The Circular Ten Commandments

October 31, 2014
Exodus 20:17; Colossians 3:5

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

The Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.  And they are displayed in abbreviated form in many public buildings around this great country.  Here is the abbreviated list:

    1.  You shall have no other             5.  Honor your father and
        gods before Me.                              your mother.
    2.  You shall not make for               6.  You shall not murder.
        yourself any carved image.        7.  You shall not commit
    3.  You shall not take the                    adultery.    
        Lord’s name in vain.                   8.  You shall not steal.
    4.  Remember the Sabbath            9.  You shall not bear false
        day, to keep it holy.                          witness.
                                   10. You shall not covet.

When artists and sculptors render Moses holding The Ten Commandments, he is seen holding two large “…tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” (Exodus 31:18).  Actually, those stone tablets were probably much smaller than usually depicted.  The Ten Commandments written on those tablets are properly rendered in a linear list – one to ten.

Here are the first and the last Commandments in full from Exodus 20:2 through 6 and 17:
    I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of
    the house of bondage.  You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall
    not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is
    in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under
    the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.  For I, the LORD
    your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the child-
    ren to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing
    mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments….
    You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neigh-
    bor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his
    donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

There is a special relationship between the first Commandment and the last, and Paul brings this out in Colossians 3:5:  “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth:  fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  The apostle tells us that “…covetousness…is idolatry…!   According to Webster, covet means “to desire ardently (especially what another person has).”  What are we to desire ardently above all else?  In Matthew 22:37 and 38 Jesus gave the answer:  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.”  If something else – or someone else – takes that first place in our lives, that is considered by God Himself to be idolatry!

This ties the last Commandment right back to the first!  Does not this make them The Circular Ten Commandments?  And does not this point to what James says in James 2:10 and 11?

    …whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty
    of all.  For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not kill.”  
    Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a
    transgressor of the law.

If you have broken one of The Commandments, you have broken them all!  No wonder we are all sinners before God!  And no wonder we need the cleansing blood of the Savior!

The tenth Commandment is really a catch-all.  All the others involve coveting in one way or another, because it boils down to “This is what I want to do!”  And this is coveting your own will before that of God’s!  And when you put anything before God and His will, this is idolatry!

One more thing – I included Exodus 20:2 in the scripture above:  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”  God’s demand of our complete devotion is based on what He has already done for us.  

•    For the Israelites, it was that He had delivered them from slavery in Egypt to make them a nation unto Himself.  His plan is put forth in Exodus 3:8 and Deuteronomy 11:21 –

    I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to
    bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing
    with milk and honey….that your days and the days of your children may be
    multiplied in the land…like the days of heaven upon the earth.

•    For us – according to what Jesus said in Luke 19:10 – He has sought us and saved us who were lost by the sacrifice of His own Son on the cross.  He has given us…life…and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10).

Doesn’t what Paul wrote in Romans 12:1 then apply?  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

It is reasonable for us – His children by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – to heed the first and last of The Ten Commandments.  May we be careful not to allow covetousness into our lives!  We then will not be guilty of idolatry! 

Does Jesus Cry Through You?

October 29, 2014
Luke 19:41-44

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

It is recorded of Jesus in Luke 19:41 and 42:

    Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you
    had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make
    for your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.”

Why did Jesus cry over Jerusalem?  He knew what would happen when they rejected Him.  On that Palm Sunday, He was offering Himself to them as “…Messiah the Prince…” (Daniel 9:25).  A prince – according to Webster’s New World Dictionary – is “someone who is of the royal family but not yet reigning.”  Jesus will someday reign with the title given in Revelation 19:16, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”  But Jesus was not accepted by the Jewish leaders as King.  John wrote in John 1:11, “He came to His own [people], and His own did not receive Him.”  The Jews rejected Him with the awful words of Matthew 27:25, “His blood be on us, and on our children.

