Google+ Followers

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse - 6

Matthew 2:11 The wise men brought gifts and worshiped Jesus for who He was. This is the essence of true worship - honoring Christ for who He is and being willing to give Him what is valuable to you. Worship God because He is the perfect, just, and almighty Creator of the universe, worthy of the best you have to give.
_______________________________________________


Matthew 2:12 After finding Jesus and worshiping Him, the wise men were warned by God not to return through Jerusalem as they had intended. Finding Jesus may mean that your life must take a different direction, one that is responsive and obedient to God's Word. Are you willing to be led a different way?
_______________________________________________


Matthew 2:13 This was the second dream or vision that Joseph received from God. Joseph's first dream revealed that Mary's child would be the Messiah. His second dream told him how to protect the child's life. Although Joseph was not Jesus' natural father, he was Jesus' legal father and was responsible for His safety and well-being. Divine guidance comes only to prepared hearts. Joseph remained receptive to God's guidance.
_______________________________________________


Matthew 2:14, 15 Going to Egypt was not unusual because there were colonies of Jews in several major Egyptian cities. These colonies had developed during the time of the great captivity (Jeremiah 43:44). There is an interesting parallel between this flight to Egypt and Israel's history. As an infant nation, Israel went to Egypt, just as Jesus did as a child. God led Israel out; God brought Jesus back. Both events show God working to save His people.
_______________________________________________


Matthew 2:16 Herod, the king of the Jews, killed all the boys under two years of age in an obsessive attempt to kill Jesus, the newborn King. He stained his hands with blood, but he did not harm Jesus. Herod was king by a human appointment; Jesus was King by a divine appointment. No one can thwart God's plans.

Christian Quotes - 5

Contentment:

Contentment is a pearl of great price, and whoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and a happy purchase. (John Balguy)

The rarest feeling that ever lights the human face is the contentment of a loving soul. (Henry Beecher)

He who is not contented with little will never be satisfied with much. (Thomas Brooks)

Those who face that which is actually before them, unburdened by the past, undistracted by the future, these are they who live, who make the best use of their lives; these are those who have found the secret of contentment. (Alban Goodier)

The children of Israel did not find in the manna all the sweetness and strength they might have found in it; not because the manna did not contain them, but because they longed for meat. (St. John of the Cross)

When we cannot fin contentment in ourselves it is useless to seek it elsewhere. (Francois de La Rochefoucauld)

It is right to be contented with what we have, but never with what we are. (Sir James Mackintosh)

Conversion:

Conversion hay occur in an instant, but the process of coming from sinfulness into a new life can be a long and arduous journey. (Charles Colson)

It is not culture but conversion that we need first. Not education, but transformation. Not new knowledge, but a new nature. We must become new creations by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit before we are ready to live Christ's life and bear His image. (Robert Cunningham)

The almighty power of God in the conversion of a sinner is the most mysterious of all the works of God. (Thomas Hooker)

A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works; indeed he certainly won't know how it works until he's accepted it. (C. S. Lewis)

The Twelve Disciples

Simon Peter (Son of John) - fisherman; impulsive; later bold in preaching about Jesus. One of three in core group of disciples; disowned Christ and repented, preached Pentecost sermon; a lead of the Jerusalem church; baptized Gentiles; wrote: 1 and 2 Peter.
What Jesus said about him: named him Peter, "rock"; called him "satan" when he urged Jesus to reject the Cross; said he would become a fisher of men; he received revelation from God; he would disown Jesus; he would later be crucified for his faith.
Lesson from his life: Christians falter at times, but when they return to Jesus, He forgives them and strengthens their faith.
_______________________________________________


James (son of Zebedee. He and his brother John were called the "Sons of Thunder.") - fisherman; ambitious, short-tempered, judgmental, deeply committed to Christ. James was also in the core group; he and his brother John asked Jesus for places of honor in His kingdom; he wanted to call fire down to destroy a Samaritan village; first disciple to be martyred.
What Jesus said about him: named he and his brother "Sons of Thunder"; said he would be a fisher of men; would drink the cup Jesus drank.
Lesson from his life: Christians must be willing to die for Jesus.
_______________________________________________


John (son of Zebedee) - James' brother, and the disciple whom Jesus loved; fisherman; ambitious, later - very loving. Third disciple in core group; asked Jesus for a place of honor in His kingdom; wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan village; a leader of the Jerusalem church; wrote the gospel of John and 1, 2, 3 John and Revelation.
What Jesus said about him: called John and James "Sons of Thunder"; said he would be a fisher of men; would drink the cup Jesus drank; would take care of Jesus' mother after Jesus' death.
Lesson from his life: the transforming power of the love of Christ is available to all.
_______________________________________________


Andrew (Peter's brother) - fisherman; eager to bring others to Jesus. Accepted John the Baptist's testimony about Jesus; told Peter about Jesus; he and Philip told Jesus that Greeks wanted to see Him.
What Jesus said about him: he would become a fisher of men.
Lesson from his life: Christians are to tell other people about Jesus.
_______________________________________________


Philip - fisherman; he had a questioning attitude. he told Nathanael about Jesus; wondered how Jesus could feed the 5,000; asked Jesus to show his followers God the Father; he and Andrew told Jesus that Greeks wanted to see Him.
What Jesus said about him: asked if Philip realized that to know and see Him was to know and see the Father.
Lesson from his life: God uses our questions to teach us.
_______________________________________________


Bartholomew (Nathanael). Occupation: unknown. He was honest and straightforward. He initially rejected Jesus because Jesus was from Nazareth but acknowledged Him as the "Son of God" and "King of Israel" when they met.
What Jesus said about him: called him "an Israelite indeed" and a man "in whom is no deceit."
Lesson from his life: Jesus respects honesty in people - even if they challenge Him because of it.
_______________________________________________


Matthew (Levi) - tax collector. Despised outcast because of his dishonest career. He abandoned is corrupt and financially profitable way of life to follow Jesus; invited Jesus to a party with his notorious friends; wrote the Gospel of Matthew.
What Jesus said about him: called him to be a disciple.
Lesson from his life: Christianity is not for people who think they're already good; it is for people who know they've failed and want help.
_______________________________________________


Thomas (the twin) - unknown occupation. He was courageous but doubtful. Suggested the disciples go with Jesus to Bethany - even if it meant death; asked Jesus about where he was going; refused to believe Jesus was risen until he could see Jesus alive and touch His wounds.
What Jesus said about him: said Thomas believed because he actually say Jesus after His resurrection.
Lesson from his life: even when Christians experience serious doubts, Jesus reaches out to them to restore their faith.
_______________________________________________


James (son of Alphaeus) - unknown occupation. Became one of Jesus' disciples.
_______________________________________________


Thaddaeus (Judas, son of James) - unknown occupation. Asked Jesus why He would reveal Himself to His followers and not to the world.
Lesson from his life: Christians follow Jesus because they believe in Him; they do not always understand the details of God's plan.
_______________________________________________


Simon the Zealot - unknown occupation. Fierce patriotism. Became a disciple of Jesus.
Lesson from his life: If we are willing to give up our plans for the future, we can participate in Jesus' plans.
_______________________________________________


Judas Iscariot - unknown occupation. Treacherous. Became one of Jesus' disciples; betrayed Jesus; killed himself.
What Jesus said about him: called him a "devil"; said Judas would betray Him.
Lesson from his life: It is not enough to be familiar with Jesus' teachings. Jesus' true followers love and obey Him.











Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Afterlife

Question: 


What becomes of our spirits when we die? Upon death, does one's soul pass directly to heaven or hell, or is there an intermediate state?


Answer:


Immediately at death, the spirit of the believer departs to be with Christ in a state that is far better than the one in which it existed here on earth (Philippians 1:23). It is "absent from the body and ... at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). But it is not the final state of blessedness of the redeemed. In our final state of blessedness, the spirit is not merely unclothed from its present mortal body but it is clothed with its resurrection body. We will obtain this resurrection body at the second coming of Christ, when the bodies of those who sleep in Christ are raised from the dead and the bodies of believers then living are transformed in the twinkling of an eye - when our perishable bodies become imperishable. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53).


On the other hand, immediately at death, the spirits of the wicked depart into that portion of hades reserved for the wicked dead, where they consciously exist in great torment (Luke 16:19-31). But this is not their final condition of torment. At the close of the Millennium - the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth after His second coming - those who have died in sin will be raised again to stand before the Great White Throne of God to be judged and assigned to their final condition of torment (Revelation 20:11 - 15; 21:8). It is then that they will enter into their final and fullest suffering. Just as the redeemed spirits will be clothed at the coming of Christ with their glorious resurrection bodies, which will be perfect counterparts of the redeemed spirits that inhabit them and partakers with them in all their joy, the wicked are to be clothed with bodies that will be perfect counterparts of the lost spirits that inhabit them and will be partakers with them in all their misery.


~R. A. Torrey~  "The Bible Answer Book"

Bible Study - verse by verse - 5

Matthew 2:4 The chief priests and scribes were aware of Micah 5:2 and other prophecies about the Messiah. The wise men's news troubled Herod because he knew that the Jewish people expected the Messiah to come soon (Luke 3:15). Most Jews expected the Messiah to be a great military and political deliverer, like Alexander the Great. Herod's counselors would have told Herod this. No wonder this ruthless man took no chances and ordered all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed (2:6).
_______________________________________________


Matthew 2:5, 6 Matthew often quoted Old Testament prophets. This prophecy paraphrasing Micah 5:2, had been delivered seven centuries earlier.
_______________________________________________


Matthew 2:6 Most religious leaders believed in a literal fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecy, therefore, they believed the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Ironically, when Jesus was born, these same religious leaders became His greatest enemies. When the Messiah for whom they had been waiting finally came, they didn't recognize Him.
_______________________________________________


Matthew 2:8 Herod did not want to worship Christ - he was lying. This was a trick to get the wise men to return to him and reveal the whereabouts of the new born King. Herod's plan was to kill Jesus.
_______________________________________________


Matthew 2:11 Jesus was probably one or two years old when the wise men found Him. By this time, Mary and Joseph were married, living in a house, and intending to stay in Bethlehem for a while.
_______________________________________________


Matthew 2:11 The wise men gave these expensive gifts because they were worthy presents for a future King. Bible students have seen in the gifts symbols of Christ's identity and what He would accomplish. Gold was a gift for a king; frankincense, a gift for deity; myrrh, a spice for a person who was going to die. These gifts may have provided the financial resources for the trip to Egypt and back.

The Six Stages of Jesus' Trial

Before Jewish Authorities:


Preliminary hearing before Annas. Because the office of high priest was for life, Annas was still the "official" high priest in the eyes of the Jews, even though the Romans had appointed another. Thus Annas still carried much weight among the council.


Hearing before Caiaphas:


Like the hearing before Annas, this hearing was conducted at night in secrecy. It was full of illegalities that made a mockery of justice.


Trial before the Council:


Just after daybreak, 70 members of the Jewish council met to rubber-stamp their approval of the previous hearings to make them appear legal. The purpose of this trial was not to determine justice, but to justify their own preconceptions of Jesus' guilt.


Before the Roman authorities:


First Hearing before Pilate:
The religious leaders had condemned Jesus to death on religious grounds, but only the Roman government could grant the death penalty. Thus, they took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor, and  accused Him of treason and rebellion, crimes for which the Roman government gave the death penalty. Pilate saw at once that Jesus was innocent, but he was afraid about the uproar being caused by the religious leaders.


Hearing Before Herod:


Because Jesus' home was in the region of Galilee, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Herod was eager to see Jesus do a miracle, but when Jesus remained silent, Herod wanted nothing to do with Him and sent Him back to Pilate.


Last Hearing before Pilate:


Pilate didn't like the religious leaders. He wasn't interested in condemning Jesus because he knew Jesus was innocent. However, he knew that another uprising in his district might cost him his job. First he tried to compromise with the religious leaders by having Jesus beaten, an illegal action in itself. But finally he gave in and handed Jesus over to be executed. Pilate's self-interest was stronger than his sense of justice.

Christian Quotes - 4

Confessing sin is not informing God, it is agreeing with God. (Derek Cleave)


It is better for a believer to confess their sins than to harden their hearts.  (Unknown)


Confession is the first step to repentance. (Edmond Gayton)


For him who confesses, shams are over and realities begin. (William James)


Confession, which means to agree with God regarding our sin, restores our fellowship. It is a form of discipline which God requires. (Erwin Lutzer)






Confidence:


Confidence in the natural world is self-reliance, in the spiritual world it is God-reliance. (Oswald Chambers)


I sometimes think that the very essence of the whole Christian position and the secret of a successful spiritual life is just to realize two things: I must have complete, absolute confidence in God and no confidence in myself. (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)


Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake. ( Martin Luther)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse - 4

Matthew 2:1 Bethlehem is a small town five miles south of Jerusalem. It sits on a high ridge over 2,000 feet about sea level. It is mentioned in more detail in the Gospel of Luke. Luke also explains why Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born,rather than in Nezareth, their hometown.
_______________________________________________
Matthew 2:1 The land of Israel was divided into four political districts and several lesser territories. Judea was to the south, Samaria in the middle, Galilee to the north and Idumea to the southeast. Bethlehem of Judea (also called Judah) had been prophesied as the Messiah's birthplace (Micah 5:2). Jerusalem was also in Judea and was the seat of government for Herod the Great, king over all four political districts. After Herod's death, the districts were divided among three separate rulers. Although he was a ruthless, evil man who murdered many in his own family, Herod the Great supervised the renovation of the temple, making it much larger and more beautiful. This made him popular with many Jews. Jesus would visit Jerusalem many times because the great Jewish festivals were held there.
_______________________________________________
Matthew 2:1, 2 Not much is known about these wise men. We don't know where they came from or how many there were. Tradition says they were men of high position from Parthia, near the site of ancient Babylon. How did they know that the star represented the Messiah? They could have been Jews who remained in Babylon after the exile and knew the Old Testament predictions of the Messiah's coming. Because of the Jewish exile centuries earlier, they would have had copies of the Old Testament in their land. Or, they may have had a special message from God directing them to the Messiah. Some scholars say these wise men were each from a different land, representing the entire world bowing before Jesus. These men from faraway lands recognized Jesus as the Messiah when most of God's chosen people in Israel did not. Matthew pictures Jesus as King over the whole world, not just Judea.
_______________________________________________
Matthew 2:1, 2 The wise men traveled thousands of miles to see the King of the Jews. When they finally found Him, they responded with joy, worship, and gifts. This is so different from the approach people often take today. We expect God to come looking for us, to explain Himself, prove who He is, and give us gifts. But those who are wise still seek and worship Jesus today, not for what they can get, but for who He is.
_______________________________________________
Matthew 2:3 Herod the Great was quite disturbed when the wise men asked about a newborn king of the Jews because: Herod was not the rightful heir to the throne of David; therefore many Jews hated him as a usurper. If Jesus really was an heir, trouble would arise. Herod was ruthless and, because of his many enemies, he was suspicious that someone would try to overthrow him. Herod didn't want the Jews to unite around a religious figure. If these wise men were of Jewish descent and from Parthia (the most powerful region next to Rome), they would have welcomed a Jewish king who could swing the balance of power away from Rome. The land of Israel, far from Rome, would have been easy prey for a nation trying to gain more control.



