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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse #31

Matthew 10:23 Christ warned the disciples against premature martyrdom. They were to leave before the persecution got too great. We have plenty of work to do and many people to reach, our work won't be finished until Christ returns. And only after He returns will the whole world realize His true identity.
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Matthew 10:25 Beelzebub was also known as the lord of of flies and the prince of demons. The Pharisees accuse Jesus of using Beelzebub's power to drive out demons. Good is sometimes labeled evil. If Jesus, who is perfect, was called evil, His followers should expect that similar accusations will be directed at them. But those who endure will be vindicated.
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Matthew 10:29-31 Jesus said that God is aware of everything that happens even to sparrows, and you are far more valuable to Him than they are. You are so valuable that God sent His only Son to die for you (John 3:16). Because God places such value on you, you never fear personal threats or difficult trials. These can't shake God's love or dislodge His Spirit from within you. But this doesn't mean that God will take away all your troubles. The real test of value is how well something holds up under the wear, tear, and abuse of everyday life. Those who stand up for Christ in spite of our troubles truly have lasting value and will receive great rewards.
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Matthew 10:34 Jesus did not come to bring the kind of peace that glosses over deep differences just for the sake of superficial harmony. Conflict and disagreement will arise between those who choose to follow Christ and those who don't. Yet we can look forward to the day when all conflict will be resolved.
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Matthew 10:34-39 Christian commitment may separate friends and loved ones. In saying this, Jesus was not encouraging disobedience to parents or conflict at home. Rather, He was showing that His presence demands a decision. Because some will follow Christ and some won't, conflict will inevitably arise. As we take our cross and follow Him, our different values, morals, goals, and purposes will set us apart from others. Don't neglect your family, but remember that your commitment to God is even more important than they are. God should be your first priority.

I Stand at the Door and Knock

Lord, I praise You for Your unfailing love and provision in my life. Help me to see the sustaining truth You have for me today in Your Word.


"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20).


With all of the mighty power Jesus has as the Keeper of the Keys, there is one door He will not force open. And that is the door of a person's heart. This verse is a message to the unsaved person, and it pictures Jesus patiently standing - knocking, calling, waiting for the door to be opened to Him.


Opening the door is a definite act - it's done just as you would open the door of your house. A person can, by faith, throw open the door of their heart willingly. It is a deliberate act that anyone can choose to do in response to His knocking. Perhaps a sermon they heard, a hymn or a prayer, a near-death experience, a broken heart, a beautiful sunset - all of these could be Jesus knocking. Over and over, in so many ways, Jesus i saying to the unsaved person, "I love you. I want to come in, but you must open the door."


And when a person does choose to open the door to Him, it is a delightful act, because Jesus promises abundant life (John 10:10). And when He comes in, He is first the guest and then He becomes the host - "I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me". He is saying, "You give me your all and then you can have My all." All by opening the door!


~Adrian Rogers~

Nine Questions that Reveal the Heart



From Ed Welch's excellent book, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, p. 130 -

Questions that reveal the heart:

1. What do you truly want?

2. What is your purpose in life?

3. What or whom do you really love?

4. When do you get most sad or depressed?

5. When do you get hopeless?

6. What do you get most excited about? What brings you the greatest pleasure?

7. What is your dream?

8. How would you like to be remembered?

9. What do you especially want to avoid?

Prayer in response to these questions:
Lord, help! My heart is so filled with self-absorption and the strong desire to be liked and respected by others. My hopes, dreams, fears, pleasures and frustrations are so bound up with what I want and with what people think of me. I cannot live for you and live to please people. I cannot serve your kingdom and my own reputation and advancement in the world. I cannot worship you with one eye always fixed on what other people think of me. Break down these idols of vanity, self-concern, fear of man and a deep desire for respect. Replace these foolish things with a powerful, transforming vision of Your kingdom, Your glory, Your grace, Your goodness. Bow my heart in the light of Your amazing holiness and patient compassion. Fill my soul with the light of Your love, that I may love You and love others. You are my only hope, Lord Jesus, Amen.

Another prayer, from an anonymous Puritan:

My God, I feel it is heaven to please You,
and to be what You would have me be.

O that I were holy as You art holy,
pure as Christ is pure,
perfect as Your Spirit is perfect!
These, I feel, are the best commands in Your Book,
and shall I break them? must I break them?
am I under such a necessity as long as I live here?

Woe, woe is me that I am a sinner,
that I grieve this blessed God,
who is infinite in goodness and grace!

O if He would punish me for my sins,
it would not wound my heart so deep to offend Him;
But though I sin continually,
He continually repeats His kindness to me.

At times I feel I could bear any suffering,
but how can I dishonour this glorious God?
What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings?
O that I could consecrate my soul and body to His service,
without restraint, for ever!
O that I could give myself up to Him,
so as never more to attempt to be my own!
or have any will or affections that are not perfectly
conformed to His will and His love!

~Pastor Jason A. Van Bemmel - the Pilgrim Pastor

Fix Your Heart Upon Your Treasure

"At times temptation presses in with violent demands. To combat the power and force of these we must prepare our hearts with strong antidotes beforehand. Fix your heart upon your true treasure, your fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. Flee to God to hide you. Here the tempter cannot reach you. Be much in communion with God, and the devil will have little communion with you. If he does try, he will have little effect. The soul is secure under the deep, warm, and constant sense of God's being your all in all.

"What powerful ammunition this is against the assaults and incursions of the tempter. Take up your wings, O Christian, and fly away that you may rest (Isa. 40:31). When the soul has taken its flight, O how easily does it soar above the smoke and dust of fleshly lusts! Rusty spots on cold metal disappear when it is heated and burns red hot. Get your heart on fire and you will be Elijah-like in a flaming chariot of holy longings after God. Love your dear Master, and you will not find a love for sin.

"Bathe your soul with the everlasting beauty of holiness and the ugliness of all iniquity. Also, understand your own self. Do not be a stranger to yourself. Unlock your bosom, and ransack every corner of your heart. Make a diligent search. Feel the pulse of your soul. Don't let any region of your mind be undiscovered. Watch how the tempter has taken advantage of you in the past. Make these searches daily and compare them to the eternal law of God. These considerations will greatly help in the prevention and cure for the sins which so easily beset us.



~Pastor Jason A. Van Bemmel~

Pondering the Excellencies of Jesus



I've been thinking lately about the wonderful titles and attributes of Jesus and how each of them speaks of how wonderful and valuable and incomparable He is -

1. He is our Savior, the One who rescues us from sin and death by His death and resurrection.

2. He is the Christ, the Anointed One, Messiah, chosen by God and anointed by His Spirit to be our representative and our champion, our great Head.

3. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. He was before all things and He will endure forever as the Head of he New Creation, the New Heaven and Earth.

4. He is our Wonderful Counselor, the One who speaks the truth from His perfect wisdom, the One who always has our best interests in His heart when he advises us.