And Jesus knew what that rejection would mean – Luke 19:43, 44:

    “…the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an em-
    bankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,
    and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they
    will not leave in you one stone upon another because you did not know
    the time of your visitation.”

The Jewish revolt against their Roman overlords began in AD 66 and continued for seven years until the last stronghold of the rebel Jews, Masada, was taken in May, AD 73.  Three years earlier, the Roman general Titus – later to become emperor – defeated the Jewish opposition, killing tens of thousands, and setting fire that consumed the city – including the Temple and Herod’s palace.  All that was left was smoldering ruins.

Jesus had prophesied that “…they will not leave in you one stone upon another….” (Luke 19:44).  In his book, Tells, Tombs and Treasure, Bob Boyd wrote (p. 205),

    In many temples, stones were held togther by gold or silver bars.  The bars
    where bent and fitted into the holes and grooves…in…[the] stone block….The
    soldiers knew of this method of construction.  They also knew that “to the
    victor belongs the spoils.”  To get to this precious metal, they literally took
    each stone from off top the other.  The prediction of Christ regarding the
    destruction of the Temple could well have been brought about in this manner.

It is no wonder Jesus cried when He saw from the Mount of Olives the Holy City laid out before Him.  It was the people for whom He wept – people with eternal souls who would suffer forever without saving faith in Him!  If it was people – redeemed, cleansed and reconciled to the Father – who could give Jesus Christ…joy…set before Him [to] endure…the cross, despising the shame…” (Hebrews 12:2), then it was people – lost and condemned – who caused His tears!

Paul also had the heart of God for people.  He said in Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”  He even confessed in Romans 9:2 through 4:

    …I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.  For I could wish that I
    myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to
    the flesh, who are Israelites….

John Knox (1514 to 1572) prayed, “Give me Scotland, or I die.”  His was the passionate plea of a man willing to die for the sake of the salvation of his countrymen.

Do you have that kind of concern for people?  Has God given you charge of a city, a town, a neighborhood of men, women and children with eternal souls in need of the Savior?  Are you aware that if they reject what Jesus accomplished on the cross for them – paying for their sins with His own blood – they will go to hell?  Will you look over your ‘Jerusalem’ and cry?  Will you let Jesus Cry Through You?

Sealed From Beneath

October 27, 2014
Proverbs 1:20-33

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

I wrote a blog of this same title over a year ago on September 13, 2013.  But the warning given in this Proverbs scripture is so relevant, I think it deserves a second look.

Evangelist Bob Boyd and his wife “Aunt Peggy” held a week of meetings at First Baptist Church of Johnsonburg, PA where I was pastor in the mid 1970’s.  I invited Bob and Peggy to my church, First Baptist of Oxford, PA, in November 1985 for another series of revival meetings.  One message he brought years before so impressed me that I asked him to preach it again – Sealed From Beneath from Proverbs 1:20 through 33.  This Proverbs passage is lengthy, so I will reproduce just some of the verses to give you the gist of what is written.  I encourage you to read it all from your own Bible.  Here it is from verses 20, 22 through 24, 26, 28, 29, and 31 through 33:

    Wisdom calls aloud… “How long, you simple ones, will ye love simplicity?…
    Turn at my reproof; surely, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my
    words known to you.  Because I have called, and you refused…I also will
    laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes….Then they will
    call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will
    not find me.  Because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of
    the LORD…therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled
    to the full with their own fancies.  For the turning away of the simple will slay
    them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to
    me will dwell safely, and will be secure, free of evil.”

