Many believe that drinking alcoholic beverage is acceptable for the believer if it is not done in excess. My personal view is that alcoholic beverages of any kind should be avoided because of Biblical teaching ( both old/new testament) and it is always the wise thing to do. So many use the passage in John 2 in attempting to prove that Jesus give permission to drink fermented drink. But the exact opposite is the true Biblical truth. I ran across the following article and would like to share it with the Bishirblog readers in hopes to give us another reason to avoid that which contains such enslaving substance to our bodies and souls.
The following is an excerpt from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on John 2.
Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” (2:6–10)The stone waterpots were, as John explained for the benefit of his Gentile readers, used for the Jewish custom of purification. Ceremonial washings were an integral part of first-century Judaism: The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots. (Mark 7:3–4)The Jews used stone waterpots to hold the water used for ritual purification because they believed that, unlike earthenware pots (Lev. 11:33), they did not become unclean. Unlike the smaller one used by the Samaritan woman to draw water from a well (4:28), these were large pots, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Such a large amount of water was needed not only to accommodate the guests, but also because the cooking and eating utensils had to be washed (Mark 7:4).
Mary’s faith and confidence in her Son were not misplaced. As she had foreseen, He responded by commanding the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water.” In response, they filled them up to the brim, either by topping them off, or by emptying and refilling them. This seemingly insignificant detail, that the water was up to the very top, shows that nothing was added to the water, and that what followed was indeed a transformation miracle. By ordering the jars to be completely filled before He transformed the water in them into wine, Jesus also displayed His magnanimous grace (cf. 1:14, 16–17). Such a large amount of wine (120 to 180 gallons) was more than enough to last for the rest of the celebration. Jesus not only rescued the bride and groom from an embarrassing situation, but the leftover wine also provided them with a generous wedding present.
After the pots were filled, Jesus instructed the servants to draw some out and take the instantly created wine to the headwaiter. Jewish sources do not make clear whether this individual was the head servant, or a guest chosen to preside over the banquet. That he summoned the groom and spoke to him as at least his equal (vv. 9–10) suggests the latter. In either case, he served as the master of ceremonies at the feast. Since he was responsible for making sure that the guests were supplied with food and drink, the servants took the wine to him.
To make sure it was acceptable, the headwaiter sampled the food and drink before it was served to the guests. Therefore after the servants brought it to him, he tasted the water which had become wine. Though he did not know where it came from (though of course the servants who had drawn the water did), he was astonished at the high quality of this new batch of wine. He called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine.” There is some historical evidence that most hosts did, as the headwaiter suggested, serve the best wine first (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991], 174). In any case, it was only common sense to serve the good wine first and save the poorer wine for later when the people had drunk freely. The verb methusko (drunk freely) literally means “to become drunk,” and is so translated in its only other appearances in the New Testament (Luke 12:45; Eph. 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:7; Rev. 17:2). That does not mean, however, that this particular banquet had become a drunken orgy; the headwaiter was speaking from his own experience. But much to his surprise (and no doubt the groom’s as well), it seemed that the groom had kept the good wine until the last. Surely it was the sweetest, freshest wine ever tasted. This wine did not come from the normal process of fermentation, from grapes, vines, the earth and the sun. The Lord brought it into existence from nothing. Truly this was evidence that He is the Creator (John 1:1–4).
Currently we are in a preaching series entitled, “People and Places of the Bible.” One message I preached was entitled, “King David on His Palace Roof Near the Temple Mount.” One of my favorite people in the Bible is David. What a great man of God. The Bible says he had a heart for God. Just read the Psalms and see how greatly he desired to honor the name of the Lord. See him take on Goliath the Giant because he wanted to defend the great name of God Almighty. Watch him take the city of Jerusalem for the Lord and make it the capital of the Jewish people and see his burning desire to build the Temple of the Lord on Mt. Moriah. In fact, look at the place he built his own palace and the seat of government. Was it not just a short walk to the Temple Mount where Abraham had, centuries before, been willing to offer up his only son Isaac? Was it not just a few minutes from where the Heavenly Father would have His Only Begotten Son offered up on the cross to die for the sins of the world? Yes, David the Man of God and King of Israel loved his Lord sincerely and supremely!
Yet from this very place which was just a stone’s throw from this most holy place, he sinned grievously. Within the very sight of the place which pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Having stayed home from the battle, sending others instead, he had set himself up for a fall to become easy prey for the tempter. He walked out on his roof, and instead of facing north, he faced southeast. Instead of looking toward the Lord, he looked toward the way of the woman Bathsheba. For most of us, we know the story that followed and the destruction that was a result – the covering of sin, lies, deceit, murder, shame, loss and the death of a seven-day-old baby boy, and the years of pain that would follow.
And all of this happening to a man who LOVED the LORD! Yes, it is possible and very probable that if we make the same mistakes of David, the results will be the same. He failed to set measures of prevention in his life. Each of us, like David, have sinful natures that are drawn away by lusts. But for the born again Christian, we have been quickened and now have a new nature. But our old natures are still present in our lives, and those old natures are still as depraved as the day we were born. They are prone to reject the ways of the Lord and to sin. Romans 6-8 teaches us these principles. But thank the Lord that the New Testament believer has so much more God-given abilities than David had to overcome the temptations of our flesh when the devil comes to tempt.
We need to use these abilities to be ready to overcome the temptation to sin against the ONE WE LOVE. We need to set measures of prevention into our lives before the tempter comes to lead our eyes away from the beauty of our Lord unto the beauty of the world.
Let me suggest a few lessons we learn from King David’s failure in order to save ourselves the shame and destruction that are the results of sin.
1. Stay in the battle and resist the temptation of staying out of the battle.
2. Guard your eyes. (Seems like David may have known what he would see if he went out on the roof and looked in that direction.)
3. Practice the emptying of ourselves instead of overindulgence and seeking of ease.
4. Spend time praying in the Temple (Today our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.) and less time gazing at the beauties of the world.
5. Live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and overcome the power of sin. (David did not have such spiritual privilege as the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.)
6. Stay in the Scriptures. Fill your thoughts with purity.
7. Remain satisfied with your own husband or wife and seek to please one another for God’s glory.
8. Study the life of David and remember the cost of unconfessed sin. See how sin grows into deeper and more costly sins.
These and many other lessons are learned in 2 Samuel 11-12 and Psalm 51. May I encourage you to study this text this week and ask the Lord to teach you from this passage. Ask the Lord to show you practical ways to avoid such sin that can come into the life of ONE WHO LOVES THE LORD!
But above all else, see the grace of God that David found even in his sin. He was sought out by the Lord. He was confronted by Nathan, the Lord’s prophet. David confessed his sins and found gracious forgiveness. The Lord would still use David in spite of the consequences. Yet one day at the Second Coming of our Lord, David will sit on his governmental throne and rule the Jewish redeemed for 1,000 years from the very place David’s sin took place. And Jesus will rule the entire world during His Millennial Kingdom on earth just a short distance from where David will rule. And this very same place is where Jesus paid for the sins of the world giving Him the just right to show grace to all who would receive Him as Lord and Savior.
