Alliterated Promises Of God – VIII His Provision!

Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:19

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

The first featured Scripture is quite long, but it is perhaps the best one that deals with where our priorities ought to be! Here is what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24 through 34 in the Sermon on the Mount:

     You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do 
     not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will 
     drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life 
     more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the 
     birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather 
     into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not 
     of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one 
     cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Con-
     sider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither 
     toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all 
     his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so 
     clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow 
     is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O 
     you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What 
     shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we 
     wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your 
     heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek 
     first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these 
     things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about 
     tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Suf-
     ficient for the day is its own trouble. 

At the end of verse 24 (the beginning of our featured Scripture), the Lord said, “You cannot serve God and mammon.What is mammon? Basically, it means money and the things money can buy! A lot of people serve mammon! And if they serve mammon, they cannot be serving God! Why?

  • Because Jesus said so! I quoted just the last words of Matthew 6:24, above. The whole verse says this: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
  • In Exodus 20:5 we are told by God Himself, “For I, the LORD your God am a jealous God….” In other words, He brooks no rivals!
     ✞   He created us to love, worship, and serve Him!

     And anything that rivals Him in our hearts and lives 
         is putting that thing first, and displaces the LORD 
         from His rightful position as Ruler in our lives! 
         That ‘anything’ that takes God’s first place is 
         called idolatry! 

     The very first of the Ten Commandments highlights this 
         issue: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” 
         (Exodus 20:3).
  • Paul deals with ‘mammon’ in I Timothy 6:9 and 10: “…those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil.
  • In Revelation 18:11 through 13, John is shown a vision of Babylon totally destroyed! Babylon represents the world commerce system! And now it lays in ruins:
       And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, 
       for no one buys their merchandise anymore: merchandise of 
       gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and 
       purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every 
       kind of object of ivory, every kind of object made of pre-
       cious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and in-
       cense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine 
       flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and 
       bodies and souls of men.

In writing lists in Greek language, the lists are given in the order of most important to least important from the perspective of the one (ones) making the list.

  • Consider the merchants of the earth – notice of the 28 commodities listed what is most important and what is least:
     ✞   The two most important items – gold and silver!

     ✞   The two least important items – The bodies and souls 
         of men!Bodies of men represent the needs of people in 
              this world – mainly physical needs which are of 
              temporal importance! The world may seem to care 
              about physical needs of people – hunger, health, 
              homelessness, etc. 

              ❏   But what about thousands upon thousands 
                  that die or are injured in war?

              ❏   What about political suppression of people 
                  in certain countries?

              ❏   What about the drug epidemic?

              ❏   What about human trafficking?

              ❏   What about the rise in gun violence and 
                  crime in general?

              ❏   What about abortion?

         ➔   Souls of men represent the spiritual needs of 
              people, which are of eternal importance! Does 
              the world care...

              ❏   ...that God offers eternal salvation 
                  for all?

              ❏   ...that eternal suffering in hell is 
                  the only alternative?
  • In the buying and selling of earth-bound merchandise…
     ...gold and silver take precedence! It is the bottom 
         line that counts!

        ...bodies and souls of men (and women) are expendable!  

Now turn that list in Revelation 18:11 through 13 completely upside down and you will have God’s perspective of what is most precious to Him, and what is least precious!

  • He already owns all the gold and silver! (see below).
  • He is concerned…
     ✞   ...for the bodily needs – physical, mental, emotional, 
         relational needs, yes, but...

     ✞   ...especially for the spiritual condition......of His people, that they would grow and 
              mature in their Christian faith! (see 
              Ephesians 4:15).

         ➔   ...of all mankind, that the lost would be 
              saved! (see Luke 19:10).

So what are YOU pursuing? In Matthew 6:33 of our featured Scripture, Jesus gives us the proper pursuit: …seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

God’s got all the rest!

In our second featured Scripture, Philippians 4:19, Paul succinctly sums it up: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” How rich is God?

  • Psalm 50:9 through 12 gives a hint how rich God is:
       I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of 
       your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the 
       cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the 
       mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I 
       were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, 
       and all its fulness.
  • John W. Peterson wrote a song about this Psalm 50 passage:

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills
The wealth in every mine,
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
The sun and stars that shine,
Wonderful riches more than tongue can tell
He is my Father so they’re mine as well
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
I know that He will care for me.

Someone has said, “‘He owns the cattle on a thousand hills…’ with the price of beef today, God is certainly rich!” And, as Peterson wrote, “He is my Father so they’re mine as well…!

But remember…

  • He only gives good gifts! (see Matthew 7:11). He gives nothing that will destroy us!
  • He has already given us the best – His Son Jesus Christ! Anything else He could gice us is a lesser gift! (see Romans 8:31, 32).

One more thing:

Our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us!
He will give us what we need,
not always what we want!

Alliterated Promises of God–VII-b His Protection!

Psalm 91:9-13; Mark 16:17, 18

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

Above is a photo of the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the two oldest and most complete manuscripts of the complete Bible! The word Codex means that the manuscript is in book form instead of written on a scroll. We will see more of the significance of this ancient copy of the Bible in a moment.

The second featured Scripture of God’s Protection is Mark 16:17 and 18:

     And these signs will follow those who believe: In My [Jesus’] 
     name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new 
     tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any-
     thing deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay 
     hands on the sick, and they will recover.  

This Scripture is controversial because some scholars say the whole section of Mark 16:9 through 20 was not in the original Biblical autographs (manuscripts), while others say those twelve verses belong there. Here is the note in the New Scofield Reference Bible concerning this section:

     Verses 9–20 [of Mark 16] are not found in the two most ancient 
     mss. [manuscripts], the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus; others have 
     them with partial omissions and variations. But the passage is 
     quoted by Irenaeus and Hippolytus in the second or third cen-
     turies.

Here is more information on the two manuscripts mentioned:

  • The Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in 1844 by Constantine von Tischendorf in Saint Catherine’s Monastery located on Mount Sinai. Written in Koine (common) Greek, it is generally dated to about the middle of the fourth century (350 AD). Tischendorf postulated it to be one of the fifty Bibles commissioned by Roman Emperor Constantine in 331 AD. While the entire New Testament is present, there are several parts that are missing or read differently than our modern Bible. One of the main omissions is Mark 16:9 through 20, which includes Mark’s brief version of the resurrection and Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry!
  • The Codex Vaticanus is named for its housing in the Vatican since the fifteenth century. It is another Greek codex manuscript containing most of the New Testament (missing is text from Hebrews 9:14 through Revelation, including Philemon). Some scholars consider it slightly older than the Sinaiticus, and some think they are both from Emperor Constantine’s 331 AD order to produce fifty copies of the Bible.

Scofield also mentions Irenaeus and Hippolytus.

  • Irenaeus was the disciple of Polycarp who was the disciple of the Apostle John. In 184 AD Irenaeus wrote in Book 3, chapter 10 of Against Heresies, “Toward the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says, ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God.’” (compare with Mark 16:19).
  • Hippolytus, in the year 220 AD, wrote Apostolic Tradition. In Book 8, he quoted Mark 16:17 and 18, also alluding to verse 15:
       With good reason did He [Jesus] say to all of us together, 
       when we were perfected concerning those gifts which were 
       given from Him by the Spirit, ‘Now these signs shall fol-
       low those who have believed: in My name they shall cast 
       out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall 
       take up serpents; and if they happen to drink any deadly 
       thing, it shall by no means hurt them; they shall lay 
       hands on the sick, and they shall recover.’ These gifts 
       were first bestowed on us the apostles when we were about 
       to preach the gospel to every creature, and afterwards 
       were of necessity afforded to those who had by our means 
       believed, not for the advantage of those who perform them, 
       but for the conviction of unbelievers.
  • Several other early church fathers alluded to Mark 16:9 through 20.

