Thursday, July 29, 2010


The will of God can be known—if we seek to find it and follow it. God is delighted to reveal His will for us, if we only delight to be ruled by it. It is a mark of the transformed life. Paul underscored this in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (emphasis added).

THE WILL OF GOD IS PROVABLE “that you may prove…”
The Greek word is dokimazo which means “to recognize as genuine after examination.” As we say it, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” A true inner transformation will always be proven by an outer demonstration.

Why do we think the will of God a bitter pill to swallow? The Psalmist exhorted, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” Dare we think that an infinitely wise and utterly loving God would be capable of willing anything for us other than our good?

God would only ask us to accept the possible. It may well be difficult, but it is doable. He will give you the grace to do what you ought to do.

God’s will is found in His Word. Start there. We always wonder about, “Should I marry and whom should I marry?” “Should I go to college and where?” “Should I take this job or that job?” We get bogged down in a myriad of minutia—and I am not saying that any detail of our life shouldn’t be scrutinized for God’s desire in it. Rather, I am saying that if we aren’t careful, we lose sight of the forest for the trees. God has many clear principles to guide us in His Word—a roadmap for the essential matters of life. Get it into your mind so you can have renewed thinking and you’ll be amazed at the clarity concerning God’s will you’ll discover.

THE WILL OF GOD IS PERFECT “perfect will of God.”
The word means to be brought to completion. It is that which Jesus declared from the cross, “It is finished!” Flawlessly and faithfully, Christ fully accomplished His mission from His Father. Although we will not always do it impeccably, we can finish well. This was Paul’s testimony. He would write, just before his martyrdom, “I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.” Now, we can do likewise. By the way, God’s will is perfectly suited for you—as He has designed you.

Scripture calls us to be transformed into Christ’s likeness. According to Romans 12:2, this requires a decisive denial, a deliberate discipline and a definite demonstration. Are you right now proving what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Scripture calls us to be transformed into Christ’s likeness. According to Romans 12 :2, this requires a decisive denial, “And do not be conformed to this world…” and a deliberate discipline, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

It has been said that nature abhors a vacuum. Something is going to fill the space between your ears. Something is going to fill the void in your heart. It isn’t enough to try to keep out the world’s garbage—you must welcome the truth that will transform your life.

There is THE POTENTIAL OF LIFE CHANGE to be “transformed.”

You know, they seem to be making kids brighter these days. At least, my grandchildren are particularly brilliant! My little six year old, Josie, the other day popped up and said, “Nana, I know a word that means change—metamorphosis.” Then she went on to explain the metamorphosis of an ugly old caterpillar wriggling across the ground, becoming a beautiful butterfly flitting through the air. That word comes from the Greek word used by Paul, “transformed.”

Another time it is used in the New Testament is the transfiguration of Jesus—it is the same word. You recall the story, don’t you? Jesus takes Peter, James and John onto a high mountain where what He was on the inside manifests itself on the outside—the hidden glory radiating from Him. Looking at Jesus during the days of His earthly pilgrimage was not to detect anything imposing or unusual about His appearance. He looked like the typical Jewish man of His era. There was no halo or anything of that nature. Jesus was 100% man—but, He was also 100% God! It is just that His deity was often hidden behind the veil of flesh. On the mountain of transfiguration, that changed, and for a brief shining moment, the veil was pulled back and His glory shone out.

There is the potential for Christ in you, to be seen from you—His life manifest in our flesh. A father was explaining to his little boy about what it meant to be a Christian. He mentioned that it means Jesus comes to live in you. The lad asked, “Isn’t Jesus bigger than me?” “Oh, yes,” his father replied. To which the youngster in wide-eyed wonder asked, “But, Daddy, if Jesus comes to live inside me, won’t He stick out?” He sure will! If Christ is in you, then He should be evident.

Further there is THE PROCESS FOR LIFE CHANGE in the “renewing of your mind.”

