Tuesday, July 28, 2009

All About Your House

Written Especially for Small Children

Where do you live? Do you live in a small town? Or in a large city? Or maybe you don’t live in a town at all. Do you live on a farm, where there are cows or chickens? No? But you just might have a dog or a cat, or you could have some goldfish! Why, that’s a part of growing up! Every kid ought to have goldfish! Of course you can’t take them out of the fishbowl and pet them! But they’re lots of fun to watch as they swim around. We’ll talk about them later. Don’t let me forget!
Where do you live? Do you live in a mobile home, or maybe in an apartment? Do you live in a house? Can you name the rooms? Do you have a kitchen? Yes! That’s where you eat! Do you have a den or living room? Is that where you play games and watch T.V.? Do you have a bedroom? Is it your very own? Or do you share it with a brother or sister? Let’s see; what else. Oh, yes! the bathroom! That’s where we wash our hands before eating: where we take our bath! You do like to take a bath, don’t you?
I almost forgot about the goldfish! He lives in your house, too! But he has his own special house. It doesn’t have rooms like the place where you live. He doesn’t have a kitchen, he doesn’t have a living room or den or family room, he doesn’t have a bedroom: why, he doesn’t even have a bathroom where he can wash his fins or take a bath! That’s silly, isn’t it!
What does the goldfish do? He just moves his mouth and his fins and swims and swims.
What happens in the kitchen? Mom gets the food she’s going to fix out of the refrigerator or the cabinet. She gets the pots and pans, plates, bowls, silverware. Finally, dinner is ready and she calls you to the table. “Did you wash your hands? Don’t come to this table ‘til you have washed your hands!” After dinner, plates must be scraped, all the dirty dishes must be washed, and, Oh yes! Somebody has to take out the garbage!
What about the goldfish? He has no kitchen; he doesn’t cook his meals; he doesn’t do dishes. He waits for you to sprinkle some fish food in his bowl. But if he doesn’t eat it all; if there are any leftovers: well he for sure, can’t take out the garbage. And the garbage is not in a trash bag. It’s not just in his kitchen either! It’s in his whole house!
Well, what does the goldfish do? He just moves his mouth - and his fins - and swims and swims.
You hear your Mom call again: “It’s time for your bath!” You do love to take baths, don’t you!? Off come the dirty clothes. Oh, do you know what? She washes your clothes in the washer; she washes the sheets that are on your bed, too. And she washes you - but not in the washing machine - - in the bathtub! You get out of the bathtub and dry off. Mom drains the dirty bathwater out of the tub. She puts your pajamas on and you are ready for bed. You are ready for bed, aren’t you?
But, what about your goldfish? He can’t take his dirty clothes off: his mother doesn' t have a washing machine to wash them: he doesn’t even have a bed, so she can’t wash his sheets! Well, he does have a bed - sort of. Do you know what it is? Its a waterbed!
He doesn’t have a bathtub to bathe in. He can’t get out of his bathwater. Do you know what? He has to live in his bathwater. Poor fish! His little one room house is his kitchen, it is his garbage can; it is his washroom; it is his bathwater!
Your Mom can clean the house; she can sweep the floors, but your little fish can’t sweep; he can’t clean house. His house gets dirtier and dirtier: and, you know what? He can get very sick - even die! We wouldn’t want that to happen! So - somebody has to dump out the old water and put in clean water. That will make him happy and keep him healthy!
One time Jesus was talking to His disciples. He told them that their hearts could get dirty, but He would clean them. Do you know how Jesus can clean a person’s heart? He told them, “Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.
If I want to have a clean heart for Jesus to live in, then I need to listen to Bible stories and to my Sunday School teachers and the preacher and other helpers. I need to learn all I can about Jesus and the Bible.
Do you know that you are sort of like the goldfish: your body is like the fishbowl and you are the fish inside. Your heart is like the water, the inside of your house.
What would you feed your fish? Hot dogs or potato chips or pizza? Of course not! He needs the fish food that was made for him to eat. Jesus said that the Bible, His Word, is like bread. It can feed that little fish that lives inside you.
Jesus wants to keep His house clean. He does that by “the washing of water by the Word” Eph.5:26. We are like the fish’s house: the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom, are all together. If one is dirty, then they all are dirty. And Jesus can wash us and clean our house with His Word.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

On Prayer

How pious and lofty our thoughts can be: We are “praying from the heart!” But the scriptures give warning: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer. 17:9. We tend to quote this scripture, but do not grasp the answer that follows. In the next verse we read; “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”

“You are in our prayers!” “Our prayers are with you!” We are to judge no man, but the fruit of men sometimes provides a silent yet deafening witness as to their true relationship with God - or the lack thereof. You are in our prayers? Our prayers are with you? Do prayers ‘said’ by men contain some special magic by which they can help a needy soul? And what of “The power of prayer?” It is often the topic on television news programming, commentaries, and talk shows. And to what ‘god’ do they pray? The power seems to be relegated to the person praying or to the prayer itself. No god (or God) need be involved. Man becomes as it was declared by the serpent in the Garden: Ye shall be as gods!

