Monthly Archives: April 2017

Forty Days

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April 28, 2017
Forty Days
“To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)

It is interesting how often the Scriptures refer to a 40-day period. There are nine different 40-day periods noted in Scripture (the phrase itself occurs 17 times), and it may be noteworthy that 40 days is 1/9 of the original (and prophetic) lunar/solar year of 360 days (note Genesis 7:11; 8:3-4; Revelation 11:2-3). Thus, the total of the nine 40-day periods equals the ideal year.

The periods are as follows: the intense rainfall at the Flood (Genesis 7:12, 17); the first giving of the law (Exodus 24:18; Deuteronomy 9:9, 11); the second giving of the law (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:18, 25); the searching of Canaan by the fearful spies (Numbers 13:25; 14:34); the defiance of Israel by Goliath (1 Samuel 17:16); Elijah’s journey to Horeb (1 Kings 19:8); Jonah’s reluctant preaching in Nineveh (Jonah 3:4); Christ’s temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2); Christ’s post-resurrection ministry (Acts 1:3).

Each of these periods was a time of intense testing for one or more of God’s people, except the last. The final 40-day period, encompassing Christ’s ministry to His disciples after His resurrection, was a time of triumph and great blessing. He had come victoriously through the most intense time of testing that anyone could ever experience, and now He could show Himself alive eternally to His disciples and promise them the same victory. Forty days of testing, then 40 days of triumph! Even a lifetime of testing is more than balanced by an eternity of blessing. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). HMM

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Christ the King

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April 27, 2017
Christ the King
“But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” (Luke 19:14)

In this parable, the nobleman who had gone into a far country to receive his kingdom is a picture of Christ in the interim between His first and second comings. The “citizens” of His Kingdom, however, refuse His Kingship. Nevertheless, He is the King, and when He returns, those “enemies, which would not that I should reign over them” (v. 27) will be slain. How much better to accept Him now!

The first title ascribed to Him was “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Long before that, however, He was King of creation. “For God is the King of all the earth, . . . a great King above all gods. . . . The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 47:7; 95:3, 5).

He is also King of redemption, providing salvation for the world He created. “For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth” (Psalm 74:12). “[The Father] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).

He is not only King of all the worlds, but also King of all the ages. He is “my King of old” and also “King for ever” (Psalm 10:16). He is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” (1 Timothy 1:17).

He is “King of saints” (Revelation 15:3), the “LORD of hosts, my King, and my God” (Psalm 84:3). Indeed, He is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). Therefore, let His citizens say: “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:13). HMM

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April 26, 2017
Ancient Times
“I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.” (Psalm 77:5)

The Bible provides for us a fascinating perspective on the passage of time. Three thousand years ago, the psalmist was reflecting on God’s ways in even earlier times and was seeking to understand God’s ways in his time. Each new generation seems to think that it is the “new wave,” leading the world out of its past darkness into a new age of enlightenment.

There is need for scientific research, of course (in fact, this is implied in the “dominion mandate” of Genesis 1:26-28), but we need to keep in mind that true science is really “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” The results of our scientific “discoveries” should always be to glorify the Creator and to draw men closer to Him, not lead them away from Him.

The same is true of history. We are merely the children of ancient patriarchs, and our moral natures are the same as theirs, all contaminated by inherent sinfulness and the need for divine salvation. God dealt with them as He does with us, so that every later generation needs to study and learn from the generations of ancient times and from God’s inspired histories of them in the earliest books of the Bible—especially Genesis, as well as Exodus, Job, and other ancient books. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

God is the same today as He was in Eden, on Mount Ararat, in Babel, and Canaan, and Sinai, and Calvary. “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:1-2). HMM

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The Spirit and the Word

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April 25, 2017
The Spirit and the Word
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9)

As we see in our text, the Holy Spirit indwells every one who is a true believer, a child of God. Each believer is born again through “the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21), for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

But the role of the Spirit of God and the Word of God in our salvation only begins the Christian’s relationship to them, for we are enjoined to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) in the same sense that a drunkard is filled with and controlled by wine, and to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). These two entities equip us to be effective representatives of Him here on Earth.

Note, however, that in both of these passages the immediate results of such controlling input are the same. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms [primarily the Old Testament psalms] and hymns [songs of praise directed to God] and spiritual songs [a generic word for song, but here ‘spiritual’ songs], singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19), and “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). A Spirit-filled Christian, knowledgeable in the Word, just can’t quit singing!

Nor can he stop “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20; see also Colossians 3:17).

May we always manifest the work of the Spirit and the knowledge of the Word by our thankful hearts and the songs on our lips. JDM

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Joy in the Christian Life

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April 22, 2017
Joy in the Christian Life
“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:11)

The word “fun” is never mentioned in the Bible, and “entertain” is used only in reference to being hospitable. Such activities as “reveling” and “playing” receive nothing except condemnation in the Scriptures (with the exception of little children at play).

