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  • Eugene Adkins 6:53 am on August 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , faith, , King Ahab, ,   

    Talking and Walking are Two different Things 

    One of the wisest things ever said by king Ahab was, ‘Let not the one who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off.’ (1 Kings 20:11)

    Joining in the good fight of faith is admirable, but finishing it is what brings the reward (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

    Some fight in longer battles than others. Some put in more years of service. Some take upon themselves more responsibility. Some do better at recruiting others. Some do better at staying focused. Some are better at talking than walking because it seems as if that’s all they know how to do!

    There are those who are very apt to criticize the actions of elders, deacons, preachers, Bible class teachers and the all around great working members of the body who are trying to get the work of the Lord done by through various activities and works. I find it strange that, more often than not, these people are also very apt to do nothing themselves before they criticize, in the middle of their criticism and when their criticism is done. They believe they can do things better than the way it’s being done. They have never taken on the responsibility but yet they feel responsible to tell another how it is or isn’t to be done. That’s a talker and not a walker!

    In the context of 1 Kings 20 the king of Israel said what he had said because he cared about the things that were being threatened by the boastful leaders of Syria, but at the same time Ahab actually got up to fight. He didn’t just sit down and do nothing, he got to work and even more so after a reassuring word came from the Lord. He rallied the people and fought with a purpose. That day it was the Syrians who found out that talking and walking are two different things. It was the Syrians who found out that talking alone actually leads to running away!

    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26)

     

     
    • Pieter reneg8or@live.com 7:28 am on August 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Noah lived to tell the story.

      The others drowned.

      Abraham fathered a child out of unbelief and millions are still suffering as a result today.

      Moses, Joseph, Daniel and others spent many formative years, mostly under duress.

      About 28 years ago, I asked God to change me into the person He wanted me to be, regardless of the cost. He cashed the cheque. (I was driving along a twisty, narrow mountain pass notorious for its dangerous bends. Look on Google Earth for Bain’s Kloof Pass, Wellington, South Africa. I did it religiously with my eyes closed.)

      I also asked Him for great faith. “Granted”, He said, “collect at reception.” What? No DHL, no FedEx?

      I did not become the syrupy smooth, polite Christian as expected. Instead, I became a ruffian with great love for sinners and a particular distaste for anything syrupy, smooth religious. My faith had endured when others decided to distrust and eventually shun, oust and even persecute us. Christians have no faith and want evidence. They want instant results and, when it doesn’t come, the prophet gets lynched.

      We lived in extreme conditions, were exposed to the elements, ridiculed by the flock (raucous seagulls, they are, not eagles) and endured exploitation, abuse, being persecuted and ousted. When nobody wanted us and we were down and out, it were the Muslims and a few Hindus who had encouraged us, telling us that they KNOW that God was busy doing something great through us. They, the non-believers, could see that.

      In 2005, the leader of our fellowship group came and asked us to leave as we had “too much faith” for them. All reborn Christians and professional people, including someone with a PhD in Industrial Psychology, a chartered accountant, two actuaries, various medical specialists, a senior mechanical engineer, etc. On the same day, a psychic from India sent me a message via someone in Germany that “God says that you have the answer in your hands” as he was part of a group of people who wanted to started a humanitarian organisation. I was the only Christian there.

      Earlier that day, I asked the Lord about being yoked unequally and I asked Him to show me who the unbeliever(s) were, before sunset. The fellowship leader arrived in the later afternoon and finally departed from us just before sunset.

      So, we left because we had too much faith. It seems that the churches I attended ran out of stock. Are they ordering from the wrong supplier?

      We need to walk the talk, we cannot keep insisting upon AAA+ guarantees from the world’s Top 20 banks either, as our faith should be in God, not in things we can touch and feel.

      Too much faith. So we left, also took the Peace with us and shook the dust from our ankles.

      Noah lived to tell the story.

    • esther4491 8:02 pm on August 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I can. We could go see Veda  too

      ________________________________

  • Eugene Adkins 6:33 am on August 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: faith, , , James Watkins, , , , , , ,   

    James Watkins on the “The Foolishness of God vs. Man’s Wisdom” 

    So many people often reject the truth of the gospel because it doesn’t “make sense” to them. In this video from “Preaching the Gospel” brother Watkins addresses the difference between trusting God by faith and trusting God because of our logic. It’s a great basic lesson that can address so many spiritual issues that our divided religious world is facing today.

     

     
  • Michael Summers 9:35 pm on August 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , faith, , , ,   

    Learning to Pray and to Trust from Jeremiah 

    Jeremiah struggled to reconcile widespread hypocrisy in a supposedly believing culture with the justice of God. He witnessed damage caused by unthinking rebels against God. The more he proclaimed God’s will, the more pain he experienced. At the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry, God had promised that he would be with him. In his prayers recorded in Jeremiah 11 and 12, Jeremiah voices how hard it can be to trust God’s promises. He wrestled with his doubts; he pleaded for God to vindicate him. Other prayers of Jeremiah reveal his love for his people. His prayers in chapters 11 and 12 unveil his fear and doubt, but also his confidence that in the end, God will be faithful to his values. Today you and I may feel compelled to pray Jeremiah’s prayers. We too want God to defend His values. God promises that He will remain faithful. He pleads for us to do the same. We plead for God to defend his values. We cry , ‘Where are you, God? ‘Let’s remember that he may be asking us, ‘Where are you?’

     
    • Pieter reneg8or@live.com 4:15 am on August 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      He walked around as the naked prophet and he was put into a well. Persecuted by the church of the day.

      Thousands of years later, the same happened to me and they tried to silence me, even kidnapped my wife and I. We had endured much, not behind the iron curtain, nor was it behind the bamboo curtain and, no, it wasn’t in a closed country in the 10/40 window, but in Cape Town, South Africa, by evangelical Christians!

      You are revisiting Jeremiah, someone I had met thousands of times when the Lord took me through those pages to explain to me what was happening to me and what my duty was. Jeremia 6:27 explains best what my purpose was in those terrible years.

      LiJC

      Pieter http://blessedbeyondrecognition.wordpress.com/

  • Ed Boggess 8:05 pm on July 31, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: faith,   

    Can faith help an athlete win? If you ask Olympic marathon runner Ryan Hall, or NFL quarterback Tim Tebow or NBA basketball Jeremy Lin; each would answer “yes”. They openly avow their faith in Christ and are convinced it helps them compete. They may be right but not in the sense that God favors one athlete over another or one team over another. Take Hall, for example. He says his faith permits him to run with freedom and joy. He no longer depends on the results of the race to define who he is, but has the confidence of the biblical promise that he is a child of God. Performance enhancement consultant Marv Fremerman says athletes perform best when their lives are in harmony. Strong faith builds the feeling of self-worth and spiritual peace. This is Just-A-Minute with Ed Boggess

     
  • Michael Summers 2:39 pm on July 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , faith, , , , , , Robert Frost, , , suicidal ideation, , tunnel vision   

    The Path to Survival and Success 

    I sometimes parody Robert Frost’s old poem by saying, “Two paths diverged in a wood, and I, I blazed a new trail between them.” One should never let tunnel vision limit their achievements. Just because three options present themselves does not exclude the possibility of a fourth. Creatively pondering what other paths one may take may just prompt recognitions of a new trail.

    Sometimes, however, our trails reach a dead end. A deep chasm looms ahead or a wall blocks our progress. What shall we do? One possibility is to turn around and go back to our starting point. We also might choose to give up. When some people reach this situation in their lives, they attempt suicide. Almost always, other options exist than surrendering. One may try to climb the wall or build a bridge across the canyon. If a wall, we may look to the right and left to see if passageways exist in those directions. We may even be able to build a door in the wall. Seriously, even when it seems that there are none, options usually exist in life. They may not be our first choice; they may require giving up a long-cherished goal. Sometimes the new path leads in a better direction.

    Psalm 37 gives several insights to surviving and thriving when it seems opposition cannot be overcome or that we have run out of options. These include:

    “Do not fret” (verses 1 and 8).
    “Trust in the Lord and do good” (verse 2).
    “Commit your way to the Lord” (includes prayer, verse 3).
    “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”(verse 7).
    “Refrain from anger” (verse 8).
    Keep the word of God in your heart (verse 31).
    Follow good role models (verse 37)
    “Take refuge” in God (verse 40).

    Maintaining calm and trusting reliable counselors (to include God) greatly increase odds for survival and success. Restraining anger and panic is critical. Fear breeds failure. Having a sustained pattern of behavior, especially in scripture study, prayer, and association with other believers, helps but one also needs to learn to wait and to build flexibility. Rigidity paralyzes people when unexpected situations arise. The message of Psalm 37 is that even when situations seem to require new solutions, some basic truths and practices will sustain us. When multiple options exist in life, God’s word will help us navigate the best trail to our destination.

     
  • Eugene Adkins 6:41 am on July 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , faith, , , Living by faith, , , Source of Faith, ,   

    We Need to Study the Bible Because it’s the Source of Our Faith 

    Faith is believing in and following through on God’s word (Hebrews 11:1, James 2:14-20), and “faith comes from hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17). No place, no other book, no latter-day prophet, no spiritual experience and no path devised by man brings a person to the saving faith in God that’s necessary like the Holy Spirit does through the written word revealed through the gospel to the world (Romans 10:5-15). The Bible tells us what to preach, what to grow in, what to abstain from, what we’re to be busy doing, where we’re going, why we’re going there and how we’re going to get there! Faith needs starting and faith needs building and God’s word through the Bible is the one-stop place for them both. A person doesn’t know what to believe until we’re given something to believe – spiritual speaking, this is where the Bible comes in.

    The Bible reveals the standard of God’s righteousness through the gospel of Jesus and then provides the faith necessary to receive the grace of God that comes through that faith (Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 2:8). Living by faith is more than a saying – it’s an actual way of life that’s learned through the study of God’s word: “For in [the gospel – 1:16] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) Hearing the word of God begins a person’s journey of faith, it will tell us where to turn and it will bring us to end of the road where our faith in Jesus will become a sight that sees Him (2 Corinthians 5:7, 1 John 3:2). Faith looks forward and faith must be fed (Galatians 2:20, Matthew 4:4) so when it comes to a faith-filled soul the “manna” from above will not send us away hungry when we come ready to eat (Matthew 5:6, 1 Timothy 4:6).

    Studying the word of God will bring us to the foot of the cross and on into the throne room of Heaven. It contains the power filled wisdom of God that opens the eyes of sinful hearts to see the sinless Son of God who died so we may have mercy this day and on the last day (1 Corinthians 2:4-14). Nothing else in the world outside of the scriptures of God teaches us about the gospel that makes men and women free and keeps us free through faith in Jesus. Paul told Timothy this much when he said, “…from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15). Wisdom in the writings of men will only get a person so much – wisdom in the word of God can give us the gift of salvation through the gospel!