God has given us a fabulous computer called the mind. That is where life change takes place. Recently I experienced the crash of my hard drive on my laptop. All I could do to fix it was to run System Restore. When completed, I had to begin to download files and reload programs. We are born with a defective hard drive. At salvation, God does System Restore. But then we can allow the world’s malware and Satan’s viruses to infect our computer. What we need is the ant-virus software of Scripture and the firewall of prayer to guard our minds! As we read, meditate on and yield to God’s Word, our mind is renewed—like optimizing the performance and defragmenting your hard disk on the computer. Regular maintenance is required!

Whatever you program into that computer is what you are going to get out of it. You cannot continually look at the world’s movies, listen to the world’s music and love the world’s manner without being squeezed into the world’s mold. It is such a gradual process: like the way water in a riverbed wears away a rock, or the frog in a kettle. Have you heard that? Place a frog in a kettle of hot water and he’ll jump out. But let him be in cool water and gradually turn up the heat and he’ll sit there and cook!

Are you a Trekkie (a devotee of Star Trek for the uninitiated)? In the series, there is an alien race called the Borg. They all look the same, talk the same, serve the same goals—all part of the collective consciousness. Their stated intent is, “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.” Their objective is to assimilate every being into the Borg, to conform them to the Collective. That’s science fiction, but the reality is that this is what the world system is doing.

Resistance is demanded, however! It will not be futile! There are places a child of God shouldn’t go and things he shouldn’t look at or listen to. You say, “I have the right!” Do you? Again I remind you of the context, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans12:1). Then, weigh this, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) We must instead take into the windows of the soul (our eyes and ears) the Word of God—that will renew us and transform us. This is a process too! It won’t happen overnight. It involves effort—discipline and devotion. It’s not about conforming to a set of rules, however; it’s about genuine transformation from the inside out. The third time this Greek word is used in describing this spiritual metamorphosis is in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Is Jesus sticking out?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


That Christians are to be transformed is clear, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” That’s what the Bible commands in Romans 12:2. But how to do it, may not be as understandable.

The first component is what I call, THE DECISIVE DENIAL. Paul writes, “do not be conformed to this world.” That requires a decisive act and it results in a denial of self.

Yet, we must underscore that sheer willpower alone is insufficient. We can commit all we want and all we have and that commitment will falter almost immediately due to our own frailty. The Christian life demands the very life of Christ and His grace and power to enable us to live obediently. Our human resolve isn’t enough. We need heavenly resources. Thank God, we have them in His indwelling Spirit!

Still, the flip-side to this is that God will not transform us apart from our willingness to yield to Him. His transforming touch is available, but must be appropriated by our surrender. You dare not isolate this verse from the context of Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Yesterday, we introduced this concept of transformers by talking about Transformers—the robots of the old cartoon series and recent movie sequels. The fact is: we are not robots! God doesn’t program us, push a button and, suddenly, we are transformed. There must be a decision and that is to stand tall against the world, by leaning all upon the Lord. If you do not make a decisive denial of the world’s standards, you will be conformed to the world.

This is due to THE PERIL TO CONFORM WE WILL FACE. It is vital to know what we mean by “the world.” Literally, it means the “age” and refers to this present evil age of rebellion against God, where Satan is called, “The god of this world (age)” (2 Cor.4:4). John MacArthur says that the world is “the sum of the demonic-human philosophy of life.” The Apostle John helps define the world in 1 John 2:15-18:

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.

The world is marked by hedonism: the love of pleasure, “the lust of the flesh”; by materialism: the love of possessions, “the lust of the eyes”; by egotism: the love of position, “the pride of life”—an unholy trinity of money, sex and power. Many have surrendered to this foe.

So, there will be THE PRESSURE TO CONFORM WE MUST FIGHT. The Greek term suggests an external pressure like squeezing something into a mold. That’s what the world is constantly seeking to do—to twist your mind into accepting its warped values, to bend your heart to pursuing its wicked vices, to shape your life into a mangled moral mess of no use to God. The world is pressuring you to spend your time on carnal pleasure, to spend your treasure on material possessions, and to spend your talent on egotistical promotion of self. You must say, “No!” in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, July 26, 2010


It was 1984 and my oldest son, Chris, was six years old at the time. He became mesmerized by a new cartoon, imported from Japan, called, “Transformers.” The show began with, “Transformers, more than meets the eye! Transformers, robots in disguise.” In the show, the Transformers were giant robots from space that looked like cars, trucks or planes, but then would transform into Autobots to fight the evil Decepticons that were trying to take over the earth.

