching was offensive to society’s ministerial alliance.  With such a reputation, how could his miracles come from Yahweh?   No self-respecting, God fearing individual could accept Jesus as nothing more than a blasphemer.  Why?  Look at his public record:

  • He touched the untouchable (Matthew 8:1-4).
  • He spoke to a woman who had been married five times and was now sleeping with the sixth man who she was not married to (John 4:17-18).
  • He defended the breaking of religious tradition (Mark 2:23-28).
  • He knew the Law’s punishment but refused to condemn a woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11).
  • He ignored the gossip that could arise because widowed, married, and single women following him and the apostles on their traveling itinerary (Matthew 27:55; Mark 15:41; Luke 8:1-3; 23:49).
  • He associated with the scum of society, even eating with them (Matthew 9:9-11).
  • He took a slave’s job and washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:4-5).
  • Pilate attempted to free Jesus, but he refused that assistance and chose the reward of a law breaker.  He hung completely stripped on a Roman cross, subjected to public viewing by his accusers, friends, family, and the curious.

Jesus got his hands dirty and put his reputation on the line.  He commanded, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).  Do we?

IS JESUS YOUR FAILURE?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday 13, 2019

  • Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
  • He came to give us the abundant life (John 10:10).
  • He came to make us his bride and be our husband (Romans 7:4).
  • He came that we could die to the deadly lower nature or flesh and live a life of rejoicing (Romans 7:24-8:1).
  • He came that we could become citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20 NKJV).
  • He came that we could have God dwelling in us (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
  • He came that we could receive every spiritual blessing in heaven (Ephesians 1:3).
  • He came that we could be raised up to sit with him in heaven (Ephesians 2:6).
  • He came that we could be called by a new name (Acts 11:26).
  • He came that we could enjoy a life without condemnation (Romans 8:1).
  • He came so we could be a new creation because the old is no more and we have been made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  • He came to take all our sins upon him and in return we would receive the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

He did this by dying for our sins, by being our sin sacrifice by, shedding his innocent blood.  He was resurrected and returned to heaven so we could have our citizenship there.

But for some, it wasn’t enough.  For them:

  • His blood was insufficient to overcome their deadly lower nature or flesh.
  • For them his covenant was not strong enough to hold their marriage with him together.
  • For them the abundant life he offered they considered temporary.
  • For them their citizenship was a come and go experience.
  • For them every spiritual blessing didn’t last long enough to be enjoyed.
  • For them they no sooner sat down with him than their chair was pulled out from under them.
  • For them the new name was usually lost before it could be uttered.
  • For them the periods of “no condemnation” left them wondering if they had really experienced it.
  • For them the quicker they became “new,” the faster they fell back into the “old.”
  • For them Jesus may have taken away their sins when they were immersed into his death, but they seemed to gain them back before they could exit the baptistry.
  • For them the gift of righteousness didn’t last long enough to experience any joy it may have brought.
  • For them Jesus’ blood is good as long as they were perfect, but when they lose it, his blood had no redeeming qualities.  Their salvation depended totally on their actions.  For them Jesus’ blood covers them only when they do right by being perfectly sinless.
  • For them they seem to visit the devil as much as they do Jesus.  It is a see-saw existence void of any hope, joy, or assurance.
  • For them it often feels as if Jesus’ efforts on the cross did not do much to help them.

Was that why Jesus suffered, died, and rose again?  Did he leave us a 27-letter book and expect us to following it without any infractions in order to enjoy its promises?  Was Jesus blood a self-starter, but we are responsible for keeping the motor running after that?  If so, then Jesus did fail.  But that is not why he came nor the life he expects from us.

  • You cannot save yourself.
  • You are not your savior.
  • You are not God.
  • You are neither the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit.
  • Your obedience (or faithfulness), is not perfect.  It never will be.

If you believe you can save yourself by perfect obedience (faithfulness), you believe the devil’s lie.  Enjoy his fruit because its only temporary!

  • Salvation comes from God alone.  He is the one who adds people to be saved, not us.
  • Salvation comes from man accepting what Jesus did to take away our sins.
  • Salvation comes from man understanding that it is God’s righteousness given to us.

