Tuesday, August 4, 2015

WE ARE GOD'S ADOPTED HEIRS BY GRACE

Romans 8:15-18 - "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Ephesians 1:3-14 - "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:  having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.  In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself:  that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:  in Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will:  that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory."
 
Titus 3:3-7 - "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
 
 
We are His adopted children, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord!

THANK GOD, FOR HE NEVER FAILS

Romans 7:24-25 - "O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."

Romans 8:28-29 - "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."

Philippians 1:6 - "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

Hebrews 12:2 - "Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Titus 2:13-14 - "Looking for that Blessed Hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

1 John 1:8-10 - "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us."

1 John 3:1-3 - "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure."


Born again believers by faith in Jesus Christ, are not perfect; we still fall short!  But praise God Almighty, for He Himself has taken the task of making us into the image of His dear Son!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

OF ALL WAYS TO DIE, WHY DID GOD CHOOSE CRUCIFIXION?

We "celebrated" the Lord's Supper this morning at Charlestown Independent Church, in Charlestown, Indiana.  Our "tradition" is to do so the first Sunday of every month.  I do not want to get into a doctrinal debate over this point, but some of my brethren from different denominational backgrounds feel we "do it wrong."  I will simply quote the Apostle Paul, and then go on with why God might have chosen Crucifixion.  Paul wrote:  "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come" (1 Cor. 11:26).

I have often thought of how terrible it must have been for our Father to watch sinful mortals nail His Beloved Son to a cross, and for Him to not only suffer the pain and prolonged physical agony of crucifixion, but for Him to be separated from fellowship with His Father due to our sin being placed upon Him [The Word says in 2 Cor. 5:21 - "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."]  I believe that is the reason Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Ps. 22:1; Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34)!  I believe it was at that very moment when His righteousness was replaced by the sin of the world, and that same holy righteousness was made available to all who would place their faith in Him!  God is Holy, and in that instant when the sky darkened at noonday (Mt. 27:45), Jesus ceased to be Holy!  Let that sink in - Oh what love!  The Bible describes His love for us in this way:  "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2).

But why crucifixion?  I can think of two reasons that make sense, at least to me.  For one, the prophecies concerning the Lord's death needed to be specific so that when it occurred, there could be no doubt He was the One; the Psalmist (Ps. 22), and Isaiah (Isa. 53) were written long before crucifixion existed; about eight hundred years after the Psalmist, and four hundred years after Isaiah.  If He had been killed by hanging, stoning, beheading, poisoning, etc. it would not have revealed the specific time in history, nor the "agents" who would carry out His sacrifice for us.  The timing of Christ's death was to occur exactly when it did (Gal. 4:4).  There was to be no doubt Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy!

A second reason for God choosing to have His Son die by crucifixion, was because it was clear He was murdered; it could not have been a suicide carried out by some insane lunatic who wanted to go down in history as Israel's Messiah.  Crucifixion requires others to carry it out.  God chose the time when Rome would be in power, and He chose the method which revealed His Son was murdered. 

For centuries, the Jews have been blamed for being "Christ-killers."  Ironic, isn't it, that crucifixion, as far as we know, was never used by Jews.  Others have been quick to blame the Roman Empire for slaughtering God's Son, but that isn't entirely true either.  The bottom line is, Jesus was not killed by Jews, or Romans, or even the entire race of sinful man; Jesus offered Himself because He loved us!  The Word says He was "slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8)!  And He clearly declared no man could take His life without it being the very will of God:

"Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again.  No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father" (Jn. 10:17-18).
Scourging, beating, thorns, and nails - that is how much He loves us!
 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

THE LIFE OF THE BELIEVER HERE ON EARTH

At the end of the Our Daily Bread monthly devotionals, there is usually an extra page or two with some encouraging words for believers.  The month of July, 2015, was a special blessing to me as I read it, so I will share it today.  This is my version of what it said.

     I received Jesus as my Savior and Lord fifty years ago (44 for me).  For several years after I first became a Christian, I wondered if I was truly saved because my conversion experience seemed uneventful compared to others (definitely not the case with my conversion, thank God).  But as I studied God's Word, I received assurance of my salvation."

     I read about the characteristics of a true believer in First John.  It starts with the believer's desire to be honest with God and oneself.  As we fellowship with God, we acknowledge that, even as born again believers, we are still sinners:
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:  and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 Jn. 1:8-2:2).
By acknowledging our failure to live the Christ-like life, we not only have the desire to confess our sins, but we are also kept humble before our Lord and our brethren! 

     In addition, our love for the Lord, and for His Word, motivates us to do our best to obey Him out of gratitude for what He has done for us (1 Jn. 2:3-6).

     Along with our desire to please Him, born again believers has a desire to be a blessing to other Christians.  First John 2:9-11 says:
"He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.  He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.  But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."


Jesus made this clear in John 13:35, when He said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another."

     The writer (Albert Lee) thanked God that He faithfully continues the work He began with each new spiritual birth.  He said that "By His grace I am still confessing dishonesty, apologizing for hurting others, submitting to God, and learning to love selflessly."  He reminded us of what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:6 -   He who has begun a good work in you, will continue doing so until the day we see Jesus Christ.  I would only add what John wrote in 1 John 3:2, which says: 
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is."

