August 18, 2016
If we who claim to follow Jesus choose to keep saturating ourselves in the philosophies of men even while they contradict God’s Word, then we will veer far off the path of Truth. We will become so confused, so blinded, that we will not only cease from growing in the knowledge of the Truth, but we will actually slide backwards. Yes, those who are overtaken by falsehoods will incur upon themselves an ever-increasingly strong delusion so that, in the end, aside from a miracle that enables them to repent, they will be condemned. (2 Thes. 2:10-12)
Numerous Scripture verses warn us that the Truth –the true Gospel– is what we must adhere to in order to be saved. (John 8:31-36 // 1 Cor. 15:1,2 // 1 Tim. 4:16 // etc.) Gal. 1:6-9 says this emphatically, warning that those who desert the Truth by turning to a false gospel thereby have no Gospel at all. Teachers who teach false gospels will be, it says, eternally condemned. Of course all who refuse to repent of sin and false gospels will perish, but it is alarming to think of the extra-horrific punishment that awaits those who have not only rejected the Truth themselves, but have also persuaded others to do so. (Luke 17:1,2 // Rom. 16:17,18 // Ja. 3:1)
2 John 1:7-11 warns us to not lose what we have worked for by listening to deceivers who add or subtract to the teaching of Christ, particularly in disavowing the Messiah as coming in the flesh. For the teaching of Christ does not involve only faith, repentance, and how to walk in the will of God, but it includes all the doctrine (truths / Truth) concerning Christ found in both Old and New Testaments regarding both His first coming and His second coming. This is the Gospel, the Good News, the Message that declares what our Lord came to earth (in the flesh) to do the first time (Rom. 5:10 // 1 Cor. 15:21 // 1 John 3:5,8) and what He is coming back (in the flesh) to do the second time. (Isa. 11:6-9 // Mt. 19:28 // Acts 3:21 // Rom. 8:18-25 // 2 Pe. 3:13 // Rev. ch. 20-22) If someone does not grasp this Gospel, then that person has missed the centrality of the whole Word of God. If they remain stiff-necked about believing what God’s Word states concerning our Savior and soon-coming King, and go on adding what isn’t there and taking away what is, doing so through their reinterpretations, then such a person should not be viewed as a legitimate Bible teacher but instead as one whose work is wicked, void of God, and antichrist. (2 John 1:7-11 again // 1 Tim. 1:6,7)
Pr. 30:5 tells us that every word of God is flawless and verse 6 warns, “Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” Rev. 22:18,19, as well, warn that those who add or subtract from the prophecies in that book will incur plagues and will not share in the Tree of Life nor in the Holy City. Truly, the whole Word of God warns that both righteous conduct and correct doctrine are essential for salvation.
August 14, 2016
My habit is to sit in our backyard flower-garden in the early mornings with the Lord, and this morning was especially lovely because it stayed cool for quite a long time. While praying and reciting my verses, several were particularly worship-inspiring. One is Job 40:10, which, although God is speaking, I say it to Him like this: “You, Lord, have adorned Yourself with glory and splendor, and clothed Yourself in honor and majesty.” Looking up at the big, billowing clouds, I meditated on how awesome God is. I reflected on how powerful He is while also being so caring, so compassionate, and such a perfect friend.
The Lord speaking again, here is another verse I was mediating on this morning, one I’ve personalized for myself and my family: “Listen to Me, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isa. 46:3,4) I LOVE that verse! It is special to me because it reminds me that the Lord has watched over me and my family all our lives, even from the conception of each one of us. It assures me that He will continue to do these even until we are old and gray. It gives me confidence that our Maker is carrying us –as we travel over roads, both literal and figurative– and that He is Himself our Comfort and Support and Protection.
I definitely recognize that these verses which I’ve written above are words spoken by God to people other than me. The first, we see from verse 6, is the Lord speaking to Job. Even so, because “the Word of God is living and active” (Heb. 4:12), God speaks to anyone else He wishes to speak to via His Spirit in the Word. This is why certain verses seem to “jump out at us” at various times.