Fact: Since Jesus took our sins, we are:

  • Saved.
  • Redeemed.
  • Sanctified.
  • Kept cleansed.
  • Washed.
  • Made without sin.
  • Kept in the marriage to Jesus.
  • Overcome the deadly lower nature or flesh.
  • Made righteous.
  • Dead to sin and its reward.
  • Alive to God.
  • Have hope, joy, and assurance of our salvation!
  • Are no longer under condemnation.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

UNDESERVED INFORMATION?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, May 9, 2019

John had childhood friends and relatives in high political and religious positions in Jerusalem.  This allowed him to go where the other apostles would not be welcomed.  John took advantage of that open door.  He invited Peter to go with him to the dwelling where Jesus was being questioned.

It had been a long day coming into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover meal.  Jesus used his reputation to get a house opened to them to observe that 1,600-year-old Jewish festival.  Some had purchased the lamb and other essential items to eat that were prescribed by scripture.  The other items came through tradition, but they had to be bought and brought.  The meal had to be prepared in the kosher way.   This wasn’t the first time they had observed this day or prepared this special meal.

The apostles and Jesus enjoyed eating the meal and as usual, differences on common subjects cropped up with adequate Jewish debate.  Jesus stopped some with an appropriate illustration.  Apparently, someone had not been assigned to wash the feet of those in attendance.  The excuse, no doubt, was, “That’s not my job.”  So, Jesus fastened a towel around his waist, took a basin of water, and began performing a duty usually reserved for the household slave.  Peter put up an argument about Jesus’ actions but lost the disagreement and submitted to the cleansing.

In that meal, four cups of wine were poured and consumed at different times.  The wine had been added during the Babylonian captivity.  Jesus detoured from the common dialogue when he picked up the third cup.  Then he broke off a piece of bread and passed the loaf around the table.  Again, the speech given was not the Passover dialogue usually heard.  He spoke of his body and doing this in remembrance of him.  When that was finish, wine was poured for the fourth time in each person’s cup.  Jesus again detoured from the Passover and spoke about his blood being shed for the remission of sins.

During this period Jesus announced his coming death and the apostolic traitor.  Each questioned whether he was the guilty one.  Judas asked if it was him and Jesus answered “yes.”  Answering the other question, he said the one he would give the bread to that he dipped in the bowl would be the guilty one.  They asked.  They received.  But they did not understand.  Judas left the house to make his historical mark and the others thought he was going to buy additional food or ironically, to help the poor.

When they left to go to the garden, they may have sung the Dayenu.  A song which praised God for all that He had done for them.  In the garden, Jesus prayed while they slept.  Finally, the mob arrived, and the kiss of betrayal was performed. One sword was produced, an ear was lost and recovered, and Jesus was arrested and taken away.

John had no problems getting himself and Peter into the courtyard where the building was where Jesus had been taken.  Peter was questioned about being a disciple of the accused.  Nothing is said about John receiving such an interrogation. An effort was made to expose Peter’s association.  None seem to put John on the spot.  Peter denied and Jesus looked at him (Luke 22:61; John 20:61).  Peter left, weeping bitterly.  Nothing is said about John’s actions.

Perhaps some view Peter’s action more negatively than John’s.  Remember, Peter did attempt to defend Jesus.  John?  Nothing stated.  All of the apostles forsook Jesus, including John (Mark 14:50)!  We know John could outrun Peter (John 20:4).  He may have left Peter in his dust as they fled the garden!?

Were they ignorant of those events?  No.  Jesus plainly told them what was going to happen.  He spoke of his resurrection.  Yet, after Jesus’ death, they went to the grave expecting to find his decaying body.  When the tomb was empty not one apostle ran through the streets of Jerusalem shouting, “He has arisen.”  Not one.  We cannot leave out Jesus’ mother nor the female disciples.  They ask “Where,” “Why,” and “They have taken him away.”  The word “resurrected” never parted their lips.  As our preacher stated in his sermon recently, “Nobody was expecting no body in the tomb.”

