Monthly Archives: February 2017

Take Heed Therefore

images February 28, 2017
Take Heed Therefore
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

On his way back to Jerusalem, Paul decided not to stop at Ephesus, fearing a lengthy delay. But this church was much on his heart, and he recognized that he might not see them again. In order to give them one last bit of instruction and encouragement, he called the elders to meet with him, where they had a most touching time together (vv. 30-38). What was Paul’s main concern? “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember” (vv. 29-31).

Later, Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus, “that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). The Greek word used here means “a different kind of doctrine” and is used only twice. Certainly, the false doctrine that concerned Paul the most was a works-oriented salvation. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Galatians 1:6).

Paul also concerned himself with lifestyle. “If any man teach otherwise [same word], and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness . . . from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3, 5). The list of characteristics of the false teachers given (vv. 4-5) contrasts markedly with those resulting from proper doctrine and life, “charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1:5). May our lives be characterized by these qualities. JDM

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Both Together

1195427763386030199jonadab_paul_of_tarsus_svg_med February 27, 2017
Both Together
“And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.” (Genesis 22:6)

The familiar story of Abraham’s willingness to offer up Isaac his son, in obedience to God’s command, is rightly cited as a prime example of Abraham’s great faith. It is also a testimony to the remarkable faith of Isaac, for it is recorded twice in Genesis 22 that “they went both of them together” (see also v. 8).

This emphasis on the fellowship of both father and son in this tremendous act of obedient faith is surely given by divine inspiration for our edification.

Isaac was a grown young man at this time, not a little boy. Isaac soon understood what was happening, yet he willingly carried the wood himself and then submitted to being bound on the altar of sacrifice. Abraham fully intended to slay his son (and Isaac to allow himself to be slain), for they understood this to be God’s Word. Actually, however, God had commanded Abraham only to “offer him there for a burnt offering” (v. 2) and, when he did that, God stayed his hand, and provided a ram as a substitute for his son.

The New Testament, of course, makes it clear (see Galatians 3:16; Hebrews 11:17-19) that this was a beautiful type of the mutual love-gift of the heavenly Father and His beloved Son, providing salvation for all who would receive it by faith. They went both together to the cross!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The Father loved the Son before the world began (John 17:24), but they both loved us so much that they both went to the place of sacrifice, together, for us! HMM

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Shadows of His Presence

Christian_King February 26, 2017
Shadows of His Presence
“And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” (Isaiah 32:2)

In the context of this beautiful verse, the “man” is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. To one who had been traveling in the heat of the desert, such as the Sinai wilderness, nothing was so welcome as the cool shadows behind a great rock in which one could rest for a while from the hardships of the wearying land. The symbol of the shadow is often used in the Old Testament to illustrate the refreshing presence of the Lord.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Wherever His loved ones go, He is there, and our dwelling place is there in His shadow.

There is safety there, also. “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice” (63:7). “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust” (91:4). He is the great Eagle as well as the great Rock, and finally also the great Tree. “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste” (Song of Solomon 2:3).

The shadow of a great rock in a weary land, the shadow of the wings of a great eagle, the shadow of a delightful fruit tree, all of these speak beautifully of the refreshing, protecting, satisfying shadow of His presence. These are the shadows of the Almighty God, who made heaven and Earth, and now holds us in His hand. “I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people” (Isaiah 51:16). HMM

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Jesus and the Charge of Blasphemy

images  February 25, 2017
Jesus and the Charge of Blasphemy
“Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.” (Mark 14:64)

Today many liberal theologians profess to be Christians but argue that Jesus was merely a great man and that He never claimed deity for Himself. But the Sanhedrin and its high priest had no such doubts for they heard it from His own lips.

When the high priest asked him directly: “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus (silent up to that point in His own defense) answered him plainly. “I am,” He said, “and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62).

The council immediately voted to condemn Him to death, since blasphemy was considered a capital crime. Two members of the body, Joseph and Nicodemus, had evidently already left, probably because of dismay at what the council was doing (note Luke 23:51; John 7:50-51), but the rest of that august body all agreed.

Jesus had already claimed in various indirect ways to be uniquely the Son of God, but this assertion, made in front of all the elders and scribes, was unequivocal and completely clear, giving them the excuse they needed.

They did not believe His claim, of course, but they certainly knew He had made it and that it constituted blatant blasphemy—a mere man claiming to be the omnipotent, eternal God. So, they condemned Him to die.

But it was only blasphemy if it was untrue. He would demonstrate just three days later, once and for all, that His claim was absolute truth. Only the Creator of life could triumph over death, and He has been “declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). His tomb is empty and He has ascended back to the throne of God, “alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18). HMM

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Witnesses of the Trinity

push_pray_until_something_happens_magnet-p147071212637025289q6ju_4001 February 24, 2017
Witnesses of the Trinity
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

In this passage we see, perhaps, a hint of the triune nature of the Godhead. It is as if God the Father is inquiring of God the Son and God the Spirit as to whom other than one of them would be an effective representative for them. Isaiah, in his freshly forgiven and purified state (vv. 6-7), offers to accept the commission and represent the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. A similar call is issued to each of us today.

Elsewhere in Scripture we are told more plainly of the fullness of our call to represent God the Father: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour” (Isaiah 43:10-11).

Likewise, God the Son called us to be “witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Conversely, we are not called to be witnesses of the Holy Spirit; rather, we are to be co-witnesses with Him of Jesus Christ. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27). “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you” (16:13-14).

What a privilege! What a message! What a Partner! JDM

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In the Shadow of His Wings

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February 21, 2017
In the Shadow of His Wings
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Verse two of “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” deals with life’s trials and tribulations and begins by presenting our Savior as “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, oh, leave me not alone; still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

We may be helpless on our own, but in love He beckons us to “the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Our soul need not hang in jeopardy. “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee . . . we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man may do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

“There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:26-27). Help from none other is needed. “Thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory and the lifter up of mine head” (Psalm 3:3). As His sacrificial death drew near, Jesus’ heart nearly broke over Israel’s rejection of His love. “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). We dare not reject His loving provision. We can pray with David, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Psalm 17:8). The one to whom we pray will answer, for He is Jesus, the lover of the soul. JDM

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Naming Names

Just live by Faith February 19, 2017
Naming Names
“Their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” (2 Timothy 2:17-18)

Many Christians decry the citing of actual names of those Christian leaders who teach heretical doctrines, saying that such an act is “unloving.” Paul, however, considered it an important evidence of true love to warn against those who would “overthrow the faith of some,” realizing that generalities would be useless.

Not only did Hymenaeus and Philetus make Paul’s list, but so did Demas (2 Timothy 4:10), Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14), the Cretians (Titus 1:12), another Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20), and even Peter (Galatians 2:11-14) when he began to teach legalism. Likewise, John warned against Diotrephes (3 John 1:9) and the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6).

On the other hand, Paul was much more generous with name recognition when he was giving out commendations (e.g., Romans 16:1-15; Colossians 4:7-17). We undoubtedly need to follow his example in appreciating by name those who are faithful in teaching and living the truth.

Likewise, we need to be ready and willing to name those individuals, churches, schools, and other organizations that are denying biblical inerrant authority, compromising the doctrine of special creation, requiring humanistic works for salvation, or bringing in other heretical doctrines. We obviously need to be sure of our facts when we do this and also to bring such charges only if motivated by genuine concern for those apt to be led astray if we don’t speak out. But then we must, indeed, “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). HMM

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