The God of the House of God – II

August 30, 2013
Genesis 28:18, 19; 35:6, 7

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

So Jacob was a deceiver who had tricked his father Isaac into giving him the blessing of the firstborn – a blessing that rightfully belonged to Esau, his elder twin brother.  When Esau plotted to kill Jacob, the younger twin ran away to Mesopotamia to his uncle Laban, whom he then served as a shepherd.  Now he was returning to Canaan after being gone many years.

The many years involved over 20 years working for his uncle Laban.  But on the trip back to Canaan, it was then that Jacob experienced an incident that changed his life.  As he approached his old homeland, he sent word ahead to his brother Esau that he was returning.  His brother started out to ‘greet’ Jacob with 400 men!  Jacob assumed Esau’s old animosity was still active and that he would attack and kill his brother.  So Jacob divided his family and possessions into two camps and sent them off, away from the danger he perceived was coming.  Alone that night, God met him!  “…and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.” (Genesis 32:24).  God won the wrestling match – doesn’t He always?! – by touching Jacob’s hip and dislocating it.  Thereafter, Jacob walked with a limp.

That wasn’t the only thing that changed.  It is recorded in Genesis 32:27 and 28:

    …He [God] said to him, “What is your name?”  And he said, “Jacob.”  And He
    [God] said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have
    struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

From Jacob – heel-grabber, one who trips up another, liar, deceiver, to Israel – God rules.  Jacob experienced a name change!  And that not of his own doing!

Isn’t this a wonderful picture of salvation?  We receive a new name and a new nature.  In Old Testament times, a name suggested the nature of the person.  So we receive a new nature from the Lord – from an old, sinful, natural nature to a new, righteous and holy nature.  No longer are we to be dominated by the old deceitful nature.  So radically different is the new nature that receiving it is called being “…born again….” (John 3:3, 7; I Peter 1:23).  This new nature, according to I John 3:9, “…cannot sin….”  All sin comes out of the old nature which we still possess.

Yes, Jacob was now to be known as Israel, but he still fell back sometimes into his old Jacob nature!  But generally he walked with a noticeably different gait – a distinctive limp from his encounter with God.  We too are to ‘walk’ (or live) differently because God has touched us – made us new  through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross of Calvary.

More time passed – we do not know how much – when God told Jacob (now Israel) to go back to Bethel (Genesis 35:1).  This was the place where Jacob had slept and dreamed the dream from God recorded in Genesis 28:12-15 – angels coming and going between heaven and earth, and God speaking to him, telling him He would be with Jacob and eventually give the land of Canaan to Jacob’s descendants.  This was the place where, upon awakening, he…

    …took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up for a pillar, and poured oil
    on top of it.  And he called the name of that place Bethel….

Bethel – the House of God.  But now Jacob had a new name and a new nature.  So when he came to Bethel,

    …he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God had
    appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother.

El Bethel  – it means The God of the House of God.  Now Jacob knew The God of the House of God!  And his life reflected it – even with some slips and slides backwards!

How many people go to church, and are maybe quite involved in church?  It is to them Bethelthe House of God.  How many of them need to experience a life-changing encounter with God?  Then it will become El BethelThe God of the House of God!  There is a big difference, you know.  Oh, that my cousin would discover El BethelThe God of the House of God!  Oh, that we all would discover El BethelThe God of the House of God!

The God of the House of God – I

August 28, 2013
Genesis 28:18, 19; 35:6, 7

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

My cousin is quite involved in his church.  He told me that he really isn’t very religious, but he is involved in local history, and the old church building with its rich New England history attracts him.  I am praying that instead of just feeling the pull of the House of God, he will be attracted to and serve The God of the House of God!

This is the spiritual progression Jacob made in Genesis 28:18 and 19 compared with Genesis 35:6 and 7:

    Genesis 28:18 and 19 – Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone
    that he had put at his head, set it up for a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And
    he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz

    Genesis 35:6 and 7 – So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land
    of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him.  And he built an altar there
    and called the place El Bethel, because there God appeared to him when he fled
    from the face of his brother.

