persecution

An Eternal House in the Heavens #4

Thursday, March 23, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

We look again at 2 Corinthians chapter 4: “[16] For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Notice how, in this the Dispensation of Grace, Scripture emphasizes the “inward man” more than the “outward man.” God is not interested in maintaining these fleshly bodies indefinitely. The Apostle Paul understood this, and we need to as well. What we can see with our physical eyes—including our debilitating physical bodies—is “temporal” (temporary). What we cannot see with our physical eyes—including our “building of God,” resurrected body—is “eternal.” Would you rather focus on the temporal or the eternal, friend?

Paul knew that, while he was enduring those persecutions in the ministry, they were merely a “light affliction.” The word “light” means “easy,” as in “light in weight.” Now, such sufferings were anything but easy to bear because they caused immense grief and pain. Still, compared to spiritual (and more important!) things, they really were “light” (yea, weightless). Those sufferings for Christ’s sake would result in a very heavy reward, one that would be greater than the “light affliction.” It would be “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!”

Friends, we cannot see with our physical eyes the reality of these verses. Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We must adopt Almighty God’s view here, and we can only do this by faith (believing the verses). So, we proceed to read today’s Scripture with its succeeding verses, to see with spiritual eyes what God already sees….

An Eternal House in the Heavens #3

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

Chapter 4 says: “[7] But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [8] We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; [9] Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; [10] Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. [11] For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. [12] So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”

After delineating his various persecutions and bodily sufferings for the sake of conducting his Gospel ministry, Paul closed the chapter with: “[15] For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. [16] For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Like all of us, Paul was tempted to look at his (outward) circumstances. Trouble followed him wherever he went. Jewish unbelievers and Gentile unbelievers alike wanted him dead! His “outward man” (visible, physical body) endured numerous forms of torture, abuse, and degeneration (see chapter 11, verses 23-28). Eventually, it would “perish” (be destroyed), returning to the ground from whence it came. Still, Paul was more focused on the “inward man,” the invisible man, that which was “renewed day by day….”

Grace Abounding

Monday, October 17, 2016

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18,19 KJV).

Grace to hundreds of nations and billions of sinners—God’s abounding grace!

Recently, a Christian sister, experiencing marital difficulties, asked me why God had not yet punished her husband for the despicable evils he was still committing against her. I replied, “We are living in the Dispensation of Grace!” Now, please understand. God still hates sin as much as He ever has. Sin nailed His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to the cross, so He will never change His attitude about sin. Still, that finished crosswork satisfied His wrath against man’s sin. When Jesus’ soul was literally offered for sin (Isaiah 53:10), He experienced on the cross what lost people experience forever in hellfire. God’s wrath came down upon Christ in the utmost severity. Thus, He cried out from His cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The holy God of the Bible forsook Christ, that we, by faith, would have redemption in Him, so He not forsake us in hellfire.

Instead of His wrath and judgment, today’s Scripture says the God of the Bible is offering to all nations (and individuals) of the world to come fellowship with Him through His Son. He changed their status, from being worthy of punishment, to being recipients of His grace. People still die and go to hell today, but they do so having rejected the Gospel of the Grace of God that would have saved them from that penalty of sin. They had a chance to be permanently reconciled to God by His Son’s death, and they refused it. God is not “getting even” with anyone—Christians or lost people—living today. The only divine punishment in the Dispensation of Grace is after physical death. In our Dispensation of Grace, God’s attitude toward the world is highlighted in the opening line of every Pauline epistle“grace and peace.”

“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

Sparrows and Saints

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31 KJV).

A noted atheist once openly ridiculed “soft-hearted” God for “weeping” when a sparrow fell. What is our answer to such a fool?

Today’s Scripture says, in New Testament times, two sparrows were worth one “farthing” (also called an assarius). A “penny” (also called a denarius) was a laborer’s daily wages (Matthew 20:2). The assarius was about 1/16th of a penny. Imagine your wages for working 1/16th of a day. That was the price of two sparrows. Halve that to get the price of one sparrow. One would only have to work 1/32nd of a day to buy one sparrow. You could work a full day and buy 32 sparrows. In other words, sparrows were inexpensive in terms of human assessment. But, in the Lord Jesus’ estimation, every little sparrow was valuable. The Father would notice when an “insignificant” sparrow would “fall on the ground” (assuming death). After all, that sparrow was the descendant of the original birds He had directly created via His spoken word. He never intended even one animal to die! Death was man’s doing, not God’s!

