The Only True God

bibleTeachingFebruary 13, 2017
The Only True God
“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9)

There are “gods many, and lords many” (1 Corinthians 8:5) in today’s world, just as there were in the ancient pagan world. In fact, the worship of many of these ancient deities is being revived in various dark corners of the so-called “New Age” movement today. Idol worship can also involve adulation of men and women—such as music idols, professional athletes, and movie idols, not to mention the humanistic worship of such political/religious leaders as Lenin, Mao, Hitler, Khomeini, and an increasing assortment of gurus and false prophets.

There is, however, only one true God, the God who created all things. “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (v. 6). The one thing all these false gods and false religions have in common is the denial of the true God and omnipotent Creator.

For such idolatry there is no legitimate excuse. “We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one” (v. 4). A dead idol obviously can be of no use. The infallible test as to just who this “true” God may be is that His identity is confirmed as the only living God; therefore, He is the only true God. He died for our sins, yes, but now He lives forever as King of all His creation. We, like the Thessalonians, should turn from all our idols “to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). HMM

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The Golden Scepter

a_small_cup_of_coffee February 12, 2017
The Golden Scepter
“And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near and touched the top of the sceptre.” (Esther 5:2)

Queen Esther knew she was risking her life when she came unbidden into the presence of the mighty king of Persia in his throne room. Even though she was his favorite wife, he did not know she was a Jew or that she was hoping to get Haman’s terrible order for genocide of the Jews reversed. She knew that it was a capital offense for even a queen to go into the throne room without authorization, and that only the king—by holding out to her his golden scepter—could save her life. But she also knew that she had “come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” and so she said: “If I perish, I perish” (4:14, 16). The king, however, did extend his golden sceptre to her, and even said: “What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee” (5:6).

In a beautiful way, this is also a picture of our own coming to Christ, the King of kings. One does not have to be a queen, however, for “whosoever will” may come (Revelation 22:17) if he has the courage to die to the world and the faith to believe that Christ can save. The Lord Jesus Christ graciously says to those who come to Him in faith, believing: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do” (John 14:13).

The invitation is to “whosoever” and the promise is for “whatsoever”! “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). None dared enter the court of the Persian king without being called, but we have been called by our heavenly King, for “a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom” (1:8). HMM

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The Fear of the Lord

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

February 11, 2017
The Fear of the Lord
“And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)

This key phrase, “the fear of the LORD” (Yahweh), occurs in a distinctive pattern in the Old Testament. There are 14 occurrences in the book of Proverbs and seven in the other books, or a total of three times seven altogether, both of which are important Bible numbers.

As we see from the verses in Job preceding our text, when God made man He told him that true wisdom is “the fear of the Lord” (Adonai—the only use of Adonai with this phrase). Unfortunately, Adam and Eve sought wisdom in the tree of knowledge instead (Genesis 3:6) and soon were hiding themselves in fear. The psalmist testifies: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). The final occurrence of the phrase is also in a wisdom context. “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure” (Isaiah 33:6).

There are numerous other references to fearing God, and a survey of all these would quickly show that the fear of the Lord is far more than mere “reverential trust,” as some would define it. It means profound awe, intense awareness of God’s hatred of sin, as well as His omniscience and omnipresence, and living in light of the certainty of facing Him at His future judgment seat. It means unquestioning belief in God’s Word and in His unmerited gift of salvation.

But then it also means “the beginning of knowledge,” “to hate evil,” “prolongeth days,” “strong confidence,” “a fountain of life,” and “satisfied,” as well as attaining true “riches and honour” (Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 10:27; 14:26; 14:27; 19:23; 22:4). “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever” (Psalm 19:9), and those who truly fear the Lord have everlasting life. HMM

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Abel’s Timely Testimony

TEMP_2February 10, 2017
Abel’s Timely Testimony
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” (Hebrews 11:4)

Abel, Adam’s second son, was a faithful, God-honoring man, but he was murdered by his older brother, Cain. From Genesis 4 we know that Cain’s bloodless sacrifice was not accepted by God, while Abel’s animal sacrifice was accepted. Cain’s pride, anger, and rejection of God’s offer of restoration resulted in the murder of obedient Abel. Our text tells us that Abel “being dead yet speaketh.” What does he say? To whom does he speak?