So we must remember it is possible to sin at any moment; thus, we must be prepared to withstand the tempter. We need to remember that when we sin, we should not run from God, but run unto God. Not to cover our sins, but confess them immediately and be cleansed from sin. Always trusting in the GRACE OF GOD and looking forward to the day when we will be set free from the very presence of sin!
The more stressful my life becomes I find a greater desire to be alone with God. As we study the life of our Lord while here on this earth He made it a priority of the day to seek spending time with the Heavenly Father. Time alone, time in solitude. I heard the saying years ago, “ We need to come apart so we will not come apart” , so true!
Yet in society today it seems like the value of solitude is failing as we have so much vying for our attention. The fact is that most people are just “to busy” that we have little time to sit down, be alone, let our hearts and minds just take a rest in the presence of the Lord as He comforts and restores our inner and outer man!
I ran across a great footnote in a Bible concerning this topic. I want to share it today with all the Bishirblog readers. May we do more than just Read it may we Heed it! Hope it helps to exhort each of us to build into our daily, weekly and yearly lives time for physical and spiritual solitude. I am sure it will be less expensive then a visit to the doctor and more productive for the soul!
[Please continue to read the following article]
I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact,” wrote philosopher Blaise Pascal, “in that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.”1 Pascal wrote those words in 1670, but they are even more applicable today. We fill our lives with distractions — social media, television, games — and assume we are trying to avoid boredom. But often our diversions are rooted in a fear of solitude.
By avoiding solitude, though, we are missing out on opportunities for deeper communion with God. Solitude is the discipline that calls us to consciously pull away from everything else in our lives, including the company of other people, for the purpose of giving our full and undivided attention to God.²
Almost every significant figure in the Bible — from Jacob to Elijah, Moses to Paul — spent time practicing the discipline of solitude. The Gospels frequently mention how Jesus “went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). In Luke 6:12 he “went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”
Throughout his life Moses would often set himself apart to be alone with God, often for extended periods of time. In Deuteronomy 9:18, Moses reminds the Israelites that he practiced solitude and fasting “before the LORD for forty days and forty nights” on their behalf. Such passages can make us uncomfortable and despairing of our own lack of discipline: Moses could spend 40 days in solitude while we struggle to spend 40 minutes alone with God! But with effort, we, too, can practice the discipline of solitude.
Three things to consider when practicing solitude:
1. Solitude doesn’t require silence
Silence and solitude are complementary disciplines that aid our communion with God. But while silence almost always requires solitude, solitude does not necessarily require silence. We can use our time of solitude for prayer, verbal meditation on Scripture, singing psalms or hymns of praise or any other form of “noisy” activity. Solitude doesn’t require either silence or a hushed solemnity.
2. Solitude requires planning
Our lives tend to be filled with people and events, making it unlikely we’ll accidentally stumble into solitude. Being alone with God requires planning. Choose a place where you can be intimate with God and free from distractions. This “special place” doesn’t need to be special — it just needs to be a place where you can remove yourself from the world for as much time as needed.
3. Solitude requires time
On most days the best we can do is to get away alone for a few minutes, or even an hour. We should cherish these times and guard them carefully. Yet while these solitary moments are necessary, they’re hardly sufficient to meet our need for closeness with our Creator. Commit to finding creative ways to be alone with God for extended periods of solitude, ranging from a few hours to a few days.
Three reasons solitude is necessary for spiritual formation
1. Solitude amplifies other disciplines
We can carry out almost every other discipline in the company of others. We can pray, meditate and worship almost anytime and in any place. But practicing those disciplines in the context of solitude helps us achieve a greater focus and augments our efforts.
2. Solitude is not about being alone
Normally when we use the term solitude, we’re referring to the state of being alone. But solitude also has the meaning of “absence of human activity.” This is what we mean when we refer to the discipline; the purpose is not to be alone but to experience the absence of human activity so that we can more fully experience the presence of God.
3. Solitude exposes our idols
We might tell ourselves we prefer God’s company to that of any other person or thing in the world. Solitude puts that claim to the test. By being alone with God we get a clearer view of the idols of our heart, and we are presented with an opportunity to repent.
Put it into practice
Consider setting aside a block of at least 2 hours to be alone with God this coming month.
MANAGING OUR FAMILIES BY MANAGING OUR MONEY
Today’s culture has brought with it some destructive pressures to the American family. One such pressure point is money pressure, specifically financial debt. Seems like “ Till death do us part” is being replaced with “Till debt do us part”. The money problems is listed in the top reasons for marriage stress and often breakup.
The Lord has a lot to say about money and it can be applied to our family life. Managing marriage and money go hand in hand. The Christian family dedicated to living life by the principles of the Bible has a certain advantage in having a healthy marriage. If we come to the Bible and obey its principles we shall live more abundantly.
The Bible is full of instruction from the Lord concerning money management. Proverbs, 1st Corinthians 16, and 2nd Corinthians 9 just to mention a few places. From 2nd Corinthians 9 I would like to share a few guidelines on managing money that apply to everyone who is a believer whether single or married. I will not go into depth concerning this passage but hopefully will help you to glean a few helpful truths. Perhaps these thoughts will encourage you to make some adjustments and dig deeper into God’s Word to seek advice in how to manage your money before it manages you and brings destruction to your family.
2nd Corinthians 9:
I. Keep In Mind The Source. (v 8)
In verse 8, Paul said, “ God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”. In this brief statement the Lord wants us to keep in our mind that He is generous and will supply all the resources we need to live . So whatever resources we have as a single or a couple we need to recognize it is all from God. Our Lord will give all we need as we exercise His principles of work and good stewardship which He provides for us in His Word. As we live out His principles the Lord will supply all we need to live and all we need to give! Healthy Families Trust!
II. Keep Our Desires Under Restraint.
We must continually keep our lustful desires from controlling us. Each of us has real need's and perceived greed's. I am thankful the Lord gives us over our needs but He promises to meet our needs not our greed's. Unwise spending based on impulse shopping and being lured into meeting a greed is one of Satan's cleverest temptations. Many individuals and families seem to feed their covetousness instead of focusing on their contentment. As we focus on Christ and what He provides it will lead us to thanking Him for His sovereign provisions. Hebrews 13:5.
Healthy Families Restrain!
III. Keep As Priority God’s Glory. (v13)
Be determined that the whole purpose of life is to bring glory to Jesus Christ. Paul told the Corinthians that their financial gift to the Jerusalem church would cause those believers to glorify God. And the reason they would glorify God was because of the Corinthians were giving because of the great work of God in their lives. Healthy families are those who learn to look at finances as one way to worship the Lord. Healthy Families Give!
Healthy Families Glorify God!
IV. Keep Partnership At All Times.
As we study this passage we are reminded that Paul was writing to a group of people. The entire church at Corinth. In the same way our marriage and family must work together in the managing of money. Everyone should attempt to help provide, and use the resources wisely. My and mine is replaced with our and others especially in the matter of money. Thus couples need to communicate and agree on money matters.