Wisdom in Proverbs is often equated with the Holy Spirit, who is not fully introduced to us until the New Testament.  Rev. A. B. Simpson, authored in 1895 a book entitled,  The Holy Spirit or Power From on High.  In chapter 12, “The Holy Spirit In The Book Of Proverbs,” he writes:

    It is a peculiar Hebrew word, and in these pages it becomes personified until it
    is really a proper name. It is very much like another term applied to our Lord
    Jesus Christ in the New Testament; namely, the Word, or Logos, introduced to
    us in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. Indeed, the Word in John and Wis-
    dom in Proverbs are really the same Person, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, re-
    vealed in these ancient pages in His primeval glory. But the Lord Jesus Christ
    always stands connected with the Holy Spirit, who reveals Him, and who filled
    Him, and spake and wrought through Him during His earthly ministry; so that
    Wisdom in the book of Proverbs is not only the personification of Jesus Christ
    but also of the blessed Holy Ghost.

Yes, one must be careful not to step too far in Biblical interpretation, but I think Reverend Simpson is right on here!  Evangelist Bob Boyd agreed with him, and so he preached again the message, Sealed From Beneath!

It is the Holy Spirit who woos us to Jesus Christ.  And Jesus Christ is  “…the [only] way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through… Him! (John 14:6).  So if we reject the call of the Holy Spirit, we will not come to Jesus to be saved.  We will be lost forever, separated from God, and condemned to an eternal hell!

But – according to Proverbs 1:20 through 33 – the Holy Spirit’s call is not guaranteed to continue throughout a person’s earthly life.  If one insists on rejecting that call over and over, there can come a time when God’s Spirit will no longer respond, even if that one seeks Him with pleading and tears!

It may be the application of the principle about which Paul warns us in I Timothy 4:1 and 2:

    Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from
    the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking
    lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron….

If you burn a certain physical area of your body severely, you may damage the nerves enough to lose all feeling.  If you continually reject the Lord Jesus Christ and follow the ways of…the god of this age…” (II Corinthians 4:4), your conscience may become so seared that you will not – you cannot – turn to God in true repentance and faith!

Read the blog Almost Sealed From Beneath! written on September 16, 2013 concerning Fred.  If you are postponing coming to Jesus – if you are pushing away the Holy Spirit and His call to come – you are putting yourself in grave danger!

Come to Jesus Christ today!  Tell Him,

    Lord, you are the Savior; I am a sinner.  I believe You died on the cross to pay
    for our sins – my sins.  I need you as my Savior.  I repent of my sins and ask you
    to come into my heart and life. Thank you for saving me.  Amen.

He said in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in….”  He is always true to His Word!

Embracing Our Beauty

October 24, 2014
Genesis 1:26, 27, 31

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

The following scriptures tell us that God is beautiful:

•    Psalm 27:4 – “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.
•    Psalm 90:17 – “…let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us….
•    Proverbs 3:13 and 17 – “Happy is the man who finds wisdom…Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”  Wisdom, especially in Proverbs, is often equated with God the Holy Spirit.

The same Hebrew word is used in the above scriptures for beauty and pleasantness.  According to Strong’s A Concise Dictionary of the Words in The Hebrew Bible, it means, “agreeableness, i.e. delight, suitableness, splendor, or grace.

Hymn writers have seen this characteristic of beauty in the Triune God:

•    Last verse of Fairest Lord Jesus – “Beautiful Savior!  Lord of all nations!  Son of God and Son of Man!  Glory and honor, praise, adoration, now and forever more be Thine!
•    From the second verse of O God Beyond All Praising – “…we’II triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still:  to marvel at your beauty….
•    First verse of Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting – “Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee, and Thy beauty fills my soul, for by Thy transforming power Thou hast made me whole.

Let’s move on to another idea, this plainly put forth in our scripture, Genesis 1:26, 27 and 30:

    Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;
    let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and
    over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on
    the earth.”  So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He
    created him; male and female He created them….Then God saw everything
    that He had made, and indeed it was very good.

