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Posts Tagged ‘New Testament’


 

KJV and NKJV Scripture

– But many that are first shall be last – and the last shall be first. – Matthew 19:30

– So the last will be first, and the first last.  For many are called, but few chosen. – Matthew 20:16

In New Testament times, the Gentiles were considered an unclean people by many Jews.  Gentiles lacked admiration, advantage, and privilege.  They were despised and looked upon with contempt – especially by those who had high seats in the synagogues; who were famous in the congregation (Luke 20:46, Numbers 16:2).  The same could be said for people today who don’t seem to fit in with society or the church very well.  They are the hobos, the homeless, or the menial workers barely eking out a living; having a hard time making ends meet.

Many of these souls (and others) often feel like they finish last – no matter what they do.  They always seem to be “coming up short” – never really gaining much in the way of money or material possessions.  Far too frequently, they receive the “loser” label.  However, in God’s eyes, they are first in line upon heaven’s narrow path (Matthew 7:14).  They may be shunned and looked down on by others, but many know to keep their faith focused on a better country above if they patiently endure below (Hebrews 11:13-16, Colossians 3:2, Mark 13:13).

Unfortunately, there are people who will be first on this planet.  These are the souls who exist solely to please themselves (Romans 15:1-3).  High-minded and prideful ones who always act as if God owes them more than sacrificing His only Son (Luke 17:7-10).  And, they are the worldly pleasure and profit pursuers who lay up treasures under heaven – being rich towards self as they seek their own wealth and fortune first (James 5:5, Matthew 6:19-20, Luke 12:21).  Well, they have their Father’s proper position to stand in the same heavenly queue, too.

It’s in the back – bringing up the rear in unbelief.  Even though they are further behind than they may think because the devil is still blinding their minds from having the glorious light of Christ shine unto them.  They’re just as lost from the Cross as ever (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).  All for disobediently fashioning themselves to old worldly lusts in ignorance (1 Peter 1:14)  Therefore, they don’t have God’s love in them (1 John 2:15-16).  Making them last for first trying to gain all kinds of stuff they can’t take when they leave this world (Luke 17:31, 1 Timothy 6:7).

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And through covetousness shall they with feigned words, make merchandise of you.  Whose judgement now of a long time lingers not – and their damnation does not slumber. – 2 Peter 2:3

– And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her – for no man buys their merchandise anymore. – Revelation 18:11

There is never anything new under the sun to God (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).  Back in the days of Isaiah, nobody judged the fatherless or took care of widows, but everyone loved gifts and followed after rewards (Isaiah 1:23).  There were those during the days of Job who saw no personal profit by serving God.  Also, what was the point of praying if they could not get earthly presents in return (Job 21:15, James 4:3)?

Job himself saw his righteousness as more than God’s – at least in Elihu’s eyes – because Job said, “What profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sins (Job 35:1-3)?”  There were men during Malachi’s time with a similar mentality – who saw no profit by keeping God’s ordinances and walking mournfully before Him (Malachi 3:14).  Samuel’s sons turned to filthy lucre as soon as he appointed them judges (1 Samuel 8:3).

In Jeremiah, Judah had become saturated in idolatry and immorality.  Deceived to the point they couldn’t conceive of the notion they had turned their temples into dens of robbers – even though God clearly saw it all (Jeremiah 7:11, Hebrews 4:13).  Basically, many in Old Testament days saw no purpose in worshipping God and walking in accordance with His way, unless there was something “in it” for them (Luke 17:7-10).

Some type of tangible earthly profit or gain to touch or see – otherwise what was the point of serving God? Sound familiar?  Doesn’t it sound like a lot of worldly lust and covetousness – completely void of God’s love despite any lip service claims to the contrary (Ezekiel 33:31, Mark 7:6)?  It was much more of the same in the New Testament (lead verse, Titus 1:11) – and it is certainly no different in far too many places today.