In the first scripture, Jacob was fleeing from his brother Esau because he had deceived his father Isaac into giving him the blessing of the firstborn – a patriarchal blessing that included passing the family name, heritage and a double portion of inheritance unto the first male child.  Esau intended to kill him.

Esau was the firstborn of Isaac and Rebekah, but only by half a minute before his twin brother Jacob put in his appearance – holding on to brother’s heel!  Both boys had their flaws – Esau was a material-minded person and thought little of the immaterial and spiritual side of life.  He was a macho type kind of guy who was his father’s favorite.  Jacob, on the other hand, was a sensitive man who was his mother’s favorite, often preferring to stay home and cook rather than hunt for game.  But his big flaw was deceit!  He was from the beginning catching heels to trip up others  by his lies.

Apparently, up to the time when he fled from his brother toward the land of his mother’s ancestors, he hadn’t given a lot of thought to the God of his fathers.  That first night of his escape, he lay down in the Judean wilderness using a rock for his pillow.  He had a dream – recorded in Genesis 28:12-15:

    …and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven;
    and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.  And behold,
    the LORD stood above it, and said, “I am the LORD God of Abraham your
    father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and
    your descendants.  Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you
    shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north, and the south; and
    in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  Behold,
    I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to
    this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

Jacob’s response?  Read the next two verses, Genesis 28:16 and 17:

    Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place,
    and I did not know it.”  And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this
    place!  This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

The story continues with our first scripture at the top of the page.

Jacob was like my cousin.  He was impressed by the place more than the God of the place.  Sure, he had had a dream direct from God involving angels, but Jacob still did not know The God of the House of God.  That didn’t come until many years later.

Oops, this is running too long!  I will finish in the next blog on Friday.

Aunt Martha’s Big Toe!

August 26, 2013
Mark 8:34-37

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Now this is an interesting title for this blog, Aunt Martha’s Big Toe!  And what does this have to do with our scripture from Mark 8:34 through 37?

    Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,
    and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it; but whoever
    loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what will it profit a
    man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man
    give in exchange for his soul?

First of all, before we get to our aunt’s Big Toe!, let’s see what Jesus is saying to His followers.  If you saw someone two thousand years ago carrying a cross through the streets of the city, what would you know about that person?  You would know he was going out to die – to be crucified.  That was the experience of our Lord.  He was going out to die on Golgotha’s hill, crucified between two thieves – nailed to the cross He was carrying.  Jesus Christ died to purchase our salvationHe paid for our sins with His own perfect life!

Just as Jesus died for us, He calls His followers to take up their own cross and follow Him out – to die!  We are not usually called to die physically, especially by crucifixion – although history has shown thousands of martyrs have laid down their lives for the cause of Christ.  What the Lord is saying is, we are to die to our self if we would follow Him.  We are to put to death our desires, our agenda, our wants in preference for His.  As Paul writes in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…”  How?  By sincerely making that prayer our own that Jesus prayed in the garden, recorded in Luke 22:42, “Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not my will, but Yours, be done.”  This is not a one-time prayer!  As Paul said in I Corinthians 15:31, “I die daily.”  He put to death moment by moment his own will in deference to Christ’sAnd so must we, if we would truly follow Him as our Lord!  (See the blog from April 29, The Most Important Prayer A Christian Can Pray).

Alright, so what does this have to do with Aunt Martha’s Big Toe!?  In any church service of which I have been a part – and in that service if they ask for “Joys and Concerns” – 90% of the prayer requests are about someone’s physical problems.  Sometimes the problem is big, and sometimes small.  Sometimes it is something like Aunt Martha’s Big Toe!  Consider again what Jesus told His disciples, especially in verses 36 and 37 of our scripture:

    For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own
    soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

What is really important?  Is it Aunt Martha’s Big Toe! or her eternal soul?!!!

Here is the point of this blog:  I am waiting for the day when believers will be more concerned about people headed for hell than for physical ailments!  For if Aunt Martha gets her Big Toe healed and goes on to live to be a hundred in good physical health, “…what will it profit…. if she ends up in hell forever?