Christian Quotes - 3

Man is never nearer the Divine than in his compassionate moments. (Joseph Hertz)


Every act of kindness and compassion done by any man for his fellow Christians is done by Christ working within him. (Julian of Norwich)


Conceit:


God hates those who praise themselves. (St. Clement)


It's ludicrous for any Christian to believe that he or she is the worthy object of public worship; it would be like the donkey carrying Jesus into Jerusalem believing the crowds were cheering and laying down their garments for him. (Charles Colson)


God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves. (D. L. Moody)


The Christ we manifest is too small because in ourselves we have grown too big. (Watchman Nee)


Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)


If we think we can do anything of ourselves, all we shall get from God is the opportunity to try. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)


God will not go forth with that man who marches in his own strength. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

The Book of Malachi

At the time of Malachi's writing, the Jews who had returned to their homeland were again experiencing troubles all across their society, plus a great spiritual decline. These were the same issues that afflicted them before they were conquered and sent as exiles to Babylon a century and a half earlier. Now, about a hundred years later, they were facing the same issues and showing the sort of unfaithfulness that had marked the nation throughout its history. This is an example of how easily humanity falls into the same sins and how slow they are to learn the lessons of history. The people had become unbelieving and distrustful toward God. They doubted His love and His promises, and they questioned His justice. As their faith weakened, their worship became routine, lacking true respect and love for God.


A large portion of the book is written like a debate in which God responds through His prophet to show how unreasonable Israel's faulty reasoning and excuses are before God.


Five special features characterize the book of Malachi. 1. It gives us a close view of an encounter between God and His people. 2. Most of the conversation is presented with a question followed by an answer. There are 23 exchanges like this. 3. Malachi is the last of the Old Testament prophets. There is no voice of another prophet in Israel for 400 years after Malachi. This silence ended when the New Testament figure, John the Baptist, started preaching. 4. The phrase "the Lord almighty", occurs 20 times in this brief book. 5. It is significant that the final prophecy of God's Old Testament prophetic revelation foretold of a day when God would send the spirit of Elijah (referring to John the Baptist), whose mission included restoring strong godly fathers among God's people.


Three specific passages from Malachi are quoted in the New Testament. 1. The phrases,  I have loved Jacob" and "Esau I have hated," are quoted by Paul in his teaching about God's sovereignty in choosing whom He will use for the purpose He has planned. Malachi's prophecy about "the messenger, who will prepare the way before me", is quoted by Jesus in referring to John the Baptist and his ministry. Jesus understood that Malachi's prophecy about God sending "the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes applied to John the Baptist. Revelation, the last book of the Bible, tells us that the spirit of Elijah will appear again before the second coming of Christ (Rev. 11:3-6)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse - 3

Matthew 1:20 - The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are supernatural events beyond human logic or reasoning. Because of this, God sent angels to help certain people understand the significance of what was happening. Angels are spiritual beings created by God who help carry out His work on earth. They bring God's messages to people, protect God's people, offer encouragement, give guidance, carry out punishment, patrol the earth, and fight the forces of evil. There are both good and bad angels, but because bad angels are allied with the devil, they have considerably less power and authority than good angels. Eventually the main role of angels will be to offer continuous praise to God.
_______________________________________________
Matthew 1:20-23 - The angel declared to Joseph that Mary's child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would be a son. This reveals an important truth about Jesus - He is both God and human. The infinite, unlimited God took on the limitations of humanity so He could live and die for the salvation of all who believe in Him.
_______________________________________________
Matthew 1:21  - "Jesus" means "the Lord saves." Jesus came to earth to save us because we can't save ourselves from sin and its consequences. No matter how good we are, we can't eliminate the sinful nature present in all of us. Only Jesus can do that. Jesus didn't come to help people save themselves; He came to be their Savior from the power and penalty of sin. Thank Christ for His death on the Cross for your sin, and, with repentant heart, then ask Him to take control of your life. Your new life begins at that moment.
_______________________________________________
Matthew 1:23  - Jesus was to be called Immanuel ("God with us"). As predicted by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus was God in the flesh; thus God was literally among us, with us. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ is present today in the life of every believer. Perhaps not even Isaiah understood how far-reaching the meaning of "Immanuel" would be.
_______________________________________________
Matthew 1:24 -  Joseph changed his plans quickly after learning that Mary had not been unfaithful to him. He obeyed God and proceeded with the marriage plans. Although others may have disapproved of his decision, Joseph went ahead with what he knew was right. Sometimes we avoid doing what is right because of what others might think. Like Joseph, we must choose to obey God rather than seek the approval of others.
_______________________________________________



Man's Fall Created a Perpetual Moral Crisis

"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19)


The fall of man in the Garden of Eden has created a perpetual crisis. It will last until sin has been put down and Christ reigns over a redeemed and restored world.


Until that time the earth remains a disaster area and its inhabitants live in a state of extraordinary emergency.


Statesmen and economists talk hopefully of "a return to normal conditions," but conditions have not been normal since "the woman saw that the tree was goo for food ... and pleasant" and "to be desired to make one wise" and "took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."


It is not enough to say that we live in a state of moral crisis. That is true, but it is not all, for the Fall has affected every part of man's nature, moral, intellectual, psychological, spiritual and physical.


man's whole being has been deeply injured; the sin in his heart has overflowed into his total life, affecting his relation to God, to his fellow men and to everyone and everything that touches him.


To me, it has always been difficult to understand those evangelical Christians who insist upon living in the crisis as if no crisis existed. They say they serve the Lord, but they divide their days so as to leave plenty of time to play and loaf and enjoy the pleasures of the world as well. They are at ease while the world burns; and they can furnish many convincing reasons for their conduct, even quoting Scripture if you press them a bit.


I wonder whether such Christians actually believe in the Fall of man!!


~A. W. Tozer~

The Grace of God Cannot be Extinguished

"And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 1:14)


Brethren, we should be keenly aware that the living God can no more hide His grace than the sun can hide its brightness!


We must keep in mind also that the grace of God is infinite and eternal. Being an attribute of God, it is as boundless as infinitude!


The Old Testament is indeed a book of law, but not of law only. Before the great flood Noah "found grace in the eyes of the Lord," and after the law was given God said to Moses, "Thou hast found grace in my sight."


There never was a time when the law did not represent the will of God for mankind nor a time when the violation of it did not bring its own penalty, though God was patient and sometimes "winked" at wrongdoing because of the ignorance of the people.


