The Value of One Life

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Here are my notes for my teaching at Wheeler Mission. Enjoy!

You are significant. You matter. The value of One Human Life

We need to look at ourselves how God sees us. God’s opinion of you is only one that truly matters. God defines who you are not the world or your past or any other person. No one has that right but God.

Seeing with eyes of faith. Realities of spiritual world are much more firm and real than anything in the physical world. Change the way we think about ourselves. Carry the image in our heart and the thoughts of what God says about us and not what others say or our self-condemning thoughts.. What God says is our real self, the real you. The world puts a false image in of our minds of who we are. It teaches a lack of self-worth and so much of life we beat ourselves because we do not understand who we are and where we came from.

God wants to say to you and me, “I am still the God who makes failures into princes of God. I remain the God who takes broken lives—people with multiple divorces, sick in body because of sin, in prison for decades, labeled as losers, crazy folk nobody wants, outcasts with no hope—and turns them into something beautiful.”

God created us in Him image.

God spoke to Jeremiah when he was but a child and told him he would build him into a mighty prophet, God’s mouthpiece, who would speak boldly the words of God, Jeremiah was a child who could not speak eloquently, just the son of Hilkiah, a seemly insignificant priest in the days of Judah. But God told him in Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee and before you came forth from the womb I sanctified you a prophet unto the nations” Even the name Jeremiah means “whom Yahweh raises up or launches forth.” God built Jeremiah into one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament with two books of the Bible focusing on his life and heart as a prophet. Look how God build him as revealed in Jeremiah 1.

Jeremiah 1;18,19 (Voice): Remember, Jeremiah, this very day I have made you as a fortress, a column as strong as iron, a wall of bronze able to withstand the attacks of the entire nation of Judah—from her kings and leaders to the priests and people. 19 Eventually, they will all give you trouble, but you will be safe. They will fight you, but they will not win. Remember, I am with you. I promise I will always deliver you.

You are in circumstances that God works best. Rich do not need God. When we are in tough circumstances we realize we need God. He can help you. The rich make all kinds of excuses. In a broken and contrite spirit we allow God to be our helper, our keeper and our shepherd.

God knows. God cares. God is with you. Let me say it again. God knows. God cares. God is with you. Psalms 139 God knows all about what you are going through. God knows all about where you have been. Always remember God knows, He cares and He is with you.

Psalm 139 O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again.     Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking. You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming,     and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. You know what I’m going to say long before I say it.     It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone. You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me,     and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder. It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out;     the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit?  Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence? If I go up into heaven, You are there.     If I make my bed in the realm of the dead, You are there. If I ride on the wings of morning,     if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean, 10 Even then You will be there to guide me; Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there. 11 Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me,     the light around me will soon be turned to night,” 12 You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes.     For You the night is just as bright as the day.     Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.13 For You shaped me, inside and out.     You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. 14 I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.     You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;     Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. 15     You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You As I took shape in secret,     carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb. 16 You see all things;     You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;     You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. 17 Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them!     How grand in scope! How many in number! 18 If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!     Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.

Psalm 74:13: God does not forget the life of the poor. Therefore verse 21: Let the poor and needy praise your name.

Luke 15-three parables about the importance of one life. Fill in your name as the one lost sheep, the one lost coin and the prodigal son welcomed back in the arms of a loving father.

When storms of life come we must take refuge in the Lord not in drugs, women, money, material things or our self. Psalm 57:1-4a God wants to fulfill His purpose for YOU. God has a purpose for you if you will only trust him. God pours out his steadfast love and faithfulness to you.

What does it mean to be faithful? What does it mean to be trustworthy? God is faithful. God is trustworthy. God never fails and God does not make junk.

God is life. He breathed into us life. Life must be defined on His terms.

Psalm 56:11, 12, 13: In God I trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do unto me? I must perform my vowels to you, O God, I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes my feet from failing that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Isiah 55:22: Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you.

Micah 6:3: “O my people, what have I done to you? What have I done to make you tired of me? Answer me!”

So often today we see a seething bitterness against God in the hearts of people. “Where is God?” is the cry of many? We live in a generation that has charged God with child abuse because they do not know God, they do not trust God, and they do not know who God is and what God’s character is. Look at what people do with the invitation to feast in the kingdom of God forever. Of his kingdom there shall be no end. Jesus Christ offers perfect peace, perfect health, perfect love, and perfect life FOREVER. Christ has sent everyone an invitation. What have we done with it?

Luke 14:12-24

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. [13] But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, [14] and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”[15] When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

[16] Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. [17] At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.'[18] “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'[19] ?Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ [20] “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ [21] “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'[22] ” ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'[23] “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. [24] I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ”

The last will be first and the first will be last.

Have we been making excuses when it comes to Jesus? Don’t you want taste the bread of life and living water where you will never hunger or thirst again?

In everything, at all times, look to Jesus. Come to Him and remember Him. I can say this to you because I have learned from my own experiences how easy it is to wander. How easy it is to get so caught up in all that happens in life, becoming sidetracked and losing our focus. But our hope and our life are in seeing and knowing Jesus.

“I will win her back once again. I will lead her out into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope” (Hosea 2:14–15, NLT).

Even though we have been in the Valley of Trouble, I am her today to tell you directly from the mouth of God that there is a Gateway of Hope through Christ.

Psalm 103: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,who satisfies you with good  so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.The Lord works righteousness  and justice for all who are oppressed. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

The Lord is ready to forgive every iniquity and heal every disease. He is ready to give us His righteous and justice and show his steadfast love and compassion. When we call upon the name of the Lord everything changes.

God wants us to learn to live without fear, without worry, without anxiety and without hopelessness for He can take care of us. He is saying to us, “Trust me, I’ve got this,”

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3; “I will trust, and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2. John 6:20. But he saith unto them, “It is I; be not afraid.”

God pleads, God admonishes, God commands and God calls to us every single day to not be afraid, but to simply trust Him in everything. He stands at the door of our heart and cries daily: “It is I! Be not afraid!”

As Jesus taught Peter so must we quit dancing and wavering between faith and fear: Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached for Peter and caught him. “O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?”

By the touch of Jesus all fear melts away: Matthew 17:7: But Jesus—who was, by this time, used to His disciples being plagued by fear—touched them. “Get up. Don’t be afraid.”

Psalm 56:3,4: When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone. In God—whose word I praise— in God I place my trust. I shall not let fear come in, for what can measly men do to me?

Isaiah 35:4: Tell those who worry, the anxious and fearful, “Take strength; have courage! There’s nothing to fear. Look, here—your God! Right here is your God! The balance is shifting; God will right all wrongs. None other than God will give you success. He is coming to make you safe.”

Psalm 16:8 He is ever present with me; at all times He goes before me. I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He stands at my right hand.

Psalm 118:6: “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Romans 10:11: The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him will ever be put to shame or be disappointed.

What sin do you think God hates most? I believe the greatest of sins is unbelief. This is where we do not trust Him or believe that He is faithful, that He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do.

Max Lucado: Consider the earth! Our globe’s weight has been estimated at six sextillion tons (a six with twenty-one zeroes). Yet it is precisely tilted at twenty-three degrees; any more or any less and our seasons would be lost in a melted polar flood. Though our globe revolves at the rate of one-thousand miles per hour or twenty-five thousand miles per day or nine million miles per year, none of us tumbles into orbit. As you stand … observing God’s workshop, let me pose a few questions. If he is able to place the stars in their sockets and suspend the sky like a curtain, do you think it is remotely possible that God is able to guide your life? If your God is mighty enough to ignite the sun, could it be that he is mighty enough to light your path? If he cares enough about the planet Saturn to give it rings or Venus to make it sparkle, is there an outside chance that he cares enough about you to meet your needs? Listen to what the Word of God says!

Psalm 63:6-8 (The Voice): Often at night I lie in bed and remember You, meditating on Your greatness till morning smiles through my window.7 You have been my constant helper; therefore, I sing for joy under the protection of Your wings.8 My soul clings to You; Your right hand reaches down and holds me up.

Psalm 34:4-10: (The Voice): When I needed the Lord, I looked for Him; I called out to Him, and He heard me and responded. He came and rescued me from everything that made me so afraid.5 Look to Him and shine, so shame will never contort your faces. 6 This poor soul cried, and the Eternal heard me. He rescued me from my troubles. 7 The messenger of the Eternal God surrounds everyone who walks with Him and is always there to protect and rescue us. 8 Taste of His goodness; see how wonderful the Eternal truly is. Anyone who puts trust in Him will be blessed and comforted. 9 Revere the Eternal, you His saints, for those who worship Him will possess everything important in life.10 Young lions may grow tired and hungry, but those intent on knowing the Eternal God will have everything they need.

Matthew 10:29-30: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Matthew 20:1-17: The laborers in the vineyard where the last workers at the 11th hour were paid as much as the first workers. It is never too late. The hour is now to enter into God’s field and become a fellow laborer with God.

Sin creates a debt. The payment for that debt is death. Many will pay for their own sin by dying but they will have no eternal life. Jesus Christ paid for our sin by dying in our place. God was concerned about the debt of our sin and sent His Son to pay it in full so we could live with Him forever. This is an amazing offer.

I Timothy 2:4,5, 6a: Who (God) desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all,

You have to make the decision who will pay the debt of your sin. Someone must eventually pay it. You or Christ. The invitation for you tonight is come, confess Him as your Lord, accept Him as your savior, believe that God raised Him from the dead and He is alive, ready to forgive you of every sin, every shortcoming, every screw-up, every falling short and every mistake.

Acts 4:10-12: Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus[a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[b] 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved.”

No other way to have your sin debt paid but through Christ.

Romans 5:8-13: But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Acts 16:30,31:  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

The invitation for salvation and eternal life:

Romans 10:9-13 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

The Court of God has wiped our slate clean; we are as white as snow, as our redeemer has paid the ransom and penalty for our sin. We no longer have to live in bondage to sin, fear, worry, sickness, disease, poverty, misery, hatred, selfishness, and ignorance, for we reign as kings in life through the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a super-conqueror; you are a new creation; you are a glorious son or daughter of God with all the dignity that comes with God’s calling through Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:14,15 (Message):

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive-right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.

Colossians 1:13,14: For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

In Christ all depression ceases. In Christ all fear and worry melt away. In Christ all oppression is crushed. In Christ all addictions are shattered. In Christ all the chains of bondage are loosed. In Christ all condemnation is obliterated. In Christ we are made free from all the forces of darkness that plague mankind. No religion, idol, and god whether Islam. Buddhism or Hinduism can set a person free from the exercised kingdom of darkness and the clutches of sin and death. Only in Jesus Christ is our redemption, salvation and liberation finished.

There is another ultimate certainty in life: The Lord is coming back!

James 5:7, 8 (Phillips):

But be patient, my brothers, as you wait for the Lord to come. Look at the farmer quietly awaiting his precious harvest. See how he has to possess his soul in patience till the land has had the early and late rains.

So must you be patient, resting your hearts on the ultimate certainty. The Lord’s coming is very near.

Hebrews 10:35-37 (Amplified):

Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised.

For a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay.

We cultivate a mindset of waiting on the Lord. He is coming back. Are you ready?

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you”   (John 14:18).

Isaiah 43:1,2: But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.

God has called you by name and you are His. With God as our Redeemer, no matter how high the waters or how hot the fire, we are safely in the arms of God and they cannot consume us.

Isaiah 41:10,13: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

The Lord is my helper. He is holding us by the right hand. He strengthens us and tell us to never fear for He is with us.

Psalm 139: 17, 18: How precious are your thoughts concerning me, O God!  How vast in number they are! 18 If I try to count them, there would be more of them than there are grains of sand. When I wake up, I am still with you.

God thinks about you all the time. How valuable you are to Him.

Exodus 3:12a: Do not fear, Moses. I will be with you every step of the way.

2 Chronicles 20:14,15,17: Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 He said, Hearken, all Judah, you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat. The Lord says this to you: Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.17 You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord, Who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.

  1. Fear not . . . God is with you;
  2. Fear not . . . God is your God;
  3. Fear not . . . God will strengthen you;
  4. Fear not . . . God will help you;
  5. Fear not . . . God will uphold you.

Stop defining and limiting your future in terms of your past and start defining it in terms of your God. Recognize that God is greater than your personality. God is greater than your past.

God is saying to us tonight: “I need you to let go the imitation so that I can give you the real thing. I need you to let go of your life and let me take control of your life.” With both arms embrace Jesus as the only one who saves. God should be our greatest pleasure. The gods of pleasure promise satisfaction but ultimately never deliver. You were not a mistake. What keeps us from pursuing Jesus is our heart ultimately is pursuing something else. We all follow something. We all serve something. We all have gods it we’ve devoted our life too. Gods of pleasure, gods of power, gods of self. What keeps us from truly following Jesus is this false god that is winning the war. .

Value of something is determined by the price you pay for it. God paid the ultimate price for you in the blood of His Son. You are not insignificant. Your life does matter.

God knows, God cares and God is with you.

Christ has already triumphed. He has broken all the cords of sin. He has broken every power of hell. There’s no new struggle there is no new battle that can bind you and take away the strength of God in you. With the anointing of God on you can’t be kept bound.

Acts 1:8 you shall receive power. This power can break the chords of sin and crush the power of anything that holds us in bondage.

Lessons of Ecclesiastes: Without God life is not worth living. All the pleasures of this world are vanity and vexation of spirit or like a vapor and chasing the wind. We need to see life with an eternity perspective. God has promised everlasting life.

Psalm 42,1,2 (NIV):

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Job 27:10 (Amplified): Will he take delight in the Almighty? Will he call upon God at all times?

Job 22:26: Delight yourself in the Lord Almighty and lift up your face to God.

II Chronicles 15:15-they sought Him with their whole desire.

Everybody has got a hungry heart. Only God can satisfy it. Everyone desires to cleave to something. God wants to be desired. God wants to wanted. God wants us to cleave to Him at all times. He will hold fast to us and not let go.

God is always only a turn away.

Joel 2:12, 13 (NLT): That is why the LORD says, “TURN TO ME NOW, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

The time is urgent. Time is fleeting and passes by swiftly. God is crying out: “Turn to me now while there is time. Give me your hearts. Don’t let them be swept away. Return to the Lord your God.”

Psalm 63:1-8 (NLT):

1 O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. 3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! 4 I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. 5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. 6 I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.

7 Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.8 I cling (Hebrew word “cleave’) to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT):5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. 7 My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. 8 O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

Tozer in The Purpose of Man describes God’s heart to Adam: “I am yours…this is your end, this is why you were created, that you might worship Me and enjoy me and adore me and glorify me and have Me as yours forever.”

The first words God cried out after the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden was “Where art thou?” God so desired the worship, the companionship, the fellowship, the intimacy and the closeness of his wonderful man and woman even after they had sinned and broke God’s commandment. Isn’t this so true today that God still cries out, “Where art thou?” God desires us; to be close to us; to be our first love. God so loved us that He gave us the gift of His Son who paid the price for our complete redemption and salvation and restored our path and access to God Almighty. We must now worship, love and cleave unto the Lord. The basic heartbeat of your purpose upon the earth is to love and worship God and enjoy Him forever. This is our reason for being. Apart from this a man or woman has no purpose, no meaning, and no direction to their life.

Will you accept His invitation to come, feel His embrace and love and receive the free gift of eternal life?

Isaiah 55:1ff: If you are thirsty, come here; come, there’s water for all.     Whoever is poor and penniless can still come and buy the food I sell.     There’s no cost—here, have some food, hearty and delicious,   and beverages, pure and good. I don’t understand why you spend your money for things that don’t nourish or work so hard for what leaves you empty. Attend to Me and eat what is good; enjoy the richest, most delectable of things. Listen closely, and come even closer. My words will give life, for I will make a covenant with you that cannot be broken, a promise     Of My enduring presence and support like I gave to David. So turn your attention and seek the Eternal One while it is still possible; call on Him while He is nearby.Let those who are busy plotting violence and doing wrong     stop right now, turn, and do right. Let them turn back to the Eternal so they can experience His compassion.    God will excuse our past wrongs. Our God’s forgiveness is inexhaustible.

Matthew 6:33: Seek first the kingdom of God then what you need will be supplied

God knows, God cares and God wants you in the family of God. You matter. You are significant. Your life has immense value to God. The invitation for you is to come now and receive all that He has promised.

 

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The Secret War of Every Saint

battletactics

One of the great ironies of the Bible is found in the first chapter of the book of Exodus. At this time, God’s own people had forgotten their status and heritage. Their enemies, though, knew exactly who they were: “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them” (Exodus 1:9–10). Thus began a type of warfare that had the unique purpose of keeping God’s people blind to the power that had been promised to them. They became the object of oppressive regulation and increased mockery. However, when they began to cry out to God, they were miraculously brought back into their true spiritual standing. Oh, how history does repeat itself! As the Israelites once did, it’s time for you and me to prepare for an incredible journey. God is about to reveal our inheritance in Christ to us again. We may have to leave the familiar, but we will find again an incredible place of power and worship. “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned” (Hebrews 11:29).

Years ago, as Pastor David Wilkerson and I were walking down the street, we noticed two people sprawled out along the side of a building. One of them shouted at Brother Dave, “We’re going to get you! We’re not finished yet!” Although the man did not know who Brother Dave was, the demonic spirit in him recognized him as we passed by. I actually felt a little upset that no demonic spirit ever spoke to me like that. However, that changed when I was walking to church one day. A man who was obviously full of the devil started following me down the street, cursing all the way! It gladdened my heart that the devil finally knew who I was!

If you are going to be a true follower of Christ in this hour, you will need to fight. You will contend with all kinds of voices around you—and you will fight in your mind. This is the secret war that every saint must engage in, with no exceptions to the rule. At times it may not be as intense as others, but it never ends. We see in the Scriptures that even King David experienced this battle of the mind. If you are going to be a true follower of Christ in this hour, you will need to fight. You will contend with all kinds of voices around you—and you will fight in your mind. This is the secret war that every saint must engage in, with no exceptions to the rule. At times it may not be as intense as others, but it never ends. We see in the Scriptures that even King David experienced this battle of the mind.

“Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah” (Psalm 3:1–8).

David wrote this psalm during a season of struggling with a sense of past failure and present weakness. He had made a terrible mistake in his life—committing adultery with a woman named Bathsheba and then orchestrating her husband’s death. Consequently, rebellion had arisen in his home, and he soon found himself fleeing from his own son. As David was leaving for Jerusalem, there was even a man up on the hillside casting stones at him and cursing his name (see 2 Samuel 11; 15:13–14; 16:5–8). How difficult it must have been at that time for David to fully embrace the fact that he was still on the victory side—that God was proud of him and that the lineage of Christ would still flow through him.

We all can look back on our lives and see things we wish we had done better. Our failures and weaknesses can often instill in us a sense that we are far from where we should be. I thought my character was going to change more rapidly than it did. I never thought I would respond the way I have been responding to people in my workplace. I started out with such promise, but I have made so many mistakes.

The apostle Paul said it this way as he described a specific season in his journey: “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears” (2 Corinthians 7:5). In other words, voices of mocking and cursing had been raised against Paul, producing fear within his heart. Suddenly he had to contend with a whole new level of voices—both from within and without—all attempting to take away his faith and courage. 

WHAT HAPPENED TO GOD’S PROMISES?

We see elsewhere in the Scriptures that another psalmist encountered a similar battle. Notice how he cried out regarding his own infirmity: “Will the Lord cast off forever? And will he be favourable no more?” (Psalm 77:7). The psalmist mistakenly assumed that he had been cast off and the favor of God was no longer upon him. Yet, in reality, God’s favor was just as strong as it had been when he was living on the mountaintop. This reminds us that we must be careful when we find ourselves in the valley—when we experience moments of such deep despair that our own hearts begin to overtake the voice of God. “Is his mercy clean gone forever? Doth his promise fail forevermore?” (Psalm 77:8).

In other words, can I trust the promises of God? What happened to His promise that He would give me a new heart, a new mind and a new spirit; that the wounding of the past would no longer continue to burden me? What happened to His promise that my household would be saved if I trust and believe in the Lord Jesus? “Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?” (Psalm 77:9). Is God busy? Did I do something wrong? Maybe God finally looked down on me and concluded, “I have wasted so much time with this person. I am not going to waste any more effort trying to infuse life and gifts when they refuse to be used.”

This is the secret war of every saint! It is those moments when we grow weary of the journey—tired of seemingly always walking uphill, worn down by the voices from within and without constantly condemning our progress, feeling somehow forsaken by the Lord. Have you ever wished that you could just stay asleep because at least you have peace there? You dread having to wake up and face everything all over again. After all, it is not easy to live in a household where you are the only believer. It is hard to get up and go to school where your beliefs are mocked as narrow, bigoted, uninformed and uneducated. It is difficult to go to a job day after day where your integrity and work ethic are despised. It is hard to live in a society that calls the good that you embrace, evil, and the evil that you hate, good.

Eventually you begin to share the sentiments that David described in our opening psalm: “Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:2). In other words, nothing will make a difference at this point. The downward spiral is irreversible, so I might as well give up the fight. That is exactly what the devil wants—for you to give up! Stop believing for your home. Forget about that dream that God once planted in your heart. Give up on your marriage and simply walk out. Give up on the rebellious society around you. Simply shut yourself away. Be satisfied with being called a disciple of Jesus Christ; don’t believe that your life can actually make a difference. 

A VOICE LIKE NO OTHER

So how are we supposed to make it through this constant battle of the mind—the barrage of lies that never seems to end? Let’s take a moment to consider the story of Lazarus. After he was raised from the dead, he was sitting at the table with Jesus (see John 12:1–2). Not only did people come to see Jesus, they also came to see Lazarus, the one who had experienced this incredible miracle. The Pharisees even began plotting how to put this man to death, for because of him many believed in Jesus.

I can just picture Lazarus sitting at the table as people came up to him, asking, “How did it happen? How were you brought out of a hopeless place? How did you get this divine life infused within you?” He might reply, “I was so sick, so down; things were looking so bad. Jesus had visited me before, and I was certain He was going to come help me in my time of need. But as light began to fade in my soul, I started to hear voices talking about the hopelessness of the situation—how moment by moment things were only getting worse. And for some unknown reason, Jesus did not show up.”

Does that sound familiar? Perhaps you started out believing that your children or your coworkers were going to come to God. Yet, even though you continue praying, Jesus does not seem to be doing anything, and the situation only grows worse as time goes by. Lazarus would say, “Finally I heard voices telling me that the end had come. I was left with only one last cry within my heart—a cry for mercy before I fell asleep—Jesus, don’t forget me!”

That is exactly where many people find themselves right now. Before they fall asleep, their cry comes out almost as a whisper, “Oh, God, please help me. I don’t know how I am going to go on.” Of course, the testimony of Lazarus didn’t end there. As people gathered around the table, Lazarus would continue, “When all seemed to be over, suddenly I heard a voice— a voice like no other. It had the ability to call me out of hopelessness, to give life where there was no life. It was a voice so powerful that it drowned out the voices of all the wailers, all the weepers, all the prognosticators, all who gathered around saying, ‘ Too bad. Not even God can do anything now.’ This voice simply called my name; it was the glory and the lifter of my head. It called me to come out from where I was into another place that He had predestined for my life.”

Something came to life within Lazarus when God called to him. Suddenly Lazarus lifted his head and wanted to get up again. He had slept long enough! Lazarus heard a voice saying, “I will never leave you; I will never forsake you. A nursing mother may be able to forget her child, but I cannot forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. No weapon formed against you will prosper and every tongue that rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn. I give you the power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” It was just as David said: “I laid me down and slept; I awakened; for the Lord sustained me” (Psalm 3:5). In the original text, it says, “I abruptly awakened.” And when it says, “sustained me,” it means “gripped me; laid hold of me.”

In other words, “God laid hold of me, lifted me up and gave me courage not only to arise but to go farther than I had ever gone before.” God did it for David, He did it for Lazarus, and He will do it for you in the midst of your battle! He is faithful. That is why David was able to conclude, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly” (Psalm 3:6–7).

God called you to be more than a conqueror, to be a song of praise to His name in the earth. He called you to testify of what He alone is able to do through those who are surrendered to Him. God has opened a door before you, and despite the littleness of your strength, ten thousand people cannot close that door! 

DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEART

The Bible clearly warns us, “Today, if you can hear His voice, do not harden your heart as they did in the days of provocation” (see Hebrews 3:7–8). In other words, do not ask as Israel once did in her unbelief, “Can God furnish a table in this wilderness?” (see Psalm 78:19). Do not begin to question the Lord’s integrity or His commitment to you, even though you find yourself constantly battling in your mind. God told you that He would raise you up to be a testimony. He told you that He has allowed certain things in your life—some things you understand and some things you don’t—but that all things work together for good because you love Him and are called according to His purpose.

And now the Lord is calling you to get up. He is calling you to lift your head and sing that song He has put within your heart. He is calling you to come back to faith again and believe that you are not going under, you are going over. You are the Bride of Christ, and God stakes His reputation on keeping you and establishing a testimony of victory inside of you. Therefore, settle it in your heart today: “He is my glory and the lifter of my head. Even though I might be depressed when I go to bed at night, He is the One who will lift my head in the morning. He is the One who will give me strength to go through another day. If God has planted a dream inside of my heart, it will become a reality, for He has set before me an open door that no man can close. No matter how many voices rise up against what God has spoken to me, I will not harden my heart in unbelief!”

