Archive for November, 2012

(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Now to him that works is the reward – not reckoned of grace – but of debt. – Romans 4:4

“So likewise you – when you have done all those things which are commanded you – say, ‘We are unprofitable servants – we have done that which was our duty to do’ (Luke 17:10).”  As Christians, we should never expect nor make it our motivation – to receive heavenly blessings or rewards down here on earth for every single thing we do for and in His name.  This is nothing more than conditional obedience.

It’s saying to the Almighty that we will “do something for Him” – but only if we receive something back in this world from our Lord.  Even if we are giving everyone else an outward appearance of total servitude and submissiveness – God always knows the imagination of our hearts and thoughts – He discerns our every intent and motivation for doing anything in this life (Ezekiel 11:5, 1 Chronicles 28:9, Hebrews 4:12).

If our internal desires are of fleeting and worldly fame, fortune, and riches – even within any ministry – these are all temporal. They may be highly esteemed among man – but they are an abomination to God (Luke 16:15).  We brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out (1 Timothy 6:7). What does it profit any of us if we gain the whole world – even as Christians – and lose our soul (Matthew 16:26)?

In Luke 17, Jesus used the parable of the unprofitable servant (Luke 17:7-10) to show the disciples that any laboring for the Lord is a duty – not a profitable profession (Job 21:15, Job 35:3, Ecclesiastes 3:9, Malachi 3;14).  Desires for worldly goods will make us go after worldly gods and other vain things that cannot profit us and deliver us in the end (1 Samuel 12:21).  It can be very damaging, dangerous, and deceitful to us and others if we ever start comparing and equating rewards and benefits that typically result from a corporate work ethic – with those of a Christian one.  They are not the same.

Any labor we do for the Lord above is our reward – not a means to get one down below (Romans 4:4).  God does not “owe” anybody anything – He gave us everything He could ever possibly give us with the birth, life, death, and resurrection of His only Son (John 3:16).  It is the only hope any of us have of eternal life – and overcoming the corruption and pollution of a world that will one day be remembered no more.  This was all promised to us by God before this earth was ever created (Isaiah 65:17, Titus 1:2, 2 Peter 1:4, 2 Peter 2:20, 2 Peter 3:13, 1 John 5;4-10)

We have a debt we can never repay (Romans 4:4)  The entire earth could toil in His name around the clock for the next 1,000 years – and it would be nothing more than a vain show in comparison to what was accomplished in one day at Calvary (Psalm 39:5) .  Christians have an incorruptible inheritance reserved in heaven (2 Peter 1:4).   Any rewards for any work done in His name here on earth – await us in heaven – where neither moth nor rust corrupt (Matthew 6:20).   We toil to obtain an eternal crown of glory above (1 Corinthians 9:25),   The sweetest words we can ever hear will be when God smiles at us on that day and says “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).”

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(Scripture from the KJV)

– Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift. – 2 Corinthians 9:15

We have just ended a man-made day of thanks in America.  The world has now officially entered into a season of gift buying, giving, and receiving.  However, these are all gifts that will perish one day (Matthew 6:19).  The greatest gift ever given was forever.  It was not made by the workmanship of man – but God making Himself manifest in the flesh (John 1:14, 1 Timothy 3;16).  It is the gift of His only Son – our only hope of eternal life promised to us by Him before this world began (Titus 1:2). But this gift was not wrapped up in pretty paper – or colorful boxes with bows – neatly tucked under some tree.  Instead, it was human – hung and nailed nearly naked to a wooden cross for all to mock and scorn (Matthew 27:28-21).

This gift cannot be bought with our own gifts, money, works, or righteousness (2 Chronicles 19:7, Acts 8:20, Ephesians 2:9, Titus 3:5).  Our sins were purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary (1 Corinthians 6:20).  It is a debt we can never repay (Romans 4:4).  Christmas is a time that comes at the end of the year – when we hope to receive gifts from family and friends.  Our salvation is a time that comes at the end – when Christ returns in His glory.  It is something we hope for until that time when God’s grace is finally brought to us at the revelation of His Son (Lamentations 3:26, Romans 4:16, Romans 8:24-25, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, 1 Peter 1:9,13, Revelation 12:10).

It is a free gift – it is not a free ride Matthew 7:14, Matthew 24:14, Luke 13:3,5, Luke 24:47, 2 Timothy 2:21-22, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 12:14).  Our own personal deliverance from hell was not God’s primary intention and purpose for this gift. Otherwise, why wouldn’t we all go to heaven the second we accept it? There are many things that accompany our eventual salvation (Hebrews 6:9) while we are still living on earth.  Much has been given and much is required (Luke 24:48).  It cost God everything to give us in the life of His only Son. It should cost us everything – including our own lives – to use (John 15:13).