It is called revivalIt is when people are so broken over the eternal state of lost loved ones that they will plead for prayers concerning the soul of a lost loved one instead of some physical ailment!

Now I am not saying it is wrong to pray for Aunt Martha’s Big Toe! if Aunt Martha has that physical problem.  God is also concerned about our bodily needs.  Jesus performed many miracles in physically healing the multitudes.  What I am saying is, where should be our emphasisEternity is much longer than a hundred yearsAnd people are designed by God to be eternalThey will spend forever in some placeeither hell or heavenShould not we pray for the healing of their souls before we pray for their physical needsYes, pray for bothBut what is really important?

Think about it!

Four Promises

August 23, 2013
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

In the last two blogs we talked about Seven Promises that God gave to Israel in Hosea 2:19 and 20, when He brought her back from unfaithfulness to again be His wife.  That study made me think of Four Promises I made to my dear wife early in our marriage.

We only knew each other eight weeks when we were married – too short a time to really get to know each other, especially when you intend to marry!  But God has been so gracious to us.  What could have been a tragic relationship – tragic because we each were choosing a mate we did not really know – God turned into a wonderful 45 year marriage!  My wife is my best friend, my confidant, my lover, and my chief companion.  My apologies to all the rest of the women in the world but, in my opinion, I have the best one!!!

Yes, we have had our struggles through the years.  Don’t all marriages have struggles?  But how is it that our relationship in our marriage turned out so good?  I believe it had a lot to do with the Four Promises exacted of me by my wife.  We sat on our bed in our first home together – a rented mobile home – only one week into our marriage.  With tears of sincerity and intensity, my wife asked me:

1.    “Will you go to church with me?”  I was raised in a non-Christian family and we three boys were sent to Sunday school at a Congregational church in Connecticut for several years.  I became a Christian at age 19 when I was in the Air Force, and I attended Roman Catholic mass because the Catholic faith interested me.  I also attended a few other denominational churches, but I was not going to church regularly when I met my wife.  I answered her question by saying, “Yes.

2.    “Will you pray with me?”  Oh, I prayed, but not usually out loud and not with someone else.  But I thought it was a good idea, so I answered, “Yes.

3.    “Will you read the Bible with me?”   I had read the Bible once in awhile, but not every day.  But, again, this sounded like a good idea to me, so I said, “Yes.

4.    “Will you tithe with me?”  I knew enough about church terms to know tithing was giving ten percent of our income to some aspect of the Lord’s work.  I tend to be a giving person, so I said, “Yes.

I suppose I might have said “Yes” to any number of questions!  After all, I was sitting on the bed with a beautiful young woman whom I had married just the week before!  But because we were both Christians – young Christians, with a lot of growing to do! – we took seriously the task of making Jesus Christ the central part of our marriage.  Now not always did we succeed in this, but we tried.  And this – more than anything else – has cemented our marriage together into the joyful union it is today.

I found out later by studying my Bible that all four of those requests by my wife were very Biblical:

1.    “Will you go to church with me?”  Believers are admonished in Hebrews 10:25, “…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the Day [of the Lord’s return] approaching.”  Do NOT neglect regularly gathering for worship and fellowship with other believers!

2.    “Will you pray with me?”  There are several passage of scripture that would apply here, but consider I Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing….”  That some of that praying is encouraged to be done with another believer is evident from what Jesus said in Matthew 18:19 – “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”  My wife and I pray together every day, about all sorts of things.  I have met couples who have been married for many years, and have never prayed together!  What a tragedy!

3.    “Will you read the Bible with me?”  Paul tells Timothy in II Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  The early Christians often studied the scriptures together, according to Acts 2:42.  Married couples should do the same.

4.    “Will you tithe with me?”  While tithing is not commanded to be strictly observed in the New Testament, it was in the Old.  It is written in Leviticus 27:30 and 32, “…all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy to the LORD….the tithe…the tenth…shall be holy to the Lord.”  My wife and I have tithed – and more – for 45 years, and we have proved what Jesus said in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over….