The ‘power’ of prayer? It is without any power unless it is offered in Faith: the source and object of Faith must be the true God of heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. If prayer be qualified as prayer (and God Himself knows that which is prayer and what is only “prayer”.) Many will say, I have faith; but their ‘faith’ is in ‘faith’ itself, and not founded and established in the Lord God Jehovah. If our prayer is a prayer of faith then we must be “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” Heb. 12:2. He is Alpha and Omega; prayer is to begin with Him - “Our Father;” and end with Him; “In Jesus’ name.”

The Righteous Pharisees. In the beginning of John chapter eight, the Pharisees came to Jesus: these were ‘missionaries;’ desiring that others might also come to Jesus. “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery. . .Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act” vs.3-4. The tables are turned! They are backed into a corner! Said the scribes and Pharisees, “Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father, Then said they unto him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” To which Jesus replied, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” vs. 39,41,44a.

The Praying Pharisees. “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer. . .” Matt. 23: 13-14. Dare we say, there are yet many sons of the Pharisees, sons of Satan in the world today?

The Praying Religionists. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” Matt. 15:8-9. cf. Isa. 29:13. How very current and timely, this scripture: a woeful description of today’s “Christianity,”

But How Am I, a True Christian, To Approach the Throne of Grace? Many are the volumes that have been written on the subject of prayer. We would offer only a few thoughts here on which the reader may (hopefully) choose to meditate. . .

Coming To the Throne of Grace Boldly.

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. . .Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” Heb. 4:14,16.

My dear friend, let us put on the royal apparel; the robe of Righteousness: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” Rom. 13:13. Let us stand in the inner court of the King’s House: let us approach the Throne of Grace. “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord” Proverbs 8:34,35. The Lord has held forth the golden sceptre to you - be not afraid to reach out and touch it!

“Boldly is not contrasted with reverently and tremblingly. It means literally ‘saying all,’ with that confidence which begets thorough honesty, frankness, full and open speech. ‘Pour out your heart before Him.’ Come as you are, say what you feel, ask what you need. Confess your sins, your fears, your wandering thoughts and affections. . .We need only understand that we are sinners, and that He is High Priest. The law was given that every mouth may be shut, for we are guilty. The High Priest is given that every mouth may be opened. . .We come in faith as sinners. Then shall we obtain mercy; and we always need mercy, to wash our feet: to restore to us the joy of salvation, to heal our backslidings, and bind up our wounds. . .“We should come therefore with boldness to the throne of grace” (Bagster). Then let us do so, in the full confidence of our acceptance before God in the person of His Beloved. . .Let us ‘come’ constantly, continually.

Exposition of Hebrews, A. W. Pink

Shall we presume to come before the throne, alone? God forbid! Of what value, my prayer, if my parakletos (Comforter) is not along side me? Com fort, with strength. If one is to “come boldly” to the throne of grace, it is imperative that the Spirit of Christ be with him and in him!

Coming to the Throne of Grace Fearfully.

The Fear of the Lord is. . . the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments” Psalm 111:10. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” Proverbs 1:7. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” Heb.12:28. Consider Noah. His obedience was in response to Faith and Fear! “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” Heb. 11:7. Noah by faith, moved with fear, to the building of the ark. It is Faith unto good works, if you please! Where would Noah have been if he had said I believe God, but failed to act in faith? He would have been dead!

It is within the bounds of faith and the (reverential) fear of God that we find deliverance, love, joy, peace, hope, faith, communion, safety; that we live in the Light and not in darkness; that we are no longer bound but free. It is in the fear of the Lord that we walk with the Shepherd; that we are satisfied; that we are led in paths of righteousness; that we find goodness and mercy to be our constant traveling companions.

Coming to the Throne of Grace by the “new and living way.”

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. . .” “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated [brought to fullness, completion] for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” Heb. 10:19-20. “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands. . .Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. . .How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God. . .” Heb. 9:8,11,12,14.

Christ Himself is the living veil! He is the veil into the Most Holy Place. How then may we enter before the throne of the Most Holy God? It is through the blood. It is by faith. Does the Veil have a door? “I AM the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” John 10:9. The Veil has no visible door; it can only be found, it will only open, one may only gain access, through faith in Christ and the trusting the sufficiency of His efficacious offering of blood.

Once inside the Veil; and be assured when we are allowed in, we stand in the Holy of Holies, before the Eternal Omnipotent God. Approach His throne, boldly? At His right hand is our Great High Priest; our advocate/intercessor, with the Father. There is before the host of heaven the ark of the covenant upon which dwells the Mercy Seat; and upon the Mercy Seat, our propitiation, the blood of the Everlasting Covenant. These are a wit-ness, a testimony that we may indeed, by faith, obtain the mercy and grace which we seek!

Having The Right Spirit Unto Prayer.

First, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” James 4:7. The obvious is obvious: one can not effectively resist until he has first submitted!