The point is, the last twelve verses of Mark 16 were recognized as part of the original gospel of Mark at least 150 years before the codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were written!

Why were these dozen verses eliminated from the gospel of Mark? I have a theory why Mark 16:9 through 20 is missing from these two manuscripts! Read again Mark 16:17 and 18 above, noting especially the signs that are to follow those who believe:

  • The signs: “…cast out demons…speak with new tongues…take up serpents…drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them…lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.How many of these signs are regularly evident in today’s churches?
  • They were evidenced in the New Testament church!

But it takes faith in and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ for these signs to be manifested in a Christian’s life!

A history-making declaration was proclaimed by the Roman emperor Constantine when he issued The Edict of Milan in February, 313 AD. Four months before he had faced Maxentius, who desired to become emperor. Maxentius had superiority of a larger and better equipped army. But as Constantine marched to engage his enemy, he looked up at the sun and saw a cross above it with the Greek words meaning, “In this [sign] conquer.” That night in a dream, Christ appeared to the emperor and explained that he was to use this sign against his enemies.

At Milvian Bridge the next day, under the sign of Chi-Rho (the first two Greek letters of the Jesus’ title ‘Christ‘), Constantine won the victory and marched into Rome! Four months later, Christianity became a legal religion of the Roman Empire (other religions were also legalized), and the persecution of Christians was halted!

Many in the empire became Christians! But for many, it was the expedient thing to do! They were ‘Christian’ in name but not in heart commitment!

And so, Christianity was ‘watered down’!

Mark 16:16 describes the beginning of a true Christian life: He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

  • I do not adhere to the teaching that a person must be baptized to become a Christian. There are historical incidences where true believers were not baptized!

In 320 AD forty soldiers of the Roman Army refused to offer sacrifice to the emperor. As punishment, they were whipped and then sentenced to die on an ice-covered pond in Sevaste (in the modern country of Turkey). If they relented and offered the sacrifice, they would live. Instead they raised a prayer: “Lord, there are forty of us engaged in this battle; grant that forty may be crowned and not one be wanting from this sacred number.

But one soldier eventually crawled off the ice, only to die of shock when placed in a warm bath. One of the Roman guards surrounding the pond saw a vision of angels ready to crown the martyrs and clothe them with rich robes! When he then saw the one crawling off the ice, he stripped off his clothes and joined the thirty-nine faithful – once again, forty martyrs!

That one was not baptized! But surely he is in heaven with his Lord!

  • Baptism should be one of the first things a new believer should do, showing his identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism by full immersion is a beautiful picture of that identification, and water is the perfect medium to show that.

I suppose you could dig a hole in the ground, place the new Christian in the ‘grave,’ cover that one over with dirt, and then dig him or her up again! That would also picture our association with the Savior. But….that buried one just might not be dug up in time!

  • He who believes…will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16). The Greek word for believes is πιστεύω (pronounced pist-yoo’-o), and meaning, “…to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ)….” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).

Such belief involves giving oneself to the Savior…heart…soul…mind, and…strength…” (Mark 12:30).

  • It means crucifying daily the old sinful nature (self), so the new godly nature can be controlled by the Holy Spirit! (see Mark 8:34-38; Galatians 2:20).
  • It means in every decision praying the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane:Father…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42).

It is that kind of commitment, that kind of faith, that will result in…

       ...these signs [following]...those who believe: In [Jesus’]
       ...name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new 
       tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any-
       thing deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay 
       hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17, 18).

In order to ‘make Christianity easier’ for nominal believers, it was easier to take Mark 16:8 through 20 out of the Bible (the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus testifying to this), than to train immature Christians…up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4).

All this to say…

God’s protection,
cited in Mark 16:17 and 18,
is valid for believers today!

Alliterated Promises Of God–VII-a His Protection!

Psalm 91:9-13; Mark 16:17, 18

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

I was coming home from Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania. As pastor of United Baptist Church of Taylor, I was often calling on parishioners who had been admitted to one of the three Scranton hospitals. This was a late night emergency visit! One of the men of my church had experienced a heart attack! I spent a brief moment of prayer and encouragement with the patient in the emergency room, and some extended time with the family. I left about 2AM to drive home to Taylor, about four miles away. The January night was cold. As I left the hospital I turned right on Pine Street and headed down the Scranton Hill section, driving my 1972 Plymouth Fury, a gem of a car with very few miles on it for a twelve year old automobile. I was a half-block away from North Washington Avenue when the traffic light turned green, so I was just driving straight through to Wyoming Avenue.

All of a sudden a voice shouted, “Slow down!” It surprised me so much I screeched to a stop before I drove through the intersection. At that moment a car ran the red light on Washington Avenue at about a hundred miles an hour! I would have been right in the path of that car with perhaps deadly results! I looked around to see who had warned me. No one was on the sidewalks at two in the morning! Besides, the windows of the car were closed, and I had the heater going full blast! I even looked in the back seat of my car – the voice was that loud and distinct! I came to the realization that the Lord had most likely sent His angel to warn me of the collision!

This was not the only time God has rescued me from serious injury or death – that I know of! But I will save other incidents for another time.

The point is, the truth of Psalm 91:9 through 13 can become very real in a Christian’s life:

     Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the 
     Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you, nor 
     shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give 
     His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 
     They shall bear you up in their hands lest you dash your 
     foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the 
     cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample un-
     derfoot. Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I 
     will deliver him....

Obviously, this Scripture applies to Jesus! During His temptations on the mountain in the wilderness, Satan tempted Him three times. The second temptation is recorded in Matthew 4:5 and 6:

     Then the devil took Him up into the holy city [Jerusalem], 
     set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If 
     You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is writ-
     ten: “He shall give His angels charge concerning You,” and, 
     “In their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash Your 
     foot against a stone.” 

Notice, although the devil quoted verse 11 of Psalm 91, he left out seven important words:…to keep You in all Your ways.All of Jesus’ ways (what He said and did) were directly received from the Father! For He told the Pharisees in John 8:28, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak [and do] these things….And since obeying Satan’s command to…throw Yourself down…was not part of the Father’s plan for His Son, He didn’t do it! He responded to the devil’s temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.” (Matthew 4:7).

The interpretation of our featured Scripture is directly associated with the Lord Jesus, but it also applies to us! How is that connection made?

  • Jesus is called…the Son of God….” (Mark 1:1 – see also Luke 1:35; John 1:34; 20:31; Hebrews 4:4; I John 5:20; Revelation 2:18).
  • We are also sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus! (see John 1:12). That means, Jesus is our elder brother, and we are His younger siblings! (see Hebrews 2:11).

So, Christians have the protection of the LORD, and of His mighty angels, just as Jesus did! According to Hebrews 1:13 we are told concerning God’s angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” That does not mean we can act foolishly and expect to get away with it. Some wag has said, “Remember that if you have a lead foot on the accelerator of your car, guardian angels retire at 65!” We must always live to please the LORD by obedience to His Word! Note that the opening two verses of Psalm 91 (the Psalm of our first featured Scripture) read as follows:

     He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall 
     abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the 
     LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will 
     I trust.”