5. He is the Mighty God, unrivaled in power and might, awesome and majestic, Creator and Sustainer of all things.

6. He is the Everlasting Father. The best earthly fathers sometimes disappoint and all of them eventually pass away, but Jesus is everlasting and perfect.

7. He is the Prince of Peace, the only one who can bring us true peace, because He is the only One who can reconcile us to God and to one another and cleanse our consciences of all guilt.

8. He is Emmanuel, God with Us. In this Title of Christ, we see how he is the fulfillment of God's great desire and plan for the ages, that he would be with His people and His people would be with Him, forever.

9. He is the Chief Cornerstone, the foundation of the church, the anchor for His people, the solid foundation of the family of God.

10. He is the Word of God, the Logos- the great and powerful Word that framed the heavens and that orders all things.

11. He is our Righteousness, the One who makes us acceptable to God, who covers the filth of our sin with His spotless record of a perfect righteous life.

12. He is our Older Brother, the One who rightfully has the inheritance of God, the universe, and who graciously shares it with us.

13. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, the ruler of the kings of the earth and the majestic prince who sits enthroned above all earthly powers.

14. He is the Son of Abraham and the Son of David, the fulfillment of God's Old Testament covenant promises and the embodiment of His faithfulness.

15. He is our Redemption, the One who in Himself has bought us back from our slavery to sin and our imprisonment to despair.

16. He is the Head of His Body, the Church. He alone rules the Church, directs her priorities by His word, receives her worship and empowers her ministry and mission for His kingdom purposes.

17. He is the Lord. When the Bible uses this title, it has two truths in mind: Jesus is YaHWeH, the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is also the master, the ruler over His people - and what a Master we have!

18. He is our Friend. He has befriended us and shown His will and plans to us in His Word. He has established fellowship with us and listens to us when we speak to Him.

19. He is our Master and we are His slaves. He is the Master who willingly submitted Himself to slavery for our redemption and now calls us His slaves, slaves He bought with His won blood, slaves He loves and adopts into His family, and slaves whose only freedom is found in total surrender and service to Him. - More on this theme from Michael Card

20. He is our Bridegroom and we are His bride. He loves us, draws us to Himself, cleanses us and dresses us in a spotless gown. In the end, He will take His bride to Himself and be with us forever.

21. He is the Warrior who fights our battles for us, winning the victory over our enemies and leading us in triumph for eternity.

22. He is the Great Physician, the Healer of our souls and our bodies who will one day heal us so completely that we will never be sick or suffer again.

23. He is our Advocate with the Father, the One who speaks in our defense and whose blood and righteousness secure our acquittal every time.

24. He is the Brightness of His Father's Glory, the One who shines with radiant splendor, the very splendor of God. If we were to see Him, we would fall at His feet like we were dead and beg Him to depart from us, as we would be keenly aware of our sinful unworthiness.

25. He is the Consolation of Israel, the One who brings comfort to God's people, as He brings peace and speaks His peace to our souls.

26.  He is the Desired of All Nations. The nations of the earth, all peoples of the world, long for the deliverance, freedom, peace and healing that He alone can bring. He brings the Gospel of His Kingdom to all nations, excluding none.

27. He is our Eternal Life. It is the power of His unquenchable life that He gives us and which empowers us to live forever. Just as it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him, so death will be forced to relinquish us at His command.

28. He is the Light of the World, the One whose very presence and influence shatters and dispels the darkness of ignorance, sin, despair and death. He shines with a brilliance infinite and eternal and He will be the light of the New Jerusalem, shining forever and banishing all shadow and night.

29. He is our Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for us and who leads us in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

30. He is I AM, the unchanging, self-sufficient, self-defining, self-sustaining, ever-faithful and unchanging One.

I could go on and on . . . For a more complete list of the titles of Jesus from Scripture, look at this page. As I reflect on these names, each one is so wonderful in itself, and yet the full excellence of Christ is the fact that He Himself fulfills all of these titles and has all of these attributes in Himself.

How impossibly wonderful our Lord and Savior truly is!

~Pastor  Jason A. Van Bemmel~

Determine to Find Him

"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up" (Psalm 5:3).


I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.


Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which mark our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.


If we would find God amid all the religious externals, we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity.


Quiet my heart, Lord, that I might be still enough to find You in the midst of this complex world. Simplify my life that I may never lose sight of You. Amen


~A. W. Tozer~

Are You Listening to God?

"They said to Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die" (Exodus 20:19)


We don't consciously and deliberately disobey God - we simply don't listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them - not because of willful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him. "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Once we realize we have constantly been showing disrespect to God, we will be filled with shame and humiliation for ignoring Him.


"You speak with us, ... but let not God speak with us ..." We show how little love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don't want God Himself  to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God's servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative. We respond by saying, "Well, that's only your own idea, even though I don't deny that what you said is probably God's truth".


Am I constantly humiliating God by ignoring Him, while He lovingly continues to treat me as His child? Once I finally do hear Him, the humiliation I have heaped on Him returns to me. My response then becomes, "Lord, why was I so insensitive and obstinate?" This is always the result once we hear God. But our real delight in finally hearing Him is tempered with the shame we feel for having taken so long to do so.


~Oswald Chambers~



Three Principles of Victory

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9)


Jesus calmed the raging sea not so that the disciples could witness another miracle, but so that they might be caught up in the reality of His strength and personal care for them. Jesus allowed fear to captivate their hearts briefly so they could learn of Him. After the first few opening chapters of the book of Acts, we see His principles come to life in the lives of His followers. They found their strength in Jesus.


Joshua faced a similar situation as he prepared to lead Israel into the promised land. Chosen by God to complete the task, Joshua struggled with thoughts of fear and failure.


The angel of the Lord gave him three principles to keep him focused on the victory of God's strength: meditate on the Word of God daily; focus, be watchful and not distracted by the turmoil around him; and do exactly what God told him to do.


When you begin to realize who Jesus Christ is and how much He cares for you, your faith level will increase. The greater your faith level, the clearer His strength will become.


Remember what the angel of the Lord said to Joshua: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).


Dear Heavenly Father, I choose to meditate on Your Word today instead of my own circumstances. I want to be watchful and not distracted by the turmoil around me. Help me to do exactly what You tell me to do. Increase my faith level today. Amen


~Charles Stanley~

The Love of Jesus


The Love of Jesus.

