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The Mystery of Darkness

March 23, 2017
The Mystery of Darkness
“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5)

The Bible reveals that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), and also that, in the ages to come, there will be no more darkness. God promises twice that there shall be “no night there” (Revelation 21:25; 22:5) in the very last references to night in the Bible.

Why, then, is there darkness, and where did it come from? God gives the answer: “I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness” (Isaiah 45:6-7). Light was always in and with God, but the darkness had to be created! And, it has a purpose, serving as a contrast to the light.

Men and women were created to love and have fellowship with their Creator, not as robots but in freedom. Darkness thus served as the choice that could be made against God and the light, for those so minded. Satan and his hosts of fallen angels and wicked spirits have become “the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12). The tragedy is that ever since Adam, men have “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19), and so have been practicing “the works of darkness” (Romans 13:12), and deserving nothing but “the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 1:13).

But our Creator has become our Redeemer. He “hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9), paying the great price for our redemption on the cross. The Father “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13); we are now free to enter into the eternal fellowship with God that He had planned before the world began. We should “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). HMM

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The Word of the King

img-thing  March 22, 2017
The Word of the King
“Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?” (Ecclesiastes 8:4)

Perhaps the archetype of absolute monarchs was Babylonia’s King Nebuchadnezzar, of whom the prophet Daniel could say, “Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory” (Daniel 2:37). The word of this and every true king was with power, the king being answerable to no man but himself, for his authority came from God. “For there is no power but of God” (Romans 13:1). Many kings have had to learn this truth the hard way, however, for they have found that God could remove them as quickly as He had ordained them when they abused that power.

But there is one King who will never fall; one “who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings; . . . to whom be honour and power everlasting” (1 Timothy 6:15-16). The Lord Jesus Christ has asserted, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18), and one day all creatures in heaven and Earth will acknowledge: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things” (Revelation 4:11). In that day all “the kingdoms of this world [shall] become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

This one, who is King of all kings, is also the One who is “called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13). The word of this King is of such power that He could speak the mighty cosmos into existence. His word could calm a violent storm and call Lazarus back from death.

“The word of God is quick, and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12), and “his word was with power” (Luke 4:32). Therefore, “all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). HMM

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By Any Means

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March 21, 2017
By Any Means
“And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.” (Acts 27:12)

This seemingly insignificant phrase “by any means” (Greek ei pos) is actually used to express the urgency of attaining some object sought, along with the means for its attainment. It occurs just four times in the New Testament, and it is interesting that these four occurrences seem to follow a significant order.

The first of them is in our text above and expresses a search for physical comfort, as the mariners, transporting Paul to Rome, sought by any means to find a convenient place to spend the winter.

The second expresses Paul’s search for spiritual ministry. When Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, he told them of his constant prayers: “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established” (Romans 1:10-11).

Thirdly, there was his search for conversion of others. “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13-14).

Finally, and most importantly, there was Paul’s (and, Lord willing, may it be ours also!) search for a Christ-centered life. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). HMM

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He Who Made the Stars

images March 17, 2017
He Who Made the Stars
“Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.” (Amos 5:8)

This striking exhortation is inserted in the midst of a prophetic rebuke by God of His people Israel. They were rapidly drifting into pagan idolatry, and Amos was trying to call them back.

His exhortation, given almost 2,800 years ago, is more needed today than it ever was before. Modern pagan scientists have developed elaborate but absurdly impossible theories about the chance origin of the universe from nothing, and the evolution of stars, planets, and people from primordial hydrogen. But the mighty cosmos and its galaxies of stars—even the very constellations, such as Orion and the Pleiades (the “seven stars”), as well as the solar system—were made. All of these had to be made by an omniscient, omnipotent Creator, who certainly had a glorious purpose for it all.

Similarly, the global evidences that waters once covered all the earth’s mountains (i.e., marine fossils and water-laid sediments at their summits) cannot possibly be explained—as evolutionary geologists try to do—by slow processes acting over aeons of time. God, the Creator, had to call massive volumes of water forth from their original reservoirs and pour them out on the earth in His Flood judgment on a rebellious world.