Much of the Christian landscape in the modern world appears to have turned into one giant shopping mall. Multitudes of merchandise to mull over, and plenty of purchases to ponder are available for the masses to contemplate on a daily basis – and even the foyers of some Sunday sanctuaries are not safe.  It is ungodly. It is in alignment with the worldly and Babylonian system of buying and selling as a steady way of life.

Believers entangled in such a setup can often feel like they have to open their pocketbooks and wallets on a regular basis to keep buying the latest and greatest CD’s by Christian artists – to keep their spirits lifted. Instead of speaking to themselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs – singing and making melody in their heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).  The former always has a price tag – the latter is always free.

Christians can also get caught up in paying money to hear those people who are maybe being touted as the hottest speakers on the Christian preaching/teaching circuit.  Perhaps promising to reveal revolutionary and new ways for a winning Christian walk; instead of the believer being led by the Spirit (Romans 8:1).  This is so God can freely teach them His way without any lie; without them having to pay any price (1 John 2:27).

If we are born-again, then we have been bought with a precious price – the blood of Christ.  We have been reconciled back to God through the Cross – meaning we are now completely in agreement and alignment with His ways (Ephesians 2:13-16).  It is no longer the Babylonian way found throughout the Bible – but with His found in the same book.  The former is for earthly gain and profit; the latter is for eternal.

Therefore, Christians are to be chargeable to no man – lest others charge that we are preaching, teaching, writing, singing, etc. about God – merely for worldly profit (2 Corinthians 11:9, 1 Thessalonians 2:9).  We are to buy His truth from above in our soul, and not sell it with a price tag attached below.  This includes the marketing of any godly wisdom, instruction, or understanding we have acquired (Proverbs 23:23).

We are to be content with such things as we have at all times – including our wages (Hebrews 13:5, Luke 3:14).  If we spend any of our brief existence here on this earth (James 4:14) attempting to exact any more than God has already appointed to us (Luke 3:13), we have uncorrected greed/gain issues to confess.  Left unaddressed, we trouble our house, God’s, and all of His flock (Proverbs 15:27, Isaiah 56:10-11).

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and it is profitable for doctrine … not for the sound of dollars and profit (2 Timothy 3:16).  However, who’s going to preach, write, teach, or sing against such things, if they’re involved in the Babylonian system of selling God for gain?  If so, they have not departed from such iniquity, nor have they been sanctified – purged from such dishonor to His name (2 Timothy 2:19-21).

To be meet for our Master’s use and prepared unto His every good work – all that He requires of us is a humble and obedient heart just like Jesus had until death (Philippians 2:8, 2 Timothy 2:21).  Our Father will then thoroughly furnish everything we require to do His work along the way, including finances (2 Timothy 3:17).  We are to always be content with food to eat and clothes to wear (1 Timothy 6:8).

The only time Christ was recorded as getting angry was when he went into the temple of God and cast out those who bought and sold within (Luke 19:45). Overthrowing the tables of the money changers, and upsetting the seats of the dove sellers (Mark 11:15). These people had turned God’s house of prayer into a house of profit – a deceitful den of greedy thieves and grievous wolves (Matthew 21:13, Acts 20:29).

There is an old Latin saying of “caveat emptor” – or “let the buyer beware” in English.  It means that the purchaser of any product assumes the risk it may fail to meet expectations or have defects.  Christians who fall victim to the Babylonian way of merchandising the gospel – are not being aware of evil and disobedient workers walking with God to attain worldly wealth for themselves (Romans 10:21, Philippians 3:2).

Believers deceived by Satan’s devices succumb to minds thinking spiritual growth, unwavering faith, and steadfast belief can only be obtained and maintained by spending money and emptying pockets.  It does not create an equality among all (Ecclesiastes 5:9, 2 Corinthians 8:13-14).  It is following the wide road of commerce to destruction – not Christ’s narrow path to heaven (second lead verse, Matthew 7:13-14).

