Monthly Archives: February 2015

Trust Me!

One of the most often quoted verses in the Bible is Jer. 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” The word “heart” (H3820 in Strong’s Concordance) is often used figuratively in scripture for the mind, will, or intellect, including our understanding and wisdom.

background image credit:  Mediajon CC BY-NC
background image credit: Mediajon CC BY-NC

This verse provides an especially valid warning in this modern “information age” we live in today, where so much DIS-information and chatter clamors for our attention. Modern revisionists with agendas are re-writing history, and even the Bible itself, to fit their own paradigms, which presents a very confusing array of choices for our minds.

It is usually very important to understand the context of a Bible verse to get the true, God-intended meaning implanted in our minds, and in this case, context proves to be especially important, as we can see a chilling warning from God Himself starting in verse 5.

Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. (Jer. 17:5-6)

I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind actually choosing to live their lives under a “curse” from God, but these verses indicate we can bring just such a “curse” upon ourselves by placing our faith, our confidence, our hope and trust in someone or something other than God.

There is a sharp contrast drawn for us though in the next two verses, as a great blessing is pronounced on one who chooses to put his trust and hope in God.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. (Jer. 17:7-8)

So we can be assured that God has left us with a positive choice that can lead us to a truly blessed life. Verse 10 goes on to assure us that God is in touch with us … watching humanity, and searching our hearts with the intent of rewarding our choices.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.(Jer. 17:9-10)

There has never been a time in world history when there have been more voices competing for our time and attention. The “greatest minds” of our day … atheists, agnostics, scientists, philosophers, politicians, evangelists, and apologists, surely all have their unique and attractive messages to preach, and all want us to put our trust and hope in their solutions to world, and personal problems.

And then there is this one incredible book, The Holy Bible, containing the time-tested words of wisdom from God, which have endured for thousands of years, and cry out to us with a still small voice, saying … “trust ME!”

Apples of Gold

Proverbs 25:11 says that “A word rightly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” How utterly true that is for all of us, myself included. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve been in need of encouragement, and had a word, or a phrase from the scriptures jump out at me at just the right time to pull me back on course in this quest of faith towards God’s Kingdom.

And there have even been times when I’ve had the privilege of sharing God’s words of truth with others, and been told that it was just what was needed to get them through a tough time in their lives. What a great thrill God has given us to gain encouragement from His Word, and also, to share that with others who are in need.

I’ve been thinking about the direction I’d like to take this blog in for some time now. Up to this point, I’ve been using segments from sermons. The first 6 posts that began my “Baptism for Life” blog came from three 60-minute sermons by the same title, and there have been several other multiple-part blog posts taken from past sermons. While that might be good for regular followers, I realize it can be hard for others to keep-up with every week with the busy lives we lead, and all the distractions and obligations that we all have. Therefore I am going to make an effort to be more concise with my posts, using words and phrases from God’s Word that have greatly impacted my own life and relationship with the Godhead – things that have brought ME closer to God, and spurred me on to a more focused, personal study of God’s Word.

One of the biggest problems with ‘preachers’ is a tendency to want to “build up a following” for themselves among their readers, listeners, viewers … so those ‘followers’ become dependent on the ‘preacher’. The goal instead should be to lead those “followers” to a greater dependence on GOD.

I’ll just use the example of the Apostle Paul in Acts 20:32. Paul said what he had to say to “influence” these Ephesian elders with very emotional admonitions and warnings, but here in vs. 32, he simply says, “…I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build YOU up, and to give YOU an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

A few words fitly spoken can ignite a flame of curiosity that becomes a burning desire to dig into “the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10). I pray that my future posts will do just that for all who read them.

Humanity is Vanity

It never ceases to amaze me how much of our family dysfunction has its roots with the first family in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were the first human parents ever, and some of the choices made by that first family have left a lasting imprint on all of our lives since they made them. I’d like to illustrate in today’s post one of the aspects of “human nature” that seems to trace its roots to the first two sons of Adam and Eve by going to a Psalm written by King David

Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. (Ps. 39:5, KJV)

The meaning of the word selah is a bit of a mystery. Some think it’s just inserted over 70 times in the Psalms to give musical instructions, or to indicate a pause in the music. Others think it has a deeper meaning related to the root word that it comes from, and that it means to pause to evaluate something and figure its real worth.

So if we pause to more fully evaluate this phrase, “Every man, at his best state is altogether vanity,” what can we draw from it’s deeper meaning?

“Adam” is “Abel”

The word “man” is translated from the Hebrew word adam (Strong’s #120), and is a generic term for humanity that is very closely related to the proper name of the first man “Adam” (Strong’s #121). So every member of mankind or humanity (ladies are included) at his or her “best state” — when we are at the very peak of our physical, political, social, and intellectual power and ability on this earth — is wholly and completely vanity!

The Hebrew word for “vanity” is what really peaked my interest in this verse, because the Hebrew word is hebel (Strong’s #1892). It is pronounced “abel,” and if you look up the proper name Abel (Strong’s #1893) found in Gen 4:2 in Strong’s Dictionary, it simply says, “the same as H1892: hebel, Abel, the son of Adam.

Thus, we have our title for today — Adam/Humanity is Abel/Vanity.