But, that’s kid’s stuff. What I am talking about this week is the serious business of what you are on the inside, as a Christian, transforming you, so that becomes the expression of your life on the outside. Consider these words from the pen of the Apostle Paul, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what it that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

Something or someone is going to shape your life, and Paul tells us in this text that we will either be conformed to the world or transformed by the Word. The choice is ours. How can we be transformed? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s episode of Transformers!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


According to the Apostle Paul we are to surrender our all to the Savior. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1) To make a claim that one is surrendered to the Savior is relatively easy. Talk is a cheap thing. To demonstrate it is the chief thing! There are at least three results that follow absolute surrender to Christ which are found in this verse.

There will be acceptable WORK FOR GOD “service.”
Surrender means we report for duty. We will serve God doing anything, anywhere, anytime He directs us. In the language of the current sports season, we get out of the dugout and onto the diamond. Are you sitting on the bench or are you in the game? Surrender yields service!

There will be acceptable WORSHIP OF GOD “spiritual worship” (ESV)
The words can also be translated this way. The OT saints brought their sacrifices as an act of worship. Presenting our bodies to Him is the ultimate in worship. He gets our minds engaged in meditating on Him and His Word, our mouths open in prayer and praise, our hearts filled with love and joy, and our hands ready to respond in giving and serving. Worship is never about just taking in, but having freely received, to freely give.

There will be acceptable WITNESS TO GOD “living sacrifice...”
The world will take notice of such a life. It cannot fail to impact the world. By this we bear testimony of our estimation of the worth of Christ’s sacrifice. We judge the worth of something, by what a person is willing to pay. When my faith costs me nothing, it isn’t credible. Such has no power to transform a life.

Are there tangible proofs that you are surrendered to the Savior?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


How can we look at the cross and consider all that God has done for us and fail to surrender ourselves to Him? But, you may be wondering what does it mean to surrender to Him? There are four requirements suggested implied in Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

A COMPLETE SACRIFICE "present your bodies"
We yield our entire being, particularly our body as an instrument in God’s hands to accomplish His work in the world. Christ didn’t die only to save our souls, but to redeem the total person. He wants to use your eyes to see hurting humanity, your ears to hear their cries, your heart to care for them, your feet to go to them, your hands to help them and your lips to tell them why.

A CONSTANT SACRIFICE “a living sacrifice…”
This is a commitment from which there is no turning back—it is living, ongoing. Constantly we surrender—a thousand times a day; when faced with God’s will or our will, we choose to follow Him. “Present” is a definite act—once for all never to return to self-centered living, but “living” is a daily attitude.—ongoing in keeping all on the altar in self-sacrifice.

The sacrifices God demanded in the Old Testament were to be without blemish. They were not acceptable if they were not holy. Repentance from sin is to accompany resignation in sacrifice. I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. Last Saturday night, we went to Flat Rock Grille with a couple of our fine church members, Alan and Monica Young. Let’s suppose that as the waiter brought the order, I noticed that I didn’t have any silverware. Now, I am quite capable of eating food with my fingers, but my wife frowns on that in public! So, I request some utensils from our server. He reaches over to the table beside us, where a family has just left eating, picks up a fork, holds it up and says, “This one has some food on it—I’ll wipe it off” and he wipes it on his pant leg and hands it to me! My response is, “I don’t just want a fork—I want a clean one!” God doesn’t want a sacrifice contaminated by sin, but consecrated in sanctification.

