The Weight of Wait

Lamentations 3:19-25

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

Atlas was the Greek Titan who was punished by Zeus because he led the Titans into battle against the Olympian Gods for control of the heavens. The punishment? Atlas was to perpetually hold up the heavens! Often he is mistakenly shown holding the weight of the world upon his shoulders! Either way, the weight he was forced to carry was a heavy burden indeed!

Do you ever feel like Atlas with a heaviness weighing you down? At those times of suffering, what might be our continual prayer? “How long, oh Lord, must I wait to have this weight removed from off me?” I found a passage in the prophet Jeremiah’s writings that expresses this Weight of Wait, and also the answer the prophet found – Lamentations 3:19 through 25:

    Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. 
    My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to 
    my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we 
    are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are 
    new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my 
    portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The LORD is 
    good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It 
    is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation 
    of the LORD.

I ought to give an explanation of the phrase in the first line, “…the wormwood and the gall….” It is not a common expression today. Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary explains it this way:

  • wormwood – “…regarded as poisonous and therefore accursed….
  • gall – “…a poisonous plant, probably the poppy (from its conspicuous head); generally poison (even of serpents)….”

One more word in the first line does not seem to fit most of our troubled times of the Weight of Wait:…roaming….” What does “…roaming…” mean here? Jeremiah wrote this just after the Babylonian army came the third time and destroyed Jerusalem, especially the temple complex, the palace, and the great houses of the rich!

Here is a quick look at the three deportations of the Jews from their homeland:

  • 605 BC – The first deportation involved relatively few Jews, only those of noble birth. This was when Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken to Babylon.
  • 597 BC – The second deportation was the result of King Jehoiakim’s rebellion against the rule of Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian king besieged Jerusalem, and King Jehoiachin surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiachin and ten thousand captives from the highest levels of Judean society were taken captive to Babylon!
  • 586 BC – The last Judean king, Zedekiah, rebelled against Babylon’s rule! Before he was deposed, he authorized Jeremiah’s arrest for saying that he, the king, should arrange and lead a surrender to the enemy! The prophet was put in a dry water cistern and left to die in the mud at the bottom!

The Babylonian army besieged Jerusalem for two and a half years before the gates were breached and the city fell. King Zedekiah was blinded, and he and thousands of Jews were taken to Babylon in chains!

Jeremiah was also taken away in fetters! But the Babylonian Captain of the Guard released him at Ramah (about five miles north of Jerusalem), and sent the prophet back to advise Gedaliah, the governor the Babylonians had appointed to oversee the conquered area of Jerusalem. But Gedaliah was murdered, and a band of the remaining Jews fled to Egypt, taking Jeremiah against his will! It was probably in Egypt that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations.

So Jeremiah certainly did quite a bit of roaming after Jerusalem’s destruction! And he certainly faced some great trials! We don’t know how long the prophet had to wait for God’s answers in all these trials, but wait he did! Jeremiah continued to rebuke his fellow Jews in Egypt, and, according to tradition, the prophet was stoned to death by those Jews who became exasperated by his opposition to their godless ways! I’m sure the Weight he felt as he Waited for answers to his prayers was heavy and long-lasting!

Jeremiah’s experience isn’t too encouraging if you are under the Weight of Wait! But there is hope even in the prophet’s experience…..if we remember what our featured Scripture says!

  • This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” (Lamentations 3:21). But you have to have hopeful things already stored in your mind if you are going to recall them in Weighty times! Where do you find such hopeful things? In the Bible! This is one very good reason to memorize Scripture! That way you can “…recall to…mind…hopeful promises of God at any time!
  • Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22, 23). God’s mercies and compassions are good, kind, and faithful, as well as ongoing, according to Brown – Driver – Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions. Yes, Weighty experiences that are given to you to bear can happen all around us, and at any time, in this old sinful world! But because of God’s mercies, they don’t have to Weigh us down! Consider Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:28:
        Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and 
        I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn 
        from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you 
        will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and 
        My burden is light.

	(Also read The Light Yoke published April 24, 2013)
  • …we are not consumed….” To be consumed means to be destroyed completely! (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary). But in verse 22 of Lamentations 3, the idea is presented in the negative, not consumed. We are freed from being completely Weighed down and destroyed…..because of …the LORD’s mercies…!
  • …new every morning….” – Every day God’s compassions are renewed asa fresh new thing…” (Ibid). This brings to my mind the description of God’s provision of manna in Exodus 16:4: “…the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people will go out and gather a certain quota every day….
        ✡   In Numbers 1:46, we are told that God rescued 
             603,550 men of military age out of Egypt in the 

        ✡   When we consider the women, children, and teens, 
             the people who came out of Egypt numbered about 
             two to three million!

        ✡   Six days every week (except the Sabbath) God 
             would send manna with the morning dew! When the 
             dew lifted, there was the manna on the ground! 
             The manna could be pounded into flour and/or 
             prepared in several ways. Those who went out to 
             collect the manna gathered about a pint of manna 
             for each person in their family! It is estimated 
             that a pint of dry manna might weigh half a pound. 
             If there were three million people to be fed, the 
             LORD would have to send 750 tons of manna every 
             day! And He did this for forty years! That’s al-
             most ten million tons of manna!

        ✡   If God can supply 750 tons of manna every day, 
             surely He can manifest His compassions new every 
             morning in the midst of our Weighty problems!


  • LORD God, ‘… great is Your faithfulness…’!
  • The LORD is my portion…!
  • …I hope in Him…!

But do all these blessings from God come about in our timing? Hardly! That’s why Jeremiah, when he was sorrowing over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity, wrote in Lamentations 3:25 and 26, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Jeremiah experienced the Weight of Wait! His life was not easy by any means. And he was martyred by being stoned to death. But what has the prophet experienced for the last two thousand six hundred years?

  • He is greatly comforted! (see Luke 16:25).
  • He is given great rest! (see Daniel 12:13).
  • He shall receive great rewards! (see I Corinthians 2:9).
  • He is numbered with the faithful witnesses in heaven! (see Hebrews 12:1).

If you are bearing the Weight of Wait now, remember…

  • Psalm 27:13 and 14:
        I would have lost heart unless I had believed that 
        I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of 
        the living. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, 
        and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on 
        the LORD.
  • Luke 18:7 (Good News Bible) – “…will God not judge in favor of His own people who cry to Him day and night for help? Will He be slow to help them?NO!

But if we have to bear the Weight of Wait even throughout this life, remember what Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not [even] worthy to compare with the glories that shall be revealed in us.

Bear up under the Weight of Wait
As we Wait for God’s answer!


John 15:4, 5, 8

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

In John 15, Jesus and the disciples have left the Upper Room where they partook of the Passover meal – the last meal Jesus ate before He suffered at the hands of men, and died on the cross of Calvary! Where did they go next? As they walked toward the Garden of Gethsemane on the western side of Mount Olivet, they most likely walked through a grape vineyard near the Kidron Brook. It was April 17th, 29 AD (a likely conjectured date when Jesus was crucified). The grape vines, having been pruned in the late fall, were beginning to show growth.