What is “…the secret place of the Most High…” in which we are to dwell?

  • I Chronicles 16 includes a psalm of thanksgiving written by David (see also Psalm 105). In verse 11 we read, “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore!” (see also II Chronicles 7:14). Seeking God’s face is a biblical injunction that we are to get to know intimately the whole Person of the LORD
     ✞   ...how He thinks!

     ✞   ...how He loves! 

     ✞   ...His compassion for His children!

     ✞   ...His hatred of sin!

     ✞   ...His planned salvation for all mankind!

     ✞   ...the cost of that salvation!

     ✞   ...His judgment of all the wicked! 

…and so much more.

  • I believe the best description of living in “…the secret place of the Most High…” is Paul’s declaration in Philippians 3:10 through 14 of the goals of his Christian life:
         ...that I may know Him [Jesus Christ] and the 
         power of His resurrection, and the fellowship 
         of His suffering, being conformed to His death, 
         if by any means, I may attain to the resurrec-
         tion from the dead. Not that I have already at-
         tained, or am already perfected; but I press on, 
         that I may lay hold of that for which Christ 
         Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do 
         not count myself to have apprehended; but one 
         thing I do, forgetting those things which are 
         behind and reaching forward to those things 
         which are ahead, I press toward the goal for 
         the prize of the upward call of God in Christ 
         Jesus.

Is that your goal? Is that my goal? To know Him, to follow Him, to trust Him, to the end of our days? – “…even the death of the cross…? (Philippians 2:8).

We will tackle Mark 16:17 and 18, the second featured Scripture concerning God’s Protection in the next Gem.

Alliterated Promises Of God – VI His Path!

Psalm 25:4, 5; Isaiah 30:21

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

Have you ever been lost on the way to an important appointment? Some years ago I was on my way to a dentist appointment to get a cap reglued to the root of one of my front teeth. How did it come about that I broke that cap off? I’m glad you asked!

It was my candidating sermon for my second church. I would preach the Sunday morning service where the congregation could see how well I did in the pulpit, after which they would vote me in or out as their next pastor. That’s how it is done in most Baptist churches. During the break between Sunday school and the worship service, I and several men were standing in the parking lot talking. One of the men offered me a Sen-Sen breath freshener – one of those licorice-tasting black had little candies. As I nervously bit down on the Sen-Sen, the cap from my front tooth popped out of my mouth! I whissstled and ssspit all over my sermon notes that morning! It was a sssserious sssermon, and there were quite a few giggles and chuckles during my delivery! But I was called to be the pastor of West Lenox Baptist Church!

Back to the dentist appointment: It was my first visit to this particular dentist, and I was taking a shortcut on a country dirt road to get there in plenty of time. But I came to an unmarked fork in the road, and I didn’t know which way to go! After trying to figure out which road to take, I decided to pray about it. There in the car I bowed my head:

     God, I know You know which road to take, and I don’t. And I 
     don’t think you want me to be late for my dentist appointment. 
     It also says in Proverbs 3:5 and 6, “Show me Your ways, O LORD, 
     teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for 
     You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.

I didn’t hear a voice saying “Take the right hand road,” or “Take the left.” But I chose one way over the other and it was the correct choice! Now you can say I had a 50% chance of making the right decision. But I believe God showed me His way, and taught me which path to take! Why? Because He is the God of my salvation; and I try to wait on Him all the day!

There are much bigger decisions in life than choosing which of two roads to take! But the Scripture stands, and so does the principle behind it!

  • What profession do you want me to follow, Lord?” This is a good question to ask God in high school or later, or even before.
  • Where should I go to college? Or should I train for a more blue-collar profession?” This can be asked before your first career, or even before a second or third career choice.
  • Whom should I date, God?” And when a relationship becomes serious, “Whom should I marry?” This is important even when we start dating, because emotional attachment can become serious. To follow your heart without thinking and praying it through can be dangerous! (see Jeremiah 17:9).
  • How many children should we have? What kind of parenting skills do I and my mate need to learn?

There are hundreds of other decisions we make which would benefit from divine guidance! And one of the best Scriptures with which to make such requests is Proverbs 3:5 and 6: “Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.

But did you notice there are some requirements to this request?

  • Hebrew poetry (of which the book of Proverbs is a thirty-one chapter example) is most often in the form of two ideas that either compliment or contrast one another.
     ✡   “Show me...” and “...teach me...” are complimentary 
         couplets, as are “...Your ways...” and “...Your paths
         ....Are you teachable? Are you showable? I have 
         a grandson who is not. It is hard to teach him some-
         thing when he says, “I already know all about it!”

     ✡   “Lead me...” and “...teach me...” are also comple-
         mentary couplets. What are we asking God to lead and 
         teach us? His truth! And you find His truth in Him 
         and in His word, the Bible!

         ➔   Jesus is called...the Word...” in John 1:1 
              and 14 (see also I John 1:1; 5:7; Revelation 
              19:13). And He plainly said in John 14:6, “I 
              am the way, the truth, and the life. No one 
              comes to the Father except through Me.”

         ➔   In John 17:17 Jesus, in His prayer to the Fat-
              her said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your 
              word is truth.” (see also II Corinthians 6:7; 
              Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:15; I Thessalo-
              nians 2:13; II Timothy 2:15; James 1:18).
  • …for You are the God of my salvation….In order to have the capacity to be led and taught by God, you must have Jesus Christ as your Savior! As Peter told the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:12, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
  • …on You I wait all the day. This is making Jesus the Lord of our lives (the One who controls our lives).
     ✡   As we read in Psalm 123:2, “...as the eyes of servants 
         look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a 
         maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to 
         the LORD our God, until He has mercy on us.”

     ✡   We must be patient as Christians to wait for God’s lead-
         ing, timing, and instructions! (see also Psalm 27:14; 
         37:9; Isaiah 40:28-31).

The second featured Scripture is Isaiah 30:21: “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’

  • Although the ultimate fulfillment of this verse is in the millennial kingdom, by God’s Holy Spirit who indwells every true Christian (see Romans 8:9), I believe that this also applies to us today! (see Acts 16:6-10).
  • But we have to be living in tune with the Holy Spirit! Read the fourth chapter of Ephesians to get an idea of the lifestyle that will “…not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30).

God has a path for us to follow! It is not an easy way (see Matthew 7:13, 14), but it is the only way that at the end we will hear Jesus’ words:

Well done,
good and faithful servant….
Enter into the joy of your Lord.

(Matthew 25:21, 23)

Alliterated Promises Of God – V-b His Plan!

Romans 8:28-32

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

This is the second Gem about God’s Plan. The first Gem highlighted Jeremiah 29:11 through 14, part of a letter the LORD sent to His people, the Jews, who were experiencing seventy years of captivity in Babylon because of their sins! But it’s application is also apply to us today.

The featured Scripture for this second Gem comes from the book of Romans, a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians in Rome. Through the ages this sixteen-chapter letter has grounded believers in the basics of Christian beliefs, and encouraged them to live out those beliefs! Romans 8:28 through 32 gives us special insight into God’s Plan for believers!

     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. 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. Moreover whom He predestined, 
     these He also called; whom He called, these He also justi-
     fied; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What 
     then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who 
     can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but 
     delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also 
     freely give us all things?
  • 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.
     ✞   This is one of the most quoted verses when we are 
         facing hardships or challenges! And it is usually 
         quoted by other well-meaning Christians. The prob-
         lem is, this verse is not often received  by those 
         to whom it is directed in that same spirit!