A COMMENDABLE SACRIFICE “acceptable to God…”
The Pharisees brought offerings to God, but they were motivated by the applause of man. Rather than commend them, Christ condemned them. God doesn’t just judge us by the outward appearance. He looks at the heart. What is the motive for our surrender? God doesn’t just judge the outward expression of devotion, but the inward motivation. It isn’t just actions, but attitudes that He evaluates. Our service isn’t to be about our glory, but His. We aren’t out to make a name for ourselves, but to magnify the name of Christ.

This is what God requires. Offer yourself today as a living sacrifice—complete, constant, consecrated and commendable.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The Apostle Paul calls us to surrender to the Savior in Romans 12:1. He says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” I believe that he is suggesting three reasons for absolute surrender.

The first reason is BECAUSE IT IS REQUESTED “I beseech you…” Although Paul might have spoken with the authority of an Apostle and demanded it, instead he stoops as a beggar and pleads for it. He knew that love cannot be coerced. It must be freely given. Christ will knock at your heart’s door and plead with you, but He won’t break it down. How can you shut up your heart from surrender to Him?

The second reason is BECAUSE IT IS RESPONSIVE “therefore…by the mercies of God…” This verse marks a transition in the thrust of Paul’s letter. The Apostle has for eleven chapters directed us to the manifold mercies of God. He has spoken of the greatness of God’s grace in saving wretched sinners like we are! Now, we can respond to those mercies. We love Him for He first loved us!

The third reason is BECAUSE IT IS RATIONAL “your reasonable service.” Do we think God is asking too much? Do we respond to the call to absolute surrender with, “Lord, be reasonable!” The Lord is not being unreasonable in demanding we surrender all. Don’t you know that you have nothing apart from Him? Don’t you understand that He surrendered everything to give you eternal life? The only rational thing to do is to surrender everything to Him!

The time to do it is today—right NOW!

Monday, July 19, 2010


It was the early 1700’s, when a young aristocrat named Nikolas Zinzendorf viewed a painting by Domenico Feti called “Ecce Homo” (“Behold the Man”). He read the words beneath, “I have done this for you; what have you done for me?” As his gaze was transfixed on the painting, his heart was transformed by the message. He committed his life to Christ and started a great missions movement, which still has an impact today.

Over a century later, a young lady, Frances Havergal, saw the same picture with similar effect. Having the heart of a poet, her expression of gratitude became a hymn that still challenges us today,

“I gave my life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead;
I gave, I gave my life for thee,
What hast thou given for me?”

That is the point Paul presents in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

“I have done this for you; what have you done for me?”

Saturday, July 17, 2010


There is no one like God! That is the conclusion of a man who likely had more insight into God than any mere mortal—who had been blinded by that glory—Paul, the Apostle. Meditate on these remarkable words,

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”
35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”
36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36)

AN INCOMPREHENSIBLE WAY “His ways past finding out!” (v.33)
The Greek language paints a picture of a hound losing the scent of its prey or a guide losing the sight of the path. Thus we cannot fully trace the footprints of God’s sovereign steps. You cannot understand all the ways of God.

• HE NEEDS THE COUNSEL OF NONE (v.34) We think we are so smart—we are as fleas trying to understand calculus. Who do we think we are to give God advice? What hubris! How pompous! To claim to fully understand God is to show how little we do understand Him! Job’s friends tried to explain to Job the inexplicable and although Job had greater insight, his thoughts and speech eventually crossed the line as well. This godly man demanded an audience with God, and when he got it, he had to shut up as God said, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge. Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” (Job 38:2-3) God doesn’t answer to us—but we answer to Him!
• HE NEEDS THE CONTRIBUTION OF NONE (v.35) If you had to buy Bill Gates a birthday present, what could you give him? Tough task! So, what can you give God? God needs nothing. He owns it all. He owes us nothing. He doesn’t need us, but we need Him. God without us is still God, but without God we’re nothing! God identifies Himself as “I AM THAT I AM.” He is all; He is everything—self-existent, self-sufficient, self-sustaining. God isn’t into hand-wringing! If God doesn’t come through, we’re through, but He isn’t desperately waiting for our service or our tithe. He, in His grace, extends an invitation for us to join Him in His work. That is in order to bless us with the privilege, not to enable God to do that which He could not do Himself!