Let’s stop here for a moment. My wife, Hope and I lived near Erie, Pennsylvania the first few months after we were married. Her dad was the pastor of Greenfield Baptist Church, a fairly large church in Northeast, PA, about ten miles from Erie. It was grape country! Welch Foods has their largest manufacturing plant in the area, producing 280 different juices, jams and jellies. I remember driving through the country where there were vast grape vineyards, the grapes mainly going to the Welsh Foods plant. After harvesting in the fall, the workers would prune the vines back in the winter. I was amazed at the pruning! When done, the vines looked as if they were stripped bare! The vines around Northeast were upheld by two wires running the length of the rows. The branches of the vines were trained to grow along the wires on either side of the trunk of the vine. When the workers were done, there were just four bare branches clinging to the wires on each vine! But in order for the vines to produce abundant grapes that year, extra branches and leaves had to go!

Here is the featured Scripture, John 15:4, 5, and 8. Jesus said to His disciples:

    Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of it-
    self, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you 
    abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides 
    in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do 
    nothing....By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much 
    fruit; so you will be My disciples.

I chose these three verses to show the progression of bearing fruit:

Verse 4 – “…bear fruit….” This must be understood by the first phrase of verse 1: “I am the true vine, you are the branches….” (John 15:1).

  • What does Jesus mean when He calls Himself the true vine? It goes back to Isaiah chapter 5, the Parable of the Vineyard. There are not many parables in the Old Testament, but this is truly a parable! Here are verses 1 and 2 of Isaiah 5:
       Now let me sing to you my Well-beloved a song of my Be-
       loved regarding His vineyard. My Well-beloved has a vine-
       yard on a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared 
       out the stones, and planted it with the choicest vines. 
       He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress 
       in it; so He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but 
       it brought forth wild [sour] grapes.

Israel was God’s vineyard, and He desired His chosen people to bring forth Godly ‘fruit’ for the world to see, to bring unbelievers to Himself. But they continually disobeyed (bringing forth wild and bitter fruit). So GoddestroyedHis vineyard! The northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, and ceased to exist. The southern kingdom of Judah was conquered first by the Babylonians, and spent seventy years of captivity in the ancient Babylonian Empire. Allowed back into their own land, the future generations hadn’t effectively learned the lessons the LORD was teaching them. After rejecting the Messiah, they were finally conquered and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD!

  • Jesus is…the true vine…! He demonstrated the fruit the Father had always desired! And not only did He do this, but His followers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, have been bringing forth fruit that honors God for two millenia! What kind of fruit are we talking about?
     ✞   The fruit of people saved and reunited with the Father 
         through faith in Jesus Christ – Yes, But this is really 
         just the result that the fruit produced!

     ✞   But what draws people? It is the Holy Spirit in us pro-
         ducing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23 – Eng-
         lish Standard Version) – “, joy, peace, patience, 
         kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
  • To what degree are we to expect the fruit of the Spirit in our lives? John 7:37-39 has the answer: That answer was given by Jesus “…on the last day, that great day of the feast….
  • But first, what was this feast? Because it says in John 7:2 – “Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.”(Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible):

The Jews’ feast of tabernacles – Or the feast of tents. This feast was celebrated on the 15th day of the month Tisri, answering to the last half of our month September and the first half of October. It was so called from the tents or tabernacles which on that occasion were erected in and about Jerusalem, and was designed to commemorate their dwelling in tents in the wilderness. During the continuance of this feast, they dwelt in booths or tents, as their fathers did in the wilderness. The feast was continued for eight days, and the eighth or last day was the most distinguished, and was called the great day of the feast. The Jews on this occasion not only dwelt in booths, but they carried about the branches of palms; willows, and other trees which bore a thick foliage, and also branches of the olive tree, myrtle, etc.. Many sacrifices were offered on this occasion, and it was a time of general joy. It is called by Josephus and Philo the greatest feast, and was one of the three feasts which every male among the Jews was obliged to attend.

  • I said the answer was in John 7:37-39. Here it is:
     On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood 
     and cried out, saying, “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.” 
     But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believ-
     ing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet 
     given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
     We tend to think that we look way down inside the 
         Christian and see the Spirit bubbling down there....

     ✞   But the Holy Spirit is to be up and out like rivers 
         of living water! Rivers of living water overflowing up and 
              out in every direction!

         ➔   And with those rivers of Holy Spirit living 
              water come the fruit of the Spirit – “...
              love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, good-
              ness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
              ...flowing up and out in every direction!Wouldn’t that be drawing people to Jesus 

Now let’s get back to John 15:4, 5, 8 – our featured Scripture.

    Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of 
    itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless 
    you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who 
    abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me 
    you can do nothing....By this is My Father glorified, that you 
    bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

How would you describe the branches and the vine? John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches.

  • Is it ‘We are the branches’ and ‘Jesus is the vine? But what describes the vine?
  • The vine includes the branches! As it says in I Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular….
     ✞   Jesus Christ is the whole body!vinethe root, the trunk, the branches!

     ✞   We, as

         ➔   members of the body are simply part of the 
              whole Body, which is Jesus Christ! branches, are simply part of the whole vine, 
              which is Jesus Christ!

What about the fruit of the vine? How much fruit are we supposed to produce?

  • John 15:2 – “…fruit….Just fruit?
  • John 15:2 – “…more fruit….How?
     ...every branch that bears fruit He [the Father, 
         who is the vinedresser (v. 1)] prunes, that it may 
         bring forth more fruit.”

         ➔   Remember the description of the grapevines 
              around Erie?

         ➔   What is hampering your life so that it is 
              limiting fruit?

     ✞   What needs to be pruned in your life?Does sin need to be rooted out of your 
              life? (alcohol, drugs, pornography, nic-
              otine...and a bunch more that can take 
              over a person).

         ➔   Hobbies? I own two antique automobiles. 
              But I refuse to let them dominate my life! 
              I know some people who live and die for 
              their antique automobile collection. (One 
              man I knew had over 100 of them!).

              I have been a treasure hunter with a metal 
              detector for 47 years. But my life is not 
              defined by this hobby. I know some hard-
              core detectorists whose lives are!Work? I have met people who work 80 hours 
              a week and neglect their God-given respon-
              sibility toward their family!

     Hebrews 12:5-11 tells us that God disciplines His 
         children! “...if you never receive the discipline 
         that every child must have, you are not true child-
         ren and don't really belong to God.” (Easy-to-Read 
         Version). That is pruning!
  • John 15:8 – “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” How can we bear much fruit?
     John 15:5 – “For without Me you can do nothing...”

         ➔   ...nothing that counts for God!

         ➔   But with Him,I can do all things through 
              Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 

     John 15:8 – Be a disciple!A disciple is one who closely follows the 
              Master...A disciple imitates the Master, to be like 
              Him! For the Master is fruitful!

There is a warning in verses 2 and 6:

    Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [the Father] 
    takes away....If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out 
    as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw 
    them into the fire, and they are burned.
  • Sometimes you can’t tell a fruitless Christian from a person who is on their way to hell!
     ✞   The one is a branch in Jesus, but fruitless!

     ✞   The other is one who does not abide in Him at all!
  • Both are fruitless! But…
     ✞ gets into heaven by the skin of his teeth! 
         I Corinthians 3:15 – “...his work is burned up, he 
         will suffer loss. However, he himself will be saved, 
         but it will be like going through fire.✞   ...the other goes to hell!

Which of these people do you want to be?

  • One of the two fruitless people?
     ✞   The one who goes to hell?

     ✞   The one who gets into heaven with no fruit, no 
  • Do you want to be one who bears minimal fruit?
  • Do you want to be one who bears more fruit, but not as much as he or she could produce for the Lord?


  • Do you want to be one who glorifies God by bearing much fruit?