The great source and spring of Christian morality is the love of Christ Himself, not the law of Moses; nevertheless there has been no abrogation of the principles of morality contained in the law. The grace of God made sainthood possible in Old Testament days just as it does today!


God has promised that He will always be Himself. Men may flee from sunlight to dark and musty caves of the earth, but they cannot put out the sun. So men may in any dispensation despise the grace of God, but they cannot extinguish it!


~A. W. Tozer~

Christian Quotes - 2

Commitment


Lord, take my lips and speak through them, take my mind and think through it; take my heart and set it on fire. (W. H. Aitken)


He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. (Jim Eliot)


Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise. (Frances Havergal)


Teach us, good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest. To give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward save that of knowing that we do Thy will. (St. Ignatius of Loyola)


Give me a person who says, "This one thing I do, and not these fifty things I dabble in." (D. L. Moody)


One can always measure a man's devotion to the cause of Christ by his readiness t be called to responsibility, by his diligence in it, by the personal risks he runs through his involvement in it, or by the ease with which he lays it down. (Anon.)


All to Thee is yielded, I am not my own; Blissful, glad surrender - I am Thine alone. (E. May Crawford)


Don't touch Christianity unless you mean business. I promise you a miserable existence if you do. (Henry Drummond)

The Book of Zechariah

The double purpose for Zechariah's book is given in the two major parts that make up the book. 1. The visions and messages of chapters 1 - 8 were given to encourage the Jews who had returned to Judah to start building the temple again and to inspire them to continue the work until the task was completed. 2. Chapters 9 - 14 were given to encourage the same people after the temple was finished because many of them became discouraged when the Messiah did not come once the temple was completed, as they expected.


The book divides into two major parts. Part one (1-8) begins by challenging the Jews to return to the Lord - to renew their devotion to Him - so that He might return to them. Part 2 (9-14) contains two blocks of apocalyptic prophecy. Each of these sections is introduced with the words, "an oracle" referring to a word from the Lord that foreshadows or points toward certain future events.


Six special features characterize the book of Zechariah. 1. It is the most Messianic of all the Old Testament books. 2. Among the minor prophets, it contains the most specific and complete prophetic prophecies about end-time events. 3. It represents the most successful union of the roles of priest and prophet in Israel's history. 4. More than any other Old Testament book, its visions and highly symbolic language resemble the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation. 5. It records a bold example of divine sarcasm about the time of Christ's betrayal for thirty pieces of silver. Through the prophet, God mockingly referred to that treacherous event as the "handsome price at which they priced me." 6. Zechariah's prophecy about the Messiah in chapter 14, which pictures Him as the great Warrior-King reigning over Jerusalem, is one of the most glorious and inspiring descriptions of Christ in Old Testament prophecy.


The profound importance of Zechariah's prophecy is understood as we see how it is applied in the New Testament. Zechariah's most obvious contribution to the New Testament are his many prophecies about the Messiah, which the New Testament writers clearly recognized as being fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Among these are: He will come in a humble and lowly manner; He will restore Israel and make a new covenant with them through the shedding of His own blood; He will be a shepherd that leads and cares for God's scattered and wandering sheep; He will be betrayed and rejected; He will return in final glory; He will rule as King in perfect peace and righteousness; and He will establish His glorious and eternal kingdom over all nations.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Living By Faith



"The just shall live by his faith." The wieghty statement occurs in the second chapter of the prophet Habakkuk; and it is quoted by an inspired apostle in three of his Epistles, namely, Romans, Galatians, and Hewbrews, with a distinct application in each. In Rom. 1:17 it is applied to the great question of righteousness. the blessed apostle declares himself not ashamed of the gospel; "for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. for therein is the righteousness of God revelaed, on the principle of faith, to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."Then, in the third of Galatians, where the apostle is seeking to recall those erring assemblies to the foundations of Christianity, he says, "but that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith."
Finally, in the tenth of Hebrews, where the object is to exhort believers to hold fast their confidence, we read, "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, he might recieve the promise. For yet a little while, He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith." Here we have faith presented not only as the ground of righteousness, but as the vital principle by which we are to live, day by day, from the starting-post to the goal of the Christian course. There is no other way of righteousness, no other way of living, but by faith. It is by faith we are justified, and by faith we live. by faith we stand, and by faith we walk.
Now this is true of all Christians, and all should seek to enter into it fully. Every child of God is called to live by faith. It is a very grave mistake indeed to single out certain individuals who happen to have no visible source of temporal supplies, and speak of them as though they alone lived by faith. According to this view of the question, ninety-nine out of every hundred Christians would be deprived of the precious privilege of living by faith. If a man has a settled income' if he has a certain salary' if he has what is termed a secular calling, by which he earns bread for himself and his family, is he not privileged to live by faith? do none live by faith save those who have no visible means of support? Is the life of faith to be confined to the matter of trusting God for food and raiment?
What lowering of the life of faith it is to confine it to the question of temporal supplies! No doubt it is a very blessed and a very real thing to trust God for everying; but the life of faith has a far higher and wider range than mere bodily wants. It embraces all that in any wise conceerns us, in body, soul, and spirit. To live by faith is to walk with God: to cling to Him; to lean on Him; to draw from His exhaustless springs; to find all our resources in Him; and to have Him as a perfect covering for our eyes and a satisfying object for our hearts--to know Him as our only resource in all difficulties, and in our trials. It is to be absolutely, complete, and continually shut up to Him; to be undividedly dependent upon Him, apart from and above every creature confidence, every human hope, and every eathly expectation.
Such is the life of faith. Let us see that we understand it. it must be a reality, or nothing at all. It will not do to talk about the life of faith; we must live it; and in order to live it we must know God practically--know Him intimately, in the deep secret of our own souls. It is utterly vain and delusive to profess to be living by faith and looking to the Lord, while in reality our hearts are looking to some creature resource. How often do people speak and write about their dependence upon god to meet certain wants, and by the very fact of their making it known to a fellow-mortal they are, in principle, departing from the life of faith!
If I write to a friend, or publish to the church, the fact that i am looking to the Lord to meet a certain neeed, I am virtually off the ground of faith in that matter. The language of faith is this: "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him." t make known my wants, directly or indirectly, to a human being, is departure from the life of faith, and a positive dishonor to God. It is actually betraying Him. It is tantamount to saying that god has failed me, and i must look to my fellow for help. It is forsaking the living fountain and turning to a broken cistern. it is placing the creature between my soul and god, thus robbing my soul of rich blessing, and god of the glory due to him.
this is serious work, and it demands our most solemn attention. God deals in realities. he can never fail a trusting heart. But then, He must be trusted. It is of no possible use to talk about trusting Him when our hearts are really looking to creature streams. "What doth it profit, my brethren though a man say he hath faith?" Empty profession is but a delusion to the soul and a dishonor to God. The true life of faith is a grand reality. God delights in it, and He is glorified by it. There is nothing in all this world that so gratifies and glorifies God as the life of faith. "Oh how great is Tny goodness, which Thou has wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men! (Psa. 31:19)
How is it with you in reference to this great question? Are you living by faith? Ca you say, "the life that I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me?" Do you know what it is to have the living God filling the whole range of your soul's vision? Is He enough for you? Can you trust Him for everything--for body, soul and spirit--for time and eternity? Or are you in the habit of making known your wants to man in any one way? Is it a habit of yhour heart to turn to the creature for sympathy, succor, or counsel?
These are searching questions; but we entreat you not to turn away from them. Be assured it is morally healthful for our souls to be tested faithfully, as in the very presence of God. Our hearts are so terribly treacherous, that when we imagine we are leaning upon God, we are really leaning upon some human prop. Thus God is shut out, and we are left in barrenness and desolation.
And yet it is not that God does not use the creature to help and bless us. He does so constantly; and the man of faith will be deeply conscious of this fact, and truly grateful to every human agent that God uses to help him. God comforted Paul by the coming of Titus; but had Paul been looking to Titus, he would have had but little comfort. God used the poor widow to feed Elijah; but Elijah's dependence was not upon the widow, but upon God. Thus it is in every case.


