Friday, June 23, 2006

Our Spiritual Battle (part 4)
Stand against the wiles of Satan

"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (Eph. 6:11)

We are armed for victory. Putting on the panoply of God is the only way we can be guaranteed of winning the spiritual battle. The idea of standing is that we don't lose ground to Satan and his forces.

"In the day of battle, Roman soldiers were to stand their ground, not retreat. As long as they stood together on a flat, open field and did not break ranks, their legions were considered virtually invincible." (C. Keener - IVP Bible Background Commentary).

The word 'wiles' means scheme or "trickery" (Stong). Satan has stratagems and methods whereby he plots to defeat Christians who are ill prepared via neglegence in putting on the whole armor of God. Therefore, putting on God's complete armor is not an option, it is an imperative, it is an absolute necessity.

William Gurnall in his classic work "The Christian in Complete Armour" says: "Satan with all his wit and wiles, will never defeat a soul armed with true grace nor will the contest end in a stalemate." And how true that is.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Our Spiritual Battle (part 3)
Put on the whole armor of God

"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (Eph. 6:11)

God has provided for us everything we need to fight the spiritual battle and come out victorious. In Charles Wesley's song "Soldiers of Christ, Arise" he took the word from this verse and transliterated it to fit in his song: "And take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;"

The words "whole armor" as it appears in the King James is one word in the Greek (πανοπλία) or panoplia. Of course the Translators were faithful in translating the word and so we have 'whole armor' in the KJ. We are to take the whole armor or the complete armor, Strong says "full armor." This 'whole armor' of God is something that we are commanded to "put on." Once again, if a Christian is loosing the spiritual warfare, it is ultimately because of his own choosing. What ever happened in the past, whatever abuses and suffering a Christian has gone through is really of no consequence since the command is to 'put on' what God has provided for us to win the spiritual battle.

The armor that God has provided is composed of various elements. However, as the word panoplia points out it must be viewed as a whole. God has given us a full and complete armament and we should never think of trying to fight the spiritual battle neglecting one or two peices. Truly, it is all or nothing. We should be encouraged to know that God has blessed us to the point where He provides for us a complete armor. Our responsibility in this is to put it on. How is your spiritual armor doing today? Did you put it on today? Do have yours on today?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Our Spiritual Battle (part 2)
Be strong in the Lord

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." (Eph. 6:10)

Since we are truly facing spiritual opposition, we need to be strengthened. We need strength. Where do we find strength? The answer of course is in the Lord. Christians tend to forget that we need God's strength to live our lives (I say 'Christians' - but I really think of myself in particular). It is so easy to rest in our own wisdom and abilities (as though we posses the answers and know exactly what to do). The results are futile. Paul describes the lost man or the unregenerate man as being in the flesh and cannot please God in Rom. 8:8, and yet by application we try to live the Christian life through the power of the flesh at times and we know that God is not pleased. James describes wisdom (not from above) as being earthly, sensual and devilish (James 3:15). Understanding that strength comes from the Lord will help us see the importance of taking serious spiritual exercises whereby we can be strengthened of God. Having a regular time of 'Devotions' or 'Quite Time' is an opportunity to be strengthened. Attending a Bible-believing and practicing church is an opportunity for a strengthening. Giving of our tithes and offerings is an opportunity to be strengthened. Spending time doing the Lord's work, like cleaning the church auditorium and restrooms, coming out to work party, soulwining and visitations are opportunities to be strengthened. Fellowshipping with believers before and after church, personal discipleship are all wonderful opportunities whereby we can receive the strength from the Lord to face the spiritual warfare. Looking at this precious verse and understanding its practical ramifications, if a Christian is not 'strong in the Lord' it is most likely because he chooses not be strong in the Lord. That is disobidience and will only guarantee failure.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Our Spiritual Battle (part 1)
Wrestling not against flesh and blood

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:12)