Second, “draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” But do we not draw nigh unto God as He is drawing us nigh unto Himself?

Third, “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” And how do we do that? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9. (“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” I John 1:8.)

Fourth, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” vs.10. To think oneself capable of lifting himself up and to refuse to come in a spirit of humbleness is utter folly and will not gain entrance to the Throne of Grace!

Fifth, (is this not an extension of verse ten, Humble yourselves): “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness” I John 4:9. How shall we continue to look upon the godlessness and wickedness of our world, of our nation without mourning? ‘In God we trust?’ Is there a remnant remaining that can truly lay claim to that motto?

Right Praying Requires Right Focusing.

“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. . .his sisters sent unto Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick” John 11:1,3. At first glance one would scarcely presume this to be a prayer at all! Yet this is one of the most moving and excellent examples of prayer to be found in all the Bible.

First, He is addressed as “Lord.” As such, His Deity is acknowledged, His authority recognized; He is owned as being worthy of worship; their position being one of expressed humility. Second, it is “Lord, behold” In this may we not sense the burden, the care, the heartache of Mary and Martha? Do they not even now perceive that he is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities?” Third, it is not “Lazarus our brother, is sick;” it is not that Jesus might work in their behalf, though they loved their brother dearly. Fourth, it is not that the Lord might come even though Lazarus loved Him! Fifth, the means is not dictated by which the Lord might work; that He might undertake in Lazarus’ behalf. The prayer does not prescribe any action that Jesus might be persuaded to take on the part of the two sisters. The very center of the petition is directed at the Lord Himself: It is he whom “Thou lovest.” The discerning eye may notice the order: the adverse circumstances are placed at the farthest point: “he. . .is sick.” “Thou lovest” is in between. Regretfully for many believers the order is reversed: we put the circumstances between us and God rather than God between ourselves and the circumstances! The object of prayer is not to be our “Lazarus”; our focus, not upon the circumstances; but upon Christ. The prayer of Faith: Christ will do what He will do, not because Mary and Martha love Lazarus; not even because they love Jesus! How often, child of God, have you faltered in your prayer in behalf of another, feeling somehow that you must “measure up,” that your love for the Lord must excel ere He will hear you? How easily we forget! It is because “God so loved the world,” that He gave. They “reminded” the Lord: “Thou lovest.” The responsibility is now laid upon Him, that He might respond according to His love.

Prayers That God Will Not Hear.

There are conditions where one may not; in fact does not really desire to, ‘come boldly to the throne of grace.’ Without faith, one may not gain entrance through the Veil, because it will not open to the spirit of unbelief!

Ye Ask Amiss. Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” James 4:3. Are there not wars and fighting around the world? And these we can expect to continue until the Prince of Peace returns. But James says, From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? James 4:1.

Shall this world and its nations find peace? “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God” I Peter 4:17.

A final thought. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” Matthew 6:33. Is God in the foremost of our thoughts; or in our afterthoughts? Are we in His foremost thoughts; or in His after-thoughts? To this the entire canon of scripture provides for us an unquestionable answer.

Prayer unlocks, appropriates, lays hold on what God has promised.

Prayer turns on the switch that the lamp may draw the power, the current,

from the Source of all power. How shall the light shine without it?

Prayer that reaches beyond the Word of God and the Will of God is not prayer.

So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” Heb. 12:1.

So Great a Cloud of Witnesses reaches far beyond the context of this verse. I do not suggest that one should attempt to read this material in one sitting; perhaps not in two. Our finite minds tend to bunker down after a while - especially when attempting to discover and discern the infinite. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. . .He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” John 16:13a,14.

So Great a Cloud.

Nothing in the past, in the present, or shall be in the future, be it in the realm of time or eternity has ever gone unnoticed or been hidden from the eyes of our Sovereign: “For His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He seeth all his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. Job 34:21-22. But the Lord be praised, “He withdraweth not His eyes from the righteous” Job 36:7.

So Great a Cloud; The Eternal Witness.

“And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hath laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment. And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” Heb.1:10-12.

So Great a Cloud; The law of first mention.

This we find in the account of Noah and the ark. Were there not two clouds? The first was ‘so great a cloud,’ that its waters covered the earth! But the second was a far Greater Cloud, as we shall see.

“And God said, this is the token of the covenant which I will make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. . .And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth” Gen. 9:12-14,16. No less than seven times does God witness His Covenant unto Noah: in verses nine, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen. Cloud is to be seen in four verses; in verse thirteen, twice in verse fourteen, and in verse sixteen. It is the Lord’s cloud, it is His bow, it is His Covenant. In verse 15 it is witnessed, “I will remember my covenant.” In verse 16, it is, “I will remember the everlasting covenant.” The bow and the cloud bore witness to God’s Covenant: first to Himself, and then to his seed; to every living creature. And “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord!!!” ( Not that Noah merited any grace: Noah looked into the eyes of the Lord, and found them to be full of compassion, mercy, Grace! But what of the cloud? Was God or His throne the rainbow in the cloud? Or at least representative or a picture as such?