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into a minister of light. – 2 Corinthians 11:14

– “Don’t pay no mind to demons – they fill you with fear.” – Phil Phillips (“Home”)

Do not give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:26).  For Satan walks around like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour – and take captive at his will (1 Peter 5:8, 2 Timothy 2:6).  Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).  Piece of cake, right?  Most of us as believers have heard these verses from Scripture.  We can wish the devil would just take off and never come back. But it can seem many times as if it is “easier said than done.”

After all, even Satan’s ministers are transformed as ministers of light (2 Corinthians 11:15).   We don’t wrestle against easily seen flesh and blood – but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).  Fighting the devil can seem like boxing a shadow sometimes.  That’s why it is so tough to defend against his wiles – we know he’s there but we can’t see him. But, we can’t fight him alone.

God has not left His children helpless against Satan and his ministers’ many bags of tricks.  We are to take up ourselves the whole armor  of God – that we may be able to stand (and withstand) – in the evil day.  Putting on our breastplate of righteousness – and shoe our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

Finally, we then take up our shield of faith – put on our helmet of salvation – and take up the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God).  So that we may be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one who goes to and fro about the whole earth – and who walks up and down in it.  Doing this daily can silence the negative and unworthy thoughts the night and day accuser of the brethren can place in our minds (Ephesians 6:13-17, Jonah, 1:7, Revelation 12:10).

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– You observe days, and months, and times, and years. – Galatians 4:10

– Now to him that works is the reward – not reckoned of grace – but of debt. – Romans 4:4

It is very hard for most human beings – including myself – to fully understand God‘s existence outside the space-time continuum. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years – and a thousand years is as one day i(2 Peter 3:8). Those thousand years are but as a yesterday in His sight when they have passed (Psalm 90:4). We can enter into a lot of confusion, frustration, and trouble when we start placing and imposing human time limits on the eternal God. Our Father does not operate according to the world’s timetable.

Just because we are doing work as servants in God’s name – does not mean He approves or has sanctioned it.  It may be something that is just right in our own eyes – but not His. David’s desire to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem is an example of bad things that can happen when we try to operate outside His will and timing – and don’t wait for His guidance and counsel.  Somebody died – and David got angry with God for ruining his grand celebration and party (1 Chronicles 13:1-12).

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him – for the souls who seek Him (Lamentations 3:25).  God strengthens the hearts of those who do (Psalm 27:14).  When Abraham and Sarah didn’t want to wait on God – they received Ishmael.  When they waited as He commanded, they received Abraham’s heir as He promised in Isaac (Genesis 15:4, 16:1-16, 22:1-3.  When we wait – our motives and intentions for anything in this life are purified.  And God always knows why we are doing anything – even when it may appear to be different in the eyes of everyone we know (Ezekiel 11;5,  1 Chronicles 28:9,  Hebrews 4:12-13).  We can deceive others – but we can never fool God.

Worldly ways and work ethics – especially in modern society – can make it difficult for many believers to “wait upon the Lord”. We live in such an “on demand” society that we’ve become quite accustomed to getting things that people living just 25-50 years ago had to wait a little bit  – or a lot longer for.  In the business world, competing with and trying to outwork fellow employees usually leads to promotions and raises.  And, we can frequently get frustrated when we don’t receive them – as we may have expected according to our own timing.

However, as Christians – we are all unprofitable servants (Luke 17:7-10).  Any labor we do in His name is our reward – for a debt we can never repay (Romans 4:4).  What we’re waiting on from God – may only be what He’s promised awaits us in heaven by our faith – not what we may firmly believe we’re supposed to get while on earth (1 Corinthians 9:25, Hebrews 7:11-16, 1 Peter 1:4).  Sadly, this will never be enough for those seeking worldly profit as believers (Job 34:9, Job 35:3, Malachi 3:14, Titus 1:11, 1 Peter 5:2, 2 Peter 2:3).

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Howbeit when the Spirit of truth is come – He will guide you into all truth.  For He shall not speak of Himself – but whatsoever He shall hear – that He shall speak … and show you things to come.  – John 16:13

– “The complete truth is not the prerogative of the human judge.” – Meir Shamgar

Often with stony and serious faces, a little bit of relevant research, and some well-crafted deception – they routinely fooled a panel of guest celebrities as to their true identities.  The program was called “To Tell the Truth” – a prime-time game show that ran from 1956 to 1968.  Each airing opened with three people standing on stage – two of them impostors – but each professing to be the same person who had some claim of notoriety.

The host would then read a short bio while the panel followed along with their copies – as the camera panned from the first person, to the second – then to the last.  All would then sit down and face a series of further probing questions from each celebrity.  After a certain allotted time, individual votes were cast as to whom they thought the real person was – the only of the three who had to swear beforehand “To Tell the Truth”.  Many times, the impostors were so convincing and deceiving that they garnered all the votes.