The point I want to make is this:  If God is beautiful, and we are created in His image, why do we who are Christians so struggle with Embracing Our Beauty?  After all, it is recorded in verse 30 of Genesis 1, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”  Why don’t we see ourselves as very good?  It is because we have lost that original goodness and beauty – the result of sin, and we are all sinners! (See Romans 3:10 and 23). When our first parents sinned, God’s image was terribly marred in the human race.  Implanted in His place was the image of mankind’s new father – Satan!  Jesus plainly said in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.”  Yes, he was talking to the Pharisees, according to John 8:13, but this truth applies to all of us!  John reiterates this in I John 3:8 through 10:

    He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.  
    For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy
    the works of the devil.  Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for
    His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born
    of God.  In this the children of God and the children of the devil are
    manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is
    he who does not love his brother.

So we are not beautiful to God when we are lost in sin (see Romans 5:6 through 8).  But Jesus came to redeem us.  And that redemption includes being restored to the image of our God!  We are beautiful in Jesus Christ, and – according to Ephesians 1:6 – we are accepted in Him as much as the Father accepts His Own Son!  

There are times when I am not that happy with myself, because of some failure or blunder.  And I might look in the mirror at my reflection and say, “You ugly jerk!”  But then I remind myself that I am made – and remade – in the image of God Himself!  And since God is beautiful, I can Embrace my Beauty.  

If we remember our great redemption and heritage in our Lord Jesus Christ, we can live day by day Embracing Our Beauty!

Drinking The Cup Of Salvation – VI

October 22, 2014
John 2:1-10

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

Ok, one more blog on Drinking The Cup Of Salvation!  I thought I was done on the subject with Monday’s blog!  But I was reading over John 2:1 through 10, and this account of the wedding feast of Cana inspired me.  Here is the account – shortened because of its length – from verses 2, 3, and 6 through 10:

    …Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.  And…they ran out of
    wine….Now there were set there six waterpots of stone…containing twenty or
    thirty gallons apiece.  Jesus said to…[the servants], “Fill the waterpots with
    water.”…And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the mas-
    ter of the feast.”…When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was
    made wine, and did not know where it came from…[he] called the bridegroom,
    and said…, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the
    guests have well drunk, then that which is inferior; but you have kept the good
    wine until now.”

So how does this apply to Drinking The Cup Of Salvation?  It shows that what comes from the hand of our Lord is always the very best!

Obviously, when we lift The Cup Of Salvation and drink initially and regularly from it, we are drinking of the best – especially when we consider:

•    I John 1:7 – “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
•    Psalm 103:12 – “…He removed our transgressions from us…as far as the east is from the west….
•    Colossians 1:21 and John 15:15 – We have been reconciled from being enemies of God to being His friends.
•    Colossians 1:13 – “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
•    John 5:24 – We have…passed from [etermal] death into…everlasting life.
•    Romans 6:18 and 22 – We…were slaves of sin…in this life, but now we have…been set free from sin and become servants of God….” (American Standard New Testament).
•    John 10:10 – We have gone from a wasted life here and in eternity, to…life and…[life] more abundanly.

…and so much more!

However, sometimes the draught which comes from The Cup Of Salvation seems bitter when we first taste it.  Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:14 (Contemporary English Version), “…the gate to life is very narrow.  The road that leads there is so hard to follow….”  Look what happened to the Lord Jesus Christ as He completely followed the will of His heavenly Father!  And did not Paul say in II Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”  Half the world’s Christians today are living hard lives of reality – often severely suffering and even dying for their faith!  If what flows from God’s Cup Of Salvation is always the very best, how would you explain these trials of life?

It is the viewpoint from which they are seen!  God sees us growing our faith under trials, maturing as Christians, and being prepared more fully to live with Him forever.  We see the uncomfortableness – sometimes extremely so – of hard things coming into our lives.  Remember, God has one goal in mind for every believer – “…to be conformed to the image of His Son….”  Considering the ingrowth that sin has made into our lives as we live in this old world, He has a tough job remolding the likes of us to look and act like Jesus Christ!  Surgery – major surgery – is sometimes required!  He has to cut out ingrained sinful traits, habits, attitudes, etc. and replace them via the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit with godly traits, habits, attitudes, etc.!  And major surgery can hurt!  Even minor surgery can be very painful!  But God is doing His good work in us, so what is flowing from His Cup Of Salvation is GOOD – yes, THE BEST!