“and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above it. . .As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” Ezek. 1:26b,28. “and behold a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. . .and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald” Rev. 4:2,3. Further ‘witness’ will be given in that which follows.

So Great a cloud; The Wilderness Journey.

“But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea: And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them in the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” Exodus13:18,21-22. Was there a rainbow in the cloud? Nevertheless, God was in the cloud! And so Great a Cloud of Witness it must have been - A continuing witness unto His people of the continuing Covenant He had made with Noah!

A Cloud of Protection. “And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night” Exodus 14:19-20. The Lord, in a pillar of a cloud. . .the Angel of God. . . the pillar of the cloud. . .stood behind them? And how can a cloud be said to stand? The term Theophany comes to mind.

So Great a Cloud. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians” But were they fleeing from the face of Israel - or from the face of God; the Great Cloud of Witness before them?

So Great a Cloud: The glory of God, the Great I AM. “And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I AM the Lord your God” Exodus 16:10-12. Oh, the greatness of the Cloud of Witness! He is the Bread of Life; our portion; our sufficiency!

So Great a Cloud. “ And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. . .And the Lord said unto Moses, go unto the people. . .for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai” Exodus 19:9,10a,11b. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Rom. 10:17. So Great a Cloud of Witness! “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside. . .let us run. . .Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith!”

So Great, the Cloud of Witness. “And Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” Exodus 34:4-7.
So Great a Cloud of Witness. “And the Lord said unto Moses, speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the Holy Place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat” Leviticus 16:2. “And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony” Lev, 16:12-13.

“For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout their journeys” Ex.40:38. “And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony” Numbers 9:15. “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen” Acts 7:44.

So Great a Cloud of Witness! “Remember these O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” Isaiah 44:21-22.

So Great a Cloud of Witnesses in the New Testament.

The witness of Christ. “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. . .To this end was I born, and for this cause came I unto the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” John 18:36a,37.

“To him [Christ] give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” Acts 10:43.

So Great a Witness: The Word proclaiming the Word about Himself! “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he [Christ] expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. . .And they said one to another, Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” Luke 24:27,32.

The Apostle Paul. “And he [Ananias] said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, [witness?] and shouldest hear the voice [witness?] of his mouth. For thou shalt BE his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard [witnesses?] Acts 22:14-15. (All in brackets mine.)

The Apostle John. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness to bear witness of the Light that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” John 1:6-8.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld [were witnesses of] his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bear witness of him, and cried, This is he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me” John 1:14-15. (John and the other disciples were witnesses of Christ’s glory; Christ Himself was witness to the Father’s glory.)

“There is another that beareth witness of me; I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. . .And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath born witness of me” John 5:32,37.

“But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath born witness of me” John 5:36,37.

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have life; and they are they which testify [give witness] of me” John 5:39.

The witness of Christ is challenged. “The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go. . .for I AM not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I AM one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me” John 8:13,14,16-18.

The witness of the Spirit and Apostles. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” John 15:26-27. “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all” Acts 4:33.

The Witness - Gentiles made partakers of salvation through Christ.

“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them. Men and brethren, ye know that a good while ago God made a choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth [witness?] should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bear them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” Acts 15:7-9. (Italics mine)

The Witness Against Unbelieving Gentiles.

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; Which shew the work of the law, written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing them witness, and their thoughts, the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” Rom. 2:14-15.

Three degrees of light are revealed to the children of men:- The light of nature; the light of the law; the light of the gospel.

1. The light of nature. This the Gentiles have, and by this they shall be judged: As many as have sinned without the law shall perish without law; that is the unbelieving Gentiles, who had no other guide but natural conscience. . .they shall be judged, as they sin against, the law of nature, not only as it is in their hearts, corrupted, defaced, and imprisoned in unrighteousness. . . though they had not the written law (Ps.cxlvii.20), they had that which was equivalent, not to the ceremonial, but to the moral law.

They did by nature the things contained in the law. The work of the law is to direct us what to do, and to examine us, what we have done. They had a sense of justice and equity, honour and purity, love and charity; the light of nature taught obedience to parents, pity to the miserable, conservation of public peace and order, forbade murder, stealing, lying, perjury, &c. Thus they were a law unto themselves.

(2.) The light of the law. This the Jew had, and by this they shall be judged (vs.12): As many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. They sinned, not only having the law, but in the midst of so much law, in the face and light of so much pure and clear a law. . .their punishment shall be as their sin is, so much the greater for their having the law. It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon.

(3.) The light of the gospel: and according to this those that enjoyed the gospel shall be judged. Matthew Henry’s Commentary, vol. iv, page 376-377.


“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. . .He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Heb.10:26,28-29. Two or three witness? How about the light of nature (the moral law,) the light of the law, the light of the gospel?

The Witness of the Conscience.