Man’s truth is much the same as that game show.  Often with solemn and serious faces, a little bit of relevant research, and some well-crafted deception, people can stare us straight in the eyes and tell a bold-faced lie – and we buy it.  Remember the movie “Catch Me if You Can”?  It was based on the true story of a con man who tricked many people for many years … his name was Frank Abagnale.  He started small, but grew bolder and braver with each deception,

Abagnale was a check fraud artist who used an often solemn and serious face (and often a charming one, too), a little bit of relevant research, and some well-crafted deception by using appropriate uniforms and official-looking fake documents – to continue with his charade.  He fooled many into believing he was a doctor, a lawyer  – even a Pan Am pilot – before being caught. Ironically, the movie opens with a clip of the real Frank Abagnale’s appearance on  … “To Tell the Truth”.

Let God be true – but every man a liar (Romans 3:4).  It is very possible for all men to lie and mislead people – even within the church (Jeremiah 50:6, Ephesians 6:12).  It is impossible for God to lie – His work is perfect and all His ways are judgment – He is a God of truth without iniquity (Deuteronomy 32:4, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18).  However, the world cannot receive or know God’s truth but by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in a person (John 14:17).  We can talk, hear, and read about His truth all we want to – and not have it inside us – or have everlasting life (John 5:39).  God’s truth cannot come to us from the outside-in (1 Corinthians 2:10-14).

Often with their solemn and stony faces, a little bit of research, and some well-crafted deception – we can have 10,000 instructors claiming to be “in Christ” trying to teach us about God’s truth by man’s doctrine (Matthew 7:15, Mark 7:7, 1 Corinthians 4:15, 2 Corinthians 12:2-3, 2 Timothy 4:3).  Or, we can have no need that any man teach us.  Instead, we can have the One who has anointed us, to instruct us – the Lord our God who dwells within to teach us of all things and truth … the One who cannot lie (1 John 2:27).

The law came from Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus (John 1:17).   We have no capacity to tell any truths – unless His truth is in us through the power of the Holy Spirit .  No man can say Jesus Christ is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 12:3).  Who is it that puts wisdom in our inner man – and who gives an understanding to our hearts (Job 38:36)? People will know that we have heard Christ, have been taught by Christ, and have the mind of Christ – by the way we talk to them – and in our deeds and truth (1 Corinthians 2:15-16, Ephesians 4:20-25, 1 John 3:18).  Even though we can’t make any believe God’s truth by doing so – we can show them we have it inside us.

In this manner, we can do nothing against the truth – only for it (2 Corinthians 13:8).  When we are yielding to and allowing ourselves to be led by the Spirit daily – others will see that we have been given an understanding of His truth (1 John 5:20). They should not have to question what truth we are being led into – and by whom (Romans 8:14, 1 Corinthians 15:31, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Galatians 5:18).  If we do not have the witness of God’s truth within us (1 John 5:10) – we can still tell people we are Christians – and try “to tell the truth”.  However, we are just as destitute of it as those we believe are the ones without it.

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– But their minds were blinded – for unto this day remains the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament – which veil is done away with Christ.  But even to this day when Moses is read – the veil is over their heart.  Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord – the veil shall be taken away. – 2 Corinthians 3:14-16

The lost and unbelieving of this world may often view the Bible as irrelevant, inconsistent, inaccurate, and sometimes all together confusing.  However, there is a reason for this and the answer is contained within … the Bible.  We all are born of the flesh, carnal, and sold under sin (Romans 7:14).  We are given the spirit of man – but not the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:11).

When we emerge from our mother’s womb – our hearts that were knit and formed by Him – are darkened.  They are desperately wicked and deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9-10).  Our Father has placed an invisible veil over them – until He knows which hearts are ready for it to be lifted (John 6:44, 2 Corinthians 7:10).

That which is born of the flesh is flesh – and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6).  The two are contrary to one another (Galatians 5:17).  Unless we are “born again” of the Spirit at some point in our lives, the veil remains and we will not see the kingdom of God (John 3:3-7).  The veil is only taken away with Christ – when He comes to dwell in our hearts by faith (2 Corinthians 3:14,17, Ephesians 3:17).

Being a Christian is only a label if the veil stays over our hearts and God’s Spirit remains outside.  No man can say Jesus Christ is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 12:3).  It is God’s Spirit written on the fleshly tables of our hearts – that separates us from unbelievers (2 Corinthians 3:3).  We have no spiritual power within us to clear away dead branches that do not produce any spiritual fruit (John 15:1-5).  We remain with the veil – as natural men and women vainly trying to receive the things of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).

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