There isn’t much hope attached to a dead Savior.  A Roman cross holding an expired Messiah does not produce faith.  If Jesus could not establish his kingdom as promised, then Satan is mightier than the Son of God.  Skepticism ruled victorious in their heart.  Yet in spite of that fear, disappointment, despair, doubt, and shattered hope, it was based more on their failure than it was on Jesus being one!

What kind of Savior is Jesus to you?

 

DO YOU REMEMBER?

My Thoughts. . .
 
 
Monday, May 6, 2019
 
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
 
1. Do you remember when classes at school began with the pledge of allegiance and mention of God was not taboo?
2. Do you remember when schools had Thanksgiving and Christmas plays and gave adoration to God?
3. Do you remember when an unruly student was spanked by the principal or teacher and when he arrived at home, he received another one from his parents?
4. Do you remember when students could mention their gratitude to God in their Salutatorian or Valedictorian addresses?
5. Do you remember prayer being offered before a high school football game?
6. Do you remember when schools did not need metal detectors nor armed security?
7. Do you remember when children could point their finger at another one and playfully say “bang” without the faculty having a nervous breakdown, the parents being called, or the student being put on probation?
8. Do you remember when students could drive to school in their pickups with a rifle in the gun rack and students nor faculty feared for their life?
9. Do you remember when schools were a place where teachers were respected, students were taught, and school spirit was the norm?
10. Do you remember when you could leave your car unlocked or not have to carry pepper spray to ward off possible muggers?
11. Do you remember when you could leave your house doors unlocked and your windows up at night?
12. Do you remember when you could leave something in the front yard, or back, and it would still be there the next morning?
13. Do you remember when Presidents prayed, recognized God’s blessings, and exhorted the country to look to God?
14. Do you remember when government meetings began with a prayer?
15. Do you remember when TV carried shows that your children could watch at any hour?
16. Do you remember when both political parties included “God” in their basic declaration or Political objectives?
17. Do you remember when lying was disgraceful and frowned upon?
18. Do you remember when major businesses closed on Sundays as Chic-fil-A still does?
19. Do you remember a decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963, brought by a woman in behalf of her son, that put us on the path we find ourselves traveling today?
20. Do you remember what happened ten years later when the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion lawful up to the third trimester?
21. Were you shocked or happy that one of our political parties now wants abortion made legal after an unwanted baby is born?
 
22. In the 19th century, blasphemy was a crime. Now it is one’s constitutional right.
23. In the Roaring ’20s the “vices” of booze and gambling were outlawed. Now they are major sources of state revenue.
24. Divorce was a rarity. Now half of all marriages are dissolved.
25. After the sexual revolution of the ’60s, births out of wedlock rocketed.
26. Pornography, which used to bring a prison term, dominates cable TV today.
27. Marijuana, once a social scourge, is the hot new product.
28. In the lifetime of many Americans, homosexuality and abortion were still scandalous crimes. They are now cherished “constitutional rights.”
 
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
 
Do we know the difference between sin and righteousness? Maybe not. Was it not Pilate who asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38).

APPLICATION?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, May 2, 2019

A few years back I began writing to one of our former members who is an inmate in a prison in Nashville.  If folks read those letters several hundred years from now, would they think we were writing to them?

When I began studying the Bible, I learned that one needs to ask several questions.  First, who is writing this book or epistle?  Who is he writing to?  What is he saying to the person or audience that he is writing?  What lesson can I learn from this exchange?  Is there an application that is universal that I need to see, understand, and apply to myself?  What are some things being stated that do not or cannot apply to me?   Are there principles being stated in the writer’s culture that apply to me without involving me in his culture?  These are questions that could be asked when one picks up another’s correspondence to someone other than himself.

Example of commands found in the New Testament.  Which ones may apply to us?

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13).  Can we take Paul’s cloak, scrolls, and parchments to him?

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!” (Philippians 3:1).  Is it possible for us to rejoice in the Lord today?

Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” (Acts 8:24).  Is it possible for us to pray for Simon who lived about 2,000 years ago?