~C. H. Mackintosh~

Bible Study - verse by verse - 2

Matthew 1:18 Why is the virgin birth important to the Christian faith? Jesus Christ, God's Son, had to be free from the sinful nature passed on to all other human beings by Adam. Because Jesus was born of a woman, He was a human being; but as the Son of God, Jesus was born without any trace of human sin. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. Because Jesus lived as a man, we know that He fully understands our experiences and struggles (Hebrews 4:15-16). Because He is God, He has the power and authority to deliver us from sin (Colossians 2:13-15). We can tell Jesus all our thoughts, feelings and needs. He has been where we are now, and He has the ability to help us.
_______________________________________________


Matthew 1:18-25 Joseph was faced with a difficult choice after discovering that Mary was pregnant. Although he knew that taking Mary as his wife could be humiliating, Joesph chose to obey the angel's command to marry her. His action revealed four admirable qualities: discretion and sensitivity; responsiveness to God; and self-discipline.
_______________________________________________


Matthew 1:19 Perhaps Joseph thought he had only two options: divorce Mary quietly, or have her stoned. But God had a third option - marry her. In view of the circumstances, this had not occurred to Joseph. But God often shows us that there are more options available than we think. Only God's guidance helped him make the right decision. When our decisions affect others, we must always seek God's wisdom.

Christian Quotes - 1

God never intended His church to be a refrigerator in which to preserve perishable piety. He intended it to be an incubator in which to hatch converts. (E. Linicome)


The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; She is His new creation by water and the Word; from heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride; with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died. (Samuel Stone)


We are members of that body which was nailed to the Cross, laid in a tomb and raised to life on the third day. There is only one organism of the new creation, and we are members of that organism which is Christ. (Lional Thornton)


How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear! (John Newton)


Although today He prunes my twigs with pain, yet doth His blood nourish and warm my root; tomorrow I shall put forth buds again and clothe myself with fruit. (Christina Rossetti)



The Book of Haggai

During a four month period in 520 BC, Haggai delivered the four brief but firm messages recorded in this book. These messages had two primary purposes: 1. to encourage Zerubbabel and Joshua to get the people moving toward rebuilding the temple and, 2. to challenge and motivate the people to rearrange their lives and priorities in order to revive their spiritual concerns. It was time to restart the work on God's temple. If they renewed their devotion to God and His purposes, they would see the return of His presence and His blessings.


The book contains four messages, each of which is introduced by the phrase, "the word of the Lord." Haggai first issued a harsh challenge to the former exiles for being preoccupied with their own concerns. He pointed out how beautifully they had finished their own houses while God's house remained in ruins. Twice the prophet urged them to "give careful thought "to their ways." He then made it clear that much of the difficulty they had encountered recently was a result of God having withdrawn His blessing from them because of their spiritual neglect. In response to Haggai's message, Zerubbabel, Joshua and all the people were overcome with a godly fear; as a result, they restarted the work on God's temple.


Four major features characterize the book of Haggai. 1. It was the first clear prophetic message heard in Judah following the Babylonian exile. 2. It is the second shortest Old Testament book; Obadiah is the shortest. 3. The phrase "this is what the Lord almighty says", and its variations, occurs 29 times, pointing out the urgency of the message for those who had returned to Jerusalem. 4. It contains one of the boldest prophecies in the Old Testament about God's presence among His people. This prophecy has two main applications. The first, was in reference to the time when Christ Himself would come to the earthly temple, making God's presence in the place more evident than ever before. The second application has to do with the time when Christ will return to earth to judge the nations and reign among His people.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse

Matthew 1:17 In the first seventeen verses we meet forty-six people whose lifetimes span two thousand years. All were ancestors of Jesus, but they varied considerably in personalty, spirituality, and experience. Some were heros of faith - like Abraham, Isaac, Ruth, and David. Some had shady reputations - like Rahab and Tamar. Many were very ordinary - like Hezron, Ram, Nahshon and Achim. And others were evil - like Manasseh and Abijah. God's work in history is not limited by human failures or sins, and He works through ordinary people. Just as God used all kinds of people to bring His Son into the world, He uses all kinds today to accomplish His will. And God wants to use you.


_______________________________________________


Matthew 1:16 Because Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant, Matthew lists Joseph only as the husband of Mary, not the father of Jesus. Matthew's genealogy gives Jesus' legal (or royal) lineage through Joseph. Mary's ancestral line is recorded in Luke 3:23-38. Both Mary and Joseph were direct descendants of David. Matthew traces the genealogy back to Abraham, while Luke traced it back to Adam. Matthew wrote to the Jews so Jesus was shown as a descendant of their father, Abraham. Luke wrote to the Gentiles, so he emphasized Jesus as the Savior of the people.

Christian Quotes

The spiritual leader influences others not by the power of his own personality alone but by that personality irradiated and interpenetrated and empowered in the Holy Spirit. Because he permits the Holy Spirit undisputed control of his life, the Spirit's power can flow through him to others unhindered. (J. Oswald Sanders)


A true and safe leader is likely to be one who has no desire to lead but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and the press of external situation. (A. W. Tozer)


There is little good in filling churches with people who go out exactly the same as they came in; the call of the Church is not to fill churches but to fill heaven. (Fr. Andrew)


The purpose of the church in the world is to be the worshiping and witnessing spearhead of all that is in accordance with the will of God as it has been revealed in Jesus Christ. (Donald Coggan)


The church has nothing to do but to save souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work. It is not your business to speak so many times, but to save souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance. (John Wesley)


What matters in the Church is not religion but the form of Christ, and its taking form amidst a band of men and women. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)



God's Way and How to Find It



"There is a path which no fool knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen: the lion's whleps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it." What an unspakable mercy for one who really desires to walk with God, to know that there is a way for him to walk in! God has prepared a pathway for His redeemed in which they may walk with all possible certainty, calmness and fixedness. It is the privilege of every child of God, and every servant of Christ, to be as sure that he is in God's way as that his soul should be saved. This may seem a strong statement; but the question is, Is it true? If is be true, it cannot be too strong. No doubt it may, in the judgment of some, savor a little of self confidence and dogmatism to assert, in such a day as that in which we live, and in the midst of such a scene as that through which we re passing, that we are sure of being in God's path. but what saith the Scripture? It declares "there is a way," and it also tells us how to walk in that way. Yes; the self-same voice that tells us of God's salvation for our souls, tells us also of God's pathway for our feet;--the very same authority that assures us that "he hthat believeth ont he Son of God hath everlasting life," asuures us also that there is a way so plain that "the wayfaring men though fools should not err therein."This, we repeat, is a signal mercy--a mercy at all times, but especially in a day of confusion an perplexity like the present. It is deeply affecting to notice the state of uncertainty in which many of God's dear people are found at the present moment. We do not refer now to the question of salvation, of this we have spoken largely elsewhere; but that which we have now before us is the path of the Christian--what he ought to do, hwere he should be found, how he ought to carry himself in the midst of the professing Church. Is it not too true that multitudes of the lord's people are at sea as to these things? Are there not many who, were they to tell out the real feelings of their hearts, would have to own themselves in a thoroughly unsettled state--to confess that they know not what to do, or where to go, or what to believe? Now, the question is, Would God leave His childre, whould Christ leave His servants, in such darkness and confusion?