    Why should the Bible be studied? Because the Bible tells us what’s worth believing and what’s not worth our time, it tells us what we’re worth and what price was paid for us, it tells of God’s saving grace and of the One who died to make that grace available through faith, it tells us the standard of God and how we can reach it through Jesus, it will hold on to us through hope and keep the eyes of faith enlightened till we see our home in Heaven. These are just a few reasons why we need to study the faith giving and faith feeding word of God contained in the Bible.

    For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

     

     
    • J. Randal Matheny 8:04 am on July 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Eugene, I’m enjoying this series. The topics you’ve chosen for it are powerful. Do keep it up. This just might make a nice pamphlet after it’s finished.

      • Eugene Adkins 8:12 am on July 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the compliment and the encouragement my friend. I used these points in a barebones outline for a VBS class, so I’m adding the majority of the thoughts as I type them up. I thought others here might find them useful. I’ve only got one more subject in mind (being relevant to today’s problems) so if you have any other ideas just shoot…and if it turns into some kind of pamphlet form, I’d say the ole editor might want to look it over and give some suggestions.

        • J. Randal Matheny 9:21 am on July 24, 2013 Permalink

          Some of these might be too much overlap, but here go some ideas, several of them, some of the better ones, suggested by The Missus:

          • Because it shows us the Christ
          • Because it provides us with spiritual motivation (overlap with faith?)
          • Because it gives us hope
          • Because it gives us purpose
          • Because it provides us direction
          • Because it reveals divine history past and future

  • TFRStaff 4:36 am on July 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: faith,   

    Faith Is The Victory 

    Isaiah, a prophet of God, wrote “My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, Though hail comes down on the forest, And the city is brought low in humiliation” (32:18-19).

    In the troublesome times we all face today isn’t it great to know that our Father is watching out for us?

    Our God has always been a protecting God. No matter what is happening around us Christians can take comfort in the knowledge that our place in heaven is secure. Our homes may be lost, the savings for retirement might be gone but our place in the mansion above is always there waiting for us.

    In writing to the Roman brethren, the apostle Paul had this to say about feeling secure: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (8:31).

    Children of God will not let the present trouble worry them because they have the faith that “overcometh the world” (1 John 5:4).

    In Christ, Steve Preston

    http://associate.com/groups/bibletalk

     
  • Ron Thomas 11:38 am on July 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , faith, , , ,   

    FAITH and WORKS 

     

    A good study of the New Testament helps us to see there is a role for works and a role for faith. Without faith as the underlying foundation in place, the role for works would be useless. The significance of this point is found in relationship to the apostle Paul, James, and many in the denominational world.

    Paul, in the context of his letter to Rome, argued that man is justified by faith apart from works (Romans 3:28). In this con-text, it is important to know exactly what Paul had in mind with the word works. It seems that some in the denominational world, reacting to Catholic teachings with regard to works, insert the word alone after faith, thereby giving us the unbiblical doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

    One can turn the pages of the New Testament forward from Matthew to Revelation, start again and do the same, and not find anywhere where it is taught by the Lord (or any who represent Him) that man is saved by faith alone. What he will find, however, is that man is saved by faith apart from works (as Paul declared); the word works as used by Paul in Romans is associated with the Law of Moses. In other words, Paul is making clear that justification is by faith apart from the works of the Law of Moses.

    In comparison with what Paul said, James said that man’s works bring about God’s declaration of “righteous” (James 2:22-23). The word “works” as used by James (2:14-26) is not the same as the way Paul uses it.

    How do we balance the two ideas? To begin, we see there is a difference between the two men in how the word works is used. Let us not misunderstand what Paul had in mind when he said what he did in Romans. If one would be pleasing to God, under the old covenant, then faithful obedience to the Law of Moses was paramount (crucial). Without the foundation of faith in place, obedience to anything the Lord said would not actually be obedience at all, but a mere doing, acting, or complying with some outward requirement, not properly brought about as a result of loving God. This in no way pleases the Lord!

    Note how these two ideas play a crucial role in one’s salvation. In Genesis 15, the Lord declared Abraham righteous as a result of his faith (Genesis 15:6), and in Genesis 22:12, the Lord said with regard to Abraham’s work (and faith) “now I know…” The idea is this: faith has a starting point, but obedience to the Lord’s will and deeds (works) of charity bring that faith to a completion, a goal. Thus, when the Scripture says that Abraham was justified by his works, it was in relation to doing the Lord’s will.

    When you hear (or read) of a denominational teaching like justified by faith alone, you can be sure that it is not from Scripture, but one’s personal theology (opinion). Yet, the Scriptures teach that, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). One can’t go wrong doing such things as this. RT

     

     
    • Joseph Richardson 1:19 pm on July 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      This is an excellent post and so refreshing to read from a Protestant. :) I have been beaten and stabbed and and again by a rigid sola fide as if it were a weapon. But Scripture is absolutely clear that both faith and works play crucial roles in salvation. What is your understanding of the Catholic teaching on this? Because I agree with everything you wrote.

      • Ron Thomas 4:47 pm on July 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Not having look at their catechism lately, and not having one in front of me, I hesitate giving an answer to the particular question. I have much on what the Catholics teach, but nothing handy to reference.

        • Joseph Richardson 5:43 pm on July 8, 2013 Permalink

          Well, what do you believe that is different from the Catholics?

        • Ron Thomas 6:30 pm on July 8, 2013 Permalink

          There is a good bit. I accept the Bible, exclusively, as the standard of faith – not tradition, the church AND the Bible. Only the Bible.

        • Joseph Richardson 6:52 pm on July 8, 2013 Permalink

          I understand that. But as far the role and faith and works, I do agree with you.

        • Ron Thomas 7:13 pm on July 8, 2013 Permalink

          Thank you for reading it and your kind remarks concerning it.

  • John T. Polk II 4:00 am on June 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , complacency, faith, , , , scorner, , willful ignorance,   

    Studies in the Book of Proverbs 

    (#5) Listen to Wisdom everywhere 1:20-33

    Verses 20-21: The word “wisdom” is actually plural, “wisdoms,” but is personified as if a single individual. The Creator, “God,” is also in plural form, but with singular verbs, is spoken of as an individual (Genesis 1:1, 26-27). This may help explain Ephesians 3:10 which says “now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” God’s wisdom is obvious as if it was “shouted” in public places.

    Verses 22-23: “Simple ones” are those who have been duped and deceived into sin, because they have not listened to wise advice. It is the attitude of sinners, some of whom attack wisdom with ignorance and ridicule (“scorners”), some refuse to be corrected (“fools”), throughout the Book of Proverbs. The only way for “sinners/scorners/fools” to be rescued is for them to “turn,” or repent and accept God’s wisdom. This is the theme of the entire Bible, for God “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Wisdom’s “spirit” (influence or education) will be poured into the gaps of a person’s knowledge by the “words” (revealed through miraculously-inspired writers in the Word of God, Ephesians 3:1-7) “known to you.”

    Verses 24-25: This is willful ignorance because: the call is refused, the offered hand is snubbed, the counsel ridiculed, the rebuke is rejected.

    Verses 26-27: When the terrible consequences of ignorance, which produce fear and terror, occur, Wisdom will offer rejection in return!

    Verses 28-31: Fools who answered Wisdom’s cry with silence, then face consequences of their decisions, Wisdom will answer back with silence! In the absence of Wisdom, people will suffer consequences of their own decisions, and this is God’s rule for life, for Jesus said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:13-14). Sinners, who are punished by their own actions, have no one to blame but themselves! Those who survive their self-induced catastrophes, frequently learn to turn to Wisdom in their future.

    Verses 32-33: The Rule of Wisdom is clearly stated in these verses. Jesus will apply this Rule on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 7:21-27).

    Thought: In a crumbling society, “the complacency of fools” becomes a damning phrase to all who continue to vote, teach, approve, accept, or allow what has been done to continue to be done!

     
  • Eugene Adkins 7:31 am on June 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , faith, , , Justification by the Law of Moses, Law of Faith, Law of the New Testament, Living under grace, Living under Law today,   

    Contrary To What You May Have Been Taught, Christians Actually Do Live Under Law Today 

    Many religious individuals will strongly contend for the idea that says Christians do not live under Law today because we live under grace. While it’s 100% true that Christians live under grace (Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7) it also 100% false that Christians do not live under Law. For the most part individuals who teach “all grace and no law” do so ignorantly, only following what they have been taught; but that’s all the more reason to study for our self (2 Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11).

    Right about now some may be reading this and saying to themselves that what I’m advocating is false doctrine and that I’m the one who needs to study more and read verses like:

    and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:39)

    Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)

    For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)

    knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

    You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)

    I would say “good job at studying” to those who would present such verses as proof that we’re not living under Law today, but then I would add “keep studying and keep things in their context and you’ll find the truth”

    Indeed these verses truly teach that we’re not living under Law, but the question is what Law are these verses talking about? These scriptures aren’t saying that we don’t live under any Law, but rather that we as Christians do not live under the Law of Moses. What most people miss when they contend for the “all grace and no law” position is that you can’t have grace without having a Law! You can’t find grace without committing sin! And you can’t commit sin without being under Law! So to deny that Christians live under any Law is to deny sin, and that’s a denial we don’t want to be guilty of – plain and simple (1 John 1:8).

    The truth of the matter is that Christians do live under Law, but at the same time we live under a grace that promises forgiveness, a grace that promises remission and a grace that promises a clear conscience (Acts 2:38; Hebrews 10:1-22; 1 Peter 3:21; 1 John 1:7). This is a blessing that was not truly realized in times past due to the knowledge of Jesus that we can have today (John 1:17). Law in and of itself is not evil. This can’t even be said about Moses’ Law (Romans 7:12). But what can be truthfully said is that there is no justification from sin in Moses’ Law, but that does not mean there is no justification in any Law, and that’s a distinction that many in the religious world are sadly failing to make.

    Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:27-28)

    Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1)

     
    • John Henson 12:08 pm on June 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Those who live without the law are lawless. Isn’t it interesting that the way these people see worship and their manner of life without law is, indeed, lawless. One of the best points Bro. Alan Highers made in his debate with an ICC preacher had to do with antinominanism. Yet our denominational friends don’t consider themselves antinomian. They just live that way.

      • Eugene Adkins 1:06 pm on June 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Your comment reminds me of: “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:23)

        How can one be condemned for lawlessness if there’s not any Law?