In looking at Revelation 1: 5, 6, we can trace the following actings of love: first, love thinks of its objects. This marks the motive in operation to be unaffectedly pure, for when the heart regales itself by meditating on its object, it seeks not to be noticed, to be praised or exalted for thinking of its object; its reward is found in the very thought itself — a reward, a pleasure with which nothing can compare.
Secondly, love visits its object. It could not be content with merely thinking: the same principle that leads love to think with pleasure, induces it to visit its object; and, moreover, we can trace the same purity, elevation, and disinterestedness, in the visit as in the thought. It does not think upon its object in order to please or attract the attention of any one, neither does it visit in order to effect such ends; it has its own real, substantial enjoyment, both in thinking of and visiting its object.
Thirdly, love suffers for its object. It rests not satisfied with merely thinking of, or visiting its object — it must suffer. In order to exhibit itself in all its reality and intensity, love must put itself to cost for its object; it must spend and be spent, not because it expects a return, but simply because it will express itself in a way not to be mistaken. Love never thinks of what it may reap for itself in thus suffering. No: it simply contemplates its object, in thinking of, visiting, and suffering for it.
Fourthly, love exalts its object. This is the highest point. In the exaltation of its object, love sees the fruit of previous thought, visitation, and suffering. Hence, loves feels exquisite happiness in exalting its object, for in so doing, it reaps the wished-for harvest.
Let us now apply the above blessed characteristics of love to the Lord Jesus, and see how His love exhibited all of them. Did not He ponder in His own eternal mind His much-loved Church before the foundation of the world? Yes, truly, "His gracious eye surveyed us ere stars were seen above." Did He rest satisfied with merely thinking about us? No: He laid aside all His glory; He came down into this cold, heartless world, as into a vast quarry, from whence He hoped to hew out stones for the temple. He made His way down into this ''rough valley" of ours, which had "neither been eared nor sown." "The day-spring from on high hath visited us;" but He did not rest satisfied with coming down to look at us in our misery and degradation; He determined to suffer for us, to groan, to bleed, to die for us; He hath washed us in "His own blood," which marks the intensity of His suffering for us. What, then, was all this for? Why those ineffable sufferings of Jesus? Why the groans and bloody sweat in the garden? Why the mysterious hour of profound darkness, together with the cry, "Why hast Thou forsaken me?" Simply that the love of Jesus might exalt its object. And He has exalted His object, yea, to the highest point of elevation: "He hath made us kings and priests unto God."
Thus we have seen how the love of Jesus has thought of, visited, suffered for, and exalted its object: this is for our comfort. But then we should remember that if we love Jesus, we too will often like to think of Him, to contemplate His grace, ponder over His perfections; moreover, we will pay frequent visits to the secret of His sanctuary, not to gain a name as persons of much prayer, but simply to indulge the desires of our hearts after Him "who is the fairest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely." Again, we shall be ready to suffer for Him, not in order to commend ourselves to our brethren as persons of great energy and zeal, but to express the high estimation in which we hold His blessed Person. Finally, it will be our constant effort to exaltHim in every place; our constant cry will be, "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together." Let us earnestly pray for such a deep tide of Divine love in our poor, cold, narrow, selfish hearts, as will make our service not the mere spurt of imperfect zeal, kindled by the unhallowed spark of human opinion, but the calm, steady, constant flow of unalterable affection for Jesus — that affection which has its primary joy in pondering over its object, ere it comes forth as an actor or a sufferer in His cause.
"Come, saints, praise the Lamb, His mercies proclaim,
And lift up your heads and sing of His name;
His love to the Church, which He purchased with blood,
To make her His bride and the temple of God."


~C. H. Mackintosh~

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse #30

Matthew 10:8 Jesus gave the disciples a principle to guide their actions as they ministered to others: "Freely you have received, freely give." Because God has showered us with His blessings, we should give generously to others of our time, love and possessions. 
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Matthew 10:14 Why did Jesus tell His disciples to shake the dust of their feet if a city or home didn't welcome them? When leaving Gentile cities, pious Jews often shook the dust from their feet to show their separation from Gentile practices. If the disciples shook the dust of a Jewish town from their feet, it would show their separation from Jews who rejected their Messiah. This gesture was to show the people that they were making a wrong choice - that the opportunity to choose Christ might not present itself again. Are you receptive to teaching from God? If you ignore the Spirit's prompting, you may not get another chance.
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Matthew 10:16 The opposition of the Pharisees would be like ravaging wolves. The disciples only hope would be to look to their Shepherd for protection. We may face similar hostility. Like the disciples, we are not to be sheeplike in our attitude but sensible and prudent. We are not to be gullible pawns but neither are we to be deceitful connivers. We must find a balance between wisdom and vulnerability to accomplish God's work.
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Matthew 10:17, 18 Later the disciples experienced these hardships (Acts 5:40; 12:1-3), not only from without (governments, courts), but also from within (friends, family). Living for God often brings on persecution, but with it comes the opportunity to tell the good news of salvation. In times of persecution, we can be confident because Jesus has "overcome the world" (John 16:33). And those who endure to the end will be saved.
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Matthew 10:19, 20 Jesus told the disciples that when arrested for preaching the gospel, they should not worry about what to say in their defense - God's Spirit would speak through them. Some mistakenly think this means we don't have to prepare to present the gospel because God will take care of everything. Scripture teaches, however, that we are to make carefully prepared, thoughtful statements (Colissians 4:6). Jesus was not telling us to stop preparing but to stop worrying.

Christian Quotes - #25

Very often, when people first turn toward God and realize that God loves them and that everything about them matters to Him, a wave of joyful emotion overwhelms them. But actual faith is mostly the realization that, even though we don't in the least deserve it, God believes in us and finds us lovable. This is astonishing! (Philip Pare)


Faith is nothing at all tangible. It is simply believing God; and, like sight, it is nothing apart from its object. You might as well shut your eyes and look inside to see whether you have sight, as to look inside and discover if you have faith. (Hannah Whitall Smith)


Onward is faith - and leave the rest to Heaven. (Robert Southey)


Faith is reason at rest in God. (Charles Spurgeon)


As the flower is before the fruit, so is faith before good works. (Richard Whately)


Faithfulness:


Our prayers will be most like the prayer of Christ if we do not ask God to show us what is going to be, or to make any particular thing happen, but only pray that we may be faithful in whatever happens. (Fr. Andrew)


Watch where Jesus went. The one dominant note in His life was to do His Father's will. His is not the way of wisdom or of success, but the way of faithfulness. (Oswald Chambers)


It is, however, only by fidelity in little things that a true and constant love of God can be distinguished from a passing fervor of spirit. (Francois Fenelon)


God requires a faithful fulfillment of of the merest trifle given us to do, rather than the most ardent aspiration to things to which we are not called. (Francis de Sales)


Faithfulness in little things is a big thing. (John Chrysostom)


It is better to be faithful than famous. (Theodore Roosevelt)

I Have Set Before You an Open Door

Lord, make my heart ready for Your message to me today.


"...He Who has the key of David, He Who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens:" "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name." (Revelation 3:7-8)


Our Lord is the Keeper of the Keys, and we can rest assured that He has the key to every circumstance in our life. This doesn't mean we presume He'll open and shut whatever doors we want! It means we fix our eyes on Jesus, Who is holy and true, because only He holds the keys to the doors of destiny.