No; my dear Lord, in following Thee
And not in dark uncertainty,
This foot obedient moves.
May not a child know the will of his father? May not a servant know the will of his master? And if this be so in our earthly relationship, how much more fully may we count upon it in reference to our Father and master in heaven. When Israel of old emerged from the Red Sea, and stood upon the margin of that great and terrible wilderness which lay between them and the land of promise, how were they to know their way? The trackless sand of the desert lay all around them. It was in vain to look for any footprint there. It was a dreary waste in which the vulture's eye could not discern a pathway. Moses felt this when he said to Hobab, "Leave us not, I pray theel forasmuch as thou knoest how we are to encammp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes" (Num. 10:31). how well our poor unbelieving hearts can understand this touching appeal! How one craves a human guide in the midst of a scene of perplexity! how fondly the heart clings to one whome we deem competent to give us guidance in moments of darkness and difficulty!
And yet, we may ask, what did Moses want with Hobab's eyes? Had not Joehovah graciously undertaken to be their guide? Yes, truly; for we are told that "on the day that the tabernacle was reared up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony; and at even, there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. It is was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed; and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyd, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle, they rested in their tents. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the Lord they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the Lord and journeyed not. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, they journeyed; whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyd or whether it were two daysor a month or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents and journeyd not, but when it was taken up they journeyed. At the commandment of the Lord they rested in their tents, and at the commandment of the Lord they journeyed: they kept the charge of the Lord at the commandent of the Lord by the hand of Moses" (Num. 89:15-23).
Here was divine guidance--a guidance, we may surely say, quite sufficient to render them independent of their own eyes, or Hobab's eyes, and the eyes of any other mortal. it is interesting to note that in the opening of the book of Numbers, it was arranged that the ark of the covenant was to find its place in the very bosom of the congregation; but in chapter 10 we are told that when "they departed from the mount of the Lord three day's journey, the ark of the coventant of the Lord went before them, in the three days' journey, to search out a resting-place for them." Instead of Jehovah finding a resting-place in the bosom of His redeemed people, He becomes their traveling Guide, and goes before tehm to seek out a resting-place for them. What touching grace is here! and what faithfulness! If Moses will ask Hombab to be their guide, and that, too, in the very face of God's provision--even the cloud and the silver trumpet, then will Jehovah leave His place in the center of the tribes, and go before them to search them out a resting-place. And did not He know the wilderness well? Would not He be better for them than ten thousand Hobabs? Might ehy not fully trust Him: Assuredly, He would not lead them astray. If His grace had redeemed them from Egypt's bondage, and conducted them through the Red Sea, surely they might confide in the same grace to guide them across that great and terrible wilderness, and bring them safely into the land flowing with milk and honey.
But it must be borne in mind that, in order to profit by divine guidance, there must also be the abandonment of ourown will, and of all confidence in our own reasongs, as well as all confidence in the thoughts and reasonings of others. If I have Johovah as my Guide, I do not want my own eyes or the eyes of Hobab either. God is sufficient: I can trust Him. He knows all the way across the desert; and hence, if I keep my eye upon Him, I shall be guided aright.
But this leads us on to the second division of our subject, namely, How am I to find God's way? An all-important question, surely. Whither I am to turn to gind God's pathway? If the vulture's eye, so keen, so powerful, so far-seeing, hath not seen it--if the young lion, so vigorous in movement, so majestic in mien, hath not trodden it--if man knoweth not the price of it, and if it is not to be found in the land of the living--if the depth saith, It is not in me, and the sea saith, It is not with me--if it cannot be gotten for gold or precious stones--if the wealth of the universe cannot equal it, and no wit of man discover it--then whither am I to turn? Where shall I find it?
shall I turn to those great standards of orthodoxy which rule the religious thought and feeling of millions throught the length and breadth of the professing Church? Is this wondrous pathway of wisdom to be found with them? Do they form any exception to the great, broad, sweeping rule of Job 28? Assuredly not.
What, then, am I to do? I know there is a way. God, who cannot lie, declares this, and I believe it; but where am I to find it? "Whence then, cometh wisdom? and where is the palce of understanding? seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls ofthe air. Dustruction and Death say, We have heard from fame thereof with our ears." Does it not seem like a hopeless case for any poor ignorant mortal to search for this wondrous pathway? No, blessed be God, it is by no means a hopeless case, for "He understandeth the way thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof. For He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds; and He weigheth the waters by measure. When He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then did He see it anddeclare it; He prepared it, yea, and searched it out. And unto man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.'"
Here, then, is the divine secret of wisdom: "The fear of the Lord." This sets the conscience directly in the presence of God, which is its only true place. The object of Satan is to keep the conscience out of this place--to bring it under the pwer and authority of man--to lead it into subjection to the commandments and doctrines of men--to thrust in something between the conscience and the authority of Christ the Lord, it matters not what it is; it may be a creed or a confession containing a quantity of truth--it may be the opinion of man or set of men--the judgement of some favorite teacher--anything, in short, to come in and usurp, in the heart, the place which belongs to God's Word alone. This is a terrible snare, and a stubling block--a most serious hindrance to our progress in the ways of the Lord. God's Word must rule me--God's pure and simple Word, not man's interpreation thereof. No doubt, God may use a man to unfold that Word to my soul; but then it is not man's unfolding of God's Word that rules me, but God's Word by man unfolded. This is of all importance.
We must be exclusively taught an exclusively governed by the Word of the living God. Nothing else will keep us straight, or give solidity and consistency to our character and course as Christians. There is a strong tendency within and around us to be ruled by the thoughts and opinions of men--by those great standards of doctrine which men have set up.
Those standards and opinions may be all true so far as they go; that is not the point in question now. What we want to impress upon the Christian reader is, that he is not to be governed by the thoughts of his fellow-man, but simply and solely by the Word of God. It is of no value to hold a truth from man; I must hold it directly from God Himself. God may use a man to communicate His truth; but unless I hold it as from God, it has no divine power over my heart and conscience; it does not bring me into living contact with God, but actually hinders that contact by bringing in something between my sould and His holy authority.
We sould greatly like to enlarge upon and enforce this great principle; but we must forbear, just now, in order to unfold to the reader one or two solmen and practical points set forth in the eleventh chapter of Luke, points which, if entered into, will enable us to understand a little better how to find God's way. We shall quote the passage at length. "The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is sinble, they whole body is full of light; but when they eye is evelil, thy whole body also is full of darkness. Take heed, therefore, that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whose shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light."
Here, then, we are furnished with the true secret of discerning God's ay. It may seem very difficult, in the midst of the troubled sea of christendom, to seer one's course aright. So many conflictinf voices fall on the ear. So many opposing views solicit our attention, men of God differ so in judgment, shades of opinion are so multiplied, that it seems impossible to reach a sound conclusion. We go to one man who, so far as we can judge, seems to have a single eye, and he tells us one thing; we go to another man who also seems to have a single eye, and he tells the very reverse. Who, then, are we to think?
Well, one thing is certain, that our own eye is not single when we are running, in uncertainty and perplexity, from one man to another. The single eye is fixed on Christ alone, and thus the body is filled with light. The Israelite of old had not run hither and thither to consult with his fellow as to the right way. Each had the same divine guide, namely, the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night. In a word, Jehovah Himself was the infallible Guide of each member of the congregation. They were not left to the guidance of the most intelligent, sagacious, or experienced man in the assembly; neither were they left to follow their own way; each was to follow the Lord. The silver trumped announced to all alike the mind of God; and no one whose ear was open and attentive was left at any loss. The eye and the ear of each were to be directed to God alone, and not to a fellow-mortal. This was the secret of guidance in the trackless desert of old, and this is the secret of guidance in the vast moral wilderness through which God's redeemed are passing now. One man may say, Listen to me; and a third may say, Let each take his own way. Teh obediant heart says in opposition to all, I must follow my Lord.
This makes all so simple. It will not, by any means, tender to foster a spirit of haughty independence; quite the reverse. The more I am taught to lean on God alone for guidance, the more I shall distrust and look off from myself; and this, assuredly, is not independence. True, it will deliver me from servile following of any man, but giving me to feel my responsibility to Christ alone; but this is precisely what is so much needed at the present moment. The more closely we examine the elements that are abroad in the professing Church, the more we shall be convinced of our personal need of this entire subjection to divine authority, which is only another name for "the fear of the Lord," or, "a single eye."
There is one brief sentence, in the opening of the Acts of the Apostles, which furnishes a perfect antidote to the self-will and the servile fear of man so rife around us, and that is, "We must obey." This is the cure for self-will. "We must obey God." This is the cure for servile subjection to the commandments and the doctrines of men. There must be obedience, but obedience to what? To God's authority, and to that alone. Thus the soul is preserved from the influence of infidelity on the one hand, and supersititon on the other. Infidelity says, Do as you like. Superstition says, Do as man tells you. Faith says, "We must obey God."
Here is the holy balance of the soul in the midst of the conflicting and confounding influences around us in this our day. As a servant, I am to obey my Lord; as a child, I am to hearken to my Father's commandments. Nor am I the less to do this although my fellow-servants and my brethren may not understand me. I must remember that the immediate business of my soul is with God Himself.

