God’s faithfulness

Same

Friday, March 17, 2017

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is right!

For several months, I had been going to the same store and purchasing one of my favorite (yet rare) candies. Some weeks ago, however, the item quit appearing on the store shelf. After weeks of returning and searching, I finally asked a store clerk if they had completely stopped carrying that item. He said no. In fact, he told me he had been re-organizing the store, shelf by shelf, and was just getting to the candy aisle. I was relieved he would be placing my food back on the shelf very soon!

More recently, I spoke with a friend who had had great difficulty finding and purchasing one of her beloved foods. When she did locate that special bread again, she bought 10 bags of it! (I told her that her words reminded me of yet another favorite food of mine, one I have not seen in a store, or eaten, in nearly a decade. Unfortunately, I just learned that that absolutely delicious dessert was discontinued long ago!!)

As the above scenarios show us, friends, life is full of unexpected changes. People, possessions, and positions come and go. We become so used to their existence in our lives, it becomes very difficult when we lose them. Friends and neighbors move away or perish. Our vehicle is totaled in an accident. Spouses leave. A lucrative job one day, and unemployment the next! Fire destroys our home. Our favorite products are out of stock or permanently discontinued. Lastly, good health today—death tomorrow!

Someone once said, “We are creatures of habit.” We are conditioned to live a certain way—surrounded by the same people, goods, and atmosphere. When one little variable changes or drops out, it can be quite devastating! Today’s Scripture is quite a comfort—while our surroundings change, whether good or bad—Jesus Christ never changes. He was faithful in the past, He is equally faithful today, and He will be just as faithful forever. What stability, what reliability! Saints, we may lose many people and things in our lives, but thank goodness we will never lose Jesus Christ and He will never lose us! 🙂

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Sifted Saints #5

Monday, March 13, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

In his final meeting with the Ephesian church elders, Paul through the Holy Spirit issued a grave warning in Acts chapter 20: “[28] Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. [32] And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

Notice how Satan “sifts” members of the Body of Christ by having them overlook “the word of [God’s] grace” (verse 32). Thus they follow the Law, available in many forms—that is, 38,000 denominations! Splinter group after splinter group develops, until the distinction is no longer “Christian versus non-Christian,” but increasingly “this denomination versus that denomination.” So many precious Christian souls are entangled in such confusion and division!

As Satan attempted to “divide and conquer” the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, so he uses a similar strategy with us the Church the Body of Christ today. Remember, he attacked the Little Flock by focusing on its chief Apostle (that is, Peter). With Peter discredited, the Little Flock would collapse. Likewise, we see Satan attacking the Church the Body of Christ by concentrating on its leading Apostle (namely, Paul). There are “doctrines of devils” today aimed at questioning Paul’s grace doctrines, Romans through Philemon (1 Timothy 4:1-16)—people using the Bible but not “rightly dividing” it (2 Timothy 2:15). With the Bible not rightly divided, the Christians are divided and conquered!

Sifted Saints #4

Sunday, March 12, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

“Simon, Simon” underscores the seriousness in Jesus’ voice. After delivering to Peter the grim news about Satan wanting to split up the Little Flock—mainly by attacking its leadership, the 12 Apostles—the Lord comforts His chief Apostle. Not many people notice, but the Lord, in today’s Scripture, revealed that He had prayed specifically for Peter ahead of the impending ordeals. But I have prayed for thee….” (We do not read the actual prayer, although it preceded today’s Scripture.) Jesus prayed for Peter (remember, “thee,” singular), rather than the whole group (“you,” plural, as in modern versions).

“[T]hat thy faith fail not….” We are not to suppose that Peter’s faith will be unwavering (because, as we know, it was not). The implication is that he will fall; hence, his “converting,” or turning around, will be necessary. However, because of Jesus’ prayer, Peter’s denial of God’s only begotten Son will not be continuous. “[A]nd when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” We know that, after he denied Christ, Peter went out and “wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62; cf. Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72). Although not recorded in the Bible, we can assume that Peter was “converted” (moved from denier to embracer) sometime after.

When Peter would be turned around, re-oriented toward the right way, Jesus told him to strengthen his brethren. Those brethren would be vulnerable to Satan’s further assaults, but with Peter, their leader, now restored in faith, they would be also rescued from additional spiritual harm. Peter could encourage them to remain having faith in Christ. In fact, he will go on to declare to them the news of the resurrected Christ (Luke 24:34)! As a powerful, Holy-Spirit-filled Apostle, he will go on to lead the 11 Apostles of Jesus Christ into the Book of Acts. Except Judas, none of the Apostles were permanently lost to Satan. In short, the Lord Jesus’ prayer was effectual!

The Devil, however, still employs “divide and conquer” to hinder believers in Christ today….

Sifted Saints #3

Saturday, March 11, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

It is the night of the Lord Jesus’ arrest; He has less than 24 hours left to live. In today’s Scripture, He issues some very solemn statements to His 12 Apostles. As He speaks, He bears in mind that Satan’s schemes against Him are already coming together in other parts of Jerusalem. There is worse news to come, but He does not tell His disciples yet.