David did eventually come back to Jerusalem and finish his course. God gave David the pattern of the New Testament temple, which he passed on to his son, Solomon. The Bible tells us that the glory of God filled that temple! This serves as a reminder that despite what you may see or feel right now, it is not over, and not a single voice in this world can rightfully tell you that it is over. Only one voice is truth; only one voice speaks promises that never fail! So do not lose heart in the midst of the secret war you are fighting. Refuse to listen to the lies. Don’t give up on your family; don’t give up on the people in your workplace. Rather, hear God’s voice calling you today. Like Lazarus, all that remains on your part is to simply get up and move toward the hope that God is speaking to you. You will find Him to be faithful to supply all that you need—strength to get through the day, courage to stand in the marketplace, faith to believe for your family. Life and victory will be yours, for the glory of His name!

Carter Conlon

©2014 Times Square Church

 

 

 

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Why Does Truth Offend?

bible_study1-660x508There is a false belief held by some Christians, sort of a Christian myth, that if you are a good Christian you will not offend anyone. In fact, a Christian who offends people is sometimes considered to be just one more arrogant, insensitive, narrow-minded Christian, because it is thought that “true” Christians are sensitive and considerate, and never offend anyone.

To be sure, there are Christians who offend others by their tone of voice, overbearing manner, or by insistence on things that could be called “dogma” rather than truth. This article is not intended to excuse prideful Christian behavior, attitudes, or hardheartedness. History shows that there have been and still are many Christians who do not act very Christ-like. Much could be said about the great need for Christians to walk in love, have good character and demonstrate the fruit of the spirit.

While a lot could be written about walking in love, this article examines a different reason why people are offended by Christian activities. This article asks the question, “Why are some people offended by truth, even if it is spoken or acted out in love?” All we have to do is look at the life of Jesus Christ to realize there are plenty of people who are offended by truth even when it is lovingly presented. There are several reasons that truth is often offensive to some people.

Truth is Exclusive and Absolute

Some people are offended by truth because of its very nature— it is exclusive and it is absolute, not relative. The absolute nature of truth means that it does not depend on, nor is it changed by, people’s opinions. For example, if someone says, “There is no God,” that does not affect the existence of God. It only shows that the person is ignorant. Truth is also exclusive, meaning that it is “narrow” because it excludes anything contrary to it. Unfortunately, in the spiritual world, some people view the narrow nature of truth as “narrow mindedness.” We all recognize the narrowness of truth when it comes to the physical world. People do not put water in their gas tanks or jump from tall buildings if the elevator is full. We train our children to do what is “right” (like looking both ways before crossing a street), and not to do what is “wrong” (like running with a knife) so they will live safely in our “narrow minded” world.

Both the physical world and the spiritual world are expressions of truth and that is why they are exclusive, or narrow in nature. The Bible itself confirms that the spiritual world is very narrow, which is why God has specific commandments about what is “right” and what is “wrong.” Moreover, God expects us to learn about the spiritual world from the physical world, just as we learn about it from His Word.

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

The Bible teaches that God’s power and His nature can be understood from the world around us. Nevertheless, many people deny spiritual truth, which is easy because doing things the wrong way spiritually usually has very delayed consequences. If we put water in our gas tanks, right away the car does not start. If a person denies Jesus Christ and tries to save himself by his own works, it will not be until the Day of Judgment that he will learn that Scripture was correct when it said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). At the resurrection and Day of Judgment the things of God will be clearly seen by everyone, but then it will be too late for the people who reject the truth now. It is because truth is exclusive and absolute that it is essential for each of us to work hard to discover what is and what is not true. There are great blessings for obeying the truth, and serious consequences for denying it.

The Devil’s War Against God and Truth

Another reason people are offended by the truth is because the Devil has waged a war against God and truth for thousands of years. He fights this war on many fronts, and his primary weapon is lies. The Devil has been inculcating lies into the human psyche and society for so long that there are lies deeply embedded in every society on earth. The Devil resists truth everywhere, because, as Scripture says, “…for there is no truth in him…he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). The Devil and his demons work hard to deceive people and lead them away from God.

The Devil is very crafty, and adapts his methods to the culture he is trying to deceive. For example, in Western culture today, we are very scientifically minded, and there are many instruments for measuring and tracking what happens around us, so the Devil does not often come out in the open. However, in ancient cultures, and in some cultures today, that is not the case. For example, the Devil wants to continue to promote the lie that dead people are not really dead, but alive as some kind of spirit beings. Thus, one of his common lying signs is to make dead people seem alive, and he does this in various ways, from giving information via mediums in séances, to “haunting” houses, to full demonic apparitions that resemble dead people. Many people, seeing this “evidence,” are turned from the clear biblical truth that the dead are dead until the Rapture or resurrection, to believing the Devil’s lying sign as actually true.

A major tactic of the Devil is to create a cultural climate in which there is a lot of disagreement over truths espoused by the Bible. That way, anyone who claims to have the truth is considered ignorant or arrogant, and is thus easily dismissed.

The Fallen Nature of Mankind

Another reason truth is often offensive to those who do not adhere to it is because people are selfish. We are flesh creatures who have a sin nature and live in a fallen world, and our flesh and sin nature combine to make us inherently selfish and self-centered. That is why we so often give in to temptation and do things that we know are not good for us, and it is also why it can seem so hard to do what is “right” all the time. Because we are self-centered, we can become offended by truth. We want to do things “our way,” but the exclusive nature of truth means we have to do them “the right way.” God calls our selfishness and the things we do from a selfish motivation “evil,” and shows it is a reason why people do not come to Him, but are offended by the truth.

John 3:19-21
(19) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
(20) Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
(21) But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

It goes against our selfish nature to always do things God’s way, but God is love and everything He asks us to do is in our best interest.

Truth Will Always Offend Some People

The combination of the absolute nature of truth, the Devil’s lies, and the fallen state of mankind combine to result in truth always being offensive to at least some people. For example, why is lying, cheating, and stealing so widespread? It is because people would rather get what they want than be self-sacrificing and truthful. There is an example that shows that people would rather get what they want than act selflessly and walk in love in the gospel of John. Jesus was trying to teach the people that he, not manna, was the real bread that came down from heaven, and that if they would eat his flesh and drink his blood (both idioms for involvement and commitment), they would have everlasting life (John 6:53 and 54). [1] This seems like a very fundamental truth, and it was spoken from Jesus’ sincere and loving heart to see people live forever. Jesus was asking people to turn from their self-centered lives and follow his ways so they could live forever. How did the people respond? Scripture records what they said and did. They said, “…This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:60). What did they do? They left, as John 6:66 records: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”

When Jesus asked the people around him, including his disciples, to turn from selfishness to truth, many of them simply walked away from him. Do we honestly think it will be any different for us? But if we know that many unbelievers will be offended when we tell them they have to come to Jesus to be saved, should we just ignore the subject of salvation altogether? After all, there are so many other things to talk about; do we have to talk about God, Jesus, or everlasting life?

Why Do We Speak About Jesus?

In order to honestly answer the question about whether we have to speak to unbelievers about salvation and obeying God, we have to become clear on why Jesus, the Apostles, and so many other dedicated Christians have spoken to others about those things. God is real, even if people do not believe it; the Bible is true, even if people do not believe it; and the Day of Judgment is coming, even if people do not believe it. It is an act of love to tell people about blessings they could have now and in the future, and to warn people about a potential disaster they are unaware of. What we need to realize is that not everyone we speak to will “feel the love.”

As Christians, we must face the fact that there is no way to present the truth about Jesus Christ and salvation to people without some of them being offended. Once we realize that, we have a decision to make: do we present the truth even though some will be offended?

The Stumbling Stone

While we are pondering when and how to present the spiritual truths of the Word of God to others, it helps to remember that God knew how people would respond to His loving advances. God knows the absolute nature of His truth, and that most people would reject it, and reject His Son. That is why God refers to Jesus as “…A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”

1 Peter 2:6-8a (ESV) [2]
(6) For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
(7) So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”
(8a) and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”

It is a profound truth that it is God who calls His Son “a stone of stumbling and rock of offense.” God Himself, who loves people much more than we could imagine, could not think of a better way to present His love, His Son, and His truth, that would not offend many of the self-centered men and women of the earth. Therefore it is safe to assume that neither you nor I are going to come up with a way to present Jesus Christ as God’s plan of salvation without offending some of them. And how will they react? Many will just think we are arrogant and narrow-minded, and shun us, and others will aggressively try to curtail our Christian activities. That is what has happened to evangelically-minded Christians through the centuries—they have been restricted or forbidden to meet, to own Bibles, to preach, to witness to others, and often they have been persecuted to the extent of imprisonment, torture, and death.

Evangelism and Persecution

Just as the Bible says that unbelievers will be offended at Christ, it says that those who live godly lives, which includes lovingly reaching out to others with the truth about Christ and salvation, will be persecuted.

2 Timothy 3:12
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

This statement in 2 Timothy 3:12 is not a profound act of foretelling on Paul’s part, but rather an honest evaluation of what happens when the absolute truth of God meets the self-centered hearts of fallen man. Just as a thief is angry when he is caught and strikes back if he can, many unsaved people are angry when they are presented with the truth that they must come to Jesus to be saved, and they strike back, doing things like making evangelism illegal and persecuting Christians who speak and live the truth. [3]

There are Christians who try to make Christ acceptable by not mentioning him but only doing good deeds. They say, “I let my good works do my witnessing.” However, if we are honest about the subject, we can see that there are a number of problems with this approach. First, it is not really effective. There are not large numbers of people filling church pews who are there simply because they saw someone else doing good works or living a good life. No one can be saved until they make Christ Lord and believe God raised him from the dead (Rom. 10:9), and no one knows to do that unless someone else tells them. That is why there are so many commands in Scripture about speaking the Gospel to others. At some point someone must actually speak the Word to those who do not believe.

Secondly, doing good deeds is a common tenet not only of religion, but of service organizations. For example, the slogan of the Boy Scouts is “Do a good turn [deed] daily.” Therefore, a Christian doing good deeds does not necessarily point an onlooker to salvation through Jesus Christ nor to the fatal consequences of rejecting him. Thirdly, why would we not speak about Jesus Christ, salvation, and everlasting life? We speak to others about what is important to us, such as things we enjoy, things that have happened to us that are noteworthy, and people who mean a lot to us, such as our children. What does it say about us, when we will not speak to others about Jesus Christ and salvation? There can only be two answers: either Jesus and salvation do not mean that much to us, or we are concerned or afraid of how the other person will respond.

We have to be very honest with ourselves when we consider why we are not mentioning Jesus and salvation to the unsaved people we know. If the voice in our head says, “I do not want to offend them,” or “I do not what to ‘turn them off,’” we need to be honest about the emphasis we are putting on the word, “I.” Is the real reason we are not speaking about Christ a matter of protecting ourselves from being shunned, called “narrow-minded,” or being otherwise persecuted? It is often not the “I” that offends people, but the “stumbling stone,” Jesus Christ. People enjoy being lord of their life, and do not want to have another lord. It is loving, in fact, the pinnacle of love, to offer everlasting life to someone who is not saved. Similarly, it will be a time of great despair to be present at the Judgment and see someone get thrown into the flames if we had the chance to tell that person about Jesus but failed to do so.

Jesus Christ was loving, selfless, and giving in every way, and yet people rejected him. Jesus never told us we could get better results than he did. Instead, Jesus armed us with the truth by telling us how it would be when we ventured into the world to try to turn it from its selfish ways and offer it everlasting life.

Matthew 10:16-40 (NIV abridged)
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore…Be on your guard against men…All men will hate you because of me…When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another…A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master…If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household! So do not be afraid of them…Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

It is never our desire to offend anyone, but we must realize that truth, even if it is presented in love, will offend some people. We each have the choice to either love people enough to offer them everlasting life, knowing that we might offend them, or we can choose to simply be quiet and not risk offending anyone. Let’s make the same choice Jesus did and tell people about Jesus and everlasting life, knowing we will live forever with some of them because of our efforts.

Endnotes

[1] For documentation see our Revised English Version® of the Bible, Commentary on John 6:54 at STFonline.org/rev
[2] Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are taken from The Holy Bible,English Standard Version™. © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
[3] The free expression of Christian worship is outlawed in some countries today, and Christian evangelism is currently illegal in a number of countries, including many Moslem countries, communist countries, Israel and France.

Courtesy of http://www.truthortradition.com/articles/why-does-the-truth-offend

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The God of Hope

god-of-hope-paige-newmanI have the humbling privilege of teaching the Bible at Wheeler Mission to the homeless, the broken, the down-trodden and to the struggling. It is challenging and rewarding to hold forth the Word of Life. Here my notes for my last teaching. They are not as detailed as most posts on the blog, but are truly notes in an outline form, but I thought they would bless you.

The God of hope. Romans 15:13. He is the expectation of future good. No hope in temporal things, people, self-abilities or philosophies of the world.

Never one ounce in disappointment in God. He will never let you down or let go of you. Romans 10:11: The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed. God  cannot lie. Either this is truth and you can stake your life on it or it is not.

No distinction between race, poor, nationality, or gender. God does not discriminate. Romans 10:12: For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Psalm 18:2ff: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears. He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

Man is born spiritually blind. He is unable therefore to assess the relative values of the things of time when compared with the things of eternity. As a result, he spends his time and energies in seeking the wealth, the honor and the pleasures that this world can give him. Little does he realize that ” the things that are seen are (all of them) temporal,” whereas ” the things that are not seen (and they alone) are eternal ” (2 Cor. 4:18). Jesus challenged the wrong sense of values held by even religious people of His day when He told them that a man would profit nothing who gained the whole world if in doing so he lost his soul. If a man is not rightly related to God through Jesus Christ then he will discover, in the day that he stands before his Creator, that all he has achieved and acquired on earth is utterly valueless.

Life is more than the temporal. We must come to our Creator to truly live.

Genesis 2:7: Where it began face to face, eye to eye, and breath to breath. This intimate moment with God is where life began and we must return to the fountainhead of life.

Do you know the grandness of what it means to be a Christian? Do you understand who you are and your position as a son or daughter of God in the kingdom of God? We need to have an awakening of our soul to the magnificence of the gospel and the power, the glory and the strength of God that we can live in on this earth when we are in Christ. The picture has faded into gray and we have not seen the absolute triumph and victory that is supposed to be the norm in Christianity. We have not experienced the exchanged life where our mighty Lord Jesus Christ lives his life, his very existence, in and through our lives. We need to have the rock of the living God as the cornerstone of our soul. We need a serious tutoring about the life of triumph in Jesus Christ. Are we tired of a Christianity that does not work? Are we tired of the futility of trying to live as a Christian? The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem us and to restore us to our true humanity and function, to restore us to the Life that was lost in Adam, so that we can be in Him and He can be in us.

Ravenhill: We are not saved to stagnate. Conversion is not a goal; it is a gateway. We are to progress from strength to strength, from glory to glory.

Psalm 118:5-9: Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

Romans 8:31-39: Nothing can separate us from God’s love. He has freely given us all things in Christ. No one can lay anything to our charge or condemn us. God is on our side.

Hebrews 13:5,6: He will never, never leave us or never never, never forsake us. He is our helper. He wants to let help but we must have faith that He will.

When the gospel it truly received it costs you everything, your life, your old ways, your old mannerisms, your old self. This is a cost that comes in knowing God and the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot hold on to a scrap of the old you. The problem is us. We have a born disposition that is in rebellion against the most High God. I want my life on my terms. You can have all that Jesus Christ is, but there is a little caveat: He gets all that you are. Oh the glow, the soul satisfaction, the radiance that comes from giving our all, our entire lives, EVERYTHING to Him. Few want to live Christianity like this. Can you look God square in face and say you made me, you fashioned me for a purpose and a destiny, you gave your Son to set me free, and I now give you my life and will do what you require me to do. I don’t want my way. I want your way.

Do you know you have a thousand moments in every day that you need to be rescued and delivered? From what? From YOU, from the problem of you. You have a desire; you have an esteem for that very throne in your life. You want to be in control; you want it to be your way. You are a problem; you are a rebel against the kingdom agenda. But God has a better plan.

Is God able to take care of you?

Psalms 78:24-25

He rained down manna upon them to eat and gave them food from heaven. Man did eat the bread of angels; He sent them food in abundance.

Manna and Moses: 3 ½ Million people in Exodus from Egypt into the wilderness. 1500 tons of food a day. Fill two freight trains a mile long. 4000 tons of firewood to cook. 11,000 gallons of water every day to drink. Every day for 40 years God provided manna and water. Can we trust our God to do any less?

Tozer in The Divine Conquest says,

“The experience with men that walked with God in olden time agree to teach that the Lord cannot bless a man until He has first conquered Him. The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God’s victory over him…Only the conquered can know true blessedness…For life we are wholly and continually dependent upon God, the Source and Fountain of life. Only by full dependence upon Him are the hidden potentials of our natures realized. Apart from this we are but half-men, malformed and unbeautiful members of a noble race once made to wear the image of its Creator…It was to save Jacob from deceptive hope that God confronted him that night on the bank of the river. To save him from self-trust it was necessary for God to conquer him, to wrest control away from him, to take his great power and rule with a rod of love…We might pray well for God to invade and conquer us, for until he does, we remain in peril from a thousand foes. We bear within us the seeds of our own disintegration. The strength of our flesh is an ever present danger to our souls. Deliverance can only come to us by the defeat of our old life…Real faith must always mean more than passive acceptance. It dare mean nothing less than surrender of our doomed Adam like nature to a merciful end upon the cross…There begins the divine conquest of our lives.”

O GOD BUILD YOURSELF IN ME!

Major Ian Thomas in The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me states:

God so engineered you and me that His presence is indispensable to our humanity, teaching our minds, controlling our emotions, directing our wills, and governing our behavior. Your new birth put God into action in you…If you decide genuinely that Christ be everything and have everything in your life…then He is ready to lead you into discoveries that can completely revolutionize your whole humanity for time and eternity…The resurrected Christ now lives, to continue His Life in you.

Psalm 31:14, 15a (Amplified):

But I trusted, relied on, and was confident in You O Lord; I said, you are my God. My times are in thine hands…

The very difficulties that surround our lives today are but opportunities for God to show Himself to us as El·Shaddai-God Almighty who is more than enough and all we need. Our sufficiency.

Parable of invited wedding guests. Every one of the first invited made excuses why they would not come. So the poor, crippled, lame and blind were invited. Luke 14.

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men. (1 Samuel 22:1, 2 ESV). David’s mighty men was made up of the world’s rejected. He is a prototype of Jesus Christ and not many mighty, noble or wise or called, but the weak.

Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). Jesus Christ was homeless.

Revelation 5:9: Worthy art thou to take the book, and to break its seals, for thou was slain, and did purchase for God with thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

God had more in mind than simply man’s forgiveness. He was putting claim of ownership on our lives. Redemption. How valuable must you be to God for Him to pay such a high price to purchase you.

John 10:9ff:  I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd…27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

He will take care of you if you only let Him.

Matthew 6:25ff Jesus had to first teach his disciples not to fear or worry or be anxious but to trust in God. If he can take care of the birds and lilies of the field, surely He can take care of us.

I Peter 5:7 We cast everything, every burden, fear, problem and care on His shoulders for He cares for us.

Trusting God means looking beyond what we see to what God sees. God sees all of our tomorrows. He gives us hope. We can rest on Him. Not be afraid of tomorrow. No matter how impossible it may seem. God knows what is in the future and He can deal with it. 2 Kings 6:15-17,: When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Psalm 145:13-18:  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,   and your dominion endures throughout all generations.[The Lord is faithful in all his words  and kind in all his works.] 14 The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.16 You open your hand;   you satisfy the desire of every living thing.17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Romans 8:1: No condemnation in Christ. No matter what in past. Never let your sin or past prevent you from coming to God.  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. John 3:16 verse of this mission.

Colossians 1:13: Delivery from the kingdom of darkness and citizenship in His kingdom.

For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the height. 2 Samuel 22

2 Chronicles 14:11: And Asa cried to the Lord his God, “O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.”

Who is controlling your life? Who calls the shots? Do you accept the authority of Scriptures to speak into our lives?

Whatever we acquire outside of God’s will eventually turns to ashes. Wages of sin is death. There is a pay day coming. That is why we so desperately need Christ and his atonement for our sins. He paid the price for every single one of our sins if we will only accept it. Romans 10:9-10.

God is big enough and cares enough to meet every one of your needs.

Matthew 4:4: What our we feeding our souls? Are we starving spiritually?

Childlike faith-Heavenly Father. What are characteristics of a good father? Ask them. Million times more with our Heavenly Father.

Let me ask you another question. Have you ever thought about eternal life? Life that never ends. Have you ever thought about heaven? What it must be like? A place like no other.

Revelation 21:1-6: Is this your future? An invitation from the King of Kings is waiting for you.

Matthew 4:19: “Come and follow me said Jesus….”Who are we following? Who has charge of our lives? What or who are we serving? Where do we derive our identity?

John 16:33:  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Do you have peace? It only comes with the prince of peace.

2  Chronicles 13: O sons of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed.”

2 Chronicles 20: For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

Let God fight every battle, every problem, and every circumstance. Stand still and see the salvation of God.

Ecclesiastes 5:7: Many words are meaningless. Stand in awe of God

Isaiah 43:18, 19: Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Nothing is impossible with God. He makes a way in the wilderness of our lives and rivers of water in the dry desserts of our heart.

Psalm 73:23-26 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;  you hold my right hand.24 You guide me with your counsel,    and afterward you will receive me to glory.25 Whom have I in heaven but you?    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 91:14: 14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I  will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.

16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not…

Psalm 34:4: I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. David chooses megurot. The root is gur which means “great dread, terror, horror.” This is more than worrying about tomorrow’s weather. This is a nightmare turned into a daylight trauma. Your worst fears.  Maybe you can handle the ordinary worries of life. That’s why David turns these things over to God. He will deliver us from all those nightmares. But I suspect that the worst of all terrors come from deep inside of us. We are powerless over them because they reside in the darkest corners of our lives. They are megurot—and God is the only deliverer.  Terrors that arise from deep inside. Mental bondage of guilt and condemnation. Prisons in mind. God delivers us from all of them in Christ. Sweet freedom from every prison that holds us captive.

Psalm 42:5, 6a: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you

If you come to Christ and give your life to him He will make you lovely and acceptable. Accepted in the beloved. You are the beloved of God. Don’t you want to be accepted? Beloved? Cared for? Treasured? The world beats us up and tells us that we don’t measure up. God says we are His beloved masterpiece and gives us rest and assurance of our true identity that no person can steal, mar or change. He is, therefore we are.

Luke 4:18ff:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Now is the time of your salvation. Today God can heal your broken heart, give you liberty from every captivity, open your eyes to see again, set you free from every oppression, deliver you from every addiction and give you a new life. Won’t you accept his invitation to begin your life anew with Him today, tomorrow and throughout all eternity? He paid the price for you, all He asks you to do is to come at the foot of the cross and accept Him into your life as Lord, Savior and Redeemer.

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The Supreme Priorities of Life

2_timothy_3_16_medium

The blind man throws away a cheque for one hundred rupees and clings on to a valueless piece of glazed paper, considering the latter more desirable because it is smoother to his touch. He lacks a proper sense of values because he is blind. Like him, the two-year old child also prefers a cheap toy to the cheque. He too is ignorant of real values, because he is immature. However, multitudes of intelligent men and women throughout the world are doing exactly the same thing today. And they are doing it without even realizing it! Do you have a proper sense of values? A mistaken idea of true values can lead any one of us to a wasted life; and the greatest tragedy in the world today is wasted human lives. Nor is this wastage peculiar to the irreligious, one finds it among the religious as well. Man is born spiritually blind. He is unable therefore to assess the relative values of the things of time when compared with the things of eternity. As a result, he spends his time and energies in seeking the wealth, the honour and the pleasures that this world can give him. Little does he realize that ” the things that are seen are (all of them) temporal,” whereas ” the things that are not seen (and they alone) are eternal ” (2 Cor. 4:18). Jesus challenged the wrong sense of values held by even religious people of His day when He told them that a man would profit nothing who gained the whole world if in doing so he lost his soul. If a man is not rightly related to God through Jesus Christ then he will discover, in the day that he stands before his Creator, that all he has achieved and acquired on earth is utterly valueless.

There are multitudes of believers, too, whose “sins are all forgiven” and who are “on their way to heaven,” yet whose values are no less confused. In the day of judgment they will find to their surprise that, though their souls may have been saved, their lives have been wasted. They have sat as spectators on the side-lines, content with their salvation, happily singing choruses, watching others being used of God but unaware that He wants them on the field as well. Occasionally they may wonder why the power and joy and fruitfulness that mark the lives of other Christians are not their portion too. They may attend many Christian meetings to stimulate their spiritual life, but their inner man remains always weak and sickly. Once in a while they may have ambitions to attain a higher level of Christian living, but soon they fall back to where they started from – and sometimes even lower. What is the reason for this? Usually it is quite simple: they have not got their priorities right. Like the blind man and the child in the illustrations above, they have again and again in their ignorance thrown away the true spiritual riches and clung to what is worthless. Thus they have remained spiritual bankrupts, whereas God intended them to be rich.

Jesus was forever seeking to remove this blindness from the eyes of those who came to Him. He taught them what the supreme priorities of life really are. To Martha He said, “One thing is needful.” To a rich young man He said, “One thing thou lackest.” With these words He threw into emphasis the thing that should take first place in each of their lives. Or again in Old Testament times, of David alone was it said that he was “a man after God’s own heart ” – and he certainly had his priorities right! “One thing,” he said, “have I desired.” Paul too, the greatest apostle of Christianity, succeeded in putting the right thing first. “One thing I do,” he cried; and with that as his theme he lived out the most effective life (from the standpoint of eternity) that this world has seen since Jesus of Nazareth ascended on high.