        Thanks for the comment brother.

  • Eugene Adkins 6:08 am on June 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Demas, faith, , Faithlessness, ,   

    Basic Outline for “Lessons from Demas” 

    Here’s my basic outline from my sermon yesterday morning:

    Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.” (Philemon vs. 23-24)

    Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.” (Colossians 4:14)

    Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.” (2 Timothy 4:9-10)

    Lesson #1 from Demas – Don’t ever think you can’t be a Demas (1 Corinthians 10:12)

    Lesson #2 from Demas – Don’t let down your spiritual guard (Hebrews 2:1)

    Lesson #3 from Demas – If all we’re looking for out of life is “Thessalonica” then “Thessalonica” is all we’re going to get (Hebrews 11:24-26)

    Lesson #4 from Demas – When someone leaves, don’t stick your head in the sand (Galatians 6:1-2)

    If you find it useful, use it to God’s glory!

     
  • Eugene Adkins 6:24 am on May 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , faith, , Past Mistakes, ,   

    Don’t Live on the Spiriutal “What If” Street 

    For the past 8 months or so I’ve been working with maps as my daytime “profession.” The other day I saw an “interesting” street named “What If” and thought there are a lot more people living on that street than there are houses!

    Of all the “What If” streets we can live on, the spiritual one can be the roughest, yet we know it can be avoided to an extent. May I add that I believe there’s a difference between wondering “What if I had done this a little better?” and “What if I had done anything at all?”

    Paul encouraged people to follow him as he followed Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1), he wished that all others were as he was with the exception of his chains (Acts 26:29), and at the end of his life he was content with his decisions, labor and destination (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Sounds to me like “What If Street” wasn’t on his spiritual map!

    Did Paul have regrets? Sure he did! But his advice for that topic was move off of “What If Street” and move over to “Press Ahead Avenue” (Philippians 3:13-14).

    Life can be hard, and there will be times when we’re going to make the wrong choices; but we can choose the right Savior. We can choose the Savior who will help us move off of that spiritual “What If Street” and right into a home located on “Heavenly Homes Boulevard” that He has built just for us.

    Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:1-4 – NKJV)

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:09 am on May 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , faith, , judgment in writing, , , , ,   

    Psalm 149 The God Who Will Not Be Conquered 

    These last 5 Psalms (146-150) are called “Hallelujah Psalms” because they begin and end with that expression: “Praise – Jehovah,” or “Hallelujah.” The author, date, and setting of each Psalm are undetermined, but their acceptance is unquestioned.

    Verses 1-5 call for God’s People to praise Him for victory;

    Verses 6-9 call for praise and defeat of their enemies.

    Verses 1-5: (Verse 1) “A new song” indicates a “new heart,” celebrating a “new victory,” and a “new life.” “The assembly of the saints” is a worship service, where “God is greatly to be feared” (Psalm 89:7). In America, every time there is disaster, trouble, destruction, criminal death, or missing person, there is some candlelight “coming together.” When Peter was kept in prison with the intent of killing him, the church of Christ gathered for prayer (Acts 12:12), not candles! (Verse 2) The people, Israel, especially their religious center, Zion, should rejoice with (verse 3) “dance” and “timbrel and harp,” just as their forefathers had done when God parted the Red Sea for them to escape Egypt and be their own Nation (Exodus 14:21-15:21). (Verse 4) God’s “pleasure” is in His People, who develop beautiful, spiritual character. (Verse 5) “Saints” should be joyful, even on “their beds,” formerly places of sorrow.

    Verses 6-9: (Verse 6) While praising God with their “mouth,” “And a two-edged sword in their hand.” This sounds like the Israelites re-building the wall of Jerusalem when they were returned to their Promised Land (Nehemiah 4:17). Apparently, there was no “gun control” then! A dis-armed people can do nothing against the enemies of God! (Verse 7) “Bearing the sword” in “vain” (meaninglessly), or using the power of the sword against “good works,” violates God’s intended purpose for “governing authorities” (Romans 13:1-5). Today, Christians are to praise God while Government uses the sword to be “God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4).

    (Verse 8) God’s government, acting as His minister, defeats evil. (Verse 9) God’s “judgment” in writing was: “When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them” (Deuteronomy 7:1-2). Today, the “sword of the Spirit” in a Christian hand, “is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17), and the “nations,” “peoples,” “kings,” and “nobles” must be conquered by teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Since Jesus Christ established His spiritual kingdom on Earth in the 1st Century, there has been NO “Christian carnal war” waged against Muslims, Jews, or anyone else, for that matter, and therefore NO justification for persecuting the churches of Christ! All of those who persecute Christians, even to death, are persecuting Jesus (Acts 9:1-5), and, unless they repent, He will damn them forever (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10)!

    “Praise the LORD!”

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:00 am on May 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 148 The God Who Will Be Heard 

    These last 5 Psalms (146-150) are called “Hallelujah Psalms” because they begin and end with that expression: “Praise – Jehovah,” or “Hallelujah.” The author, date, and setting of each Psalm are undetermined, but their acceptance is unquestioned. Psalm 148 is the basis of the lyric for the hymn, “Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him” with a tune written by Franz J. Haydn. “Praise the Lord” is used some 12 times in its 14 verses.

    Verses 1-2 let us know God is praised above His Creation;

    Verses 3-6 let us know God is praised in what we call “space;”

    Verses 7-13 let us know God is praised among the living creatures on the Earth;

    Verse 14 lets us know God is praised among His people.

    Verses 1-2: Jehovah is praised in the “heights.” God’s praise comes from the Heavenly “host,” a multitude of which announced Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:13), and twelve legions of which could have kept Jesus from the cross (Matthew 26:53).

    Verses 3-6: God spoke into existence the: “sun and moon” (Genesis 1:14-18),  “stars of light” (Genesis 1:16), “heavens of heavens,” “waters above the heavens” (Genesis 1:6-8). Verse 6 says, “He made a decree which shall not pass away.” Everything in space operates with such precision, timing, and position as to totally devastate any vestige of godless doctrines, such as “Evolution.” It is pathetic to see minds wasted repeating the mantras of “millions and billions of years” in describing this Earth, when ALL OF THE CREATION IS PRAISING GOD!

    Verses 7-13: Praise of God comes “From the earth,” creatures below; weather above the surface; the surface itself; animals, reptiles, birds; all people “praise God.” NO ONE CAN SEE WHAT HAPPENS ON THE EARTH AND FAIL TO “PRAISE GOD.” Animals, reptiles, birds are different from each other, and No Scientific Fact demonstrates they came from one another! All animals of the earth are different from humans, and NO Scientific Fact demonstrates that humans came from animals! “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). Everything God Created shouts “Hallelujah,” everyone who seeks to explain that Creation by substituting Time & Chance for God profanes and degrades all of it.

    Verse 14: God should be praised by His People whom He has “exalted” and brought “near” to Him!

    “Praise the LORD.”

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:00 am on May 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 147 Jehovah is God – And We’re NOT! 

    These last 5 Psalms (146-150) are called “Hallelujah Psalms” because they begin and end with that expression: “Praise – Jehovah,” or “Hallelujah.” The author, date, and setting of each Psalm are undetermined, but their acceptance is unquestioned.

    Verse 1 calls for praise;

    Verses 2-6 give Israelite outcasts reasons to praise God;

    Verse 7 calls for praise;

    Verses 8-11 give those who fear Him reasons to praise God;

    Verse 12 calls for Israelites to praise God;

    Verses 13-18 call attention to God’s absolute Power;

    Verses 19-20 call Israelites’ attention to God’s special Word to them.

    Verse 1: Sing “Hallelujah” because it is “good,” “pleasant,” “beautiful.”

    Verses 2-6: Jehovah “builds up Jerusalem” by making sure the “outcasts” are included. These are people who might be rejected by the religious snobs and overlooked for blessings. Verses 2-3 describe the work of Jesus Christ when He came (Jeremiah 30:10-17; Luke 4:16-20). God can account for all of Israel’s “outcasts” because only He knows the number, but also the name, of the stars. With all of today’s technologies, humans haven’t even seen all of the stars, yet! Although God is “great,” “mighty in power,” infinite in “understanding,” He compassionately “lifts up the humble,” but does not do the same for “the wicked.”

    Verse 7: Praise should be sung, and the instruments of David left behind, for the only instrument that should accompany worship singing today is “your heart” (Ephesians 5:19).

    Verses 8-11: The Earth follows God’s physical rules, as those who “fear Him” follow His spiritual rules: from cloud coverings come rain; from rain comes grass on mountains; from grass (greenery) comes food for beasts and ravens asking. God’s pleasure is not in the strength of horses or men’s legs, but “in those who hope in His mercy.”

    Verse 12: Israel, whose capital of Jerusalem, was also its’ worship center, Zion, is alerted to “praise your God.”

    Verses 13-18: A God-blessed nation has: 1) strong “bars” of its “gates.” Aren’t we talking about keeping out illegal immigrants, outsiders who corrupt, and disguised terrorists? A godless society has no limits! 2) blessed “children,” and this is not discussing their toys, games, sports, or other distractions, but genuine faith. 3) internal “peace,” and this is not with martial law, or a police state, but citizens with faithful obedience to God’s moral Law; 4) abundant harvest, because God has made the land cooperate and bless (Acts 14:14-17). It is by God’s Command that the Earth is blessed with: “snow,” “frost,” “hail,” “cold,” “melting,” blowing wind, and flowing water!

    Verses 19-20: God gave the Israelites (including Jews!) the advantage of “His Word,” including His “statutes” and “judgments.” That Word should have lead them all the way to Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 4:5; Leviticus 26:40-46; Malachi 4:4; Galatians 3:7-29). No other nation ever had that advantage of specific written revelation through prophets, and yet when Jesus came, “although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him” (John 12:37). Paul asked the question: “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:1-4). God had given the Jews the advantage of having His Word first. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Having God’s Word, knowing it, and obeying it is our advantage, today. Jesus said: “For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother” (Mark 3:35).

    “Praise the LORD” or “Hallelujah!”

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:01 am on May 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 146 What Has God Done For Me, Lately? 

    These last 5 Psalms are called “Hallelujah Psalms” because they begin and end with that expression: “Praise – Jehovah,” or “Hallelujah.” The author, date, and setting of each Psalm is undetermined, but their acceptance is unquestioned.

    Verses 1-4 urge when God should be praised;

    Verses 5-10 explain why God should be praised.