Healthy Families Partner Together.
V. Keep Planning The Work and Working The Plan. (v6)
“ He which soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully”. This verse is in reference of farming. The successful farmer plans when they will plant, cultivate and harvest. Successful families do the same with their financial endeavors. They use budgets and keep good records. They “ Plan the Work and Work the Plan”. That sounds pretty simple but it is amazingly profound and productive. Organization seems like it is a lot of work but in reality it simplifies life and relives a ton of pressure.
Healthy Families Plan Together!
VI. Keep Making, Spending, Saving And Sharing Financially. (v7)
“ Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God liveth a cheerful giver”. Day by day, week by week we must continue to work as we provide more resources for ourselves, our family and others in need. As we gain resources we must be good stewards in spending those resources. And we must practice saving some of all we make. We can learn so much from the little ANT in the book of proverbs. But with all we make, all we spend, all we save we are instructed by our Lord that we are to take a planed amount and give to Gods work and others in need. And as we do we are to be cheerful knowing that our Lord is well pleased and will bless those who become givers and not takers.
Giving should be done purposefully, joyfully, expectantly. Sharing wealth does not impoverish a Christian - it is the refusal to share that brings poverty of soul and finances to people , particularly God’s children. Proverbs 22:9; Acts 20:35.
Healthy Families Share Together.
May our families live by faith in all areas including money bringing glory to God and good to our marriages!
The following sermon was preached by D.L. Moody in the late 1800's. I found it helpful reading and wanted to share it for your reading. Hope it helps you in finding or being reminded of the security of the believer.
Assurance of Salvation
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. —1 John 5:13
There are two classes who ought not to have assurance. First: Those who are in the church but who are not converted, having never been born of the Spirit. Second: Those not willing to do God’s will; who are not ready to take the place that God has mapped out for them, but want to fill some other place.
Have All God’s People Assurance?
Someone will ask: “Have all God’s people assurance?” No; I think a good many of God’s dear people have no assurance; but it is the privilege of every child of God to have beyond a doubt a knowledge of his own salvation. No man is fit for God’s service who is filled with doubts. If a man is not sure of his own salvation, how can he help anyone else into the kingdom of God? If I seem in danger of drowning and do not know whether I shall ever reach the shore, I cannot assist another. I must first get on the solid rock myself; and then I can lend my brother a helping hand. If being myself blind I were to tell another blind man how to get sight, he might reply: “First get healed yourself, and then you can tell me.” I recently met with a young man who was a Christian, but he had not attained to victory over sin. He was in terrible darkness. Such an one is not fit to work for God, because he has besetting sins; and he has not the victory over his doubts, because he has not the victory over his sins.
None will have time or heart to work for God, who are not assured as to their own salvation. They have as much as they can attend to; and being themselves burdened with doubts, they cannot help others to carry their burdens. There is no rest, joy, or peace—no liberty, nor power—where doubts and uncertainty exist.
Now it seems as if there are three wiles of Satan against which we ought to be on our guard. In the first place, he moves all his kingdom to keep us away from Christ; then he devotes himself to get us into “Doubting Castle”; but if we have, in spite of him, a clear ringing witness for the Son of God, he will do all he can to blacken our characters and belie our testimony.
Some seem to think that it is presumption not to have doubts; but doubt is very dishonoring to God.
If any one were to say that they had known a person for thirty years and yet doubted him, it would not be very creditable; and when we have known God for ten, twenty or thirty years, does it not reflect on His veracity to doubt Him?
Could Paul and the early Christians and martyrs have gone through what they did if they had been filled with doubts, and had not known whether they were going to heaven or to perdition after they had been burned at the stake? They must have had assurance.
What John Tells Us
Now let us come to the Word. John tells us in his Gospel what Christ did for us on Earth. In his epistle, He tells us what He is doing for us in heaven as our Advocate. In his [John’s] Gospel, there are only two chapters in which the word “believe” does not occur. With these two exceptions, every chapter in John is “Believe! Believe!! BELIEVE!!!” He tells us in 20:31: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” That is the purpose for which he wrote the Gospel—“that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we might have life through His name” (John 20:31).
Turn to 1 John 5:13. There he tells us why he wrote this epistle. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.” Notice to whom he writes it: “You that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” There are only five short chapters in this first epistle, and the word “know” occurs over forty times. It is “Know! Know!! KNOW!!!” The key to it is Know! And all through the epistle there rings out the refrain “That we might know that we have eternal life.”
Five Things Worth Knowing
In the third chapter of John’s first epistle there are five things worth knowing.
In the fifth verse we read the first: “And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.” Not what I have done, but what He has done. Has He failed in His mission? Is He not able to do what He came for? Did ever any heaven-sent man fail yet? And could God’s own Son fail? He was MANIFESTED TO TAKE AWAY OUR SINS.
Again, in the nineteenth verse, the second thing worth knowing: “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.” WE KNOW that we are of THE TRUTH. And if the truth make us free, we shall be free indeed. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
The third thing worth knowing is in the fourteenth verse: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” The natural man does not like godly people, nor does he care to be in their company. “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” He has no spiritual life.
The fourth thing worth knowing we find in verse twenty-four: “And he that keepth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” We can tell what kind of Spirit we have if we possess the Spirit of Christ—a Christ-like spirit—not the same in degree, but the same in kind. If I am meek, gentle, and forgiving; if I have a spirit filled with peace and joy; if I am long-suffering and gentle, like the Son of God—that is a test; and in that way we are to tell whether we have eternal life or not.
The fifth thing worth knowing, and the best of all, is: “Beloved, now.” Notice the word “now.” It does not say when you come to die. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (v. 2).
Will The Christian Sin?
But some will say: “Well, I believe all that; but then I have sinned since I became a Christian.” Is there a man or a woman on the face of the Earth who has not sinned since becoming a Christian? Not one! There never has been, and never will be, a soul on this Earth who has not sinned, or who will not sin, at some time of their Christian experience. But God has made provision for believers’ sins. We are not to make provision for them; but God has. Bear that in mind.
The Past Sins Of Christians Are All Forgiven
As soon as they are confessed, they are never to be mentioned. That is a question which is not to be opened up again. If our sins have been put away, that is the end of them. They are not to be remembered, and God will not mention them any more. This is very plain. Suppose I have a son who, while I am from home, does wrong. When I go home he throws his arms around my neck, and says: “Papa, I did what you told me not to do. I am very sorry. Do forgive me.” I say: “Yes, my son,” and kiss him. He wipes away his tears, and goes off rejoicing.
But the next day he says: “Papa, I wish you would forgive me for the wrong I did yesterday.” I should say: “Why, my son, that thing is settled; and I don’t want it mentioned again.” “But I wish you would forgive me; it would help me to hear you say, ‘I forgive you.’” Would that be honoring me? Would it not grieve me to have my boy doubt me? But to gratify him I say again, “I forgive you, my son.”