The atmosphere of the world today gives to all of us without exception a perverted sense of values. Under its influence we tend to get life’s priorities wrong. For that influence is immensely powerful. Faster than ever before in the history of mankind the world is sinking into the gutter of moral decay and corruption. The darkness deepens until the night is black around us. In such conditions Jesus wanted His church to be the salt of this earth and the light of this world. But the salt has largely lost its savour and the light its brightness. Corruption and darkness have found their way into the very household of faith. And because the Pharisaic leaven of hypocrisy has penetrated so deeply into the church it is neither aware of, nor willing to face its true condition. Only those who have quickened ears can hear the Spirit of God speaking, calling even today for a reevaluation of existing priorities.

In this great darkness the only light that you and I are offered is to be found in the Bible. Let us turn to it then, and seek to discover for ourselves what the prior claims upon the Christian really are. What we read there may at first hurt and even offend us, for the Bible penetrates behind our disguises. But let us take courage from the wise remarks of a twentieth century servant of God: ” The words of Jesus hurt and offend until there is nothing left to hurt or offend (cf. Matt. 11:6). If we have never been hurt by a statement of Jesus, it is questionable whether we have ever really heard Him speak. Jesus Christ has no tenderness whatever towards anything that is ultimately going to ruin a man for the service of God. If the Spirit of God brings to our mind a word of the Lord that hurts, we may be perfectly certain there is something He wants to hurt, even to death.” (Oswald Chambers in So Send I You).

” Thou sayest…I have need of nothing; but knowest not that thou art…blind; I counsel thee…to anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see…He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches ” (Rev. 3:17-22).

“Open my ears that I may hear Voices of truth Thou sendest clear; And while the wave-notes fall on my ear,

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 38-42).

How striking are Jesus’ words to Martha in verse 42: “One thing is needful!” There may be plenty of good things to be done and many indeed that may justly be considered essential. But, Jesus affirmed, one thing above all others was needful. What was that one thing?

Jesus and His disciples had just arrived at Bethany. As soon as Martha saw them, she joyfully received them into her house, made them sit down and straightway hurried into the kitchen to prepare some food. Meanwhile Jesus began to preach to those present. When Martha discovered that her sister Mary had settled down to listen to His words instead of coming to her help, she rushed out of the kitchen with anger, and turning to Jesus, appealed to Him in words more or less as follows: “Lord, here I am toiling in the kitchen preparing a meal for you all, and my sister just sits here doing nothing. Tell her to get up and help me!” To her surprise, however, it was Martha herself whom Jesus rebuked. She and not Mary, He told her, was the one who was at fault.

Now let us note this, that it was not for anything sinful which Martha had one that she was thus addressed. She had joyfully received Jesus into her home. The work that she then did in the kitchen was not for herself, but for Him and for His disciples. She is a picture of a believer today, who has received the Lord into her heart and who is unselfishly seeking to serve the Lord and others. Yet despite her zeal she was rebuked by Jesus. What, we ask ourselves, is the point of this? What was wrong with her action? And the answer, surely, lies in those four words of Jesus: “One thing is needful.” Martha was not rebuked for her service, but for not putting first things first.

Mary, the Lord said, had chosen the good part. What was that? She simply sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word. Nothing more. But that is the good part. That is the one thing needful above all other things. How much place does listening have in our lives? How much time do we spend sitting at the feet of the Lord, reading His word and seeking to hear Him speak to us through it? Not very much perhaps. Other things crowd it out, so that we often find ourselves guilty of the same mistake that Martha made. It may not be mundane affairs alone that keep us pre-occupied. It may be Christian service too. We may take active part in meetings for prayer or worship or witness, and yet find that the Lord is rebuking us as He did Martha.

“Mary hath chosen that good part.” This is Jesus’ own valuation of His words to her, and by inference, of all that today comes to us as God’s Word of life. Our first theme, then, is that good thing – the Word of God as given to us in the Bible. We shall look at this from three standpoints. We shall consider first the authority of the Bible, then the importance of hearing God’s Word, and finally, the effect that the Word of God can have upon our lives.

The Authority of the Bible

We have to consider first the Divine authority of the Bible because this is the foundation to all else. To proceed further without settling this point would be as disastrous as proceeding with the construction of a building without laying its foundation. Only as we are assured of the Bible’s authority shall we value and appreciate it aright.

Many who are born and brought up in Christian homes have accepted the Bible without question as the Word of God, simply because they were taught to do so by their parents or by their church, but they have never cared to establish with certainty in their own minds the reason for doing so. Thus they carry on happily for a while, until one day some modernist gives them a dose of his so-called higher criticism. “The Scriptures,” he claims, “are full of inconsistencies. The authors are not the persons named but much later writers, often writing with motives that are not above suspicion. It is impossible therefore to know what Jesus or His disciples really taught. There is insufficient factual evidence even for the great saving events. Modern man cannot possibly believe such fables.” So he goes on, and very soon their whole faith begins to crumble. Why? Because it was never properly founded in the first place.

God does not ask us to believe things blindly. Many Christians give that impression to others, but it is totally wrong. God intends that the eyes of our heart be enlightened that we may know. What the Bible does teach is that our minds are blinded by Satan. As sinners, therefore, we cannot with our natural minds understand the things of God. We are thus completely dependent on Divine revelation – on God making known His message to us. (This He is ever ready to do for the sincere seeker.) Our minds are sinful, and therefore fallible. We are not perfect in knowledge. So we need not be surprised if, with our finite and fallible minds, we are unable to grasp some things in the Bible that are beyond our reason. This does not mean that the Bible is contrary to reason. It does mean however that, like little children, we are just on the threshold of Divine things. If our intellects were perfect and infallible, we would assuredly find ourselves in full agreement with the Bible. This is proved by the fact that a person who is born again, as he grows in likeness to Christ, finds himself growing correspondingly in his understanding of the Bible and agreement with it. But if instead of acknowledging our limitations we give rein to our critical faculties, we shall stumble. If we found our faith only upon what appears reasonable to our fallible intellects, one day we shall find that we have built on sand.

Why do we believe the Bible to be the Word of God? Firstly, because of the testimony of Jesus Christ. In the Gospels we find Him constantly quoting the Old Testament scriptures as an authority. At the outset of His ministry in Luke chapter 4, we find Him quoting the book of Deuteronomy in effective answer to Satan’s temptations. Jesus began His ministry with the words, “It is written,” a straight assertion of the authority of Scripture. After His resurrection, in Luke chapter 24, we once more find Him expounding the Scriptures, first to two disciples walking to Emmaus, then shortly afterwards to the eleven in the upper room. And again and again throughout the three-and-a-half years that lay between these incidents we hear Him quote the Hebrew Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God. And remember, these Jewish Scriptures are the very same Old Testament that we have with us today. In the brief record of the four Gospels, Jesus made at least fifty-seven quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament. Since this was evidently His custom, there must surely have been countless more such instances which the New Testament does not record in detail.

What is abundantly clear is that the Lord entertained no doubt at all about the authority of the Old Testament. It was, in fact, the only written authority that He accepted on earth. When answering the Pharisees and the Sadducees of His day, He always quoted Scripture.” It is written “was His ground of appeal. Whereas many of today’s preachers quote theologians, philosophers, psychologists – and even secular writers, the Lord Jesus never cared to quote the opinions of others. His only authority was the Old Testament. If we accept His testimony at all, it necessitates our accepting the Bible as God’s Word also. Those who reject the Bible reject the testimony of Jesus Himself.

Secondly, we accept the Bible as God’s infallible Word because so large a number of detailed prophecies contained in it have been fulfilled. One-third of the Bible is prophecy. Prophecies concerning the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus were made in the Old Testament hundreds of years before He came to earth, and these were literally fulfilled when He came Prophecies concerning many of the leading nations of Old Testament times, and especially concerning Israel, have been fulfilled to the very letter. In our own life-time the Jews have returned to their homeland in Palestine and taken possession of the city of Jerusalem. Yet these events were foretold 2,500 years ago.

Another proof of the Bible’s Divine inspiration is the remarkably unity that is found in its sixty-six books. They were written in three different languages over a period of 1,600 years by some forty different authors of varying standards of education and the widest range of social and cultural backgrounds – kings, shepherds, military leaders, seers, Pharisees and fishermen. Yet even so there is a marvelous unity throughout this whole library of writings, and not a single fundamental contradiction. Apparent contradictions here and there are of a trivial nature, to be explained by errors in copying of the text. Fundamental moral and ethical contradictions there are none. Many of the historical statements in the Bible have been questioned, but have been confirmed on further research. It scientific statements (though few, because it is not a text-book of science) are all true to the established facts of the physical world. Though written at a time when man’s scientific knowledge was extremely faulty, it contains none of the crude fallacies that were believed by men in those and even much later times. Science is constantly changing its views and rewriting its books, but the Bible needs no such revision.

The fact that the Bible has stood through the centuries triumphant over every attack upon it by its foes is yet another proof of its Divine inspiration. There is no book in the world that has been attacked so vigorously as the Bible. Yet it has gloriously survived the criticism of its friends and the hostility of its enemies. The French infidel Voltaire once said that in a hundred years there would be no Bible. They were “famous last words” indeed, for ironically enough, after his death, the Bible Society opened its office in the very house in which he had lived! Thus has God vindicated His Word. Infidels may come and go, but the Bible goes on from strength to strength. No other book has been so loved and respected and treasured by men and women the world over. It remains the world’s best-seller.

Then again, we believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word because of the accepted fact that countless lives have been transformed by it, sometimes indeed by just one verse from its pages. Passages of Scripture which no one would imagine could have such an effect have been used by God to convert people and bring them to salvation. Wicked men and women have been transformed overnight into saints of God through the reading of some passage or other in this marvelous Book. This has happened even in vernacular versions where the translation has been so poor as to make such a result highly improbable. God does indeed speak through this Book to effect moral changes in human lives. A sixth proof of the inspiration of the Bible is its inexhaustibility. Through the centuries many brilliant men with the keenest intellects have spent their lifetimes studying it. Yet even so its depths have not been fathomed.

Like a bottomless mine, the Book continues to yield new treasures, speaking to men in ever fresh ways. Moreover, its message has such a sublime simplicity that even a child can grasp it. Time cannot out-date it; it is time-less. If only we have the humility to consult it, we will find the answer to all our problems in this wonderful Book. That could never have been possible were it merely a human writing; but being divinely inspired it contains the inexhaustible wisdom of the infinite God. Man therefore can ever draw from it according to his need.

Finally, the greatest proof of its inspiration is that, as we read it in humility before God, He speaks to us through it. Hearing its words we become growingly convinced that they are the voice of God. Scripture’s great themes, such as the doctrines of the Trinity and of the atonement, could never have been invented by men. They could only have been known through the Spirit’s inspiration. They are in a true sense God-given. We discover, too, an amazing design in the content and message of every book in the Bible, especially when it is viewed as a mirror reflecting the Lord Jesus Himself. The title of an old commentary, Christ in All the Scriptures, aptly describes what students of the Bible have constantly found, that the entire Scriptures “hang together” in wonderful detail to form an ever more convincing pattern when He is the goal of their study.

We are living in days in which the authority of the Bible is being widely questioned. Paul warned the Corinthian believers of the possibility of Satan corrupting their minds in just the same way as he corrupted Eve’s (2 Cor. 11:1-3). When the Devil came to Eve, he began with the question, “Hath God said?” He has been asking men the same old question ever since, “Is this really God’s Word?.” This has been one of his most successful devices to turn men away from the faith. The Holy Spirit warns us emphatically that there will be an increase of deception in the last days, due to an influx of deceiving spirits into the world (1 Tim. 4:1). The statement that “some shall depart from the faith” seems to indicate that this verse is describing not pagans but Christians. The Lord Jesus referred to this possibility of deception three times in Matthew 24 (verses 5, 11, 24)

while speaking about the last days. The Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 also speaks of a ” a falling away ” prior to the day of the Lord. This defection is obviously due to Christians being lured away by some subtle deceit of Satan. These warnings are serious. If in spite of them we still remain unwatchful, we shall most certainly find ourselves deceived.

How does a man seek to deceive you? If he wants to cheat you of one hundred rupees by passing a counterfeit currency note, he will ensure that the counterfeit note is as close as possible in appearance to the real thing. Only so will he hope to trick you. And Satan is no less subtle. His most powerful tool with which to deceive the unsuspecting Christian will be a “Christian” preacher – one who preaches with the Bible supposedly as his basis but who has not bowed his knee to its authority. Watch him! On closer inspection the things he preaches either are not found in the Bible at all, or they give a slanted and unbalanced presentation of Biblical truth.

The safeguard against all such deception is the Bible itself. If we do not know our Bibles well, we shall surely fall a prey to such deception. Unless we make the Bible our final authority in all matters relating to our faith, we shall be tossed about hither and thither until that faith itself is lost.

The Lord Jesus condemned the Pharisees and scribes for rejecting the Old Testament and replacing it with their own traditions (Mark 7:5-13). Their long-standing rejection of the written Word of God led finally to their rejection of the living Word when He came into their midst. The spiritual descendants of those scribes and Pharisees are found in our own generation. And many are being deceived by them. How watchful we need to be.

We are told by the psalmist that God has magnified His Word above all His Name (Psalm 138:2). To reject or ignore it therefore, or to treat it lightly, is to invite immeasurable loss. But to reverence it is to discover a door into untold riches.

The Importance of Hearing God’s Word

The overwhelming necessity of spending time each day with God’s Word is implied clearly in the words of Jesus to Martha, with which we opened this chapter. There are many other things which may help us and which may prove useful, but this one thing above all others is absolutely essential. We can no more do without it than our physical bodies can do without oxygen. It is quite indispensable. The supreme essential for our spirits is indeed just this – to sit at the Lord’s feet daily to hear His Word.

The Lord Jesus knew, better than anyone else, all the factors that affect a man’s life. He knew every possible situation that any man could ever find himself in. He knew the dangers that lay ahead of every man and He knew all the wiles of Satan. He knew what was necessary for man’s spiritual growth, for He alone knew the relative importance and unimportance of things. Knowing all this, He said that one thing was needful above all else. He used similar words in Luke 4:4. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God.” This is a quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3, where reference is made to the manna with which God fed the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness. The Israelites were told there that God’s purpose in giving them the manna daily from heaven was that they might, in like manner, learn to receive God’s Word. If they were to be strengthened for their wilderness journey those Israelites needed the manna daily. Even so does man require to receive the Word of God daily, if he is to be empowered to face the trials of life.

Jesus never made these statements lightly. He was seeking to impress upon His disciples the absolute necessity of hearing His Word daily. If that is true, then it follows that a life that is lived without time given to meditation on God’s written Word is a wasted life, no matter what else it may have achieved.

In Luke 17:26-30, Jesus tells us that the last days will be like the days of Noah and of Lot, in which people ate, drank, bought, sold, planted, built, and so on. Have you noticed that none of these things are sinful in themselves? They are all legitimate activities. Why then did Jesus mention them as being peculiarly characteristic of those sinful days? Because the people of those days were so occupied with these legitimate activities as to have no time for God at all. The Devil succeeded in getting them to crowd God out of their lives altogether. This of course resulted, as it always will, in moral decay and corruption.

Compare this state of affairs with what we see in the world today and we shall find an exact similarity of attitude and of consequent result. Men and women are too busy to have any time to listen to God. Look into your own life and see if this is not true. The spirit of the world has crept into the very heart of the believer. Even though science has invented many time-saving devices which our forefathers did not possess, yet man finds himself rushed for time. Today we can travel by car, train or aeroplane where they had to travel on animals or on their own two feet. Our ancestors had to spend much longer doing the daily household chores which today are done for us by gadgets and machines. Yet many of them found much more time for God than most people find today. Why? Because they had their priorities right. They put first things first.

If we are to be effective witnesses for our Lord, it is imperative that we spend time each day at His feet listening to His voice. There are many today who are ambitious to preach, who have never developed this habit of listening to God’s voice daily. The result is a sad paucity of “the word of the Lord” and a sickening abundance of man’s words. Of how very few of today’s preachers can it be said that” the word of the Lord is with him” (2 Kings 3:12).

Yet this was the distinguishing mark of every true servant of God in the Bible. No man has the right to speak to other men about God, who has not first spent time listening to what God Himself says and this refers to private witnessing as well as to public preaching. It is written of Moses that he went in before the Lord and then “came out and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded” (Exod. 34:34).

Joshua was told that his life would be a success only if he meditated on God’s Word daily (Josh. 1:8). Samuel is another classic example of one who patiently waited to hear God speak, and then spoke to the people. The result was that the Lord “allowed no single word of his to fall to the ground” (1 Sam. 3:19).

In a prophetic reference to the Lord Jesus in Isaiah 50:4, it is said of Him that morning by morning God spoke to Him, for His ears were disciplined to hear His Father’s voice. The result was, as the same verse tells us, that Jesus had a ready word for all who came to Him, according to their need. He was truly the Father’s perfect mouthpiece. If this habit of listening to God’s voice daily was necessary for Jesus Himself, then how much more is it so for us. We shall never be able to minister adequately to those in need if we fail here. It is only when we learn to “hear as a disciple” that we shall have “the tongue of a disciple.” Unfortunately, many who should have been teaching others by now are still spiritual babes, because they have either ignored or neglected this “one thing.”

Listening to the Lord does not mean merely reading the Bible. There are many who read their Bibles purely as a matter of routine. Listening to the Lord means more than that. It means meditating on His Word until we receive, through it, His message for us. Thus alone can our minds be renewed and conformed growingly to the mind of Christ. But many who read their Bibles have never yet learned thus to meditate.

There are at least three spiritual truths to be learnt from Mary’s sitting at the feet of Jesus. Sitting – unlike walking, running, or even standing – is primarily a picture of rest. This teaches us that our hearts must be at rest and our minds still, before we can hear God speaking to us. Unconfessed sin will preclude the former, while over-occupation with the cares and riches of this world will stand in the way of the latter. With a conscience ill at ease or a mind filled with anxiety or fear, how can we hope to hear God’s “still small voice?”

Psalm 46:10 tells us that we must be still if we are to know God.

Sitting at a person’s feet is also a picture of humility. Mary was not sitting on a chair on the same level as Jesus, but on a lower level. God never speaks to a proud man, except in judgment. But He is ever ready to speak and to offer His grace to the humble soul who will be as a child before Him (Matt. 11:25). Thirdly, sitting as Mary did is a picture of subjection. It is the attitude of a disciple in the presence of his Master. Our subjection is manifested in obedience to God’s Word. God has not spoken in his Word to satisfy our curiosity or to give us information. His Word is an expression of His heart’s desire. He speaks in order that we may obey. Jesus made it clear in John 7:17 that it is only if we are willing to do God’s will that we shall receive an understanding of that will.

Many Christians go through months and years of reading the Bible without seeking to hear God speaking to them through it. Still they seem to be quite satisfied. I ask you, Do you hear the Lord’s voice each day? If not, what is the cause? He speaks to those who listen. What is it that is stopping your spirit’s ears? Is it lack of stillness before Him, lack of humility of spirit, or lack of obedience to what He has already said to you? Or is it perhaps a lack of desire itself? Whatever it be, God grant that it may be remedied at once and permanently. Pray Samuel’s prayer, “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.” Then open your Bible and seek the face of the Lord earnestly, and you too shall hear His voice.

The Effect of the Word of God

We shall never fully appreciate the importance of sitting at the Lord’s feet daily to listen to His Word, until we understand the effect that it will have upon our lives. A man who is given a medicine by a doctor, but who is skeptical or unsure of what that medicine will do for him, may not, as a result, care to take it regularly. He is not likely to feel that he has lost anything when he neglects to take it. But if, on the other hand, that man is made to understand what a marvelous cure the medicine will work in his body and the tremendous improvement that it will bring to his health, then whatever it costs him to take it regularly, it is very unlikely that he will forget to do so.

In very much the same way, we find thousands of Christians who never have a regular devotional time with God and His Word, yet who still do not feel that they have missed anything. Search your own life. If you miss a quiet time with God one day, do you feel a sense of regret at having lost something valuable, or do you feel that you have not lost much? How does it come about that so many children of God never have a quiet time with God daily and yet remain so complacent about it? It can only be because they have not fully appreciated the creative effect that God’s Word has upon a person’s life. For as we shall see, it is more than a medicine; it is food. They have not realized how much they are losing by not subjecting themselves to its transforming power.

In order to understanding something of the effect that the Word of God has upon a man, we shall consider nine Biblical symbols by which it describes itself or is described.

First of all, we shall look at Psalm 119:105, where the Word is likened to light. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” When we walk through unknown terrain in the dark, we use a light in order to see our way. That is a picture of what the Bible does for us in a world that lies in the pitch darkness of sin. It shows us the path to God. We can know nothing of God’s way of salvation apart from the Bible.

Further, the Bible gives light to the Christian on the pathway of right doctrine, showing up at the same time the pitfalls of false teaching alongside the road, so that he may not fall into them. Without that light, he would never know what was false and what was true. The Holy Spirit commended the believers at Berea, because they did not receive even what the apostle Paul preached in them until they had themselves checked it with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). Only then did they accept his message. (Was it because of this attitude to the preachers who came to them that Paul had no need to send an epistle to the Bereans correcting false doctrine, as he did to so many of the other churches?) People who search the Scriptures diligently are not easily lured into false doctrine. They know the truth that has made them free.

Unfortunately, many thousands of Christians today are either too lazy or too pre-occupied to study the Bible for themselves. Their resultant ignorance of the Scriptures makes them an easy prey for the Devil’s deceptions. Alas, such things as eloquence, emotionalism and logical presentation of the message are in our day the criteria by which a preacher is judged. Whether he expounds the Word of God correctly or not seems to be only of secondary importance. Remember that true doctrine matters infinitely more than a man’s personality or gift of speaking. The contents of a medicine bottle are more important than its size or shape or appearance! Do you look for the truth or for eloquent messages? And if it is indeed the truth you look for, how can you know what the truth is, unless you know the Bible first?

There is a story of a man who was told by his priest that the Bible could not be understood by laymen like him, but who happened to get hold of a New Testament and was saved as a result of reading it. One day while the book was open in front of him, the priest dropped in to visit him and asked what he was reading. On his replying that it was the Bible, the priest protested that he should not read it as it was not meant for uninstructed laymen.

“But,’ said the man, “I have been saved as a result of reading it. And besides, it tells me here in 1 Peter 2:2, to desire the sincere milk of the Word that I may grow.”

“Oh,” said the priest, “but God has appointed us priests as the milkmen to give you the milk.”

“Well, sir,” the man replied, “I had a milkman once who used to bring me milk every day, but I soon discovered that he was mixing water with the milk. Then I decided to buy a cow instead. Now the milk I get is pure milk.”

Brothers and sisters, it is only as we study God’s Word ourselves that we shall get the pure milk, the

uncorrupted doctrine. For in this sin-darkened earth, the Word of God is the only light that we have, to walk by.

It is also therefore the key to the problem of guidance. God has marked out a pathway for our lives, but many Christians complain that they are unable to find it. Often the reason is simply that they have not spent time regularly in meditation on God’s Word. “Thy word…is a light unto my path.” It is God’s provision to show us the road.

Secondly, the Word of God is likened in James 1:22, 23 to a mirror. We need a mirror to see whether our faces are dirty or clean and whether our hair is disorderly or combed. Without one, we cannot tell how we look. If James had been writing his epistle in the twentieth century, he might perhaps have gone a step further and used a more modern symbol – the X-ray – to illustrate this effect of God’s Word. An X-ray film shows me the conditions of the interior organs in my body, which I cannot know otherwise. The Bible does something similar in that it shows me the condition of my heart before God. It corrects me and reproves me so that I might be perfect and fully equipped to serve Him (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Many people today are deceiving themselves about their spiritual condition, thinking that there is nothing wrong with them. Why? Because they have never subjected themselves to the X-ray of God’s Word.

It is possible that, even as believers, we may be unaware of sins of which we are guilty before God. I have often found during times of meditation on the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit has made me aware of some sin – some selfishness of motive, perhaps, in my actions – of which I was totally unaware until He made it known. We need to subject ourselves to a daily examination through the mirror (or X-ray) of God’s Word if we are to avoid spiritual stagnation and decay. Not a day goes by in our lives without our examining our faces in a mirror. May not a day go by either without our examining our hearts.

Then, in Jeremiah 23:29, the Word of God is likened to a fire. Fire, in the Bible, is used as a symbol of that which purifies or burns up. Gold put into the fire is purified, whereas wood is consumed. The Word of God, similarly, has a purifying effect upon our lives, eliminating from them what is un-Christlike. It not only shows us our faults, as we saw above, but it also makes us holy. No man can ever hope to be holy without spending time every day at the Lord’s feet, for that alone can purge away all the dross from his life. But it is also terribly true the same fire will burn up the one who rejects the Word (John 12:48). Our attitude towards God’s Word determines whether it will purify or destroy. If we submit to it, it will purify us. If we ignore or spurn it, then it will surely consume us.

In the same verse of Jeremiah 23 we see, fourthly, the Word of God likened to a hammer – a hammer that breaks the rock into pieces. If you want to make a road on a mountainside, you have to break up rocks. In these days we use dynamite for that purpose, whereas in Jeremiah’s day they used hammers. The Word of God is His dynamite, capable of removing huge obstacles out of our way. We all face trials and problems in our lives -situations in which the mountains have closed in upon us and it appears as Often we have remained in such situations, discouraged and defeated, not knowing what to do or where in turn.