Yet, there is growing emphasis today in many churches and parachurch organizations on providing “entertainment” and “fun times” for their members—especially for teenagers and young adults. This is the way to reach them and keep them for the Lord, so they say. Perhaps so, but one wonders why neither the Lord nor the apostles nor the prophets ever told us so. Is this a program kept in reserve by the Lord just for the young people of this generation?

Actually, Christians can have something far better, more effective, and more lasting than fun and entertainment. In Christ, they can have heavenly joy! “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” the Bible says (Proverbs 17:22), where the word for “merry” is more commonly translated as “joyful” or “rejoicing.”

While the Bible never mentions “fun,” it has many references to “joy” and “rejoicing.” Here are just a few. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). “For the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

We must remind ourselves continually that the Lord Jesus daily, through His words, shares His joy with us, “that [our] joy might be full.” HMM

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Where Are the Nine?

a_small_cup_of_coffeeApril 21, 2017
Where Are the Nine?
“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17)

Ten lepers, hopeless and incurable, came to Jesus, begging for His help, and He miraculously healed them. All 10 should have fallen down to worship and thank Him, but only one praised God and thanked Him for His marvelous deliverance.

We are at first amazed at such ingratitude, until we realize that not more than 10 percent of even those people who know about Christ ever stop to give Him thanks for His innumerable blessings—life, freedom, food, shelter, health, family, and especially easy access to the Bible and His gracious offer of salvation—far greater in value than the gift of special healing received by the 10 lepers.

The thankful leper received a much greater gift than the others. “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:19). They had received an outward cleansing of the body, he an inward cleansing of the soul! These words spoken by Christ are found four other times in the New Testament (Matthew 9:22; Mark 5:34; 10:52; Luke 8:48), plus two times where the word for “made whole” is translated “saved” (Luke 7:50; 18:42). This word (Greek sozo) occurs many other times. For example: “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Hebrews 7:25).

Ten lepers were healed, but only one was saved, and the proof of his salvation, received through genuine faith in Christ, was his gratitude, giving glory to God. The primary evidence of being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) is that the one so controlled by God’s regenerating Spirit will be “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Those who are not thankful to their saving Lord are the 90 percent who have not been made whole. HMM

 

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Preach to All

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April 20, 2017

April 20, 2017
Preached in All Creation
“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” (Colossians 1:23)

Many times Christians piously say, “Why get worked up over creation, why don’t you just preach the gospel?” But such a question reveals a faulty knowledge of what “the gospel” consists of, for, as has been noted many times on these pages, the gospel consists not only of the redemptive work of Christ, but His entire person and work as well. The message of the “everlasting gospel” is to “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7). Elsewhere, the gospel includes His coming Kingdom (Matthew 4:23, for example). From creation to redemption to ultimate restoration, all is “good news,” all the work and person of Christ.

In our text we see that the gospel “was preached to every creature,” or perhaps better translated “in all creation.” What was the message of the gospel for which Paul was so jealous? The answer is found in the preceding verses.

Christ is preeminent, literally “the firstborn of every creature” (v. 15), totally God (v. 19). He is the Creator of all things, both physical and spiritual (v. 16), and continues to maintain His creation (v. 17). He leads the church, assuring victory over death (v. 18). He is the Redeemer, the perfect sacrifice for sins (vv. 20-22), providing each believer total sanctification (v. 22). He will ultimately restore all of creation to its original created intent (v. 20).

Only as we recognize and believe the teachings of His Word on the entire “good news,” from creation to consummation, can we hope to victoriously “continue in the faith grounded and settled.” JDM

“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” (Colossians 1:23)

Many times Christians piously say, “Why get worked up over creation, why don’t you just preach the gospel?” But such a question reveals a faulty knowledge of what “the gospel” consists of, for, as has been noted many times on these pages, the gospel consists not only of the redemptive work of Christ, but His entire person and work as well. The message of the “everlasting gospel” is to “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7). Elsewhere, the gospel includes His coming Kingdom (Matthew 4:23, for example). From creation to redemption to ultimate restoration, all is “good news,” all the work and person of Christ.

In our text we see that the gospel “was preached to every creature,” or perhaps better translated “in all creation.” What was the message of the gospel for which Paul was so jealous? The answer is found in the preceding verses.

Christ is preeminent, literally “the firstborn of every creature” (v. 15), totally God (v. 19). He is the Creator of all things, both physical and spiritual (v. 16), and continues to maintain His creation (v. 17). He leads the church, assuring victory over death (v. 18). He is the Redeemer, the perfect sacrifice for sins (vv. 20-22), providing each believer total sanctification (v. 22). He will ultimately restore all of creation to its original created intent (v. 20).

Only as we recognize and believe the teachings of His Word on the entire “good news,” from creation to consummation, can we hope to victoriously “continue in the faith grounded and settled.” JDM

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