This is why the author of Psalm 116 says, “I will take up the cup of salvation…” (verse13), meaning to drink it fully and regularly in thanksgiving “…to the LORD for all His benefits toward me….” (verse 12).  This is also why the Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:20, “…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   And in I Thessalonians 5:18:  “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  “…in everything…[and] for all things…” – give thanks by fully Drinking The Cup Of Salvation!

Drinking The Cup Of Salvation – V

October 20, 2014
Psalm 116:12-15

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

We are back to our original scripture for this series, Drinking The Cup Of Salvation – Psalm 116:12 through 15:

    What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?  I will take
    up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.  I will pay my
    vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people.  Precious in the
    sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.

We have been concentrating in the last four blogs on the first thing the psalmist would do to thank “…the LORD for all His benefits…,” that is,  “I will take up the cup of salvation….”  But there are two more actions he would “…render to the LORD….”  Let’s consider them.

•    Psalm 116:13 – “I will…call upon the name of the LORD.”  In Hebrew thinking, the name of a person often reflected who that person was.  So to …call upon the name of the LORD… means to call upon the Person of Jehovah God.  And this Person who is God delivered His children – saved them – multiple times in their history.

▸    He saved them from starvation through the intervention of Joseph in Egypt (see Genesis 50:20; Psalm 105:16-24).
▸    He delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt through the Passover (see Deuteronomy 6:21 through 23).
▸    Time and again in the book of Judges, it is recorded that God delivered Israel out of the hands of its oppressors.
▸    By the time the psalmist had penned these lines of Psalm 116, the Lord had saved David many times out of the hand of Saul.  And through David – and his godly successors – the Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judah had experienced God’s salvation from their enemies time and again.
▸    Then there are the prophesies of the coming Messiah, who would deliver Israel from all who oppressed her, institute God’s kingdom upon earth, and save from sin “…all who call upon Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18 and 19).

In Jeremiah 33:3, God tells His people, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”  And Paul was inspired to quote Joel 2:32 in Romans 10:13, “For, ‘whosoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.’

So the writer of Psalm 116 tells us he will thank “…the LORD for all His benefits toward me…[by taking] up the cup of salvation, and…[calling] upon the name of the LORD.”  As the cup of salvation is both initially received and then continually taken up and drunk, so one must call out initially to Jesus Christ to save him or her, and then continue to call upon the Lord concerning all the details of life – believing that only the Lord can provide proper guidance and resources.  Such faith put into practice surely will…render to the LORD [appropriate thanksgiving] for all His benefits toward…” that believing one.

•    Psalm 116:14 – “I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people.”  This implies public vowing, and so public paying of whatever promises this believer has made.  And this paying of vows – fulfilling your promises to the Lord – is one more way to “…render [thanks] to the LORD for all His benefits….

When my wife and I were married 46 years ago, she extracted four promises from me:

▸    “Will you read the Bible with me?
▸    “Will you pray with me?
▸    “Will you go to church with me?”
▸    “Will you tithe with me?”

I said “Yes!” to all four.  They were my vows to my wife and my Lord.  And I have kept those vows for 46 years!  Also, when I agreed to these four things, I started right away to put them into practice.  But doesn’t the psalmist say “I will pay my vows to the LORD now”?  Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 23:21, “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.”  And Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:5, “It is better not to vow than to vow and not pay.Jesus told us in Matthew 5:33 through 37 that it is better not to make vows at all, because we can’t control the variables that affect their outcome!