And if, the next day, he were again to bring up that old sin, and ask forgiveness, would not that grieve me to the heart? And so, my dear reader, if God has forgiven us, never let us mention the past. Let us forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those which are before, and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let the sins of the past go; for “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
How To Tell If You Are A Child Of God
Again in 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Now examine yourselves. Try your religion. Put it to the test. Can you forgive an enemy? That is a good way to know if you are a child of God. Can you forgive an injury, or take an affront, as Christ did? Can you be censured for doing well, and not murmur? Can you be misjudged and misrepresented, and yet keep a Christ-like spirit?
Another good test is to read Galatians 5, and notice the fruits of the Spirit, and see if you have them. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” If I have the fruits of the Spirit I must have the Spirit. I could not have the fruits without the Spirit any more than there could be an orange without the tree. And Christ says: “Ye shall know them by their fruits;” “For the tree is known by his fruits.” Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good. The only way to get the fruit is to have the Spirit. That is the way to examine ourselves whether we are the children of God.
Then there is another very striking passage. In Romans 8:9, Paul says: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” That ought to settle the question, even though one may have gone through all the external forms that are considered necessary by some to constitute a member of a church. Read Paul’s life, and put yours alongside of it. If your life resembles his, it is a proof that you are born again—that you are a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Growing In Grace
But although you may be born again it will require time to become a full-grown Christian. Justification is instantaneous; but sanctification is a lifework. We are to grow in wisdom. Peter says: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18); and in the first chapter of his second epistle “Add to your faith virtue; add to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So that we are to add grace to grace. A tree may be perfect in its first year of growth; but it does not attain its maturity. So with the Christian; he may be a true child of God, but not a matured Christian. The eighth of Romans is very important, and we should be very familiar with it. In the fourteenth verse the apostle says: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Just as the soldier is led by his captain, the pupil by his teacher, or the traveler by his guide; so the Holy Spirit will be the guide of every true child of God.
Paul’s Teaching On Assurance
Then let me call your attention to another fact. All Paul’s teaching in nearly every epistle rings out the doctrine of assurance. He says in 2 Corinthians 5:1: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” He had a title to the mansions above, and he says--I know it. He was not living in uncertainty. He said: “I have a desire to depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23); and if he had been uncertain he would not have said that. Then in Colossians 3:4, he says: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” I am told that Dr. Watts’ tombstone bears this same passage of Scripture. There is no doubt there.
Then turn to Colossians 1:12: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which HATH made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.”
Three haths:“HATH made us meet”; “HATH delivered us”; and “HATH translated us.” It does not say that He is going to make us meet; that He is going to deliver; that He is going to translate.
Then again in verse 14: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” We are either forgiven or we are not, we should not give ourselves any rest until we get into the kingdom of God; nor until we can each look up and say, “I know that if my earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, I have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Assurance May Be A Certainty
There is assurance for you. “I KNOW.” Do you think that the God who has justified me will condemn me? That is quite an absurdity. God is going to save us, so that neither men, angels, nor devils can bring any charge against us or Him. He will have the work complete.
Job lived in a darker day than we do; but we read in Job 19:25: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth.”
The same confidence breathes through Paul’s last words to Timothy: “For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” It is not a matter of doubt, but of knowledge. “I know.” “I am persuaded.” The word “hope” is not used in the Scripture to express doubt. It is used in regard to the second coming of Christ, or to the resurrection of the body. We do not say that we “hope” we are Christians. I do not say that I “hope” I am an American, or that I “hope” I am a married man. These are settled things. I may say that I “hope” to go back to my home, or I hope to attend such a meeting. I do not say that I “hope” to come to this country, for I am here. And so, if we are born of God we know it; and He will not leave us in darkness if we search the Scriptures.
Christ taught this doctrine to His seventy disciples when they returned elated with their success, saying: “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name.” The Lord seemed to check them, and said that He would give them something to rejoice in. “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
It is the privilege of every one of us to know, beyond a doubt, that our salvation is sure.
Then we can work for others. But if we are doubtful of our own salvation, we are not fit for the service of God.
Another passage is John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment” (the Revised Version has it so); “but is passed from death unto life.”
Some people say that you never can tell till you are before the great white throne of judgment whether you are saved or not. Why, my dear friend, if your life is hid with Christ in God, you are not coming into judgment for your sins. We may come into judgment for reward. This is clearly taught where the lord reckoned with the servant to whom five talents had been given, and who brought other five talents, saying, “Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.” His lord said unto him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:20, 21). We shall be judged for our stewardship. That is one thing, but salvation—eternal life—is another.
Will God demand payment twice of the debt which Christ has paid for us? If Christ bore my sins in His own body on the tree, am I to answer for them as well?
Isaiah tells us that, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” In Romans 4:25, we read: He “was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” Let us believe, and get the benefit of His finished work.
Looking for a Life
Now, a great many people want some token outside of God’s Word. That habit always brings doubt. If I made a promise to meet a man at a certain hour and place tomorrow, and he were to ask me for my watch as a token of my sincerity, it would be a slur on my truthfulness. We must not question what God has said: He has made statement after statement, and multiplied figure upon figure. Christ says: “I am the door; by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved.” “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.” “I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” “I am the truth”; receive Me, and you will have the truth; for I am the embodiment of truth. Do you want to know the way? “I am the way”; follow Me, and I will lead you into the kingdom. Are you hungering after righteousness? “I am the Bread of life”; if you eat of Me you shall never hunger. “I am the Water of life”; if you drink of this water it shall be within you “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” (John 11:25, 26).
Let me remind you where our doubts come from. A good many of God’s dear people never get beyond knowing themselves servants. He calls us “friends.” If you go into a house you will soon see the difference between the servant and the son. The son walks at perfect liberty all over the house; he is at home. But the servant takes a subordinate place. What we want is to get beyond servants. We ought to realize our standing with God as sons and daughters. He will not “un-child” His children. God has not only adopted us, but we are His by birth; we have been born into His kingdom. My little boy was as much mine when he was a day old as now that he is fourteen. He was my son; although it did not appear what he would be when he attained manhood. He is mine; although he may have to undergo probation under tutors and governors. The children of God are not perfect; but we are perfectly His children.
Another origin of doubts is looking at ourselves. If you want to be wretched and miserable, filled with doubts from morning till night, look at yourself. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee” (Isaiah 26:3). Many of God’s dear children are robbed of joy because they keep looking at themselves.
Three Ways to Look
Someone has said: “There are three ways to look. If you want to be wretched, look within; if you wish to be distracted, look around; but if you would have peace, look up.” Peter looked away from Christ, and he immediately began to sink. The Master said to him: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). He had God’s eternal word, which was sure footing, and better than either marble, granite or iron; but the moment he took his eyes off Christ down he went. Those who look around cannot see how unstable and dishonoring is their walk. We want to look straight at the “Author and Finisher of our faith.”
“What Is Faith?”