        I was trying to encourage my Sunday school teacher 
         by this verse. Diane was going through the trial of 
         seeing her mother’s health seriously decline due to 
         bone cancer. I was her pastor, and I had asked her 
         to teach the adult class to give me a break and to 
         occupy her mind on God’s Word instead of constantly 
         worrying about her mother’s health. 

         ➔   I did not just blithely quote Romans 8:28 
              to her, but was tenderly trying to explain 
              how the Lord was working in hers and several 
              other lives because of her mother’s terminal 
              illness.

         ➔   Diane listened as I talked, but later told 
              me she was ready to throw her book at me...
              ....which happened to be her Bible!

     The problem is that Romans 8:28 is too often quoted 
         as a stand-alone verse! You have to go on to...
  • Romans 8:29 – “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.
     Here we see the purpose to which God has called us! 
         He wants us, His children, to be conformed to the 
         image of His Son, Jesus Christ! There are other 
         Scriptures that support this idea concerning the 
         purpose of the Lord:

         ➔   I Corinthians 15:49 – “...as we have born 
              the image of the man of dust [sinful Adam], 
              we shall also bear the image of the heavenly 
              Man [Jesus Christ].”

         ➔   II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with un-
              veiled face, beholding as in a mirror the 
              glory of the Lord , are being transformed 
              into that same image from glory to glory, 
              just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

         ➔   James 1:2 through 4 – “...count it all joy 
              when you fall into various trials, knowing 
              that the testing of your faith produces pa-
              tience. But let patience have it’s perfect 
              work, that you may be perfect and complete 
              [like Jesus], lacking nothing....”

         ➔   II Peter 1:3 and 4 – “...through the know-
              ledge of [Jesus Christ]...you may be par-
              takers of the divine nature....The problem is that we are far from the completion of 
         being the image of Jesus! We are sinners, and we need 
         a lot of refining to become like Him!

     If we are going to be conformed to the image of Christ, 
         we have to keep in mind what it says in Hebrews 2:10: 
         “...it was fitting for [Jesus]...in bringing many sons 
         to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect 
         through sufferings.”

         ➔   If He suffered, and we are to become like 
              Him, then we can expect hard knocks and 
              suffering from life also!

         ➔   Didn’t Jesus say to His followers in Luke 
              9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, 
              let him deny himself, and take up his cross 
              daily, and follow Me.The cross is an in-
              strument of suffering and death! According 
              to Romans 6:6, we are to crucify our old 
              sinful nature so we can reflect Jesus in 
              His resurrection power! And we are to do 
              this daily, that is, moment by moment! (see 
              also I Corinthians 15:31).

     One great thing that Jesus’ suffering has accomplished 
         for us is highlighted in Hebrews 4:14 through 16:

             Seeing then that we have a great High Priest 
             who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the 
             Son of God, let us hold fast our profession 
             [of faith]. For we do not have a High Priest 
             who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, 
             but was in all points tempted as we are, yet 
             without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to 
             the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy 
             and find grace to help in time of need. 
  • Romans 8:30 – “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
     There are four steps in God’s plan for us. Three have 
         been accomplished in every Christian, but the fourth 
         is only completed after we are in heaven.

         ➔   Predestined – Alot of Christians have problems 
              with this idea of predestination. 

             ❏   But God knows everything, past, pre-
                 sent, and future! And He not only knows 
                 what was, is, and will be, but He also 
                 knows what every possibility could be! 
                 This does not mean He causes us to do 
                 all things according to what He knows, 
                 but there is nothing we can do, say, or 
                 think that the Lord does not already 
                 know!

             ❏   In the previous verse above, we are 
                  predestined to become like His Son 
                  Jesus! According to I John 3:3, this 
                  will be ultimately fulfilled at His 
                  return: 

                     Beloved, now we are the children 
                     of God; and it has not yet been 
                     revealed what we shall be, but we 
                     know that when He is revealed 
                     [Jesus, at the Rapture], we shall 
                     be like Him, for we shall see Him 
                     as He is.Called God has called ALL humanity to come 
              and put their faith in Jesus! But it is only 
              those who respond that ...are predestined 
              to be conformed to the image of His Son...” 
              (Romans 8:29).” That He calls all human beings 
              to salvation is clear:

             ❏   For it says in I Timothy 4:10, “...the 
                  living God...is the Savior of all men, 
                  especially of those who believe.” 

             ❏   And in I John 2:2 it is written, Jesus 
                  “...Himself is the propitiation for our 
                  sins, and not for ours only but also for 
                  the whole world.But only a relatively small portion of humanity accepts 
         His call! 
  • Romans 3:31 and 32:
     What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who 
     can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but 
     delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him 
     also freely give us all things?

     ✞   The omnipotent Creator and Sustainer of all things 
         is for us! He is the ultimate power of the universe 
         and way beyond! In Isaiah 45:5 through 7 (Interna-
         tional Standard Version), this is what God says 
         about Himself: 

              I am the LORD, and there is no other be-
              sides Me: and there are no gods....so 
              that from the sun's rising [in the east] 
              to the west [where the sun sets], people 
              may know that there is none besides Me. 
              “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I 
              form light and create darkness, I make 
              goodness and create disaster. I am the 
              LORD, who does all these things.

     ✞   No one and nothing can compare with the LORD! So, 
         “...if [He]...is for us, who can be against us?No 
         one and nothing! And He has already proven He is for 
         us by giving us His only Son to save us!

As you can see, the Lord’s overriding plan for followers of His Son is to conform them more and more into Jesus’ image! But as He works out that plan, God will also give us whatever we need to make it happen! The best and most costly gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, has already been given! Anything and everything else we need is a lesser gift! As Paul said in Philippians 4:19, “…my God shall supply all your need accordirng to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

This is God’s Plan
for you and me!

Alliterated Promises Of God – V-a His Plan!

Jeremiah 29:11-14

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

Jeremiah 29:11 through 14 was written to the Jews who were taken away from their homeland of Judea in the seventy-year Babylonian captivity! These verses were part of a letter God told Jeremiah to write to them. The letter encompasses 25 verses (Jeremiah 29:4 through 28).

  • In this letter, in verses 8 and 9, the LORD reminds those in exile…
...why they were allowed to be punished by King Nebu-
         chadnezzar’s army that destroyed Jerusalem and much of 
         Judea! ...why so many Judeans were killed! ...why the survivors were taken a thousand miles away 
         to Babylon!
  • God also tells them in verse 10, how long the captivity will last, …seventy years…!
  • In verses 15 through 23, He warns those…
     ✡   ...who are falsely prophesying among them in Babylon 
         to stop their divinations and prognostications!

     ✡   ...remaining in Judea and Jerusalem to quit their many 
         sins and false predictions, or they will experience His 
         further wrath!
  • But in the verses 5 through 7 of the letter, because they would be in Babylon a long time, God encourages His exiled people:
     Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their 
     fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take 
     wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so 
     that they may bear sons and daughters--that you may be in-
     creased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the 
     city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and 
     pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

However, like many Old Testament passages (see for instance II Chronicles 7:14 and Isaiah 40:28-31); what was originally directed to the Hebrew people also have great application to Christians today! This is why, to highlight God’s Plan, I have chosen Jeremiah 29:11 through the first part of 14 for the featured Scripture:

     For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the 
     LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a fu-
     ture and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray 
     to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and 
     find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will 
     be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back 
     from your captivity....