AN INFINITE WEIGHT “to whom be glory forever.” (v.36)
All the universe exists and moves to this end—the glory (Greek: doxa, from which we get doxology) of God and God alone. The Hebrew term is kabod, the word for “weight” and speaks to the gravity of His being. Don’t take God lightly! But that’s much of what contemporary church culture does! We get too chummy with God. He’s not the “man upstairs” and Jesus isn’t your “buddy.” How flip and glib we can be when we speak of the thrice Holy One!

• HE IS THE SOURCE OF ALL THINGS “of Him…” Nothing exists apart from Him. He called it all into being by a spoken word! Imagine grace like a river—God is the fountain from which it springs.
• HE IS THE SUSTAINER OF ALL THINGS “through Him…” He is also the channel through which grace flows. He holds all things together by the word of His power, and apart from His sustaining glory, everything would fly apart!
• HE IS THE SUM OF ALL THINGS “to Him are all things…” God is the boundless sea into which all things flow. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:28, “that God may be all in all.” Since His glory is the primary purpose of all things, then His glory should be our preeminent passion.

And all God’s people must joyfully join with Paul’s final word in this chapter, “Amen!”

Friday, July 16, 2010


Paul the Apostle breathlessly testified of God, “How unsearchable are His judgments…” (Romans 11:33). This has to do with the decisions, decrees and deeds of God. It speaks of His activity—an indescribable work!

God issues a decree and none can thwart it. His intentions will be fulfilled though men fail, though wickedness seems to prevail, though all the hosts of hell assail. God renders a judgment and His will cannot be altered.

Everything He does is right because He can do no other. Should God act in a way that is not right then He would not be God! So, you want me to explain all that God does, and why? I cannot! No one can! If we could, then we would be God!

Spurgeon had to right when he stated, "God is too good to be unkind, too wise to be mistaken and, when you cannot trace His hand, you can always trust His heart." Faith rests in this promise, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Thursday, July 15, 2010


There was a President, who newly elected, took a long journey from Chicago to Washington, D.C. He called his fellow Americans to tune in to his State of the Union speech that he might speak of all the bounty with which they had been blessed, but had squandered during the previous administration, through lack of government regulation and programs.

One citizen was a white collar owner of a small family business, another was a blue collar worker trying to meet his family’s needs, and yet another, though poor, was healthy and blessed with the opportunity to make something of his life.

The small businessman invested wisely, worked diligently and became the owner of a Fortune 500 company.

The blue-collar worker scrimped and saved and worked overtime in order to start his own business.

The other man frittered away his opportunity and decided that society was mistreating him, the rich were taking advantage of him and government owed him a living, so he sat around and did nothing—except when he wanted to party, which he always seemed to have time and money to do.

After many days and several trips to the golf course, the President had a press conference from the Oval Office.

He chided the man who had become successful in building a large corporation as being greedy and unconcerned for the poor—not giving his fair share to the government. “I will place you in a higher tax bracket until we bring you to the level of the poor man,” said the all-wise, all-caring President.

Likewise, he scolded the middle class worker who had struggled so long to begin his own little business, for he too had so much more than the poor man and was self-centered according to the President—not giving his fair share to the government, either. “I will raise your taxes also (though not as high as the wealthy man) until we bring you to the level of the poor man,” said the all-wise, all-caring President.

Turning to the poor man, the compassionate President heard him say, “Life has been unfair to me. My welfare check doesn’t go as far as it used to. Gas prices from greedy oil companies make it expensive to fill up my Mercedes. It is hard to make ends meet when big screen TV’s and cable bills are so expensive, not to mention the cost of liquor. I worked for a rich man for a few days and he expected me to be on time and work hard and it was just more than my nervous condition could bear. If I have to work, a government job would be much better.”