One of the doors He opens is the door of greatness. God wants His people to do great things. He set before the Philadelphia church a door of opportunity - and He explained why. They weren't strong financially, intellectually or numerically, but they used what strength they had to keep God's Word and to defend the name of Jesus. They were saturated with the Word of God and dedicated to the Son of God; therefore they were activated by the Spirit of God! He opened the door of greatness for them to walk through.


Now, anyone can refuse to walk through the doors God opens. That is true of the door of grace. Faith is a gift of God, and had God not opened that door to you, you never would have believed. But when you stepped through the open door and accepted His gift of salvation, you entered into a glorious new life that is your eternally!


We saw that Jesus took the keys of death and hell, so He controls the door to the grave (Revelation 1:18). And He also has the key to Glory, as we'll see when we peer into heaven's open door (Revelation 4:1). These keys rest safely in His hands, never to be misplaced.


If you see before you a closed door today, talk to the Keeper of the Keys and seek His will for your life.


~Adrian Rogers~

Is Your Mind Stayed on God?

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3)


Is your mind stayed on God or is it starved? Starvation of the mind, caused by neglect, is one of the chief sources of exhaustion and weakness in a believer's life. If you have never used your mind to place yourself before God, begin to do it now. There is no reason to wait for God to come to you. You must turn your thoughts and your eyes away from the face of idols and look to Him and be saved. (Isaiah 45:22).


Your mind is the greatest gift God has given you and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him. You should seek to be "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ ..." (2 Corinthians 10:5). This will be one of the greatest assets of your faith when a time of trial comes, because then your faith and the Spirit of God will work together. When you have thoughts and ideas that are worthy of credit to God, learn to compare and associate them with all that happens in nature - the rising and the setting of the sun, the shining of the moon and the stars, and the changing of the seasons. You will begin to see that your thoughts are from God as well, and your mind will no longer be at the mercy of your impulsive thinking, but will always be used in service to God.


"We have sinned with our fathers ... [and] ... did not remember ..." (Psalm 106:6-7). Then prod your memory and wake up immediately. Don't say to yourself, "But God is not talking to me right now." He ought to be. Remember whose you are and whom you serve. Encourage yourself to remember, and your affection for God will increase tenfold. Your mind will no longer be starved, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your hope will be inexpressibly bright.


~Oswald Chambers~

More Thoughts to Ponder

For every look at "self" - take ten looks at Christ!


Unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again - you will never come to the bottom of these depths!


Get your texts from God - your thoughts, your words, from God. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the "instrument", will be success. It is not great talents God blesses - so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister/teacher is a powerful weapon in the hand of God.


A man or woman is what they is are on their knees before God - and nothing more.


Live near to God - and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities.


Lord, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be! Amen



Thoughts to Ponder

Affliction brings out graces that cannot be seen in a time of  health. It is the treading of the grapes that brings out the sweet juices of the vine; so it is affliction that draws forth submission, weanedness from the world, and complete rest in God. Use afflictions while you have them.


Affliction shows the power of Christ's blood, when it gives peace in an hour of trouble, when it can make happy in sickness, poverty, persecution and death. Do not be surprised if you suffer, but glorify God.


Your afflictions may only prove that you are more immediately under the Father's hand. There is no time that the patient is such an object of tender interest to the Surgeon, as when he is under the "knife". So you may be sure if you are suffering from the hand of God, that His eye is all the more on you.


When old companions, old lusts, and sins crowd in upon you, and when you feel that you are ready to sink, what can save you, sinking sinner? This alone: I have a high Priest in heaven, and He can support in the hour of affliction. This alone can give you peace - I have a high Priest in heaven. When friends can do you no good, when sins rise up like spectres around you, what can give you peace? This: "I have a high Priest in heaven."


Learn that urgency in prayer does not so much consist in vehement pleading, as in vehement believing. He that believes most the love and power of Jesus will obtain the most in prayer.


If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He "is" praying for me. Amen


~Robert Murray McCheyne~

The Life and Times of Elijah - #36


Sects are not the Church, nor religious parties the body of Christ. Hence, to be attached to the sects is to find ourselves in some of those numerous tributary streams which are rapidly flowing onward into the terrible vortex of which we read in Rev. 17 and 18. Let us not be deceived — principles will work, and systems will find their proper level. Prejudice will operate, and hinder the carrying out of those heavenly principles of which we speak.
Those who will maintain Paul's gospel will find themselves, like him, deserted and despised amid the splendid pomp and glitter of the world. The clashing of ecclesiastical systems, the jarring of sects, and the din of religious controversy, will surely drown the feeble voices of those who would speak of the heavenly calling and rapture of the Church.
But let the spiritual man who finds himself in the midst of all this sad and heart-sickening confusion remember the following simple principle: Every system of ecclesiastical discipline, and every system of prophetic interpretation, which would connect the Church, in any one way, with the world, or things of the world, must be contrary to the spirit and principles of the great mystery developed by the Holy Ghost in the apostle of the Gentiles.
The Church stands in no need of the world's aid in the matter of order or discipline. The Holy Ghost dwells in the Church, broken and scattered though it be, notwithstanding all man's unbelief about it; and if there be any introduction of the earthly or human element, it can only have the sad effect of grieving Him whose presence is the very light of believers and the spring and power of ministry and discipline.
And then, as to the Church's hope, “we look for the Saviour,” and not for the accomplishment of any earthly event. Thank God, believers are not taught to wait for the revelation of Antichrist, but for the appearing of the blessed Son of God, who loved them and gave Himself for them. Christians should understand that they have nothing to look for save their rapture into the air to meet the Lord. The world may ridicule the idea, and false teachers may build up systems hostile to it, for the purpose of shaking the faith of the simple-minded; but through grace we will continue to “comfort one another” with the assurance that “the days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.”
I must now close this paper. I am deeply conscious of how feebly and incoherently I have developed what I have in my mind concerning the doctrine of the Church; but I have no doubt of its real importance, and feel assured that as the time draws near much light will be communicated to believers about it. At present, it is to be feared, few really enter into it.
If it were understood, there would be far less effort to attain a name and a place on earth. Paul, the great witness of the Church's heavenly calling, must have exhibited a poor spectacle in the view of the children of this world, and so will all who maintain his principles and walk in his steps; but he comforted his spirit with the thought that “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His”; and he also knew that in the very darkest time there would be a few who would “call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” May our lot be cast among such, in the midst of this sorrowful scene, until we shall see Jesus as He is, and be made like Him forever!


~C. H. Mackintosh~


(This ends the article on The Life and Times of Elijah. I truly pray that we all received many blessings from reading this very in-depth article by C. H. Mackintosh. We will hear more from this great Christian writer as time goes on.)