Let’s consider several points of what the LORD is saying here:

  • Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD….
     It says in Hebrews 7:25 that Jesus “...ever lives 
         to make intercession for us.He’s always praying 
         for us, and if He is praying for us, He is always 
         thinking about us! He has me in mind, and He has 
         you in mind........RIGHT NOW!

     ✞   How does He do it? There are millions of Christians 
         in the world. But Jesus is God! And, as He said in 
         Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of 
         all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?No! 
         Nothing is too hard for Jesus Christ to accomplish! 
         (see Jeremiah 22:17). 

     ✡   And what kind of thoughts is He thinking toward us?
  • Jeremiah 29:11 – “…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
     ✡   Yes, God can bring evil on those who reject Him! But 
         He intends to bring peace to those who are truly His!

     ✡   And what are the end results of those thoughts toward 
         His children?...to give you a future and a hope.”

         ➔   What is the future for those who know Jesus 
              as Savior? We could spend a year of Gems 
              exploring what the Bible says about the fu-
              ture and what it holds for believers! But I 
              especially like what Paul wrote in I Cor-
              inthians 2:9 (quoting Isaiah 64:4): “But as 
              it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear 
              heard, nor have entered into the heart of 
              man the things which God has prepared for 
              those who love Him.”

         ➔   We may not be able to fully realize what our 
              future days upon the earth will be like. We 
              may not be able to comprehend eternity with 
              the LORD after we die. But we surely do have 
              a hope for the future!
  • Jeremiah 29:12 – “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
     ✡   This has to do with our days upon the earth. Not 
         only can Jesus pray for all believers at once, He 
         can also listen to all the millions of prayers 
         offered up at the same time! And He listens with 
         complete understanding!This ought to encourage us to spend more time in 
         prayer, talking to Him, but also quietly listening 
         to what He has to say to us! 
  • Jeremiah 29:13, 14 – “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD….
     ✡   There are listed here two requirements on our 
         part to find the LORD: We must seek Him! And, as Jesus said in 
              Matthew 6:33, we must seek Him, His king-
              dom, and His righteousness first, before 
              food, drink, and clothing (see Matthew 
              6:25-32); and especially before mammon 
              (money and the things money can buy – see 
              Matthew 6:19-24; I Timothy 6:9, 10).

         ➔   We must search for Him with all our heart
              ...soul, mind, and strength! (Jesus’ state-
              ment concerning the Great Commandment in 
              Mark 12:30 added).

     ✡   If we fulfill what we must do to sincerely seek 
         Him, God will then do what only He can do:I will 
         be found by you, says the LORD....He wants us 
         to find Him, but not by insincere and half-hearted 
         seeking!
  • Jeremiah 29:14 – “…and I will bring you back from your captivity….” Why did I include this part of verse 14? We are not in captivity like the Jews of old!
     In a very real sense, yes we are! For Jesus said 
         in John 8:34, “Most assuredly, I say to you, who-
         ever commits sin is a slave of sin.”

         ➔   Romans 6:16, 19, 20, 21, 23: 

                Do you not know that to whom you 
                present yourselves slaves to obey, 
                you are that one’s slaves whom you 
                obey...you presented your members 
                as slaves of uncleanness, and of 
                lawlessness leading to more unlaw-
                lessness...you were slaves of sin
                ....For the end of those things is 
                death. For the wages of sin is 
                death....Even Paul cried out to God,O wretched 
              man that I am! Who will deliver me from 
              this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

     ✞   What is the answer to Paul’s plea? 

         ➔   Romans 7:25 – “I thank God — through 
              Jesus Christ our Lord!”

         ➔   Romans 8:1 and 2:				

                There is therefore now no condem-
                nation to those who are in Christ 
                Jesus....For the law for the 
                Spirit of life in Christ Jesus 
                has made me free from the law of 
                sin and death.
      As Jesus said in John 8:36, “Therefore if the 
         Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Jesus Christ, when we seek Him and find Him,
sets us free from captivity to sin and eternal death!
Thank You, LORD God!

Alliterated Promises Of God – IV His Presence!

Psalm 139:1-16; Hebrews 4:13

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

According to John 1:1 and 14, Jesus is God – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us….” There are a number of Scriptures that prove Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh! For instance:

  • Isaiah 9:6 – “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and His name shall be called Wonderful…Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
  • John 10:30 – Jesus said, “I and My Father are one.
  • Philippians 2:6 (Contemporary English Version) – “Christ was truly God.
  • I John 5:20 – “…Jesus Christ…is the true God and eternal life.

Another point is that all true believers are …sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13). And the Holy Spirit being in you, Paul explains in Colossians 1:27 that what you have is…Christ in you, the hope of glory.So if you have One of the Trinity, you have Them all! And if you have Them all, the full presence of God is with you always!

Why have I taken the time to give you these Scriptures? Because in Hebrews 13:5 and Matthew 28:20 Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you….I am with you always, even to the end of the age….When Jesus Christ is with you always, through His Holy Spirit in you, God in all His fullness is always present with you! That’s why this series is entitled “The Alliterated Promises Of God” and this Gem,His [God’s] Presence!

Psalm 139:1 through 16 expands on this idea of His presence. David wrote:

     O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting 
     down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You 
     comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with 
     all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, 
     O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and 
     before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too won-
     derful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go 
     from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I 
     ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, 
     behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and 
     dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand 
     shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, 
     “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” even the night shall 
     be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from 
     You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the 
     light are both alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; 
     You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I 
     am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, 
     and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from 
     You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the 
     lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being 
     yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days 
     fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

Yes, it is a long passage. But consider:

  • God sees me in my mundane actions, like “my sitting down…my rising up…my path…my lying down, and…all my ways.” (Psalm 139:2, 3).
  • He…
...is even very aware of....my thoughts afar off...” 
         (Psalm 139:2). Or,         as it is translated in Bren-
         ton’s English Septuagint, “...Thou understandeth my 
         thoughts long before.” (Psalm 138 in this translation).

     ✡   ...knows...altogether...[every] word on my 
         tongue...” (Psalm 139:4).
  • “You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5). God’s hands are upon me and His arms underneath me!
     Remember the famous Allstate Insurance logo and 
         slogan?

         ➔   Logo – cupped hands as if ready to hold some-
              thing.

         ➔   Slogan – “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”

     ✡   God has a better slogan! And it is found in Deuteronomy 
         33:27: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath 
         are the everlasting arms....
  • David asks in Psalm 139:7, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” The answer? I can’t! For the LORD is in…
     ✡   “...heaven...” (Psalm 139:8).

     ✡   “...Sheol [the world of the dead]...” (Psalm 139:8 – 
         Lexham English Bible).

     ✡   “...the uttermost parts of the sea...” (Psalm 139:9).

     ✡   “...the darkness...and...the night...[as well as] 
         the light...” (Psalm 139:11, 12).
  • In Psalm 139:13 through 16 we find that…
...God knew me......and ...formed my inward parts...while I was 
              still...in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)    

         ➔   ...even before I was conceived, which is what 
              Psalm 139:15 and 16 is saying.

     ✡   ...this is one of the best Biblical arguments against 
         abortion that we can present!

Hebrews 4:12 and 13 (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible) sum up the first 16 verses of Psalm 139 this way:

     For the Word of God is living, and powerfully working, and 
     sharper than every two-edged sword, and piercing as far as 
     the division of both soul and spirit, of both joints and 
     marrow, and able to judge of the thoughts and intentions of 
     the heart; and there is no creature unrevealed before Him; 
     but all things are naked and laid open to His eyes, with 
     whom is our account. 