My correspondence to that prisoner did not contain a preface instructing him nor other readers to ask those questions.  I don’t have to inform him since the letter is to him personally.  The Bible does not include that specific information either.  Neither did the writer have to include such a preface because those who received that material knew it was to them.  It applied to them.  Yes, some or all of those letters were shared with other believers in that time period.  However, everything in a letter to Sardis might not apply to Philadelphia (Revelation 3:1-5 & 7-13).  So, why does the reader of Scripture need to ask those questions?  The difference is that we recognize the Old and New Testaments as covenants between God and mankind.  What is Yahweh saying to people living under each one of those covenants?  What applications are inherent in those instructions for us today?  If I want to be included in the company of those being blessed or corrected by God, shouldn’t I follow the Lord’s instruction if I have the same problem or need?  Shouldn’t the interested reader desire an answer to those questions?  Are their problems attached to such questions?  Yes, but Yahweh warns the reader through the messenger to be careful as he reads (Matthew 24:4; Mark 8:15; 1 Timothy 4:16; Hebrews 3:12, etc.).  It is possible for the one studying the Bible to not be approved (2 Timothy 2:15).

The eunuch was studying from the prophet Isaiah but wasn’t clear on who was being addressed.  Philip pointed out that it was Jesus (Acts 8:35).  Today, a lot of baggage burdens the average believer.  That baggage contains tradition, culture, misunderstandings, family beliefs, peer pressure, religious politics, and other failures of the flesh.  The questions Paul asked the four Corinthian groups should be asked today.  “Is Christ denominated?  Was our division crucified for us?  Or were we immersed in the name of our division?” (1 Corinthians 1:13).  Satan is a persistent teacher!  He is also a successful personal worker!  He makes himself at home in the best assemblies.  Corinth wasn’t his last “church” visit!

Those in the church in Corinth were involved in numerous doctrinal errors.  Yet, all of them were in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).  That means they had been added to the saved (Acts 2:41, 47).  They were the “temple of God” being corrected (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19).  Though in error, they still belong to God for He had purchased them with the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:20; Acts 20:28).  Was Paul writing to 21st century individuals?  No.  Are there principles penned by Paul that we as individuals and assemblies need to apply to ourselves today?  Yes.

Study to show thyself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

PARTNER WITH ME!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, April 29, 2019

And you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).  Who made that statement?  He is referred to as the “prince, ruler,” or “god of this world” (John 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4).  He succeeded with Adam and Eve.  They wanted to be partner gods with Satan (Genesis 3:1-5).  He gave it his best shot to deceive and win Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11).  He failed in that attempt and all follow ups (Luke 4:13).  We join Adam and Eve’s indiscretion.  Paul told Christians at Rome, “There is none righteous, no, not one” and “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23).  That’s our story!

God gave Moses and Israel the Law.  It made the tribes aware of what sin was (Romans 7:10, 13, 15-19 NIV).  1,600 years were spent with every Hebrew individual attempting to live it perfectly.  Satan fortified his position keeping tabs on their sins.  Trillions of animals were slaughtered, and blood freely flowed to pay for those shortcomings.  Despite the numbers, the Hebrew writer announced, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin” (Hebrews 10:4).  The animal may have been innocent, but not those making the sacrifices.  God’s lesson pointed out that their imperfections were proof that they failed in saving themselves.  So, God sent Jesus, His Messiah or Anointed One.  Israel rejected him.  Law reigned and the flesh was Satan’s partner.  Man failed in his efforts to keep that Law.  Justification does not come from man, but from God.  Self-justification has been doomed to failure since Genesis 3:5.

Although God added to the saved some “of the circumcision” or “Pharisee” Party, he told them that one is justified “by the faith of Jesus” (Galatians 2:16).    Jesus’ faith was perfect.  Ours?  Unless you are duped by Satan, you know the answer.  Some follow in the footprints of Adam and Eve, attempting to share the same “god” crown.  They see themselves as partners in saving themselves.  Their works are payment which will motivate God’s gratitude.