    Verses 1-4: Praise should be given to God “while I live.” Duh! This is a statement of the obvious. The Word of God nowhere encourages anyone to not praise God until after death. Trust should not be transferred from God to “princes” (government leaders) or “a son of man” (humans in general), for deliverance. The middle verse of the entire Word of God says this: “It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8). Humans die when the spirit goes back to God and the body is left on earth (Ecclesiastes 12:7), so that “in that very day his plans perish.”

    Verses 5-10: “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, because He:

    1. Is The God over History (verse 5), Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel” (Genesis 32:24-30), and God watched over those people (Isaiah 48) through the coming of Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Galatians 3:5-29);

    2. Is The God over Creation (verse 6), which shows absolute, total wisdom in its very existence and orderliness (Proverbs 8:12, 22-31). All scientific factual discoveries, whether in Physics, Biology, or Chemistry are simply the uncovering of God’s Wisdom behind this World’s constitution;

    3. Is The God over Justice (verse 7), evening the suppression or oppression of the hungry and imprisoned (Luke 4:16-41);

    4. Is The God over Perfecting the Needy (verse 8), with physical healing through Jesus Christ (Matthew 15:30; Luke 13:11-13), then spiritually through His Word (Acts 26:12-19). God loves the righteous, those who do His will (1 Peter 3:8-12);

    5. Is The God over Benevolence (verse 9), for He has always made rules for His people to help strangers, orphans, and widows (Exodus 22:21; Hebrews 13:2; Psalm 68:4-5; James 1:27);

    6. Is The God over Eternity (verse 10, a quotation of Exodus 15:18), Who is timeless (Isaiah 57:15; Acts 15:18).  

    “Praise the LORD.”   

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version,  unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:03 am on May 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , faith, , , , , servant of God,   

    Psalm 143 What If The Spirit Is Not Willing? 

    This Psalm of David tells us what to expect of life before death! Living for God in a hostile world is not easy but requires trust in God and a strong faith in His Word.

    Verses 1-2 give the plea;

    Verses 3-8 detail the spiritual struggle within;

    Verses 9-12 ask for spiritual awakening.

    Verses 1-2: “Prayer” is speaking to God, “supplication” is to ask of God. “Prayer and supplication” are often connected in Scripture (1 Kings 8:37-40; Philippians 4:6). Without repentance and forgiveness, no human would be acceptable to God. No one is acceptable to God who: says they are (Luke 18:9-14); thinks they obey (Matthew 7:21-23); confesses no sin (1 John 1:8-10); works wickedness (Psalm 101:3-4); hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:15).

    Verses 3-8: Enemies, in persecuting our souls, may make us feel “crushed,” surrounded in darkness, lifeless and overwhelmed. Reading and meditating on the Word of God helps us “remember” God’s help in the past. “Meditate” is the focus on God’s “Works,” “musing” is thinking through His Way, spreading out one’s hands is to show God we hold nothing back from our obedience. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). When we feel our spirit fail, an alarming thought is that God would turn away from us, thus Jesus cried out from the cross: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus was taking our place on the cross (1 Peter 3:18). If we will remember God’s “lovingkindness,” then our “trust” in Him who has shown us “the way in which I should walk” will “lift up my soul to You.”

    Verses 9-12: David asks God to “deliver” him from enemies, “teach” him to do God’s will, and “lead” all the way into “the land of uprightness.” God’s “Spirit is good,” so Christians should “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). A soul delivered from trouble is a soul “revived.” God is merciful to His Servants – anyone may become a “servant of God.” Daniel was spared in a den of lions because he was a “servant of the living God” (Daniel 6:20).

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 10:00 am on May 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , cave, , , faith, , , , , prison,   

    Psalm 142 From the Depth of Despair 

    This Psalm of David may well have been written from the cave of Adullam, while King Saul pursued him to kill him (1 Samuel 22:1).

    Verses 1-3 picture the “caveman” mindset;

    Verses 4-7 show the difference between refuge and prison.

    Verses 1-3: “Cry out” indicates his desperate situation, “supplication” is a prayer presenting a problem to God, but asking for help with it. David’s “complaint” is not with God, but a presentation of his “trouble” that he would “pour out.” David’s “spirit was overwhelmed within” him, more than once (Psalm 61:2; 77:3; 143:4). This perfectly expresses what we all feel like sometimes when life is too much to handle! Jesus shows how not to let this get to us. “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:3).

    Verses 4-7: Before David’s men gathered to him, he knew “no one who acknowledges” him, his insecurity noted that “refuge has failed” him. In complete despair, he said: “No one cares for my soul.” Jesus reached this moment, for on His way to the cross, “they all forsook Him and fled” (Mark 14:50). Paul had this moment, for he said: “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me” (2 Timothy 4:16). The common thread woven through these faithful men is the LORD never left them: David “cried out to You, O LORD” (Psalm 142:5); “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46); “the Lord stood with me and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17). God was David’s “portion in the land of the living.” As long as David was alive, God was with him. When “persecutors” seem “stronger than I,” never forget God, for He never forgets us. Life can become our “prison,” but once released from this “very low” time, we are freed to “praise” God, and enjoy the fellowship of the “righteous” who “shall surround” us. God abundantly blesses those faithful to Him. Joseph was released from a dungeon through God’s gift of interpretation of dreams (Genesis 39-41); Samson through his renewed covenant strength (Judges 16:21-31); Jesus releases people from their prison of sin (Isaiah 42:5-7; Luke 4:14-21); the Apostles were set free to preach Jesus (Acts 5:17-25). Everyone who remains faithful to God in whatever prison they find themselves, must learn they are not alone.

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:02 am on April 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , faith, , , , , , , snares, traps, , ,   

    Psalm 141 Shut My Mouth 

    This Psalm of David could have originated at one of several times in his life, so the historical background is not definitely set, but it clearly is similar to other of his Psalms.

    Verses 1-2 appeal to God to hear this prayer;

    Verses 3-4 concerned with one’s words;

    Verse 5-concerned with one’s thoughts;

    Verses 5c-7 concerned with one’s bones;

    Verses 8-10 concerned with one’s eyes.

    Verses 1-2: To “cry out” expresses immediate need(s). For prayer to be “set before” God “as incense” (Exodus 30:1-10), helps us see that when Moses’ Law was taken out of the way by the cross of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:14-16), Christian prayers ascend before God instead of incense (Revelation 5:8).

    Verses 3-4: It is not asking for God to choose our words, but knowing we have called attention to the problem we have with wrong words should keep us more keenly aware (Matthew 12:34-37). “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26). “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). In fact, David realizes, to avoid sin, we must not lean toward “any evil thing,” “practice wicked works,” associate with evil workers, or commonly associate with sinners. This progression into sin is similar to Psalm 1.

    Verse 5: If we find ourselves heading in the wrong direction, the rebuke of a righteous person should bring us back to spirituality. “Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed” (Proverbs 27:5). “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

    Verses 5c-7: Our prayers should be not only for us to be strong, but for the wicked to be blunted and weakened. “Judges” are their leaders, but “sweet” “words” of a prayerful appeal to God can see them taken down. Their damage, however, may break up God’s people as if physical bodies had been plowed under!

    Verses 8-10: “Eyes,” rightly focused on the goal, must not be misled. Once a person has been buried in the water of baptism into Jesus’ death (and not before), and raised to a new life with Him (Romans 6:3-5), they are saved (1 Peter 3:21). “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3). By obeying God and following Jesus Christ, God will “keep” (avoid sin, 1 John 3:6) a Christian from the “snares” and “traps” the wicked continually provide. It was the partial obedience of the Israelites in cleaning the wicked nations out of the Promised Land, that God warned they would become “snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you” (Joshua 23:13). “Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them” (Proverbs 22:5). David did not pray out of vengeance or hatred, but simply that God let “the wicked fall into their own nets” and he be allowed to “escape.” When the wicked are treated with their own wickedness is not only just, it is fair for the righteous. “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him” (Proverbs 26:27). A rolling stone may not gather moss, but often it punishes the ones who started it rolling!

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 3:52 am on April 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , evil men, faith, , , , , , violent men, vipers   

    Psalm 140 Deliver Me From Evil 

    A Psalm of David that recognizes how evil surrounds someone trying to live right. Paranoia involves fear without facts – this Psalm, however, deals with facts that give ample reason to be aware and careful! “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Peter 3:17).

    Verses 1-5 pray for preservation from evil men;

    Verses 6-7 reassert confidence in God;

    Verses 8-11 pray for persecution on the wicked;

    Verses 12-13 remind the upright of their reward.

    Verses 1-5: God is asked to “Deliver me” “from evil men; “Preserve me from violent men;” “Keep me” “from the hands of the wicked.” Jesus taught His disciples to pray “do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). “Evil men” are those who: plan it in their hearts; gather for war; hone their tongues like serpents; speak venomously. Psalm 140:3 is quoted in Romans 3:13 to help describe sinners in need of Jesus Christ. Little wonder that John the Baptist (Luke 3:7), then Jesus (Matthew 12:34; 23:33), called their generation of Jews a “brood of vipers.” “The wicked” are those determined to “make my steps stumble;’’ hidden a snare to tie me up; “spread a net;” “set traps,” all designed to stop a faithful person from being faithful!

    Verses 6-7: David’s God hears his supplication, provides strength to save, and protects his head in battle.

    Verses 8-11: If the wicked are unpunished, their pride swells. Solomon would later say: “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). David’s prayer is that: their evil words are turned back upon them; they are consumed by fire; their slander goes unproven; evil men fight it out with the violent men! Worldly people “slander” the message of salvation: “For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come?’–as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just” (Romans 3:7-8). “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18).

    Verses 12-13: Regardless of the opposition, God will prevail on behalf of the “afflicted,” giving “justice for the poor,” being thanked by the righteous, and receiving the upright to “dwell” in His presence.

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:17 am on April 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Babylon, , , , faith, , , , , ,   

    Psalm 137 What 70 Years of Regret Did 

    Because of their horrendous sins, God’s people (both Northern Israel and Southern Judah) were violently removed from their Promised Land for 70 years (2 Kings 17:5-23; 2 Chronicles 36:15-23). This Psalm was clearly written to express the Israelites’ sense of loss and regret while in Babylon, and their anticipation of revenge which God would bring against the Babylonians. That “payback” came at the hands of Cyrus, king of Persia, who then caused the Israelites to return and rebuild their Holy City, Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Jeremiah 50:18-32).

    Verses 1-6 state the woeful lesson learned;

    Verses 7-9 give the somber belief that God repays “in kind” (Jeremiah 50:29).