For the sellers it is a different story … for they have run greedily after the err of Balaam for reward, and in the gainsaying way of Core (James 1:16, Jude 1:11, Numbers 16:24-40).  Making money off of God’s free gospel is the bane of any relationship with Christ.  If the sellers do not soon remove themselves from the Babylonian way, their damnation might not slumber or linger too much longer (lead verse).

 

 

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in the city at the feet of Gamaliel. Taught according to the strictest manner of our father’s law – and was zealous towards God, as you all are to this day. – Acts 22:3

– But the zeal with which you play … relies on where you draw the line. – Jason Mraz

Adolf Hitler certainly had belief in a higher being. There are several historical records and writings supporting his claim to be some sort of Christian. Whatever this meant to Hitler, his zeal towards God in such a manner led to his developing a zero tolerance for the Jewish people and their ways. Because of this, he persecuted an estimated six million of them unto death in concentration camps.

The apostle Paul had zeal towards God, too.  Except he was born a Jew as Saul in the city of Tarsus – and taught according to the perfect manner of Jewish law (lead verse).  Paul developed a zero tolerance towards the new Christians of his day – persecuting them this way unto their deaths (Acts 22:4).  Wasting God’s church – more exceedingly zealous of earthly traditions than eternal truths (Galatians 1:13-14).

Two men of the human race – killing scores of other members of the human race; all because of zeal. All because both felt they were doing the right thing for God (Proverbs 14:12).  One wrote a terrible chapter in human history.  The other wrote nearly half of the New Testament.  If both men had zeal towards God – what was the difference between good and bad zeal? The answer is God Himself.

The One who is always the difference between wrong or right zeal, and whether ours is directed towards earthly or eternal things (Luke 12:33-34, Colossians 3:2).  Hitler steadfastly stuck with his worldly zeal to pursue and promote a political plan of his own mind and creation.  To chart his own course against the Jews, using our Creator as a covering for evil (1 Peter 2:16).  The results were tragic.

Conversely, Saul was struck down by God on the road to Damascus.  The Lord chose Saul to be a Christian that day … and made him the apostle Paul (Acts 22:5-9,16).  So God could then correct and redirect his zeal from the inside out, and set it in the right direction towards the Word – and His will (Acts 22:14).  So Paul could help others turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6).  The results were truth.

This is not intended by any means to compare Hitler with Paul.  It is meant to make us attuned to the many dangers of becoming overzealous in anything we do throughout life … this includes Christianity. Being so can warp our judgement.  Too much wayward zeal can lead to us developing a near zero tolerance of certain people groups, religions, or general lifestyles (Matthew 23:13).

Having such a strict heart or mind like this leaves little space to extend any grace or mercy to others. Any religious rigidness does not permit much room to show or grow in either (James 2:13, 2 Peter 3:18). Having a zeal for the Lord does not mean we can deem and decide everything we do in His name as being right in our eyes – if they are still wrong in His (1 Kings 14:8, 1 Chronicles 13:4, Proverbs 20:6).

However, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said “We have guided missiles and misguided men.”  Misguided men and women of God, mixed in with any type of overzealous mindset, can quickly go astray from His way.  They can teach or preach much misinformation when presenting God’s Word. Any pastor leading a church in such a way – can end up offending many of its members along the way (2 Corinthians 6:3).

Zeal is not wrong by itself.  It means great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective. Some synonyms of zeal are fervor, passion, and devotion – all admirable attributes for any Christian.  However, outward zeal can conceal many misguided intentions in the heart.  God will not be fooled (1 Chronicles 28:9, Hebrews 4:12-13) … but it can take years for other people to find out they’ve been taken.

Sadly, to their graves at times.  Our human history gives us many tragic examples of what can happen when religious zeal runs rampant.  Under the cover of such zeal, Magellan’s thirst for personal glory finally led him fatally astray.  Then there were self-proclaimed godly men such as Jim Jones and David Koresh, who guided a total of 992 people to their deaths – all because of misguided zeal.

Elisabeth Elliot once penned these words: “It takes a while for revelry to turn to reverence, and much repetition of truth to eventually turn young zeal into habitual channels for good.”  Paul echoed this when he wrote, “It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing (Galatians 4:18).  So, where does zeal cross the line from good to bad, and can it be prevented?