Bishop Ryle has strikingly said: “Faith is the root, and assurance the flower. Doubtless you can never have the flower without the root; but it is no less certain you may have the root, and not the flower.
“Faith is that poor, trembling woman who came behind Jesus in the press, and touched the hem of His garment (Mark 5:27). Assurance is Stephen standing calmly in the midst of his murderers, and saying, ‘I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God’ (Acts 7:56).
“Faith is the penitent thief, crying, ‘Lord, remember me’ (Luke 23:42). Assurance is Job sitting in the dust, covered with sores, and saying, ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’; ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him’ (Job 19:25; 13:15).
“Faith is Peter’s drowning cry, as he began to sink, ‘Lord, save me!’ (Matthew 24:30). Assurance is that same Peter declaring before the council, in after-times, ‘This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:11, 12).
“Faith is the anxious, trembling voice, ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24). Assurance is the confident challenge, ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who is he that condemneth?’ (Romans 8:33, 34).
“Faith is Saul praying in the house of Judas at Damascus, sorrowful, blind and alone (Acts 9:11). Assurance is Paul, the aged prisoner, looking calmly into the grave, and saying, ‘I know whom I have believed.’ ‘There is a crown laid up for me’ (2 Timothy 1:12; 4:8).
“Faith is LIFE. How great the blessing! Who can tell the gulf between life and death? And yet life may be weak, sickly, unhealthy, painful, trying, anxious, worn, burdensome, joyless, smileless, to the very end.
“Assurance is more than life.It is health, strength, power, vigor, activity, energy, manliness, beauty.”
Another writer says: “I have seen shrubs and trees grow out of the rocks, and overhang fearful precipices, roaring cataracts, and deep running waters; but they maintained their position, and threw out their foliage and branches as much as if they had been in the midst of a dense forest.” It was their hold on the rock that made them secure; and the influences of nature that sustained their life. So believers are oftentimes exposed to the most horrible dangers in their journey to heaven; but, so long as they are “rooted and grounded” in the Rock of Ages, they are perfectly secure. Their hold of Him is their guarantee; and the blessings of His grace give them life and sustain them in life. And as the tree must die, or the rock fall, before a dissolution can be effected between them, so either the believer must lose his spiritual life, or the Rock must crumble, ere their union can be dissolved.
What Our Children Ought To Know!
Presently at Liberty we are emphasizing the christian family. " The Family Series" is off to a great start as we are hearing from the Lord through His Word how we must resist today's cultural principles. Especially concerning the family unit. In preparation for preaching i have read many books and listened to many sermons by many Biblical Pastors and Authors. Several of these books that have inspired me for today's blog are, "Successful Christian Parenting", and "Being a Dad Who Leads". by John MacArthur. I want to share this blog particularly as to several things our children need to know.
Hope this inspires you to TEACH YOUR CHILDREN instead of allowing the culture to lead them away from God and His principles of life and eternity.
THINGS OUR CHILDREN OUGHT TO KNOW!
There is a lot of stuff that kids today are not being taught! It’s shocking what our children know and don’t know. And after forty-five years of being in the ministry, it is still shocking to me, how many kids don’t know very much Bible truth.
We need the Bible. They need the Bible! And we as church leaders need to be teaching Bible doctrine in our churches today. We need to get back to this primary command of the Lord to His church. It seems it is not the priority as it should be in todays churches. There are a lot of things that kids need to know, but spiritual things are what kids need mostly in order to live prosperous lives now and for eternal reward later.
Every child needs to start off knowing the basics of the Christian faith – that they are sinners, and Jesus is the Savior. They need to know that they need regeneration. This is the foundational knowledge of what kids need to know first because this is the beginning of wisdom.
The most important things kids ought to know are found in the Bible and some of the most basic truths they need to understand are found in the wonderful book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a book the Lord used a father to write to his son concerning foundational lesson of life. I would challenge every parent and teacher to send much time teaching children from this amazing book.
Hundreds of practical lessons are found in Proverbs, let me suggest a few LIFE LESSONS that are needed so much in our modern homes and churches.
I. Every kid ought to know how to respect the Lord. [Proverbs 1:7, 9:10]
Do the children in your ministry know who God is? Are you teaching the attributes of God? There
is only one God, and He is almighty, all-knowing, perfect, Holy, Kind…Are you teaching the
doctrine of who God is?
II. Every kid ought to know how to protect their hearts and minds. [Proverbs 3:3-4]
We need to guard their hearts and minds when they are small. By guarding their hearts and minds when they are small, they will learn how to do it themselves when they are older. Teach children the Word of God. Keep plugging the Word of God into their lives, hiding His Word in their hearts, so they might not sin against Him. Are you teaching children the Word of God? Are you being careful with what you are brining into your church and into their hearts and minds?
III. Every kid ought to know how to obey and honor all authority. [Proverbs 4:10-11]
There is an epidemic in America of disrespect of authority. Are you teaching your children to obey an honor their parents? To obey church authority? Teach them to honor authority, so they will honor the ultimate authority, Christ.
IV. Every kid ought to know how to select proper companions. [Proverbs 1:10]
We need to guard our kids and teach them how to choose their friendships carefully! The Bible teaches that who you choose to hang out with is who you will become. Are you teaching children to love people, but not to hang out with someone who is not following the Lord?
V. Every kid ought to know how to control their own bodies. [Proverbs 2:16-17]
There is a lack of discipline in God’s church. We need to be teaching children how to follow the Lord by controlling their bodies. Are you teaching children to say no to their bodies? To guard their eyes [from things like pornography]? To dress right and be modest? To turn away? The Bible is full of teaching’s about how to control our bodies, are we teaching it?
VI. Every kid ought to know how to treat their future spouse. [Proverbs 5:16-19]
Do you teach what marriage is and its purpose? Are you teaching what God designed the purpose of marriage to be? How is your marriage? We are shepherds. We don’t just teach with our mouths, but with our lives. Teach children the way they should treat their (eventual) spouse, by the way we live.
VII. Every kid ought to know how to communicate lovingly and honestly. [Proverbs 4:24, 10:13,19]
We need to be careful what we say with our words. Kids need to know that their words will make or break them. Are we teaching children to use words sparingly and carefully? Are you partnering with parents to teach children how to talk to adults, how to shake hands? Are you teaching children to tell the truth, to speak kindly, to know when not to speak, and how to honor God with their words?
VIII. Every kid ought to know the value of working hard and the danger of laziness. [Proverbs 6:6-8]
Remember how the ants work? Are you teaching your children the value of work, of doing their best for the Lord? We are told not to be sluggards, but in the world today, this must be taught. Are you partnering with parents to teach the Biblical value of hard work to kids?
IX. Every kid ought to know the importance of stewardship. [Proverbs 3:9-10]
They need to know how to manage their resources, and not to let their resources manage them. Do you teach children what the Bible says about money? Giving? Generosity? About using their talents and resources for the Lord? Do you give them a chance to practice it?
X. Every kid should know it is better to love others than ourselves. [Proverbs 3:27]
The Bible tells us over and over again to love others. Are you teaching that in your church? Are you teaching it with mere words, or are you teaching children through action and example how to really love others, like Jesus did?