Do you want to build your marriage on Biblical principles?  These Four Promises my wife exacted of me so long ago are a good place to start!

Seven Promises – II

August 21, 2013

Hosea 2:19, 20

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

We are studying the Seven Promises in Hosea 2:19 and 20, promises that God gave to unfaithful Israel:

    I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness
    and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy;  I will betroth you to Me in faithful-
    ness, and you shall know the LORD.

We examined the first five in Monday’s blog, and now we will look at the last two:

6.         “I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness….”Literally, the Hebrew word     emuwnah means firmness.  It means God can be trusted.  In Proverbs 3:5
and 6, the father encourages his son to, “Trust in the LORD with all your
heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways
acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

James 1:17 it is written, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from
 above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no
 variation, or shadow of turning.”  If He was good and could be trusted in
the Old Testament, so He can be now!

7.         “…and you shall know the LORD.”  This is a fitting conclusion to these
seven promises of Hosea 2:19 and 20.  Jeremiah 31:34 says that there is
coming a time when this shall universally happen:

        No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother,
        saying, “Know the LORD,” for they all shall know Me, from the least of
        them to the greatest of them, says the LORD.  For I will forgive their
        iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.

And how can we know the Lord in this way?  Jesus showed us how in His
High Priestly prayer in John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they may
know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”

For if you know Jesus – and so know the Father – then you will experience these seven promises, being wed to the Lord forever, His righteousness, His justice, His lovingkindness, His mercy, His faithfulness, and – perhaps the greatest blessing – we will know intimately the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

What magnificent promises are presented in these two Old Testament verses!  And if these promises apply to Jehovah God’s wife, Israel, they also apply to us as the Bride of Christ.  And if they apply to us in such a wonderful way, they are truly fitting for our human marriages.  I always suggest that these can be the vows said by the groom to his bride during the wedding ceremony.  And, by the way, I suggest this response from the bride to her groom – from Ruth 1:16 and 17:

    …wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people
    shall be my people, and your God, my God.  Where you die, I will die, and there
    will I be buried.  The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death
    parts you and me.

What precious vows to begin a Christian marriage!  God will fully live up to his wedding vows to Israel, as will Jesus Christ to His Bride, the Church.  May we respond to our Lord as Ruth did to Naomi.  And should not we, as Christians, also give such vows to our mates to lead us in our marriages?

May this study in these two blogs help you appreciate both our divine and human relationships.

Seven Promises – I

August 19, 2013
Hosea 2:19, 20

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The Old Testament prophet Hosea was commanded by God to do something unusual.  As a testimony against Israel who had been unfaithful to the Lord God – worshiping idols and even sacrificing their children to Molech, the god of the Ammonites.  The unusual thing the prophet was commanded to do was to marry an unfaithful woman named Gomer.  And, faced with her adulterous trysts, he was commanded to take her back, forgive her and treat her again as his faithful wife.  This was to be a picture of what God wanted to do with Israel.

Here is what the Lord said in Hosea 2:19 and 20:

    I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness
    and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy;  I will betroth you to Me in faithful-
    ness, and you shall know the LORD.

This involves seven promises that the Lord God gives to Israel.  They also apply to us as Christians:

1.   “I will betroth you to Me forever….”  God says the relationship will be
permanent.  There will never be a divorce in the future for Israel who
will be married to God.

And Jesus will never cast us away either.  When He saves us, there is no
way we can lose that relationship with Him.  In John 10:28 Jesus said,
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish….”  This is called
eternal security, and I will present the reasons why I hold this doctrine
in future blogs.

2.    “I will betroth you to Me in righteousness….”  The Lord will make the
sinful people of Israel righteous.  He told them in Isaiah 1:18, “…though
your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are
red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we are offered total cleansing
from our sins.  John wrote in I John 1:9, “…the blood of Jesus Christ His
Son cleanses us from all sin.”  As Paul said in II Corinthians 5:21 (NIV),
God made Him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him
we might become the righteousness of God.