To the man who wasted his days in lethargy and his nights with lotteries, liquor and ladies, the President said, “Life has indeed been unfair to you. The educational system has failed you. Greedy corporations have taken advantage of you. Society owes you, but has neglected you. Even if you had a government job, the wealthy bankers where you deposit your money would take it and stuff their own pockets with profits. We will take from the rich and the middle class and give it to you, so there may truly be equality in America at last. We will also remember the plight of the poor in oppressed nations around the world and do all we can to destroy the businesses of America so we can become a third-world country also. At the end of the day, it’s all about equality.” Thus spoke the all-wise, all-caring President as he flawlessly read his teleprompter before the fawning media.

“For to everyone who has, more will be taken, and he will have little; but from him who produces little, we will give a little more,” thus said the all-wise, all-caring President as he departed for another vacation.

“And put the profitable citizen into prison. I’m sure he is abusing the system.”

Then across the once-fruited plain, there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

(With apologies to Saint Matthew and the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show)

The views expressed are those of Dennis Thurman and are not intended to represent the opinions and viewpoints of Pole Creek Baptist Church. Neither should these be construed as a benediction on the rich and condemnation of the poor. There are greedy rich people and honorable poor people. Some of God’s special saints live on meager funds—disabled, disadvantaged—doubtless the case. Others may prosper materially and be bankrupt morally and spiritually. Also, there is not disrespect intended for the office of the Presidency which God has commanded Christians to honor and obey, as well as pray for—which I have done this morning already. What is intended is to show how this parable of Christ has been turned on its head by the current administration.

The other day, at the conclusion of my message, one of our members tried to tell me something. I say “tried” because I wasn’t getting it. The problem wasn’t with them—it was with me! I said to them what I have told others, “By the end of my sermon every brain cell I have is exhausted!” That will never approach being said of God! Paul exclaims in Romans 11:33a, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”

Knowledge is the information God possesses and wisdom is the application of what He knows. One may have knowledge and use it as cunning to do evil. God not only has knowledge but out of His righteous character can only apply that knowledge in doing right—and that is wisdom.

God is omniscient. He has never learned anything. He has never discovered anything. He has never been surprised by anything.

I am convinced this is one reason many try to avoid thinking about God—you cannot fool Him. He knows all about you. If you are living in sin, this is a disquieting thought!

But, it is also a comforting thing. He knows what you need before you ask—even before the need arises. He sees the tears that dampen your pillow in the dark. He documents the work done for Him that no one else may notice or reward. He can guide you in the right way for He is flawless in His knowledge and wisdom. Drink deeply of that knowledge and wisdom—it is an inexhaustible supply!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Paul has spoken in Romans of the riches of God’s goodness—even to sinners, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (2:4, emphasis added). The Apostle has written about the riches of God’s glory—to the saved, “and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory” (9:23, emphasis added). He has told of the riches of God’s grace—to all who believe, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.” (10:12, emphasis added). Further, Paul underscored the riches of God’s government—His plan for Jews and Gentiles, “Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” (11:12, emphasis added). These are the incalculable riches of redemption that Paul would have us gaze upon as he opens the treasure chest of truth in Romans 11:33, and breathtakingly comments, “Oh, the depth of the riches…!” (emphasis added)

How can you place a dollar value on that? It is ours through Christ! The Apostle’s extensive vocabulary failed in its ability to calculate its worth and said this,

8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;
10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,
11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord
(Eph.3:8-11, emphasis added)

Worship is my response to the worth of God. It is a worth so incalculable that it will require all eternity to declare it. Why don’t we get started today?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Paul—this brilliant thinker—is overwhelmed at the thought of God’s greatness as He considers it in Romans 11:33-36. He ecstatically utters, “Oh, the depth….” The Apostle is swept away. We ought to be!

Spurgeon, likewise a superior intellect, whose sermons are still read centuries after their delivery, declared, “The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of the child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.”

Paul has jumped into a boundless ocean of grace, and plunged into the lowest depth where the mercy of God reaches the vilest sinner, and marvels that God’s glory and love is an unfathomable sea. This is the experience of one who encounters God as He truly is, rather than a false God we design with our futile philosophy.