You decide!

Power Surge!

Acts 4:23, 24, 29-31

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

You don’t want to experience an electrical Power Surge! That’s what happened to me about a week ago. I was working at my computer transferring a Gem I had just completed to the Gems For Living website when my wife called me upstairs from my basement office. While I was there, the lights in the kitchen flickered just a bit – “No big deal,” I thought. After a few minutes I went back down to the computer. It was off, which happens when there is a power surge, even a small one. I have all my equipment plugged into a high-end surge protector, so no problem! Right? I pushed the ‘on’ button on the computer tower, but nothing happened. I tried again, and nothing. I checked the other equipment plugged into the surge protector and everything indicated that it was online and powered – all except the tower! I tried another outlet – nothing! So it was off to Staples the next day, where I have a ‘repair or replace’ warrantee for my wife’s and my computers.

Guess what the tech found? Nothing! Absolutely nothing was wrong with the computer! The only thing the tech and I could think of was that the power cord itself got fried. So when I went to pick up my computer, I brought in a new cord I had as well as the old cord. Both tested fine! I have no idea why my computer refused to turn on! But the power surge had something to do with it!

There is a power surge recorded in the Bible! It is recorded in Acts chapters 3 and 4.. This passage is far too long to reproduce here, but we can catch the basic surge in verses 23, 24 and 31. But first, let’s summarize what was happening:

Acts 3:1 through 3 – “Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer.” They were on their way to regular afternoon prayer in the temple when they encountered a lame man begging for a handout.

Acts 3:6 – “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’

Acts 3:7 and 8 – “And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up; and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God.

Acts 3:9 through 11 – An amazed crowd, recognizing the man who was lame and was now healed, gathered around Peter and John!

Acts 3:12 through 26 – And Peter took the opportunity to preach:

  • Verse 12 – “…why do you look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we have made this man walk?”
  • Verses 13 and 16 – It was Jesus! “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong…and…has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”
  • Verses 13 through 15, 17, 18 – “…you delivered up…Jesus…you denied the Holy One…and asked for a murderer…and denied the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead….you did it in ignorance….But those things which God foretold…He has…fulfilled.”

Acts 4:19 through 26 – Then Peter gave the invitation, backing it up by Old Testament prophesies:

  • Verse 19 – “Repent…and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out….”
  • Verse 26 – “To you first, God having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

Depending upon the interpretation of Acts 4:4, from two to five thousand men of Israel were saved that day!

Acts 4:1 through 6 – The two disciples were arrested and incarcerated! The next day they appeared before the “…rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest…[and others] of the family of the high priest…” (members of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews).

  • Verse 7 – And Peter and John were interrogated by them: “By what power or by what name have you done this…” to heal the lame man!

Acts 4:8 through 12 – Peter and John, filled with the Holy Spirit, presented their defense:

  • Verse 10 – “…let it be known to you all…that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, this man stands here before you whole.”
  • Verse 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.”

Acts 4:13 through 18 – With Peter and John escorted out of the presence of the council, the Sanhedrin deliberated:

  • Verse 16 – “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed…a notable miracle has been done through them…and we cannot deny it.” But they wouldn’t admit it, either!
  • Verse 17 and 18 – “‘But so that it spreads no further…let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.’ And they called them and commanded them not to speak…nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:19 and 20 – Peter and John answered the Sanhedrin: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

Acts 4:21 – The two disciples were further threatened, then let go!

Let’s get to our featured Scripture, Acts 4:23, 24, and 29 through 31:

    And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported 
    all the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they 
    heard that, they raised their voices to God with one accord and 
    said; “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, 
    and all that is in them....Now, Lord, look on their threats, and 
    grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your 
    word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and 
    wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 
    And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled to-
    gether was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, 
    and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

This is a Power Surge!
The Power of the Holy Spirit!

Oh, that such a surge would be in the church today! What do we need to do for such a surge to occur?

  1. The first thing needed is devotion to God by individual Christians who are in relationship with other Christians!Peter and John went up together…” (Acts 3:1).
  2. Where were they going? To the house of God! They …went up together to the temple….” (Acts 3:1). What priority is the church to us?
  3. The implication is that this was a regular practice for these two! They …went up together…at the hour of prayer….” (Acts 3:1). Are we praying regularly?
  4. They saw a need!…a certain man lame from his mother’s womb….” (Acts 3:2). Do we see the many needs around us?
  5. They acted upon that need!…Peter said, ‘Look at us….Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk…! (Acts 3:4, 6). Notice: they knew what they had and what the lame man needed! And they were willing to give what he needed to him! What are we willing to give?
  6. This miracle drew a crowd! Peter saw this opportunity and preached! (Acts 3:12-26). Do we take opportunities set before us to share Jesus?
  7. Peter and John suffered persecution for their efforts! (Acts 4:1-22). Are we willing to engage others with the gospel, even though we might be opposed?
  8. And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all the chief
    priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their
    voices to God with one accord…
    ” (Acts 4:23, 24). Do we grumble and complain when opposition arises, or do we pray? And are we in accord with other believers so our voices ascend to God as one?

If we do it the Bible way…

There will be a Power Surge!
The Power of the Holy Spirit!

Being In The Way!

Genesis 24:27 (King James Version)

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

Genesis means “Beginnings,” and often we can find clues to other topics in the Bible by going back to the beginning, the first mention of it, whether in Genesis or elsewhere in the Bible.

Let’s consider Genesis 24:27 (from the King James Version): “I being in the way, the LORD led me….Who said it? It was Eliezer…

  • …Abram’s servant, apparently the head servant of the patriarch’s household! For in Genesis 24:2 it is said of Eliezer, he was “…the oldest servant of his [Abram’s] house, who ruled over all that he [Abram] had….
  • …called “Eliezer of Damascus…” in Genesis 15:2. This servant had some connection with Damascus, perhaps he was born there as Abram traveled from Haran to Canaan. (see Genesis 11:31, 32). Damascus was on the trade route that Abram followed and it was entirely possible his caravan rested in this populated city for several months.

Why is all this important? Because we are also told in Genesis 15:3, Abram’s servant was…

  • …one born in my [Abram’s] house…” (Genesis 15:3),
  • …called “…Eliezer of Damascus…” (Genesis 15:2).

If there seems to be some discrepancy in what the Scriptures say, it should be studied further and rectified! In this case there seems to be a discrepancy. Eliezer was born in Abram’s house, and also called “…Eliezer of Damascus….But there is no scriptural record of Abram ever dwelling in Damascus! It is solved by what is said in the second listed (dotted) statement from the top: Damascus was on the trade route that Abram followed and it is entirely possible his caravan rested in this populated city for several months!

But back to “…being in the way…!

Eliezer was Abraham’s trusted servant, (when Abram put his personal faith in God, his name was changed from Abram to Abraham see Genesis 17:5). The time had come for Abraham to look for a wife for his son, Isaac. So he sent his trusted servant back to Ur of the Chaldees, to find a good woman from his hometown. Ur of the Chaldees was 600 plus miles to the east of the Canaan. But it was closer to a thousand miles by caravan route, traveling first to the north and then following the Euphrates River southeast to Ur.

After months of traveling, Eliezer arrived at the city limits where the main well was located and from which the women of Ur fetched water for daily use.