God makes us holy.  We aren’t holy because of our standard, but because we accept His.  That standard is that Jesus paid it all upon the cross.  Some believe the New Testament is just a glorified law mimicking the Old Testament.  We will be rewarded with salvation if our obedience is close to perfection and God’s grace is sufficient to make up the difference.  It is believed that salvation in Christ is not a present reality, only an insecure hope based upon the quality of our perfection when we stand before Jesus.

Satan wants us to put our trust in our ability to be close enough to perfection that God will reward us with His grace.  The devil encourages faith in Jesus as our co-partner rather than as our total source of salvation.  He convinces us that Jesus’ blood is not sufficient to erase our sins as children of God.  That position has us, with each infraction, being returned to Satan’s darkness until we repent in prayer.  Those who are consumed with that theory never know how much they lack, nor the amount of grace they need to be saved?  Isn’t that doubtful assurance?  Where is their trust in the redeeming blood of Jesus?  They don’t know if they are saved or lost.  In that belief, one has more confidence in being lost than in being saved.

In a recent article in a publication, one writer stated, that “confessing and asking God’s forgiveness” is part of walking in the light but “God does not wait until they do to forgive.”  God knows a person’s heart.  He doesn’t kick the person out of the body of Christ when that person sins.  He continues to keep him cleansed because God’s grace and Jesus’ blood are greater than our shortcomings.

Is there scriptural evidence about how patient God is with His children?  Yes.  Look at the sins engaged in by the church of God at Corinth.  Yet Paul addressed them in the present tense as “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2).  How could they be His church if they were back with Satan due to those sins?  God said they were “the body of Christ” (12:27).  He said they were the “temple of God” and God dwelled in them (3:16-17).  He said they were the “temple of the Holy Spirit” and were “bought with a price” (6:19-20).  Since God dwelt in the Corinthians, but they were back with Satan, wouldn’t God be in darkness with those He was dwelling in?

How many were they told to withdraw from?  If the entire group is back with Satan, how can they turn someone over to the devil if they are all in residence with Satan?  All were to withdraw from one individual (5:1-11).  One!  How can you withdraw from someone if you are in the same place with him?  They could withdraw only because they were still in fellowship with the Father who was dwelling within them in spite of their need to be corrected.  When they received Paul’s letter, they had not yet repented, confessed, nor prayed for the removal of those sins.

Sometimes we hear the prayer, “If we have been found faithful . . .”  Usually being “faithful” is equated to “being perfect.”  Since no one is “perfect,” no one can know if he is saved or lost because his “faithfulness” is less than perfect.  The foundational doubt is, “Maybe we are close, but does close suffice?”  If so, what is close enough?  That insecurity robs one of his assurance and ignores Jesus’ perfection and purpose for the cross.  One hopes his obedience is sufficient enough though short of perfection.  Honesty negates his hope and places him in a spiritual Catch-22 scenario!  That belief system denies the power of Jesus’ blood and God’s sufficient grace.  It denies that we receive God’s righteousness.  It blinds the individual.  It motivating him to believe his salvation depends upon his righteousness.  It causes him to overlook and ignore what Jesus did for him upon the cross!

The lie introduced in the Garden is still alive today!  Satan’s serpent still pleads, “Partner with me!”

 

MISSING DETAILS!

My Thoughts. . .

 Thursday, April 25, 2019

 

Sometimes in reading scripture we get the idea that things happened a lot quicker than they did.  For example, when the earthquake hit the jail and doors opened, the jailer assumed everyone had escaped.  He was ready to kill himself.  Paul informed him otherwise.  Since the cells were in total darkness, the jailer called for a light to investigate.  How soon did that happen?  When someone supplied it, he entered into Paul and Silas’ cell, noticing that they and the other prisoners were still there.  Unless there were only a few, how long did it take to account for each inmate in that section?  How long was it before he fell at Paul’s feet and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  If all prisoners remained in their cells, what was the jailer wanting to be saved from?  Luke informs us that Paul or Silas, or both told him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).  Sometimes Luke abbreviates the actual statements that were made, not giving the entire speech.  He does this with Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:40.   Did he do it in this passage?

