Monday, February 26, 2018

Circumspect


There are only two references in the Bible in which God tells people to be circumspect. The word "circumspect" is from the Latin circumspectus, derived from circumspicere, literally meaning "to look around." To be circumspect is to be cautious and wary.

God told Israel through Moses to be circumspect regarding the Law.

Exodus 23:13
And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

God told the Body of Christ through Paul to walk circumspectly in the will of God. 

Ephesians 5:14-17
(14) Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
(15) See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
(16) Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
(17) Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

The days are evil because we are living in a "present evil world" (Gal. 1:4). Our conversation is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), but we are currently living in ENEMY territory. Are you careless or cautious in your daily walk? Are you wide awake spiritually, walking each day in the will of God? The will of God for this present age is revealed in Paul's epistles (Col. 1:9). Every day that we walk carelessly out of the will of God is a day that we have foolishly WASTED. 

Israel went into apostasy because they didn't follow the admonition in Ex. 23:13. The professing church today is in apostasy because they are not following the admonition in Eph. 5:15-17. How about you?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Psalm 139



Psalm 139 may be divided into four sections of six verses each. 

1. The omniscience of God (vs.1-6)
2. The omnipresence of God (vs.7-12)
3. The omnipotence of God In (vs.13-18)

In the last section (vs.19-24) we see the Psalmist's reaction to these lofty considerations, ending with an earnest prayer; for his contemplation of these Divine attributes brings him to his knees in adoration and fervent prayer.

This Psalm not only declares how Great God is, but it also demonstrates that we may have a personal relationship with Him! David, who wrote this psalm by inspiration, does not just praise God just for knowing, but for knowing him. He does not just praise Him just for being everywhere present, but for being present with him. He does not just praise Him just for making all things, but for making him. In this Psalm God is mentioned 36 times (30 of which by personal pronouns, "Thee" and "Thou"). David refers to himself 50 times. So, this Psalm is personal, it is a Psalm of praise between a man and His God.

I. God Knows Me (vs.1-6)
Sometimes we think of the omniscience of God in just a general way and do not apply it personally. Yes, God knows all things and that means that He knows all things about me and you (He even knows how many hairs are on our head)! I can't comprehend HOW God knows everything about over 7 billion people on the earth. God is infinite! My response to this is like David's in v.6. The atheist ignorantly and arrogantly declares that because he cannot understand and comprehend God that He therefore does not exist. A finite man can no more take in the knowledge and ways of God than a tea cup can take in the ocean!

A. He knows my heart (v.1) - To search out something is to fully examine it to its minutest detail. Man cannot search out God, but God searches out man. He knows who we really are in our heart. When we compare v.1 with v.24, we know that v.1 is referring to God searching and knowing our heart. Man does not even know his own heart (Jer. 17:9-10).

B. He knows my thoughts (v.2) - God not only know all our thoughts, but He understands them before we even think them.

C. He knows my actions (v.2a, 3) - God takes knowledge of even our most common and mundane activities. He knows when we sit down and when we stand up. He has us surrounded as we walk by day and lie down to sleep at night. The word "acquainted" as used in v.3 means "thoroughly familiar with." God is thoroughly familiar with ALL of my ways: the way I think, talk, and behave.

D. He knows my words (v.4) - This may be taken one of two ways (both are true). God knows every word we speak. God also knows our words before they even make it to our tongue. Men hear what we say, but a saying is the final expression of something which no man can know until it is expressed. But God's knowledge goes behind the utterance to its antecedents and history, to its very motives and intent!

E. He knows my past, present, future (v.5) - God is behind, before, and upon us. He is not bound by time and He knows our past, present, and future all at once!

All of this should bring comfort to the righteous and conviction to the unrighteous!

II. God is Present with Me (vs.7-12)
The fact that God knows all things is related to the fact that He is everywhere present. Once again, we usually think of this in a very general way and do not apply it personally. Yes, God is everywhere present and that means I can never be out of His presence! I don't think that David wanted to get out of God's presence when he asks the question in v.7, but is simply acknowledging the fact that he could not even if he wanted to! The prophet Jonah leaned this the hard way (Jonah 1:1-4). In this passage the omnipresence of God is expressed in five extremes. There is NO direction you can go in order to be out of God's presence.

A. The extreme of height (v.8a) - If you could travel to the moon which is about 240,000 miles away you could not escape God's presence! How vast is our universe and yet the scripture says it is the size of the span of God's hand. God fills heaven and earth (Jer. 23:23-24).

B. The extreme of depth (v.8b) - If you were to go down to the heart of the earth you could not escape God! In the OT, paradise was located in the heart of the earth (Lk. 23:43).