Jesus Himself, being fashioned as a man and being subject to temptation unmistakably had a conscience. Our original parents had a conscience. To Eve, the serpent said, “For God knoweth that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” Gen, 3:5. Well, that much was true: “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” Gen. 3:22. But the difference between our Lord Jesus and other men is that Jesus never sinned! His conscience did not, could not, ever, condemn Him! Neither the Lord God, His law, nor the conscience can ever condemn Righteousness! And we have been imputed and are clothed in the righteousness of Christ on the merits of His eternal love for us, His shed blood; His sinless life, His vicarious sacrifice, His death, His burial, His resurrection; He who sits at the right hand of Majesty: “that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in all things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” Heb.2;17.

An Ever-present Witness to the Ungodly.

“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of the sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just [Just?] and he doth not resist you.” James 5:1-6.


An Inward Witness.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. . .The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” Rom. 8:14,16.

“Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us” Heb. 10:15. A witness unto us concerning what? “By the which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . .For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” Heb. 10:10,14. Continuing, the Holy Ghost is a witness unto us of His eternal covenant: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” Heb. 10:16.

The Witness of Faith.

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts:” Heb.11:4. It is faith unto good works. Works without faith is dead; but Faith that sits dormant and idle, that gives no response - wherein is the witness? “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect [complete]? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God” James 2:21-23.

Faith itself is a mighty witness; it is a silver lining upon the cloud of witnesses. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” Heb. 11:13. Faith is substance; faith is evidence; faith gives us sight, faith persuades us of the authenticity, of the sureness of God’s promises; we reach out to embrace them; we confess them. Again, faith wields a mighty testimony, a faithful witness!

(I would encourage you to read carefully and intently chapter 11 of Hebrews; perhaps read [or re-read] Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. I would cause you no additional labor on my part at this time.)

So GREAT a Cloud of Witnesses.

“For their are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. . .And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” I John 5:7-11.

This may be the most comprehensive record of witness in all the Bible. It is overwhelming. I dare not touch it. Let the reader stand back in awe and take in all that he can of the wonder of it all: it is as vast as the universe. . .


The Blessed Witness of Him Who Will Come.


“And when he [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. . .this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” Acts 1:9,11b. “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I AM Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” Rev. 1:5-8.

“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” James 5:7-8

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” Matt. 24:14.

Actually, witnessing is more than something we do; it is what we are. The Holy Spirit empowers us with Himself, to be witnesses. Not only to the lost - we are witnesses, every day to every one we meet. In divers situations; when we feel down-trodden, at wits end: if we feel forsaken, betrayed - shall our countenance fall? Do we know how to be abased as well as to abound? If we become discouraged then everyone with whom we cross paths is going to be a witness of our witness, be it favorable or otherwise. May they be exhorted or touched by our witness! (Reach out and touch someone). A discouraged Christian is not apt to feel like sharing the gospel with someone else. How shall he offer a cup of cold water if his fountain is not springing up? Ye that are spiritual - help get the needy brother up on his feet. Your witness, both verbally and by the Spirit manifesting Himself in you in a way the downhearted brother can see - he needs to know that you really believe what you're trying to get him to believe.

A good rule of witness: Talk to God about others: talk to others about the Lord Jesus. May we have it burning within our hearts and minds: We are constant witnesses unto Christ. May we likewise be consistent, considerate, conscientious, caring.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses.

All of creation, the Lord God Himself, the Son, the Spirit; all the Old Testament sons of faith, are a great cloud of witnesses. They were followed by the Martin Luthers, the Charles Spurgeons, the Jonathan Edwards. . .such a great cloud of witnesses! We now, are a cloud of witnesses: how great, in quantity or quality only our Lord knows. We are to run the race - it is a relay race. Those before us have passed the baton, as it were, into our hands. WE are now a cloud of witnesses. Though the greatness be not in number, the witness is great, if we are witnesses unto Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Creator, the God of heaven. It is in His name and for His sake, and not for our name, nor for our glory that we should run diligently. Oh God, we are weak; be our strength. Give us the faith to clutch tightly the baton. God forbid that we should drop it. Help us, that we fail not! Are there not other runners before us, waiting for us to reach them, that we might pass the baton, that they too might run the race that is set before them? Dear one, run diligently - some one is watching you, and you are the best Christian they know.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How Could He Love Me So?

“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me: no man cared for my soul” Psalm 142:3-4. This was a prayer of David while in the cave. But can we read this scripture and not think of Judas, in his betrayal of Jesus to the high priests of Israel? And of the snare which had long been forthcoming: at long last, in Gethsemane‘s garden, would they take Him. “there was no man that would know me,” the forsaking of His disciples as He said, and which was recorded much earlier in the scriptures. Of Simon, who would deny Him three times: “I know not the man!” “refuge failed me.” There was no cave for Him, a place of refuge; only a cross, upon a hill called Golgotha. “no man cared for my soul,” rather would they cry, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” “I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living” Psalm 142: 5. But He was destined to depart the land of the living; and, for the moment, He will cry, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me. . .

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” Luke 10:30.