The Life and Times of Elijah - #35


This was the spring of Paul's joy as he lay a despised and neglected prisoner in the dungeon of Nero. He was not ashamed, for he knew that the Church, though broken in pieces here, was nevertheless held in the everlasting grasp of the Son of God, and that He was able to keep it until the happy moment of its rapture to meet Him in the air.
[A letter has been put into my hand. from a dear and valued servant of Christ. from which I extract the following statements which are well worthy of attention: “The Holy Ghost came down from heaven to form one body on the earth 'for by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body.' This is the unity we are responsible to maintain — the unity of the Spirit, the other, final one, God secures infallibly. If God set in the Church 'healings,' it certainly is not in heaven. One has only to read 1 Cor. 10 - 11 to learn that the unity of the Church on earth is a fundamental, essential, divine institution — the cardinal truth which will distinguish, I believe, those who have faith to walk devotedly in these last days, and without which the expectation of Christ will be only personal deliverance, and not 'The Spirit and the Bride say, Come.'"]
But it may be asked: How can believers be said to be seated in heavenly places when they are yet in the world, struggling with its difficulties, its sorrows and temptations? The same question may be asked in reference to the important doctrine of Rom. 6: How can believers be represented as dead to sin when they find sin working in them continually? The answer to both is one and the same.
God sees the believer as dead with Christ, and He also sees the Church as raised with and seated in Christ; but it is the province of faith to lead the soul into the reality of both. “Reckon yourselves to be” what God tells you you are. The believer's power to subdue indwelling corruption consists in his reckoning himself to be dead to it; and his power of separation from the world consists in his reckoning himself to be raised with Christ and seated in Him. The Church, according to God's estimation, has as little to do with sin and the world as Christ has; but God's thoughts and our apprehensions are very different things.
We must never forget that every tendency of the human mind not only falls short of but stands actually opposed to all this divine truth about the Church. We have seen how long it was ere man could take hold of it — how it was forced out, as it were, and pressed upon him; and we have only to glance at the history of the Church for the last eighteen centuries to see how feebly it was held and how speedily it was let go. The heart naturally clings to earth, and the thought of an earthly corporation is attractive to it.
Hence we may expect that the truth of the Church's heavenly character will only be apprehended and carried out by a very small and feeble minority.
It is not to be supposed that the Protestant reformers exercised their thoughts on this momentous subject. They were made instrumental in bringing out the precious doctrine of justification by faith from amid the rubbish of Romish superstition, and also in letting in upon the human conscience the light of inspiration in opposition to the false and ensnaring dogmas of human tradition.
This was doing not a little: yet it must be admitted the position and hopes of the Church engaged not their attention. It would have been a bold step from the church of Rome to the Church of God; and yet it will be found in the end that there is not distinct neutral ground between the two; for every church, or, to speak more accurately, every religious corporation, reared up and carried on by the wisdom and resources of man, be its principle ever so pure and ever so hostile to Catholicism, will be found, when judged by the Spirit, and in the light of Heaven, to partake more or less of the element of the Romish system.
The heart clings to earth, and will with difficulty be led to believe that the only time wherein God ceases to be manifestly occupied about earth — that the only unnoticed interval in the history of time — is just the period wherein He, by the Holy Ghost, is gathering out the Church to form the body of Christ; and moreover, that when God was dealing publicly with earth, the Church, properly so called, was not contemplated; and that when He shall resume His public dealings with the earth and with Israel, the Church will be out of the scene.
To understand all this requires a larger measure of spirituality than is to be found with many Christians.* The question naturally arises in the mind of the inquirer after truth, “What is the most scriptural form of Church government?” To what body of Christians should I attach myself?” The answer to such questions is, “Attach yourself to those who are 'endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.'
{*The reader will, I trust, understand the distinction between God's public actings and His secret operations by His providence. The former ceased when Israel was set aside, and will be resumed when Israel comes again into notice; the latter are going on now. God controls the wheels of government and the counsels of kings to bring about His own great designs.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.}


~C. H. Mackintosh~


(continued with #36)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse - #29

Matthew 9:35 The gospel of the kingdom was that the promised and long-awaited Messiah had finally come. His healing miracles were a sign that His teaching was true.
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Matthew 9:35-38 Jesus needs workers who know how to deal with people's problems. We can comfort others and show them the way to live because we have been helped with our problems by God and His labors (2 Corinthians1:3-7).
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Matthew 9:37, 38 Jesus looked at the crowds following Him and referred to them as a field ripe for harvest. many people are ready to give their lives to Christ if someone would show them how. Jesus commands us to pray that people will respond to this need for workers often, when we pray for something. God answers our prayers by using us. Be prepared for God to use you to show another person the way to Him.
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Matthew 10:5-6 Why didn't Jesus send the disciples to the Gentiles or the Samaritans? A Gentile is anyone who is not a Jew. The Samaritans were a race that resulted from intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles after the Old Testament captivities. Jesus asked His disciples to go only to the Jews because He came first to the Jews. God chose them to tell the rest of the world about Him. Jewish disciples and apostles preached the Gospel of the risen Christ all around the Roman Empire, and soon Gentiles were pouring into the church. The Bible clearly teaches that God's message of salvation is for all people, regardless of race, sex, or national origin.
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Matthew 10:7 The Jews were waiting for the Messiah to usher in His kingdom. They hoped for a political and military kingdom that would free them from Roman rule and bring back the days of glory under David and Solomon. But Jesus was talking about a spiritual kingdom. The gospel today is that the kingdom is still near. Jesus, the Messiah, has already begun His kingdom on earth in the hearts of His followers. One day the kingdom will be fully realized. Then evil will be destroyed and all people will live in peace with one another.

I Know Your Works

Lord, allow these truths to lead me to a deeper worship of You.


"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write ... "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead." (Revelation 3:1).


The church at Sardis was a popular church with a great reputation. Had it been our day, there would have been a lot of eloquence in the pulpit and elegance in the pews. What a fine name they had made for themselves! But sometimes names don't mean all that much. The tragedy was this church wasn't alive at all. The organism had become an organization, and the movement had become a monument, and they were dead.


When a person dies, the spirit departs. And that's exactly what had happened to this church. The life of any church is the Holy Spirit of God. And when the Spirit leaves, the life is gone.
Not only does the spirit depart at death, but the senses depart; the feeling goes. have you ever been in a church where all of feeling is gone? There's just a barren stillness, no warmth or sensitivity. And the people sitting there so stiffly don't seem to know the difference between dignity and rigor mortis. They think they're dignified, but they're dead!


Now, we shouldn't overemphasize feeling, but the Bible does say that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17). We don't have to fry in fanaticism or freeze in formalism. But we ought to have a passionate love for the Lord Jesus Christ that leads us to heartfelt worship. We should never settle for just going through the motions, like these people at Sardis. They only had the "appearance" of life when, in truth, their light had gone out.