Remember:

  • …the Word of God…
     ✞   ...does not just refer to the written Word, the 
         Bible!

     ✞   ...it can also mean the Son of God, Jesus Christ! 
         (see John 1:1, 14 above)...who, according to John 
         2:24 and 25, “...knew all men, and had no need that 
         anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was 
         in man.
  • …the Word of God…discerns everything about you, before you were born, and throughout your life!
     ✞   This should be a comfort to those who are living 
         in obedience to the Lord Jesus!God is always with you!He knows all about you!

But…

     ✞   This should be a terror to the unbeliever! For as 
         it says in...

         ➔   ...Hebrews 9:27 – “...it is appointed for 
              men to die once, but after this the judg-
              ment....”

         ➔   ...Revelation 21:8 – “But...the unbelieving
              ...shall have their part in the lake which 
              burns with fire and brimstone, which is the 
              second death...

Cling to the Jesus Christ
as your Savior and Lord,
so you can have confidence
in God’s presence!

Alliterated Promises Of God – IIIb His Pardon!

Isaiah 1:18

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

As I said at the end of tlhe last Gem, an evangelist (it might have been Ray Comfort) said, “If I had an hour to witness to someone, I would spend the first fifty minutes convincing that one that he is a sinner. It is then easy to lead him to the forgiveness of Christ.” I spent a few hours writing the last Gem, going over the Ten Commandments and analyzing them in light of New Testament Scriptures that show we have broken the ten in one way or another! James adds one more thought 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 murder.” Now if you do not 
     commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a trans-
     gressor of the law.

In other words, the law is a unit! If you break one of the Ten Commandments you have, in effect, broken them all! And, as we have learned, the inner interpretation of the commandments (what happens in the mind and heart of a person) makes us as guilty as breaking the outward observance of the law! Hence…

  • …we are all sinners before God! (see Romans 3:10).
  • …we all fall short of His glory! (see Romans 3:23).
  • …as it says in Romans 3:19, “…that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

The solution? We have to do better! But can we? This is how God sees it according to Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.If our righteousnesses (the very best we can do) are like filthy rags before God (“used menstrual rags” is the meaning in the Hebrew), what does the worst we can do look like to the LORD?

We cannot save ourselves!

If we are convinced by the Word of God that we are all sinners, that we all stand guilty before our Creator, that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves; then we must look beyond ourselves to a solution of the sin-dilemma in which we find ourselves!

That solution is found only in Jesus Christ!

He died to save us from our sins! And Jesus…ever lives to…save them to the uttermost who come to God through Him.” (Hebrews 7:25). He delivers us from…

  • …the penalty of our sins! All sinners…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).
  • …the power of our sins!…whoever commits sin is the slave of sin….For sin shall not have dominion over you….” (John 8:34; Romans 6:14).
  • …even the presence of our sins! It is this last statement on which we will concentrate in the rest of this Gem – and it involves God’s Pardon!

I don’t recommend experiencing sins like I did before I became a Christian at age 19, nor do I recommend my early faltering growth as I tried to follow Jesus. But God has used those expreriences to help me understand what are the struggles of others who are caught up in sin. So the Lord has used even my sins and failings over the years as I minister and witness to people. But sin leaves scars, and the areas of our bodies where scars occur can remain tender and even painful for years to come! Some of the painful and tender scars are remembering how I have fallen and failed in the past, and the shame and guilt I can feel when I dwell on my transgressions. Jeremiah, in Lamentations 3:21 wrote, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.These truths from the Bible are what brings hope to me when I recall to my mind Scriptures concerning God’s Pardon:

Jesus paid for my sins!

  • I Peter 1:18 and 19:
       ...knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible 
       things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct 
       received by tradition from your fathers, but with the 
       precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, 
       and without spot.

Although silver and gold are hyped as lasting sources for building wealth, in James 5:2 and 3 we read, “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you…. Nothing compares in value to the everlasting precious blood of Christ, and nothing else will take away our sin!

  • John 19:30 – Just before the Lord gave up His spirit and died on the cross, Jesus shouted, “It is finished!” Three words translate just one Greek word: Τετέλεσται (pronounced Te-tel’-es-tai), meaning “finished.” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary). This word was at times written on a receipt of purchase and was the equivalent of the English phase, “Paid in full.There was no more payment needed to completely cancel the debt of our sins before God!

He washes me clean from my sins!

  • Isaiah 1:18 – “‘Come now, and let us reason together’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
  • Titus 3:5 – “…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.

As the lyrics of that grand 1876 hymn by Robert Lowry state:

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

O precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know;
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

In Micah 7:19 there are two precious truths revealed concerning our sins:

  • He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.” The Hebrew word for subdue is כָּבַש (pronounced kaw-bash’) and meaning, “to tread down…to conquer, subjugate, violate…to bring into bondage…. The LORD has totally defeated our sins by His sacrifice!
  • You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” The Marianna Trench in the Pacific Ocean is 36,037 feet deep! Mount Everest (at 29,035 feet high) if it could be cut off at the base, turned upside down, and plunged into the Marianna Trench, it would still have over 7,000 feet of water (well over a mile) completely covering it!

It is there, in the depths of the sea, where our sins are cast! That great Dutch Christian woman, Corrie ten Boom, liked to say, “That’s where my sins are, and God put a sign up that says, ‘No Fishing!’

The distance God has put between my sins and myself is unending!

  • In Psalm 103:12 the LORD inspired David to write, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” I’m glad David didn’t write, “As far as the north is from the south….” Why?
      ✡   Because north and south meet at the poles! If you 
          go far enough north, you will eventually get to the 
          North Pole! At that point you will start going south! 

      ✡   It is the same with the South Pole! If you go south 
          far enough you will start going north at that pole!
  • However, no matter how far east you go, you will never meet west! Nor will you ever meet east by going west! That’s how far God has removed our transgressions from us! Praise His name!

The great exchange – my sins for His righteousness!

  • II Corinthians 5:21 – “…He [the Father] made Him who knew no sin [the Son – see I Peter 2:22] to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Our sins for His righteousness! What an exchange!
  • Zechariah 3:1 through 4:
       Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the 
       Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to 
       oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, 
       Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this 
       not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed 
       with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then 
       He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, 
       “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, 
       “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe 
       you with rich robes.”

You would think the high priest, if anyone, would already be counted as being holy before God! But he also was clothed with filthy garments! Remember Isaiah 64:6 quoted above? Even …our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…before the LORD! But in this Zechariah passage, God Himself orders Joshua first stripped of filthy garments, then clothed with rich robes – his filthy sins for God’s own perfect righteousness!

  • Isaiah 61:10 supports this truth:
       I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful 
       in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salva-
       tion, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as 
       a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride 
       adorns herself with her jewels. 
  • Romans 4:24 and 25 – Righteousness …shall be imputed to us [clothed upon us] who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

God chooses to forget the sins of those who accept Christ as Savior!

  • Hebrews 10:16 and 17 (Good News Bible – see also Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12):
       This is the covenant that I will make with them in the days 
       to come, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts 
       and write them on their minds....I will not remember their 
       sins and evil deeds any longer.
  • Paul, at times with regret, recalled his past! In I Corinthians 15:9 he writes, “…I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

It is not easy to forget the sins and failings before, and especially after, we became Christians. And the devil is quick to remind us how, where, and how often we have fallen! But when my mind goes back to those dark times, I remind myself of the truth of Hebrews 10:17:I will not remember their sins and evil deeds any longer.If God chooses to forget my sins, why should I beat myself up with those memories?