C. The extremes of east and west (vs.9-10) - "the wings (sun rays) of the morning" is a poetic reference to the sunrise, and therefore to the east. When he says "take the wings" he is saying that even if he could travel east at the speed of light he could not escape God's presence. The expression, "dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea," is a reference to the Mediterranean Sea which was to the west of David's location.

D. The extreme of darkness (vs.11-12) - Dense darkness is the surest of all coverings and yet sees in the dark as clearly as He does in the light! Much sinning goes on in the darkness as though God somehow loses sight of people in the dark (Job 34:21-22).

Once again, all of this should bring comfort to the righteous and conviction to the unrighteous. By the way, God is not only with believers, but He dwells IN US! If we take this truth seriously it will affect how we live each day (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

III. God Made Me (vs.13-18)

Even in the darkness of our mother’s womb God is sees and knows us. Verse 13 transitions the thought from the presence of God to the power of God. Creation is great evidence to God's eternal power. The particular illustration used for God's power is the how He forms a baby in the womb (Jer. 1:5).

A. (v.13) - Every baby is a gift from God, he alone is the One that can open and close the womb. In the womb, every baby is God's possession and He covers it with care (miscarriages and still births are due to the fall of man and are allowed by God for reasons only known to Him). The word "reins" as used in the KJB refers to the emotions and is related to the soul. The baby in the womb is a living soul- life begins at conception. Abortion is the murder of an innocent life.

B. Fearfully and wonderfully made (v.14) - When we consider the design of a human being, both materially and immaterially, it should cause us to praise God and be full of fear and wonder. Man did not evolve by chance but was MADE by an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent Creator! Even more amazing than the body is the soul and spirit. Science cannot explain love, hate, or the consciousness of God that is in every person. We have a purpose: to know and love the God that made us.

C. Made in secret (v.15) - Some say that Psalmist is referring to the original creation of Adam in this verse because God formed him out of the ground. Although God did form man WITH the earth He did not form man IN the lowest parts of the earth. I believe that this verse refers to the growth and development of a baby in the secret place of the womb ("lowest parts of the earth" a poetic allusion to the womb because it is as mysterious as the underworld). Study how a baby is formed in the womb; it will astound you (Ecc. 11:5).

D. Thy book (v.16) - Before our body was completely formed (still "unperfect"), our physical description was written out in a book by God. What book? DNA is the complex genetic blueprint for all physical development. The information in the DNA includes information about construction of the brain, heart, liver, circulatory system, skeleton, and ALL other complex biological systems of the human body. Man discovered DNA in 1952, but God had David write about it in this Psalm 3,000 years ago.

E. Thy thoughts (vs.17-18) - The thoughts of an infinite God cannot be numbered. I think that David is referring to God's thoughts toward him in these verses. God's thoughts are many toward him because God knows him, is present with him, and made him. God is mindful of man (Ps. 8:1).

God's thoughts toward man is that He wants to save them and bless them (1 Tim. 2:4). He made a way of salvation for the whole world through the cross of Christ (2 Cor. 5:17-21). Birth is a great miracle; the new birth is even greater (God gives new spiritual life to a spiritually dead sinner, Titus 3:5). What are God's thoughts toward the believer (e.g. Rom. 8:28-32)?

Conclusion (vs.19-24)
Some have suggested that this final stanza of the Psalm is "strangely abrupt," and some even suggest that it doesn't belong in the text. We will not see it that way if we understand that to such a God as has been contemplated in this Psalm, sin is abhorrent, and the persistent sinner who rejects God must be judged. Christ will come again to the earth in judgment against the ungodly. He will slay the wicked with the sword of His mouth (Rev. 19:11-21). God's ability to slay all the wicked is a demonstration of His omnipotence (Job 40:6-14).

Not all hatred is sin. The Lord hates evil, and we who love the Lord must also hate evil (Rom. 12:9). David is not talking about hating people that have done him wrong personally. He is talking about wicked people that speak against God, take His name in vain, and hate God. David wanted to be separated from such people and he was grieved with them. David hated them with a perfect hatred (i.e. complete hatred). He considered God's enemies to be his enemies. Was he wrong for feeling that way? In light of his prayer in vs.23-24, I don't think so. Keep in mind that David lived under a different dispensation than we do and that he was the leader of a literal nation that belonged to God. David killed thousands of people in combat. The church today is not a political nation, but a spiritual Body. Our warfare is not carnal, but spiritual. While we should certainly hate sin, we are not to consider lost people our enemies because God is dealing with the world in GRACE in this present age.

(vs.23-24) - David not only hated the sin in others, but he also hated the sin in himself. Some people are good about pointing out the sin in others but never seem to see it in their own heart and life. These last two verses form a prayer that we too should pray every day (I am not saying we should memorize and repeat this prayer mindlessly).