    Verses 1-6: Being “by the rivers of Babylon” instead of their Jordan River was a constant reminder of why they were in Babylon. Those rivers included the Tigris and Euphrates, Chebar (Ezekiel 1:3), and the Ulai (Daniel 8:2). Israelite sorrow was so deep they “wept” when they thought about destroyed Jerusalem; “hung [their] harps” because there was nothing to sing about, even though their captors requested a song; and prayed for their “right hand” become useless and “tongue” stick to the “roof of” their mouth, if they tried to forget their “chief joy” should be in Jerusalem.

    Verses 7-9: Israel was descended from Jacob, and his twin, Esau, became known as “Edom” (Genesis 25:30; 36:1). “Edom,” thus was a name for non-Israelites, or “nations” in the Old Testament and “Gentiles” in the New Testament. The Babylonians who had destroyed Jerusalem are represented by the term “sons of Edom” and specifically, “daughter of Babylon” whom God was going to destroy at the time of this Psalm. That destruction has already taken place, and a lingering prophecy still affects that place today. “Babylon” is modern Iraq, and the first “Gulf War” was fought when Saddam Hussein declared he would excavate ancient Babylon and bring it back to its former glory. God had decreed otherwise: “’Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the LORD; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation’” (Jeremiah 25:12; also see Jeremiah 51:24-26, 59-64).  (Psalm 137: 8-9) These verses reflect what God promised would happen to Babylon: “’Let the violence done to me and my flesh be upon Babylon,’ The inhabitant of Zion will say; ‘And my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea!’ Jerusalem will say” (Jeremiah 51:35). Babylon’s bloodshed of innocent children in Jerusalem was repaid in kind when the Persians did the same to Babylonian babies.

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • Eugene Adkins 6:20 am on April 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: faith, , , head knowledge, , , , , Matters of the Faith,   

    Feelings Don’t Tell the Whole Story 

    Many people rely solely upon how they feel when it comes to their relationship with God and the salvation that is offered through Jesus. Feelings alone work no better than faith alone! One may say that’s not true, but I ask have you not read:

    So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him.” (Genesis 27:22-23 – NKJV)

    What did Isaac rely upon in this situation? He relied upon his feelings! He knew the voice didn’t match, but he chose to rely upon the sense that could be tricked instead of the sense that knew better.

    I don’t know about you but I’ve sat in Isaac’s shoes before. I still find myself in Isaac’s shoes from time to time when it comes to making an important decision. I may want to do this, but I know that. I want to have hope in something or someone, but I find that the facts get in the way. Feelings and facts don’t have to be opposed, but when we choose feelings over facts we choose the opposite of what we should.

    In matters of the faith it matters what we rely upon. Doing what’s right in our eyes doesn’t always equate to doing what’s right in the eyes of God. If we were more willing to allow the facts of the faith to shape our feelings about faith then maybe our feelings about the faith wouldn’t try to change the facts (Romans 1:16-17, Galatians 1:6-9, Jude 3).

    Why do we have the word of God to read? It’s because feelings don’t tell the whole story – the gospel does!

    For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 – NKJV)

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  • John T. Polk II 4:36 am on April 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , faith, , , , , , , true tabernacle, true worship,   

    Psalm 134 What Worship Is For 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-2 call for worship of the LORD;

    Verse 3 gives a blessing of worship.

    Verses 1-2: “Behold” is often useful in calling attention to: God’s covenant with earth (Genesis 9:9-11); God’s presence in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-3); God’s sweeping judgment against Egypt (Isaiah 19:1-4); God placing the foundation stone “in Zion” (Isaiah 28:16) which was Jesus Christ (Acts 4:10-12); and John the Baptist’s identification of Jesus as the Christ (John 1:19-36). (Verse 1) It points to the purpose of worship: to “bless the LORD.” “Then David said to all the assembly, ‘Now bless the LORD your God.’ So all the assembly blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the LORD and the king” (1 Chronicles 29:20). True worship is “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24), offered by “servants of the LORD” who are diligent to see that worship continues even “by night.” (Verse 2) Lifting up our hands before God, whether physically or mentally, signifies our openness of heart for His “glory” (Psalm 28:2; 63:4; 119:48; 134:2; 1 Timothy 2:8). “The sanctuary” was the sacred building used for worshipping God (Tabernacle, Numbers 3:38, then the Temple, 1 Chronicles 22:7-9). Today, it is the church of Christ: “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1-2); “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation” (Hebrews 9:11). A physical building is not a “sanctuary” today, but the sacred assembly is!

    Verse 3: “The LORD” (called Jehovah, Exodus 6:1-7) is also the Creator of “heaven and earth” (called Elohim, Genesis 1:1), and was known in Genesis as “Almighty God” (Genesis 17:1-2, El Shaddai; 2 Corinthians 6:18, Kurios Pantokrator), The All-sufficient One, source of all blessings. God blesses “from Zion,” then to the faithful worshippers under Moses, today through Jesus Christ: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:54 am on April 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , faith, , , , , , , , weaned child   

    Psalm 131 What It Means To “Grow Up” 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.” This Psalm is attributed to David, but also could have been written about David, for it seems to express his child-like humility before God.

    Verse 1 defines humility;

    Verse 2 describes contentment;

    Verse 3 distributes this among his countrymen.

    Verse 1: “LORD, my heart is not haughty.” Humility is not downgrading oneself, but accepting oneself in view of God. “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, And before honor is humility” (Proverbs 18:12). “By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4).

    “Nor my eyes lofty.” The way up is down, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Paul taught Christians “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:2). Moses was humble (Numbers 12:3), but God can: “Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted” (Ezekiel 21:26). Every person is a “creature” needing the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16).

    “Neither do I concern myself with great matters…Nor with things too profound for me.” “Great matters” are out of my control, and “profound” things are above my head. In other words, everything in this world doesn’t need everybody’s opinion! Facebook or Tweet that! This is not a “head-in-the-sand” approach to life, but a realization that all matters may not be our personal concern. Probably this verse is in the Law of Jesus Christ in Romans 12:16: “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.”

    Verse 2: “A weaned child” has made the transition from suckling to satisfied.  Comfort in the mother’s breast is no longer also the child’s sustaining food. “A weaned child” has learned that life is no longer dependent upon mother alone. The process of maturing has progressed. To be a Christian, one must be “converted and become as little children, [or else] you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Then spiritual progress in the faith is expressed by Peter: “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:1-3). Many who do not become Christians have refused the humility of repentance and baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Many of those who have become Christians have refused to be “weaned” from the “milk” of the Word of God. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14). Spiritual growth is stunted without study.

    Verse 3: “O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever.” This is a challenge for David’s brethren to move forward in their faith. The church of Christ is thus challenged: “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:3-5).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • Eugene Adkins 6:28 am on April 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , faith, , ,   

    A Wonderful Old Testament Passage About God’s Providence 

    The providence of God is an amazing Bible topic to study. It’s also an amazing work of God to see in our life. More often than not, God’s providence isn’t one of those things that we see coming, it’s something that we see going. This was the case in Joseph’s life when he told his brothers in Genesis 50.20:

    But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

    To say that Joseph had been through a lot in his life would be an extreme understatement, but how else would you describe it? Betrayed by his own brethren at the age of seventeen. Sold and carried into a foreign land only to find prosperity, but then the prosperity is dramatically taken away because of someone else who meant him evil. Finding himself captive, again, Joseph could have thrown away the key and given up on life, but prosperity came again due to God’s grace. Joseph wasn’t able to see it all but God was still opening doors, one of which was going to lead straight to the royal palace of Egypt through the mistakes of a chief baker and butler who angered the Pharaoh.

    To make a long story short, Joseph dreamed that one day his family would bow before him – that dream got him into trouble didn’t it? Or did it? I guess it did, but that dream also got him out of his native land and eventually into Egypt where he sat as a man with great authority over the house of a powerful Egyptian ruler at only thirty years of age! From a shepherd boy, to a slave, to a chief servant, to sitting in prison, to serving over the prison, to riding second in the Pharaoh’s entourage in only thirteen years and later being the savior of all of Egypt and his family. There’s so much more that could be said, but Joseph said it plain enough when he summed up what had happened by saying that his brothers’ actions meant to do him harm, but God’s plan turned it into good. And that’s why Genesis 50:20 is a wonderful Old Testament passage about God’s providence.

     
    • John Henson 1:57 pm on April 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Joseph went from being favored to enslaved to respected and to imprisoned and then to be lifted up.During it all he believed and held fast to Almighty God. Certainly, which is a wonderful example of God’s providence and the power of a faithful life!

      • Eugene Adkins 5:41 pm on April 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for commenting, John. You can definitely see the times when Joseph gave all the credit to God (Genesis 41:16) which shows that he hadn’t allowed his faith to fall by the way side, get chocked out or perish in the heat of the sun (think Luke 8 and the seed parable).

  • John T. Polk II 4:26 am on April 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , faith, , , , , , , ,   

    Psalm 127 Living in a Safe House 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.” This one is attributed to Solomon.

    Verses 1-2 describe a Safe House is the Lord’s House;

    Verses 3-5 describe a family in a Safe House.

    Verses 1-2: (Verse 1) Since this is credited to Solomon who had built God’s House (the Temple in Jerusalem, 1 Kings 5:1-5), this naturally fits. Moses’ “house” was the family of Israelites under Moses’ Law: “And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:5-6). Today the “household of God” (1 Timothy 3:15) is the church of Christ, thus the application would be that it is useless to establish any other church, or claim to be a part of the church of Christ, unless one goes all the way by obeying all of what God demands (Acts 2:36-47). Jesus said: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'” (Matthew 15:7-9). Since the “home” must be established upon the heterosexual love relationship in a marriage (Genesis 2:18-24; Matthew 19:4-6), then all attempts to build a family (house) based upon homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality is “in vain.” The same applies to Solomon’s Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:7-9), and every other city that has no foundation of faith in God! There is no purpose in building a house without God, and the sleepless watchman of a city is useless “unless the LORD guards the city.” There is no security in a church, home, or city, without God’s blessing. (Verse 2) It is “vain” (useless) to get up for work early, sit up late, suffering for food, when God is blessing. Diligence is good, as Solomon said: “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4).    Solomon also said: “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). Jesus, the wisest Man of all, said: “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).

    Verses 3-5: (Verse 3) There is no greater tribute to the blessing of a child than these verses. First, children are a “heritage” (inheritance) from God. There is no godly way to decide to have an abortion. The miniscule percentage of women whose lives would be in jeopardy should they birth the baby inside them in no way justifies the bloodthirsty, murderous, savage, brutal, sacrificing of human lives called “abortion.” (Verse 4) Second, children of our youthful years become a parent’s strength to endure, like arrows arming a warrior. Parents are people God is preparing to “take on” the struggle of life. (Verse 5) Third, the man should be “happy” because of his responsibility of fatherhood.  His children, unashamed by his duties common to man have his guidance that helps them to be able to take leadership in civic matters, as well. Good parenting affects the future, also.