I saved the best for last! For what is found in Colossians 2:13 and 14 changed my life!

     And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision 
     of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having for-
     given you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of 
     requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And 
     He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
  • Matthew 27:37 – “And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” The Pulpit Commentary on this verse reads thus:
       This was the titulus. A wooden tablet smeared with gypsum, 
       had on it, written in black letters, the charge on which 
       the prisoner was condemned. This, which had been hung round 
       the criminal's neck or carried before him on the way to ex-
       ecution, was now affixed to the upper portion of the cross 
       over his head....It was written in three languages, so that 
       all of whatever nationality might read it - in Hebrew and 
       in Latin and in Greek. 

Officially, under Roman law, Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Since Caesar was the only one who was recognized as king, Jesus’ claim was treasonous!

In his book, Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth, Hal Lindsey further explains the use of the titulus, which he refers to as “the certificate of debt.

     Whenever a person would be convicted in a Roman court, a 
     “certificate of debt”...would be prepared. The scribe of 
     the court would...write down every crime for which the 
     person had been convicted. This certificate meant that 
     the prisoner owed Caesar a prescribed payment for those 
     crimes. It would then be taken with the prisoner to wher-
     ever he would be imprisoned and nailed to the door of his 
     cell [or affixed to the instrument of his torture and/or 
     death]....

     According to Roman law, when...the sentence was carried 
     out...they would take this certificate and write across 
     it [Τετέλεσται]...meaning...it is finished” [or] “paid 
     in full.

That prisoner, the one who had paid his debt by incarceration, torture, and/or death, could never be charged with that exact crime again – nor could anyone else!

  • The titulus that was nailed to the cross over Jesus’ head was not the only list of charges secured to that instrument of death! There was another list of offenses that is called in Colossians 2:14, “…the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.” On it were written accusations such as…
      ➔   “Chip has had impure thoughts....”

      ➔   “Hope has stolen....”

      ➔   “Stephen has lied....”

      ➔   “Chris has not honored his parents....”

      ➔   “Ricky has committed murder.......and on and on and on – listing all the sins 
             of everyone who ever lived!
  • And Jesus, after paying for all those transgressions, cried out, Τετέλεσται!…It is finished!…Paid in full!

And now, under the law, neither He, nor I, nor you, nor anyone who puts their faith in the Son of God, will ever be able to be charged with those sins again! Praise God…

We are pardoned!
We are forgiven!
We are free!

Alliterated Promises Of God – IIIa His Pardon!

Isaiah 1:18; I John 1:7

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

The third P of Alliterated Promises of God is His Pardon!

But before we can appreciate His pardon, we have to realize the extent of our sinful standing before God! Saint Paul writes in Romans 3:10 and 23, “There is none righteous, no not one….for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But how unrighteous are we before our Creator? How much have we sinned? How far short of His glory have we fallen? The Ten Commandments are the basis of all God’s laws.

No, we are not made right with the LORD by obeying the Ten Commandments! That was only accomplished by His grace through faith in what Jesus Christ did to pay for our sins! I must believe that…

  • …He lived the perfect life before the Father I could never have lived!
  • …He suffered and died for me on Calvary’s cross!
  • …He lives forever for me! And…
  • …He receives me into His forever kingdom when I put my faith in Him!

Here are the Ten Commandments:

  • The tenth of the Ten Commandments says:
      You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not 
      covet your neighbor’s wife; nor his manservant, nor his 
      maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything else 
      that is your neighbor’s (Exodus 20:17).
Have you ever been jealous of what your neighbor 
           (or friend, or business associate, or schoolmate, 
           or...) has acquired, or has accomplished? 

Recently I had to check myself because a dear friend received an upgrade in his Army disability status to 100% disabled. He also has a very good job with the government. We share the details of our lives with each other, so it was no surprise when he shared that his and his wife’s income was about $125,000 a year! That’s a great deal more than two times the income my wife and I have! I felt the tinges of jealousy! But I quickly turned to the Lord, asking Him to take away any envy, and gave Him thanks and praise for my friend’s financial blessing.

Especially with the proliferation of the use of social media, we increasingly see the best side (maybe the bragging side) of some people who post. This can lead to inferior feelings and jealousy (covetousness)!

Yes, we are all guilty of coveting at one time (or many times)!

      But in Colossians 3:5 Paul says, “...covetousness
           ...is idolatry.” How so? If you are coveting some-
           thing, you are in effect putting it in first place 
           in your life! That is where God belongs! (see Mat-
           thew 6:33; 22:37, 38). So by breaking the last com-
           mandment, you are also breaking the first:I am 
           the LORD your God....You shall have no other gods 
           before Me.” (Exodus 20:2, 3).
  • The ninth commandment is, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16). But have you ever spread a rumor when you didn’t know for sure if it was true or not? Have you ever passed on a juicy bit of gossip?
  • The eighth is, “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15). I have stolen as a child – pencils, candy, change, etc. But as a teen and as an adult, I have stolen. Before I became a dedicated Christian it didn’t bother me much. But still, what I have done stands, and it can’t be undone as if it never happened. I have tried to pay back what I can remember I stole, but that does not erase the act! What does erase it is being forgiven! More on that is to follow.

I did an internet search on “The Bible definition of stealing.” I found this at the following website: https//www.unlockingthebible.org/lifekey/a-thought-provoking-definition-of-stealing/ It does make you think:

    If stealing is about trying to get as much as possible while 
    giving as little as possible, then there is a lot of stealing 
    that goes on in marriages, families, churches, and communities. 
    Every attempt to have much and give little is addressed by the 
    eighth commandment.

    This definition also shows the root problems behind all forms 
    of stealing: Greed – the desire to get as much as possible, 
    and laziness – the desire to contribute as little as possible.
  • The seventh commandment is, “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14). Adultery is defined as “Sexual unfaithfulness of a married person.” (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
       ✞   Jesus, in The Sermon on the Mount said this: “You 
           have heard...it...said..., ‘You shall not commit 
           adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at 
           a woman to lust for her has already committed adul-
           tery in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27, 28).

       ✡   It is also written in the second of the Ten Com-
           mandments in Exodus 20:5, that God visits “...the 
           iniquity of the fathers on the children to the 
           third and fourth generation....

I did not grow up in a Christian home. My father was a philanderer, as was his father. I inherited that addiction, and I have had to seek God’s grace to overcome it! I struggled with pornography in earlier years. Even yet, I have to be careful not the let the images take control that were burned into my younger mind. If the temptation does present itself, I seek the LORD and His power to reject it and keep my mind pure! (see Philippians 4:8). Since I am happily married to my dear wife for 53 years, I do not want to lust after any other woman, and so commit adultery!

  • The sixth commandment is, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13).
          But Jesus also addressed this in Matthew 5:21 and 22 
           (Good News Bible):

           “You have heard that people were told in the past, 
           ‘Do not commit murder; anyone who does will be 
           brought to trial.’  But now I tell you: if you are 
           angry with your brother you will be brought to tri-
           al, if you call your brother ‘You good-for-nothing!’ 
           you will be brought before the Council, and if you 
           call your brother a worthless fool you will be in 
           danger of going to the fire of hell.”