3.    “I will betroth you to Me in…justice….”  What is justice?  Here, it is God
always doing what is right.  As Abraham was bargaining with the Lord to
spare the righteous in Sodom, he made the statement in Genesis 18:25,
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Since God is good, (see Mark 10:18) we can trust Him to do good all the
time.  And since He controls all, as it says in Romans 8:28, “And we
know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to
those who are the called according to His purpose.

4.    “I will betroth you to Me…in lovingkindness….”  Eerdmans The New
Bible Dictionary says, “Its meaning may be summed up as ‘steadfast love
on the basis of a covenant’” The covenant, in this case is the marriage
covenant, the marriage of Israel to God.

Israel, as portrayed in the Old Testament, is the wife of Jehovah God.
The Church, as portrayed in the New Testament, is the Bride of Christ.
He has pledged lovingkindness to Christians – the Church – and has
shown that covenant love by dying to purchase her unto Himself.  Paul
writes in Romans 5:8, “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in
that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

5.    “I will betroth you to Me in…mercy….”  This Hebrew word used here,
racham, denotes motherly compassion and care, even carrying and
nurturing the fetus in the womb.  God tells His people in Isaiah 46:3 and 4,

        Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel,
        who are upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb: 
        even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you!  I
        have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. 

As it was in the Old, so also is it in the New Covenant.  In Ephesians 2:4-6
Paul writes what we as Christians share:

        …God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He
        loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together
        with Christ, (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together,
        and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus….”

Alright, enough for today.  On Wednesday I will finish this blog concerning Seven Promises.

What The Word Will Do – VII

August 16, 2013
Isaiah 55:8-11

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

This is the seventh in the series of What The Word Will Do.  I was looking for a scripture that would wrap up this study, although there are so many other blogs that could be written on the subject.  The scripture that came to my mind is Isaiah 55:8-11:

    “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says
    the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways
    higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.  For as the rain
    comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water
    the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower,
    and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
    it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it
    shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

We have seen some – just some – of What The Word Will Do:

•    It will produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life – “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22, 23 – NIV).
•    It will build up your faith from which you live out your Christian life (Romans 10:17).
•    It  “…is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32).
•    It will “…make [you]…wiser than [your]…enemies….” (Psalm 119:98).
•    It will keep you from sinning against the Lord when you hide His Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11).
•    It will renew and strengthen the new nature the Holy Spirit has put within you (Colossians 3:10).

If that was all, it would be more than worth it to regularly read, study, meditate on, memorize and speak forth the Word of God!  I have developed a list of at least 50 things the Word will do in your Christian life, including:

•    It will make you holy (John 17:17).
•    It will give prosperity and good success (Joshua 1:7, 8).
•    It will negate fear (Psalm 56:3, 4).
•    It will keep you strong in tests and trials (Psalm 119:92).
•    It will teach you the truth (Psalm 119:142, 151, 160).
•    It will help with answers to prayer (John 15:7).

The point is this: God designed the human life to be complete, full and blessed.  We have messed it up through sin.  He wants us to come back to Him through His Son Jesus Christ, and – being led by His Holy Spirit – God wants us to again experience abundant life.  It can all get very complicated by listening to the advice and directions of different ones who say, “This is the way, do it this way.”  And they proceed to lay down a host of rules by which to govern your life.

God wants to keep it simple!  If we reduce it all to just one thing, do you know what that one thing would be?  It would be GET INTO THE WORD OF GOD!!! 

•    They say prayer is important?  The Bible directs us to pray and teaches us how!
•    They say worship is important?  The Bible directs us to worship and teaches us the proper way!
•    They say fellowship is important?  The Bible directs us to regular fellowship with other believers!
•    They say giving is important?  The Bible teaches us how to give!
•    They say being a witness is important?  The Bible shows us what a Christian witness is and how to do it!
•    They say the truth is important?  The Bible reveals Him who is the Truth!

All the things necessary for the Christian life are in the Word of God!  And if we take in that Word, God will do the rest because – as He promises in Isaiah 55:11:

    …My word…that goes forth from My mouth…shall not return to Me void, but it
    shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I
    sent it.