Yet, even “many sparrows” (despite God’s value of them) were nothing compared to His believers. “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Take time today to read Matthew chapter 10 very closely. You can see the Lord Jesus Christ preparing His 12 apostles (and, more generally, believing Israel) to experience very difficult times. They will have to endure the extreme pressures of the coming Antichrist’s rule. Friends, that future persecution of Israel’s Little Flock is beyond our comprehension. For following Jesus Christ, all will lose family members and friends. They will also lose their homes, clothes, employment, and access to food. Some will lose their lives.

What the Lord Jesus skillfully did in today’s Scripture is encourage believing Israel, paraphrased, “Just as My Father notices an inexpensive sparrow dying, He will notice you suffering and dying for His Son’s name! He is watching everything and will punish your persecutors in due time!”

Hated But Humble

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (John 15:18,19 KJV).

We are hated but humble!

A new Christian emailed me in exasperation. Tired of how people had treated him, he wanted to go to heaven and leave this planet of such great evils! He explained he did not care how he lived anymore—even if those frivolous actions made other Christians or lost people stumble! Thankfully, the Bible truths I shared with him helped him recover himself out of the snare of the Devil.

That brother needed to be reminded Jesus Christ was treated most horribly. He was hated without a cause(John 15:25). People have various reasons for hating us. Some are justified. Perhaps we lied to or about them, or stole from them, or cursed them out! However, they had no reason to hate Jesus Christ. He did nothing wrong—to them or anyone else. All Christ did was preach God’s truth and love, and they demanded His crucifixion!! Despite how they treated Him, He still lived righteously for the sake of His Heavenly Father whom He represented. Brethren, let us do the same, remembering not to live unto ourselves, but unto the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Philippians chapter 2 exhorts us: “[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do we suffer?

Leave Off Contention!

Monday, August 22, 2016

“The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with” (Proverbs 17:14 KJV).

Before contention starts, stop it!

Recently, two Christian sisters expressed heartache and utter disgust about a church split. Their families are broken. These two ladies had diligently labored at that local church, only to have “Christian brethren” stab them in the back. One lady’s children were treated horribly there. Hence, one son still rejects Jesus Christ. Another son, although saved, is angry and bitter. These two ladies are still so deeply hurt; they have repressed the pain for years. Making matters worse, their families mistreat them even todayover 20 years after the church split!

One lady poured out her heart to me, asking how to deal with these people whom she still sees in public today. Should she greet/acknowledge these so-called “Christians?” Or, should she just go on her way without approaching them? Well, it depends on who this person is and what he or she did. Furthermore, we are never to force ourselves on anybody. If they want to run away from us, let them. If they approach us for a hug or handshake, we should oblige. The least we should do is smile. We want to be a light for Jesus Christ’s sake.

However, some people—even professing Christians—have no interest in reconciliation. Pride prevents admission of wrongdoing! So, they will use any and every opportunity to curse, yell, or snub their nose at us. We should not set ourselves up for such silliness. Some people are simply looking for attention and will throw various sorts of tantrums to get it. You know who they are. Friend, you need to stay away from them. They are simply tools of Satan and you should not let Satan get the advantage.

The verse I shared with this inquisitive sister was today’s Scripture. If you know trouble is coming, the best thing to do is not approach the person at all! It has nothing to do with holding grudges. It has everything to do with keeping your testimony. You approach that person, and it just may be an occasion to the flesh—for you and/or the individual. “Leave off contention, before it be meddled with!”

Not a Bother to Satan! #3

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:12-14 KJV).

A wise Christian brother observed long ago: “There are some believers whom Satan seldom bothers because they do not cause him too much worry, they do not threaten his program; but strong Christians are always his targets and he puts countless snares and pitfalls in their way.” How appropriate, even today!

Satan does not like God’s truth reaching the masses. So, his evil world system will entice God’s messenger to change the message. If the Christian refuses to apostatize, but rather faithfully continues sharing God’s pure Word with others, then Satan will move from attacking the message to attacking the messenger. The Christian will be persecuted, discouraged, or even killed!

Today’s Scripture describes how Satan had neutralized Israel. Confused and weakened, she was no bother to him anymore. Spiritual ignorance would continue among the Gentiles! But, individual Jews had accepted Jesus as Messiah-King and had separated themselves from their apostate nation. Satan turned his attention to these believers. The Devil and his allies persecuted those believing Jews into the early Acts period. Refusing to change God’s message, those Jewish kingdom believers were thus attacked literally and physically. Israel’s corrupt religious leaders arrested, imprisoned, and even killed Jesus’ followers! That believing remnant in Israel had certainly caused Satan much grief, and God permitted him to take their lives. Nevertheless, they were true to God’s Word to the end.

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). As the wise Christian brother wrote decades ago, friend, you attempt to let Christ Jesus live His life in you, and you will learn that Satan will not like it! Still, may you be a bother to Satan! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Do Isaiah 2:4 and Joel 3:10 contradict each other?