Christ’s earthly ministry

Shine as Lights #5

Saturday, May 20, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

No matter our country, it is a “crooked and perverse nation.” Governed by Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), it is thus turned away from God and wholly corrupt. (That evil world system will remain until the Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.) God has left us on this planet as “outposts of the third heaven.” Since we are from another world (“the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son”), we are to behave differently from this world controlled by “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13).

“…Among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” In the midst of the unbelieving masses, we Christians live—nay, rather, we shine. As luminous celestial bodies contrast the deep, dark recesses of outer space, so we “stick out” in this lost and dying world. We are lighthouses, guiding souls away from danger and destruction. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, describing Israel’s believing remnant, excerpted: “[14] Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Ephesians chapter 5 adds: “[7] Be not ye therefore partakers with them [children of disobedience, verse 6]. [8] For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: [9] (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; ) [10] Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. [11] And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” We return to Philippians….

Shine as Lights #3

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

Today’s Scripture opens with: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” Here, “disputings” are “reasonings, imaginations, debate, doubtful things.” Whereas “murmurings” are complaints engendered by spiritual ignorance and ungratefulness to God, “disputings” are intellectual arguments or criticisms used to question or challenge God’s Word and will.

Jesus Christ spoke of “evil thoughts” proceeding from man’s sinful heart (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21). The Pharisees and scribes used “thoughts” and “reason” to critique Jesus’ healing of the paralytic man (Luke 5:22) and the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:8). Jesus’ disciples engaged in a petty, selfish “reasoning” and “thought” about who would be the greatest (Luke 9:46,47). Before God gave the unbelieving nations over to their preferences in Genesis chapter 11, Romans 1:21 says they were “vain [empty] in their imaginations.” We see “doubtful disputations” in Romans 14:1, discussions that cause weaker Christians to stumble. First Timothy 2:8 speaks of men in the local assembly needing to be “without… doubting.” James 2:4 talks about “evil thoughts.” All of these are examples of the “disputings” discouraged in today’s Scripture.

The purpose or goal of a Christian obeying Philippians 2:14—neither murmuring nor disputing—is found in verse 15. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke….” “Blameless” is not “sinless” but rather “not guilty of wrongdoing; faultless.” “Harmless” means “innocent, unmixed, or untainted”—something not watered down. The word is translated “simple” in Romans 16:19. Positionally, we are God’s children by faith in Jesus Christ, His finished crosswork, the Gospel of the Grace of God (Galatians 3:26). Are we His sons practically, though? Sometimes. Our behavior does not constantly reflect our identity (new nature) in Christ. That is, there are “murmurings” and “disputings” in our lives as Christians. Let us see how we correct this….

Shine as Lights #2

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

Today’s Scripture opens with: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” To “murmur” means “express one’s discontent about (someone or something) in a subdued manner.” Grumbling in a low tone, something not easily heard, murmuring is due to ignorance, evil/bad thinking, and unbelief. “Murmuring” was a notable characteristic of the faithless, unthankful Israelites under Moses’ command (Exodus 15:24; Exodus 16:2-12, Exodus 17:3; Numbers 14:27-36, Numbers 16:11,41; Numbers 17:5-10; et cetera).

The Jews of old were not being renewed in the spirit of their mind. They were not mindful of JEHOVAH God’s provisions for them. They thought and behaved like He taught them nothing and did nothing for them. Deuteronomy 1:27 says: “And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” Imagine such pitiful ignorance—“the LORD hated [Israel]” so He delivered them from Egypt! Psalm 106:25 highlights the unbelief and disobedience associated with Israel’s “murmuring:” “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.”

When Jesus received and associated with “publicans and sinners,” the Pharisees and scribes “murmured” (Luke 5:30; Luke 15:2, Luke 19:7). These religious leaders were unbelieving and ignorant of the fact these “evil” people were very ones the Lord had come to save from sin (Matthew 9:10-13)! John 6:41 says: “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.” Again, this was all because of doubt and spiritual ignorance. God does not want us to be ignorant or unbelieving; the Bible is here to educate us in His will and ways, and we are to believe it. As we experience and enjoy the Christian walk, we do so with knowledge, faith, and gratitude….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is grieving the Holy Spirit forgivable?

(No) Put Asunder

Saturday, May 13, 2017

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matthew 19:4-6 KJV).

If only more people “read” today that of which the Pharisees were ignorant!