What The Word Will Do – VI

August 14, 2013

Colossians 3:5-16

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

In Colossians 3:8-10, Paul writes this:

    But now you must put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy
    language out of your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you have put
    off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed
    in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him….

There are two men (or natures) that are mentioned here – the old and the new.  The old is that with which we are born.  And it is inherently sinful.  We got it from Adam.  According to Romans 5:12: “…through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin; and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned….”  That nature is infected with the nature of Satan.  Jesus told the Jewish leaders who opposed Him, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” (John 8:44).  Remember, according to John 10:10, the purpose of the thief (Satan) is “…to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”  The only reason that the old man does not carry out that purpose fully is the restraints of society and the laws of society.

To enter into God’s kingdom and family, Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:7, “You must be born again.”  The old nature (the old man referred to in our scripture) is unredeemable!  When one comes to Jesus Christ in faith believing that He died for their sins on the cross and now lives forever, God does not reform the old natureHe, by the Holy Spirit, gives birth within us to a new nature!  In II Corinthians 5:17, Paul says:

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed
    away; behold, all things have become new.

We have a complete new nature – called the new man – and, according to I John 3:9 and 5:18, this new nature is sinless – incapable of sin!

    Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His [God’s] seed remains in
    him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God….We know that
    whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps
    himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.

Two complete natures in one person – one completely good and godly, and the other rotten to the core!!!!  I guess you could say Christians are spiritual schizophrenics!  And the two war against one another.  In Galatians 5:16 and 17, Paul writes:

    I say then:  Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 
    For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and
    these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you

Paul describes his personal struggle between his two natures in Romans 7:7-25.  It is worth the read!

So how do we put down the old nature – the old man – and manifest the new nature – the new man – in our Christian lives?  Go back to our scripture in Colossians 3.  In verse 10 it says:

    …put off the old man with his deeds, and…put on the new man who is renewed
    in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him…. 

The new man (or nature) is to be renewed.  How?  It is “…renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him….”  Renewed in knowledge – what kind of knowledge?  It is renewed in knowledge of the Word of God!

Both the old and new natures must be fed if they are to thrive.  So the one you feed will be the one who dominates in your life!  Since we are called to live our Christian life by faith – “The just shall live by faith,” (Romans 1:17) – and since “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God…” (Romans 10:17) – we must make our faith strong by feeding the new nature with the Word of God!  We must ‘eat’ regularly and plentifully!  This is why in Colossians 3:16 Paul exhorts us to “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly….

So get in your Bible!  Feed that new nature – the new man – abundantly!  If you do, the Word will do its work, and you will manifest more and more the Lord Jesus Christ in your life!

What The Word Will Do – V

August 12, 2013
Psalm 119:9-11

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Let’s stick with Psalm 119 for this blog also.  We will look at verses 9 through 11:

    How can a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your
    Word.  With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from
    Your commandments!  Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might
    not sin against You.

Every true Christian has known the struggle against sin in his or her life – because every true Christian has two natures – the old nature and the new.  When we are born into this world, we arrive with one nature, the old.  When we put our faith in Jesus Christ and accept Him into our heart and life, we are born again (see John 3:3-8 and I Peter 1:23).  Being born again, we are given a new nature.  Paul puts it this way in II Corinthians 5:17: “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  John says of this new nature in I John 3:9: “Whoever has been born of God does not sin; for His [God’s] seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

So the old nature is that from which sin is manifestedThe new naturebecause it comes directly from Godcannot and will not sin!  And the struggle between the two natures goes on!  Paul shares his experience in Romans 7:15 through 24.  Here are some excerpts:

    …what I am doing, I do not understand.  For what I will to do [the good], that
    I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do….For I know that in me (that is,
    in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to
    perform what is good I do not find.  For the good that I will to do, I do not do;
    but the evil that I will not to do, that I practice….I find then a law, that evil is
    present with me, the one who wills to do good.  For I delight in the law of God
    according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring
    against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to he law of sin
    which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me
    from this body of death?