Think of the stars - for instance, the North Star. In the northern hemisphere, we can see it shining brightly in the night sky. But did you know that star is 430 light years away? That means the light we see left 430 years ago. So the star could have burned out decades ago and we would still be seeing the light from that star. Sadly, some churches - and some Christians - are burned out. They're dead and living only in the light of the brilliant past.


~Adrian Rogers~

Athirst For God

"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God" (Psalm 42:1)


In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct "interpretations" of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.


This is the only real harbinger of revival which I have been able to detect anywhere on the religious horizon. It may be the cloud of size of a man's hand for which a few saints here and there have been looking. It can result in a resurrection of life for many souls and a recapture of that radiant wonder which should accompany faith in Christ, that wonder which has all but fled the church in our day.


O Lord, I pray that a thirst for You may build and grow, may prove unquenchable and may indeed result in a recapturing of "that radiant wonder," both in my own faith and that of the church. Amen


~A. W. Tozer~

OH!

"Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak for I am a child" (Jeremiah 1:6).


In theology there is no "Oh!" and this is a significant if not an ominous thing. Theology seeks to reduce what may be known of God to intellectual terms, and as long as the intellect can comprehend, it can find words to express itself. When God Himself appears before the mind - awesome, vast and incomprehensible - then the mind sinks into silence and the heart cries out "O Lord God!" There is a difference between theological knowledge and spiritual experience, the difference between knowing God by hearsay and knowing Him by personal acquaintance. And the difference is not verbal merely; it is real and serious and vital!


We Christians should watch lest we lose the "Oh!" from our hearts.


When we become too glib in prayer we are most surely talking to ourselves. When the calm listing of requests and the courteous giving of proper thanks take the place of the burdened prayer that finds utterance difficult, we should beware the next step, for our direction is surely down whether we know it or not.


Lord, don't ever let me lose the "Oh!" from my heart. May I truly experience You so that my knowledge of You will inspire my cries of admiration. Amen


~A. W. Tozer~

God's Awesomeness

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"  (Romans 11:33)


Webster's Unabridged Dictionary lists 550,000 words. And it is a solemn and beautiful thought that in our worship of God there sometimes rush up from the depths of our souls feelings that all this wealth of words is not sufficient to express. To be articulate at certain times we are compelled to fall back upon "Oh!" or "O!" - a primitive exclamatory sound that is hardly a word at all and that scarcely admits of a definition.


Vocabularies are formed by many minds over long periods and are capable of expressing whatever the mind is capable of entertaining. But when the heart, on its knees, moves into the awesome Presence and hears with fear and wonder things not lawful to utter, then the mind falls flat, and words, previously its faithful servants, become weak and totally incapable of telling what the heart hears and sees. In that awful moment the worshiper can only cry "Oh!" And that simple exclamation becomes more eloquent than learned speech and, I have no doubt, is dearer to God than any oratory.


Lord, I come, with my heart on its knees, into Your awesome presence today. I long to know You better and to sense that awesomeness that leaves me speechless before You. Amen


~A. W. Tozer~

Is Your Ability to See God Blinded?

"Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things ..." (Isaiah 40:26).


The people of God in Isaiah's time had blinded their minds' ability to see God by looking on the face of idols. But Isaiah made them look up at the heavens; that is, he made them begin to use their power to think and to visualize correctly. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades, if  we will only begin to use our blinded thinking to visualize it.


The real test of spiritual focus is being able to bring your mind and thoughts under control. Is you mind focused on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself? Is it your work? Is it you idea of what a servant should be, or maybe your experience of salvation and sanctification? If so, then your ability to see God is blinded. You will be powerless when faced with difficulties and will be forced to endure in darkness. If your power to see has been blinded, don't look back on your own experiences, but look to God. It is God you need. Go beyond yourself and away from the faces of your idols and away from everything else that has been blinding your thinking. Wake up and accept the ridicule that Isaiah gave to his people, and deliberately turn your thoughts and your eyes to God.


One of the reasons for our sense of futility in prayer is that we have lost our power to visualize. We can no longer even imagine putting ourselves deliberately before God. It is actually more important to be broken bread and poured-out wine in the area of intercession than in our personal contact with others. The power of visualization is what God gives a saint to that he can go beyond himself and be firmly placed into relationships he never before experienced.


~Oswald Chambers~

The Power of God

"And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:15).


The plan of salvation displays to us, in a way that nothing else does, the power of God. The power of God was manifested in the Incarnation when He prepared a body for His Son and worked the miracle of the virgin birth - and what marvelous power! But not only that. I rather prefer to think of it like this: It is as we look at God in Christ and all that He did in Him and through this plan of salvation that we see His complete power to master everything that is opposed to Himself, everything that is opposed to the best interests of mankind, and everything that is opposed to the best interests of this world.


For the fact is that the whole problem has arisen in this way. One of the brightest of the angelic beings that were created by God rebelled against God and raised himself up against Him. That is the origin of satan. He is a power, a person, an angel of great might. He is as great as this: he deluded a man and conquered him, thereby making himself the god of this world and "the prince of the power of the air' (Ephesians 2:2). The power of the devil is somethng that we seriously underestimate. He believed he had overturned all the work of salvation when the Son of God went to the Cross.


But, says Paul in Colossians 2, it is there satan made his greatest blunder, for by the Cross God "spoiled principalities and powers, and He made to show of them openly, triumphing over them in it". Christ met satan face to face in single combat and routed him; at the Cross He fulfilled the promise given to man at the beginning, when Adam was told that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head. This was the plan of salvation.


~Martyn Lloyd-Jones~

Our Security in God

"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:28)


There is nothing uncertain about my acceptance with God, nor about my forgiveness, nor about my son(daughter)ship. When I realize that I have been brought into God's plan, I know that nothing can frustrate this.


Now there are many people who talk about the Protestant Reformation and the influence it had upon the world. You find that certain statesmen do this. They say you cannot explain the history of England apart from the Protestant Reformation. Neither, they say, can you explain the United States of America apart from these things, because they all had their origin in that Reformation. But how little do these people really see what it all means what it really represents, which is that these great truths are absolute and certain. Do you know what the Pilgrim fathers made that attempt and succeeded in crossing the Atlantic? What was it that enabled men to do things like that and to do things that were even more hazardous? It was that they believed in what is called "the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints"; it was because they had seen themselves in the plan that cannot be broken and that cannot fail. It is as absolute as God Himself; He knows the end as well as the beginning. "Neither shall any man," said Christ, "pluck them out of My hand." It is unthinkable.


If God has done all this for us in Christ, and especially in His death, we can be certain that He will carry on with the work until it is completed. That is Paul's argument: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). God, who is sufficiently concerned about me to send His Son to die on the Cross of Calvary for me, is not going to let me down when any difficulty or temptation faces me.