The two Isaiah verses above are the Lord’s words to Jacob / Israel. Verse 3 actually begins with God saying, “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld…” So, even though I personalize verses, and expect others to do the same, this does not mean anyone can take God’s words away from the initial hearer/s. Again, no one can take God’s warnings, rebukes, and promises –to whomever He made them to– and completely transfer them to another person or group of people. To do so is to commit the gross sin of those who adhere to Replacement Theology, of those who, regarding multitudes of verses, think that they can nullify, through their teaching, what God said to the initial hearer/s. No, we are invited to share in God’s Word, not claim that the initial recipients should now disbelieve what God promised them!
There were many other Scripture verses I meditated on this morning, and I was filled with reverent worship to the One who wrote those words, to the One who, being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, has not only created this amazing universe and is sustaining it by the power of His word (Heb. 1:3), but has also been shepherding His loved ones throughout their lives.
There are truly so many promises from our Lord about His care for us! “Look at the birds of the air,” Jesus tells us in Mt. 6:26. They are well-cared for by Him who is our Heavenly Father (same verse), so, Jesus continues, if we are seeking God’s Kingdom and righteousness, we need not doubt that He will care for us! (v. 25-34)
I saw a bird yesterday that reminded me of this. We were having a nice, steady, wonderful rain –something we’ve needed– and in looking out the window, I saw a dove sitting on our fence. She (or he) was so cute! She was thoroughly enjoying the soft rain and she kept lifting up one wing and then the other, holding it that way for several seconds, and doing this at least ten times with each wing. She was taking a shower and cooling her armpits (wing-pits)! I was trying not to laugh, but I kept smiling and thanking the Lord for such wonderful and hilarious things He shows us, if we but take the time to notice. Simple things, some people would call it, but even the “simple” things God brings, I call incredible. I prayed for that dove and for her whole family. Why not? The Lord cares for birds, and He cares for us!
“Yes, Lord, You have adorned Yourself with glory and splendor, and clothed Yourself in honor and majesty.” You are a beautiful, personable God, full of light and power and love! Your whole creation proclaims it!
August 11, 2016
I always appreciate it when my husband ministers with me, especially when it involves things I can’t do. A few days ago he went with me to the home of an elderly friend and he fixed her T.V. Yesterday he went with me to visit another elderly person whose husband died earlier this summer and then on to visit someone else who is having to stay a few months in an elderly care center. This third woman we took out for lunch and drove her to where she needed to go for her errands. My husband had brought with him a leather-covered Bible that he had bought years ago but, being he has several Bibles, he wanted to give this extra (and still unused) one to my new friend. It was his suggestion to do so, not mine, and this suggestion was his sweet response when I had told him that this woman (not a Christ-follower –yet) had texted me to say she had started reading the book of Matthew. When we learned yesterday that the Bible she was using was from the care center’s library, we asked her if she wanted her own Bible and she did! We had it right with us to give to her, and on top of that, as we got ready to sign in it along with Num. 6:24-26 (a blessing prayer), she told us to add “Happy Birthday” as that (unbeknownst to us) was coming up next week. Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord arranges things?
I write the above to express thankfulness to the Lord as well as to my husband who, though he doesn’t evangelize with me at the bus stops, encourages me in it, makes sure my printer is working, supports me through his job’s income, and was the one who, seven years ago today exactly (on 8/11/09), set up this blog, saying, “Well, even if you said you don’t want a blog, your blog site is ready when you are.” I’ve smiled every time I think of how the Lord inspired him to do that, even when I didn’t yet know such a thing was God’s will for me. So in remembering this, as well as in writing the first paragraph above, I am especially feeling grateful to the Lord. Truly, He is so often reminding us that He is working to bring people to Him through our efforts, efforts that may, to us, seem meager. But are they meager if what we do and communicate is that which plants seeds in people –seeds of hope, of wisdom, of Truth, of encouragement, etc. from Christ’s love and Word– so that He can cultivate their hearts through it? Such efforts are not meager if they help individuals come into fellowship with God so that they too can learn to walk in His will for them.
And what is God’s will? It is that we love Him and others and that we show this love through deeds. It is not enough to merely speak or write, as good as that may be. God does tell us to proclaim His Word, but to do this merely through words on paper, in text, or across the internet is not entire obedience. Mt. 5:14-16 makes it clear that we are to shine Christ through our works (deeds / acts) as well. As Jesus commands there, “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” We are to offer to God our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), not just offer our mouths and writings.