Behind every opposition to Christianity is an organized heirarchy of evil. It is very easy to lose sight of the spiritual warfare which is taking place in the 'heavenly places.' While we may not sincerely understand every detail about this great battle, this passage should remind us about what is really behind the opposition towards our service for the Lord. I attended a Catholic highschool and there were times when it was not easy being a born again believer in the school. I remember sitting in Physics class, my senior year, and being lectured by my teacher in class (I respect him highly because he really is a tremendous teacher) not about physics but rather about religion. He was awfully upset (with me in particular - however, he wanted the whole class' attention) since "someone in class" turned downed the opportunity to be a delegate from the school to see, the then Pope, Karol Wojtlya (a.k.a. John Paul II). His intentions were to get me upset and hurt and he released some of his frustration by venting towards the class. I must admit, that was one of those days that I just felt like I wished class would be done. Looking back now and understanding that really behind his anger and resentment is the working of spiritual wickedness in his heart by what is described in this verse as 'principalities and powers,' etc. I can see that he was not who I should have been spiritually prepared to 'take on' sorta say. It would help Christians to realize that behind each opposition to share Christ to the lost world is a spiritual battle. Maybe you find yourself under the pressure of an unbelieving boss, or perhaps unbelieving relatives, co-workers, or even neighbors. Perhaps this verse could help ease the tension that can come upon us as we strive to be salt and light in this world and prepare us for the good fight of faith.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Our 2nd Year Anniversary!

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)

TODAY, my wife and I celebrate our second year anniversary. I praise the Lord for giving me such a wonderful wife. I am sincerely overwhelmed by God's goodness in my life first in giving me Salvation by sending His only begotten Son; and second in granting to me all that I have. I have a good wife, a good Pastor, a good church, a good vocation. I have truly been blessed of God. I sure don't regret seeking first His kingdom.

"Systematic Skimming or Pre-reading" (An interesting read)

Exerpts from Adler and Van Doren's "How To Read A Book." A TOUCHSTONE Book published by Simon and Shuster (C) 1972; (taken from pages 32-36)

"First, you do not know whether you want to read the book. Second, let us assume - and this is very often the case- That you have only a limited time in which to find all this out."
"Giving a book this kind of quick once-over is a threshing process that helps you to separate the chaff from the real kernels of nourishment."
"The habit of skimming should not take much time to acquire. Here are some suggestions about how to do it."

1. Look at the title page and, if the book has one, at its preface. Read each quickly. Note especially the subtitles or other indications of the scope or aim of the book or of the author's special angle on his subject. Before completing this step you should have a good idea of the subject, and, if you wish, you may pause for a moment to place the book in the appropriate category in your mind. What pigeonhole that already contains other books does this one belong in?

2. Study the Table of Contents to obtain a general sense of the book's structure; use it as you would a road map before taking a trip.

3. Check the index if the book has one. Make a quick estimate of the range of topics covered and of the kind of books and authors referred to.

4. If the book is a new one with a dust jacket, Read the Publisher's Blurb. It not uncommon for authors to try to summarize as accurately as they can the main points in their book.

Upon completing these first four steps you may already have enough information about the book to know that you want to read it more carefully, or that you do not want or need to read it at all. In either case, you may put it aside for the moment. If you do not do so, you are now ready to skim the book, properly speaking.

5. Look now at the chapters that seem to be pivotal to its argument. If these chapters have summary statements in their opening or closing pages, as they often do, read these statements carefully.

6. Finally, turn the pages, dipping in here and there reading a paragraph or two, sometimes several pages in sequence, never more than that.

"You have now skimmed the book systematically; you have given it the first type of inspectional reading. You should know a good deal about the book at this point, after having spent no more than a few minutes, at most an hour, with it. In particular, you should know whether the book contains matter that you still want to dig out, or whether it deserves no more of your time and attention. You should also be able to place the book even more accurately than before in your mental card catalogue, for further reference if the occasion should ever arise."