    Thought:  Males who won’t commit to the responsibility of producing a child with their own marriage spouse, should never be given the opportunity by any female. Females who encourage or accept males as sires and not permanently married mates, are reducing child-bearing to an animal level. Having children without marriage is ugly, degrading, deceptive, and destructive, and should never be judged lightly.

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:13 am on April 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , faith, , reap in joy, sow in tears   

    Psalm 126 “Bring Back Our Captivity” 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-3 say even the world can see the effect of freedom;

    Verses 4-6 declare how fun life can be that’s free.

    Verses 1-3: (Verse 1) God had caused Israel/Judah to be removed from their Promised Land because of their gross sins (2 Chronicles 36:15-21), and when the promised time (70 years) was over, God caused Cyrus, king of Persia, to send them home (Jeremiah 25:1-14; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-11), and it was too good to believe. (Verses 2-3) When they came around, their rejoicing was heard throughout the countries where they had ended up. They were praising God for He “has done great things for us.” How great is seen in that God had three kings who worshipped idols do His bidding: Shalmaneser king of Assyria; Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; Cyrus king of Persia!

    Verses 4-6: (Verse 4) People often need the motivation given by remembering their former way and how much progress they have made from then. “Bring back our captivity” is simply saying, “Remind us of how bad our fathers were and what blessings are ours today.” When torrential rains fall, “the streams in the South” are filled to overflowing, and so it is when God blesses, like those filled banks, its often more than we can stand. (Verses 5-6) Through the pains of punishment, the harvest is joy; so the plagued consciences “sow in tears,” or don’t think their labors will find reward, only to be abundantly blessed by God with “seed for sowing.” Every harvest has the seeds of the next crop in it. To have been restored to their land after 70 years, prompted their faith to harvest the “sheaves,” once planted. Christians were taught this when Paul wrote: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: ‘He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.’ Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:8-10).

    Thought: The sinners who don’t believe God can save them have greater joy when finally humbled at the cross of Jesus Christ: Jesus on earth spoke them forgiven (Luke 7:36-50), but since He returned to Heaven, He authorizes their forgiveness upon proper obedience (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41). There is reason to rejoice when sins are forgiven: in heaven (Luke 15:7, 10, 32), and on earth (Acts 8:35-39).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted

     
  • Eugene Adkins 6:48 am on April 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , faith, , , , Trusting Jesus   

    Trusting Jesus’ Judgment 

    Trusting Jesus’ judgment and facing His judgment are two different things. Facing Jesus will be mandatory (2 Corinthians 5:10), but trusting Jesus before we find ourselves in judgment is a decision we must make on our own. Why should we trust Jesus’ judgment? John 2:23-25 says:

    Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”

    Among all the things that the disciples were going to have to learn about Jesus, they were going to have to learn about trusting His judgment. Jesus knows why certain individuals, objects, situations, thoughts and decisions shouldn’t be trusted. He sees things in a way that goes beyond our limited sight, but are we willing to trust what He sees?

    Jesus says certain things must be done to be pleasing to God, but do we trust His judgment? Jesus says unless we repent of our sins we’ll perish, but do we trust His judgment? Jesus says that marriage is between a man and a woman and it’s meant to be for life, but do we trust His judgment? Jesus says the interior must be dealt with before the exterior, but do we trust His judgment? Jesus says the merciful and the meek will have far greater rewards than what the world has to offer, but do we trust His judgment? Jesus says that self-righteousness will leave us void of His righteousness, but do we trust His judgment? Jesus says there is no way to the Father other than Him, but do we trust His judgment? Jesus says He will be the one to divide the nations as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, but do we trust His judgment? At that point will trust really have anything to do with it???

    Jesus doesn’t have to be introduced to us. He already knows us. He knows our name. He knows our situation. He knows why we won’t come to Him as well as why we do come to Him. Every heart is an open resume with Jesus, a resume that can’t be changed or altered to make us appear to be someone we’re not.

    Trusting Jesus’ judgment goes beyond the things that I have mentioned, but just mentioning His judgment is enough to find out what our judgment about Jesus is.

    Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

     
  • Eugene Adkins 8:30 am on April 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , faith, , , , ,   

    THE WAY PEOPLE TALK by Winfred Clarke 

    Here’s a good little bulletin article that actually has a sermon outline for Nehemiah mixed in. I got it from the Montrose Church of Christ which is in a neighboring county. I thought some of you might find it useful.

    THE WAY PEOPLE TALK

    Most of us are aware that people are going to talk. Men are going to have their say about things. That doesn’t mean that what they say will always be right, but they are going to talk.

    What is said by people is an indication of what is in the heart, for it is out of the “abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” So it behooves us to be sure that we say what we ought to say in spite of what people in general may say.

    You will see the importance of this in the book of Nehemiah. In the fourth chapter, you will find that which “Judah said,” that which the “adversaries said,” and what Nehemiah “said.” So here are at least three cases of people talking. But a great deal is learned from this as we see the “way people talk.”

    Remember that Nehemiah has returned from captivity and had undertaken the task of repairing the walls of the city of Jerusalem for such was “broken down” (Neh. 1:3). The job of restoration was underway as one group after another was given an assignment. As you read chapter three, you will see that one group would be working in one place, and the “next unto them” would be another. This is found time and again in this chapter. Look at verses 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 of chapter three, and you will note this.  In the midst of all this activity, one will find people talking. What sort of voices will you hear?

    I. THERE IS THE VOICE OF DOUBT

    Listen to those of Judah as they say, “The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall” (Neh. 4:10).

    This is equal to saying “we can’t.” That means they would reach a point where they will just stop and not try. They would not put forth the effort that it would take for them to move through the rubbish. They would see it as insurmountable.

    How often have we heard these voices that would say, “it cannot be done,” but all we had to do was look around, and somebody was doing what some said could not be done. Yes, people will talk about those things that cannot be done, but they can be done.

    II. THERE IS THE VOICE OF DEFIANCE

    Notice, “And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease (Neh. 4:11).

    Here are people who are avowed enemies of the project being undertaken. They are not about to stand aside and allow this work to go unhindered. They will oppose it with all their might. This is nothing new, for the Devil has always opposed that which God would have done. His methods may vary, but he will oppose good works one way or the other.

    III. THERE IS THE VOICE OF DETERMINATION

    After the voices of those of Judah and the adversaries had been heard, there was need that Nehemiah speak. Somebody ought to say something that would boost the work. Somebody ought to be able to see something good. This is where the leadership of Nehemiah comes to the fore. It is said, “And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your house’s (Neh. 4:14).

    Nehemiah was not about to stand back and allow this good work to be destroyed. He is not about to allow those within and without to stop such an effort.

    It would indeed have been a sad day for the cause if he had not risen to offer encouragement. Suppose he had taken to bashing the work they were doing. You would never find good men involved in any such talk as this.

    Be it to the credit of Nehemiah, that in spite of what others would say, the work would go on and succeed. So will it ever be.

    Periodicals and Bulletins, Winfred Clarke

     
  • Larry Miles 7:58 pm on April 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2 Timothy, faith   

    An Example of a Sincere Faith 

    The Word of God tells  us   of many   men and  women of faith. We read about how they  put their faith into action.  Serving  God requires  action on our  part. If we are willing to  accept the Lord Jesus as  our  Savior and obey the Gospel by being  “buried with Him in baptism,”  God had promised that  our  sins will be  remitted and we will receive the “Gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

    We  must  want to  grow “in the grace and  knowledge of the Lord Jesus.” The Lord has promised to  equip His  followers  for  service.  We  must  put  our faith into action and  be “doers of the Word and not  hearers only.” We must desire to grow spiritually.

    We  must endeavor  to have a  faith that is real, a faith that is  active and ongoing. The  Apostle Paul had that  kind of  faith and he shared the importance of that faith with Timothy, as well as others.  Paul never ceased to encourage Timothy. I’m sure  he learned that, in part, from Barnabus, who is  called “the son of encouragement.”

    Faith, like other characteristics of  believers  is meant to  grow. All of us are at  different  places  in our  spiritual pilgrimage.  Paul in 1 &  2nd Timothy  is attempting to  encourage Timothy and get  him to build upon his  faith in Jesus. In the  2nd  Epistle, Paul who is in prison  in Rome  awaiting  execution knows that this is   last  chance  to write to Timothy. He   wants Timothy to come to  Rome; we  do not know  if he  made it.

    In  2 Timothy  1:3-5 we have Paul reminding Timothy of the  heritage  he has in Christ. He  first  tells him that he  is  praying for him.  Secondly, he reminds Timothy of his spiritual heritage.  Timothy was  blessed to have  a  faithful grandmother and mother.

    Paul tells  Timothy  that  he  is confident of the  faith of Lois and Eunice and that  he  believe that  kind of  faith is  present in  Timothy also.  Paul calls it a “sincere” faith (ESV). The  NKJV uses the  word “genuine,” while  the  ASV uses  “unfeigned.”

    Denny Petrillo, President of Bear Valley Bible  Institute of Denver, in a  series of  expository  lessons  on  2 Timothy given at the 2012 “Re Charge Me Conference” in Monterey, CA explained “sincere faith” in the  following  manner.   “It is a  faith that is  present, even in the dark. It is a  24/7 faith. His faith is the   ‘real deal.’”

    It seems, according  to 2 Timothy 1:6-7 that Timothy’s  faith  may have  been weakening. Paul admonishes  him to “fan into flame” (ESV) or “kindle afresh” (NASB1977).  We  must always  be growing  in Jesus, using what  He  has   given to  equip us  for  service. We must take  advantage of all the Lord has  for us.

    If we have the “sincere faith” Paul  mentions  here, we will be  able  to live an  abundant life in the Lord  Jesus and  help others  to the  same, thus living out our faith as the Lord Jesus  told us in  Matthew 5:16: “In the  same way, let your light shine before  others, so that they may see your good works and give glory  to your Father who is in Heaven.

    Having a  “sincere or genuine faith” means  putting Jesus first and living out our faith.

     

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:11 am on April 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , faith, , , , ,   

    Psalm 123 What Shall I Do, Lord? 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verse 1 directs our eyes;

    Verse 2 directs our obedience;

    Verse 3 directs our hearts;

    Verse 4 directs our pleas.