A certain man, went down (condescended) from Jerusalem (the New One) to Jericho (the earth), He was born of woman: she was conceived of the Holy Ghost. But rather than being accepted for who He was, (He came unto his own, and his own received him not” John1 :11.) He fell among thieves, “He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” Isa.53:12b. But there were other thieves who would rob Him: of His deity; of His compassion for the outcasts, of His very life. These thieves would smite Him, wound Him, bruise Him, crucify Him. They would strip Him of his raiment, leaving Him naked. (“And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” Luke 23:34.) But they would not be satisfied to leave Him half dead: “He was cut off out of the land of the living. . .He made his grave with the wicked. . .He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth” Isa. 53. Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan! “I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken. . .” Ezek. 34:16. “And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them [No man cared for my soul.] derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God” Luke 23:35. Save Himself? For this cause He came; that His blood might be shed; that He might die in our stead; for the remission of our sin, for our forgiveness, for our justification, for our reconciliation to our God and Creator. The traveler, being cared for, was taken to an inn: but there was neither an inn for Jesus at His birth, nor an inn at His death. The thieves cared nothing for the man whom they had wounded and robbed; they would never have returned to see about his well being or no. The Samaritan promised to return unto the inn to see about his friend: “And if I go. . .I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I AM, there ye may be also” John 14:3.


Laid within the unusual writings of Ezekiel chapter 16 is a picture of extreme grief - and a picture of extreme gladness! The same may be said of the parable of the Good Samaritan recorded for us in Luke chapter ten. It might be worth our time to compare the two. . .

The Condition. And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all” vs. 4. “It was a sign that she was loathed by those who bore her, and she appeared loathsome to all that looked upon her.

The Condition. “And a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead” Luke 10:30.

The Callousness. None eye pitied thee, to do to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee;” vs. 5. They were “without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful” Rom. 1:31. “I designed thee for life when thou wast doomed to destruction, and resolved to save thee from death. Those shall live to whom God commands life.” (Matthew Henry)

The Callousness. “And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side” Luke 10:31-32.

The Casting out. “but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born” vs. 5b.

The Casting Out. “and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, leaving him half dead” vs. 30.

The Compassion. “And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live” Ezek. 16:6.

The Compassion. “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him [he passed by on the other side, as did the priest and Levite?] No! “he had compassion on him!” vs. 33.

“God looked upon the world of mankind as thus cast off, thus cast out, thus polluted, thus weltering in blood, and His thoughts towards it were thoughts of good, designing it Life, and that more abundantly”

“By converting grace, he said to the soul, Live. He looked upon them with a kindness and a tender affection, not only pitied them, but set His love upon them, which was unaccountable, for there was nothing lovely in them.” (Matthew Henry)

“Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love” vs.8. Behold! the Mercy and Grace of your God!

“It was the kindness and love of God our Saviour that sent Christ to redeem us, that sends the Spirit to sanctify us, that brought us out of a state of nature into a state of grace. That was a time of love indeed, distinguishing love, when God manifested His love to us, and courted our love to Him.” (M. Henry)

The Covering. “and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness” vs. 8b. The word skirt, kanaph, as used throughout the Old Testament scriptures is almost exclusively defined as “Wing!”

The Covering. Though not expressly stated, the man who had been ‘stripped of his raiment’ must assuredly have been covered by the cloak or coat of the Samaritan. Of what covering is there afforded the sinner, naked and unclothed? Why the Robe of Right-eousness of the Good Samaritan, the Lord Jesus!

The Covenant. “yea, I entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine” vs. 8c.

The Covenant. “and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee” Luke 10:34b,35. When shall the Good Samaritan return? Will the man whom he rescued from a certain death still be there at the inn; will he be waiting for his return? “and ye are not your own - For ye are bought with a price” I Cor. 6:19b,20a.

The Cleansing. “Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee” vs.9a.

The Cleansing. “And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine” Luke 10:34. The pouring in of the wine was for the cleansing of the wounds. Was the color of the wine not red; or crimson? Question and answer: “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. O precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow! No other fount I know; nothing but the blood of Jesus!” (Lowry)

The Consecration. “and I anointed thee with oil” vs. 9b. “Then washed I thee with water, to make thee clean, and anointed thee with oil, to make thee sweet and supple thee.” M.H.

The Consecration. “And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil. . .” What can heal the wounded spirit? Is not the oil of the Spirit? Is it (He) not likewise to be compared with the fruit of the Spirit? What can make one sweet and supple more than love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance?

The Clothing. “I clothed thee also with broidered cloth, and shod thee with badger’s skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk” vs. 10.

The Clothing. It would appear that there is something of a duplication here: the covering, introduced earlier, and now the clothing. But notice - the covering was in order to cover the nakedness of the traveler; and this we identified with the Robe of Righteousness. The clothing denotes even more, as illustrated by the parable of the Lost Son: “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the Best Robe, and put it on him. . .For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” Luke 15:22a,24. So we see, the first was for a covering; the last lays claim to, identifies the traveler as a Son!