Teach doctrine to your children in your homes! There are lots of little hearts that God wants us to be teaching in Sunday School, VBS and other places! We need the whole council of God, not just pieces and parts. I am all for stories and fun (they are kids after all), but we need to commit ourselves to teaching the Bible to children, teens and adults!
Are you working on teaching the spiritual things that kids really need to know? Why not take a few months and teach these and many other lessons found in the book of PROVERBS to the children and teens that the Lord has entrusted to you?
In light of the events of today as we see Virginia considering to follow New York States lead to abort babies up to full term. I would like to share the following article from Dr. John MacArthur.
Is Scripture Clear About Abortion?
by John MacArthur Friday, June 6, 2014
Over the last few days, I’ve noticed several articles concerning a letter circulated by the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. The letter, written by members of Planned Parenthood’s Clergy Advocacy Board—representatives of various incongruent streams of faith—claims that abortion isn’t mentioned in Scripture, and therefore shouldn’t be subject to any faith-based prohibitions.
I’d like to add my voice to the growing chorus of believers speaking out against those satanic lies and say that Scripture is indeed clear about the issue of abortion. While the word itself may not appear in Bible, God’s Word is not silent when it comes to the vile sin of murdering children in the womb. In fact, there are several biblical principles we can look to that shape how we are to think about this horrific sin.
Every Person Is Created by God
To begin with, God’s Word is clear that conception is never an accident. God personally creates every life. Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Over and over through Scripture, God exerted sovereign control over man’s ability to have children (cf. Genesis 16:2, 17:16, 20:18, 25:21; 1 Samuel 1:19-20; Ruth 4:13).
In the midst of Paul’s powerful sermon in Athens to the philosophers at the Areopagus, the apostle proclaims God’s creative power and control. In Acts 17:24, Paul calls Him “the God who made the world and all things in it.” God created everything and continues to be the Creator to this day. Nothing—including man—has come into the world apart from His creative power (John 1:3).
Paul went on to make that very point, saying that God is not
served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, “For we also are His children.” (Acts 17:25-28)
In simple terms, we live because God gave us life.
And it’s not some distant work on the Lord’s part. He’s actively involved in the formation of every person. Both David (Psalm 139: 13-16) and Job (Job 10:8-12) credit the formative work of life in the womb to God. They use picturesque language to describe just how fearfully and wonderfully each person has been handmade by the Lord.
There are no biological accidents—that includes deformities and disabilities. In Exodus 4:11, the Lord said to Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” Every aspect of our being—even those we might consider flaws or defects—has been ordained by the Lord according to His purpose (John 9:3). Every creation is an act of God.
Every Person Is Created in the Image of God
The creation account is very clear that God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26). This sets humanity apart from the rest of creation. In the process, God imbued man with several of His own attributes. The so-called communicable attributes include things like personhood and the ability to have relationships. Like God, we have the capacity to love and hate, to understand, to think, act, choose and feel.
The point is that after God initiates conception, we’re not just the product of a biological sequence or a collection of cells. We’re not simply a lump of expanding human tissue. Our skin, bones, and muscles do not make up the sum of our existence—they are merely a vessel that contains the image of God. Everything we need for thinking, acting, feeling, knowing, trusting and hoping—everything fundamental to being a person—is there, present in the womb.
And the end result of being image-bearers is that each person has an innate value in creation. That’s why God’s Word condemns murderers and advocates the strictest possible punishment for their crime. Capital punishment is a key facet of God’s law, going all the way back to His covenant with Noah. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). Human life is sacred because it was created by God in His own image.
Every Person Is the Object of God’s Loving Care
Throughout Scripture we see that God has made special provision for the poor, weak, and helpless. Over and over, His people are called to look after those who cannot look after themselves. Psalm 82:3-4 gives clear instructions to believers, exhorting us to “vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” Is there anyone more weak, more helpless, or more defenseless than an unborn child?
There is not adequate space here to go over all the incredible medical phenomena that illustrate how the Lord designed the womb to be the perfect protector for those little unborn lives. It’s staggering how God insulates children inside their mothers, nourishing and preserving them in warmth, health, and safety. And it makes it all the more tragic that so many mothers choose to invade the protection of the womb and terminate the life God has created within.
In His covenant with Israel, the Lord built in a provision for any harm that might come to a child while it was still in its mother’s womb. Exodus 21 presents a graphic scenario:
If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. (Exodus 21:22-25)
According to God’s law, killing an infant is murder. Scripture doesn’t have to use the word abortion to make the point any more clear.
The Good News
There is some good news—the best news, actually—and it wouldn’t be right to end here without mentioning it. God’s redeeming grace is available, and able to overrule the sin of abortion. The Lord can use even the most heinous acts of sin to display and dispense His grace. Taking the most heinous sin of all—Jesus’ crucifixion—as the supreme example, Judas, Pilate, and all the Romans and Jews who conspired against Jesus were guilty of murdering the only truly innocent person in history. But the Lord worked through those sins to accomplish His will and manifest His grace.
The same is true with abortion. It’s a horrific tragedy, but God’s redeeming grace is still available to all its participants without exception.
I’m convinced that God redeems murdered infants, that His grace reaches out and takes those little ones to be with Him. Two important passages make that point clear. The first is Psalm 22:9-10, where David writes, “Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb.” David was convinced that he belonged to God, even when he was still inside His mother’s womb.
That confidence is the reason he could react to the death of his own child with the words he spoke in 2 Samuel 12:23, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” God’s overruling grace protects infants who die and takes them to glory. (For a more thorough discussion of this topic, I’ve written a book called Safe in the Arms of God.)
In addition, there is forgiveness for mothers who have had an abortion. While they may face daily reminders of their sin, they can be washed of its guilt and spared its just punishment through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Likewise, the abortion doctors who are responsible for taking these precious lives can be rescued from the punishment of their sins and forgiven through repentance and faith.
It doesn’t stop there. God is exceedingly gracious, and His forgiveness is able to extend to everyone who has even a minor role in this horrible genocide—to abortion clinic nurses and counselors who facilitate infant murder on a daily basis; to pro-choice activists, lobbyists and politicians who fight to keep it legal; to the journalists, talking heads, and entertainers who promote and encourage abortion; and to all the husbands and boyfriends who don’t fight to protect the lives of their children. As horrible and unthinkable as abortion is, in His mercy God is willing to forgive the penitent sinner. That’s the joyous confession of every believer—God’s grace is far greater than our sin.
So does the Scripture have anything to say about abortion? It speaks directly and with clarity to the issue. More than that, it offers the only solution to the guilt and shame suffered by many who participate in it—the redeeming grace of Christ who died and rose again so that repentant liars and thieves and drunkards and adulterers and homosexuals and yes, even murderers, could receive forgiveness and peace with God.