Did the jailer already know about Jesus?  If not, did Paul and Silas wrap up that belief in the short time the sentence of v.31 was spoken?  Did the jailer, who was a pagan, ask questions?  Wouldn’t you have a few?  Did he wonder if Paul and Silas were gods in human disguise as others did (Acts 28:4-6)?  Did the jailer give orders to whoever brought him that light, telling him what to do about the other prisoners?  Didn’t their arm and leg bands need to be fastened again and the cell doors closed and locked?  Luke doesn’t say whether the jailer left with Paul and Silas without doing that or not.  Did he inform other soldiers on duty why he was taking Paul and Silas out of prison?  Wouldn’t they ask questions if they saw two jail birds walking out with the jailer?  Wouldn’t they have thought Paul and Silas were using the jailer as a hostage and forcing him to take them to freedom?  Luke skips all of this and takes us directly to the jailer’s house.  Was his house on the second floor, next door, or 5 kilometers away?  Whatever the distance, they were in their cell as prisoners and almost immediately are entering the jailer’s house.

Once they arrived, Luke states, “They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house” (v. 32).  Were the jailer’s wife, children, and servants at the door to welcome him?  How did they know he was coming home early?  Was what Paul and Silas delivered to them more or less information than what Luke reveals they said previously to the jailer in verse 31?  Was the jailer a good husband by announcing to his wife, “Honey, I’m home.  We’ve got guests?”  Didn’t he explain why he was coming home so early or introduce Paul and Silas?  If you were the wife, wouldn’t you want to know why two jail birds were with your husband?  How would she know they were “inmates?”  Both men had been severely beaten and needed medical attention which the jailer recognized!  Didn’t he announce that his two guests were preachers, so they needed to have a Bible study to learn how to be saved?  If you are a pagan, taking on one more god is a small problem.  However, having to give up your gods to accept the one God of two captive Jewish men may be hard to swallow?  Since they had been beaten and imprisoned, didn’t that prove their one god lost out to the numerous pagan gods?  Several times a “Why” may have been asked.  Wouldn’t you ask questions if your spouse brought a couple of pagan preachers in that were badly beaten, perhaps leaving a blood trail on the floor, and they wanted to convert the entire family?

Details are not always given, nor an explanation supplied for their absence.  Why should it be explained if it is part of one’s culture and a known way of life?  This is not the only place in Acts where details are missing.  For example, on the day before Pentecost, 120 folks are meeting in that upper room.  They are all Jews.  They have been doing Jewish things in Jewish ways and observing Jewish Law and its worship as prescribed for God believing Jews to do.  The scriptures they read and lived by were Jewish which was describe by Paul himself as profitable for doctrine, correction, and righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Some assume that a complete change happened at the close of Acts 1 and the beginning of Acts 2.  Everything that had been done the day before was now taboo to practice the day after.  In Acts 2, if they went to a synagogue or to the Temple courtyards, it must be to condemn their former religion and refuse to participate in it in any form or fashion.  Yet, that is not what Luke describes.  One may assume that is what they did because details or not given, but the good doctor does not paint that kind of picture.

Some twenty years later, the Jewish church continued to be “zealous for the Law” and its practices (Acts 21:17-26).  Jewish worship was continued with members paying the Jewish priests for their services.  Baby boys were still circumcised by the priests on the eighth day.  Sacrifices were still offered.  Vows were still made, confirmed, and payment given to the Levitical priests.  Holy days continued to be observed and respected.  Synagogue pulpits continued to be offered to believers in Christ until persecution from the Sadducees stopped it.  Luke tells us about Jewish Christians continuing in the Jewish practices in spite of assumptions to the contrary.

Luke, in Acts 15 describes the major differences between Jewish and Gentile congregations.  In the Ephesian letter Paul shows that Gentiles are just as “Christian” as are the Jewish members.  In the Galatian letter he doesn’t condemn Jewish practices, just that they are not bound upon Gentile brethren.  Paul explains that if Jewish believers attempted to bind Jewish religious practices upon Gentiles, they were preaching “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6-9).  In Romans Paul tells both groups to accept the differences of the other (Romans 14).  These things may be missed by some Bible readers but there is a lesson in this that is needed by today’s divided church!

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