First of all, he spoke to God. “The voice of thy brother’s [Abel’s] blood crieth unto me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). Many have followed Abel in martyrdom, and they all cry, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10).

Secondly, he spoke to Cain. “And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand” (Genesis 4:11). Cain was banished by God: “a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth” (v. 12), and every spot of ground on which he placed his foot from then on would be crying out to him, indicting him of his sin.

Thirdly, Abel speaks to us. His witness reminds us that men must come to God in obedient faith, for Abel obeyed God’s instructions regarding sacrifice (4:3-4). He offered the sacrifice in faith that God would deem him “righteous” (today’s text). The acceptance of the blood sacrifice and the rewards of his brother’s disobedience speak eloquently of the “wages of sin.” May God give us ears to hear Abel’s timely testimony. JDM

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That Goodly Mountain

images February 9, 2017
That Goodly Mountain
“And I besought the LORD at that time, saying, O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.” (Deuteronomy 3:23-25)

This was the heartfelt prayer of Moses, for he was longing to see the Promised Land that had been his goal for so many years. He knew that God, rebuking his disobedience at Meribah, had said: “Therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:12). Yet, he desired greatly to “go over” the Jordan to see firsthand the “goodly mountain.”

The “goodly mountain” most likely was majestic Mount Hermon, the 9,200-foot, snow-capped peak dominating the southern end of the mountain ranges of Lebanon. God would not allow Moses to enter the land, even though He “shewed him all the land” from the top of Mount Pisgah before he died (Deuteronomy 34:1).

But then, in a marvelous and mysterious way, Moses finally did not only see but stand on Mount Hermon! “And after six days Jesus . . . bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: . . . And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him” (Matthew 17:1-3). There, on the Mount of Transfiguration—that goodly mountain—was Moses, along with Elijah, speaking with Jesus “of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). God had answered his prayer! He had “begun to show” Moses the greatness of His might long ago in Egypt, but now he could see the greatness of His love as Christ prepared to die for his salvation and ours. HMM

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Everything We Need

awp125February 8, 2017
Everything We Need
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” (2 Peter 1:3)

In His wisdom and grace, God has seen to it that we have everything we need to produce “life and godliness.” “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (v. 4). This all-sufficient tool is, of course, the written Word of God, much of which came through the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, who in turn claimed it came from God the Father: “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me” (John 17:8).

Furthermore, the written Word is the source of our faith and the only hope of salvation. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). This Word in which our faith is grounded is forever alive, “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23), and not to be altered, edited, or supplemented. “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life” (Revelation 22:18-19).

Rather, we must live by the words of this book: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

To ensure that the “great and precious promises” regarding “life and godliness” are ours, we must believe, guard, and follow the teachings of this book. “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). JDM

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Tomorrow

1195427763386030199jonadab_paul_of_tarsus_svg_med  February 7, 2017
Tomorrow
“Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1)

The sin of procrastination may not be one of the so-called “seven deadly sins,” but it may come close if it involves neglecting to do what God has clearly commanded us to do. Sins of omission may well be as serious in many cases as sins of commission. The Bible warns: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

To the professing Christian who deliberately goes against God’s will, either by neglect or intent, Jesus warns: “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes” (Luke 12:47). This was spoken in the context of a parable, but the message was clear that it is dangerous to ignore God’s revealed will.

The principle even applies in the secular realm. “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow” (James 4:13-14).

The most dangerous sin of procrastination, of course, is neglecting to come to Christ for forgiveness and salvation. As Paul stressed: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Ignoring God while fully involved in pleasure or business or anything else is at least presumptuous. To the rich man in Christ’s parable who had spent his life concentrating on accumulating goods, God said: “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). We do not know what even one tomorrow may bring, so we need to “walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5). HMM

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