Even so, it seems that many bloggers, at the expense of spending alone-time with God, meditating on His Word, listening to His voice, praying on their knees, worshipping with psalms and songs, memorizing Scripture, and going out ministering in every way possible, are instead sitting at their desks, in their comfortable homes, or even in bed, reading what other bloggers write and then writing their own articles about how others should live. Writing against those who commit the sins of not taking up one’s cross or sacrificing one’s life for the Gospel, they remain at home allowing themselves to be the exception, unaware of their hypocrisy.
Truly, if we are not putting into practice what God’s Word says and what we ourselves are preaching, then we’d best refrain from writing and speaking. Jesus tells us to put His words into practice. (Mt. 7:24) He says that even if we hear (listen to / read) His words, if we do not put them into practice, we are headed for an enormous fall and crash (v. 27), even complete destruction. (Luke 6:49) Why? “Because you did not do what I said to do, but rather your own ‘pious’ things.” (See Jesus’ warnings in both passages –Mt. 7:21-27 & Luke 6:46-49)
I met a Bible teacher years ago who told me that he thought the contemporary church was most like the church in Sardis in Rev. 3:1-6. Maybe. Regardless, I do think it does describe many (certainly not all) bloggers. The Lord says there in verse one, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Christ is looking at our deeds / works. He is saying that although we may put forth a godly facade so that we have the reputation of being wise and righteous, He sees that we are dead. In verse two, the Lord commands, “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die.” Thus Jesus views this person –who believes herself to be spiritual– to actually be spiritually weak and asleep, and He is warning that any bit of Life in her is about to die! Why? Jesus says in the rest of verse two, “For I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.” Deeds. It is about deeds. Deeds that follow, match, and test the integrity of our words, our preaching, our promotion of Christ’s words. Our works must be complete, meaning faithful, in line with the Truth, and under the continuous control of the Holy Spirit in every area.
Jesus commands further in Rev. 3:3: “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.” The Truth must be held to and fully obeyed. The decaying one must repent! If she does not, she is not worthy to be clothed in white. (v. 4) She will not overcome and her name is in danger of being erased from the Book of Life.” (v. 5)
Therefore, let us heed the command “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” (1 Tim. 6:18) For it is by doing such things that we make for ourselves a firm foundation for the coming age, so that we may have a solid grip on true Life. (v. 19) Yes, good works, done in faith and obedience to the Spirit and Word, is what justifies us before God. (John 15:6,10 // Rom. 8:9 // Ja. 2:24 // 1 John 2:3-6)
Let’s take warning from Ja. 3:13 as well. It says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” That says a lot. It reminds us that the person who is wise, the person who understands God’s Truth and acts accordingly, is revealed to the rest of us by that person’s righteous life, and that such a life consists of deeds –deeds that are done in humility, a humility that comes from wisdom, God’s Wisdom. For men’s wisdom, which aligns with envy, selfish ambition, pride, and a denial of the Truth (v. 14), is a false wisdom that is “earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.” (v. 15) Deeds produced from this wisdom are Death. (Mt. 7:21-23 again)
So, concerning these “spiritual” people who exempt themselves from Christ’s command to produce good deeds, –what are some of their main excuses? Well, we know this one: “I’m too busy.” Yet time for movies, T.V., ball games, chatter with friends, eating, shopping, hobbies, and surfing the internet, is certainly not left out.
Another related excuse is this: “I have to make money for my family.” Yes, we should do that for if we do not provide for those God has entrusted us with, we are worse than unbelievers. (1 Tim. 5:4-8) However, we should also ask ourselves if we really need all that we are working to possess. Shouldn’t we try to get down to the bare minimum if it will free us up to better serve Christ? We are to be content in every situation, whether in plenty or in want (Phil. 4:11,12), for we must be devoted to Him alone, not money, possessions, recognition, or anything in the world. (Luke 16:13 // 1 John 2:15)
There is also this excuse: “I’m too tired.” Or, “I don’t have the energy.” Or, “I’m sickly.” Maybe these excuses should be expressed to Joni Eareckson Tada (http://www.joniandfriends.org/blog/) who has not let her quadriplegia stop her from ministering in huge ways across the globe, and find out how she would answer. We know from God’s Word that it is when we feel most unable or weak in ourselves that Christ’s power is made perfect in us to make us humble and strong for every assignment He commands of us! (2 Cor. 12:7-9 // Phil. 4:13) Besides, if a person has the energy to repeatedly write long articles reprimanding the world, it is simply their lack of faith that disables the energy to get out and minister where the Holy Spirit can empower them for every task in line with God’s will.