Our ignorance at such times of the promises that God has given us in Scripture has prevented us from claiming them. Otherwise, like dynamite, they would have blasted away the obstacles in our path and taken us triumphantly through the mountain barrier to the other side. How much we have missed by not knowing the Word!

Fifthly, in Luke 8:11, we find the Word of God likened to seed which, when sown into the ground, produces fruit. 1 Peter 1:23 states that our new birth itself is a result of that seed sprouting in our hearts. Only as we are fruitful can God be glorified through our lives. Is there, in your life and service, fruit for the glory of God? Is it manifest, in your own life first of all, in terms of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), and self-control? (Gal. 5:22, 23). And then, do you find fruit in your service, in the shape of sinners turning to the Lord and believers being drawn closer to Him? If not, perhaps the reason is that you are not regularly receiving the Word of God into your own heart as seed “having life in itself.” Psalm 1:2, 3 tells us that it is the man who regularly meditates on God’s Word, who alone will be like the fruitful tree, prospering in all that he does.

The Word of God is also likened to food in Psalm 119:103. The same symbol occurs again in Jeremiah 15:16 and in 1 Peter 2:2. The prophet Ezekiel and the apostle John are each shown too in Scripture as” eating” a book (Ezek. 3:1-3; Rev. 10:9, 10). We have here a picture of men assimilating and digesting the Word of God. Food gives us strength. Our bodies cannot be built up without it. A person who is under-nourished will be skinny and weak in his constitution, and therefore unable to resist disease. He will also be unable to defend himself if physically assaulted by another. A small push will often be enough to knock him down. In exactly the same way, one who neglects the Word of God will be spiritually under-developed, and consequently unable to resist temptation and to withstand the Devil’s onslaughts. Only those who regularly meditate on God’s Word grow into strong virile Christians (1 John 2:14). Mere reading of the Bible will not make you strong, but meditation upon it allows the Word to penetrate into the very core of your being and thus to become a part of you, hidden in your heart (Psa.119:11). Job said that he esteemed the words of God’s mouth more even than his necessary daily food (Job 23:12). By listening to God daily he built up a tremendous reserve of spiritual strength. This, no doubt, accounts for the man’s remarkable resilience in the face of Satan’s fierce assaults. He did not lose his faith in God, in spite of all the adversity he faced. His wife, who obviously did not have the same regard for God’s Word as her husband, was ready to curse God as soon as calamity struck. Not so Job. His example gives us an idea of the tremendous strength that God’s Word, if received daily, can give us to face every trial in life.

Seventhly, in Deuteronomy 32:2, the Word of God is likened to dew. Dew, in the Bible, is a figure of God’s blessing. When God blessed Israel, He gave them the dew and the rain. When Israel sinned God withheld them, as He did in 1 Kings 17:1. This symbol teaches therefore that God’s blessing comes through His Word upon all who receive and obey it. Proverbs 10:22 declares that that blessing can enrich us, making up for all our shortcomings. What an encouragement that is!

More than one instance in the gospels serves to illustrate this. One day the disciples of Jesus were confronted with the task of feeding over 5000 people and all the food they could amass was five loaves and two fishes, the gift of a boy. They protested that it was totally insufficient, as indeed it was. But then the Lord blessed that food. As a result, all the people were satisfied and a large amount remained over. On another occasion we find the disciples toiled all night at fishing, and caught nothing. Then in the morning they heard Jesus speaking to them. They obeyed His instructions, and within a few moments the net was full of fishes. These are two illustrations of the fact that the blessing of the Lord does indeed make rich. The blessing that comes to us through His Word makes up for all our lack. You may be lacking in talents and unable to preach or sing or pray like others, but when the dew of heaven falls on your life, notwithstanding all your natural limitations, God can still make you a channel of blessing to thousands. So, wait upon the Lord daily with His Word in front of you.

Do nor rush away from His presence until His dew falls upon your soul. But dew is more than blessing. It is also a symbol of freshness. Here is another thing that the Bible gives us, namely, renewal. Listening to the voice of the Lord day by day keeps our Christian life continually fresh. It saves us from becoming stale, with all that that implies of corruption and decay. Moldy bread will not make anyone’s mouth water. Even so, the staleness displayed by many believers cannot be expected to draw anyone to Christ. Is your Christian life fresh every day? It can be so only if you feed daily upon the heavenly manna from beneath the dewfall (Exod. 16:13-15; compare verse 20).

The Word of God is further likened to wealth in Psalm 119:162 – or to gold, as in other passages of Scripture. Money cannot make you truly wealthy. You may acquire qualifications which give you great earning power and thus may reach a position where you can earn plenty of money; but that will give you only a wealth which passes away. Nothing but the Word of God can make you really wealthy.though we A truly wealthy man lacks nothing. He has enough and to spare. A poor man on the other hand, has to go around begging from those more fortunate than himself. The Word of God can make you so wealthy that you will never be at a loss. It will not only give you enough for your own needs, but will enable you to meet the needs of others too. There is not a single situation that you can ever face in life for which the solution is not found somewhere in the Bible. The answer will always be there in the experience of some Biblical character that parallels your own, or in some teaching of Scripture. If you know your Bible, you will find in the time of crisis that the Holy Spirit brings to your remembrance the appropriate passage and from it gives you His answer.

I have found this to be true in more than one instance in my own life. When the Lord called me for His service on the 6th of May 1964, and I sent in my application requesting that I be permitted to resign my commission in the Indian Navy, the Naval Headquarters soon replied that they would not release me. I was really puzzled then, not knowing what to do next. The Lord then reminded me of the time when Moses had gone to Pharaoh and asked for the release of the Israelites that they might serve the Lord. Pharaoh rejected that request outright, but Moses did not give up. He kept going back to Pharaoh until the Israelites were released. There I had the answer to my problem! So I applied again for permission to resign, and my application was turned down again. I applied a third time, stating exactly the same reasons as before. For many months there was no reply. Finally I was released two years after I had first applied! This is an example of how God can make us wealthy enough to cope with every situation – and not only in our own life, but in the lives of others too who may come to us for help in their hour of need.

Finally, turning to Ephesians 6:17 we find the Word of God is there called the sword of the Spirit. The Christian life is a constant battle with a cunning foe, whose method of attack is often to cast doubt upon God’s love, God’s justice, even God Himself. This sword can defeat his every move, provided we know how to use it.

Discouragement is one of the Devil’s strongest weapons. With it he has knocked down many mighty men. Moses, Elijah and Jonah each trembled at its shock, but each one of these men overcame his own depression by listening to the Word of the Lord. You and I may be able temporarily to tide over our discouragement by occupying ourselves in some way that provides a diversion, but only by the Word of God itself can we ever overcome it completely. Jesus Himself overcame Satan in the wilderness solely through His use of this Sword.

I remember a time when I was in the Navy, and our ship had been for more than a month based at a small port. We had been going out to sea daily for exercises. The pressure of work on board was intense, and this coupled with the fact that for a considerable length of time I had no opportunity for Christian fellowship, brought me one day into a very depressed state of mind. The situation had got on top of me. As I was sitting alone in my cabin, suddenly this verse flashed into my mind: “The Lord shall make thee the head and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only and thou shalt not be beneath” (Deut. 28:13). At once I saw that the Lord had promised to keep me ” on top ” in every situation. Immediately the joy of heaven came surging back into my heart and there was a song on my lips again. Such is the power of the Word of God to overcome every attack of the enemy.

The nine symbols that we have considered above give us a little idea of the effect that the Word of God can have upon a man. I wonder whether you have now begun to understand why Jesus said that this one thing was the greatest essential in a believer’s life. Will you take His statement seriously? If so, then settle it right now that, no matter how necessary and even essential other things may appear to be, henceforth nothing shall be allowed to rob you of your daily quiet time with the Lord and with His Word.

The Bible tells us of days that will come upon this world, in which there will be a famine of the Word of God (Amos 8:11, 12). There may be many counterfeits in that day – as we have seen, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 suggests this -but a famine of the true. Those days, I believe, are almost upon us, and the famine of the true Word of God will only increase as the time goes by. Joseph in Egypt laid up corn during the years of plenty, so that when the famine came which God had predicted, there was no lack. If we are wise, we shall store up the Word of God in our hearts today against just such a need. May the Lord imprint this message deeply upon the hearts of us all.

“Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” (Prov. 8:34)

“Sitting at the feet of Jesus, O what words I hear Him say! Happy place! So near, so precious! May it find me there each day. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, There I love to weep and pray, While I from His fullness gather, Grace and comfort every day. ”have reached a dead-end.

The blind man throws away a cheque for one hundred rupees and clings on to a valueless piece of glazed paper, considering the latter more desirable because it is smoother to his touch. He lacks a proper sense of values because he is blind. Like him, the two-year old child also prefers a cheap toy to the cheque. He too is ignorant of real values, because he is immature. However, multitudes of intelligent men and women throughout the world are doing exactly the same thing today. And they are doing it without even realizing it! Do you have a proper sense of values? A mistaken idea of true values can lead any one of us to a wasted life; and the greatest tragedy in the world today is wasted human lives. Nor is this wastage peculiar to the irreligious, one finds it among the religious as well. Man is born spiritually blind. He is unable therefore to assess the relative values of the things of time when compared with the things of eternity. As a result, he spends his time and energies in seeking the wealth, the honour and the pleasures that this world can give him. Little does he realize that ” the things that are seen are (all of them) temporal,” whereas ” the things that are not seen (and they alone) are eternal ” (2 Cor. 4:18). Jesus challenged the wrong sense of values held by even religious people of His day when He told them that a man would profit nothing who gained the whole world if in doing so he lost his soul. If a man is not rightly related to God through Jesus Christ then he will discover, in the day that he stands before his Creator, that all he has achieved and acquired on earth is utterly valueless.

There are multitudes of believers, too, whose “sins are all forgiven” and who are “on their way to heaven,” yet whose values are no less confused. In the day of judgment they will find to their surprise that, though their souls may have been saved, their lives have been wasted. They have sat as spectators on the side-lines, content with their salvation, happily singing choruses, watching others being used of God but unaware that He wants them on the field as well. Occasionally they may wonder why the power and joy and fruitfulness that mark the lives of other Christians are not their portion too. They may attend many Christian meetings to stimulate their spiritual life, but their inner man remains always weak and sickly. Once in a while they may have ambitions to attain a higher level of Christian living, but soon they fall back to where they started from – and sometimes even lower. What is the reason for this? Usually it is quite simple: they have not got their priorities right. Like the blind man and the child in the illustrations above, they have again and again in their ignorance thrown away the true spiritual riches and clung to what is worthless. Thus they have remained spiritual bankrupts, whereas God intended them to be rich.

Jesus was forever seeking to remove this blindness from the eyes of those who came to Him. He taught them what the supreme priorities of life really are. To Martha He said, “One thing is needful.” To a rich young man He said, “One thing thou lackest.” With these words He threw into emphasis the thing that should take first place in each of their lives. Or again in Old Testament times, of David alone was it said that he was “a man after God’s own heart ” – and he certainly had his priorities right! “One thing,” he said, “have I desired.” Paul too, the greatest apostle of Christianity, succeeded in putting the right thing first. “One thing I do,” he cried; and with that as his theme he lived out the most effective life (from the standpoint of eternity) that this world has seen since Jesus of Nazareth ascended on high.

The atmosphere of the world today gives to all of us without exception a perverted sense of values. Under its influence we tend to get life’s priorities wrong. For that influence is immensely powerful. Faster than ever before in the history of mankind the world is sinking into the gutter of moral decay and corruption. The darkness deepens until the night is black around us. In such conditions Jesus wanted His church to be the salt of this earth and the light of this world. But the salt has largely lost its savour and the light its brightness. Corruption and darkness have found their way into the very household of faith. And because the Pharisaic leaven of hypocrisy has penetrated so deeply into the church it is neither aware of, nor willing to face its true condition. Only those who have quickened ears can hear the Spirit of God speaking, calling even today for a reevaluation of existing priorities.

In this great darkness the only light that you and I are offered is to be found in the Bible. Let us turn to it then, and seek to discover for ourselves what the prior claims upon the Christian really are. What we read there may at first hurt and even offend us, for the Bible penetrates behind our disguises. But let us take courage from the wise remarks of a twentieth century servant of God: ” The words of Jesus hurt and offend until there is nothing left to hurt or offend (cf. Matt. 11:6). If we have never been hurt by a statement of Jesus, it is questionable whether we have ever really heard Him speak. Jesus Christ has no tenderness whatever towards anything that is ultimately going to ruin a man for the service of God. If the Spirit of God brings to our mind a word of the Lord that hurts, we may be perfectly certain there is something He wants to hurt, even to death.” (Oswald Chambers in So Send I You).

” Thou sayest…I have need of nothing; but knowest not that thou art…blind; I counsel thee…to anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see…He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches ” (Rev. 3:17-22).

“Open my ears that I may hear Voices of truth Thou sendest clear; And while the wave-notes fall on my ear,

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 38-42).

How striking are Jesus’ words to Martha in verse 42: “One thing is needful!” There may be plenty of good things to be done and many indeed that may justly be considered essential. But, Jesus affirmed, one thing above all others was needful. What was that one thing?

Jesus and His disciples had just arrived at Bethany. As soon as Martha saw them, she joyfully received them into her house, made them sit down and straightway hurried into the kitchen to prepare some food. Meanwhile Jesus began to preach to those present. When Martha discovered that her sister Mary had settled down to listen to His words instead of coming to her help, she rushed out of the kitchen with anger, and turning to Jesus, appealed to Him in words more or less as follows: “Lord, here I am toiling in the kitchen preparing a meal for you all, and my sister just sits here doing nothing. Tell her to get up and help me!” To her surprise, however, it was Martha herself whom Jesus rebuked. She and not Mary, He told her, was the one who was at fault.

Now let us note this, that it was not for anything sinful which Martha had one that she was thus addressed. She had joyfully received Jesus into her home. The work that she then did in the kitchen was not for herself, but for Him and for His disciples. She is a picture of a believer today, who has received the Lord into her heart and

who is unselfishly seeking to serve the Lord and others. Yet despite her zeal she was rebuked by Jesus. What, we ask ourselves, is the point of this? What was wrong with her action? And the answer, surely, lies in those four words of Jesus: “One thing is needful.” Martha was not rebuked for her service, but for not putting first things first.

Mary, the Lord said, had chosen the good part. What was that? She simply sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word. Nothing more. But that is the good part. That is the one thing needful above all other things. How much place does listening have in our lives? How much time do we spend sitting at the feet of the Lord, reading His word and seeking to hear Him speak to us through it? Not very much perhaps. Other things crowd it out, so that we often find ourselves guilty of the same mistake that Martha made. It may not be mundane affairs alone that keep us pre-occupied. It may be Christian service too. We may take active part in meetings for prayer or worship or witness, and yet find that the Lord is rebuking us as He did Martha.

“Mary hath chosen that good part.” This is Jesus’ own valuation of His words to her, and by inference, of all that today comes to us as God’s Word of life. Our first theme, then, is that good thing – the Word of God as given to us in the Bible. We shall look at this from three standpoints. We shall consider first the authority of the Bible, then the importance of hearing God’s Word, and finally, the effect that the Word of God can have upon our lives.

The Authority of the Bible

We have to consider first the Divine authority of the Bible because this is the foundation to all else. To proceed further without settling this point would be as disastrous as proceeding with the construction of a building without laying its foundation. Only as we are assured of the Bible’s authority shall we value and appreciate it aright.

Many who are born and brought up in Christian homes have accepted the Bible without question as the Word of God, simply because they were taught to do so by their parents or by their church, but they have never cared to establish with certainty in their own minds the reason for doing so. Thus they carry on happily for a while, until one day some modernist gives them a dose of his so-called higher criticism. “The Scriptures,” he claims, “are full of inconsistencies. The authors are not the persons named but much later writers, often writing with motives that are not above suspicion. It is impossible therefore to know what Jesus or His disciples really taught. There is insufficient factual evidence even for the great saving events. Modern man cannot possibly believe such fables.” So he goes on, and very soon their whole faith begins to crumble. Why? Because it was never properly founded in the first place.

God does not ask us to believe things blindly. Many Christians give that impression to others, but it is totally wrong. God intends that the eyes of our heart be enlightened that we may know. What the Bible does teach is that our minds are blinded by Satan. As sinners, therefore, we cannot with our natural minds understand the things of God. We are thus completely dependent on Divine revelation – on God making known His message to us. (This He is ever ready to do for the sincere seeker.) Our minds are sinful, and therefore fallible. We are not perfect in knowledge. So we need not be surprised if, with our finite and fallible minds, we are unable to grasp some things in the Bible that are beyond our reason. This does not mean that the Bible is contrary to reason. It does mean however that, like little children, we are just on the threshold of Divine things. If our intellects were perfect and infallible, we would assuredly find ourselves in full agreement with the Bible. This is proved by the fact that a person who is born again, as he grows in likeness to Christ, finds himself growing correspondingly in his understanding of the Bible and agreement with it. But if instead of acknowledging our limitations we give rein to our critical faculties, we shall stumble. If we found our faith only upon what appears reasonable to our fallible intellects, one day we shall find that we have built on sand.

Why do we believe the Bible to be the Word of God? Firstly, because of the testimony of Jesus Christ. In the Gospels we find Him constantly quoting the Old Testament scriptures as an authority. At the outset of His ministry in Luke chapter 4, we find Him quoting the book of Deuteronomy in effective answer to Satan’s temptations. Jesus began His ministry with the words, “It is written,” a straight assertion of the authority of Scripture. After His resurrection, in Luke chapter 24, we once more find Him expounding the Scriptures, first to two disciples walking to Emmaus, then shortly afterwards to the eleven in the upper room. And again and again throughout the three-and-a-half years that lay between these incidents we hear Him quote the Hebrew Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God. And remember, these Jewish Scriptures are the very same Old Testament that we have with us today. In the brief record of the four Gospels, Jesus made at least fifty-seven quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament. Since this was evidently His custom, there must surely have been countless more such instances which the New Testament does not record in detail.

What is abundantly clear is that the Lord entertained no doubt at all about the authority of the Old Testament. It was, in fact, the only written authority that He accepted on earth. When answering the Pharisees and the Sadducees of His day, He always quoted Scripture.” It is written “was His ground of appeal. Whereas many of today’s preachers quote theologians, philosophers, psychologists – and even secular writers, the Lord Jesus never cared to quote the opinions of others. His only authority was the Old Testament. If we accept His testimony at all, it necessitates our accepting the Bible as God’s Word also. Those who reject the Bible reject the testimony of Jesus Himself.

Secondly, we accept the Bible as God’s infallible Word because so large a number of detailed prophecies contained in it have been fulfilled. One-third of the Bible is prophecy. Prophecies concerning the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus were made in the Old Testament hundreds of years before He came to earth, and these were literally fulfilled when He came Prophecies concerning many of the leading nations of Old Testament times, and especially concerning Israel, have been fulfilled to the very letter. In our own life-time the Jews have returned to their homeland in Palestine and taken possession of the city of Jerusalem. Yet these events were foretold 2,500 years ago.

Another proof of the Bible’s Divine inspiration is the remarkably unity that is found in its sixty-six books. They were written in three different languages over a period of 1,600 years by some forty different authors of varying standards of education and the widest range of social and cultural backgrounds – kings, shepherds, military leaders, seers, Pharisees and fishermen. Yet even so there is a marvelous unity throughout this whole library of writings, and not a single fundamental contradiction. Apparent contradictions here and there are of a trivial nature, to be explained by errors in copying of the text. Fundamental moral and ethical contradictions there are none. Many of the historical statements in the Bible have been questioned, but have been confirmed on further research. It scientific statements (though few, because it is not a text-book of science) are all true to the established facts of the physical world. Though written at a time when man’s scientific knowledge was extremely faulty, it contains none of the crude fallacies that were believed by men in those and even much later times. Science is constantly changing its views and rewriting its books, but the Bible needs no such revision.

The fact that the Bible has stood through the centuries triumphant over every attack upon it by its foes is yet another proof of its Divine inspiration. There is no book in the world that has been attacked so vigorously as the Bible. Yet it has gloriously survived the criticism of its friends and the hostility of its enemies. The French infidel Voltaire once said that in a hundred years there would be no Bible. They were “famous last words” indeed, for ironically enough, after his death, the Bible Society opened its office in the very house in which he had lived! Thus has God vindicated His Word. Infidels may come and go, but the Bible goes on from strength to strength. No other book has been so loved and respected and treasured by men and women the world over. It remains the world’s best-seller.

Then again, we believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word because of the accepted fact that countless lives have been transformed by it, sometimes indeed by just one verse from its pages. Passages of Scripture which no one would imagine could have such an effect have been used by God to convert people and bring them to salvation. Wicked men and women have been transformed overnight into saints of God through the reading of some passage or other in this marvelous Book. This has happened even in vernacular versions where the translation has been so poor as to make such a result highly improbable. God does indeed speak through this Book to effect moral changes in human lives. A sixth proof of the inspiration of the Bible is its inexhaustibility. Through the centuries many brilliant men with the keenest intellects have spent their lifetimes studying it. Yet even so its depths have not been fathomed.

Like a bottomless mine, the Book continues to yield new treasures, speaking to men in ever fresh ways. Moreover, its message has such a sublime simplicity that even a child can grasp it. Time cannot out-date it; it is time-less. If only we have the humility to consult it, we will find the answer to all our problems in this wonderful Book. That could never have been possible were it merely a human writing; but being divinely inspired it contains the inexhaustible wisdom of the infinite God. Man therefore can ever draw from it according to his need.

Finally, the greatest proof of its inspiration is that, as we read it in humility before God, He speaks to us through it. Hearing its words we become growingly convinced that they are the voice of God. Scripture’s great themes, such as the doctrines of the Trinity and of the atonement, could never have been invented by men. They could only have been known through the Spirit’s inspiration. They are in a true sense God-given. We discover, too, an amazing design in the content and message of every book in the Bible, especially when it is viewed as a mirror reflecting the Lord Jesus Himself. The title of an old commentary, Christ in All the Scriptures, aptly describes what students of the Bible have constantly found, that the entire Scriptures “hang together” in wonderful detail to form an ever more convincing pattern when He is the goal of their study.

We are living in days in which the authority of the Bible is being widely questioned. Paul warned the Corinthian believers of the possibility of Satan corrupting their minds in just the same way as he corrupted Eve’s (2 Cor. 11:1-3). When the Devil came to Eve, he began with the question, “Hath God said?” He has been asking men the same old question ever since, “Is this really God’s Word?.” This has been one of his most successful devices to turn men away from the faith. The Holy Spirit warns us emphatically that there will be an increase of deception in the last days, due to an influx of deceiving spirits into the world (1 Tim. 4:1). The statement that “some shall depart from the faith” seems to indicate that this verse is describing not pagans but Christians. The Lord Jesus referred to this possibility of deception three times in Matthew 24 (verses 5, 11, 24)

while speaking about the last days. The Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 also speaks of a ” a falling away ” prior to the day of the Lord. This defection is obviously due to Christians being lured away by some subtle deceit of Satan. These warnings are serious. If in spite of them we still remain unwatchful, we shall most certainly find ourselves deceived.

How does a man seek to deceive you? If he wants to cheat you of one hundred rupees by passing a counterfeit currency note, he will ensure that the counterfeit note is as close as possible in appearance to the real thing. Only so will he hope to trick you. And Satan is no less subtle. His most powerful tool with which to deceive the unsuspecting Christian will be a “Christian” preacher – one who preaches with the Bible supposedly as his basis but who has not bowed his knee to its authority. Watch him! On closer inspection the things he preaches either are not found in the Bible at all, or they give a slanted and unbalanced presentation of Biblical truth.

The safeguard against all such deception is the Bible itself. If we do not know our Bibles well, we shall surely fall a prey to such deception. Unless we make the Bible our final authority in all matters relating to our faith, we shall be tossed about hither and thither until that faith itself is lost.

The Lord Jesus condemned the Pharisees and scribes for rejecting the Old Testament and replacing it with their own traditions (Mark 7:5-13). Their long-standing rejection of the written Word of God led finally to their rejection of the living Word when He came into their midst. The spiritual descendants of those scribes and Pharisees are found in our own generation. And many are being deceived by them. How watchful we need to be.

We are told by the psalmist that God has magnified His Word above all His Name (Psalm 138:2). To reject or ignore it therefore, or to treat it lightly, is to invite immeasurable loss. But to reverence it is to discover a door into untold riches.

The Importance of Hearing God’s Word

The overwhelming necessity of spending time each day with God’s Word is implied clearly in the words of Jesus to Martha, with which we opened this chapter. There are many other things which may help us and which may prove useful, but this one thing above all others is absolutely essential. We can no more do without it than our physical bodies can do without oxygen. It is quite indispensable. The supreme essential for our spirits is indeed just this – to sit at the Lord’s feet daily to hear His Word.

The Lord Jesus knew, better than anyone else, all the factors that affect a man’s life. He knew every possible situation that any man could ever find himself in. He knew the dangers that lay ahead of every man and He knew all the wiles of Satan. He knew what was necessary for man’s spiritual growth, for He alone knew the relative importance and unimportance of things. Knowing all this, He said that one thing was needful above all else. He used similar words in Luke 4:4. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God.” This is a quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3, where reference is made to the manna with which God fed the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness. The Israelites were told there that God’s purpose in giving them the manna daily from heaven was that they might, in like manner, learn to receive God’s Word. If they were to be strengthened for their wilderness journey those Israelites needed the manna daily. Even so does man require to receive the Word of God daily, if he is to be empowered to face the trials of life.