    The Apostle John summed it up succinctly in I John 
           3:15: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and 
           you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding 
           in him.

Have you ever been extremely angry with another person? Have you ever hated anyone? According to the Word of God, you are guilty of murder!

  • The fifth commandment is, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12).
       Paul says in Ephesians 6:2, this “...is the first 
           commandment with promise...It is also the only 
           commandment with a stated promise! And the promise 
           is that honoring your parents will result in a long 
           and protected life! 

       The apostle also wrote in...

            ➔   ...Ephesians 6:1 – “Children, obey your par-
                 ents in the Lord, for this is right.”

            ➔   ...Colossians 3:20 – “Children, obey your 
                 parents in all things, for this is well 
                 pleasing to the Lord.

I sure fell down on this commandment! After my father left, we three Norton boys, ages 10 (me), 12, and 14, proceeded to get into quite a bit of trouble, and we gave my mother plenty of grief. We certainly didn’t honor her!

So if you ever have disobeyed your parents, or talked back to them, or criticized them to others, you have broken this commandment!

  • The fourth commandment is the longest of the ten, comprising four verses, Exodus 20:8 through 11:
       Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you 
       shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is 
       the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no 
       work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male 
       servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor 
       your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days 
       the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all 
       that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore 
       the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

       There are Christian denominations that insist 
            on Saturday Sabbath-keeping, such as Seventh-Day 
            Adventists. Generally, those who do so tend to 
            be more legalistic in their practice. However, 
            New Testament evidence shows early believers 
            gathered for worship on Sunday, celebrating the 
            resurrection! As it says in Mark 16:9 (Easy-to-
            Read Version), “Jesus rose from death early on 
            the first day of the week.” (see also Matthew 
            28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1, John 20:1; Acts 20:7; 
            I Corinthians 16:2).

	In Romans 14:5 Paul writes this: “One person 
             esteems one day above another; another esteems 
             every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in 
             his own mind.” The apostle is stating that per-
             sonal preferences, where no clear Scriptural 
             delineation is present, should not divide the 
             church! He goes on to say in verse 6, “He who 
             observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and 
             he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he 
             does not observe it.    In matters of clear Biblical teaching and fund-
             amental doctrine, it is critical what one be-
             lieves – such as... 
	
	      ➔   ...the deity and Lordship of Jesus 
                   Christ! ...His life, death, and resurrection!
  • The third commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7).
      It is not just using the name or title of the 
             Father or the Son in cursing or cussing, al-
             though that is taking ...the name of the LORD
             ...God in vain...!

         What about the fact that we carry the name of 
             the Son of God if we dare to identify ourselves 
             as Christians? If we are not living as the Lord 
             Jesus would have us live, are we not then carry-
             ing...the name of the LORD...our God in vain
             ...?
  • The second commandment is the second longest, in Exodus 20:4 through 6:
        You shall not make for yourself a 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, vis-
        iting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to 
        the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 
        but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me 
        and keep My commandments.

     Most of those who call themselves Christians 
             in the modern world would not admit to the idea 
             of themselves being idolaters. But what is idol-
             atry? Webster’s first definition is, “...the 
             worship of a physical object as a god.” (ibid.). 
             In Romans 1:23, Paul describes idolaters thus: 
             They ...changed the glory of the incorruptible 
             God into an image of made like corruptible man 
             — and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping 
             things.” 

              ➔   Notice, the highest form of idolatry is 
                   worshiping ...an image made like corrup-
                   tible man....”

              ➔   So, putting oneself in the place of God 
                   is idolatry! Did not Jesus pray in the 
                   Garden, “...nevertheless not My will, but 
                   Yours, be done...”? (Luke 22:42). Even if 
                   we don’t say the following words, don’t we 
                   often act like,Not Your will, but MINE 
                   be done...?

        ✡   According to Exodus 20:5, one of the...  ...dangers of idolatry is passing on the 
                   penchant for such sins...to the third 
                   and fourth generations of those...who 
                   practice such sins!...great blessings of obedience is passing 
                   on ...to thousands [of generations] mercy
                   ...to those who love Me and keep My com-
                   mandments.
  • And the first of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3). Whether worshiping a physical idol or serving something invisible, NOTHING is to come before the LORD God! For, according to Mark 12:30, we are called to …love [and obey – see John 14:15] the LORD…our God with all…our heart, with all…our soul, with all…our mind, and with all…our strength.

I have not yet written about God’s Pardon! Nor have I even quoted the featured Scriptures listed above! I have taken a long time to show you from His Word that “There is none righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned and fall short of the the glory of God.” (Romans 3:10, 23). I once heard an evangelist say, “If I had an hour to witness to someone, I would spend the first fifty minutes convincing that one that he is a sinner. It is then easy to lead him to the forgiveness of Christ.

So the second part of The Alliterated Promises of God – III will be in the next Gem.

Alliterated Promises Of God – II His Power!

Hebrews 1:1-3; II Samuel 22:33

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

The power of God is amazing!

  • Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” According to Genesis 1:3through 28, it is written in the record of creation, “And God said…eight times…and what He commanded happened each time! All the universe came into being by the power of His spoken word!
  • Psalm 147:4 (English Standard Version) – “He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names.” Science estimates there are in the universe about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1,000 Septillion stars!) Wow! What power!
  • Jeremiah 32:27; 17:
     ✡   God asked Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of 
         all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

     ✡   The prophet answered, “Ah, LORD God, Behold, You have 
         made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and 
         outstretched arm, there is nothing too hard for You.

God is omnipotent! …which means, God is all-powerful! Which brings us to our two featured Scriptures:

  • Hebrews 1:1-3:
       God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past 
       to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to 
       us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through 
       whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glo-
       ry and the express image of His person, and upholding all things 
       by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, 
       sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high....

In Genesis 1, it is God who creates all things! But in our Hebrews passage, it focuses that creative power on Jesus Christ!

     ...He made the worlds...” (verse 2) – creation power!

     ...He...[is] upholding all things by the word of His 
         power...” (verse 3) – sustaining power!

     It is no wonder then, that by the power of Jesus, ...He...by Himself purged our sins...! (verse 3).
  • II Samuel 22:33 – David, in his Psalm of Thanksgiving, sang this: “God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect.
David needed that purging power to get rid of his sins! 
         For......he committed adultery with Bathsheba! (See 
              II Samuel 11:1-5).

         ➔   ...he had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah murdered to 
              cover up his affair with Uriah’s wife! (See 
              II Samuel 11:6-17).

     ✡   In Psalm 32:5 David tells us what he did to have his way made 
         perfect:I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have 
         not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the 
         LORD,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (See also 
         Psalm 51).

     ✞   Thank God I John 1:9 is true – “If we confess our sins, He is 
         faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from 
         all unrighteousness.

It is by the mighty power of Jesus, dying and living for us, that our sins are also washed away!

  • Psalm 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
  • Isaiah 1:18 – “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
  • Micah 7:19 – “He will…subdue our iniquities…[and] cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
  • Colossians 2:13, 14 – “…He has…forgiven you all trespasses…[having taken them} out of the way…having nailed [them]…to the cross.

Yes, we have a powerful God! And that power is available to us! As we saw in II Peter 1:2 and 3 in the previous Gem concerning…

     ...Jesus our Lord...His divine power has given to us all things 
     that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him 
     who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us 
     exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you 
     may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corrup-
     tion that is in the world through lust.

Appropriate Him!
Appropriate His power!
For His glory!