Finally, when all this life is over – if it has been a faithful life that reflects thanksgiving “…to the LORD for all His benefits…” – we have the testimony of Psalm 116:15 – “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”  Are you living that kind of a Christian life that renders constant thanksgiving to Him?  Will He reckon your death precious and welcome you home to heaven with the words,Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)?

Think about it!

Drinking The Cup Of Salvation – IV

October 17, 2014
John 4:7-14

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

Here is one more blog on Drinking The Cup Of Salvation.  In Psalm 116:12 through 15 the Psalmist wrote:

    What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?  I will take
    up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.  I will pay my
    vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people.  Precious in the
    sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.

The first thing done to thank “…the LORD for all His benefits…” is this:  “I will take  up the cup of salvation….”  Receiving and regularly living out His gift of salvation is the greatest thanks we can give God!

Let’s look at an incident related to Drinking The Cup Of Salvation.  It is recorded in John 4:7 through 14.  For the sake of space, I am abridging this scripture and leaving out verses 8 and 12:

    A woman of Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said to her, “Give Me a
    drink.”…Then [she]…said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a
    drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with
    Samaritans.  Jesus answered…her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who
    it is that says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and
    He would have given you living water.”  The woman said…, “Sir, You
    have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.  Where then do You get
    that living water?”…Jesus answered…”Whoever drinks of this water will
    thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will
    never thirst again.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him
    a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.

This Samaritan woman had been making lousy choices and consequently had lived a rough life.  She’s been married five times (verse 18), and was now living with another man.  That day when she came to Jacob’s well, she was thirsty for much more than the physical water of the well!  Like a lot of people today, she just hadn’t identified that thirst.  But when she encountered the Messiah, He identified her thirst – her desperate need for God!

Everyone of us needs God!  But we are so blinded by the enemy (see II Corinthians 4:4) that we can’t see our real need, and so we try to quench the thirst within by all sorts of other ‘beverages’ the world offers!  And the thirst persists, and even grows more intense with the failure of what godless society shoves before us, saying,Here, drink this!  This will do the trick, and make you feel real good!”  I know.  In my first 19 years I tried a lot of stuff to fill the void within me – alcohol, nicotine, food, sex, pornography and more.  And it was not just in those first 19 years before I became a Christian either!  I struggled to gain victory in several areas for many more years until I learned to rest in my Savior.  And I still have my struggles – but He is helping me find victory day by day.

Jesus was offering Himself to this woman of Samaria.  He offers Himself to each and all of us!  As He said in John 6:54 and 55 (our last blog), “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.”  Oh, yes!  We still need the physical water of the well to survive our life on earth.  But He fills our deeper needs – to be forgiven and cleansed of our sins, to be accepted by the Father, to be filled with His Holy Spirit, and directed in our choices by the mind of Jesus Himself! (See II Peter 1:3 and 4).  It is all offered through the cross – through the giving of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only sacrifice to reconcile us back to God where we belong!  

Jesus, in John 7:37 and 38, said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 55:1, “Ho!  Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy, and eat.  Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”  The gift of Jesus Christ and Drinking The Cup Of Salvation is free to all!  It cannot be purchased with money or earned through labor!  It is simply accepted by faith believing!  He is received simply by faith – believing that what Jesus accomplished on the cross was for you – and me!

The Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well received that living water.  Her first testimony was to the people of the town when she ran and told them, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did.  Could this be the Christ?” We are not told how her life changed, but we can bet it did – and for the better!  And your life will change also, when you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and allow Him to lead you as your Lord.

John closes the book of Revelation with this invitation: “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’  And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’  And let him who thirsts come.  And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17).

So come and thankfully drink The Cup Of Salvation.

Drinking The Cup Of Salvation – III

October 15, 2014

John 6:53-57

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

The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 116:12 through 15:

    What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?  I will take
    up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.  I will pay my
    vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people.  Precious in the
    sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.