A “Lesser” Son

In Genesis 4:1, it tells us “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have acquired a man from the Lord.'” I’ve heard several ministers over the years speak about what Eve meant by this, but Matt Henry sums it up this way …

“Many suppose that Eve had a conceit that this son was the promised seed (of Gen. 3:15), and that therefore she thus triumphed in him, as her words may be read, I have gotten a man, the Lord, God-man. If so, she was wretchedly mistaken, as Samuel, when he said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before me, 1Sam. 16:6. When children are born, who can foresee what they will prove? He that was thought to be a man, the Lord, or at least a man from the Lord, and for his service as priest of the family, became an enemy to the Lord

In the next verse in Genesis, Eve “bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” Matthew Henry has this to say about Abel’s name.

“Abel signifies vanity. When she thought she had obtained the promised seed in Cain, she was so taken up with that possession that another son was as vanity to her.”

So, the first family was as dysfunctional as any since, with a highly favored son … and another who bore the name “vanity.” That never turns out well. We all know the story of Cain and Abel, and can perhaps identify with some of the human emotion, and the rivalry between them as they presented their offerings to God, who looked with favor upon the offering of the “lesser” son.

Excellent Offerings

So all of the sons and daughters of Adam — humanity — carry about this stigma of Abel — vanity — in our physical nature, and we often see evidence of it in scripture in the lives of Biblical characters. Solomon wrote a whole book on the vanity of life, and came to the conclusion that there could be only one resolution to the human problem.

 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecc. 12:13-14)

Even though his family didn’t seem to think much of him, Abel knew this truth which Solomon speaks of. Abel had caught a vision of life that the rest of his family to that point was unable to see.

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (Heb. 11:4)

I don’t get the impression here that Abel thought Cain was the promised seed. His focus was on God and his example, which pleased God, does still speak, especially to us today who have knowledge of the true promised Seed (Gal. 3:16), and to all who wish to offer to God a “more excellent sacrifice.” It comes down to a simple choice for all of us. Will I live the way of Cain, or will I live the way of Abel?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:)

No matter how vain life might seem at times, we can all follow the example of Abel, and offer a better sacrifice as we follow the true Seed toward the Kingdom of God. If we follow God, our lives need not be wholly lived in vain no matter how little other people may value us. We have a high value in God’s eyes, and He notices the good that we are doing for Him.

Make The Right Choice

Make The Right Choice| BaptismForLife.wordpress.comThis is the last of a 3-post series, in which we’ve explored the choices that God Himself has made.   Great choices that both He and His Son have “lived and died” by.   I’ve been “in” the church of God for 35 years, and I’m just starting to learn how to make right choices – choices that I know are right because they are based on clear scriptures that reveal the choices of God. It lifts a tremendous burden from a person to know that a choice we are faced with has been given the stamp of approval by God Himself.

The Chosen Foundation

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,  you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”

Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:4-9)

In 1 Corinthians 3:11, Paul tells us that no other foundation can be laid “than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” This is true because it was God Himself who laid this foundation.

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thes. 2:13)

Brethren, Jesus Christ is not the only one God the Father has chosen for salvation, but as we have seen, everything about that salvation goes through Jesus Christ.

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph 1:4-6)

God the Father has chosen us “in Him,” and He chose Him to be the head of all things to us. Are we fully submitting to His leadership? That’s a choice we need to prayerfully make. Just look at John 17, specifically verses 2, 6, 9, 11, 12, and 24. Here, Christ says that the Father has chosen to give you and me to Him, entrusting us to His care. Do we choose to protest that, or do we choose to embrace it?

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matt. 7:21)

God’s will is revealed in the choices He makes, and He has made some very evident choices for the whole world. He has also made some very personal choices for you and for me, particularly for our good and our eternal welfare, but they can only benefit us if we choose to submit to them out of love for Him, and with trust and faith in Him.

Choose Christ

We can never forget that there is a very active “spirit of anti-Christ” and the many anti-Christs spawned by him. Almost every day I log on and check out the articles on WorldNetDaily, and almost every day there’s a story about someone defaming, abusing, and ridiculing the name of Jesus Christ. Some of it is so grossly immoral that I don’t want to mention it on my blog! Why is that brethren? What manner of spirit is behind that? What is it that is so offensive about Jesus Christ to our society today?

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:18-23)

Brethren, if we deny the chosen of God, we will lose the Father also. He made Jesus the Christ – in the Greek, Christos (G5547) means “anointed” – to be King of kings in the kingdom that we are here to recognize, and appointed Him as Lord, the kurios (G2962) who is our owner, master, and ruler.

God also made Jesus the Apostle & High Priest we are to recognize as such, the Head over all things for us, our Prince, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and the Captain of our salvation. We cannot afford to choose to reject this great Being.

Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will[a] abide in Him.

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when[b] He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. (1 John 2:24-29)

These verses elaborate a bit more on the benefits of making a correct choice in the face of all the deception thrown at us by a society dominated by this spirit of anti-Christ.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

John carries on with this same point, stressing the importance of making choices about which “spirits” we will follow in the world we live in today. We can make a choice to reject the chosen of God, as the people did who derided Him as He hung on the cross (Luke 23:35). These people were mocking the chosen One of God the Father, His anointed, and it was not a choice that would have endeared them to God. We must not make the same mistake.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)

Here, Christ tells us very plainly how we can draw near to the Father … the supreme God of the universe. Deuteronomy 30:19 said a choice had been set before us between life and death, good and evil – and God admonished us to choose life! He wants us to choose to come to Him through Jesus Christ – to recognize Jesus for who and what the Father chose to make Him, for us!   We all have the wonderful opportunity each and every day of our lives to “CHOOSE LIFE!