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” Gen. 3:21. With the skins He covered their nakedness; He clothed them, Adam being again identified as a son; yet, not without the shedding of blood. . .


“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” II Cor. 10:3-6.

Though the Corinthians were made spiritual creations, yet Paul writes that they were acting in a carnal manner. “I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. . .there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” I Cor. 3:1,3. It is apparent that the Corinthian brethren were hedged about with many strongholds, which greatly hindered their Christian growth: they were “even as babes in Christ” I Cor. 3:1b. In the second letter to the Corinthians, it appears that they had now grown to some degree, and Paul may now speak unto them as ‘spiritual,’ concerning the warfare of believers and the pulling down of strongholds.

But what is a stronghold? It is defined, a high place, ophel; a cut off, fenced place, mibtsar; strong place, strong hold, mhoz; a fortress, metsad; a bulwark, matsor. Bulwark, of itself warrants defining: chel, an army, an intrenchment, wall; matsuwr, defense, fortress, tower; pinnah, a pinnacle, chief, corner; mtsodah, a net for capturing animals or fish; a besieging tower, a snare. This final definition well describes Satan’s stronghold; a net, a besieging tower, a snare. Satan’s stronghold is a place of reigning wickedness, of evil: a place where he is a domineering tyrant; the prince of darkness, a ferocious lion, a cruel taskmaster. Of the Lord God may we say that He is our wall of defense, our fortress, our safe haven, our Rock, our high tower: the armies of the Lord hedge us about. He, the Most High God, rules and reigns forever, unchanging, in love, in mercy and in grace; but never compromising His Divine Law nor His Purpose. But to rightly define stronghold - I cannot.

The stronghold of the ungodly.

“Every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God?” “He [Satan] beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride” Job. 41:34.

“He that hateth dissembleth [nakar, scrutinize, with suspicion, be strange toward, disregard, reject] with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart” Proverbs 26:24,25.

Compare this scripture with that which is found in Matthew chapter twelve: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and finding none. Then he saith, I will return unto my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself. . .”Matt. 12:43-45a.

An unlawful structure.

Satan has no building permit. Further, he is trespassing on private property. The house or ‘stronghold’ which he would build is not of gold, silver, and precious stone; neither of brick and mortar; at best, of wood, hay, and stubble. “So are the paths of all that forget God. . .He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure” Job 8:13a, 15. “The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand” Pro. 12:7.

His ‘strongholds’ are built with lies, deceit, wickedness. Remember the old axiom, “The devil made me do it!” Satan tempts, he beguiles. But when Eve was confronted by the Lord God she said, “The serpent beguiled [enticed, lured, charmed] me, and I did eat.” Because of his sin and rebellion against God and His Word, man became, and is to this day, a totally depraved creature. “And he [Jesus] said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of man, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” Mark 7: 20-23.

Casting down the stronghold!

“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil” Luke 4:1. Are we to pray, “Lead us not into temptation?” But Jesus was led, by the Spirit, into temptation! Led there, that he might conquer the tempter! At the end of the recorded temptations, the devil set Him on the pinnacle of the temple saying, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence.” But it was Satan and his ’stronghold’ that would be utterly ‘cast down!’ Satan could in no wise have established a stronghold upon the Lord Jesus. The Lord God, His Father, was, and is, a Mighty Fortress unto Him! What! Shall Satan think to build a stronghold where the Mighty Fortress reigns!?!

If the stronghold at last be pulled down, shall we leave the foundation where it stood, empty, vacant? Then might the temper return, determined to rebuild his stronghold! NO! Let us build a fortress, a Mighty Stronghold! (Yet, not I, but Christ.)

A mighty fortress is our God,

A bulwark never failing;

Did we in our own strength confide,

Our strivings would be losing;

And though this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us;

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph through us.

Martin Luther

Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

When I have thoughts that are “conformed to this world,” shall I ignore them, attempt to deny their existence, make excuses for their being there. . .? Or bring them into captivity by hedging them about with the Truth: acknowledging them; bringing them unto Christ; allowing Him to handle the captives; to “lead captivity captive.”

“be transformed by the renewing of your [my] mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” Rom. 12:2. When our worldly thoughts are brought into captivity, then are we not free to think on the things of Christ?

Leading Captivity Captive.

One of the basic laws of interpretation is that of the “law of first mention,” and it well applies here. The first scripture reference to leading “captivity captive” is found in Judges chapter five.

“Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam. Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the Lord made me have dominion over the mighty” Judges 5:12,13.

Israel’s second judge, Ehud, led the people against the Moabites after slaying their king, and the land had rest for eighty years. But after his death Israel once again fell back into sin. “And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan. . .twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.” At that time the Lord raised up a “prophetess”, Deborah. She sent word to Barak the son of Abinoam: he was to assemble ten thousand men at Mount Tabor; Jehovah would draw Sisera (Jabin’s general) and his armies to meet him at the river Kishon; there He would deliver them into his hand. But the death of Sisera would be given into the hand of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. Sisera’s death came as she drove a tent nail through his head. The victory was secured and Israel rested for forty years.