    Verse 1: Since “heavens” means upper expanse, whenever we need to look for God, we must “lift up our eyes.” Jesus, as God, now is “dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). Morally, to “see God” is to see the effects of His Will in the obedient heart. Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Peter taught how a heart becomes pure: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:22-23). John added: “He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).

    Verse 2: It is not enough just to “look” for God, but it must be with a humble heart: “as” the servant’s eyes look in anticipation of what the master desires to be done; “as” the maid looks for whatever detail she may provide for her mistress’s satisfaction; “so” we look toward God for instruction. Our eagerness to obey Him prompts His willingness to extend “mercy” to us! He, however, has already given all of His instruction in His Book “once for all” (Jude 3). No one should look toward God without seeing Jesus in His Word: “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:9-10).

    Verses 3-4: We keenly feel the need for God’s “mercy” because we are “exceedingly filled” with “the contempt of the proud.” These are the people who, Jesus said, “this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause’” (John 15:25). Jesus had also taught: “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20).

    Thought: It is pitiful to see people “look up to:” Gandhi, Marx, Einstein, Darwin, Mohammed, “the Pope,” a pastor, ancestors, a teacher, philosophers, or gurus but look down on (denigrate) Jesus Christ! Truth is entirely the other way: “we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:23-25). We quote the statements that have influenced us the most: Do we quote Jesus Christ above all?

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:47 am on April 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , faith, , keeper, keeps, , , , ,   

    Psalm 121 Who Is Our “Keeper?” 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-2 raise a cardinal point of faith;

    Verses 3-8 reassure the believer that God is the Keeper.

    Verses 1-2: (Verse 1) The Temple in Jerusalem was on “the hills,” so it would be natural for an Israelite to look that way for help. So commonly was this believed,even the Syrians said: “The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys” (1 Kings 20:28). Then the question is asked: “From whence comes my help?” (Verse 2) The believer knew then (as now) that “my help” is “from the LORD” and no one else! “LORD” represents the Hebrew name “Jehovah” who identified Himself to Moses (Exodus 3:11-15), and also was the Creator of “heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1). The belief that the Creator and the Israelite God are different is a false belief.

    Verses 3-8: (Verse 3) God doesn’t allow the foot to slip back into continuous sin as the believer obeys His Word (1 John 3:6). That God provides for believers to falter from time to time is evident from 1 John 1:6-2:5. (Verse 4) The Keeper of Israel (under Moses’ Law) will not “slumber” nor “sleep,” there being little, if any, difference in the two. God is clearly not a sluggard (Proverbs 6:9-11)! (Verses 5-6) God is the cooling “shade,” protecting from harsh rays of the sun and dangers that come under the “moon.” God works 24/7 on behalf of His people. Today He calls His people “Christians” (Acts 11:26) who have been baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-29). (Verse 7) God “keeps” His people from “evil.” This is not a promise to protect them from what evil-doers may do to them, but keep them from regular evil desires and practices. By their obedience to His Word, He keeps their “souls” from being lost (today is through Jesus’ death, Romans 6:1-14). (Verse 8) God “keeps” the way the obedient will go free for coming and going (daily life) “from this time forth.” Jesus echoed this promise of security in the incident in Luke 11:27-28: “And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!’ But He said, ‘More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Luke 11:27-28)

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version,  unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:15 am on April 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 120 God Hears When the World is Saying Wrong Things 

    There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”

    Verses 1-4 contrast God’s listening to help, and our having to listen to others;

    Verses 5-7 state how hard it is to live among war-mongers.

    Verses 1-4: (Verse 1) God hears our cries from distress. Jacob said God had done so (Genesis 35:3); David said God had (2 Samuel 22:7); Paul said distress cannot “separate us from the love of Christ” (Romans 8:35). (Verse 2) Integrity, trust, faith, dependability all are ruined by “lying lips” and a “deceitful tongue.” “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight” (Proverbs 12:22). Having a “deceitful tongue” is responsible for destroying the credibility of gossips, talebearers, editorial writers, propaganda press, factory fables, and many others. (Verse 3) There will be a judgment against a “false tongue.” “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). (Verse 4) Whoever said “words can never hurt me” wasn’t familiar with this verse. Words can pierce like “sharp arrows of the warrior,” and burn like “coals of the broom tree.” “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:2-8).

    Verses 5-7: (Verse 5) Little is certain of these places, “Meshech” (slave traders, Ezekiel 27:13) and “Kedar” (wanderers, Isaiah 21:16-17), but they represent the hostile environment many people experience, even today. (Verses 6-7) Patience and longsuffering can wear us down or wear us out when we are mis-matched with polar opposites on a subject like “war” and “peace.” There is “a time of war, And a time of peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:8), however “wisdom is better than weapons of war; But one sinner destroys much good” (Ecclesiastes 9:18). The wise can avoid war, but the foolish advocate it and their foreign policies depend upon it! Christians are not waging carnal war against their enemies (2 Corinthians 10:2-6). “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:24 am on March 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 119:169-176 Tau Speaking to God – Hearing His Word 

    It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.

    Psalm 119:169-176  Tau                       Speaking to God – Hearing His Word

    Verses 169-172 give the connection from my mouth to God’s ear;

    Verses 173-176 summarize God’s blessings from the Word.

    Verses 169-172: (Verse 169) The only concern expressed is that the believer will be heard; the only thing asked for with this “cry” is for “understanding,” is this not what Solomon later will do? (1 Kings 3:5-14) (Verse 170) “Supplication” is presenting sincere needs and asking that something be done; “deliverance” is the blessing asked for that is described in God’s Word. (Verse 171) Coming from “my lips” indicates a heart full of lessons from God’s “statutes” (words marking out the right way). Jesus later would say: “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34-35). (Verse 172) Just as a healthy tree bursts forth with signs of life; a bird sings when it shares its life; a flower shares its color and fragrance; a believer full of the “righteousness” of God’s “commands” cannot be silent. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:16-17).

    Verses 173-176: (Verse 173) Choosing God’s “precepts” (words that superintend our way) will cause a believer to reach out for God’s leadership. (Verse 174) “Longing” (continuing desire) for God’s “salvation,” means the method of obtaining it is a “delight.” Wanting to be saved is not enough, a person must enjoy obeying God to reach for it. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:21-22). Since baptism into Christ is the moment of salvation (1 Peter 3:21), it is a delightful response for one who longs to be saved. (Verse 175) Knowing how perfect God’s “judgments” have always been, the soul blessed by God with physical and spiritual life “praises” God for all of these. (Verse 176) All of us can, and probably will, “go astray” by wandering off “like a lost sheep.” Most of us sin without intending to violate God’s Will, but by simply becoming too focused upon what we are doing at the time, and not paying attention to what should be important. God “seeks” “servants,” in other words, those who seek Him. “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25). “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

    Thought: By using different words to convey facets of God’s Word, its brilliance is better than any gemstone, diamond, or other precious jewelry. Psalm 119 shows that the Word of God is not a “dead book,” but bursting with life that brings to life any soul that has been numbed, deadened, or abused by the world. God’s Word brings from us a zest for life, enjoyment of life, and praise for the Giver of life!

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
    • preachercarter 10:34 am on March 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Your closing statement rings very true. God’s Word is not dead rather His Word (that is the personification of God) lives in all that choose to honour His, well, Word.

    • John T. Polk II 11:39 am on March 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for your agreement. Truly, Jesus Christ is the Word of God in the flesh Who has shown all men what it means to follow Him (Titus 2:11-12; Mark 16:15-16). Feel free to visit our church website for further Bible studies. Please contact me if you have any questions or comments.

  • John T. Polk II 4:19 am on March 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 119:161-168 Shin God’s Awesome Word 

    It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.

    Psalm 119:161-168 Shin                                 God’s Awesome Word

    Verses 161-165 show what effect God’s awesome Word has;

    Verses 166-168 show what a soul does who sees how awesome God’s Word is.

    Verses 161-165: (Verse 161) Those in authority may persecute a believer “without a cause,” otherwise known as religious persecution. The “higher ups” may include governments, judges, presidents, dictators, teachers, professors, or bosses, but the heart that “stands in awe of” God’s “word” cannot be downcast. (Verse 162) The believer “rejoices” (delights, thrills) in God’s Word, as if finding “great treasure.” Solomon used this point: “My son, keep my words, And treasure my commands within you” (Proverbs 7:1). Jesus used this point: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). (Verse 163) When we “love” God’s “law” (which truthfully points to the straightway), then we “hate and abhor lying,” whether it comes through hypocrisy, false doctrines, lack of integrity, business, politics or conversation. (Verse 164) “Seven times a day” doesn’t refer to a specific number, but symbolizes how completely one is willing to “praise” God because of His “righteous judgments” (all His decisions are absolutely right!). (Verse 165) Those who love God’s “law” (as in verse 163) have “great peace” (serenity, calmness, Philippians 4:6-7) and “nothing” can make them “stumble.” “I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, And when you run, you will not stumble” (Proverbs 4:11-12).

    Verses 166-168: (Verse 166) Because of the awesome contents of God’s Word, we know we are able to “do” His “commandments,” and “hope for” His “salvation.” (Verse 167) God’s “testimonies” (history of His dealing with man) make it plain that what He expects of us is do-able, and loveable. God’s awesome Word demonstrates His love for us, and can produce love from us in return. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8-9). This is between “my soul” and God because His Word does open heart surgery (Hebrews 4:12). (Verse 168) God’s “precepts” highlight what is right, His “testimonies” show that He has always been right, therefore we may safely place our lives in His hands. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:22 am on March 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 119:153-160 Resh “Considerate Faith” 

    It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.

    Psalm 119:153-160  Resh                              “Considerate Faith”

    Verses 153-155 appeal for God to consider a believers’ personal effort;

    Verses 156-158 appeal for God to recognize a believer’s personal devotion;

    Verses 159-160 appeal for God to see a believer’s personal heart.

    Verses 153-155: (Verse 153) God is considerate (Nehemiah 9:32-33). “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Surely we did not know this,’ Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not  render to each man according to his deeds?” (Proverbs 24:11-12) God “considers” both the obedient and the disobedient. God considers the “affliction” of one who does “not forget” His “law” (words pointing the straight path), and “delivers.” (Verse 154) Believers who sin (1 John 1:6-2:3) must have representation before God, Who will “redeem” (apply the price for) and “revive” (refresh, renew the effort) them. (Verse 155) “Statutes” (words tracing out right) keep clear who is “wicked,” because they do not seek them, but the “righteous” are mindful of them. “Salvation” is kept far from “the wicked” (Mark 16:15-16).