~Martyn Lloyd-Jones~

The Life and Times of Elijah - (part 34)

Hence we read that “after three days [from the time of his arrival at Rome] Paul called the chief of the Jews together; and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.... For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you; because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.... And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning till evening” (Acts 28: 17, 20, 23).
Here, then, we have this blessed “ambassador in bonds” still seeking out “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and offering them, in the first place, “the salvation of God.” But “they agreed not among themselves,” and at last Paul is constrained to say, “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive; for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted and I should heal them. BE IT KNOWN THEREFORE UNTO YOU, THAT THE SALVATION OF GOD IS SENT UNTO THE GENTILES, AND THAT THEY WILL HEAR IT. “
There was now no more hope. Every effort that love could make had been made, but to no purpose; and our apostle, with a reluctant heart, shuts them up under the power of that judicial blindness which was the natural result of their rejection of the salvation of God. Thus every obstacle to the clear and full development of Paul's gospel was removed. He found himself in the midst of the wide Gentile world — a prisoner at Rome and rejected of Israel. He had done his utmost to tarry among them; his affectionate heart led him to delay as long as possible ere he would reiterate the prophet's verdict; but now all was over — every expectation was blasted —  all human institutions and associations present to his view nothing but ruin and disappointment; he must therefore set himself to bring out that holy and heavenly mystery which had been hid in God from ages and generations — the mystery of the Church as the body of Christ united to its living Head by the Holy Ghost.
Thus closes the Acts of the Apostles, which, like the Gospels, is more or less connected with the testimony to Israel. So long as Israel could be regarded as the object of testimony, so long the testimony continued; but when they were shut up to judicial blindness, they ceased to come within the range of testimony, wherefore the testimony ceased.
And now let us see what this “mystery,” this “gospel,” this “salvation,” really was, and wherein its peculiarity consisted. To understand this is of the utmost importance. What, therefore, was Paul's gospel? Was it a different method of justifying a sinner from that preached by the other apostles? No; by no means. Paul preached both to the Jews and also to the Gentiles “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” This was the substance of his preaching.
The peculiarity of the gospel preached by Paul had not so much reference to God's way of dealing with the sinner as with the saint; it was not so much how God justified a sinner as what He did with him when justified. Yes — it was the place into which Paul's gospel conducted the saint that marked its peculiarity. As regards the justification of a sinner, there could be but one way, namely, through faith in the one offering of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But there could be numerous degrees of elevation as regards the standing of the saint. For example, a saint in the opening of Acts had higher privileges than a saint under the law. Moses, the prophets, John, our Lord in His personal ministry, and the twelve, all brought out varied aspects of the believer's position before God. But Paul's gospel went far beyond them all. It was not the kingdom offered to Israel on the ground of repentance, as by John the Baptist and our Lord; nor was it the kingdom opened to Jew and Gentile by Peter in Acts 3 and Acts 10; but it was the heavenly calling of the Church of God composed of Jew and Gentile, in one body, united to a glorified Christ by the presence of the Holy Ghost.
The Epistle to the Ephesians fully develops the mystery of the will of God concerning this. There we find ample instruction as to our heavenly standing, heavenly hopes, and heavenly conflict. The apostle does not contemplate the Church as a pilgrim on earth, (which, we need not say, is most true,) but as sitting in Heaven: not as toiling here, but resting there. “He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” It is not that He will do this, but “He hath” done it. When Christ was raised from the dead, all the members of His body were raised also; when He ascended into Heaven they ascended also; when He sat down, they sat down also; that is, in the counsel of God, and to be actualised in process of time by the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven.
Such was the thought and purpose of the divine mind concerning them. Believers did not know this at the first; it was not unfolded by the ministry of the twelve, as seen in the Acts of the Apostles, because the testimony to Israel was still going on; and so long as earth was the manifested scene of divine operation, and so long as there was any ground of hope in connection with Israel, the heavenly mystery was held back; but when earth had been abandoned and Israel set aside, the apostle of the Gentiles, from his prison at Rome, writes to the Church, and opens out all the glorious privileges connected with its place in the Heavens with Christ. When Paul arrived at Rome as a prisoner he had, as it were, arrived at the end of all human things. He no longer thought of the Church as exhibiting anything like a perfect testimony on earth. He knew how things would turn out as regards the Church's earthly path; he knew that it would fare with it even as it had fared with the vessel in which he had sailed from Jerusalem to Rome; but his spirit was buoyed up by the happy assurance that nothing could touch the unity of the body of Christ, because it was a unity infallibly maintained by God Himself.
[I believe it is of the deepest moment that the believer should avoid all looseness of thought, or indifference, in reference to the presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church and the unity of the body of Christ. The man who holds the former will assuredly seek the latter.]


~C. H. Mackintosh~


(continued with post #35)

The Life and Times of Elijah - (part 33)