Jesus never made these statements lightly. He was seeking to impress upon His disciples the absolute necessity of hearing His Word daily. If that is true, then it follows that a life that is lived without time given to meditation on God’s written Word is a wasted life, no matter what else it may have achieved.

In Luke 17:26-30, Jesus tells us that the last days will be like the days of Noah and of Lot, in which people ate, drank, bought, sold, planted, built, and so on. Have you noticed that none of these things are sinful in themselves? They are all legitimate activities. Why then did Jesus mention them as being peculiarly characteristic of those sinful days? Because the people of those days were so occupied with these legitimate activities as to have no time for God at all. The Devil succeeded in getting them to crowd God out of their lives altogether. This of course resulted, as it always will, in moral decay and corruption.

Compare this state of affairs with what we see in the world today and we shall find an exact similarity of attitude and of consequent result. Men and women are too busy to have any time to listen to God. Look into your own life and see if this is not true. The spirit of the world has crept into the very heart of the believer. Even though science has invented many time-saving devices which our forefathers did not possess, yet man finds himself rushed for time. Today we can travel by car, train or aeroplane where they had to travel on animals or on their own two feet. Our ancestors had to spend much longer doing the daily household chores which today are done for us by gadgets and machines. Yet many of them found much more time for God than most people find today. Why? Because they had their priorities right. They put first things first.

If we are to be effective witnesses for our Lord, it is imperative that we spend time each day at His feet listening to His voice. There are many today who are ambitious to preach, who have never developed this habit of listening to God’s voice daily. The result is a sad paucity of “the word of the Lord” and a sickening abundance of man’s words. Of how very few of today’s preachers can it be said that” the word of the Lord is with him” (2 Kings 3:12).

Yet this was the distinguishing mark of every true servant of God in the Bible. No man has the right to speak to other men about God, who has not first spent time listening to what God Himself says and this refers to private witnessing as well as to public preaching. It is written of Moses that he went in before the Lord and then “came out and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded” (Exod. 34:34).

Joshua was told that his life would be a success only if he meditated on God’s Word daily (Josh. 1:8). Samuel is another classic example of one who patiently waited to hear God speak, and then spoke to the people. The result was that the Lord “allowed no single word of his to fall to the ground” (1 Sam. 3:19).

In a prophetic reference to the Lord Jesus in Isaiah 50:4, it is said of Him that morning by morning God spoke to Him, for His ears were disciplined to hear His Father’s voice. The result was, as the same verse tells us, that Jesus had a ready word for all who came to Him, according to their need. He was truly the Father’s perfect mouthpiece. If this habit of listening to God’s voice daily was necessary for Jesus Himself, then how much more is it so for us. We shall never be able to minister adequately to those in need if we fail here. It is only when we learn to “hear as a disciple” that we shall have “the tongue of a disciple.” Unfortunately, many who should have been teaching others by now are still spiritual babes, because they have either ignored or neglected this “one thing.”

Listening to the Lord does not mean merely reading the Bible. There are many who read their Bibles purely as a matter of routine. Listening to the Lord means more than that. It means meditating on His Word until we receive, through it, His message for us. Thus alone can our minds be renewed and conformed growingly to the mind of Christ. But many who read their Bibles have never yet learned thus to meditate.

There are at least three spiritual truths to be learnt from Mary’s sitting at the feet of Jesus. Sitting – unlike walking, running, or even standing – is primarily a picture of rest. This teaches us that our hearts must be at rest and our minds still, before we can hear God speaking to us. Unconfessed sin will preclude the former, while over-occupation with the cares and riches of this world will stand in the way of the latter. With a conscience ill at ease or a mind filled with anxiety or fear, how can we hope to hear God’s “still small voice?”

Psalm 46:10 tells us that we must be still if we are to know God.

Sitting at a person’s feet is also a picture of humility. Mary was not sitting on a chair on the same level as Jesus, but on a lower level. God never speaks to a proud man, except in judgment. But He is ever ready to speak and to offer His grace to the humble soul who will be as a child before Him (Matt. 11:25). Thirdly, sitting as Mary did is a picture of subjection. It is the attitude of a disciple in the presence of his Master. Our subjection is manifested in obedience to God’s Word. God has not spoken in his Word to satisfy our curiosity or to give us information. His Word is an expression of His heart’s desire. He speaks in order that we may obey. Jesus made it clear in John 7:17 that it is only if we are willing to do God’s will that we shall receive an understanding of that will.

Many Christians go through months and years of reading the Bible without seeking to hear God speaking to them through it. Still they seem to be quite satisfied. I ask you, Do you hear the Lord’s voice each day? If not, what is the cause? He speaks to those who listen. What is it that is stopping your spirit’s ears? Is it lack of stillness before Him, lack of humility of spirit, or lack of obedience to what He has already said to you? Or is it perhaps a lack of desire itself? Whatever it be, God grant that it may be remedied at once and permanently. Pray Samuel’s prayer, “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.” Then open your Bible and seek the face of the Lord earnestly, and you too shall hear His voice.

The Effect of the Word of God

We shall never fully appreciate the importance of sitting at the Lord’s feet daily to listen to His Word, until we understand the effect that it will have upon our lives. A man who is given a medicine by a doctor, but who is skeptical or unsure of what that medicine will do for him, may not, as a result, care to take it regularly. He is not likely to feel that he has lost anything when he neglects to take it. But if, on the other hand, that man is made to understand what a marvelous cure the medicine will work in his body and the tremendous improvement that it will bring to his health, then whatever it costs him to take it regularly, it is very unlikely that he will forget to do so.

In very much the same way, we find thousands of Christians who never have a regular devotional time with God and His Word, yet who still do not feel that they have missed anything. Search your own life. If you miss a quiet time with God one day, do you feel a sense of regret at having lost something valuable, or do you feel that you have not lost much? How does it come about that so many children of God never have a quiet time with God daily and yet remain so complacent about it? It can only be because they have not fully appreciated the creative effect that God’s Word has upon a person’s life. For as we shall see, it is more than a medicine; it is food. They have not realized how much they are losing by not subjecting themselves to its transforming power.

In order to understanding something of the effect that the Word of God has upon a man, we shall consider nine Biblical symbols by which it describes itself or is described.

First of all, we shall look at Psalm 119:105, where the Word is likened to light. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” When we walk through unknown terrain in the dark, we use a light in order to see our way. That is a picture of what the Bible does for us in a world that lies in the pitch darkness of sin. It shows us the path to God. We can know nothing of God’s way of salvation apart from the Bible.

Further, the Bible gives light to the Christian on the pathway of right doctrine, showing up at the same time the pitfalls of false teaching alongside the road, so that he may not fall into them. Without that light, he would never know what was false and what was true. The Holy Spirit commended the believers at Berea, because they did not receive even what the apostle Paul preached in them until they had themselves checked it with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). Only then did they accept his message. (Was it because of this attitude to the preachers who came to them that Paul had no need to send an epistle to the Bereans correcting false doctrine, as he did to so many of the other churches?) People who search the Scriptures diligently are not easily lured into false doctrine. They know the truth that has made them free.

Unfortunately, many thousands of Christians today are either too lazy or too pre-occupied to study the Bible for themselves. Their resultant ignorance of the Scriptures makes them an easy prey for the Devil’s deceptions. Alas, such things as eloquence, emotionalism and logical presentation of the message are in our day the criteria by which a preacher is judged. Whether he expounds the Word of God correctly or not seems to be only of secondary importance. Remember that true doctrine matters infinitely more than a man’s personality or gift of speaking. The contents of a medicine bottle are more important than its size or shape or appearance! Do you look for the truth or for eloquent messages? And if it is indeed the truth you look for, how can you know what the truth is, unless you know the Bible first?

There is a story of a man who was told by his priest that the Bible could not be understood by laymen like him, but who happened to get hold of a New Testament and was saved as a result of reading it. One day while the book was open in front of him, the priest dropped in to visit him and asked what he was reading. On his replying that it was the Bible, the priest protested that he should not read it as it was not meant for uninstructed laymen.

“But,’ said the man, “I have been saved as a result of reading it. And besides, it tells me here in 1 Peter 2:2, to desire the sincere milk of the Word that I may grow.”

“Oh,” said the priest, “but God has appointed us priests as the milkmen to give you the milk.”

“Well, sir,” the man replied, “I had a milkman once who used to bring me milk every day, but I soon discovered that he was mixing water with the milk. Then I decided to buy a cow instead. Now the milk I get is pure milk.”

Brothers and sisters, it is only as we study God’s Word ourselves that we shall get the pure milk, the

uncorrupted doctrine. For in this sin-darkened earth, the Word of God is the only light that we have, to walk by.

It is also therefore the key to the problem of guidance. God has marked out a pathway for our lives, but many Christians complain that they are unable to find it. Often the reason is simply that they have not spent time regularly in meditation on God’s Word. “Thy word…is a light unto my path.” It is God’s provision to show us the road.

Secondly, the Word of God is likened in James 1:22, 23 to a mirror. We need a mirror to see whether our faces are dirty or clean and whether our hair is disorderly or combed. Without one, we cannot tell how we look. If James had been writing his epistle in the twentieth century, he might perhaps have gone a step further and used a more modern symbol – the X-ray – to illustrate this effect of God’s Word. An X-ray film shows me the conditions of the interior organs in my body, which I cannot know otherwise. The Bible does something similar in that it shows me the condition of my heart before God. It corrects me and reproves me so that I might be perfect and fully equipped to serve Him (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Many people today are deceiving themselves about their spiritual condition, thinking that there is nothing wrong with them. Why? Because they have never subjected themselves to the X-ray of God’s Word.

It is possible that, even as believers, we may be unaware of sins of which we are guilty before God. I have often found during times of meditation on the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit has made me aware of some sin – some selfishness of motive, perhaps, in my actions – of which I was totally unaware until He made it known. We need to subject ourselves to a daily examination through the mirror (or X-ray) of God’s Word if we are to avoid spiritual stagnation and decay. Not a day goes by in our lives without our examining our faces in a mirror. May not a day go by either without our examining our hearts.

Then, in Jeremiah 23:29, the Word of God is likened to a fire. Fire, in the Bible, is used as a symbol of that which purifies or burns up. Gold put into the fire is purified, whereas wood is consumed. The Word of God, similarly, has a purifying effect upon our lives, eliminating from them what is un-Christlike. It not only shows us our faults, as we saw above, but it also makes us holy. No man can ever hope to be holy without spending time every day at the Lord’s feet, for that alone can purge away all the dross from his life. But it is also terribly true the same fire will burn up the one who rejects the Word (John 12:48). Our attitude towards God’s Word determines whether it will purify or destroy. If we submit to it, it will purify us. If we ignore or spurn it, then it will surely consume us.

In the same verse of Jeremiah 23 we see, fourthly, the Word of God likened to a hammer – a hammer that breaks the rock into pieces. If you want to make a road on a mountainside, you have to break up rocks. In these days we use dynamite for that purpose, whereas in Jeremiah’s day they used hammers. The Word of God is His dynamite, capable of removing huge obstacles out of our way. We all face trials and problems in our lives -situations in which the mountains have closed in upon us and it appears as Often we have remained in such situations, discouraged and defeated, not knowing what to do or where in turn.

Our ignorance at such times of the promises that God has given us in Scripture has prevented us from claiming them. Otherwise, like dynamite, they would have blasted away the obstacles in our path and taken us triumphantly through the mountain barrier to the other side. How much we have missed by not knowing the Word!

Fifthly, in Luke 8:11, we find the Word of God likened to seed which, when sown into the ground, produces fruit. 1 Peter 1:23 states that our new birth itself is a result of that seed sprouting in our hearts. Only as we are fruitful can God be glorified through our lives. Is there, in your life and service, fruit for the glory of God? Is it manifest, in your own life first of all, in terms of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), and self-control? (Gal. 5:22, 23). And then, do you find fruit in your service, in the shape of sinners turning to the Lord and believers being drawn closer to Him? If not, perhaps the reason is that you are not regularly receiving the Word of God into your own heart as seed “having life in itself.” Psalm 1:2, 3 tells us that it is the man who regularly meditates on God’s Word, who alone will be like the fruitful tree, prospering in all that he does.

The Word of God is also likened to food in Psalm 119:103. The same symbol occurs again in Jeremiah 15:16 and in 1 Peter 2:2. The prophet Ezekiel and the apostle John are each shown too in Scripture as” eating” a book (Ezek. 3:1-3; Rev. 10:9, 10). We have here a picture of men assimilating and digesting the Word of God. Food gives us strength. Our bodies cannot be built up without it. A person who is under-nourished will be skinny and weak in his constitution, and therefore unable to resist disease. He will also be unable to defend himself if physically assaulted by another. A small push will often be enough to knock him down. In exactly the same way, one who neglects the Word of God will be spiritually under-developed, and consequently unable to resist temptation and to withstand the Devil’s onslaughts. Only those who regularly meditate on God’s Word grow into strong virile Christians (1 John 2:14). Mere reading of the Bible will not make you strong, but meditation upon it allows the Word to penetrate into the very core of your being and thus to become a part of you, hidden in your heart (Psa.119:11). Job said that he esteemed the words of God’s mouth more even than his necessary daily food (Job 23:12). By listening to God daily he built up a tremendous reserve of spiritual strength. This, no doubt, accounts for the man’s remarkable resilience in the face of Satan’s fierce assaults. He did not lose his faith in God, in spite of all the adversity he faced. His wife, who obviously did not have the same regard for God’s Word as her husband, was ready to curse God as soon as calamity struck. Not so Job. His example gives us an idea of the tremendous strength that God’s Word, if received daily, can give us to face every trial in life.

Seventhly, in Deuteronomy 32:2, the Word of God is likened to dew. Dew, in the Bible, is a figure of God’s blessing. When God blessed Israel, He gave them the dew and the rain. When Israel sinned God withheld them, as He did in 1 Kings 17:1. This symbol teaches therefore that God’s blessing comes through His Word upon all who receive and obey it. Proverbs 10:22 declares that that blessing can enrich us, making up for all our shortcomings. What an encouragement that is!

More than one instance in the gospels serves to illustrate this. One day the disciples of Jesus were confronted with the task of feeding over 5000 people and all the food they could amass was five loaves and two fishes, the gift of a boy. They protested that it was totally insufficient, as indeed it was. But then the Lord blessed that food. As a result, all the people were satisfied and a large amount remained over. On another occasion we find the disciples toiled all night at fishing, and caught nothing. Then in the morning they heard Jesus speaking to them. They obeyed His instructions, and within a few moments the net was full of fishes. These are two illustrations of the fact that the blessing of the Lord does indeed make rich. The blessing that comes to us through His Word makes up for all our lack. You may be lacking in talents and unable to preach or sing or pray like others, but when the dew of heaven falls on your life, notwithstanding all your natural limitations, God can still make you a channel of blessing to thousands. So, wait upon the Lord daily with His Word in front of you.

Do nor rush away from His presence until His dew falls upon your soul. But dew is more than blessing. It is also a symbol of freshness. Here is another thing that the Bible gives us, namely, renewal. Listening to the voice of the Lord day by day keeps our Christian life continually fresh. It saves us from becoming stale, with all that that implies of corruption and decay. Moldy bread will not make anyone’s mouth water. Even so, the staleness displayed by many believers cannot be expected to draw anyone to Christ. Is your Christian life fresh every day? It can be so only if you feed daily upon the heavenly manna from beneath the dewfall (Exod. 16:13-15; compare verse 20).

The Word of God is further likened to wealth in Psalm 119:162 – or to gold, as in other passages of Scripture. Money cannot make you truly wealthy. You may acquire qualifications which give you great earning power and thus may reach a position where you can earn plenty of money; but that will give you only a wealth which passes away. Nothing but the Word of God can make you really wealthy.though we A truly wealthy man lacks nothing. He has enough and to spare. A poor man on the other hand, has to go around begging from those more fortunate than himself. The Word of God can make you so wealthy that you will never be at a loss. It will not only give you enough for your own needs, but will enable you to meet the needs of others too. There is not a single situation that you can ever face in life for which the solution is not found somewhere in the Bible. The answer will always be there in the experience of some Biblical character that parallels your own, or in some teaching of Scripture. If you know your Bible, you will find in the time of crisis that the Holy Spirit brings to your remembrance the appropriate passage and from it gives you His answer.

I have found this to be true in more than one instance in my own life. When the Lord called me for His service on the 6th of May 1964, and I sent in my application requesting that I be permitted to resign my commission in the Indian Navy, the Naval Headquarters soon replied that they would not release me. I was really puzzled then, not knowing what to do next. The Lord then reminded me of the time when Moses had gone to Pharaoh and asked for the release of the Israelites that they might serve the Lord. Pharaoh rejected that request outright, but Moses did not give up. He kept going back to Pharaoh until the Israelites were released. There I had the answer to my problem! So I applied again for permission to resign, and my application was turned down again. I applied a third time, stating exactly the same reasons as before. For many months there was no reply. Finally I was released two years after I had first applied! This is an example of how God can make us wealthy enough to cope with every situation – and not only in our own life, but in the lives of others too who may come to us for help in their hour of need.

Finally, turning to Ephesians 6:17 we find the Word of God is there called the sword of the Spirit. The Christian life is a constant battle with a cunning foe, whose method of attack is often to cast doubt upon God’s love, God’s justice, even God Himself. This sword can defeat his every move, provided we know how to use it.

Discouragement is one of the Devil’s strongest weapons. With it he has knocked down many mighty men. Moses, Elijah and Jonah each trembled at its shock, but each one of these men overcame his own depression by listening to the Word of the Lord. You and I may be able temporarily to tide over our discouragement by occupying ourselves in some way that provides a diversion, but only by the Word of God itself can we ever overcome it completely. Jesus Himself overcame Satan in the wilderness solely through His use of this Sword.

I remember a time when I was in the Navy, and our ship had been for more than a month based at a small port. We had been going out to sea daily for exercises. The pressure of work on board was intense, and this coupled with the fact that for a considerable length of time I had no opportunity for Christian fellowship, brought me one day into a very depressed state of mind. The situation had got on top of me. As I was sitting alone in my cabin, suddenly this verse flashed into my mind: “The Lord shall make thee the head and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only and thou shalt not be beneath” (Deut. 28:13). At once I saw that the Lord had promised to keep me ” on top ” in every situation. Immediately the joy of heaven came surging back into my heart and there was a song on my lips again. Such is the power of the Word of God to overcome every attack of the enemy.

The nine symbols that we have considered above give us a little idea of the effect that the Word of God can have upon a man. I wonder whether you have now begun to understand why Jesus said that this one thing was the greatest essential in a believer’s life. Will you take His statement seriously? If so, then settle it right now that, no matter how necessary and even essential other things may appear to be, henceforth nothing shall be allowed to rob you of your daily quiet time with the Lord and with His Word.

The Bible tells us of days that will come upon this world, in which there will be a famine of the Word of God (Amos 8:11, 12). There may be many counterfeits in that day – as we have seen, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 suggests this -but a famine of the true. Those days, I believe, are almost upon us, and the famine of the true Word of God will only increase as the time goes by. Joseph in Egypt laid up corn during the years of plenty, so that when the famine came which God had predicted, there was no lack. If we are wise, we shall store up the Word of God in our hearts today against just such a need. May the Lord imprint this message deeply upon the hearts of us all.

“Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” (Prov. 8:34)

“Sitting at the feet of Jesus, O what words I hear Him say! Happy place! So near, so precious! May it find me there each day. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, There I love to weep and pray, While I from His fullness gather, Grace and comfort every day. ”have reached a dead-end.

The blind man throws away a cheque for one hundred rupees and clings on to a valueless piece of glazed paper, considering the latter more desirable because it is smoother to his touch. He lacks a proper sense of values because he is blind. Like him, the two-year old child also prefers a cheap toy to the cheque. He too is ignorant of real values, because he is immature. However, multitudes of intelligent men and women throughout the world are doing exactly the same thing today. And they are doing it without even realizing it! Do you have a proper sense of values? A mistaken idea of true values can lead any one of us to a wasted life; and the greatest tragedy in the world today is wasted human lives. Nor is this wastage peculiar to the irreligious, one finds it among the religious as well. Man is born spiritually blind. He is unable therefore to assess the relative values of the things of time when compared with the things of eternity. As a result, he spends his time and energies in seeking the wealth, the honour and the pleasures that this world can give him. Little does he realize that ” the things that are seen are (all of them) temporal,” whereas ” the things that are not seen (and they alone) are eternal ” (2 Cor. 4:18). Jesus challenged the wrong sense of values held by even religious people of His day when He told them that a man would profit nothing who gained the whole world if in doing so he lost his soul. If a man is not rightly related to God through Jesus Christ then he will discover, in the day that he stands before his Creator, that all he has achieved and acquired on earth is utterly valueless.

There are multitudes of believers, too, whose “sins are all forgiven” and who are “on their way to heaven,” yet whose values are no less confused. In the day of judgment they will find to their surprise that, though their souls may have been saved, their lives have been wasted. They have sat as spectators on the side-lines, content with their salvation, happily singing choruses, watching others being used of God but unaware that He wants them on the field as well. Occasionally they may wonder why the power and joy and fruitfulness that mark the lives of other Christians are not their portion too. They may attend many Christian meetings to stimulate their spiritual life, but their inner man remains always weak and sickly. Once in a while they may have ambitions to attain a higher level of Christian living, but soon they fall back to where they started from – and sometimes even lower. What is the reason for this? Usually it is quite simple: they have not got their priorities right. Like the blind man and the child in the illustrations above, they have again and again in their ignorance thrown away the true spiritual riches and clung to what is worthless. Thus they have remained spiritual bankrupts, whereas God intended them to be rich.

Jesus was forever seeking to remove this blindness from the eyes of those who came to Him. He taught them what the supreme priorities of life really are. To Martha He said, “One thing is needful.” To a rich young man He said, “One thing thou lackest.” With these words He threw into emphasis the thing that should take first place in each of their lives. Or again in Old Testament times, of David alone was it said that he was “a man after God’s own heart ” – and he certainly had his priorities right! “One thing,” he said, “have I desired.” Paul too, the greatest apostle of Christianity, succeeded in putting the right thing first. “One thing I do,” he cried; and with that as his theme he lived out the most effective life (from the standpoint of eternity) that this world has seen since Jesus of Nazareth ascended on high.

The atmosphere of the world today gives to all of us without exception a perverted sense of values. Under its influence we tend to get life’s priorities wrong. For that influence is immensely powerful. Faster than ever before in the history of mankind the world is sinking into the gutter of moral decay and corruption. The darkness deepens until the night is black around us. In such conditions Jesus wanted His church to be the salt of this earth and the light of this world. But the salt has largely lost its savour and the light its brightness. Corruption and darkness have found their way into the very household of faith. And because the Pharisaic leaven of hypocrisy has penetrated so deeply into the church it is neither aware of, nor willing to face its true condition. Only those who have quickened ears can hear the Spirit of God speaking, calling even today for a reevaluation of existing priorities.

In this great darkness the only light that you and I are offered is to be found in the Bible. Let us turn to it then, and seek to discover for ourselves what the prior claims upon the Christian really are. What we read there may at first hurt and even offend us, for the Bible penetrates behind our disguises. But let us take courage from the wise remarks of a twentieth century servant of God: ” The words of Jesus hurt and offend until there is nothing left to hurt or offend (cf. Matt. 11:6). If we have never been hurt by a statement of Jesus, it is questionable whether we have ever really heard Him speak. Jesus Christ has no tenderness whatever towards anything that is ultimately going to ruin a man for the service of God. If the Spirit of God brings to our mind a word of the Lord that hurts, we may be perfectly certain there is something He wants to hurt, even to death.” (Oswald Chambers in So Send I You).

” Thou sayest…I have need of nothing; but knowest not that thou art…blind; I counsel thee…to anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see…He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches ” (Rev. 3:17-22).

“Open my ears that I may hear Voices of truth Thou sendest clear; And while the wave-notes fall on my ear,

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 38-42).

How striking are Jesus’ words to Martha in verse 42: “One thing is needful!” There may be plenty of good things to be done and many indeed that may justly be considered essential. But, Jesus affirmed, one thing above all others was needful. What was that one thing?

Jesus and His disciples had just arrived at Bethany. As soon as Martha saw them, she joyfully received them into her house, made them sit down and straightway hurried into the kitchen to prepare some food. Meanwhile Jesus began to preach to those present. When Martha discovered that her sister Mary had settled down to listen to His words instead of coming to her help, she rushed out of the kitchen with anger, and turning to Jesus, appealed to Him in words more or less as follows: “Lord, here I am toiling in the kitchen preparing a meal for you all, and my sister just sits here doing nothing. Tell her to get up and help me!” To her surprise, however, it was Martha herself whom Jesus rebuked. She and not Mary, He told her, was the one who was at fault.

Now let us note this, that it was not for anything sinful which Martha had one that she was thus addressed. She had joyfully received Jesus into her home. The work that she then did in the kitchen was not for herself, but for Him and for His disciples. She is a picture of a believer today, who has received the Lord into her heart and

who is unselfishly seeking to serve the Lord and others. Yet despite her zeal she was rebuked by Jesus. What, we ask ourselves, is the point of this? What was wrong with her action? And the answer, surely, lies in those four words of Jesus: “One thing is needful.” Martha was not rebuked for her service, but for not putting first things first.