    He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; 
    it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.  
    Then he prayed, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me 
    success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, 
    I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the 
    townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when 
    I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a 
    drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’ 
    — let her be the one You have chosen for your servant Isaac.  
    By this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”  
    (Genesis 24:11-14 New International Version).  

Rebekah, Abraham’s great niece, came out to draw water and proceeded to fulfill exactly Eliezer’s prayerful request to God! She was the one for Isaac!

So what can we glean from this Gem and the incident it highlights? Focus on our featured Scripture of Genesis 24:27: “I being in the way, the LORD led me…. This was part of Eliezer’s praise to God when he realized Rebekah was God’s choice of a wife for his master’s son! Eliezer was led by God because he put himself in the position of being in the way! That doesn’t mean he was in the way, as if he was blocking God’s leading! It means that he was actively in tune with God so he could receive the LORD’s specific directions!

How can we put ourselves in the way and so be led by the LORD?

  • First, bein the way of the Way! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6). Be sure you are in Him and He is in you – that you have invited Him into your life as your Savior!
  • Be sure that He is your Lord! This means that you are in obedience to His will as you understand it! By the way, God’s will concerning His Lordship in your life is found in Colossians 1:9 and 10:
       ...that you may be filled with the knowledge of His 
       will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that 
       you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleas-
       ing Him, being fruitful in every good work and in-
       creasing in the knowledge of God.

And how do you increase in the knowledge of God? By heeding what it says in another Colossians verse, 3:16:Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…Get in your Bible!

  • Be sure you understand the directions you are receiving are in accordance with God’s Word! There are a lot of voices in this old world that are more than ready to direct us in the wrong way. Regularly read and study your Bible (even memorize certain Scriptures) because the LORD’s leading will never contradict His written Word!
  • Ask Him to make clear how He is leading you! I don’t think Eliezer pulled his expectation out of thin air when he said:
       May it be that when I say to a girl, “Please let down 
       your jar that I may have a drink,” and she says, “Drink, 
       and I’ll water your camels too” — let her be the one 
       You have chosen for your servant Isaac.

       He was asking beforehand how God was going to lead him!   
  • Once you have put in your request, then expect God to lead you! Eliezer did.
  • Don’t forget to thank and praise Him for His leading! Again we have Eliezer’s example in Genesis 24:26, 27:
       Then the man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD. 
       And he said, “Blessed be the LORD God of my master 
       Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth 
       toward my master. As for me, being in the way, the 
       LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”

Because of Abraham’s faithful servant being in the way…

  • …Abraham received a daughter-in-law!
  • …Isaac received a wife!
  • …together Isaac and Rebekah had a son, Jacob!
  • …Jacob then fathered thirteen more children – twelve sons and one daughter!
  • …these twelve sons became the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel!
  • …Israel became a nation perpetually favored by God!
  • …and that nation brought forth the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ!
  • …and Jesus is fulfilling through Christians the promise that God gave to Abraham when He called him out of Ur of the Chaldees – Genesis 12:1 through 3:
       Get out of your country, from your kindred and from 
       your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 
       I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and 
       make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I 
       will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him 
       who curses you; and in you all the families of the 
       earth shall be blessed.

What will the Lord do through you
…if you put yourself in the way of God?

A Pauper In Heaven! – II

I Corinthians 3:10-15

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

What do I mean by the title of this Gem? The answer is found in I Corinthians 3:11 through 15: Saint Paul is writing to the Corinthian church concerning divisions among the members. The apostle tells them in I Corinthians 3:4 (International Standard Version), “…one person says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another person says, ‘I follow Apollos,’ …as if Paul or Apollos saved them! There is only One who saved them, Jesus Christ! He is…the foundation…of the believer’s life! It is on this foundation, through his or her Christian life, that saved one then builds! Here is what Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:11 through 15, our featured Scripture:

    For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, 
    which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation 
    with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's 
    work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it 
    will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, 
    of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it 
    endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, 
    he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as 
    through fire.

Here are some things we need to emphasize:

  • The concept of “…no other foundation…” is expanded in Matthew 7:24 through 27 in Jesus’ Parable of Two Builders, found at the end of the Sermon on the Mount.
    The first builder is “...a wise man who built his 
        house on a rock ...” [bedrock].  Since the founda-
        tion was on such a solid under pinning, nothing can 
        shake it, neither wind, nor rain, nor even floods!

    The second builder is “...a foolish man who built 
        his house upon the sand....” With no solid base, 
        when wind, rain, and floods came, the house fell, 
        completely destroyed!

    ✞   The house built is the life lived! The foundations 
        are either embracing Jesus as Savior and Lord, or 
        not! The house that stood is receiving rewards for 
        a life lived in obedience to Jesus! The house that 
        fell is a life lived for self!

I see a difference between Matthew 7:24 through 27 and I Corinthians 15:10 through 15. In Matthew the ruined house represents the total ruin of a person confined to eternal hell! In I Corinthians 3 such a house represents a worldly Christian who loses heavenly rewards but still gets into heaven!

  • To what judgment is I Corinthians 3 referring? For there are other judgments mentioned in the Bible. This judgment is the Believer’s Judgment, also called the Judgment Seat of Christ, or the Bema Seat Judgment!
    The Bema was a raised platform where a judge sat to 
        hear and decide legal cases. The Bema was also the 
        place where one sat to judge who the winners were 
        in athletic contests. 

    This is not a judgment to determine who gets into 
        heaven and who does not. For all who are judged here 
        go into heaven!

    ✞   This judgment is where the Lord judges the Christian’s 
        works – what we did for the glory of Jesus Christ, or 
        what we did just for ourselves!
  • What are the dimensions of the foundation of Jesus Christ laid in the believers life? That foundation, laid when He is invited into a person’s life, is big enough and strong enough to build upon it a mighty castle! To construct such a structure, one must…
    ...use the three materials stated in the first part 
        of I Corinthians 3:12, “, silver, precious 
        stones..., works that glorify the Lord!

    ...shun the other three materials stated in verse 
        12, “...wood, hay, straw...,works that are done 
        to please oneself!
  • It is a shame for the Christian to build a pauper’s hut or even a respectable looking dwelling using “…wood, hay, [and] straw….” But it is also a shame for one to build just a humble cottage using …gold, silver, [and] precious stones…! Remember, the foundation of Jesus Christ in a person’s life can sustain a mighty castle, as big as the greatest saint in history would build!
  • Besides the worth of the two triads of building materials, what else is significant in our featured Scripture? It is their non-flammable or flammable nature!…each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day [of judgment] will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” (I Corinthians 3:12).
    Obviously “...wood, hay, [and] straw...will easily 
        catch fire and burn up! But “, silver, [and] 
        precious stones...will pass through the fire un-

       What is meant by the reference to fire? In the vision 
        that the Apostle John had of the glorified Christ in 
        Revelation 1:13 through 15, he describes the Lord in 
        verse 14, “...His head and His hair were white like 
        wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of 
        fire.... With eyes like a flame of fire, all Jesus 
        will have to do at this believer’s judgment is look 
        upon our works, how we lived our lives as Christians 
        – and our works will either abide His gaze, or be 
        burned up!
  • What kind of rewards will the Lord give to those who build with “…gold, silver, [and] precious stones…”?
    There are five crowns given in heaven as rewards: 

        ➔   The Imperishable crown (see I Corinthians 
             9:25 through 27). This reward is for those 
             who have mastered putting the carnal nature 
             to death and letting the spiritual nature 
             dominate. (see Romans 6:19-22).