He before whom the elders bow,
With Him is all my business now.
It is my privilege to be as sure that I have my Master's mind as to my path as that I have His Word for the security of my soul. If not, where am I? Is it not my privilege to have a single eye? Yes, surely. And what then? "A body full of light." Now, if my body is full of light, can my mind be full of perplexity? Impossible. The two things are wholly incompatible; and hence, when one is plunged "in a dark uncertainty," it is very plain his eye is not single. He may seem very sincere, he may be very anxious to be guided aright; but he may rest assured there is the lack of a single eye--that indespensable prerequisite to divine guidance. The Word is plain, "If thine eye is single, thy whole body is full of light."
God will ever guide the obedient, humble soul; but, on the other hand, if we do not walk according to the light communicated, we shall get into darkness, and oh, "how great is that darkness"! Nothing is more dangerous than tampering with the light which God gives. It must, sooner or later, lead to the most disastrous consequences. "Take heed, therefore, that the light which is in thee be not darkness." "Here ye, and give ear: be not proud; for the Lord hath spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God, before Hecause darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while you look for light, He turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness" (Jer. 13:15-16).
This deeply solemn. What a contrast between a man having a single eye, and a man not acting on the light which God has given him! The onehas his body full of light' the other has his body full of darkness: the one has no part dark; the other is plunged in gross darkness: the one is a light-bearer for the others; the other is a stumbling-block in the way. We know nothing more solmen than the judicial acting of God, in actually turning our light into darkness, because we have refused to act on the light which he has been pleased to impart.
Christian reader, art thou acting up to thy light? Has God sent a ray of light into thy soul? Has He shown thee something wrong in thy ways or associations? Art thou persisting in any line of action which conscience tells thee in not in full accordance with thy Master's will? Search and see. "Give glory to the Lord thy God." Act on the light. Do not hesitate. Think not of consequences. Obey, we beseech thee, the Word of thy Lord. This very moment, as thine eye scans these lines, let the purpose of thy soul be to depart from iniquity wherever thou findest it. Say not, Whither shall I go? What shall I do next? There is evil everywhere. It is only escaping from one evil to plunge into another. Say not these things; do not argue or reason; do not look at results; think not of what the world or the world-church will say of thee; rise above all these things, and tread the path of light--that path which shineth more and more unto the perfect day of glory.
Remember, God never gives light for two steps at a time. If He was given thee light for one step, then, in the fear and love of His Name, take that one step, and thou wilt assuredly get more light--yes, "more and more." But if there be the refusal to act, the light which is in thee whill become gross darkness, they feet will stumble on the dark mountains of error which lie on either side of the straight and narrow path of obedience; and thou wilt become a stumbling-block in the path of others.
Some of the most grievous stumbling blocks that lie, at this moment, in the pathway of anxious inquirers are found in the persons of those who once seemed to possess the truth, but have turned from it. The light which was in them has become darkness, and oh, how great and how appalling is darkness! How sad it is to see those who ought to be light-bearers, acting as positive hindrance to young and earnest Christians! But let not young Christians be hindered by them. The way is plain. "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." Let each one hear and obey for himself the voice of the Lord. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." The Lord be praised for this precious Word! It puts each one in the palce of direct responsibility to Christ Himself; it tells us plainly what is God's way, and just as plainly, how to find it.


~C. H. Mackintosh~

The Book of Zephaniah

Zephaniah prophesied and wrote to warn the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem about God's approaching judgment. He called this judgment period "the great day of the Lord." This great day is mentioned throughout Scripture and has both short-term and long-term applications as it relates to God's judgment on His people and all nations.


When the phrase "the day of the Lord" appears in the Bible, it usually is not referring to a single day or event but to a period of time.


For the most part, the book is a serious warning about the approaching day of God's judgment on all evil and rebellion against Him. Zephaniah saw a future worldwide judgment coming because of the sins of all humanity. But he especially focused on the judgment coming on Judah for her offenses against God. Zephaniah urged the people to humble themselves and repent - to change their attitude toward God, admit their sin, turn from their own way and begin following God's plans - before His prophecy of doom came upon them. This notional repentance happened in part during King Josiah's reforms and the revival that followed.


Zephaniah also prophesied about the coming judgment on the foreign nations: Philistia, Ammon, Moak, Cush and Assyria. After addressing the sins of Jerusalem once again, the prophet predicted a time when God would rescue, regather and restore His people. Then they would rejoice as true worshipers of the almighty God, and God would literally be among them as a victorious warrior.