Mary, the Lord said, had chosen the good part. What was that? She simply sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word. Nothing more. But that is the good part. That is the one thing needful above all other things. How much place does listening have in our lives? How much time do we spend sitting at the feet of the Lord, reading His word and seeking to hear Him speak to us through it? Not very much perhaps. Other things crowd it out, so that we often find ourselves guilty of the same mistake that Martha made. It may not be mundane affairs alone that keep us pre-occupied. It may be Christian service too. We may take active part in meetings for prayer or worship or witness, and yet find that the Lord is rebuking us as He did Martha.

“Mary hath chosen that good part.” This is Jesus’ own valuation of His words to her, and by inference, of all that today comes to us as God’s Word of life. Our first theme, then, is that good thing – the Word of God as given to us in the Bible. We shall look at this from three standpoints. We shall consider first the authority of the Bible, then the importance of hearing God’s Word, and finally, the effect that the Word of God can have upon our lives.

The Authority of the Bible

We have to consider first the Divine authority of the Bible because this is the foundation to all else. To proceed further without settling this point would be as disastrous as proceeding with the construction of a building without laying its foundation. Only as we are assured of the Bible’s authority shall we value and appreciate it aright.

Many who are born and brought up in Christian homes have accepted the Bible without question as the Word of God, simply because they were taught to do so by their parents or by their church, but they have never cared to establish with certainty in their own minds the reason for doing so. Thus they carry on happily for a while, until one day some modernist gives them a dose of his so-called higher criticism. “The Scriptures,” he claims, “are full of inconsistencies. The authors are not the persons named but much later writers, often writing with motives that are not above suspicion. It is impossible therefore to know what Jesus or His disciples really taught. There is insufficient factual evidence even for the great saving events. Modern man cannot possibly believe such fables.” So he goes on, and very soon their whole faith begins to crumble. Why? Because it was never properly founded in the first place.

God does not ask us to believe things blindly. Many Christians give that impression to others, but it is totally wrong. God intends that the eyes of our heart be enlightened that we may know. What the Bible does teach is that our minds are blinded by Satan. As sinners, therefore, we cannot with our natural minds understand the things of God. We are thus completely dependent on Divine revelation – on God making known His message to us. (This He is ever ready to do for the sincere seeker.) Our minds are sinful, and therefore fallible. We are not perfect in knowledge. So we need not be surprised if, with our finite and fallible minds, we are unable to grasp some things in the Bible that are beyond our reason. This does not mean that the Bible is contrary to reason. It does mean however that, like little children, we are just on the threshold of Divine things. If our intellects were perfect and infallible, we would assuredly find ourselves in full agreement with the Bible. This is proved by the fact that a person who is born again, as he grows in likeness to Christ, finds himself growing correspondingly in his understanding of the Bible and agreement with it. But if instead of acknowledging our limitations we give rein to our critical faculties, we shall stumble. If we found our faith only upon what appears reasonable to our fallible intellects, one day we shall find that we have built on sand.

Why do we believe the Bible to be the Word of God? Firstly, because of the testimony of Jesus Christ. In the Gospels we find Him constantly quoting the Old Testament scriptures as an authority. At the outset of His ministry in Luke chapter 4, we find Him quoting the book of Deuteronomy in effective answer to Satan’s temptations. Jesus began His ministry with the words, “It is written,” a straight assertion of the authority of Scripture. After His resurrection, in Luke chapter 24, we once more find Him expounding the Scriptures, first to two disciples walking to Emmaus, then shortly afterwards to the eleven in the upper room. And again and again throughout the three-and-a-half years that lay between these incidents we hear Him quote the Hebrew Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God. And remember, these Jewish Scriptures are the very same Old Testament that we have with us today. In the brief record of the four Gospels, Jesus made at least fifty-seven quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament. Since this was evidently His custom, there must surely have been countless more such instances which the New Testament does not record in detail.

What is abundantly clear is that the Lord entertained no doubt at all about the authority of the Old Testament. It was, in fact, the only written authority that He accepted on earth. When answering the Pharisees and the Sadducees of His day, He always quoted Scripture.” It is written “was His ground of appeal. Whereas many of today’s preachers quote theologians, philosophers, psychologists – and even secular writers, the Lord Jesus never cared to quote the opinions of others. His only authority was the Old Testament. If we accept His testimony at all, it necessitates our accepting the Bible as God’s Word also. Those who reject the Bible reject the testimony of Jesus Himself.

Secondly, we accept the Bible as God’s infallible Word because so large a number of detailed prophecies contained in it have been fulfilled. One-third of the Bible is prophecy. Prophecies concerning the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus were made in the Old Testament hundreds of years before He came to earth, and these were literally fulfilled when He came Prophecies concerning many of the leading nations of Old Testament times, and especially concerning Israel, have been fulfilled to the very letter. In our own life-time the Jews have returned to their homeland in Palestine and taken possession of the city of Jerusalem. Yet these events were foretold 2,500 years ago.

Another proof of the Bible’s Divine inspiration is the remarkably unity that is found in its sixty-six books. They were written in three different languages over a period of 1,600 years by some forty different authors of varying standards of education and the widest range of social and cultural backgrounds – kings, shepherds, military leaders, seers, Pharisees and fishermen. Yet even so there is a marvelous unity throughout this whole library of writings, and not a single fundamental contradiction. Apparent contradictions here and there are of a trivial nature, to be explained by errors in copying of the text. Fundamental moral and ethical contradictions there are none. Many of the historical statements in the Bible have been questioned, but have been confirmed on further research. It scientific statements (though few, because it is not a text-book of science) are all true to the established facts of the physical world. Though written at a time when man’s scientific knowledge was extremely faulty, it contains none of the crude fallacies that were believed by men in those and even much later times. Science is constantly changing its views and rewriting its books, but the Bible needs no such revision.

The fact that the Bible has stood through the centuries triumphant over every attack upon it by its foes is yet another proof of its Divine inspiration. There is no book in the world that has been attacked so vigorously as the Bible. Yet it has gloriously survived the criticism of its friends and the hostility of its enemies. The French infidel Voltaire once said that in a hundred years there would be no Bible. They were “famous last words” indeed, for ironically enough, after his death, the Bible Society opened its office in the very house in which he had lived! Thus has God vindicated His Word. Infidels may come and go, but the Bible goes on from strength to strength. No other book has been so loved and respected and treasured by men and women the world over. It remains the world’s best-seller.

Then again, we believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word because of the accepted fact that countless lives have been transformed by it, sometimes indeed by just one verse from its pages. Passages of Scripture which no one would imagine could have such an effect have been used by God to convert people and bring them to salvation. Wicked men and women have been transformed overnight into saints of God through the reading of some passage or other in this marvelous Book. This has happened even in vernacular versions where the translation has been so poor as to make such a result highly improbable. God does indeed speak through this Book to effect moral changes in human lives. A sixth proof of the inspiration of the Bible is its inexhaustibility. Through the centuries many brilliant men with the keenest intellects have spent their lifetimes studying it. Yet even so its depths have not been fathomed.

Like a bottomless mine, the Book continues to yield new treasures, speaking to men in ever fresh ways. Moreover, its message has such a sublime simplicity that even a child can grasp it. Time cannot out-date it; it is time-less. If only we have the humility to consult it, we will find the answer to all our problems in this wonderful Book. That could never have been possible were it merely a human writing; but being divinely inspired it contains the inexhaustible wisdom of the infinite God. Man therefore can ever draw from it according to his need.

Finally, the greatest proof of its inspiration is that, as we read it in humility before God, He speaks to us through it. Hearing its words we become growingly convinced that they are the voice of God. Scripture’s great themes, such as the doctrines of the Trinity and of the atonement, could never have been invented by men. They could only have been known through the Spirit’s inspiration. They are in a true sense God-given. We discover, too, an amazing design in the content and message of every book in the Bible, especially when it is viewed as a mirror reflecting the Lord Jesus Himself. The title of an old commentary, Christ in All the Scriptures, aptly describes what students of the Bible have constantly found, that the entire Scriptures “hang together” in wonderful detail to form an ever more convincing pattern when He is the goal of their study.

We are living in days in which the authority of the Bible is being widely questioned. Paul warned the Corinthian believers of the possibility of Satan corrupting their minds in just the same way as he corrupted Eve’s (2 Cor. 11:1-3). When the Devil came to Eve, he began with the question, “Hath God said?” He has been asking men the same old question ever since, “Is this really God’s Word?.” This has been one of his most successful devices to turn men away from the faith. The Holy Spirit warns us emphatically that there will be an increase of deception in the last days, due to an influx of deceiving spirits into the world (1 Tim. 4:1). The statement that “some shall depart from the faith” seems to indicate that this verse is describing not pagans but Christians. The Lord Jesus referred to this possibility of deception three times in Matthew 24 (verses 5, 11, 24)

while speaking about the last days. The Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 also speaks of a ” a falling away ” prior to the day of the Lord. This defection is obviously due to Christians being lured away by some subtle deceit of Satan. These warnings are serious. If in spite of them we still remain unwatchful, we shall most certainly find ourselves deceived.

How does a man seek to deceive you? If he wants to cheat you of one hundred rupees by passing a counterfeit currency note, he will ensure that the counterfeit note is as close as possible in appearance to the real thing. Only so will he hope to trick you. And Satan is no less subtle. His most powerful tool with which to deceive the unsuspecting Christian will be a “Christian” preacher – one who preaches with the Bible supposedly as his basis but who has not bowed his knee to its authority. Watch him! On closer inspection the things he preaches either are not found in the Bible at all, or they give a slanted and unbalanced presentation of Biblical truth.

The safeguard against all such deception is the Bible itself. If we do not know our Bibles well, we shall surely fall a prey to such deception. Unless we make the Bible our final authority in all matters relating to our faith, we shall be tossed about hither and thither until that faith itself is lost.

The Lord Jesus condemned the Pharisees and scribes for rejecting the Old Testament and replacing it with their own traditions (Mark 7:5-13). Their long-standing rejection of the written Word of God led finally to their rejection of the living Word when He came into their midst. The spiritual descendants of those scribes and Pharisees are found in our own generation. And many are being deceived by them. How watchful we need to be.

We are told by the psalmist that God has magnified His Word above all His Name (Psalm 138:2). To reject or ignore it therefore, or to treat it lightly, is to invite immeasurable loss. But to reverence it is to discover a door into untold riches.

The Importance of Hearing God’s Word

The overwhelming necessity of spending time each day with God’s Word is implied clearly in the words of Jesus to Martha, with which we opened this chapter. There are many other things which may help us and which may prove useful, but this one thing above all others is absolutely essential. We can no more do without it than our physical bodies can do without oxygen. It is quite indispensable. The supreme essential for our spirits is indeed just this – to sit at the Lord’s feet daily to hear His Word.

The Lord Jesus knew, better than anyone else, all the factors that affect a man’s life. He knew every possible situation that any man could ever find himself in. He knew the dangers that lay ahead of every man and He knew all the wiles of Satan. He knew what was necessary for man’s spiritual growth, for He alone knew the relative importance and unimportance of things. Knowing all this, He said that one thing was needful above all else. He used similar words in Luke 4:4. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God.” This is a quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3, where reference is made to the manna with which God fed the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness. The Israelites were told there that God’s purpose in giving them the manna daily from heaven was that they might, in like manner, learn to receive God’s Word. If they were to be strengthened for their wilderness journey those Israelites needed the manna daily. Even so does man require to receive the Word of God daily, if he is to be empowered to face the trials of life.

Jesus never made these statements lightly. He was seeking to impress upon His disciples the absolute necessity of hearing His Word daily. If that is true, then it follows that a life that is lived without time given to meditation on God’s written Word is a wasted life, no matter what else it may have achieved.

In Luke 17:26-30, Jesus tells us that the last days will be like the days of Noah and of Lot, in which people ate, drank, bought, sold, planted, built, and so on. Have you noticed that none of these things are sinful in themselves? They are all legitimate activities. Why then did Jesus mention them as being peculiarly characteristic of those sinful days? Because the people of those days were so occupied with these legitimate activities as to have no time for God at all. The Devil succeeded in getting them to crowd God out of their lives altogether. This of course resulted, as it always will, in moral decay and corruption.

Compare this state of affairs with what we see in the world today and we shall find an exact similarity of attitude and of consequent result. Men and women are too busy to have any time to listen to God. Look into your own life and see if this is not true. The spirit of the world has crept into the very heart of the believer. Even though science has invented many time-saving devices which our forefathers did not possess, yet man finds himself rushed for time. Today we can travel by car, train or aeroplane where they had to travel on animals or on their own two feet. Our ancestors had to spend much longer doing the daily household chores which today are done for us by gadgets and machines. Yet many of them found much more time for God than most people find today. Why? Because they had their priorities right. They put first things first.

If we are to be effective witnesses for our Lord, it is imperative that we spend time each day at His feet listening to His voice. There are many today who are ambitious to preach, who have never developed this habit of listening to God’s voice daily. The result is a sad paucity of “the word of the Lord” and a sickening abundance of man’s words. Of how very few of today’s preachers can it be said that” the word of the Lord is with him” (2 Kings 3:12).

Yet this was the distinguishing mark of every true servant of God in the Bible. No man has the right to speak to other men about God, who has not first spent time listening to what God Himself says and this refers to private witnessing as well as to public preaching. It is written of Moses that he went in before the Lord and then “came out and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded” (Exod. 34:34).

Joshua was told that his life would be a success only if he meditated on God’s Word daily (Josh. 1:8). Samuel is another classic example of one who patiently waited to hear God speak, and then spoke to the people. The result was that the Lord “allowed no single word of his to fall to the ground” (1 Sam. 3:19).

In a prophetic reference to the Lord Jesus in Isaiah 50:4, it is said of Him that morning by morning God spoke to Him, for His ears were disciplined to hear His Father’s voice. The result was, as the same verse tells us, that Jesus had a ready word for all who came to Him, according to their need. He was truly the Father’s perfect mouthpiece. If this habit of listening to God’s voice daily was necessary for Jesus Himself, then how much more is it so for us. We shall never be able to minister adequately to those in need if we fail here. It is only when we learn to “hear as a disciple” that we shall have “the tongue of a disciple.” Unfortunately, many who should have been teaching others by now are still spiritual babes, because they have either ignored or neglected this “one thing.”

Listening to the Lord does not mean merely reading the Bible. There are many who read their Bibles purely as a matter of routine. Listening to the Lord means more than that. It means meditating on His Word until we receive, through it, His message for us. Thus alone can our minds be renewed and conformed growingly to the mind of Christ. But many who read their Bibles have never yet learned thus to meditate.

There are at least three spiritual truths to be learnt from Mary’s sitting at the feet of Jesus. Sitting – unlike walking, running, or even standing – is primarily a picture of rest. This teaches us that our hearts must be at rest and our minds still, before we can hear God speaking to us. Unconfessed sin will preclude the former, while over-occupation with the cares and riches of this world will stand in the way of the latter. With a conscience ill at ease or a mind filled with anxiety or fear, how can we hope to hear God’s “still small voice?”

Psalm 46:10 tells us that we must be still if we are to know God.

Sitting at a person’s feet is also a picture of humility. Mary was not sitting on a chair on the same level as Jesus, but on a lower level. God never speaks to a proud man, except in judgment. But He is ever ready to speak and to offer His grace to the humble soul who will be as a child before Him (Matt. 11:25). Thirdly, sitting as Mary did is a picture of subjection. It is the attitude of a disciple in the presence of his Master. Our subjection is manifested in obedience to God’s Word. God has not spoken in his Word to satisfy our curiosity or to give us information. His Word is an expression of His heart’s desire. He speaks in order that we may obey. Jesus made it clear in John 7:17 that it is only if we are willing to do God’s will that we shall receive an understanding of that will.

Many Christians go through months and years of reading the Bible without seeking to hear God speaking to them through it. Still they seem to be quite satisfied. I ask you, Do you hear the Lord’s voice each day? If not, what is the cause? He speaks to those who listen. What is it that is stopping your spirit’s ears? Is it lack of stillness before Him, lack of humility of spirit, or lack of obedience to what He has already said to you? Or is it perhaps a lack of desire itself? Whatever it be, God grant that it may be remedied at once and permanently. Pray Samuel’s prayer, “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.” Then open your Bible and seek the face of the Lord earnestly, and you too shall hear His voice.

The Effect of the Word of God

We shall never fully appreciate the importance of sitting at the Lord’s feet daily to listen to His Word, until we understand the effect that it will have upon our lives. A man who is given a medicine by a doctor, but who is skeptical or unsure of what that medicine will do for him, may not, as a result, care to take it regularly. He is not likely to feel that he has lost anything when he neglects to take it. But if, on the other hand, that man is made to understand what a marvelous cure the medicine will work in his body and the tremendous improvement that it will bring to his health, then whatever it costs him to take it regularly, it is very unlikely that he will forget to do so.

In very much the same way, we find thousands of Christians who never have a regular devotional time with God and His Word, yet who still do not feel that they have missed anything. Search your own life. If you miss a quiet time with God one day, do you feel a sense of regret at having lost something valuable, or do you feel that you have not lost much? How does it come about that so many children of God never have a quiet time with God daily and yet remain so complacent about it? It can only be because they have not fully appreciated the creative effect that God’s Word has upon a person’s life. For as we shall see, it is more than a medicine; it is food. They have not realized how much they are losing by not subjecting themselves to its transforming power.

In order to understanding something of the effect that the Word of God has upon a man, we shall consider nine Biblical symbols by which it describes itself or is described.

First of all, we shall look at Psalm 119:105, where the Word is likened to light. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” When we walk through unknown terrain in the dark, we use a light in order to see our way. That is a picture of what the Bible does for us in a world that lies in the pitch darkness of sin. It shows us the path to God. We can know nothing of God’s way of salvation apart from the Bible.

Further, the Bible gives light to the Christian on the pathway of right doctrine, showing up at the same time the pitfalls of false teaching alongside the road, so that he may not fall into them. Without that light, he would never know what was false and what was true. The Holy Spirit commended the believers at Berea, because they did not receive even what the apostle Paul preached in them until they had themselves checked it with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). Only then did they accept his message. (Was it because of this attitude to the preachers who came to them that Paul had no need to send an epistle to the Bereans correcting false doctrine, as he did to so many of the other churches?) People who search the Scriptures diligently are not easily lured into false doctrine. They know the truth that has made them free.

Unfortunately, many thousands of Christians today are either too lazy or too pre-occupied to study the Bible for themselves. Their resultant ignorance of the Scriptures makes them an easy prey for the Devil’s deceptions. Alas, such things as eloquence, emotionalism and logical presentation of the message are in our day the criteria by which a preacher is judged. Whether he expounds the Word of God correctly or not seems to be only of secondary importance. Remember that true doctrine matters infinitely more than a man’s personality or gift of speaking. The contents of a medicine bottle are more important than its size or shape or appearance! Do you look for the truth or for eloquent messages? And if it is indeed the truth you look for, how can you know what the truth is, unless you know the Bible first?

There is a story of a man who was told by his priest that the Bible could not be understood by laymen like him, but who happened to get hold of a New Testament and was saved as a result of reading it. One day while the book was open in front of him, the priest dropped in to visit him and asked what he was reading. On his replying that it was the Bible, the priest protested that he should not read it as it was not meant for uninstructed laymen.

“But,’ said the man, “I have been saved as a result of reading it. And besides, it tells me here in 1 Peter 2:2, to desire the sincere milk of the Word that I may grow.”

“Oh,” said the priest, “but God has appointed us priests as the milkmen to give you the milk.”

“Well, sir,” the man replied, “I had a milkman once who used to bring me milk every day, but I soon discovered that he was mixing water with the milk. Then I decided to buy a cow instead. Now the milk I get is pure milk.”

Brothers and sisters, it is only as we study God’s Word ourselves that we shall get the pure milk, the

uncorrupted doctrine. For in this sin-darkened earth, the Word of God is the only light that we have, to walk by.

It is also therefore the key to the problem of guidance. God has marked out a pathway for our lives, but many Christians complain that they are unable to find it. Often the reason is simply that they have not spent time regularly in meditation on God’s Word. “Thy word…is a light unto my path.” It is God’s provision to show us the road.

Secondly, the Word of God is likened in James 1:22, 23 to a mirror. We need a mirror to see whether our faces are dirty or clean and whether our hair is disorderly or combed. Without one, we cannot tell how we look. If James had been writing his epistle in the twentieth century, he might perhaps have gone a step further and used a more modern symbol – the X-ray – to illustrate this effect of God’s Word. An X-ray film shows me the conditions of the interior organs in my body, which I cannot know otherwise. The Bible does something similar in that it shows me the condition of my heart before God. It corrects me and reproves me so that I might be perfect and fully equipped to serve Him (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Many people today are deceiving themselves about their spiritual condition, thinking that there is nothing wrong with them. Why? Because they have never subjected themselves to the X-ray of God’s Word.

It is possible that, even as believers, we may be unaware of sins of which we are guilty before God. I have often found during times of meditation on the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit has made me aware of some sin – some selfishness of motive, perhaps, in my actions – of which I was totally unaware until He made it known. We need to subject ourselves to a daily examination through the mirror (or X-ray) of God’s Word if we are to avoid spiritual stagnation and decay. Not a day goes by in our lives without our examining our faces in a mirror. May not a day go by either without our examining our hearts.

Then, in Jeremiah 23:29, the Word of God is likened to a fire. Fire, in the Bible, is used as a symbol of that which purifies or burns up. Gold put into the fire is purified, whereas wood is consumed. The Word of God, similarly, has a purifying effect upon our lives, eliminating from them what is un-Christlike. It not only shows us our faults, as we saw above, but it also makes us holy. No man can ever hope to be holy without spending time every day at the Lord’s feet, for that alone can purge away all the dross from his life. But it is also terribly true the same fire will burn up the one who rejects the Word (John 12:48). Our attitude towards God’s Word determines whether it will purify or destroy. If we submit to it, it will purify us. If we ignore or spurn it, then it will surely consume us.

In the same verse of Jeremiah 23 we see, fourthly, the Word of God likened to a hammer – a hammer that breaks the rock into pieces. If you want to make a road on a mountainside, you have to break up rocks. In these days we use dynamite for that purpose, whereas in Jeremiah’s day they used hammers. The Word of God is His dynamite, capable of removing huge obstacles out of our way. We all face trials and problems in our lives -situations in which the mountains have closed in upon us and it appears as Often we have remained in such situations, discouraged and defeated, not knowing what to do or where in turn.

Our ignorance at such times of the promises that God has given us in Scripture has prevented us from claiming them. Otherwise, like dynamite, they would have blasted away the obstacles in our path and taken us triumphantly through the mountain barrier to the other side. How much we have missed by not knowing the Word!

Fifthly, in Luke 8:11, we find the Word of God likened to seed which, when sown into the ground, produces fruit. 1 Peter 1:23 states that our new birth itself is a result of that seed sprouting in our hearts. Only as we are fruitful can God be glorified through our lives. Is there, in your life and service, fruit for the glory of God? Is it manifest, in your own life first of all, in terms of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), and self-control? (Gal. 5:22, 23). And then, do you find fruit in your service, in the shape of sinners turning to the Lord and believers being drawn closer to Him? If not, perhaps the reason is that you are not regularly receiving the Word of God into your own heart as seed “having life in itself.” Psalm 1:2, 3 tells us that it is the man who regularly meditates on God’s Word, who alone will be like the fruitful tree, prospering in all that he does.

The Word of God is also likened to food in Psalm 119:103. The same symbol occurs again in Jeremiah 15:16 and in 1 Peter 2:2. The prophet Ezekiel and the apostle John are each shown too in Scripture as” eating” a book (Ezek. 3:1-3; Rev. 10:9, 10). We have here a picture of men assimilating and digesting the Word of God. Food gives us strength. Our bodies cannot be built up without it. A person who is under-nourished will be skinny and weak in his constitution, and therefore unable to resist disease. He will also be unable to defend himself if physically assaulted by another. A small push will often be enough to knock him down. In exactly the same way, one who neglects the Word of God will be spiritually under-developed, and consequently unable to resist temptation and to withstand the Devil’s onslaughts. Only those who regularly meditate on God’s Word grow into strong virile Christians (1 John 2:14). Mere reading of the Bible will not make you strong, but meditation upon it allows the Word to penetrate into the very core of your being and thus to become a part of you, hidden in your heart (Psa.119:11). Job said that he esteemed the words of God’s mouth more even than his necessary daily food (Job 23:12). By listening to God daily he built up a tremendous reserve of spiritual strength. This, no doubt, accounts for the man’s remarkable resilience in the face of Satan’s fierce assaults. He did not lose his faith in God, in spite of all the adversity he faced. His wife, who obviously did not have the same regard for God’s Word as her husband, was ready to curse God as soon as calamity struck. Not so Job. His example gives us an idea of the tremendous strength that God’s Word, if received daily, can give us to face every trial in life.

Seventhly, in Deuteronomy 32:2, the Word of God is likened to dew. Dew, in the Bible, is a figure of God’s blessing. When God blessed Israel, He gave them the dew and the rain. When Israel sinned God withheld them, as He did in 1 Kings 17:1. This symbol teaches therefore that God’s blessing comes through His Word upon all who receive and obey it. Proverbs 10:22 declares that that blessing can enrich us, making up for all our shortcomings. What an encouragement that is!