        ➔   The Crown of rejoicing (see Philippians 2:1; 
             I Thessalonians 2:19). This crown is given 
             to those who share the gospel and win others 
             to Christ.The Crown of life given for a life lived 
             building on the foundation of Christ, silver, [and] precious stones...” 
             (James 1:12). It is reserved for those who 
             have victoriously overcome temptations. The Crown of righteousness (see II Timothy 
             4:8). This crown is given to all who long-
             ingly wait for the Lord’s coming, in the 
             Rapture and in His glorious appearing. (see 
             Titus 2:13).

        ➔   The Crown of glory (see I Peter 5:2-4). This 
             will be given to faithful preachers/teachers 
             who proclaim God’s Word.

    ✞   The Parable of the Ten Talents (or Minas in the New 
        KJV) is found in Luke 19:12 through 27. A Talent or 
        Mina was a large amount of money in Jesus’ day. “A 
        certain nobleman went into a far country....So he 
        called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten 
        minas [one mina each], and said...‘Do business till 
        I come [back].” (verses 12, 13). 

        ➔   According to verses 16 and 17, the first 
             servant invested the master’s money and 
             earned ten more minas! So the master said 
             to him, “Well done, good servant; because 
             you were faithful in a very little, have 
             authority over ten cities.”

        ➔   In verses 18 and 19, the second servant in-
             vested and turned the one mina into five! 
             The master told him, “You also be over five 

According to Genesis 1:28 God commanded man whom He had just created, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion…over every living thing that moves on the earth.Adam was to rule over the earth as a beneficial manager of God’s creation! But Adam bowed before Satan, and gave his dominion to this one who is now calledThe god who rules this world…” (II Corinthians 4:4 – Contemporary English Version). But in I Corinthians 15:45 and 47, Jesus is referred to as…the last Adam…” and “…the second Man…the Lord from heaven.” He is called that because Adam lost it all, but Jesus restored it all back – salvation, eternal life, dominion, holiness, fellowship with God and other believers, a witness to those who are lost!

All this to say concerning the above parable and Jesus’ restoration of what Adam lost, when we reign with Christ in His kingdom (see Revelation 20:4, 6), we will be assigned to oversee and administrate population centers according to how we handled our responsibilities as Christians here and now!

    Another ‘reward’ that we all will share in heaven is 
        found in I Thessalonians 4:14 through 17: concerning...those [loved ones] who sleep in Jesus.Those who 
        have died believing in Jesus will be resurrected with 
        new bodies! And ...we who are alive and remain shall 
        be caught up [also with new bodies] together with them 
        in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we 
        shall always be with the Lord [and each other]....But the greatest reward for all true believers is 
        found in I John 3:2: “...when He shall appear [His 
        second coming] we shall be like Him, for we shall 
        see Him as He is.” (see also I Corinthians 15:49-54; 
        Philippians 3:21). 
  • But it is the first two groups of rewards described above that will be lost to those who are Christians, but they built on the foundation of Jesus with “…wood, hay, [and] straw….They lived for their own pleasures, while ignoring what the Lord Jesus wanted for them! That person will get into heaven, but his…work is burned [up, and] he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.He will enter heaven with the smell of smoke upon him, and nothing to lay at the feet of Jesus to glorify the Lord! (see Revelation 4:9-11). And …he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven…! (Matthew 5:19).

And so…

…as you make your choices here and now,
Will it be for your pleasure or for God’s glory?
Don’t spend eternity as a Pauper in Heaven!

A Pauper In Heaven! – I

I Corinthians 3:10-15

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

Samson, portrayed above in his final act as the deliverer of Israel from the Philistines, might be a good example of A Pauper In Heaven! Let’s look at some of the highlights (and lowlights) of Samson’s life.

His birth was announced by a heavenly messenger, the angel of the LORD! (see Judges 13:2-5).

  • When, in the Old Testament, the heavenly messenger is designated the angel of the LORD, it is generally agreed among conservative Bible scholars that this is the pre-incarnate Christ!
  • An unnamed barren woman, the wife of Manoah, would become pregnant and give birth to a son whom she named Samson (see Judges 13:24).
  • In His initial visit, the angel of the LORD told Manoah’s wife that “…the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb…” (Judges 13:5). Numbers 6:1 through 8 describes what a Nazirite will be:
     ✡   Numbers 6:2 – “ take the vow of a Nazirite...[is] 
          to separate himself to the LORD....”

     ✡   Numbers 6:4 – “All the days of his separation he shall 
          eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from 
          seed to skin.”

     ✡   Numbers 6:5 – “All the days of the vow of his separation 
          no razor shall come upon his head...he shall be holy.”

     ✡   Numbers 6:6 and 7 – “All the days that he separates him-
          self to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body...even 
          for his father or his or...sister....”

     ✡   Numbers 6:8 – “All the days of his separation he shall 
          be holy to the LORD.
  • Also in that first visit, the angel of the LORD told the woman, “…he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5).

The Philistines were Israel’s nemeses for centuries!

  • The first recorded war with the Philistines was in the time of Joshua, around 1380 BC, when Israel was conquering the Promised Land (see Judges 1:18, 19; 3:1-3).
  • In II Chronicles 26:6 and 7 it is recorded that King Uzziah of Judah (ruled 792 to 740 BC) led a successful conflict against the Philistines.

In Judges 13:1 we are told, “Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.” This particular domination began approximately twenty years before Samson began his twenty-year judgeship against the Philistines (see Judges 16:31).

Samson was gifted with his Nazirite calling from birth, as well as his super-human strength! But what was his life like after he became an adult?

  • Judges 14:1 and 2 – “Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman…of the daughters of the Philistines. So he…told his father and mother…‘…get her for me as a wife.’
     ✡   His parents could not understand his choice of a Phil-
          istine woman for his wife. “Is there no woman among 
          the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, 
          that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised 
          Philistines?” (Judges 14:3).

     ✡   “But his father and mother did not know that it was of 
          the LORD — that He was seeking an occasion to move 
          against the Philistines. For at that time the Philis-
          tines had dominion over Israel.” (Judges 14:4). Yes, 
          God was using this situation! But still, Samson was 
          acting out of his soulish nature, not remembering his 
          Nazirite dedication to God! It would lead to further 

     What might we learn from Samson’s hasty decision?

         ➔   II Corinthians 6:14 – “Do not be unequally 
              yoked together with unbelievers.” 

         ➔    I Corinthians 7:39 (changed from feminine 
               to masculine) – He “ at liberty to be 
               married to whom...[he] wishes, only in the
  • Judges 14:5 and 6:
     So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, 
     and...[at] the vineyards of Timnah...a young lion came 
     roaring against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came 
     mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart...though he 
     had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father 
  • Judges 14:7 through 9 – Being pleased with this Philistine young woman, Samson later returned to Timnah to marry her.
     ✡   On the way, “...he turned aside to see the carcass 
          of the lion. And...a swarm of bees and honey were 
          in the carcass....” 

     ✡   He took some honey and ate it; even giving some to 
          his parents. Being a Nazirite,...he shall not go 
          near a dead body...! Samson was ignoring the Nazar-
          ite injunctions!

The marriage didn’t work out. His new wife betrayed him (see Judges 14:11-18). Samson resorted to murdering thirty Philistines to fulfill an obligation (see Judges 14:19). Then, after losing his wife to his best man, he set fire to a large portion of the Philistine’s crops in a very unusual way! (see Judges 15:4, 5). In retaliation, the Philistines burned alive his wife and her father, upon which Samson ended up killing a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey! (see Judges 15:1-16).