Yet his affectionate heart yearned over his brethren who were still captivated by it all, and therefore he hesitated to let the full blaze of the light which had been communicated to him shine upon them, lest it should dazzle them, habituated as they were to the shadows of bygone days.
If this be a sound view of the conduct of our apostle in the matter of the vow, etc., it places him before us in a most truly interesting point of view, and also brings out very distinctly the two features of his character, namely, as the participator in the divine affections towards Israel, and also as the depositary of the divine counsels respecting the Church. Both these are lovely in their way. His fervent affection for Israel and his faithfulness to his own peculiar commission are both exquisite. Some may think he allowed the former to interfere at times with the latter, as in the matter of the vow; but it was an interference which we can well understand and account for.
His heart, however, led him to tarry in Jerusalem; yea, to tarry until the Lord had to compel him to leave it. His commission was to the Gentiles; and yet, again and again he betakes himself to Jerusalem, and in his unwillingness to depart from it reminds us of the “slow and measured steps” with which the glory as seen by Ezekiel had departed from the temple.
But the Lord would insist upon His servant's leaving Jerusalem. “Make haste,” said He, “and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning Me.” Paul's Jewish heart still lingers. He replies, “They know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on Thee; and when the blood of Thy martyr Stephen was shed, I was also standing by and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.”
What pleading is here! “Their unbelief is all my fault; my vileness acts as the great barrier to their reception of the testimony — only let me remain.” Impossible! “Depart: for I will send thee far hence, to the Gentiles.” Yes; the truth must be brought out; the divine counsels must be fulfilled; the time was come, and it was in vain for James to seek to stem the mighty current of events, or for Paul to linger or hesitate any longer: the crisis had arrived, and if Paul will after all this return to Jerusalem again, he must be carried away from it in bonds! He does return again.
The passage we have just quoted is Paul's own account of what the Lord had said to him on a former occasion, to which we have no allusion till now. Thus, although he had been expressly told to depart from Jerusalem because they would not receive his testimony, he goes thither again; and we know the result of this visit. It was his last.
The very thing that James dreaded and sought to avoid came upon them: an uproar was raised, and Paul was delivered over into the hands of the Gentiles. The Lord was determined to send him to the Gentiles. If he would not go as a free man, he must go as “an ambassador in bonds.” He could say, however, that it was for “the hope of Israel that he was bound with this chain.” If his heart had not longed so after Israel, he might have escaped the bonds. He left Israel without excuse, but he himself became a prisoner and a martyr.
Thus then, at length, Paul took leave of Jerusalem. He had visited it again and again, and would have tarried there; but it was not his place. Jerusalem had been for ages the object of divine regard and the centre of divine operation, but it was speedily about to be trodden down of the Gentiles; its temple was about to be laid in ruins, and the flock of Christ that had been gathered there was about to be scattered abroad; a few short years, and that spot which had stood so long connected with all God's thoughts about earth would be laid low, even with the dust, beneath the rude foot of the Roman.
Now Paul's departure may be looked upon as the immediate precursor of all this. The peculiar truth of which he was the depositary could only be brought out in all its fullness and power in connection with the abandonment of earth as the manifested scene of divine operation. Hence Paul's journey from Jerusalem to Rome must be viewed with deepest interest by the intelligent and reflecting Christian.
[It is a thought full of interest, in connection with the subject before us, that Paul's voyage to Rome gives us the history of the Church as regards its earthly destinies. The vessel sets out in due order, as a compact and well regulated thing, framed to endure the violence of the stormy ocean over which it had to pass. After a time the apostle offers a certain suggestion, which, being rejected, the ship is dashed to pieces by the waves. There was, however, an important distinction between the vessel and the individuals on board: the former was lost, the latter were all saved. Let us apply all this to the history of the Church in its earthly path. The testimony, as we know, emanated from Jerusalem, whence Paul started on his way to Rome. Apostolic testimony was designed to guide the Church in its earthly course, and preserve it from shipwreck: but this being rejected, failure and ruin were the consequences. But, in the progress of the failure, we perceive the distinction between the preservation of the Church's corporate testimony and individual faithfulness and salvation. “He that hath ears to hear” will always find a word of instruction and guidance for him in times of thickest darkness. The waves may dash in pieces the corporate thing — everything connected with earth may vanish away, “but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” The above picture might be traced far more minutely by those who feel they have intelligence and warrant to do so.]
But we may ask, did our apostle, when he turned his back upon Jerusalem, take leave also of Israel? No; he did not yet despair. True they had not received his testimony at Jerusalem, but perhaps they might receive it at Rome: they had not given him a place in the East, perhaps they would in the West. At all events he would try. He would not abandon Israel, though Israel had rejected him.


~C. H. Mackintosh~


(continued with post #34)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse - 28

Matthew 9:27-30 Jesus didn't respond immediately to the blind men's pleas. He waited to see if they had faith. Not everyone who says he wants help really believes God can help him. Jesus may have waited and questioned these men to emphasize and increase their faith. When you think God is too slow in answering your prayers, consider that He might be testing you as He did the blind men. Do you believe that God can help you? Do you really want His help?
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Matthew 9:28 These blind men were persistent. They went right into the house where Jesus was staying. They knew Jesus could heal them, and they would let nothing stop them from finding Him. That's real faith in action. If you believe Jesus is the answer to your every need, don't let anything or anyone stop you from reaching Him.
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Matthew 9:30 Jesus told the people to keep quiet about His healing because He did not want to be known only as a miracle worker. He healed because He had compassion on people, but He also wanted to bring spiritual healing to a sin-sick world.
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Matthew 9:34 In chapter 9, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of four different sins: blasphemy, befriending outcasts, impiety, and serving satan. Matthew shows how Jesus was maligned by those who should have received Him most gladly. Why did the Pharisees do this? Jesus bypassed their religious authority; He weakened their control over the people; He challenged their cherished beliefs; and He exposed their insincere motives.
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Matthew 9:34 While the Pharisees questioned, debated, and dissected Jesus, people were being healed and lives changed right in front of them. Their skepticism was based not on insufficient evidence but on jealousy of Jesus' popularity.

Hold Fast What You Have Till I Come

Thank You, Lord, for Your steadfast Word. Prepare my heart now to receive Your truth.


"But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations" (Revelation 2:25-26)


There was a Jezebel of a woman in the church at Thyatira and she was poisoning the fellowship (Revelation 2:20-23). She was a self-appointed prophetess, spouting theological and moral error that led to spiritual adultery. And the church was allowing her to continue teaching in the name of tolerance.


Perhaps they thought they were broadening their minds. But they were merely stretching their consciences. They were making a tragic mistake, tolerating something they shouldn't. And Jesus warned that this was the beginning of a malignancy which would destroy the life of their church.


Sometimes it's nice to be narrow, and sometimes it's wise to be intolerant - especially when it comes to those things which affect our eternal destiny. Churches are going to be under attack in these last days with seducing spirits and doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1). We can't let the popular philosophies and spiritual-sounding concepts of the day cause us to deviate from God's Word.


In Jesus' message to Thyatira, there is instruction for us on how to overcome. He gives them just one thing to do - He says, "Hold fast until I come." He tells them to get a firm grip on the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:2-4). and to stand fast. We're to hold tightly to God's truth as we await Christ's return.


It that seems difficult, remember that the saints are going to have their day. One of these days, Jesus is going to come and rule this world, and we're going to rule and reign with Him. It may not be long before He returns and gives us power over the nations. Don't give up, don't let down - stay with the Word of God. Hold fast to the truth of His Word and don't let go. Then you'll be an overcomer.


~Adrian Rogers~

Christian Quotes - 24

Faith:


Faith is a gift which can be given or withdrawn; it is something infused into us, not produced by us. (Robert Benson)


The act of faith is more than a bare statement of belief, it is a turning to the face of the living God. (Christopher Bryant)


Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers, fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable - and, most of all, fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith rejoices in its God. (Harry Fosdick)


It is cynicism and fear that freeze life; it is faith that thaws it out, releases it, sets it free. (Harry Fosdick)


One of the mysteries of faith is that, although it constitutes our deepest response to God for what He has don for us in Jesus Christ, yet it is, at the same time, a gift from Him when we lift our eyes beyond ourselves. He meets us with faith when we want to have faith. (John Gunstone)


Faith tells us of things we have never seen, and cannot come to know by our natural senses (St. John of the Cross)


I do not want merely to possess faith; I want a faith that possess me! (Charles Kingsley)


Believing in God means getting down on your knees. (Martin Luther)


Ultimately, faith is the only key to the universe. The final meaning of human existence, and the answers to the questions on which all our happiness depends cannot be found in any other way. (Thomas Merton)


Faith is illuminative, not operative; it does not force obedience, though it increases responsibility; it heightens guilt, it does not prevent sin; the will is the source of action. (John Newman)


Belief is a truth held in the mind. Faith is a fire in the heart. (Joseph Newton)