    Verses 156-158: (Verse 156) God is the Father of “mercies” (2 Corinthians 1:3) which motivate Christians to become living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). His “mercies” (plural) are both “Great” (in forgiving the penitent) and “tender” (in helping the penitent), and Christians should imbed these (Colossians 4:12). (Verse 157) Christians cannot expect the same from “the wicked,” who become “persecutors” (with verbal taunting, physical abuse, or social ostracizing) and “enemies” (adversaries like Satan). “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:3-5). (Verse 158) Those who “do not keep” God’s Word become “treacherous” (and should be avoided, Ephesians 5:11-13) and are “disgusted” (abhorred, loathed, like Lot, 2 Peter 2:7-8) by the faithful.

    Verses 159-160: (Verse 159) While God is “considering” wicked hearts, His “precepts” (words that highlight what’s right) also “revive” a loving heart with His “lovingkindness.” “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). (Verse 160) Total confidence in God is produced by studying “the entirety” of God’s Word, for it is always “truth” and “every one” of His “judgments” are right, “forever.”

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
    • J. Randal Matheny 6:11 am on March 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Jer 9.23-24 is one of my favorite passages and makes a great commentary here on this section of Psa 119.

      V. 156 is fascinating in NET: “Your compassion is great, O Lord. Revive me, as you typically do!” (See the site for the reason behind the translation choice; what is often translation “laws” here is apparently “customs.”) The rendering is not only a testimony to our frequent need, but to God’s faithful and loving work, which must often be repeated in us.

      • John T. Polk II 10:00 am on March 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Several “standard” translations use the word “law” for this Hebrew word, so I based my comments upon this English word, which includes “requirement” in its intent. “Custom” can include the idea of an “option, or choice” and weakens the force of the original.

        • J. Randal Matheny 10:19 am on March 27, 2013 Permalink

          I went looking some more. It’s the Hebrew word mishpat, often translated “justice,” but with a wide semantic field, sometimes “mode of life,” “practice” or “procedure” in NASB. So one could go either way, I reckon.

    • John T. Polk II 3:23 pm on March 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Randal,
      My reply was based upon Psalm 119:153, not the verse 156 you were dealing with. I apologize for not catching this with another “proofing.” I was dealing with “torah” you were commenting on “mishpat,” and there is a distinction. Thanks for your review and observation.

  • John T. Polk II 4:26 am on March 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 119:145-152 Qoph Whose Prayers Are Heard 

    It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.

    Psalm 119:145-152  Qoph                              Whose Prayers Are Heard

    Verses 145-148 tell who is praying;

    Verses 149-152 tell what to expect.

    Verses 145-148: (Verse 145) To “cry” out indicates the sincerity from a “whole heart.” Answered prayer comes from those who “keep” His “statutes” (words marking out the right way). God knows whether His people approached Him with their “whole heart” or “in pretense” (Jeremiah 3:10), and planned for them to return to Him “with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7). The first and greatest commandment under Moses and Jesus Christ is to love God “with all your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30; Acts 8:37). (Verse 146) The appeal for God to “hear” is followed by “save me” for the purpose of keeping His “testimonies” (words showing God’s character in dealing with people). (Verses 147-148) Because “hope” (anticipation, expectation of faith) springs from God’s “word,” prayer begins before sunrise and can extend throughout the night. Not one long prayer, but continually, as Jesus “spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (John 18:1). Paul taught: “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). It is the “meditation” (a lost capability in this electronic age!) upon His “word” that helps one approach God with boldness. It takes time and concentration to “meditate,” not distraction, illusion, fantasy. Prayer is approaching God when one has approached God’s Word.

    Verses 149-152: (Verse 149) When God “hears” (gives attention to), it is because of His “lovingkindness” (used 22 times in Psalms). “I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm” (Jonah 4:2). “Loving” and “kindness” go hand-in-hand, whether in dating, marriage, or devotion! Knowing God’s “justice” (Deuteronomy 10:17-20), we are “revived” (ready for another effort). (Verse 150) Through God’s Word, we know He recognizes people who “are far from” His “law” are following “wickedness.” “The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked, Overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness” (Proverbs 21:12). (Verse 151) The “wicked” are far from God’s Word, but the faithful find God “near” because they regard “all” His “commandments” as “truth.” NO commandment of God is “burdensome” (1 John 5:3). (Verse 152) God’s “testimonies” have always proved to be accurate throughout every person’s lifetime. Those who have the privilege of knowing the Holy Scriptures “from childhood” will have little difficulty accepting them as having been “given by inspiration of God” and making one “complete” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version,  unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:54 am on March 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 119:137-144 Tsadde Keeping Right 

    It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.

    Psalm 119:137-144  Tsadde                          Keeping Right

    Verses 137-138 say, “God is always right;”

    Verses 139-141 teach that God’s Word shows what’s right;

    Verses 142-144 show one pleased to be forever right;

    Verses 137-138: (Verse 137) God, Himself, is “righteous” (upright, unwavering). “Right” can variously be used of: direction (or “left”); morals (or “wrong”); truth (or “lie”), but God is always correct. God’s character is the absolute definition of “righteous,” just as He is “true” (John 3:33), “faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:9), “light” (1 John 1:5), “love” (1 John 4:16). His “judgments” (decisions) are “upright” (not slanted or varied). (Verse 138) God’s “testimonies” (words about His character) are “righteous” and “very faithful” (which isn’t describing an amount, but extent). “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

    Verses 139-141: (Verse 139) “Zeal” is passion, but needs to be for the right if “consuming.” This thought is completely given in Psalm 69:9 and there predicted Jesus’ cleansing of the temple (John 2:13-17). Believers should be “zealous” to correct the ignorance of those without God’s Word. (Verse 140) Just as metals are highly valued when refined or purified, God’s servants highly value God’s Word because of its purity. (Verse 141) A person who is “small” (in stature) and “despised” (in popularity) gains self-esteem by remembering God’s “precepts” (words highlighting or supervising the right way).

    Verses 142-144: (Verse 142) God’s “right-ness” is “everlasting” (always right), and His “law” (defining the proper direction) is “truth” (accurate, factual). (Verse 143) Though “trouble and anguish” find us, we may always turn to God’s “commandments” (words urging, ordering what is right) which give pleasure and restore confidence in ourselves that we at least please God. (Verse 144) The absolute confidence in life is that God’s “testimonies” are always “right,” thus we live better now and forever when we “understand” them.

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:33 am on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Psalm 119:129-136 Pe Why The Word Is Wonderful 

    It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.

    Psalm 119:129-136  Pe                                 Why The Word Is Wonderful

    Verses 129-131 give admiration for God’s Word;

    Verses 132-135 make humble requests for God’s help;

    Verse 136 shows concern for those who haven’t appreciated God’s Word.

    Verses 129-131: (Verse 129) God’s “testimonies” (words describing and manifesting God’s character) are “wonderful” (wonder-full, brilliant, captivating), therefore “my soul keeps them.” We are drawn to that which fascinates us: Moses to a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-3); Jesus’ power over afflictions (Matthew 15:29-38); multitude on Pentecost hearing Jesus preached in their own languages by the Holy Spirit’s power (Acts 2:1-11); the man born lame “walking, leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:1-11); Peter’s vision of life without prejudice (Acts 10:9-17). Our rapt attention should be centered in God’s Word. (Verse 130) The Bible is the gradual unfolding of the revelation of God. A light turned on in the darkness draws attention not to the light, but to what can now be seen. There is no surprise, therefore, when Scripture’s “light” enters the darkened soul, and gives “understanding to the simple.” (Verse 131) A soul struggling to be free from the entanglements of sin, trying to be distant from temptations, fighting the influence of ungodliness, “pants” (gasps, gulps) for God’s “commandments” (words authorizing the path to follow).

    Verses 132-135: Having expressed how much God’s Word means, it is appropriate to ask for help from God. It is in His Word we learn that: (Verse 132) He looks mercifully as His “custom is toward those who love” His “name.” God’s habit is always to be merciful to lovers of His name. (Verse 133) His Word “directs” (guides, leads) our “steps,” so that “iniquity” (having no right value) has no “dominion” over us. Obeying God’s Word does not keep on from single sins, but from sinful practices becoming habitual, the thoughts of Jesus (John 8:34) and John (1 John 3:4-8). (Verse 134) He “redeems” (frees, ransoms) the obedient “from the oppression” that comes from “man,” so that we “may keep Your precepts” (words highlighting what is right). Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). (Verse 135) Since “God is light” (1 John 1:5) He brightens the way of all who are willing to be taught His “statutes” (words marking the right and the wrong way).

    Verse 136: The Word of God is so full of wonder, the obedient weep because the God of love, mercy, salvation, and comfort is ignored by those who need Him most; and because the souls yet burdened down with the toils, tears, troubles, and terrors of sin haven’t seen the wonders of The Word, The God, The Christ. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) for you and me, and so should every Christian.

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • John T. Polk II 5:48 am on March 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , faith, , , , , , , , , ,   

    Psalm 119:121-128 Ayin Justice In The Word 

    It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.

    Psalm 119:121-128  Ayin                               Justice In The Word           

    Verses 121-123 describe a righteous person before God;

    Verses 124-125 make a request of God;

    Verse 126 asks God to help with the godless;

    Verses 127-128 mention good things God’s Word does for the obedient.

    Verses 121-123: (Verse 121) Keeping covenant with God, man’s part is not a statement from pride (Luke 18:9-14), but from a clear conscience (1 John 3:21), and asks God to keep His part: not to abandon the obedient among “oppressors;” (Verse 122) guarantee His “servant’s” goodness; relief from the oppression of the “proud.” (Verse 123) Mention is made of a servant’s diligence with tired eyes searching God’s “righteous word” (statements which make clear what God expects).

    Verse 124-125: (Verse 124) Obedience to God justly brings the hope of “mercy” in one willing to be taught God’s “statutes” (words that trace around to make clear). (Verse 125) A “servant” of God will be given “understanding” (insight, comprehension) “to know” God’s “testimonies” (proof of His good character). “Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7). “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

    Verse 126: (Verse 126) The “proud” are those who think God’s “law” (words that make a straight path) is empty of force. Maybe God will choose to do something promptly that turns the godless back to the Bible.

    Verses 127-128: (Verse 127) Because of the straight path, clear law, hopeful promises, and God’s character, His “commandments” (words authorizing or forbidding conduct) deserve: our greatest bond (“love”), our highest esteem (“more than fine gold”), and (Verse 128) our purest judgment (“all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right”). We, therefore, accept God’s justice and “hate every false way.” God’s command to “Hate evil, love good” (Amos 5:15) is repeated for Christians in Romans 12:9: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” Thanks to God and His Word, there is no confusion as to which is which!

     All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
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