Someone might use the excuse, “I’m too shy.” But that’s no excuse, for we are not ashamed of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16) and if we pray and obey, the Holy Spirit makes us bold to preach and minister. (Acts 4:29-31)
What about the excuse that our spouse or parents can’t spare us or simply don’t want us to go, or that we feel an obligation to them? In Luke 9:57-62 Jesus had answers for those with such excuses: “Leave them, and follow and serve Me,” is, in essence, what He said. Though Jesus may order someone, as He did the demoniac He delivered, to, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you” (8:39), this does not justify remaining at home, preaching to the same family members for years. Jesus has commanded all of His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations… baptizing them… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28:19,20) No one is exempt from evangelizing and teaching others throughout the world. If God has called us to remain in one location, we need to be sure that we are ministering across that location, in person, and that we are also aiding those who go to the farthest parts of the earth. Jesus has ordered His followers to do this (same verses / Acts 1:8), so to know it and not obey it, is to commit sin. (Ja. 4:17)
Let’s remember that we are to obey God rather than humans, if they are trying to block us from obeying what we know God has commanded of us. (Acts 4:19) As Jesus taught, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife [or husband] and children, his brothers and sisters –yes, even his own life– he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26) How can it be any clearer? If we shrink back from following Jesus anywhere and everywhere He commands –if we refuse to give up all we have– we cannot be His disciple. (v. 27,33)
“But it’s too dangerous,” is another excuse. Yet didn’t we just read Luke 14:26? Jesus says there that we must hate even our own life, meaning in comparison with our love of doing the will of our Commander. As He taught, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” (9:24) His statement right before that was, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” If we want to be lukewarm about this, we will be spewed out of Christ’s mouth. (Rev. 3:14-16) Are we aware that the lukewarmness referred to here regards DEEDS?! (v. 15)
Truly, for those of us who blog, or hand out tracts, we, like any Christ-follower, must be engaging with people. We cannot write “from an ivory tower”, telling others what it looks like to live out Christ’s example if we are not open examples ourselves, modeling, for everyone possible, what that looks like. Christians and non-Christians must be able to see our lives up close –that we are genuinely Christ-like and are in obedience to His every command. In handing out tracts, we should never do it mechanically, but must listen kindly to people’s questions and beliefs, hug them, pray for them by name, be interested in them, be courteous and gracious, and be truly loving and concerned, helping them in practical ways as God guides us.
Those who preach God’s Word cannot resort to words only. We must back up our teachings by deeds that everyone can see. Not in a way so as to boast, like some ministers may do, but only that others may understand that we, like every Bible-believer should, are doing what we are exhorting others to do.
As Paul instructs in Phil. 4:9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me –put it into practice.” Can all of us say this to everyone that hears us or watches us? It should be so, for the precise reason that we ourselves are doing the “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10)
August 3, 2016
I was reading Isa. 44:21-23 a few mornings ago and this statement which God made there really struck me: “Return to Me for I have redeemed you.” (v. 22b) It is “O Jacob… O Israel” (v. 21) whom the LORD is addressing. Using present tense for something future, God is saying that He has redeemed this particular race (Israel), and that because He has, He exhorts them to return to Him. In the same verse, God tells Israel that He has swept away their offenses and sins, while in verse 21 God assures them, “..you are My servant; O Israel, I will not forget you.” In verse 23 all heaven and earth are told to sing and shout for joy. Why? Because, “The LORD has redeemed Jacob, He displays His glory in Israel.” (Same verse) So besides redeeming Jacob’s descendants, the LORD says that He displays His magnificence in them.
This passage, and many like it, are promises God is making to a group of people, a particular race. The race these promises were directed to were those who came from the physical lineage of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, whom God later named Israel. They became a nation, they were dispersed (due to God’s punishment to them for their continued sin, as He promised would happen), but they have once again become a nation, and this because God has fulfilled that repeated promise of His that He would bring the Israelites back to the land He had given them, that He would make them a nation again, and that He would display His glory within them.