While driving recently, I stopped at an intersection where a man was sitting and holding a sign, “She had a better lawyer.” It was sad to see this panhandler in such a predicament. (I did pray for him, that someone share the Gospel with him.) Maybe he really had experienced a painful divorce. Then again, what might he have done to provoke his wife to divorce him? Or, what if fabricated the whole story just to play on the emotions of passersby? Whatever his case, divorce is not fiction in the lives of many others—some 40 to 50 percent of married couples wind up split up!

Divorce is an agonizing event. Young children are particularly devastated by it. While I have never experienced it firsthand, I do know that it is not a part of God’s original plan for mankind (today’s Scripture). I do know that any departure—great or small—from the Creator’s will has always brought about and will always bring about unimaginable, unspeakable suffering. In order to accommodate man’s sinfulness, God commanded Moses to permit (painful) divorces (see Deuteronomy 24:1-4)—the Pharisees tried to use this passage against Christ in the context of today’s Scripture (cf. verses 7-9). Unfortunately, in the days of Christ, the Jews were using any petty excuse they could find to have grounds for divorce! (Sounds familiar, huh?)

The Lord Jesus corrected the wayward Pharisees. While the Law indeed allowed divorce, the Book of Genesis declared that it was not in God’s original plans for mankind. There was to be no “distance” between husband and wife—no “put asunder,” or “separation.” They were to be united“one flesh”not divided (Genesis 2:18-25). God help us provide strong, healthy family units for His glory!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How can God hear all the prayers of all Christians?

Crown of Thorns

Thursday, May 11, 2017

And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,…. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! (John 19:2,5 KJV).

Why was the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus Christ?

Throughout the Bible, man functions as a free agent. He is not a puppet, God controlling His every thought and movement. Rather, man does just about anything he wants—God permitting, of course. At times, God has selected an event in someone’s life, and made a note of it in His Book. While the performer is often unaware of the spiritual truth expressed by the deed, God will record it in order to convey that information to the reader. For example, take today’s Scripture. What can we glean from it?

God’s Word refers to the “crown of thorns” on four occasions. Two instances are found in today’s Scripture. The other two are in Matthew and Mark; notice these parallel verses. Matthew 27:29: “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” Mark 15:17: “And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,….” The soldiers braided thorny branches to form a crown, and then jammed it on and into Christ’s scalp. They intended it as degradation and torture. However, God the Holy Spirit documented it to provide us a glimpse of why Jesus Christ came to Earth at all

It always does us well to remember “the law of first mention” when studying Scripture—the first occurrence sets the Bible’s tone about a particular subject. Thorns first appear in Scripture immediately after Adam’s fall into sin. Genesis 3:18 says: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;….” Why did the Lord Jesus wear the crown of thorns? For all the crowds to see that He bore the curse of sin for you and me!

Eagerly Seizing the Temporary!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed (John 6:26,27 KJV).

Human nature has not changed one bit in 2,000 years.

Frequenting thrift stores over the years, I have found name-brand items well below retail cost. Some items—including pricy clothing—are still new. Beware: Stand aside, as consumers may behave unseemly to get what they want!

After employees process and price items in store’s rear, they transport them by cart to the front for consumers to browse. Thus the showroom becomes dangerous. Upon hearing that cart’s wheels rattling and squeaking, alert customers make a “mad dash,” pushing and shoving, to access the cart’s items first! (My friend was nearly knocked down by one such “stampede!”) When I recounted that event to another friend, she summed it up perfectly—“uncivilized!” Sadly, adults will go to such extremes to have their way: like starving vultures diving to pick off a bite to eat, these consumers run and pounce on that cart!

While such scenarios are amusing (yes, I recently witnessed a stampede), it is unfortunate. If only people were as willing to come to Christ as they do that dumb merchandise cart! They bully to grab temporary items, but, upon death, someone will be just as eager to confiscate it. It is said that grave-clothes have no pockets—even if they did, the contents would do absolutely nothing for the individual. His or her soul would be in heaven (Christian) or hell (everyone else), not in that decaying body!

Friends, in the context of today’s Scripture, Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000 (verses 1-15). Now, they are selfishly chasing Jesus to get more food from Him. Verse 29 is the correction: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” They were striving for temporary food, when they should have trusted the eternal Son of God! (A most appropriate lesson… even in today’s world, huh?)

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we pray if it is God’s will?

The “Triumphal” Entry

Friday, April 21, 2017

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?