Judges 16:1 through 3 – Samson’s fleshly desires found him in the arms of an unnamed prostitute of the Philistine city of Gaza. The soldiers, having found out about his tryst, surrounded the house to arrest him in the morning. But Samson snuck out at midnight, tore the massive city gates, closed and barred for the night, out of their foundations, and carried them miles away to the top of a mountain! He was just showing off, I guess.

Next, he entered his final downfall – his affair with the Philistine Delilah!

Judges 16:5 – “…the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said…‘Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and…[how] we may overpower him…and [we]…will give you [each] eleven hundred pieces of silver.

  • Three times she pestered him with tears, Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.” (Judges 16:6, 10, 13).
  • Three times Samson led her on:
     ✡   Judges 16:7 – “If they bind me with seven fresh bow-
          strings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, 
          and be like any other man.”

     ✡   Judges 16:11 – “If they bind me securely with new 
          ropes that have never been used, then I shall be-
          come weak, and be like any other man.”

     ✡   Judges 16:13 – “If you weave the seven locks of my 
          head into the web of the loom....
  • Three times when he was asleep, Delilah did what Samson’s lies suggested! Then she shouted, The Philistines are on you, Samson!” (Judges 16:9, 12, 14). And Samson jumped up and shook off any attempt of Delilah to make him weak.

Delilah then hounded him day after day: “How can you say, ‘I love you’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.” (Judges 16:15).

Finally Samson gave in!No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:17).

  • So Delilah made him fall asleep, called a barber, then shouted, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” (Judges 16:20).
  • And the Philistines finally got him! They subdued their enemy, blinded him, “and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a [grain] grinder in the prison.” (Judges 16:21).

But his …hair…began to grow again…!

…the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice…’Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy…’ ” (Judges 16:23). To add sport to the celebration, they decided to bring in Samson from the prison, and make him dance and play and make them laugh! (Judges 16:25 – author’s interpretation).

  • And they stationed him between the [two supporting] pillars.” (Judges 16:25).
  • And Samson prayed, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me…just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” (Judges 16:28).
  • And he …took hold of the two [supporting] pillars…and…said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell…” (Judges 16:30).
The Philistine elite were at this celebration! For 
          we are told in Judges 16:27, “...all the lords of 
          the Philistines were there. Samson’s vengeful act 
          left the Philistines without leadership!With that one act, Samson ...killed...[more than] 
          three his death...more than he had 
          killed in his life.” (Judges 16:27, 30).

So what has Samson’s life and death have to do with Paupers in Heaven? It says in part of our featured Scripture, I Corinthians 3:12 through 15:

     If anyone builds on this foundation [of Jesus Christ] with 
     gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s 
     work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, be-
     cause it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test 
     each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which 
     he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If 
     anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he him-
     self will be saved, yet so as through fire.

This is called the judgment seat of Christ! It is not to determine who gets into heaven and who does not. For all who are judged here go into heaven!

  • It is a judgment of our works – what we did for the glory of Jesus Christ, or what we did just for ourselves! We will further examine this in our next Gem.
  • Yes, apparently Samson had believed the promises of a future Messiah who would redeem and rule Israel as their godly leader.(see Genesis 3:15; 12:2, 3; Numbers 24:15-19; Deuteronomy 18:15-18). So we should see him in heaven!
  • But think of how he lived his life! Most of his recorded life was lived for his own will and pleasure! That means most of his work is burned up, with no rewards! He would then get into heaven yet so as through fire! If that is so, Samson would be a Pauper in heaven!

May you, Christian,
Never be a Pauper in Heaven!

Nine Just Men (& One Woman) – VI

Acts 10:19-22

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

Above is a representation of Cornelius the Roman Centurion seeking the God of the Jews. Cornelius and Rahab the harlot are the only two just people of the ten in the Bible that are not directly related to the Israelites!

  • Rahab the Harlot of the Old Testament was incorporated into Israel when she married Boaz (see Ruth 4:10; Matthew 1:5). She became the great-grandmother of King David! (see Ruth 4:21, 22). You might say Rahab was a naturalized citizen of Israel!
  • Cornelius the Roman Centurion remained totally outside of the Jewish nation, but he embraced Israel’s God!

What was the office of a Roman Centurion?

  • From
       The centurion was the commander of a centuria, which 
       was the smallest unit of a Roman legion. A legion was 
       nominally composed of 6,000 soldiers, and each legion 
       was divided up into 10 cohorts, with each cohort con-
       taining 6 centuria. The centurion thus nominally com-
       manded about 100 men, and there were 60 centurions in 
       a legion. 
  • He was promoted from the ranks of common soldiers, was the backbone of the 6,000 man legion, and was responsible for discipline within their centuria (the 100 men under their command).
  • Centurions received a much higher pay than common soldiers, and also had a larger portion of the spoils of war.

Because of his faith, Cornelius was a just man in the eyes of God! Here is the featured Scripture, Acts 10:19 through 22:

   While Peter thought about the vision (see Acts 10:9-16), the 
   Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise 
   therefore, go down and go with them, nothing doubting; for I 
   have sent them.” Then Peter went down to the men who had been 
   sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you 
   seek. For what reason have you come?” And they said, “Corne-
   lius the Centurian, a just man, one who fears God and has a 
   good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely 
   instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to 
   hear words from you.”

The next day, Peter went with them, and after a two-day 40 mile journey, they arrived at Cornelius’ house in Caesarea.

  • Acts 10:25 – When Peter entered the house, “Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.
  • Acts 10:26 – “But Peter lifted him up, saying, ‘Stand up, I also am a man.’
          I like the gentleness of Peter with Cornelius. 
           To change his mind concerning Gentiles, the 
           apostle had to have a vision from God of a 
           sheet containing all sorts of unclean animals, 
           birds, and reptiles that the Jews were not al-
           lowed to eat (see Leviticus chapter 11). But 
           the Lord told him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." 
           The purpose of that vision was to teach Peter 
           that the Gentiles are not unclean! 

        Peter “...lifted him up, saying...‘Stand up; I 
           myself am also a man...’His words to Cornelius 
           do not reflect severity, but gentleness! Even 
           though what Cornelius was attempting was blatant 
           idolatry, Peter was gentle in his rebuke!
  • Acts 10:27 – Peter …went in and found many who had come together.” Apparently, Cornelius had invited his extended family and many friends to come hear what Peter had to say!
  • Acts 10:28 – Peter did not quite understand his mission to Cornelius, his family, and friends. His first words were, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation.A Popular Commentary on the New Testament says this about Peter’s statement: “The word (ἀθέμιτος) denotes rather what is opposed to venerable custom than what is contrary to positive law.
There was no God-given law preventing a Jew 
            to keep company with a Gentile or to go into 
            his house!But Pharisaical tradition forbade it!

I went to a Bible college for two years that forbade dancing, drinking, smoking, etc. Also, the skirts on female students had to touch the floor as they kneeled; no facial hair was allowed on the male students; no wearing blue jeansfor either sex; and so on! It reminds me of an old ditty, poking fun at conservative Christians:

You can’t drink, smoke, cuss, or chew;
spit on the sidewalk, or go with girls that do!

The leadership finally kicked me out of that school because I joined a church that was not their kind!

Be careful to follow what it says in God’s Word; not what people have made up!

