Monthly Archives: November 2016

The People Said, “Amen”

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November 30, 2016
The People Said, “Amen”
“Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 106:48)

Many is the speaker who, after he has made some point which he considers especially good, will then say: “And all the people said, ‘Amen’” (meaning “that’s right!”).

It is interesting to note the biblical examples of such a demonstration. There are 16 times in which this or a similar statement occurs in the Bible—all in the Old Testament. Twelve of these are found in Deuteronomy 27:14-26 with the people so responding after the pronouncement of a “curse” on those who commit various sins. The last curse is as follows: “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen” (v. 26) in agreement with the judgment.

King David described his thanksgiving for the return of the Ark of the Covenant with, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the LORD” (1 Chronicles 16:36). When Jerusalem’s wall restoration was being delayed and Nehemiah had to rebuke some of his people for their covetousness, threatening God’s judgment on them if they did not repent, then “all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise” (Nehemiah 5:13). After the wall was finished, as Ezra read the Scriptures to the people, “Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen” (Nehemiah 8:6). The final such reference is in our text.

If we follow biblical precedent, therefore, whenever God’s Word is read to a congregation, either in denunciation of sin or thanksgiving for blessing and revival, or simply in praising the Lord for His eternal goodness, it is appropriate for the people to respond with a heartfelt “Amen!” HMM

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Works of Darkness

imagesNovember 29, 2016
Works of Darkness
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

What are these “works of darkness” which we must avoid? Some of these works are enumerated in Romans 13:12-13: “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, . . . not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.” A Christian is thus to “cast off” all such works of darkness from his or her own life, to “have no fellowship” with those who practice them, and even to openly “reprove them.”

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17-19). Such works of darkness stem directly from a denial of God as sovereign: “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, . . . and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). This darkening of the heart is soon followed by a darkening of the life: “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness. . . . Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:24, 28).

In these days of moral confusion, with attitudes and actions once outlawed by society now being defended and favored (e.g., sexual promiscuity and perversion), and with once-honored attributes now ridiculed (e.g., chastity, spirituality), there are great pressures on Christians to compromise with these works of darkness. God and His standards do not change, however, and He still expects us to shun and reprove them. HMM

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The Intercessor

bible-cups November 28, 2016
The Intercessor
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

When we pray for others, we not only are helping to assure a good life for ourselves—as our text indicates—but, more importantly, we are thereby becoming more like Christ. On the cross itself, “he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). Since His return to heaven, He has been continually occupied with His ministry of intercession. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).

Not only is our resurrected, glorified Savior perpetually interceding for us in heaven, but also, the indwelling Holy Spirit is praying for us here. “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit [Himself] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

Now if both God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are always interceding for us before God the Father, we surely ought to be willing to spend time in prayer for others down here—not only for our loved ones, but even for those who have hurt us. Jesus said, “Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

May God help us to be faithful in this vital ministry of intercession. HMM

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The Devil Never Rests

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November 27, 2016
The Devil Never Rests
“And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:7)

This remarkable scene in heaven provides us a striking picture of Satanic activity. The devil, in his opposition to God and His program of salvation, evidently never rests. He is not omnipresent, like God, because he is a finite (though very powerful and brilliant) created being. To accomplish his goal, therefore, he is never at rest, but keeps going from place to place and working deception after deception, bringing everyone he can under his influence.

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

The same is true of the demonic spirits who have followed the devil in his rebellion against God. They never rest until they can take possession of some person’s body and mind and then control that person’s behavior. “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out” (Matthew 12:43-44).

This restlessness that characterizes the devil and his demons often also manifests itself in the unsaved, and this will be the ultimate state of those who yield to the pressures of these evil spirits. “They have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:11).

True rest of soul is found only in Christ, with His forgiveness, cleansing, and guidance: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). HMM

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I Am Christ’s Friend

bible_week_scriptures-e1423157900338November 26, 2016
I Am Christ’s Friend
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:15)

Some things in Scripture are harder to understand and believe than others. Christ, the Sovereign Creator of all things, the offended Judge who declared the penalty for sin to be death, the One who willingly died to pay that penalty and redeem us from bondage to sin, now calls us His friends. Certainly we would like to consider Him our friend; but are we really His friends? If He were telling someone about His friends, would He include us? Somehow this seems too much—too good to be true; but He insists it is.

Actually, Christ said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). We are His friends by conscious choice on His part, even though He knows more about our inward nature than we will admit to ourselves. He has demonstrated His friendship by the greatest act of love imaginable, when He voluntarily died to save us from our sins. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (v. 13). Furthermore, for His friends He promises, “Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (v. 16).

His love for us surpasses human love. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” (v. 9) “that your joy might be full” (v. 11). He has “ordained” us as friends so that we “should go and bring forth fruit, and that [our] fruit should remain” (v. 16). What joy!

There should be a response on our part to His friendship. Almost as a self-evident fact, He states, “Ye are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you” (v. 14), among other things, “that ye love one another” (v. 17). How can we do less? JDM

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Belief Systems Drive Global Events

interactive-worldmap  November 25, 2016
Belief Systems Drive Global Events
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:16-17)

In the broadest sense, there are only two belief systems: theism and naturalism. One believes in supernatural influence on the affairs of men and as the foundation of purpose and order, the other does not. The vast majority of the world is theistic (though not creationist) in its worldview. Only the “civilized world” is arrogant enough to consciously exclude the supernatural from its thinking. But this is the key: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). This is why we are clearly told, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Underlying all, of course, is the great Adversary, who seeks to draw the worship of all men to himself and replace all “gods” as the god of this world. Satan is driven, like “a roaring lion,” to devour all who oppose him (1 Peter 5:8). The real war is a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12-13). President George W. Bush was correct when he insisted that the campaign against modern terrorism will be “unlike any other we have ever seen.” It will be worldwide in scope, transcultural in impact, and years in the execution.

Will terrorists be eliminated and evil conquered? Not until Jesus Christ sets up His millennial reign. But we can “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21), and we can “reign in life” (Romans 5:17). Freedom is administered through truth (John 8:32, 36), and Satan, when resisted in “the faith” (1 Peter 5:9), will “flee” (James 4:7). HMM III

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Fullness of Blessing

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November 24, 2016
Fullness of Blessing
“And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” (Romans 15:29)

One beautiful characteristic of life in Christ is its fullness. Jesus Christ is Himself “the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23), and He does everything to the full! When He fed the multitude, there were 12 baskets left over (John 6:13); when He brought in the miraculous catch of fishes, the nets were so full that they broke, and the boats so full they began to sink (Luke 5:6-7).

First of all, He gives fullness of grace. “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Then comes fullness of joy and peace: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13).

It is then possible—in fact, we are commanded—to be “filled with the Spirit . . . making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18-19). Not only does the Holy Spirit indwell us, but so do the Father and the Son, by the Spirit. Jesus said: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). In this way, the triune God indwells us, and thereby we “know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that [we] might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).

All the fullness of God! In Jesus Christ “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him” (Colossians 2:9-10), “for it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell” (Colossians 1:19). With the resources of such fullness of blessing available to us, we should be constantly growing “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). HMM

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