A. Search me -
God already has searched us, but we should willing submit to it. God knows every detail about our heart (who we really are).

B. Try me
- We should submit to God as He tries or tests our heart and thoughts. God will search and try our heart and thoughts by His Spirit as we read His word (Heb. 4:12). His word is like a mirror, it will show us what we really are.

C. Lead me - Notice two ways in v.24. There are basically just two ways to live: God's way or the wrong way. Notice that he said, "IN me". There are not just sins of the flesh, but also of the spirit (human spirit, 2 Cor. 7:1). May God help us to be right with Him from the inside out.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Blessings and the Battle



Ephesians opens with our spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), and it closes with our spiritual battle in high places (6:12).

Israel is God’s earthly people, and the Body of Christ is His heavenly people (Eph. 2:6). God gave Israel land and they had to fight flesh and blood enemies to possess and enjoy what was already theirs. Likewise, God has given us “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” and we must fight spiritual enemies to appropriate and enjoy what is already ours. Just as Israel was to fight their enemies by depending on the power of God, we must be “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” if we are going to stand against our enemies.

In the book of Exodus, God redeemed Israel out of Egypt. In the book of Joshua, He brought them into the land of promise. In between those books (Numbers) we see that Israel failed to possess their land at the first because of unbelief and therefore wandered in the wilderness.

The book of Romans teaches us about our redemption by the blood of Christ. The book of Ephesians teaches us about the spiritual blessings God wants us to walk in and enjoy. In between those books we learn that it is possible for believers to not appropriate who they are in Christ because of unbelief and therefore wander in a spiritual wilderness (Corinthians and Galatians).

Monday, February 5, 2018

Preach the Word!


In my sermon last Sunday morning I spoke against the philosophy of many churches today which makes the ministry all about pleasing people instead of preaching the word. That evening I read a sermon preached by E.W. Bullinger in 1894. I was amazed at how he was preaching against the same thing going on in churches over 120 years ago! If he only knew what was happening today! Below is an excerpt from his message.

Leading up to the comments below, Dr. Bullinger was pointing out the downward course of the last days: "turned away from me" (2 Tim. 1:15); "concerning the truth have erred" (2:18); "resist the truth" (3:8); "turn away their ears from the truth" (4:4). 

2Tim. 4:1-5
(1)  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
(2)  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
(3)  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
(4)  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
(5)  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

     What is to be done for men who deliberately turn away their ears from the truth of God, and are satisfied with the fables of man?
     Nothing! Humanly speaking, their case is hopeless!
     But what is God's servant to do?
     "Preach the word" (v.2). "Do the work of an evangelist" (v.5).
     But men will not endure sound doctrine? - "Preach the word."
     But men "will not endure" it!
     Never mind. - "Preach the word."
     Are we not to seek for something they will endure?
     No! "Preach the word," and all the more simply, earnestly, and faithfully because we know that men will not have it.
     This, then, is truth for the times. This is truth for the day in which our lot is cast. No wonder that this simple command, which is for the most part unheeded, is introduced by so solemn a charge in v.1. No wonder it is introduced by a solemn reference to the coming Judge (v.1). No wonder it is followed and closed by a reference to the coming same "righteous Judge" (v.8). 
     When those who should "preach the word" are making it their aim to please the people, and preaching the newspaper philanthropy, temperance, and a social gospel; when those who should preach "the gospel of the grace of God" are preaching to "raise the masses" to a higher social level; when those who should preach of "judgment to come," and make sinners "tremble" (Acts 24:25), are at their wit's end to invent new methods for making everything "pleasant" for poor sinners' amusement; when we see multitudes of so-called "pastors" intent on amusing the goats, instead of feeding Christ's sheep; I say, when we see this to be the character of our times, then we may be sure that judgment is not far off.
     Aaron made the golden calf to please the people, but judgment speedily overtook them (Ex. 32:26, 28). 
     Pilate crucified Christ to please the people (Mark 15:15), but the Lord in judgment soon destroyed the city and scattered the nation. 
     Herod, to please the people, slew James, and was proceeding to slay Peter also, when he was smitten by an angel of God - was eaten of worms, and died (Acts 12:3, 23). 
     Believe me, dear friends, judgment is not far off - yea, it is even at the door! We are here to-day to witness of it as Noah witnessed; to walk with God as Enoch walked; seeing what manner of persons we ought to be, while we repeat his prophecy in the ears of a worldly church and a religious world, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints" (Jude 14). 
     But there is a blessed hope bound up with this fourth and last characteristic of these evil times. It is recorded in v.8: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

 

Magnifying Paul's Office

The apostle Paul had something to say about the importance of his message and ministry in basically every epistle that he wrote. He was not...