More than one instance in the gospels serves to illustrate this. One day the disciples of Jesus were confronted with the task of feeding over 5000 people and all the food they could amass was five loaves and two fishes, the gift of a boy. They protested that it was totally insufficient, as indeed it was. But then the Lord blessed that food. As a result, all the people were satisfied and a large amount remained over. On another occasion we find the disciples toiled all night at fishing, and caught nothing. Then in the morning they heard Jesus speaking to them. They obeyed His instructions, and within a few moments the net was full of fishes. These are two illustrations of the fact that the blessing of the Lord does indeed make rich. The blessing that comes to us through His Word makes up for all our lack. You may be lacking in talents and unable to preach or sing or pray like others, but when the dew of heaven falls on your life, notwithstanding all your natural limitations, God can still make you a channel of blessing to thousands. So, wait upon the Lord daily with His Word in front of you.

Do nor rush away from His presence until His dew falls upon your soul. But dew is more than blessing. It is also a symbol of freshness. Here is another thing that the Bible gives us, namely, renewal. Listening to the voice of the Lord day by day keeps our Christian life continually fresh. It saves us from becoming stale, with all that that implies of corruption and decay. Moldy bread will not make anyone’s mouth water. Even so, the staleness displayed by many believers cannot be expected to draw anyone to Christ. Is your Christian life fresh every day? It can be so only if you feed daily upon the heavenly manna from beneath the dewfall (Exod. 16:13-15; compare verse 20).

The Word of God is further likened to wealth in Psalm 119:162 – or to gold, as in other passages of Scripture. Money cannot make you truly wealthy. You may acquire qualifications which give you great earning power and thus may reach a position where you can earn plenty of money; but that will give you only a wealth which passes away. Nothing but the Word of God can make you really wealthy.though we A truly wealthy man lacks nothing. He has enough and to spare. A poor man on the other hand, has to go around begging from those more fortunate than himself. The Word of God can make you so wealthy that you will never be at a loss. It will not only give you enough for your own needs, but will enable you to meet the needs of others too. There is not a single situation that you can ever face in life for which the solution is not found somewhere in the Bible. The answer will always be there in the experience of some Biblical character that parallels your own, or in some teaching of Scripture. If you know your Bible, you will find in the time of crisis that the Holy Spirit brings to your remembrance the appropriate passage and from it gives you His answer.

I have found this to be true in more than one instance in my own life. When the Lord called me for His service on the 6th of May 1964, and I sent in my application requesting that I be permitted to resign my commission in the Indian Navy, the Naval Headquarters soon replied that they would not release me. I was really puzzled then, not knowing what to do next. The Lord then reminded me of the time when Moses had gone to Pharaoh and asked for the release of the Israelites that they might serve the Lord. Pharaoh rejected that request outright, but Moses did not give up. He kept going back to Pharaoh until the Israelites were released. There I had the answer to my problem! So I applied again for permission to resign, and my application was turned down again. I applied a third time, stating exactly the same reasons as before. For many months there was no reply. Finally I was released two years after I had first applied! This is an example of how God can make us wealthy enough to cope with every situation – and not only in our own life, but in the lives of others too who may come to us for help in their hour of need.

Finally, turning to Ephesians 6:17 we find the Word of God is there called the sword of the Spirit. The Christian life is a constant battle with a cunning foe, whose method of attack is often to cast doubt upon God’s love, God’s justice, even God Himself. This sword can defeat his every move, provided we know how to use it.

Discouragement is one of the Devil’s strongest weapons. With it he has knocked down many mighty men. Moses, Elijah and Jonah each trembled at its shock, but each one of these men overcame his own depression by listening to the Word of the Lord. You and I may be able temporarily to tide over our discouragement by occupying ourselves in some way that provides a diversion, but only by the Word of God itself can we ever overcome it completely. Jesus Himself overcame Satan in the wilderness solely through His use of this Sword.

I remember a time when I was in the Navy, and our ship had been for more than a month based at a small port. We had been going out to sea daily for exercises. The pressure of work on board was intense, and this coupled with the fact that for a considerable length of time I had no opportunity for Christian fellowship, brought me one day into a very depressed state of mind. The situation had got on top of me. As I was sitting alone in my cabin, suddenly this verse flashed into my mind: “The Lord shall make thee the head and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only and thou shalt not be beneath” (Deut. 28:13). At once I saw that the Lord had promised to keep me ” on top ” in every situation. Immediately the joy of heaven came surging back into my heart and there was a song on my lips again. Such is the power of the Word of God to overcome every attack of the enemy.

The nine symbols that we have considered above give us a little idea of the effect that the Word of God can have upon a man. I wonder whether you have now begun to understand why Jesus said that this one thing was the greatest essential in a believer’s life. Will you take His statement seriously? If so, then settle it right now that, no matter how necessary and even essential other things may appear to be, henceforth nothing shall be allowed to rob you of your daily quiet time with the Lord and with His Word.

The Bible tells us of days that will come upon this world, in which there will be a famine of the Word of God (Amos 8:11, 12). There may be many counterfeits in that day – as we have seen, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 suggests this -but a famine of the true. Those days, I believe, are almost upon us, and the famine of the true Word of God will only increase as the time goes by. Joseph in Egypt laid up corn during the years of plenty, so that when the famine came which God had predicted, there was no lack. If we are wise, we shall store up the Word of God in our hearts today against just such a need. May the Lord imprint this message deeply upon the hearts of us all.

“Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” (Prov. 8:34)

“Sitting at the feet of Jesus, O what words I hear Him say! Happy place! So near, so precious! May it find me there each day. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, There I love to weep and pray, While I from His fullness gather, Grace and comfort every day. ”have reached a dead-end.

Zac Poonen

Copyright 1970

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Seeing Jesus: The Greatest Christmas Gift of All

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These are my notes for my sermon at the Chapel service at Wheeler Mission for the homeless tonight. Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

How often have we cried: “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me.” Isaiah 24:9

Lyrics: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.

But there is hope, there is rescue, there is restoration in the hands of God.

We see this in the first verses of the Bible that God is the first responder in the time of crisis. Look at the 1st characteristics of God mentioned in the Bible: It began with Creation. God created heaven and earth, they were good. Then something went wrong. Between Genesis 1:1, when out of His goodness God created the heavens and the earth, and Genesis 1:2, something happened. We are informed that what was created became “formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep” (Genesis 1:2). This was when Lucifer was kicked out of heaven with a third of the angels. A war and a catastrophe. From the beginning of time, however, we see the marvelous, compassionate way that God responds to catastrophes. After realizing that what He created was now covered with darkness, God didn’t decide to just abandon it. No. He refashioned this planet that had lost its original beauty.

Matthew 5:3: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Luke 1:33b: Of his kingdom there shall be no end.

This story of restoration at the end of sin’s winding road is neither the first, nor will it be the last. From the beginning of time, history has demonstrated that there is hope for the one who has fallen.

Our failures are no surprise to God. He knows, with greater understanding than we, the creation He made. And this One, who sees our sins, also knows His purposes for us.

In the Bible, God left us the complete stories of spiritual giants through whom He worked—Moses, Elijah, David and many more—just as they were, flaws and all. He did not touch up the negatives or use Photoshop to present them in a better light. There was no cover-up.

Look at Moses. What an incredible life story is his—forsaken at birth and then rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter. He was raised in a powerful family of influence. As an adult, Moses’ heart was burdened for his people, and he spoke out against the cruel slavery inflicted upon the children of Israel. Unfortunately, he “ruined” what he felt God had called him to do by killing a man and subsequently spent 40 years hiding in the desert. Remember that Moses was a real human being with the same feelings as you and I. Forty years is a long time to contemplate failure. When the Lord eventually came to offer him hope and unfold His rescue plan, Moses responded that God was making a mistake and that He should look for someone else (see Exodus 4:10, 13).

Elijah—the great prophet of God—was one who, in a time of terrible discouragement, simply said, “I want to die” (see 1 Kings 19:4). Talk about singing the blues!

David is another classic example. This shepherd boy turned king seemed to take the worst fall of them all. This national hero who began so well, anointed by God and considered a man after His own heart, fell into adultery and then murdered the woman’s husband to cover it up (see 2 Samuel 11). Does it get much worse than that?

Why does God show us the failures of these great leaders? Could it be He wants us to know that in spite of our fiascoes, He can still make something glorious out of our lives?

The list of names in Hebrews 11 underscores this truth. In this passage, men and women of great faith are noted—ones whom God Almighty approved. One might be shocked, however, to discover how many of them were restored spiritually following failures such as deception, drunkenness, adultery, idolatry and murder.

Consider Jacob. From birth, God gave him a remarkable promise that he would be blessed and his older brother would serve him. With this kind of divine assurance, it would seem like Jacob would turn out to be the perfect saint. Instead, he became a crook who lied to his own father, stole his blessing and lived a life full of deceit. Jacob ended up wasting 20 precious years of his life. I consider his biography one of the most interesting of them all. Here is why: Numerous times throughout the Bible, God reminds His people that He is “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:15). In fact, in this same verse, God says, “This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” Toward the end of Jacob’s journey, God changed his name, which means “deceiver,” to Israel, meaning “Prince of God.” So, why doesn’t He say, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and . . . Israel”? How strange! How come He associates His name with a cheat who wasted two decades trying to do things his own way? Through His name, His very identity, God wants to say to you and me, “I am still the God who makes failures into princes of God. I remain the God who takes broken lives—people with multiple divorces, sick in body because of sin, in prison for decades, labeled as losers, crazy folk nobody wants, outcasts with no hope—and turns them into something beautiful.”

The nation of Israel was betrothed to God. Yet she cast her beauty before every possible lover she could find, forsaking her true suitor. What does God say about her? “ ‘You have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 3:1, NKJV). Instead of deserting Israel because of her countless sins, He declares that there is hope, saying, “I will win her back once again. I will lead her out into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope” (Hosea 2:14–15, NLT). Today there is a gateway of hope. God is the original and ultimate rescuer. And for all who want to be rescued, He is able. There is no sin too great, God cannot forgive it.

Psalm 80:7: Restore us God Almighty, make your face shine on us that we may be saved.

God so loved He gave us the greatest gift of all to us while we were sinners, a gift we did not deserve. In this man is life. Not religion. No merit here.

John 10:9-11, 28,29: I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Acts 4:12: And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

I Timothy 2:1-4 (Amplified): For there [is only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

Mohammed is not a mediator between God and man; Buddha is not a mediator between God and man. Krishna is not a mediator between God and man. They absolutely cannot reconcile a man or woman to God and bring them into intimate fellowship with the Father. It is impossible. Only one road, only one way leads to God and that is through Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 53:3-6: He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs (sicknesses) and carried our sorrows (pains); yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him.

I John 5:9-12: If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

There is no LIFE in any of the gods of all the religions on earth other than Christianity for Jesus Christ is the LIFE. If you do not have Jesus Christ, you do not have eternal life and you do not have the very life of God. The Life only rests in him.

They know the whole Bible, but somehow they miss Jesus. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39–40).

So, I encourage you, when you read the Bible see if you can find Jesus. Don’t study just to know how to do something. Don’t study to find another rule you can follow. Some people are not really following Jesus; they are following the teachings of Jesus. Go deeper and see, experience, know and love Jesus first.

In everything, at all times, look to Jesus. Come to Him and remember Him. I can say this to you because I have learned from my own experiences how easy it is to wander. How easy it is to get so caught up in all that happens in life, becoming sidetracked and losing our focus. But our hope and our life are in seeing and knowing Jesus.

Revelation 1:5-8 (KJV): And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.7 (Amplified)Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth shall gaze upon Him and beat their breasts and mourn and lament over Him. Even so [must it be]. Amen (so be it). I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Why are all the tribes of earth beating their breasts, wailing, mourning and lamenting when they see Jesus Christ if there are many ways to heaven, many mediators and many paths to God? Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end and every person on earth will one day stand before His Judgment Seat.

We have nothing to offer. He is all there is.

Ephesians 2:1-10-The indictment, the evidence, the gift and the verdict for all eternity: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a]and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

New Citizenship and a new family household:

Ephesians 2:19: So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

Look at the incredible privilege God has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God and we are (I John 3:1,2)

The goodness of God has its ultimate triumph in the Lord Jesus Christ. Evil has its sentence of doom and ultimate destruction in the Lord Jesus Christ. What Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary is so magnificent, so awesome and so astounding, that it permanently crippled Satan’s kingdom and one day will obliterate every remnant of it from off the face of the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ broke the curse of sin and death that hangs over the world like a dark cloud. He regained everything that Adam and Eve had lost on that tragic day in the Garden of Eden and so much more. He paid the price for the complete redemption and salvation of the soul of every person who comes to Him. Through Jesus Christ, righteousness is restored to a person so that they can stand in the presence of God without any sense of fear, shortcoming, guilt, or unworthiness. The ability to have deep fellowship and communion with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has been recovered and given as a gift to all those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The Court of God has wiped our slate clean; we are as white as snow, as our redeemer has paid the ransom and penalty for our sin. We no longer have to live in bondage to sin, fear, worry, sickness, disease, poverty, misery, hatred, selfishness, and ignorance, for we reign as kings in life through the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a super-conqueror; you are a new creation; you are a glorious son or daughter of God with all the dignity that comes with God’s calling through Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:14,15 (Message):

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive-right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants of the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.

Verse 15 (Phillips):

And having drawn the sting of all powers ranged against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act.

This is the magnificent of Christmas!

In Christ all depression ceases. In Christ all fear and worry melt away. In Christ all oppression is crushed. In Christ all addictions are shattered. In Christ all the chains of bondage are loosed. In Christ all condemnation is obliterated. In Christ we are made free from all the forces of darkness that plague mankind. No religion, idol, and god whether Islam. Buddhism or Hinduism can set a person free from the exercised kingdom of darkness and the clutches of sin and death. Only in Jesus Christ is our redemption, salvation and liberation finished.

Listen to the beautiful words of one of my favorite Christmas hymns: “O Holy Night.”

“Oh holy night! The stars are brightly shining It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth! Long lay the world in sin and error pining Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! Fall on your knees Oh hear the angel voices Oh night divine Oh night when Christ was born Oh night divine Oh night divine Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming Here come the wise men from Orient land The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger In all our trials born to be our friend Truly He taught us to love one another His law is love and His gospel is peace Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother And in His name all oppression shall cease Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.”

This is our song: “I belong to my beloved and his desire is for me.” Song of Solomon 7:10

Repentance-turn.

Acts 14:15 (NIV): Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to TURN from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.

Ecclesiastes makes it very clear that there is no real hope in work, in progeny, in legacy or society. The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies: it all goes downhill. How can I have hope? I have reason to hope because GOD LIVES! He is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living. When He comes to rescue He brings life with Him. Because He is alive, I can trust that He will make me alive. I don’t worship some past relic or ancient memory; I worship the here-and-now living God. God is right here and now alive…God voices our true condition-rotting away-and He proclaims our only solution, He lives! Do you realize because God lives everything else is possible? Do you not see that all that we are and all that we are meant to be is based on the living God? Put your hope there, and none else. Listen to Him, and nothing else… God wants restoration. God wants us to live! So God exhorts his sin-sick children to turn back. That is one of the most important themes in the whole Bible.

Acts 3:19 (NIV): 19 Repent, then, and TURN TO GOD, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Times of refreshing in the beautiful healing presence of the Lord only come when we turn to God. God wipes out our sins because we have turned to God and the wonderful accomplishments of His Son who lived, died and was resurrected for us that we might be born again and live the life of our new creation.

Acts 2:37-40 (KJV): Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. 40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

To the universal cry of mankind “What shall we do?” God answers to TURN! Repent! Turn! Turn the entire thought, desires, purposes, dreams, and aspirations of your mind to God and confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will absolutely be saved. Then as a born again believer continue to keep yourself turned to God and turned away from the wickedness of our generation.

God is always only a turn away.

Joel 2:12, 13 (NLT): That is why the LORD says, “TURN TO ME NOW, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

The time is urgent. Time is fleeting and passes by swiftly. God is crying out: “Turn to me now while there is time. Give me your hearts. Don’t let them be swept away. Return to the Lord your God.”

Mark 8:34-37: And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

The devil’s intent is that through our collapse, we will simply give up. So he seeks to discourage us to the point at which we lose all hope and even the desire to try anymore. As I look back on past experiences when I know I failed, it seems the devil always showed up promptly, trying to make my mess-ups seem worse in my mind than they already were. “You’re a hopeless case,” he would whisper, attempting to drown me in discouragement. You see, he’s “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night . . .” (Revelation 12:10, NKJV). Don’t listen to him. He is a liar.

Today there is a gateway of hope. God is the original and ultimate rescuer. And for all who want to be rescued, He is able. There is no sin too great, God cannot forgive it. There is no loss, He cannot restore. There is no scar, He cannot heal. There is no distance you can go, His grace cannot reach. There is nothing—absolutely nothing—to stop His love and mercy for you. If there is breath in your being, there is hope. There is hope.

The thief on the cross confessed that he failed miserably and admitted he deserved the horrible death he was dying. It was all over for him—hell waited, its mouth open to devour him. At least that was what he believed. Yet because of his confession and the marvelous grace of God, he will make it into paradise with the Son of God (see Luke 23:43).

It is never too late. God is not mad at you. He is, in fact, for you. Don’t give up. Mighty to save and faithful to love is He (see Zephaniah 3:17–19). It is to the very ones who know the pain of personal failure that He comes and extends hope: He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, . . . to comfort all who mourn,. . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor (Isaiah 61:1–3, emphasis mine).

THE RED THREAD Who is the Red Thread? Jesus Christ is the Red Thread of the Bible – the thread that binds the Word of God together…You find him everywhere in the Bible, the Word of God! In Genesis, he is the promised seed of the woman. In Exodus, he is the Passover Lamb. In Leviticus, he is the high priest. In Numbers he is the star to rise out of Jacob. In Deuteronomy, he is the two laws-love God and love your neighbor. In Joshua, he is the captain of the lord of hosts. In Judges, he is the covenant angel named Wonderful. In Ruth, he is the kinsman redeemer. In Samuel, he is the root and offspring of David. In Kings, he is the greater than the Temple. In Chronicles, he is the king’s son. In Ezra and Nehemiah, he is the rebuilder. In Esther, he is the savior of God’s people. In Job, he is the daysman. In Psalms, he is the song. In Proverbs, he is the wisdom of God. In Ecclesiastes, he is the one among a thousand. In Song of Solomon, he is the bridegroom of the bride. In Isaiah, he is Jacob’s branch. In Jeremiah, he is our righteousness. In Lamentations, he is the unbelievers’ judgment. In Ezekiel, he is the true shepherd. In Daniel, he is the stone that became the head of the corner. In Hosea, he is the latter rain. In Joel, he is God’s dwelling in Zion. In Amos, he is the raiser of David’s tabernacle. In Obadiah, he is the deliverer on Mount Zion. In Jonah, he is our salvation. In Micah, he is the lord of kings. In Nahum, he is the stronghold in the time of trouble. In Habakkuk, he is our joy and confidence. In Zephaniah, he is our mighty lord. In Haggai, he is the desire of the nations. In Zechariah, he is our servant-the branch. In Malachi, he is the son of righteousness.

In Matthew, he is Jehovah’s Messiah. In Mark, he is Jehovah’s servant. In Luke, he is Jehovah’s man. In John, he is Jehovah’s Son. In Acts, he is the gift of holy spirit. In Romans, he is the believer’s justification. In Corinthians, he is the believer’s sanctification. In Galatians, he is the believer’s righteousness. In Ephesians, he is the believer’s heavenly standing. In Philippians, he is the believer’s self-adequacy. In Colossians, he is the believer’s completeness. In Thessalonians, he is the believer’s soon glorification. In Timothy, he is the faithful men. In Titus, he is the fellow-laborer. In Philemon, he is the love of a believer. In Hebrews, he is the high priest for sin. In James, he is the royal law. In Peter, he is the pastor. In John, he is as we are. In Jude, he is the beloved. In Revelations, he is the king of kings and lord of lords.

He is the doom of the adversary as promised in Genesis 3:15 and accomplished in Revelation 20:10. He is the “no night” of Revelation 22:5, of which Genesis 1:1 is night. He is the light of Revelation 21:13, of which Genesis 1:16 and 17 is the sun and moon. He is the “no more death, neither sorrow nor crying” of Revelation 21:4, of which Genesis 3:16 and 17 is sorrow, suffering, and death. He is the “no more curse” of Revelation 22:3, of which Genesis 3:17 is the curse. He is the welcome home to paradise of Revelation 22:2, of which Genesis 3:22 to 24 is the banishment from paradise.

Who is this Jesus Christ?

He is Abel’s sacrifice, Abraham’s ram, Isaac’s well, Jacob’s ladder. He is Judah’s scepter, Moses’ rod, Joshua’s rams’ horn, Samuel’s horn of oil, David’s slingshot, Hezekiah’s sundial, Elijah’s mantle and Elisha’s staff. He is Job’s prayer, Isaiah’s fig tree, Ezekiel’s wheel, Daniel’s Jerusalem window, Jonah’s sea monster and Malachi’s storehouse. He is Peter’s shadow, Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons. He is the lily of the valley and the rose of Sharon in life’s desserts. He is the pearl of great price. He is the rock for pilgrims in a weary land. He is the believer’s justification. He is the believer’s righteousness. He is the believer’s sanctification. He is the believer’s redemption. He is the believer’s knowledge. He is the believer’s wisdom. He is the believer’s all-in-all in all. He is the believer’s completely complete completeness. He is the bright and morning star, and he’s my Lord and my Savior.

He is knocking at the door of your heart right now. He is inviting you this Christmas to open the door and let him into your heart. Confess him as Lord and believe that He is alive because God raised him from the dead. Repent and turn to him and receive the power of the gift of Holy Spirit and receive the new birth. This is the greatest Christmas gift of all.

 

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Why Jesus Christ?

jesus-christ7-740x405The birth of Jesus Christ is the one of the most significant events in all of history and when we understand the truths regarding the true date of his birth it will thrill and inspire our hearts. Yet surrounding his birth has grown a lot of tradition that is not biblically-based and not supported by Scriptures. I am not advocating that we do not celebrate Christmas, but an understanding of the events of this amazing time in history will truly deepen our appreciation of the integrity and accuracy of God’s Word

Tradition has made December 25th the birthday of Jesus, but the Bible clearly reveals he was not born on that day. It was not until the 4th century after Christ that December 25th began to be celebrated as the day of Christ’s birth. It was the old pagan holiday celebrating the winter solstice and the birth of the sun god and celebrated when the days began to get longer. In Rome it was the festival called Saturnalia and later the Roman Empire baptized it and began to celebrate it as the birth of Jesus. Jesus Christ Our Promised Seed states: “In 274 A.D., the Romans designated December 25 as the birthday of the unconquered sun, being the time when the sun begins noticeably to show an increase in light, resulting in longer daylight hours. By 336 A.D., the church in Rome was adapting this festival, spiritualizing its significance as a reference to Jesus Christ and calling it the ‘Feast of the Nativity of the Sun of Righteousness.’ Attempting to Christianize and incorporate the pagan traditions of antiquity, the church in Rome adopted this midwinter holiday celebrating the birth of the sun god as one of its own observances, somewhat changing its significance, but retaining many customs of the pagan festival. As the Roman church spread its influence religiously and militarily, this holiday of December 25 became the most popular date in Christendom to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. A special mass was established for Christ, hence, the name, ‘Christmass,’ abbreviated ‘Christmas.’”

All biblical scholars know that Jesus was not born on December 25th. Tradition is never an accurate measurement for truth. God has a significant meaning in everything He does and this does not exclude the birth of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The subject of the entire bible is Jesus Christ and his first coming was prophesied first in the book of Genesis right after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. This prophecy of the future coming of Christ became the polestar of the Old Testament. When it seemed that all was lost and the devil had succeeded in ruining Adam and Eve, God promised a coming Savior, who will redeem mankind from the penalty of sin and ultimately crush the devil into oblivion. This was a promise of hope and salvation, as God would not leave the world helpless, but would give them His only begotten Son as the gift of grace to all those who believe. What a God of love and goodness to promise this to His children who had just committed high treason against Him. God threw the glorious light of His Word right back at the serpent, as the coming redeemer would not only restore everything Adam and Eve lost in the garden, but utterly destroy the devil and all his works. This was the final death blow of the curse of God on the devil that was boldly pronounced in the garden. God heralded forth this good promise so every fallen angel, including the devil himself, would hear about His magnificent goodness and shudder about their ultimate defeat that would be centered in seed of the woman, the coming Messiah, Liberator, Mediator and Savior to the human race.

Genesis 3:15 (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible):
And enmity shall I put between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,-He shall crush thy head, but thou shall crush his heel.

This is a declaration of war! This verse sets forth the fulcrum point of all history and defines the ceaseless battle that has raged since Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden. This verse is the central theme of all scriptures, as the red thread of the coming Redeemer is interwoven into every book of the Old Testament. Its message is even written in the heavens, as each night the stars proclaim the sufferings and glorious triumph of Christ.

Psalm 19:1-4: The celestial realms announce God’s glory; the skies testify of His hands’ great work. Each day pours out more of their sayings; each night, more to hear and more to learn. Inaudible words are their manner of speech, and silence, their means to convey. Yet from here to the ends of the earth their voices have gone out; the whole world can hear what they say.