This describes his responsive thanksgiving “…for all His benefits…” that God so lavishly pours out in behalf of His children.  And the first thing he would do to thank the Lord?  “I will take  up the cup of salvation….”  He would partake of what God has so generously provided – that provision being the cost of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, dying as the sinner in our place.  What better way to thank the Giver of such a gift than to make full use of that gift?

In John 6:53 through 57, Jesus elaborates on that gift:

    Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and
    drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks
    My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My
    flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh
    and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent
    Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because
    of Me.

Jesus Christ was giving Himself – His body and His blood – so we could live.  And the life offered is as He described it in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  The first life mentioned is eternal life – escaping hell and gaining heaven.  But heaven and all its glories is surely abundant life (see Revelation 21:3 and 4).  To have the second mention of life – “…life…more abundantly…” refer to heaven would then be redundant.  It applies to living in the here and now!  And I cannot think of more abundance than that of which Paul wrote in Galatians 5:22 and 23 (NIV) – the fruit of the Spirit:  “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  With these nine manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit in our life, we can experience abundant life in any situation!

Back to our featured scripture – It is a full meal Jesus is describing!  His body is the spiritual food we need, His blood the spiritual drink!  He fully gave Himself for us on the cross!  If we then fully receive Him  – by faith believing – we will experience…all His benefits toward [us]….”  It will be like David wrote in Psalm 23:5:  “…my cup runneth over.

There are two ideas concerning Drinking The Cup Of Salvation:

•    Initial partaking – This is when one first comes to Jesus believing (accepting the fact) that he or she is the sinner and He is the only Savior – that He died for us to pay for our sins so we can be forgiven and cleansed, gaining acceptance before the Father and enter eternal life (see John 5:24; Ephesians 1:6).  That one so coming to the Lord may not understand all the implications of his or her decision, and may not be able to put it in proper theological terms, but he or she comes believing none the less.  With little Bible knowledge, I only knew three things when I opened my heart to the Lord at age 19:

▸    Jesus was real,
▸    He was alive, and…
▸    He loved me!
 …and I fell head over heels in love with Him – this was my initial partaking!

•    Continual partaking – The Greek word used for eating and drinking in John 7 denotes continual action!  That believing one keeps on eating and drinking!  This is more than, as it says in Psalm 34:8, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good….”  That’s just a nibble!  Jesus is telling us to partake of a continual feast of His body and blood!  Paul tells us in Colossians 3:10 that “…the new man…is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”  That knowledge concerns Jesus Christ, presented to us through God’s Word, the Bible.  Continual feasting upon Him keeps the new creation in Christ – our new nature – well and strong!      

Thank God for the many benefits offered to us by taking…up the cup of salvation….”  And by eating His Son’s body and drinking His Son’s blood regularly and fully, we will experience salvation in our life as God meant for us to have.

Drinking The Cup Of Salvation – II

October 13, 2014
Psalm 116:12-15

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

Here is what the author of Psalm 116 says about how he will “…render [thanks] to the Lord for all His benefits…” – verses 12 through 15:

    What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?  I will take
    up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.  I will pay my
    vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people.  Precious in the
    sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.

I find it interesting that the first thing of appreciation the psalmist will do is to “…take up the cup of salvation….”  Don’t we usually give something in return for a gift bestowed upon us?  Sometimes it is just a ‘Thank you’ note or phone call.  Sometimes a pan or plate is returned to the giver filled with our gift to them.  But here the first thing mentioned is taking something more – “…the cup of salvation….”  Why is this taking such an expression of thanks to God?

We have all received gifts that we find rather useless.  We unwrap the present and exclaim, “Oh….just what I always wanted! ……………..What is it?! ” If it is a decent ‘something’ we can’t use, we sometimes ‘regift’ it.  However, one of the best ways to express our appreciation for a needed and useful gift is to make good and constant use of it!