According to the succeeding verses, Jesus and His Apostles will finish eating. Suddenly, and mysteriously, Judas will leave the meal. (The 11 Apostles will assume he is going out to purchase items for the feast, or to give something to the poor—John 13:21-30.) Jesus and His disciples, singing a hymn, will go out to the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39; cf. Matthew 26:30). They will see Judas return, leading a mob, coming to the Garden of Gethsemane to take Jesus into custody (Luke 22:47-53). In other words, this is how the 11 Apostles will learn that Judas is the traitor. As Jesus is arrested, the Bible says that all of His followers will flee in fear: “Then all his disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50).

During the Lord’s trial, Peter, hiding afar in the shadows, will publicly deny knowing Christ not once, not twice, but THREE times (Luke 22:53-62; cf. Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; John 18:15-18). Peter was the leader of the 12 Apostles (see Matthew 16:19), and often their spokesman. Now, he will gravely stumble. With one Apostle (Judas) the traitor, and another Apostle (Peter) now the denier, the remaining 10 Apostles will be severely tested to cave in as well. Potentially, all of them, being fallible humans, can permanently forsake Christ Jesus. This is a very real possibility that the Lord Jesus foresees in today’s Scripture, well in advance. His Apostles will, not surprisingly, be unfaithful. However, He reminds them that He has been loyal to them, and that, consequently, Satan will not conquer or destroy them….

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #5

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

The offering in the context of today’s Scripture (verses 1-11) is spoken as though the nation Israel has already defeated the inhabitants of the Promised Land. It assumes that the Israelites will go in, conquer all their enemies, and enjoy the fruits of the land God has given to the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God through Moses presents Israel residing in the Promised Land as a fact, even though they will not actually enter it and fight those peoples until Joshua assumes leadership (after Moses dies). As before, God believes that He will give Israel the victory. He expects Israel to believe Him, and to worship Him by offering to Him that fruit when they do arrive in that land of Canaan.

Some 40 years prior, remember again, the Jews had complained that they were unable to enter the Promised Land and enjoy its plenteous food supply. The giants living in the land were just too powerful for them to overcome in war. (Of course, Israel overlooked the fact that God had just vanquished the mighty Egyptian armies, thousands of trained soldiers, using just the Red Sea!) With this new generation of Jews in today’s Scripture, they are to go into the land, dispossess it, and rejoice in God’s goodness. They did not deserve that harvest of enormous fruits, but God had simply given them because of His grace.

“And [JEHOVAH God] hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is Jesus Christ God’s ‘one and only Son’ or ‘only begotten Son?’

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #4

Monday, March 6, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

Forty years earlier, just before entering the land of Canaan, the Jews’ ancestors had spied it out. Numbers chapter 13 explains those scouts actions’: “[23] And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. [24] The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. [25] And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. [26] And they … came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. [27] And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.”

Sadly, verses 28-33 say that 10 of the 12 scouts voiced fear: they doubted Almighty God would give Israel victory over the land’s gigantic residents! Disbelieving and discouraged Israel was thus banned from entering that wonderful land of God. Now, in the context of today’s Scripture, that unbelieving generation has died. A new generation of Israelites will go in and possess that land. That expression “floweth with milk and honey” (Numbers 13:27) appears with today’s Scripture—“And [God] hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey” (verse 9). Canaan is an agricultural paradise: its grape clusters require two men to carry them!

Now, with the firstfruits offering of today’s Scripture, God wants Israel to admit He gave them the military victory to enjoy that fruit of that land….

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #3

Sunday, March 5, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

The special offering delineated in today’s Scripture and its context serves to instruct Israel concerning a most basic principle. Notice: “[1] ….the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance… [2] …thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee,…. [3] …I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us…. [8] And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: [9] And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. [10] …I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me…. [11] …rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee….”

Friend, do you see the constant emphasis on what the LORD (JEHOVAH God) has done for Israel? By offering this sacrifice, the Jews are reminded of God’s provisions for them. They had not gained that land by their own efforts. Simply in His grace God had promised it to their father Abraham many centuries earlier (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 13:14-17; Genesis 15:1-21).

Additionally, their father Jacob and his family were ready to die of starvation in Canaan, but God had sent Joseph into Egypt ahead of time so Israel (a tribe of 70 souls) would migrate southward and survive (Genesis chapters 46-47). Eventually, they became Egyptian slaves. The Israelites could not deliver themselves from harsh Egyptian bondage. Forty years prior to today’s Scripture, Almighty God had given their ancestors victory over Egypt and Satan. They had refused to enter the Promised Land and died in the wilderness. However, now, in today’s Scripture, 40 years later, this new generation of Jews can enter God’s land, where Abraham had once lived, to now enjoy its bountiful harvests….

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