Can God do such a thing even while the people still have not returned to Him? Of course. Can they be His servants even while they remain unbelieving concerning Jesus, the Messiah? Of course. Even of Nebuchadnezzar, the heathen king of Babylon who had thousands captured as well as killed, the LORD called him, “My servant”. (Jer. 27:6) And to Pharaoh, God said, “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Rom. 9:17) God can, and is, definitely making His name famous throughout the earth through Israel, even in their unbelieving state; and He will do so on a much greater scale when they, as a whole nation, return to their God. (11:12,15,26,27)
The Scriptures Jesus used (the Old Testament) were written to and for Israel specifically, and the Jewish people believed this to be so, as did Paul (Rom. 9:1-5) and Jesus Himself. (Mt. 15:24 // John 4:22) The whole world has been invited to share in the salvation that comes through “the King of the Jews” –a title Jesus did claim (Mt. 27:11), but there has been no replacement of the recipients of the Covenants. Gentiles are invited to have a share in Christ by being grafted into the spiritual citizenry of God’s people (Rom. 11:17 // Eph. 2:11-22), but to claim that it is not the houses of Israel and Judah that God has contracted with through both the Old and the New Covenants (Heb. 8:6-13), is to commit the very arrogance about which Paul warns the Roman church. (Rom. ch. 11) As he reminds us concerning God’s firm choice about two nations: “The older will serve the younger” (Rom. 9:12) and, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (v. 13)
In spite of God’s clear Word, those who hold to the false doctrine of Replacement Theology –which has morphed into doctrines such as Augustinianism, Covenant Theology, Fulfillment Theology, Liberation Theology, and Christian Palestinianism– choose to follow those who teach that God has rejected Israel and transferred all the promises He made to them over to the Church. The Church is the new Israel, they say. Some, in denying they teach this, claim that the Church has existed throughout Israel’s history, the believing remnant being the Church (they say) to whom God made all those promises about the land, nation, salvation, glory, and dominion.
Strangely, while these teachers teach that all these promises are now to be reinterpreted to mean a spiritual land, a spiritual nation, a spiritual rule, etc., they also, at the same time, teach that the Jewish people were, in fact, the initial recipients of the promises, even those promises about the literal land. But should we believe that God is okay with men twisting His words around to mean something entirely different than what He stated so very clearly and repeatedly? For who did God really make all those everlasting promises to as He spoke to and through Israel’s patriarchs and prophets? Did He make them to the Church? Or did He make them to the literal offspring of Jacob? Anyone who has read the Bible, objectively, knows the answer.
We know that God covenanted with Jacob’s literal descendants –a race, a nation, a cultural/ethnic group, the Israelites, the Jews. Many of the branches were broken off through unbelief (Rom. 11:20), yet this is no excuse to teach that God revoked what His Word says is an irrevocable election. (v. 28,29) God’s numerous, lasting promises to Israel will be inherited eternally by all those Israelites who turn to their Messiah, though mercifully, Gentiles too, though cut from a wild olive tree, can, also through faith in Jesus, be grafted into the Jews natural, cultivated olive tree. (v. 17-24) Yes, Gentiles have been invited to share in the blessings of the New Covenant which God made with the Jewish race (v. 17,18 & 15:8-12), though the majority of the Jewish people have yet to believe. But, as God’s Word promises over and over, this will change!
Rom. 11:25-27 is just one passage where this promise of redemption is repeated, so let’s look at it closely, even while taking note at how it relates with the three Isaiah verses in my first paragraph above. Let’s then compare it with the way Replacement Theology adherents interpret it.
Here is Rom. 11:25-27, translated correctly, a couple different ways: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part [a partial hardening / a degree of hardening] until the full number [until the fullness] of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it has been written [through the Jewish prophets]: ‘The Deliverer [the Delivering One] will come from Zion [out of Zion]; He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My Covenant with them [Jacob’s descendants] when I take away their sins.'”
Now, in every instance that the Israelite’s race, city, or land is referred to, let’s insert the words “the Church” to see if teachers of Replacement Theology are interpreting God’s Word accurately. Indeed, if they were consistent and faithful to their doctrine, they would have to read Rom. 11:25-27 like this: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, fellow Church people, so that you may not be conceited: The Church has experienced a partial hardening until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all the Church will be saved, as it has been written: ‘The Deliverer will come from the Church; He will remove ungodliness from the Church. And this is My Covenant with the Church when I take away their sins.'”