There is not a more needed and useful gift than God’s cup of salvation!  Without it, we are destined for a wasted life and an eternal death!  Jesus said in Mark 8:36, “…what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? ” Paul wrote of the unsaved:

    …you…were dead in trespasses and sins…children of wrath…and…children
    of disobedience …alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works…
    without Christ…having no hope and without God in the world.  (Ephesians
2:1-3, 11, 12; Colossians 1:21).

But here are some of the benefits God has given us in the cup of salvation:

•    Psalm 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

•    John 5:24 – Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

•    John 10:10 – “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

•    Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20 – “…He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you….I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

•    Galatians 5:22, 23 – “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

These are just a few of the benefits God has loaded upon us! (See Psalm 68:19).  Talk about useful!  Surely we should…take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.”  And what better way to thank God than to drink continually and fully of that rich cup He has given to us!

Have you done that?  Have you taken  up the cup of salvation?  Do you do that regularly?  Remember, this cup of salvation was purchased at a tremendous cost!  The price was the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross – the only sacrifice acceptable to take away sin from before the Father!  

So thank Him – and do it by making full use of His gift to you. …take up the cup of salvation…by initially and regularly embracing the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Drinking The Cup Of Salvation – I

October 10, 2014
Psalm 116:12-15

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

Before we know it, Thanksgiving will be upon us!  If this last year is any indication, the next seven weeks will fly by!  Do you know why time passes so quickly as we get older?  Well, you pick up speed and things go by a lot faster – when you are going downhill!!!

Seriously, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love the food, the smells, and even the football!  But it is the family gathering – with friends included – that means so much to me.  I remember as a little boy on our Connecticut dairy farm, sitting at our huge dining room table with Mom, Pop, three Norton boys, and at least two or three family friends.  I still have the table, and – from an adult perspective – I wonder how eight people could comfortably fit around it!  It seemed a lot bigger when I was only three to four feet tall!

As a Christian, the name of the holiday has taken on new meaning for me – Thanksgiving!  The Apostle Paul instructs us in Ephesians 5:20 and I Thessalonians 5:17:

    …giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our
    Lord Jesus Christ…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in
    Christ Jesus for you.

…giving thanks always for all things…[and] in everything….”  That about covers every situation in which we might find ourselves, doesn’t it?  And why is it that we can accomplish such thanksgiving?  Because – as it is written in Romans 8:28, “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  And what is God’s purpose for the called – those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ?  Romans 8:29 has the answer:  “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ!  Now that takes a lot of work and it is a life-long process!  

We have a lot of rough edges to grind off by means of the emery wheel of what our Heavenly Father allows to touch us.  That process of conformation is very painful at times, and some of what God allows us to experience may also seem never-ending.  But if we will accept by faith that our Father is doing a good work in us – however uncomfortable it may be – then we can indeed thank Him  “…for all things…[and] in everything….

Now we finally get to our featured scripture, Psalm 116:12 through 15:

    What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?  I will take
    up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.  I will pay my
    vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people.  Precious in the
    sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.

How are we to thank God?  “I will take up the cup of salvation….”  The New King James Version rightly adds the word, up.  The NIV translates it this way:  “I will lift up the cup of salvation…”  Two ideas are presented here that are of utmost importance:

•    First, The cup of salvation is right in front of us!  God has done whatever is necessary to present that cup of salvation to all humanity!  Jesus paid for all sin of all people for all time!  We are just to reach out with ‘the empty hand of faith’ and receive what He so freely offers to us!

And we do not have to go searching for this cup of salvation!  It is right in plain sight if we will just look with perceiving eyes!  Paul put it this way in Romans 10:6 through 9:

    …the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart,
    ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above)
    or, “‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the
    dead).  But what does it say?  “The word is near you, even in your mouth
    and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you
    confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God
    has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

•    Second, we are to  lift up the cup of salvation, with the idea of drinking fully from that cup!  And the fulness God provides from drinking deeply of His cup of salvation is incredible!

We will further explore Drinking The Cup Of Salvation in next Monday’s blog.