“Then sang Deborah and Barak. . .Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves” Judges 5:1. In the song there is conveyed a poetic illusion, “Awake, awake, Deborah: awake awake, utter a song: arise Barak, and lead thy Captivity captive” vs. 12. The term most surely would have rung with familiarity among the Israelites! “Captivity” in the song was portrayed by the oppressors, the Moabites. Israel was the oppressed, the captive. But now the tables are turned: Israel is the captor, while Moab is the captive!

A defeated people might find their entire city or district removed from the land and relocated nearby their captors, where they were made to serve as slave labor. Removal was thought to sever a people from the care and protection of their god: it implied the defeat of such deity. Their prominent leaders were likely to be chained, to be treated with indignation and cruelty; the victors leading them down the main streets of the city in great celebration of their triumph.

Let us make the application: Sin was our Captivity. It drew us away; it bound us; it enslaved us. It “removed us from the care and protection of our God: it implied the defeat of such deity!” But He has slain the enemy! They are overcome by His power! He is triumphant, victorious! Death and hell are vanquished foes! He is risen from the grave, alive evermore. He has delivered His people from Captivity! He has taken Captivity captive!

Building a Stronghold.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” Phil. 4:8.

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keeping yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus unto eternal life” Jude 20-21.

Monday, July 20, 2009

No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus

I CRIED unto the Lord with my voice. . .When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, thou knewest my path. . .I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me: no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living” Psalm 142:1a,3a,4-5.

“David was a hero, and yet his spirit sank: he could smite a giant down, but he could not keep himself up. He did not know his own path, nor feel able to bear his own burden. Observe his comfort: he looked away from his own condition to the ever-observant, all knowing God: and solaced himself with the fact that all was known to his heavenly Friend. Truly it is well for us to know that God knows what we do not know. . .”

Treasury of David, vol. II, page 1390, C. H. Spurgeon

“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” Matthew 6:26. What a question! If we truly search our hearts, can we say of a surety and with a clear conscience - Yes! We are better than they!?! True, in Adam we were created in the image of God; given an eternal soul, a discerning mind and a voice with which to speak. But that image was so grossly marred by our sin! Jesus, though spotless, holy, and without sin Himself, pictured in His flesh, representatively, the sinful condition and ruin of fallen man as described in Isaiah 52:14: “his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.”

Has the sparrow sinned? Has he transgressed the law of God? Could it be that the song he sings is unto the god of this world? God forbid! What of the lilies of the field? They are arrayed in beauty; in a glory that is greater than that of Solomon? But do they hide within themselves the darkness, have they an enmity against their Creator? God forbid! Were there any charges to be laid against them, they might well point a branch or a wing at Adam’s race!

“Are ye not much better than they?”

“God fails not,” as one has beautifully said, “to find a house for the most worthless, and a nest for the most restless of birds.” (The sparrow is the worthless or common bird, while the swallow is the one who is restless, and is easily frightened.) What confidence this should give us. . .What repose the soul finds that casts itself on the watchful, tender care of Him who provides so fully for the need of all His creatures! The Psalmist. . .longs to be nestled, as it were, in the dwelling-place of God. The believer finds a perfect home and rest in God’s altars; or rather, in the great truths which they represent. . .”

“But there is one thing in these highly privileged birds which strikes us forcibly in our meditations - they knew not Him from whom all this kindness flowed - they knew neither His heart nor His hand. They enjoyed the rich provisions of His tender care; He thought of everything for their need, but there was no fellowship between them and the Great Giver. From this, O my soul, thou mayest learn a useful lesson. Never rest satisfied with mere frequenting such places, or with having certain privileges there; but rise, in spirit, and seek and find and enjoy direct communion with the living God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Treasury of David, volume II, page 1523, C. H. Spurgeon

Nesting and Resting.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus?” “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” Matt. 6:31. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” Rom. 14:17.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” God feeds and shelters His creation - but we are creatures who have rebelled; having been at enmity against God. We merit nothing in ourselves save death and eternal judgment. That God should supply even one need is exceeding abundant mercy and grace! I can see that God would care for His creation; the sparrows, the lilies - but it is in great wonder that I am able to sing: “No one ever cared for me like Jesus!” Let us thank Him for His love, for His mercy and grace; for the forgiveness of sin; for the imputed righteousness of Christ, and our being reconciled to God!

A Bird Sanctuary.

“Yea, the sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord. . .” Psalm 84:3. (It is thought by some that David would be as the sparrow and the swallow: that he longed for the house of God and its altars: that they might again be his nest, his resting place.) adapted from Matthew Henry.

“A custom, existing among several nations of antiquity, is deemed capable of illustrating the present passage. For birds, whose nests chanced to be built on the temples, or within the limits of them, were not allowed to be driven away, much less be killed, but found there a secure and undisturbed abode.” - William Keating Clay

The Kingdom of God - the future nesting place!

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. . .They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” Isa. 11:1,5,6,9.