Some Replacement Theology teachers claim that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises, or that by being in Jesus everyone is a recipient of all of God’s promises, including every promise He made to the patriarchs. Obviously Rom. 11:25-27 makes zero sense when we insert the name Jesus in place of the names Israel, Jacob, or Zion, so let’s try inserting the idea of “those in Jesus”. It then reads like this: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers in Jesus, so that you may not be conceited: You who are in Jesus have experienced a partial hardening until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all those in Jesus will be saved, as it has been written: ‘The Deliverer will come from that spiritual place in Jesus; He will remove ungodliness from those in Jesus. And this is My Covenant with those in Jesus when I take away their sins.'” Really? Those in Jesus have experienced a partial hardening until the full number of the Gentiles has come in? Does that make sense? And haven’t those in Christ already had their ungodliness and sins removed? Unquestionably, Rom. 11:25-27 is referring to the literal, physical Jewish people, the descendants of Jacob in the physical land of Israel.
So, let’s ask with the apostle Paul, “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew?” (Rom. 3:1) Let’s believe Paul’s answer, for he says, “Much in every way!” (v. 2) And why? He says, “First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.” (Same verse) “First of all” reveals that there are other advantages as well to belonging to the Jewish race; and of course we can read of these throughout the Word of God such as in Rom. 9:4,5, Mt. 5:35, Zec. ch. 2, Jer. 31:7, Dt. 14:2, etc.
After saying that there are many advantages to being a Jew, Paul promptly asks, “What if some [Jews] disbelieved? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness [to His promises to them]?” (Rom. 3:3) Let’s believe Paul’s answer when he exclaims, “Not at all!” (v. 4) and when he emphatically reminds us that although men lie, God does not! (Same verse)
In verse 1 of Rom. 11 Paul asks, “I ask, then, Did God reject His people?” Immediately he answers, “By no means!” (Same verse) So how can Replacement Theology teachers claim that God has?! Paul continues (also in the same verse), “I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.” Paul is identifying with a physical, literal, bloodline within the Jewish race. He is emphasizing the Jewish race, stating that they are God’s people whom the Lord has not rejected. He is identifying God’s people as being the physical descendants of Abraham. Then he emphasizes the unending relationship again: “God did not reject His people…” (v. 2)
So even though God did, as punishment for their unfaithfulness to Him, remove His favor from them for a time, God has not rejected Israel, the nation He chose as His own inheritance forever. (Dt. 10:15 & 32:9 // Ps. 135:4 // Isa. 14:1,2 // Amos 3:1,2 & 9:11-15) Instead, by the Word who created the world and became a Jewish man (John 1:1-3,14), and though most of “His own [His own possession / His own people] did not receive Him” (v. 11,12), God’s faithfulness to His promises will manifest in a soon-coming spectacular physical deliverance, spiritual revival, and brilliant display of Christ’s glory for and throughout the entire nation of Israel. And every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bow to the King of the Jews dwelling in Zion! (Isa. 9:6,7 & 66:7-24 // Zec. 14:16-21 // Phil. 2:9-11 // Rev. 11:15)
The Jewishness of our Lord Jesus is emphasized across the pages of Scripture, including in Christ’s own words even to the last chapter of the Bible: “I, Jesus… am the Root and the Offspring of David… Yes, I am coming soon.” (Rev. 22:16,20)
July 26, 2016
Three members of my sister’s family (see photos 2, 4, and 7 at link below), along with several others from their church, went to Tanzania, Africa to watch a water well installed for the Hadza people. My sister’s children were instigators in raising the money, often through bake sales, for this project, and they raised over $22,000. My sister and her family, having a loving concern for the Hadza after having lived with them for a few years in the 90s, have periodically gone back to visit them, help them, and promote Jesus. Click this link to view photos of this latest trip a few weeks ago:
July 19, 2016
“I’m going to Heaven… I possess eternal life… I will live forever.” Such are the statements of many who call Jesus “Savior” and of many who even call Him their “Lord”. Are you one of these who claimed this privilege? If so, ask yourself if you do the will of God. Consistently? If not, how often? Is it actually only a few times a week that you obey what God asks of you? –What His Spirit and Word command? Let’s personalize these questions and be honest. For Jesus has told us very clearly that in order to inherit the Kingdom of God we must be doing the Father’s will. (Mt. 7:21-23) Nothing else we do or claim, no matter how righteous or powerful it appears, will save us. (Same verses)