Who is this seed of the woman? In conception the seed comes from the male, but God’s Word clearly refers to the woman’s seed here. Seed implies birth, and this verse indicates a virgin birth of a man who would crush the arch-enemy of God. This man is the Savior, the Redeemer, the Liberator, the Messiah, the Second Adam, and the Conqueror over sin and death. This man is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Satan has raging hostility toward the second Adam, for he knows that his head will be crushed by him. This is a fatal blow from which there is no recovery. Once a serpent’s head is crushed, he cannot inject his poison into the world anymore or operate his schemes and deceptions on all mankind. The devil knew that there was a genealogical Christ line that would pass through Eve, as the seed of the woman would have to be born. Later, the Word of God was more specific that this Christ line would pass through Abraham and King David. The entire Old Testament is a record of the fierce attempts of the devil to wipe out the Christ line, and prevent Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, from ever being born. It is a record of God’s magnificent works and actions that repeatedly delivered the Christ line from extinction. Sometimes the survival of the Christ line rested on the faith of one individual like Noah, Joseph, Abraham, and Esther. God intervened countless times to protect His promise as at times the kingly line of David was down to one son like in 2 Kings 11:1-3: When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being murdered; and they hid him and his nurse in the bedroom, from Athaliah, so that he was not killed. So he was hidden with her in the house of the LORD for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land. She was the granddaughter of wicked Ahab and it is interesting her name means the oath of the Lord or the Lord has sworn as thru her God was faithful to His promise of this seed being of the kingly line of David. Read the Old Testament with this truth in mind, and the Word of God will come alive in new and wonderful ways.

There is not enough space in this article to go into detail of the countless schemes and plots of the devil to destroy this Christ line, and God’s miraculous protection of it. The salvation and redemption of the human race depended on the preservation of the Christ line. The devil started with the murder of Abel and was absolutely relentless to try to destroy the Seed of the woman who would utterly crush and defeat him. He was not going to go out without a vicious and violent battle where he marshaled all his evil forces to bring about the destruction of the Christ line. This illustrates the verse in 2 Samuel that describes the wondrous works of the Lord: 2 Samuel 12:16 (ESV): Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes.

The book of Revelation gives us critical information in determining the day of the birth of Jesus Christ and it is so amazingly accurate that we can pinpoint the birth of Jesus Christ to a specific day and precise time as it occurred sometime within a time frame of eighty one minutes during that day.

Revelation 12:1-5 (KJV): And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

The Greek word for “wonder” in verse 1 means “sign” and God’s Word declares that there will be a sign in the heavens when Mary went into labor and gave birth to Jesus Christ. The Word of God is written across the heavens and in the stars. The signs of the Zodiac were originally not used for astrology, but each one signified a characteristic of the life and ministry and kingship of Jesus Christ, the promised Savior and Son of God. The sign of the women that the Bible is referring to here is to the constellation Virgo. Revelation 12 further states that this woman was “clothed with the sun” another celestial body. The sun, as it appears to travel through the ecliptic each year, enters into the mid-body between the neck and the knees of the constellation Virgo, clothing her with the sun, for approximately a 21 day period during any given year. In the year 3 B.C. which we later show by other celestial events in the heavens to be the year of the birth of Jesus Christ, the sun was in this position from August 27th through September 15th. Revelation also declares that “the moon was under her feet.” With these two specific details, we can pinpoint the birth of Christ very precisely. In 3 B.C. the sun and the moon in Virgo occurred on only one day and that was September 11. The configuration of the sun and the moon was visible in Palestine between sunset and moonset, this twilight period being called “night” in the Bible. On September 11, 3 B.C., sunset was at 6:18pm and moonset at 7:39pm. Jesus Christ was born on September 11, 3 B.C sometime in that eighty-one minute span of time between 6:18pm and 7:39pm.

Amazingly this corresponds to Tishri 1 on the Jewish Calendar which is the First day of the festival of the Feast of Trumpets. This was the exact day that many of the ancient kings and rulers of Judah reckoned as their inauguration day of rule. This procedure was followed consistently in the time of Solomon, Jeremiah, and Ezra. This occurs on Tishri 1 in the Fall (Sept.-Oct.). On this day the High Priest blows the ram’s horn announcing the beginning of the New Year. Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year is called the Feast of Trumpets in the Bible because it begins the Jewish High Holy Days and Ten Days of Repentance with the blowing of the ram’s horn, the shofar, calling God’s people together to repent from their sins. In the Old Testament the Feast of Trumpets was observed on the first day of the seventh month, which after the Babylonian exile was called “the first of Tishri.” The Jews still observe Rosh Hashanah as their New Year which marks the beginning of what is alternatively called the “Ten Days of Repentance,” or the “Days of Awe.” These are the ten days of introspection and preparation for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), which falls on the tenth day of the seventh month. While the other appointed feasts are given a name (the Sabbath, the Passover, the Day of Atonement) this feast has no title. It is simply “Yom Teruah–the Day of Blowing” since the blowing of the trumpets became the distinguishing characteristic of the day The blowing of the trumpets was understood to be a call to repent and prepare oneself to stand trial before God who would execute His judgment ten days later on the Day of Atonement. Joel wrote: “Blow the trumpet [shophar] in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near” (Joel 2:1). Similarly Zephaniah announced “the great day of the Lord” as “a day of trumpet [shophar] blast” ( Joel 1:14,16). The sounding of the shofar has served as a reminder of God’s promise to send the Messiah to gather His scattered children. “And in that day a great trumpet [shofar] will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out of the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem” (Is 27:13). On a similar vein, Zechariah wrote that the Lord Himself will blow the shofar when He delivers His people from attacking heathen armies; “Then the Lord will appear over them, and his arrow go forth like lightening; the Lord God will sound the trumpet [shofar], and march forth in the whirlwinds of the south” (Zech. 9:14). The sound of the shofar announces in the Bible not only the first advent of the Messiah (Is 27:13), but also the second coming of Christ. Just as the shofar was sounded to proclaim the freedom and liberation of the Jubilee year, so “the sound of the trumpet” will herald the descent of Christ from heaven (1 Thess. 4:16) to gather the faithful and punish the wicked. It is significant that Paul calls this “the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:52), evidently because it is sounded for the last time to mark the consummation of redemption. “Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).On Tishri 1, Isaiah 60-61 is read in the Synagogues to teach the lesson that eventually the Lord will be revealed as King and be accepted as the ruler of the world. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus read from section of scripture in the synagogue at Nazareth for his first sermon as he described his ministry? The Day of Trumpets was also acknowledged as the time for counting the years of their kingly rule. Indeed, it was customary that the final ceremony in the coronation of kings was the blowing of trumpets. For Solomon, “Blow ye the trumpet, and say, ‘God save king Solomon’” (1 Kings 1:34).For Jehu, “And [they] blew with trumpets, saying, ‘Jehu is king’” (2 Kings 9:13). At the enthronement of Jehoash, “The people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets” (2 Kings 11:11).“And the seventh angel sounded [blew the last trump]; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever [for the ages of the ages].’”Revelation 11:15. Many significant Biblical events are said to have occurred on Tishri 1 such as the birth of Adam, the birth of Abraham, the birth of Jacob, the beginning of the rule of Joseph, the new beginning with Noah and the end of the flood, God remembering three barren women Sarah, Rachel and Hannah, and the coming of Moses as the deliver from Egypt.

Jesus was born on Tishri 1, the Feast of Trumpets, and little did Israel know that all day long the trumpets were sounding announcing the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and God’s only begotten Son.

Matthew 1:18-21 (ESV): Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

There is no salvation in Mohammed. Mohammed cannot save anyone from their sins. The wages of sin is death and Mohammed cannot pay thee wages for they are far too high. There is no salvation in Buddha. Buddha cannot save any person from their sins or pay for the penalty of sin. Wicca’s gods of nature cannot save people from their sinful nature. No idol has the power to overcome sin. No idol can pay the price for sin. This is why Jesus is unique. The name Jesus, Yeshua, means “Yahweh is the saving cry, shout to Yahweh in time of need. Yahweh saves and delivers and Yahweh is salvation.”

Hebrews 9:12, 28 (Amplified): He went once for all into the [Holy of] Holies [of heaven], not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves [by which to make reconciliation between God and man], but His own blood, having found and secured a complete redemption (an everlasting release for us). Even so it is that Christ, having been offered to take upon Himself and bear as a burden the sins of many once and]once for all, will appear a second time, not to carry any burden of sin nor to deal with sin, but to bring to full salvation those who are [eagerly, constantly, and patiently] waiting for and expecting Him.

Acts 4:12 (ESV): And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

I Timothy 2:1-4 (Amplified): For there [is only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

Mohammed is not a mediator between God and man; Buddha is not a mediator between God and man. Krishna is not a mediator between God and man. They absolutely cannot reconcile a man or woman to God and bring them into intimate fellowship with the Father. It is impossible. Only one road, only one way leads to God and that is through Jesus Christ. It is amazing how many pastors and Christians have waffled on this. Joel Olsteen melted on Larry King when asked if Jesus was the only way and failed to state this truth. Rev. Billy Graham waffled when asked if Jesus is the only way to get heaven implying there were other ways to God. All roads do not lead to God as many of the emergent Christian pastors have proclaimed.

Does the Bible stutter on this point?

I John 5:9-12: If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

There is no LIFE in any of the gods of all the religions on earth other than Christianity for Jesus Christ is the LIFE. If you do not have Jesus Christ, you do not have eternal life and you do not have the very life of God. The Life only rests in him.

Revelation 1:5-8 (KJV): And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.7 (Amplified)Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth shall gaze upon Him and beat their breasts and mourn and lament over Him. Even so [must it be]. Amen (so be it). 8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Why are all the tribes of earth beating their breasts, wailing, mourning and lamenting when they see Jesus Christ if there are many ways to heaven, many mediators and many paths to God? Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end and every person on earth will one day stand before His Judgment Seat.

From my new book “The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life” to be released in 2014:

“Every human heart will one day while living on this earth come face to face with the rock of offense Jesus Christ. How will our heart respond? Jesus Christ will either bring bountiful joy and immeasurable love into our heart or he will cause our heart to be offended. These are the only two responses. Which path will your heart choose? How our hearts respond to the Rock of Offense is the most important decision our heart will ever make because this single choice will affect everything we ever do for the rest of our life and determine our eternal destiny. When Jesus Christ stands at the door of our heart and knocks and asks us to turn from our selfish ways, take up our cross, forsake all and follow him, will our heart be offended? When Jesus Christ knocks on our heart and says, “I purchased you with my own blood on the cross, you are mine and I want your life,” will your heart be offended? When Jesus Christ says “stand with me as the light in this dark world and you will become the number one enemy of the kingdom of darkness; you will be hated, despised, mocked and ridiculed by friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and public opinion,” will the rock of offense caused your heart to be offended and stumble? Will offense cause our hearts to turn away from the Lord Jesus for he is simply asking too much of us?

I Peter 2:6-10 (Phillips):

There is a passage to this effect in scripture, and it runs like this: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on him will by no means be put to shame’. It is you who believe in him that he is “precious”, but to those who disobey God, it is true that: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’. And he is, to them, ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.’ Yes, they stumble at the Word of God for in their hearts they are unwilling to obey it—which makes stumbling a foregone conclusion. But you are God’s “chosen generation”, his “royal priesthood”, his “holy nation”, his “peculiar people”—all the old titles of God’s people now belong to you. It is for you now to demonstrate the goodness of him who has called you out of darkness into his amazing light. In the past you were not “a people” at all: now you are the people of God. In the past you had no experience of his mercy, but now it is intimately yours.”

Luke 2:34 states about Jesus Christ: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many.” Our lives will rise or fall depending on what we do with Jesus Christ. Do we accept Him as our Lord and Savior or do we reject him as insignificant. The balances of eternity rise or fall only with Jesus Christ and none other.

Let’s examine a few more wonderful details about the birth of our Savior:

Luke 2:1-7 (ESV): In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

Historically there is evidence that a registration was conducted throughout the Roman Empire and its subject states in 3 B.C. This registration was for an official declaration of political allegiance to Caesar Augustus as this record was to be presented to Caesar Augustus in celebration of his Silver Jubilee (25th Anniversary-27 B.C. to 2 B.C.) which coincided with the 750th anniversary of the founding of Rome. A logical time of the year for such a registration was September because the weather was mild for travel, the crops were harvested and one Judean civil year was closing and another beginning.

2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Whenever a son of a king, a prince was born, that child was “salted” and “swaddled.” To salt a child meant that soon after birth the newborn babe was gently washed with water having a small portion of salt in it. Salt symbolized the qualities of truth and honesty. Bathing a newborn in salt water indicated that the child would have these characteristics. His words would be salted. No deceit would be found in his mouth. His words would be honest, truthful and full of integrity. This was also a covenant of salt, one of the oldest covenants in the Bible, where the child is salted in covenant with God in sacred promise that the child’s words and life would be truthful, honest and right before God and his fellow man. After salting the newborn child, strips of fine linen cloth, about two inches wide, were then wrapped around his body. These were called “swaddling clothes.” The child was wrapped from head to foot; with only a part of the head being uncovered so he could breathe. The baby’s body and limbs were held very straight when wrapped in this fashion. These linen strips were not rags and did not mean that Mary and Joseph were poverty-stricken, but rather this was a sign to God that the parents would raise the child to be upright before the Lord, and that he would be free from crookedness and waywardness. The babe would normally be left in swaddling clothes for only a brief period of time, while the parents took time to meditate and make their commitment to God concerning the sacred trust which was given them in having the child. This was a significant Eastern as any child born to nobility or royalty would be salted and swaddled. If this was not done, there would be doubt concerning the person’s integrity in youth and adulthood. Notice the following insult in the Old Testament-Ezekiel 16:4: “thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.” To say to a noble person, he was not salted or swaddled was to indicate he was unreliable, dishonest and without integrity.

Luke 2:8-20 (KJV): 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

In December, it is too cold for the shepherds to watch their sheep at night in fields or pastures nor would a registration be conducted this time of year as travel would be difficult. The coldest temperatures, frost, heavy rains and even snow occurred in December. God did not send his angel to declare Jesus Christ’s birth to King Herod or to the high priest or religious leaders or to other wealthy powerful men in Judea. Instead He sent His angel to humble, receptive shepherds-to those he knew would believe and obey. As any proud Father, God wanted the news of the birth of His Son heralded throughout the land and so the shepherds spread the glorious news.

It is safe to say that the two primary heroes in this scintillating saga were a man and woman (probably in her mid-to-late teens) who suddenly found themselves thrust into starring roles on the stage of history. Think first about Mary, a young Hebrew woman chosen by God to bear His Son. Words fail to adequately describe what it must have been like for her when the angel of the Lord appeared to her and made his amazing announcement. She fearlessly asked the angel a very good question, which did not imply doubt, but was simply a request for more information. And when she got the answer, she uttered one of the most faith-filled statements ever spoken: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to your word.” What a woman! And think about Joseph, who discovered that his beloved bride was pregnant. How heartrending, and what a man of character he was, first not to make public their situation, and then to endure the public ridicule he must have gotten as the father of an illegitimate child. Imagine, as Joseph wrestled with this incredibly weighty issue, how his heart must have leapt for joy when the angel told him that the woman he had chosen as his wife and the mother of his children was also the woman God had chosen to be the mother of His Son. Joseph was a man’s man, and a true hero of the faith.

Now let us look about one and a half years later concerning the wise men.

Matthew 2:1-12 (KJV): Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
The wise men is the Greek word magoi which is in reference to a specific religious caste called Magi which was prominent in the ancient Near Eastern society especially Persia. How were these Magi knowledgeable about the Judean King? The book of Daniel records that Judeans during the Babylonian captivity, five hundred years before the birth of Christ, wielded great influence in the royal courts where the Magi served. For example, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego all held high offices in the kingdom of Babylon. Daniel 5:11, 12 declares, “O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.] In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians (magi), enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.” The Judean teaching on the celestial message in the stars was attentively listened to in this Babylonian society and the truth concerning His star became assessable knowledge to the Magi when the Persians took over the Babylonian Empire. As recorded in Daniel 6, Daniel retained the high position he had held and “was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him.” Daniel fully instructed the Magi of the accurate knowledge of Bible prophecy written in the stars about the coming Messiah king and this knowledge was passed down among the Magi.
The Magi or wise men did not come to see Jesus until he was about one and one half years old as they begin to track six astronomical events in Leo that captured their attention. These events are as follows: 1. Jupiter and Venus in conjunction in Leo: August 12, 3 B.C. 2. Jupiter and Regulus in conjunction in Leo: September 14, 3 B.C. 3. Jupiter and Regulus in conjunction in Leo: February 17, 2 B.C. 4. Jupiter and Regulus in conjunction in Leo: May 8, 2 B.C. 5. Jupiter and Venus in conjunction in Leo: June 17, 2 B.C. 6. Massing of planets Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and Venus in Leo with Jupiter and Mars in conjunction: August 27th 3 B.C. The final conjunction in Leo with its massing of planets convinced the Magi that a king had been born in Judea. They began to journey to find the king of the Judeans shortly after this last event. The Bible makes one breathless in its accuracy and integrity. The striking celestial activity told them of the birth of that promised Redeemer, and they set out to find him. Matthew 2:11 tells us that they came to “the house,” not a manger, and saw “the child” (the Greek word paidion), not a “newborn baby” (the Greek word brephos). As the NIV Study Bible says regarding that verse: “Contrary to tradition, the Magi did not visit Jesus at the manger on the night of his birth as did the shepherds. They first came to Jerusalem, apparently thinking that in the capital city of Israel they should be able to find out where the king had been born. After King Herod told them he had been born in Bethlehem, they went there and found him as a ‘child’ in his ‘house.’” That explains why Herod, who had consulted with the Magi as to the time when they saw the star (Matt. 2:7), determined to kill all the Israeli boys under two years old. He knew that Jesus was no longer an infant, and set two years as a safe limit to how old he would have been, which we believe was about 18 months.

I John 4:9,10: In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Romans 5:12 (Amplified): Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all men, [no one being able to stop it or to escape its power] because all men sinned.

Adam introduced sin into God’s creation, and it corrupted all forms of life. The curse of sin and death passed on to all of Adam’s progeny. No human could stop the infiltration of the sin nature or escape its power. Death, which had not existed in any form before, became the strong ally of sin, as every human born on this earth was subject to death. This was not only physical death, but spiritual death also. Sin and spiritual death brought enormous consequences upon the human race. Every type of suffering, pain, misery, sickness, affliction, torment, and anguish began to grow and flourish upon the earth because of sin and spiritual death. A great separation and barrier now existed between God and men, women, and children. The human race’s relationship with God was thrown into chaos and confusion. It was like a thick, iron door was shut on a person’s access, communion, and fellowship with God. Adam and Eve had become alienated from the life and presence of God, and their understanding became darkened. They were like blindfolded people wandering aimless in a fog of darkness. The light and spiritual life within them was extinguished, and it left a great void of hunger and need for their loving Creator. Adam had sealed the fate of the human race, and now the great cry was for a Redeemer, a Savior, and a Liberator. No matter how smart, how talented, how strong, how powerful, or how rich a person may be, no one could free themselves from the bondage of their birth nature of sin and their condition of spiritual death. The word “sin” in Romans 5:12 in the Greek means: to miss or fail to hit the mark, like when someone fails to hit the target with a bow and arrow; to fall short of any goal, purpose, or standard, and a failure or aberration from a prescribed law or duty. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, states that the word means “a falling and missing the true end and scope of our lives which is God.” Wuest, in Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, says it means “missing the divinely appointed goal, a deviation of what is pleasing to God, doing what is opposed to God’s will…a missing of the goal conformable to and fixed by God.”

The goodness of God has its ultimate triumph in the Lord Jesus Christ. Evil has its sentence of doom and ultimate destruction in the Lord Jesus Christ. What Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary is so magnificent, so awesome and so astounding, that it permanently crippled Satan’s kingdom and one day will obliterate every remnant of it from off the face of the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ broke the curse of sin and death that hangs over the world like a dark cloud. He regained everything that Adam and Eve had lost on that tragic day in the Garden of Eden and so much more. He paid the price for the complete redemption and salvation of the soul of every person who comes to Him. Through Jesus Christ, righteousness is restored to a person so that they can stand in the presence of God without any sense of fear, shortcoming, guilt, or unworthiness. The ability to have deep fellowship and communion with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has been recovered and given as a gift to all those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The Court of God has wiped our slate clean; we are as white as snow, as our redeemer has paid the ransom and penalty for our sin. We no longer have to live in bondage to sin, fear, worry, sickness, disease, poverty, misery, hatred, selfishness, and ignorance, for we reign as kings in life through the Lord Jesus Christ. We can walk in great power, wreaking havoc in Satan’s kingdom on the earth as we touch people with the great healing love and wholeness available in Jesus Christ. You are a super-conqueror; you are a new creation; you are a glorious son or daughter of God with all the dignity that comes with God’s calling through Jesus Christ.

Colossians further elaborates on this head crushing of the serpent by the Seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:14,15 (Message):

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life,
you were incapable of responding to God. God
brought you alive-right along with Christ! Think
of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that
old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s
cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants of the
universe of their sham authority at the Cross and
marched them naked through the streets.

Verse 15 (Phillips):

And having drawn the sting of all powers ranged
against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty
and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act.

In Christ all depression ceases. In Christ all fear and worry melt away. In Christ all oppression is crushed. In Christ all addictions are shattered. In Christ all the chains of bondage are loosed. In Christ all condemnation is obliterated. In Christ we are made free from all the forces of darkness that plague mankind. No religion, idol, and god whether Islam. Buddhism or Hinduism can set a person free from the exercised kingdom of darkness and the clutches of sin and death. Only in Jesus Christ is our redemption, salvation and liberation finished.

THE RED THREAD

Who is the Red Thread? Jesus Christ is the Red Thread of the Bible – the thread that binds the Word of God together…You find him everywhere in the Bible, the Word of God! In Genesis, he is the promised seed of the woman. In Exodus, he is the Passover Lamb. In Leviticus, he is the high priest. In Numbers he is the star to rise out of Jacob. In Deuteronomy, he is the two laws-love God and love your neighbor. In Joshua, he is the captain of the lord of hosts. In Judges, he is the covenant angel named Wonderful. In Ruth, he is the kinsman redeemer. In Samuel, he is the root and offspring of David. In Kings, he is the greater than the Temple. In Chronicles, he is the king’s son. In Ezra and Nehemiah, he is the rebuilder. In Esther, he is the savior of God’s people. In Job, he is the daysman. In Psalms, he is the song. In Proverbs, he is the wisdom of God. In Ecclesiastes, he is the one among a thousand. In Song of Solomon, he is the bridegroom of the bride. In Isaiah, he is Jacob’s branch. In Jeremiah, he is our righteousness. In Lamentations, he is the unbelievers’ judgment. In Ezekiel, he is the true shepherd. In Daniel, he is the stone that became the head of the corner. In Hosea, he is the latter rain. In Joel, he is God’s dwelling in Zion. In Amos, he is the raiser of David’s tabernacle. In Obadiah, he is the deliverer on Mount Zion. In Jonah, he is our salvation. In Micah, he is the lord of kings. In Nahum, he is the stronghold in the time of trouble. In Habakkuk, he is our joy and confidence. In Zephaniah, he is our mighty lord. In Haggai, he is the desire of the nations. In Zechariah, he is our servant-the branch. In Malachi, he is the son of righteousness.

In Matthew, he is Jehovah’s Messiah. In Mark, he is Jehovah’s servant. In Luke, he is Jehovah’s man. In John, he is Jehovah’s Son. In Acts, he is the gift of holy spirit. In Romans, he is the believer’s justification. In Corinthians, he is the believer’s sanctification. In Galatians, he is the
believer’s righteousness. In Ephesians, he is the believer’s heavenly standing. In Philippians, he is the believer’s self adequacy. In Colossians, he is the believer’s completeness. In Thessalonians, he is the believer’s soon glorification. In Timothy, he is the faithful men. In Titus, he is the fellow-laborer. In Philemon, he is the love of a believer. In Hebrews, he is the high priest for sin. In James, he is the royal law. In Peter, he is the pastor. In John, he is as we are. In Jude, he is the beloved. In Revelations, he is the king of kings and lord of lords.

He is the doom of the adversary as promised in Genesis 3:15 and accomplished in Revelation 20:10. He is the “no night” of Revelation 22:5, of which Genesis 1:1 is night. He is the light of Revelation 21:13, of which Genesis 1:16 and 17 is the sun and moon. He is the “no more death, neither sorrow or crying” of Revelation 21:4, of which Genesis 3:16 and 17 is sorrow, suffering, and death. He is the “no more curse” of Revelation 22:3, of which Genesis 3:17 is the curse. He is the welcome home to paradise of Revelation 22:2, of which Genesis 3:22 to 24 is the banishment from paradise.

Who is this Jesus Christ?

He is Abel’s sacrifice, Abraham’s ram, Isaac’s well, Jacob’s ladder. He is Judah’s scepter, Moses’ rod, Joshua’s rams’ horn, Samuel’s horn of oil, David’s slingshot, Hezekiah’s sundial, Elijah’s mantle and Elisha’s staff. He is Job’s prayer, Isaiah’s fig tree, Ezekiel’s wheel, Daniel’s Jerusalem
window, Jonah’s sea monster and Malachi’s storehouse. He is Peter’s shadow, Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons. He is the lily of the valley and the rose of Sharon in life’s desserts. He is the pearl of great price. He is the rock for pilgrims in a weary land. He is the believer’s justification. He is the believer’s righteousness. He is the believer’s sanctification. He is the believer’s redemption. He is the believer’s knowledge. He is the believer’s wisdom. He is the believer’s all-in-all in all. He is the believer’s completely complete completeness. He is the bright and morning star, and he’s my Lord and my Savior.

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