Five major features characterize the book of Zephaniah. 1. Zephaniah is the only prophet to give an extended list of his ancestry. 2. It has the most detailed revelation in the Old Testament about the future "day of the Lord." 3. It is an example showing that God's people need to be confronted by His warnings of judgment as well as comforted by His promises of salvation. 4. It contains a well-developed teaching about the faithful remnant; this remnant would be restored when the Lord came to bring final judgment. Zephaniah's revelation about the coming day of God's judgment for the wicked and the great day of salvation for His people is a major contribution to the New Testament about the end times.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bible Study

As Christians, we are to study our Bible in order to understand our faith, to learn of God and His standards and purposes, and to learn more of our precious Savior, Jesus Christ.


Not all of us have a study Bible and, even though we are to always ask the Holy Spirit to teach us the meaning of His inspired Words in the Bible, I wonder if having a Bible study here, would help us grow more quickly into what God wants of us - and that is, to be holy, as He is holy. Bible study also helps us understand God and what He desires of us, it teaches us about God, His characteristics, His plans and purposes, and His standards.


This is what I have in mind: Take your Bible, read the passage, pray, and then, read the comments below to help you in your understanding. Sometimes, a compilation of resources (Study Bibles and Commentaries) help us to quickly understand what the Holy Spirit is telling us, and gives us a fuller picture of what was happening at the time.
_______________________________________________
Matthew 1:1


Presenting this genealogy was one of the most interesting ways that Matthew could begin a book for a Jewish audience. Because a person's family line proved his or her standing as one of God's chosen people, Matthew began by showing that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, the father of all Jews, and a direct descendant of David, fulfilling Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah's line. The facts of this ancestry were carefully preserved. This is the first of many profs recorded by Matthew to show that Jesus is the true Messiah.


Matthew 1:1


More than 400 years had passed since the last Old Testament prophecies, and faithful Jews all over the world were still waiting for the Messiah (Luke 3:15). Matthew wrote this book to Jews to present Jesus as King and Messiah, the promised descendant of David who would reign forever (Isaiah 11:1-5). The Gospel of Matthew links the Old and New Testaments and contains many references that show how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.
_______________________________________________


Tell me, would you enjoy a Bible Study here?? Would it help you in your understanding?? If so, we would go through the entire Bible, verse by verse. We will begin with the New Testament and travel through God's Word in the Old Testament as well. Would something like this help you to read your Bible on a daily basis??

Living By Faith



"The just shall live by his faith." The wieghty statement occurs in the second chapter of the prophet Habakkuk; and it is quoted by an inspired apostle in three of his Epistles, namely, Romans, Galatians, and Hewbrews, with a distinct application in each. In Rom. 1:17 it is applied to the great question of righteousness. the blessed apostle declares himself not ashamed of the gospel; "for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. for therein is the righteousness of God revelaed, on the principle of faith, to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."Then, in the third of Galatians, where the apostle is seeking to recall those erring assemblies to the foundations of Christianity, he says, "but that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith."
Finally, in the tenth of Hebrews, where the object is to exhort believers to hold fast their confidence, we read, "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, he might recieve the promise. For yet a little while, He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith." Here we have faith presented not only as the ground of righteousness, but as the vital principle by which we are to live, day by day, from the starting-post to the goal of the Christian course. There is no other way of righteousness, no other way of living, but by faith. It is by faith we are justified, and by faith we live. by faith we stand, and by faith we walk.
Now this is true of all Christians, and all should seek to enter into it fully. Every child of God is called to live by faith. It is a very grave mistake indeed to single out certain individuals who happen to have no visible source of temporal supplies, and speak of them as though they alone lived by faith. According to this view of the question, ninety-nine out of every hundred Christians would be deprived of the precious privilege of living by faith. If a man has a settled income' if he has a certain salary' if he has what is termed a secular calling, by which he earns bread for himself and his family, is he not privileged to live by faith? do none live by faith save those who have no visible means of support? Is the life of faith to be confined to the matter of trusting God for food and raiment?
What lowering of the life of faith it is to confine it to the question of temporal supplies! No doubt it is a very blessed and a very real thing to trust God for everying; but the life of faith has a far higher and wider range than mere bodily wants. It embraces all that in any wise conceerns us, in body, soul, and spirit. To live by faith is to walk with God: to cling to Him; to lean on Him; to draw from His exhaustless springs; to find all our resources in Him; and to have Him as a perfect covering for our eyes and a satisfying object for our hearts--to know Him as our only resource in all difficulties, and in our trials. It is to be absolutely, complete, and continually shut up to Him; to be undividedly dependent upon Him, apart from and above every creature confidence, every human hope, and every eathly expectation.
Such is the life of faith. Let us see that we understand it. it must be a reality, or nothing at all. It will not do to talk about the life of faith; we must live it; and in order to live it we must know God practically--know Him intimately, in the deep secret of our own souls. It is utterly vain and delusive to profess to be living by faith and looking to the Lord, while in reality our hearts are looking to some creature resource. How often do people speak and write about their dependence upon god to meet certain wants, and by the very fact of their making it known to a fellow-mortal they are, in principle, departing from the life of faith!
If I write to a friend, or publish to the church, the fact that i am looking to the Lord to meet a certain neeed, I am virtually off the ground of faith in that matter. The language of faith is this: "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him." t make known my wants, directly or indirectly, to a human being, is departure from the life of faith, and a positive dishonor to God. It is actually betraying Him. It is tantamount to saying that god has failed me, and i must look to my fellow for help. It is forsaking the living fountain and turning to a broken cistern. it is placing the creature between my soul and god, thus robbing my soul of rich blessing, and god of the glory due to him.
this is serious work, and it demands our most solemn attention. God deals in realities. he can never fail a trusting heart. But then, He must be trusted. It is of no possible use to talk about trusting Him when our hearts are really looking to creature streams. "What doth it profit, my brethren though a man say he hath faith?" Empty profession is but a delusion to the soul and a dishonor to God. The true life of faith is a grand reality. God delights in it, and He is glorified by it. There is nothing in all this world that so gratifies and glorifies God as the life of faith. "Oh how great is Tny goodness, which Thou has wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men! (Psa. 31:19)
How is it with you in reference to this great question? Are you living by faith? Ca you say, "the life that I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me?" Do you know what it is to have the living God filling the whole range of your soul's vision? Is He enough for you? Can you trust Him for everything--for body, soul and spirit--for time and eternity? Or are you in the habit of making known your wants to man in any one way? Is it a habit of yhour heart to turn to the creature for sympathy, succor, or counsel?
These are searching questions; but we entreat you not to turn away from them. Be assured it is morally healthful for our souls to be tested faithfully, as in the very presence of God. Our hearts are so terribly treacherous, that when we imagine we are leaning upon God, we are really leaning upon some human prop. Thus God is shut out, and we are left in barrenness and desolation.
And yet it is not that God does not use the creature to help and bless us. He does so constantly; and the man of faith will be deeply conscious of this fact, and truly grateful to every human agent that God uses to help him. God comforted Paul by the coming of Titus; but had Paul been looking to Titus, he would have had but little comfort. God used the poor widow to feed Elijah; but Elijah's dependence was not upon the widow, but upon God. Thus it is in every case.


~C. H. Mackintosh~