  • Acts 10:28 – But Peter had learned!…God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
  • Acts 10:29 – Then Peter asked, “…for what reason have you sent for me?

In the next four verses, Acts 10:30 through 33, Cornelius explained his vision of an angel as he was praying. The angel had proceeded to give the Centurian instructions (Acts 10:31-33):

   “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are re-
   membered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call 
   Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house 
   of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes he will speak to 
   you.” So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to 
   come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all 
   the things commanded you by God.
  • Acts 10:34 through 39 (just the sermon highlights to save space):
       Verses 34 and 35 – Peter understands that the 
           gospel is for the Gentiles also!

       Verses 36 and 37 – He begins the presentation 
           of the gospel: “...God...preaching peace through 
           Jesus Christ — He is Lord of all....Verses 38 and 39 – Peter emphasizes Christ’s min-
           istry, “ God anointed Jesus...with the Holy 
           Spirit and with power, who went about doing good 
           and healing all who were oppressed by the devil....
  • Acts 10:39 through 43 – “And we [disciples] are witnesses…” …not just of Jesus’ earthly ministry…
       Verse 39 – ...but when...they killed [Him] by 
           hanging [Him] on a tree [the cross]...   Verse 40 and 41 – But...God raised [Him] up on 
           the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all 
           people, us who ate and drank with Him 
           after He arose from the dead.Verse 42 – “And He commanded us to preach to the 
           people, and to testify that it is He who was or-
           dained by God to be Judge of the living and the 
           dead.Verse 43 – “To Him all the prophets witness that
           ...whoever believes in Him will receive remission 
           of sins.

What happened next?

  • Acts 10:44 through 47 – A momentous event occurred!
          Verse 44 – In the midst of Peter’s sermon, “...
           the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the 
           word....Verses 45 – “...those of the 
           many as came with Peter...were
           cause the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured 
           out on the Gentiles also.” According to Acts 11:12, 
           “...six brethren accompanied [Peter]....” These 
           six Jews are the ones who were astonished when the 
           Spirit was given to the Gentiles! They thought the 
           gift of the Holy Spirit was for the Jews only!

       Verse 46 – How did they know the Holy Spirit was 
           given to the Gentiles? “...they heard them speak 
           with tongues and magnify God.Verses 46 through 48 – “Then Peter answered, ‘Can 
           anyone forbid water, that these should not be bap-
           tized who have received the Holy Spirit just as 
           we have?’
  • Acts 10:48 – “And [Peter]…commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.

And so membership in the Church was opened also to the Gentiles! Thank God, because I, being a Gentile, have also been saved, baptized, and included in God’s Church!

And thank God for the just man Cornelius! He was a Gentile, yet pious toward the one true God of Israel. And with this just Roman Centurion counted as the first, the door was open for millions of Gentiles to come in!

Cornelius paved the way…
Have you come in through the door?
(See John 10:9)

Nine Just Men (& One Woman) – V

John 19:38-42

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

Above is a representation of Joseph of Arimathea claiming the body of Jesus. Here is the featured Scripture, John 19:38 through 42:

    After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but 
    secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take 
    away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he 
    came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first 
    came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh 
    and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of 
    Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the 
    custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was 
    crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in 
    which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, be-
    cause of the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

We learn more about Joseph of Arimathea from Matthew, Mark, and Luke:

  • Matthew 27:57 through 60:
       Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from 
       Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a
       disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked 
       for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body 
       to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he 
       wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his 
       new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he 
       rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and 
  • Mark 15:43 through 46:
       Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who 
       was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming 
       and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for 
       the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already 
       dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He 
       had been dead for some time. So when he found out from 
       the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Then he 
       bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in 
       the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been 
       hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the 
       door of the tomb.
  • It is in Luke 23:50 through 53 that we learn that “…Joseph…[was] a good and just man.
       Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council 
       member, a good and just man. He had not consented to 
       their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city 
       of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the king-
       dom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the 
       body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in 
       linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the 
       rock, where no one had ever lain before.

Remember: The definition of just is, “…just, lawful, righteous…equitable (in character or act); innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively).” Joseph believed the Old Testament Scriptures…

  • …concerning the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God! Perhaps, as with most of the believing Jews, he didn’t understand the two advents:
       ✞   The first advent – where Jesus came...

           ➔   “ seek and to save that which was 
                lost.” (Luke 19:10).

           ➔   “ give His life a ransom for many.” 
                (Matthew 20:28).

       ✞   The second advent – He will come...

                (Revelation 19:16).

           ➔   “ execute judgment on all...” 
                (Jude 1:15).
  • But Joseph …was…waiting for the kingdom of God [to be manifested upon earth]….” (Luke 23:51). In his anticipation for the coming Kingdom, when Jesus came on the scene, proving His claims to be God’s Son by His teaching and many miracles, Joseph “…had also become a disciple of Jesus…but secretly, for fear of the Jews….” (Matthew 27:57; John 19:38).

Why did Joseph of Arimathea keep his discipleship, his following Jesus, a secret? Because…

  • He was…a prominent council member…” (Mark 15:43). This means Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, the seventy member ruling body of the Jews.
       ✞   It is certain he was a Pharisee, because he 
           believed the Old Testament promises which 
           Jesus taught, such as the resurrection of 
           the dead. According to Acts 23:8, “...the 
           Sadducees say there is no resurrection — and 
           no angel or spirit, but the Pharisees confess 
           both. The Sadducees did not believe in an 
           afterlife. When one died, that was the end!

       As “...a prominent council member...” Joseph 
           was held in high esteem and was quite well off 
           socially and financially.
  • But we are told in John 9:22 that “…the Jews [the Sanhedrin, in this case] had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ [the promised Messiah], he would be put out of the synagogue.
       ✞   This was excommunication! A person put out of 
           the synagogue would be an outcast, for the 
           synagogue was the social and religious center 
           of Jewish life.

       ✞   Joseph, if excommunicated, would lose his 
           social standing, and his income! For one ex-
           communicated would... 

           ➔ restricted to no communication 
                with others, nor they with him!

           ➔   ...have to stay approximately twelve 
                feet away from other people!...not be able to buy from anyone nor 
                sell to anyone!

       If one did not repent of the error of his ways, 
           the excommunication (usually thirty days) would 
           be extended to sixty or ninety days! If that did 
           not produce repentance, the ban would be extended 

But when Joseph saw the extreme mistreatment of Jesus, even unto torture and death on the cross, he became bold in his faith, and went to the Roman governor Pilate to claim the body of Jesus!

  • Having been given that authorization, he was joined by Nicodemus (see John 3:1-21; 7:50-52) who was also a member of the Sanhedrin. Together they hastily prepared the body of Jesus, wrapping Him in a long linen burial cloth, followed by “…strips of linen with……a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds…as the custom of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19:39, 40).

Note: I have added “a long linen burial cloth” (see Matthew 27:59) to the above description because I believe the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. I have read much concerning the authenticity of the Shroud and, despite the recent scientific dating of the material to a thousand years after Jesus’ burial, I do not think the tremendous energy of the resurrection has been taken into consideration! Such energy affecting the Shroud could throw off the scientific dating!

  • Joseph had prepared for his own life-departure by having his tomb cut out of a rock wall of limestone.
  • Although the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is thought by many to be the burial place of Jesus, the Garden Tomb has many features pointing to that as the Christ tomb!