Let’s not be deceived. Once we step into Christ, we are to leave the old self and lifestyle behind (2 Cor. 5:17 // Gal. 2:20), living not for ourselves, but for the will of God. (2 Cor. 5:15 // 1 Pe. 4:2) This is what it means to die and be buried with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:1-7) –the baptism into water, spiritual fire, and the Spirit (Luke 3:16 // John 3:5 // Gal. 3:27)– so that in becoming one with the Lord in spirit (1 Cor. 6:17), we receive God’s divine nature (1 John 3:9) and power (2 Pe. 1:3,4) and are enabled to submit to the control of the Spirit (Rom. 8:9) and conduct ourselves, at all times, with Christ-likeness. (1 John 2:6) Don’t let anyone tell you that we are not commanded to earnestly work toward this goal, for we certainly are to do so! (Rom. 8:13,14,29 // 2 Pe. 3:14) We are to be holy and perfect and sinless in ALL we do and desire! (Mt. 5:48 // 1 Pe. 1:13-16 // 1 John 3:5-10,24) This is what keeps us as permanent children within God’s family. (Mt. 12:50 // John 8:31-36) This is what keeps us in the will of God and justified before Him. (Heb. 10:26-39 // Ja. 2:14-26 & 4:17)
Should those who preach and teach be concerned about these things? Absolutely! 2 John 1:9 says, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God.” Verses 10 and 11 command us not to welcome such people and that if we do, we are sharing in their wicked work. Do we grasp what this is saying? False teaching is serious stuff! It is wickedness, and if not repented of, it is a cause for damnation both for teacher and hearer! (1 Cor. 15:1,2 // Gal. 1:8,9 // 1 Tim. 4:1,2,16 // 2 Pe. 2:1-3) Let us be, therefore, extremely careful that we not come under the delusion of a lie (Eph. 4:14 // 2 Thes. 2:10-12 // 2 Tim. 3:5-4:4), but instead rebuke those who turn to philosophies of the world and to doctrines taught by demons. (Titus 2:1,15 & 3:9-11 // 1 John 4:1-6)
In light of these truths, here are three excellent prayers from God’s Word:
Ps. 143:10: “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me in the land of uprightness.”
Ps. 86:11: “Teach me Your way, O LORD, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”
Ps. 119:33: “Teach me, O LORD, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.”
We must be praying, as well as studying God’s Word diligently. And we must be obeying. This is how we walk in / consistently do the will of God. This is how we attain Life Forever.
“The world and its desires are passing away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)
July 12, 2016
I too mourn the loss of the lives of the five policemen gunned down by a sniper in Dallas five days ago. The place that it happened –next to El Centro College– is directly across the street from the block I usually evangelize at. I walk past the college almost every time I’m down there, standing at different corners, for a few minutes each, with my signs and talking to those near the bus and train stops who approach me to comment or discuss God’s Word. It’s an easy mission field as most people I encounter do believe in Jesus (even if they aren’t following Him) and they seem curious enough or convicted enough to stop and talk, or at least take a tract.
So, of course when I heard about the shootings, I immediately wondered if anyone I knew had gotten hurt. (I’ve walked those streets evangelizing for over 20 years so I often encounter people who I’ve exhorted numerous times, some who have turned from sin, some who haven’t, but most who I have grown to really love.) Realizing, though, that it happened during a protest, and that it was aimed at white law-enforcement officers, I was pretty sure I didn’t know any of them, as I rarely see white officers down there. (After viewing their photos, I didn’t recognize any.) Still, it is extremely sad, and I grieve deeply for the families. It is tragic that these men, in bravely coming to the aid of their fellowman, had to have their lives cut short by someone on the side of evil.
I also grieve for those others who, though they did not die, were injured in this shooting. (I’m again reminded of grieving alongside a close friend of mine who is the mother of a former officer who remains paralyzed from the waist down because of being shot during a drug bust in Dallas in 2007.)
I was glad to hear that Obama, Bush, and other officials came to honor the fallen officers at a memorial service today in Dallas, and through their speeches, to encourage and exhort our nation. I’m sure that those leading our country are truly trying to make it a safer, better place, and we appreciate their efforts to do so. However, there is only one Person who can solve the crises we, the U.S., as well as the whole world, have and face today. His name is Jesus. Yes, only Christ Jesus will bring in true and lasting justice and peace.
No other will. No other can.
Let us, therefore, put our trust in Him.