I have been reading a lot lately concerning the Christmas Story. In my reading I found this wonderful article written by Dr. John MacArthur and wanted to share it with all my BishirBlog followers. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The Truth of the Nativity
The story of the first Christmas is so beloved that singers and storytellers across the centuries have embellished and elaborated and mythologized the story in celebration. However, most people now don't know which details are biblical and which are fabricated. People usually imagine the manger scene with snow, singing angels, many worshipers, and a little drummer boy. None of that is found in the biblical account.
Christmas has become the product of an odd mixture of pagan ideas, superstition, fanciful legends, and plain ignorance. Add to that the commercialization of Christmas by marketers and the politicization of Christmas in the culture wars, and you're left with one big mess. Let's try to sort it out. The place to begin is in God's Word, the Bible. Here we find not only the source of the original account of Christmas, but also God's commentary on it.
We can't know Jesus if we don't understand He is real. The story of His birth is no allegory. We dare not romanticize it or settle for a fanciful legend that renders the whole story meaningless. Mary and Joseph were real people. Their dilemma on finding no room at the inn surely was as frightening for them as it would be for you or me. The manger in which Mary laid Jesus must have reeked of animal smells. So did the shepherds, in all probability. That first Christmas was anything but picturesque.
But that makes it all the more wondrous. That baby in the manger is God! Immanuel!
That's the heart and soul of the Christmas message. There weren't many worshipers around the original manger—only a handful of shepherds. But one day every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess He is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). Those who doubt Him, those who are His enemies, those who merely ignore Him—all will one day bow, too, even if it be in judgment.
How much better to honor Him now with the worship He deserves! That's what Christmas ought to inspire.
Unvarnished Truth Luke 2:7 sets the scene: "[Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
That verse is explicitly concerned with a lonely birth. There were no midwives, no assistance to Mary at all. The Bible doesn't even mention that Joseph was present. Perhaps he was, but if he was typical of first-time fathers, he would have been of little help to Mary. She was basically on her own.
Mary brought forth the child; she wrapped Him in swaddling cloths; and she laid Him in a manger. Where usually a midwife would clean the baby and wrap Him, there was no one. Mary did it herself. And where usually there would have been a cradle or basket for the baby, there was none. Mary had to put Him in an animal's feeding trough.
When Christ entered the world, He came to a place that had some of the smelliest, filthiest, and most uncomfortable conditions. But that is part of the wonder of divine grace, isn't it? When the Son of God came down from heaven, He came all the way down. He did not hang on to His equality with God; rather, He set it aside for a time and completely humbled Himself (Philippians 2:5-8).
Unlikely Testimony Luke 2:8-20 describes the experience of the shepherds when Jesus was born. Think about that for a moment. Out of the whole of Jerusalem society, God picked a band of shepherds to hear the news of Jesus' birth. That's intriguing because shepherds were among the lowest and most despised social groups.
The very nature of shepherds' work kept them from entering into the mainstream of Israel's society. They couldn't maintain the ceremonial washings and observe all the religious festivals and feasts, yet these shepherds, just a few miles from Jerusalem, were undoubtedly caring for sheep that someday would be used as sacrifices in the temple. How fitting it is that they were the first to know of the Lamb of God!
More significant, they came to see Him the night he was born. No one else did. Though the shepherds went back and told everyone what they had seen and heard, and though "all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds" (Luke 2:18), not one other person came to see firsthand.
Scripture doesn't describe how the shepherds' search for the baby Jesus actually unfolded, but it's not unreasonable to assume that they entered Bethlehem and asked questions: "Does anybody know about a baby being born here in town tonight?"
The shepherds might have knocked on several doors and seen other newborn babies before they found the special Child lying in the feeding trough. At that moment, those humble men knew for certain that the angels' announcement was a word from God. After their encounter with Joseph and Mary and Jesus, the shepherds couldn't help but tell others about what the angels had told them. They became, in effect, the first New Testament evangelists.
The shepherd's story is a good illustration of the Christian life. You first hear the revelation of the gospel and believe it (Romans 10:9-10). Then you pursue and embrace Christ. And having become a witness to your glorious conversion, you begin to tell others about it (Luke 2:17).
May God grant you the life-changing spiritual experiences and the ongoing attitude of enthusiasm and responsiveness that causes you to tell others that you, too, have seen Christ the Lord.
(Adapted from God's Gift of Christmas.)
The Thanksgiving Season is a wonderful time to heighten our sensitivity to the blessings bestowed on us by God. Thanksgiving grabs our attention, shakes the cobwebs loose, reminds us of God’s most precious gifts and convicts us of our lack of contentment.
Thanksgiving has always had a special place in my heart. It rekindles the kind of God Centered Gratitude that our Lord both demands and deserves.
Allow me to share SIX BLESSINGS that have deeply touched me through the years and prompts me to give thanks to God. As I reverse them they always rekindle my gratitude and I hope they help you to do the same.
I Am Grateful For The Lords Salvation. (Colossians 1:12- 14)
I am grateful for earthly life which I am keenly aware that the Lord gave me. But far more I am thankful for the forgiveness of sin. No work of God is beyond my comprehension yet closer to my heart. Before coming to Christ each of us lived lives in self imposed prisons, guilty, lonely, spiritually blind, fearful of death and life and no means to pay our sin debt. Our destiny was eternal separation from God lost in the eternal destruction of hell. But how Christ pardoned us from the penalty and power of sin. How he has delivered us from the dominion of Satan and translated us into the kingdom of the beloved Son, ( Colossians 1:12-14). He has taken away the threat of hell and now we live in the hope of heaven. He has dismissed His divine wrath and brought us in to divine benediction. He has given us abundant life, His daily presence and provisions. We daily sing of His salvation. We walk with Him, talk with Him, His Holy Spirit lives in us. Thanking God for saving our soul should be our year round unceasing occupation ! Luke 17:12-13 teaches us that we should fall to our knees and worship him for healing our souls. Thankfulness is a mark of the genuine christian and unthankfulness is a mark or the unforgiven and wicked, (Romans 1:19-20).
II. I Am Grateful For The Lord’s Word. (John 17:17)
I am thankful for the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth- The Holy Bible! The world is gripped by lies, half truths, false teachers and false teaching. Conflicts about philosophies, political systems, world cultures deceive the masses and yet we have the TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. The world has questions and no answers, the born again believer has questions and answers found in God’s Holy Word. Answers for every area of life most importantly answers how to find forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Thanks to the Lord we have a copy of GOD’S WORD. We have an eternal, objective, incontestable, irrevocable, unchangeable standard we can depend on for all matters of life. God’s Word is the words of life that offer us answers in every issue of life.
III. I Am Grateful For The Privilege And Power Of Prayer. (Matthew 7:7-11)
That we can come boldly to the Throne of God and make our requests unto our loving and listening Sovereign. That we can make petitions for ourselves, intercessions for others. That we can “ ask it shall be forgiven, seek and it shall be found, knock and it shall be opened” , (Matthew 6-7). I am thankful that we can pray privately, corporately, unceasingly and we can pray from anywhere and at any time. Prayers that shake our world and send the gospel in power. I am thankful that prayer changes me personally and moves the mighty hand of God.