All of these witness to the fact of creation and judgment, not to impotent “gods” personifying natural forces. Men urgently need to seek the true God of creation and salvation before judgment falls again, for “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). HMM

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David’s Army

christians-arent-perfect-2012 March 16, 2017
David’s Army
“David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” (1 Samuel 22:1-2)

As David was fleeing for his life from King Saul, a rather pitiful and unpromising company began following him, and they became the nucleus of what would soon be his army. Others joined them, and David trained them, “for at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God” (1 Chronicles 12:22). Soon they were no longer discontented misfits but a remarkable array of “mighty men” (v. 21). One group, for example, was said to be “men of war fit for the battle, . . . whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains” (1 Chronicles 12:8).

In many remarkable ways David was a type of Christ, his life foreshadowing the experiences of the greater “son of David” who would come a thousand years later. In such a parallel, his army is a type of the earthly “host of God,” the great company of those who have chosen to follow Christ, each of whom has been called to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

The followers of Christ were once also in distress, for the “base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen” (1 Corinthians 1:28). He is now “the captain of their salvation” (Hebrews 2:10), urging that each one should strive to “please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4). When He is finally ready to take the Kingdom, these will be with Him in His triumphant return and eternal reign (Revelation 19:14; 22:5). HMM

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A Bondslave and a Freeman

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March 15, 2017
A Bondslave and a Freeman
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” (Romans 1:1)

Paul identified himself as a “servant [literally ‘bondslave’] of Jesus Christ” as he began several of his epistles; and it is significant that he began the epistle to the Romans in the same fashion. The parallel phrase “bondslave of the emperor” was commonly used in governmental and commercial circles of the day, and the readers in Rome would fully understand the meaning of the new term.

The emperor of Rome not only was to be obeyed as a human slave owner and king, he also was to be worshiped as a god. Paul boldly proclaimed himself to be the bondslave of a different slave owner, the subject of a different King, and the worshiper of a different God.

Paul knew and expected to convince his readers that this new doctrine he was preaching would quickly replace the imperialism of Rome, and he fully realized that this challenge would quickly be recognized and fought by Rome. Paul himself, not many years hence, would stand before the emperor Nero, not as an imperial bondslave, but a bondslave of the King of kings.

Long before Nero’s executioner freed Paul from the limitations of his physical body, Paul had been made a “freeman of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:22). The common title of the day “freedman of the emperor” designated a bondslave of the emperor who had been elevated by the emperor to a higher position.

Paul had been, and all believers have been, ransomed out of the slave market of sin by Christ’s blood and have been set free from the guilt, power, and penalty of that sin. Our willing response should be to permanently place ourselves into enslavement to our Redeemer, making us simultaneously both bondslaves and freedmen of the King. JDM

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Stir Up

images March 14, 2017
Stir Up
“Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.” (2 Peter 1:13)

It is apparently rather easy, in this day of football games, rock concerts, and race riots, to get the emotions of a crowd all stirred up. The stirring of emotions can be either good or bad, of course, depending on the cause.

In our text, the apostle Peter says we need to be stirred up by our memories—that is, our remembrances of His “great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” For “he that lacketh these things,” said Peter, “hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” and urgently needs “to have these things always in remembrance” (vv. 4, 9, 15).

Something else needs to be stirred up, said Paul to Timothy. “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6). Each believer has received certain gifts from God, but these need to be stirred up and used both boldly and wisely for Christ.

Finally, Peter says that the purpose in writing both his epistles was to “stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour” (2 Peter 3:1-2). This was written especially for “the last days” (v. 3), indicating that they should stir up, not their emotions, but their minds! To meet the critical needs of the last days, they should have their minds full of the Scriptures of both Old and New Testaments. These Scriptures should even be memorized, if possible, so they can be called up “by way of remembrance” whenever needed. The Holy Scriptures are simple enough to be received by a child, yet they can stir up our minds with their heights and depths, and will stir our hearts as well. HMM

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