Out of control children and cars can cause a lot of damage.  Both have lost their steering mechanism. Kids are operating independently of a parent; cars are operating independently from a driver.  Out of control Christians or churches can behave the same way. Too much zeal of this nature can be a strong indicator someone besides God is at the wheel (Psalm 48:14, Isaiah 30:21, Micah 7:5).

Without such courses being corrected within us from above – the path to eternal damnation is still being paved before us.  This is where repentance enter the picture.  God’s goodness leads to it (Romans 2:4).  As many as He loves, He rebukes and chastens.  We all are to be zealous about repenting (Revelation 3:19). We are to be happy about correction  (Job 5:17) – but it might be painful at times.

No life change is easy.  It tends to upset “the way it has always been done” mindset.  If we still like any of our old worldly ways, repenting will not seem joyous. We will not likely see it as a sign of God’s love – but of His somehow messing with us again without rhyme or reason (Lamentations 3:32-33).  However, divine discipline will happen.  It will hurt – but it’s meant to get us to heaven (Hebrews 12:5-14).

This keeps our zeal on the right course.  It is a contained flame of faith focused on our rewards up above (Colossians 3:2).  The wrong zeal is an out-of-control wildfire usually focused on the fleeting and passing (but often fun) things down here below (Matthew 6:19-20).  Wavering zeal crosses the line back and forth between the two.  It can become a type of spiritual tightrope walk (1 Corinthians 10:21)

Without daily and focused zeal regarding repentance (2 Corinthians 4:16), we’re in great danger of falling away.  This is serious.  It is impossible to be renewed again to repentance (Hebrews 6:4-6).  A sure sign of misguided zeal is being more passionate about participating in Christian activities; repeating certain traditions and customs – than repenting according to truth (Mark 7:7, 2 Timothy 2:25).

Zealously crossing items off our Christian “to do” list is not repentance,  It all means nothing without the pure, fervent, and unfeigned love we are to learn if we are born-again believers (1 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Peter 1:22).  We will all be justified of our sins and saved – only by God’s grace and steadfast faith in Christ until the end (Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 3:24, Titus 3:7, Hebrews 3:14, 1 Peter 1:13).

The Pharisees tried justifying their words and works before men (Luke 16:15); despite having hearts that were still dirty – and in desperate need of cleansing from the inside out.  Jesus called them all hypocrites (Matthew 23:25-26).  Although they might have appeared outwardly zealous to others by honoring God with their lips and labor – their hearts were far from Him (Mark 7:6).

We can become the same if we are not fully committed to repentance.  This is all part of proper zeal.  If we should discover inner change is too difficult because of our Father’s sometimes painful and persistent correction, we can become zealous for Him in every area except repentance.  We can go about establishing our own righteousness without it, a misguided mistake made by Israel (Romans 10:1-3).

They certainly had a zeal of God – but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2).  They sought salvation by works of righteousness – but not by faith and repentance (Acts 17:30, Romans 9:31, Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:5).  They did not submit themselves to God’s righteousness.  This means Christ is the end of the law unto all who believes by faith unto the end (Romans 10:3-4, Hebrews 12:2, Hebrews 3:14).

Our hope and promise of eternal life through Christ was given because of God’s zeal towards us from the start (Isaiah 9:7, Titus 1:2).  Our Father’s truth set up an eternal throne in heaven to establish justice and judgement through Jesus forever (Isaiah 9:7, Luke 1:31-33).  Christ became the final offering for sin (Hebrews 10:14), so justification can only come through the Cross (John 14:6).

Self-justification wreaks havoc with repentance. Without us having a good conscience towards the latter, faith can shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19).  If the focus of our zeal is zeroed in on external Christian activities – but not inner change – danger is on the doorstep.  We can be easily putting ourselves back on the broad way heading straight to eternal destruction and darkness (Matthew 7:13, Matthew 8:12).

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