IV. I am grateful for the Lord's storms. ( Mark 4:39 )
Perhaps the most difficult time to give thanks is when we are in the midst of a storm of life. Setbacks, challenges, trials can hinder our sense of contentment and gratitude. When the storms come giving thanks rarely are my first reaction. Being thankful for adversity is never easy but always right. But from my experience I know the difficult times are ones in which God seems to be most at work in my life. He is closely working on me as He prunes, strengthens, teaches, developed my faith and in general makes me more like Himself.
The more mature we become in Christ the more grateful we become for the SOVEREIGN STORMS our Lord allows to enter our lives.
V. I am grateful for the Lord's church. ( Matthew 16:18 )
I am thankful for the Lord building His true and genuine church. I have loved the church since the moment the Holy Spirit moved into my life at my new birth. I am a stronger believer in the church than without. It is the place as a believer that I find my place I belong. I am thankful for the family of God that gathers in it to strengthen and scatters from it to lengthen. I an thankful for the churches that have stayed the course of spreading the true gospel and living pure and holy lives. For those that are standing for the full course of Bible truth. Resisting fads, remaining faithful to the biblical purposes that the Lord instituted the church for in the first place. It fills my heart with gratitude to be a part of the Lord’s church. To partner in life and ministry.
VI. I am grateful for the Lord's people.
The Lord has placed people in our life! No mistakes! All ordained! Our parents, mates, children, grandchildren, friends, other Christians now and those who are now in heaven, pastors, deacons, teachers and the list goes on. Our earthly families are so precious and our sisters and brothers in the family of God. How Blessed we are for each one. Living life with others is far better than living alone. Giving thanks for the partnerships, guidance, help that others have brought to our lives fitting for each of us 365 days a year.
I am thankful at this time of year and my desire is that I will rekindle such thanksgiving every day of the year for the rest of my life. Hope you do the same!
How Much Do You Own in That Direction?
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Dr. George W. Truett was a great preacher who pastored First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas for 47 years. He pastor 47 years at this church and afterward Dr. W. A. Criswell pastored another 50 years or so. Only two senior pastors for a century. WOW!
Dr. Truett was once entertained in the home of one of the wealthiest oilmen in Texas. After dinner, the man took Truett up yo the rooftop patio of his home. Pointing to the field of oil derricks, he said, “Dr. Truett, that is all mine. I came into this country twenty-five years ago penniless, and now I own everything as far as you can see in that direction.”
He then turned in the opposite direction, and pointing toward waving fields of grain, he said, “It’s all mine. i own everything as far as you can see in that direction.”
He next tourney toward the east, pointing to a large herd of cattle… and then to the west, pointing to a great virgin forest that extended to the horizon… and each time he waved his hands and said, “It’s all mine.For twenty - five years i have worked hard and seed, and today I own everything you can see in any direction from my house.” The man paused at that moment, expecting words of admiration and praise from this preacher. Instead Dr. Truett laid his hand lovingly on his shoulder, pointed upward, and asked, “ And my friend, how much do you own in that direction?”
Good question for both the rich and the poor.
Jesus spoke in parable form concerning our falling into trap of seeking of things.
13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Notice verse 20, “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” The Lord calls the person who seeks after earthly things more than eternal things- A FOOL!
There are at least 6 reasons why Jesus considered this man a fool.
I. HE WAS CONCERNED ONLY WITH EARTHLY THINGS!
A. Earthly Things Can Lead Us Into A TRAP.
One can get to the place where no longer does a person possess things but things possess us! They begin to control our time, thoughts, emotions our entire lives.
B. Earthly Things Can Lead Us To In Them TRUST.
The fact is that earthly things can be lost at any moment, and the will never bring complete satisfaction in this life.
C. Earthly Things Are TEMPORAL.
2nd Corinthians 4:18 teaches us that things seen are temporal but things unseen are eternal. Everything we see with our earthly eyes will one day be finished, over, gone. We must live for the things we do not see. Today in America someone won a lottery worth 1.6 BILLION dollars. Truth is after that person dies that 1.6 billion dollars won’ be worth ONE DIME unless they choose to somehow connect it to eternal things.
II. HE CONSIDERED HIS EARTHLY GOODS HIS OWN.
Notice he he speaks with himself, he considers all his possessions as his own. We are not mature Christians when we consider all we have as ours. Everything we have belongs to the Lord- lock, stock and barrel. This man was a fool when he considered his earthly goods his own. He did not see his rightful place a stewart of God.
III. HE THOUGHT THINGS WOULD SATISFY HIS SOUL.
Verse 19 says, “ I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry. He thought things would satisfy his soul. If you have lived very long you have found that is not true! If we get more money, a new car, more time off, more trips, more friends, bigger this better that, they will not completely satisfy. This world will never satisfy the heart of man, only CHRIST can !
IV. HE PLANNED FOR TIME NOT FOR ETERNITY!
Another reason Jesus calls this man a fool is he made many plans for this life and no plans for the life to come. The old adage, Eat, Drink and be Merry for tomorrow you die is one of the Devil’s lies. Because everyone will die in this world but as soon astray die here they will be alive elsewhere. No one ceases to exist, everyone will live somewhere for eternity. Bob Jones Sr. the great preacher of the last century said, “ The greatest thought that ever occurred to him was he was going to live somewhere forever.”
V. HE THOUGHT HIS SOUL WAS HIS OWN.
He addresses his soul as his own. Tis is the act of a FOOL! The biblical truth is we all belong to God by the right of creation. That does not me you are his or that you are going to heaven. Once you trust him you belong to Him by right of redemption and regeneration. It is never our soul and particularly after we have been purchased and cleansed by his blood. 1st Corinthians 6:19-20 teaches we are not our own.
VI. HE WAS NOT PREPARED TO DIE!
This is the most foolish thing a person can ever do. Prepare for our education, careers, marriages, health, vacations, homes, retirements, and so many other things but not “ PREPARED TO MEET OUR GOD”. And the only way to be prepared is to repent of our sinfulness and to receive Christ’s gracious payment for our sins on the cross! So many think they have plenty of time to make that decision yet the Bible teaches us that every time we put that decision off we harden our hearts more and more against the gospel. There will be people alive as I type this blog that in a minute or so that will leave this world in death. Someone will be tragically murdered, others will suddenly have a car accident, others will have massive stroke, many will suddenly have their lives end thinking they have plenty time to make to come to Christ! It is a most FOOLISH thing to not be prepared to die. Hell is full of people who thought they would have another opportunity to sense the Holy Spirit drawing them yet today their eternity has begun and their eternal destiny of separation from God will never end.
SEEK GOD FIRST AND THE THINGS YOU NEED (EARTHLY AND ETERNAL) WILL SEEK YOU!
Lets Pray : "Dear God, please give me the wisdom to keep my heart turned toward heaven and lay up treasures there rather than here on earth. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer Lord help me each day to live in such a way!
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.