Wherever it is where Jesus was buried, the main point is that it is an empty tomb! Joseph of Arimathea, a just man, a Pharisee believing in the resurrection, was blessed to be a part of Jesus’ resurrection by lending the Lord his own tomb!

What do you have that you can give for the Savior’s use?

Nine Just Men (& One Woman) – IV

I Peter 3:18

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

The seventh just man is Jesus! For we are told in I Peter 3:18, “…Christ…suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.The just for the unjust ! Oh yes, Jesus Christ was just! To understand the definition of just, here again is the word study from the first Gem of this series:

  • The Hebrew word for just is צַדִּיק (English spelling, tsaddiyql; and pronounced tsad-deek’) meaning, “…just, lawful, righteous (man).” (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary).
  • The Greek word for just is δίκαιος (English spelling, dikaios; and pronounced di-kah’-yos) meaning, “equitable (in character or act); innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively)…” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).

Jesus certainly fits the definition of just: …just, lawful, righteous…equitable (in character or act); innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively).” (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries). In His humanity Jesus was totally holy, as it says in the Scriptures:

  • Luke 4:34 – Even the demons recognized Jesus’ holiness! When the Lord encountered the Gadarene demoniac, the demons that inhabited him cried out, “Let us alone! What have we to do with you? I know You, who You are — the Holy One of God!”
  • II Corinthians 5:21 – “For He [the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  • Hebrews 4:15 – “…we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, but without sin.
  • Hebrews 7:26 – “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens….
  • I Peter 1:18 and 19 – “…you were…redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
  • I Peter 2:21 and 22 – “…Christ…committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth…

Jesus is the highest example of a holy human being! Yes, He was God incarnate, but He came in human flesh! And in that incarnation, Jesus lived as a human being. But He was a human being totally under God’s control by the power of the Holy Spirit! And we, as His followers, are to be growing into that same holy image that He presented to us…as the following Scriptures show:

  • Matthew 10:24 and 25 – Jesus said to His disciples, A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.
  • Romans 8:29 – “For whom He [God, the Father] foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
  • II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
  • Ephesians 4:15 – “…speaking the truth in love…[we must] grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ….
  • Ephesians 4:24 (English Standard Version) – “…put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
  • II Peter 1:3 and 4:
        ...His divine power has given to us all things that per-
        tain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him 
        who called us to glory and virtue, by which we have been 
        given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that 
        through these you may be partakers of the divine nature....

In 451 AD, the Council of Chalcedon was called to deal with the problem of some influential teachers who taught that Jesus only had a divine nature, or some mixture of divine and human natures (which debased both natures)…

    The Council produced the “Chalcedonian Definition,” which affirms 
    that Christ is “the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in 
    manhood; truly God and truly   man.” He is “consubstantial [homo-
    ousios] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstan-
    tial with us according to the Manhood.” Jesus Christ is “to be 
    acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivis-
    ibly, inseparably”... The divine and human natures of Christ are 
    distinct yet united in one Person. This co-existence of Christ’s 
    two natures is called the hypostatic union.(www.gotquestions.
    org/council- of-Chalcedon.html).

…truly God and truly man.
If Jesus lived a just and holy life by God’s power…
And if He commands us to also be just
and holy by that same power…
Should we not be pursuing that goal as followers of Him?

Nine Just Men (& One Woman) – III

Luke 2:25-32

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

The next just man in our study is Simeon, who is introduced in Luke 21:25 through 32:

     ...there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and 
     this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation 
     of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been 
     revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see 
     death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. So he came by 
     the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in 
     the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of 
     the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 
     “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, ac-
     cording to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation 
     which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a 
     light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of 
     Your people Israel.”

Apparently, Simeon was quite elderly, at the age or beyond not many men reached. He is described by three attributes:

  • …this man was just and devout….” Another way to put it, he was holy and devoted to Jehovah God, and from his heart keeping the law revealed at Mount Sinai.
  • …this man was…waiting for the Consolation of Israel….” What was the Consolation of Israel? It was the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises concerning God’s Messiah (translated into Greek – the Christ). This man was waiting expectantly for the LORD to fulfill His promises! One of the greatest promises is found in Isaiah 9:6 and 7:
       For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; 
       And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His 
       name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, 
       Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase 
       of His government and peace there will be no end, upon 
       the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it 
       and establish it with judgment and justice from that 
       time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of 
       hosts will perform this. 
  • …this man… came by the Spirit into the temple… just as Joseph and Mary brought baby Jesus in for dedication – for “…the Holy Spirit was upon him.

This brings me into a praise and thanksgiving mode because of Christians privileged position now in Christ! As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 6:19 and 20: you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy 
     Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not 
     your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify 
     God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

The Old Testament saints had the Holy Spirit on them, and He would come and go. We have Him permanently in us…

  • …to seal us as the Lord Jesus’ possession! (see Ephesians 1:13).
  • …to fill us with Himself! (see Ephesians 5:18).
  • …to teach us! (see I John 2:27).
  • …to gift us for God’s service! (see I Corinthians 12:4-11; Galatians 5:22, 23).
  • …to comfort us! (see Acts 9:31).
  • …to guide and protect us! (see Isaiah 30:21).
  • …to intercede for us! (see Romans 8:26).

…and so much more!

Simeon took the infant Jesus in his arms, and said…

     “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, 
     according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salva-
     tion which You have prepared before the face of all peo-
     ples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and 
     the glory of Your people Israel.

This man had more vision than so many of the early Jewish believers! For he knew God was going to include the Gentiles (the non-Jews) in His plan of salvation! For instance, when Peter was called by the Holy Spirit to minister to the Roman centurion Cornealius, the initial reaction of many of the Hebrew believers was to contentiously challenge him, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” (Acts 11:3).

But Simeon was more than just a man who was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. He was also…

  • …an encourager! For in Luke 2:34 it says, “Then Simeon blessed them.” And this man had such a just and devout air about him that Joseph and Mary must have felt blessed!
  • …a prophet! For he turned to Mary and said:
       Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and 
            rising of many in Israel...that the thoughts of 
            many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34). What 
            a prescient statement! 

           ➔   For a person must first fall (fail) con-
                cerning all his or her self-reliance on 
                their own ability to guide their own lives 
                and please God!Only then can one be lifted up, forgiven 
                of sin, and made an eternal child of God!  The ultimate rising or falling will be when 
                people stand before God, either as Christians 
                at the Bema Seat Judgment (see I Corinthians 
                3:11-15), or as unbelievers at the Great White 
                Throne Judgment, (see Mark 4:22).

       Behold, this Child is destined for...a sign which 
           will be spoken against...” (Luke 2:34). Jesus Christ 
           has been spoken against by unbelieving Jews and Gen-
           tiles, and all who are...of the world...”! (I John 
           4:5 – see also John 3:19, 20).

       ...yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul 
           also...Oh, how Mary’s soul was pierced when......she was persuaded by her sons to rescue 
                Jesus from a crazy ministry! (see Mark 3:21).

           ➔ the Jewish leaders increasingly opposed 
                Jesus’ ministry! (see John 11:50).

           ➔   ...she saw the savage cruelty her dear Jesus 
                endured during the last day of His human life! 
                (see Isaiah 52:14). 

Yes, Simeon was a just man! We don’t know much about him, except this brief encounter with him in these eleven Luken verses. But…

…may his just, righteous, and holy life
challenge us to be more like Simeon!