"Think of yourself as a detective looking for clues to a book's general theme or idea, alert for anything that will make it clearer."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Some observations on portions of Psalm 119

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." (v.11) - Hiding God's Word in our hearts is a sure remedy from sin. We need to make sure that we treasure it and store it deep in our hearts. Memorizing Scripture is part of this, applying Scripture truths is the other half. The idea of hiding here is to reserve or to lay up (Strong).

"I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word." (v.16) - If you delight in the Bible you most likely won't forget it and its teachings. Strong says: to be oblivious to it either from memory or want of attention. Many Christians make bad decisions and a major reason they come to such decisions is because they are oblivious to what God says in the Bible. The reason they are oblivious is because they are not delighting in the Word.

"Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors." (v.24) - That is at least 66 counsilors. What a great metaphor for the Word of God.

"Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end." (v.33) - We can ask God to teach us his word. (see also v.64, v.66 v.68, v.108, v.124, v.135, v.171)

"This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me." (v.50)
"I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself." (v.52) - God's Word is our comfort in affliction.

Anyway...just some random thoughts on a blessed Psalm.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What is the Bible called?
A Psalm 119 Survey (part 2)

Some observations about the various names that the Bible is called in Psalm 119.

1. The Law of the LORD - v.1; ' truth' v.142

2. His Testimonies - are described in this Psalm as 'righteous and very faithful.' God has 'founded them forever' in v. 152.

3. Thy Precepts

4. Thy Statutes

5. Thy Commandments - in v. 151 'are truth.'

6. Thy Judgments - are righteous; 'of thy mouth'; 'are good' v. 39; 'of old' v.52; 'are right' v.75; are 'upright' v.137.

7. Thy Word - 'very pure' v.140; 'is true' v. 160

8. Ordinances

Saturday, June 10, 2006

What to do with the Bible ?
A Psalm 119 Survey

Here is a Psalm which explains the beauty and excellence of the Word of God. The Masorah (according to Gill) calls this Psalm "The Great Alphabet" obviously since each division is broken down into 22 parts each corresponding to the Hebrew letters. This Psalm teaches us a lot of what we should do with the Word of God. When you think of the question: "what are we to do with the Bible?" in Psalm 119 there are at least 42 things we can do with it. Some of what is enumerated can be synonymous with each other, however it is helpful to list them all nonetheless.

1. Walk in it – v.1

2. Keep it – v.2, v.4, v.5, v.8,v.17, v.22, v.33, v.34, v.44, v.55, v.56, v.57, v.60, v.63, v.67, v.69, v.88, v.100, v.101, v. 106, v.115, v.134, v. 136, v.145, v.146, v. 167, v.168

3. Respect it – v.6, v.117

4. Learn it – v.7 (the word is actually 'learned')

5. Taking Heed to it– v.9

6. Not Wander from it – v.10

7. Hide it in your heart – v.11

8. Declare it – v.13

9. Rejoice in it – v.14, v.111, v.162,

10. Meditate – v.15, v.23, v.48, v.78, v.97, v.99, v.148

11. Delight – v.16, v.35, v.70, v. 77, v.92, v.143, v.174

12. Not Forget – v.16, v.61, v.93, v.109, v.139, v.141, v.153, v.176

13. Behold – v.18

14. Long for it – v.20, v.40, v.131, v.159

15. Do not ‘err’ from it – v.21, v.110, v.118

16. Understand it – v.27

17. Stick with it – v.31

18. Run with it – v.32

19. Observe it – v.34

20. Incline to it – v.36

21. Trust it – v.42

22. Hope in it – v.43, v.49, v.74, v.81, v.114, v.129, v.147

23. Speak of it – v.46, v.172

24. Love it – v.47, v.48, v.97, v.113, v.119, v.127, v.140, v.163, v.165, v. 167

25. Do not decline from it – v.51, v.157

26. Remember it – v.52

27. Sing it – v.54

28. Turn to it – v.59

29. Believe it – v.66

30. Learn it – v.71, v.73

31. Know it – v.79, v.125

32. Forsake not – v.87

33. Seek it – v.94

34. Consider it – v.95

35. Do not depart from it – v.102

36. Perform it – v.112

37. Fear it – v.120

38. Esteem it – v.128

39. Order our steps in it – v.133

40. Stand in awe of it – v.161

41. Do it – v.166

42. Choose it –v.173

Friday, June 9, 2006

Railroad ties to Wisdom

"The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;" (Prov. 1:1)