Friday, July 31, 2015

TRUSTING OUR GOD OF COMFORT

Acts 9:31 - "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."

Romans 15:4 - "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 - "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."

2 Corinthians 13:11 - "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - " But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.  For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

1 Thessalonians 5:11 - "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 - "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:  whereunto He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.  Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."


As the world grows more intimidating, we must trust in our God of comfort!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

JUST ONE MAN'S OPINION

For about the last year or two, I have been concerned about all the violence and the shootings happening all around our country.  It appears as though God is removing His restraining hand from evil men and women, and Christians are becoming more and more the world-wide target.  Millions are being driven from their countries as Islamic Terrorists sweep through the Middle East; thousands have been martyred for their faith by demonic bands of men who delight in torture, rape, and horrible, methods of slaughtering believers who refuse to deny Christ. 

The mood in America is changing as well, with believers targeted in their own churches, simply because they are the "wrong color," or because they stand against what the Bible calls sin.  Some have been taken to court and fined large amounts, simply because they refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings.  Preachers have been warned not to preach against homosexuality, or face legal action.  Chaplains in the military are not permitted to evangelize our troops and yet Islamic chaplains have total freedom and can say whatever they want.

Planned Parenthood (what an odd name for an organization the promotes the slaughter of unborn children - the very opposite of making one a parent), has been exposed for the horrible "business of selling aborted baby's body parts!  Its founder was a racist and is on record of wanting to kill as many Black babies as possible.  And yet our President supports them and our government funds them for the holocaust that takes more than a million lives every year! 

Recently, gangs of young thugs have invaded businesses and because of their large numbers, they get away with terrorizing customers and employees as they steal and destroy like a hoard of locusts.  There have been videos showing groups of anarchists attacking elderly men and women, and even parents with their children present.  One Black youth was beaten by several other Blacks because he actually made the school honor roll!  Unbelievable!

So, I decided to buy a shotgun to protect my family from being victims of a home invasion.  Because of a need for a background check, it has been six days since I picked one out.  But from the time I left the store, I felt very uneasy about my decision.  First of all, I cannot picture Jesus shooting someone, regardless of what that person was doing.  He set the standard for believers, by allowing mere men to nail Him to a cross!  Then I thought of all those poor individuals in Syria, Iran, Iraq, etc., who faced death, and refused to deny Christ.  They are genuine believers; believers who are willing to die as a statement of their faith in their Lord!  To me, they are "preaching the Gospel" to their murderers!

The store hasn't called me yet to come pick up my shotgun, and I am glad; I do not have peace about shooting anyone, regardless of what they are threatening to do to us.  I respect those who feel differently, as that is their right according to the Constitution, but after serving twenty years in the military, I still do not believe I want the power to end another's life.  Who knows, by allowing our attacker to kill us, the Lord may use our deaths as a witness, and our murderers might repent and accept the Christ for whom so many are willing to die. 
 
God leads some to war, and some to follow Christ's example.
The most important thing is that believers do what the Spirit is telling them to do!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

JESUS IS COMING FOR HIS CHURCH!

Romans 3:10 - "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one!"

Romans 3:23 - "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God!"

Romans 5:8 - "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!"

Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Romans 10:8-13 - "...The Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the Word of faith, which we preach;  that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!" 

 
If you have never trusted Jesus Christ to be you Savior and your Lord,
based upon world events, time is running out. 
He is coming for believers before His wrath is poured out on the whole world. 
Accept Him today - today may be the day that He removes His true believers!
    

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TRUE BELIEVERS LOVE ISRAEL

As Bible believing Christians we have a great love for the Jewish people. Please allow us to explain why this is so.  Because of what the Bible teaches we are absolutely convinced of the following:
  1. The Jews are God's chosen people:  "For thou (Israel) art an holy people unto the LORD thy God; the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all the peoples who are upon the face of the earth" (Deut. 7:6).
     
  2. God used the Jewish people in a special way to give mankind the Bible. He used men such as Moses and David and Solomon and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel to be His special penmen.
     
  3. It was to the Jewish people that God gave His holy laws, especially the Ten Commandments, which are a reflection of God's holy and absolute standards (Ex. 20; Deut. 5).  Those societies or those individuals that disregard these laws are headed for trouble.
     
  4. Israel has divine rights to the land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael) because God Himself promised this land to Israel in the covenant which He made (cut) with Israel:  "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" (Gen. 15:18).  Because of this we fully support the nation Israel in their rightful claim of the land of Israel as their homeland.  Their cause is just.
     
  5. God has a wonderful future for the Jewish people.  This involves the fulfillment of all of the kingdom promises found in the writings of the Hebrew prophets (such as found in Isa. 2:1-5; 9:6-7; 11:1-16; Jer. 23:5-8; all of chapter 31, and many other similar promises). We are convinced that the day is coming when Israel shall dwell safely in the land to enjoy a peace and prosperity such as the nation has never had. Indeed, according to the prophets,  Jerusalem will be the capital of the world and Israel will be the pride of every nation (Mic. 4:1-2; Zech. 8:22-23).