Who shall deliver him?  In the very next verse is the answer: “I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  Jesusthe Living Word – has made the provision to deliver us all!  He paid the price to buy us back out of the slave market of sin (which is the meaning of redemption).  The price was His own perfect life given in our sinful place!

The psalmist asked how he – or anyone – could cleanse his way to live a holy life before the Lord.  The answer is in verse 11:  “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”  Two meanings come out of this verse, especially in light of what we know from the New Testament.  When we have Jesus – the Living Word – in our heart and life, then we have the new nature in us He brings by His seed, the Holy Spirit, implanted in us.  That gives us the potential of overcoming sin!  But God-in-us needs to be supplemented, you might say, by regularly taking in and hiding scripture in our hearts. What The Word Will Do is feed the new nature and make us strong so we do not sin!

What is the best way to hide God’s Word “…in my heart, that I might not sin against [Him]….”?  That is found in verse 10:  “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!”  Seek the Lord with your whole heartSeek His Word with your whole heartHide it in your heart by reading, study and meditation.  Also include memorization of scripture!  This seems to be a lost art, but if you memorize key versesgems, if you will – you will always have scripture at hand, whether or not you have a Bible in hand!!!

What The Word Will Do – if you heed Psalm 119:9 through 11, you will find the struggle against sin greatly reduced and victory over it more often your experience!

What The Word Will Do – IV

August 9, 2013
Psalm 119:97-100

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I wonder why teenagers are so wise and know so much about life?!!  And why is it that – as they grow into adulthood – their parents get so much smarter?!!  Psalm 119:97 through 100 is just the scripture for teenagers!  Jesting aside, it is the scripture for every believer who wants to be knowledgeable, understanding and wise in living out their life before God:

    O how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day.  You, through Your
    commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. 
    I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my
    meditation.  I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts.

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter of the Bible – 176 verses.  In just about every verse, there is reference to the Word of God using different terms – law, testimony, ways, precepts, statutes, word, commandments, judgments, way of truth, Your way, ordinances, Your words.  If you would know What The Word Will Do, then Psalm 119 is a great and valuable resource!

According to the last three verses of our scripture, look at What The Word Will Do:

•   Verse 98 – “You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
    for they are ever with me.”  Wisdom is certainly more than just knowledge!  A good
working definition of wisdom is:  Applying what you know to what you do.  Now
there is “…the wisdom of this world [but it] is foolishness with God.” (I Corinthians
3:19).  Such worldly wisdom is applying what you know – the knowledge with which
the godless world indoctrinates us –  to what you do.  The result is a lifestyle that is
lived out apart from God and results in loss, both temporal and eternal!  James says
in James 3:14 through 16:

    But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie
    against the   truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly,
    sensual, demonic.  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every
    evil thing will be there.

…my enemies, referred to in verse 98, are enemies of the righteous psalmist – and
so the enemies of God.  Obviously, if you are a believer following the Lord Jesus
Christ, you do not want to walk the way of your enemies, living by “…the wisdom
    of this world….”  So God’s “…commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
    for they are ever with me.” – That is, my enemies are always around me in this
    old world!

•    Verse 99 – “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your
    testimonies are my meditation.”  This is the verse that so many teenagers would
love to take for their own through high school!!!  But the meaning is this: You
    can exceed even the understanding of your godly teachers, IF you make it
    your practice to meditate continually on God’s Word!

•    Verse 100 – “I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your
    precepts.”  In ancient Israel, the aged were respected and revered because their
long life had taught them wisdom.  Elihu expresses this idea in Job 32:7: “Age
    should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.”  But the aged can
also be foolish if they have not lived according to God’s precepts.  In either case,
God’s Word can give understanding beyond what even the elders have

But I have included verse 97 in our scripture for this blog:  “O how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day.”  This is the key – for it says in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:  and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  You must develop such a love for God and His Word that scripture will become part of your thinkingyour lifeeverydayAnd the only way to do that is to make it your…meditation all the day.”  Read it, study it, meditate on it, obey it!  The Word of God will then do its work to make you both wise and understanding!

This is What The Word Will Do, and this should be the desire of every Christian!