June 26-30th in our church calendar is Mt. Zion Camp Week. This year's theme is "All Aboard" (Train theme). Our main camp speaker this year is Dr. Gary Webb who is Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Carrboro, NC. I am certainly looking forward to some good preaching. In the morning session I will be speaking to the Junior campers on Tues. and Wed. and Pastor Roger Bottrell of Maranatha Baptist Church in Lyons, NY will be speaking to them on Thu. and Fri.

I have been praying about it and studying the book of Proverbs and many of its prominent themes in preparation for the opportunity to preach God's Word to the Junior campers.

Verse 4b of Proverbs 1 says: "To the young man knowledge and discretion." While part of being young among other things is a lack of knowledge and discretion and part of being old (or mature) should be the ability to give wise counsel. The combination works. Ultimately, God has given us the book of Proverbs wherewith we should be able to read and apply God's wisdom for our everday lives. The practicality of Proverbs amazes me and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for us in camp this year.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Same sex marriage..."Out of Order"

As our country drifts farther away from God, we find our Senators debating the issue of a constitutional amendment banning 'same-sex marriage.' "Same-sex marriage" sounds like 'legalized sodomy.' The debate as one could only imagine is going to be uphill, regardless of which party is in power. Same sex marriage now, and what later? Legalized prostitution? Legalized polygamy? Legalized incest? Legalized beastiality? There are verses in the Bible that point to the fact that homosexuality is a sin (Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11) however the Genesis account provides for us a clear testimony of what God thinks about what marriage is. We call this 'The Creation Order.' Here we find that God designed one woman for one man (i.e. Eve for Adam):

"And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Gen. 2:21-24)

Same-sex marriage is just plainly 'out of order' at least out of the Creation Order. Herein lies the issue: God has already defined for us what marriage truly is, and no one can debate God on that and expect to win in the end.

And speaking of ends, Jude 7 also deals with this sin and points out exactly what the results are of such sins..."suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." That does not sound like a politically correct, modernist 'seeker-friendly' statement, however it is basically God's Word.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Consider the Love of God
God's Love Is Eternal

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Everlasting means it will never end. The eternal security of the believer is a clear Bible teaching even from this verse of scripture. A born again believer will never lose Salvation. There are many people who struggle with this doctrine. I for one thought that if any man thinks he is good enough for Heaven that he is surely bound for Hell. Afterall, the worse kind of sinner is the one who thinks he's got it all made. My problem was that I had my eye on the sinner instead of the Savior. I realized that I was not trusting in Christ alone. I knew Jesus, but I relied on my own good works to hopefully get me to Heaven one day. After reading John and 1 John, I remember feeling the convicting element of the Holy Spirit, and I fully trusted in Christ alone. For the first time I understood, sinners don't deserve Heaven, it is only because of God's great love, mercy, and grace that any man (who repents and believes) should not perish, but HAVE everlasting life. God's Word is true, and I'll believe that more than any man's word.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Consider the Love of God
God's Love Is Assuring

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

A Born again child of God can be certain about where he is going to spend eternity. Sadly, many are assuming that they are on their way to Heaven, but genuinely don't care about God, the Bible, church, or spiritual things. They may have knowledge but knowledge does not save. They may even have 'faith' but even the devils believe and we know that won't do them any good. Assurance of Salvation is not just mere assumption. Salvation is more than just a feeling or a mental accent. A saved individual has 'life' in him. He has a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.