There is a point of penetrating the depths of the ocean beyond which a human cannot dive—the pressure becomes more than the body can stand. That is true in our understanding of God—we can go so far and no farther. God told Moses, “No man can see my face and live.” Our humanity would wither before the brightness of His full glory. It is inexpressible! It is immeasurable!

My son, Caleb, asked me the other day to imagine a color outside the spectrum of light. I would not have even thought to consider such a thing, but that is the way his mind works! I cannot envision a color like that, and neither can you. Thus it is with the immeasurable wonder of God. Our highest and noblest thoughts cannot imagine all that He is. He goes beyond that—far beyond. While I can’t fully come to grips in my head with all that He is, I can be gripped in my heart by the truth of His greatness! May it be so, for each of us today!

Be reminded:
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” (A.W.Tozer).

Monday, July 12, 2010


“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” (A.W.Tozer).

What comes into your mind when you think about God? I am afraid that many of us try to shape God in our image. We take human attributes and raise them to a superior level—which is what people have done from antiquity in pagan worship. That is what the Bible calls idolatry.

While we are made in God’s image, to turn that on its head and try to make God in our image is to first of all degrade God and then likewise ourselves, for we become like that which we worship. Listen to these words,

4 Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands.
5 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see;
6 They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell;
7 They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
8 Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.
(Psalm 115:4-8, emphasis added)

So, if God isn’t just a highly exalted man, how are we to think of Him?

It is hard to describe God, because He is indescribable. There is no one like God. He defies explanation. It is impossible to fully know Him. It is the height of arrogance to suppose that we can fully comprehend all that an infinite Being is—someone so “other than” we are—so far above and beyond. But, we are to think of Him, and think of Him as He truly is, for in so doing our thoughts are elevated and we become more like Him. Worship is our response to our thoughts of God.

For eleven chapters, Paul has presented us the most comprehensive and systematic theology to be found in the New Testament. In today’s church we want to give doctrine a wink and leap to the practical—doing stuff. We don’t meditate on truth, and because we don’t think deeply, our work for God, rather ends up in self-glory and has no eternal value and spiritual power. In contrast, when we are gripped with God’s glory, we see Him—even though as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, it is through a dark glass—and the spirit of worship is first kindled in us and then follows work! Don’t jump into Romans 12 and the following chapters of practical application, until you first are grounded in doctrinal education, with the pivot point being worshipful adoration.

Here’s where theology becomes doxology! Now by doxology we don’t just mean the hymn that begins, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” as wonderful as that doxology is. The Greek word for glory is doxa and combined with logos meaning “word” you have the term doxology, defined as speaking of God’s glory! Paul does that in Romans 11:33-36,

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”
35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”
36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

This is where theology becomes doxology!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Sinful Confidence
from Kairos Journal 7/08/10 edition

4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” . . . 9 Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods
you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things?
Jeremiah 7:4, 9-10 (NIV)

Religious devotion without moral obedience is worthless. It is hypocrisy. The Church can never expect God to bless and establish her as long as she is engulfed by her own sin.

The Lord commanded Jeremiah to preach this message at the gate of the temple, probably at one of Israel’s great national feasts. He addressed a people who had relied on outward devotion to temple worship while living corrupt and sinful lives. In the course of the sermon, Jeremiah mentioned their breaking almost every one of the Ten Commandments (v. 9).

They had twisted one of God’s promises, making their sinful confidence all the more evil. God had said He would protect Jerusalem from the king of Assyria (Isa. 37:35); they had turned the promise into a standing guarantee. They committed all the evil they desired and hid behind the temple walls, crying: “This is the temple of the Lord! We are safe!”

God was infuriated by their arrogant rebellion and called them to repentance. If they would change their ways, He would allow them to live. If they would not, all the judgments Jeremiah had prophesied would crush them.

In God’s eyes, sin had eclipsed the Israelites’ religious observance. They had even begun to worship false gods, rejecting their very identity as the people of God. How was Israel to be a light to the Gentiles, when she was worshipping the same gods and committing the same sins as those around her?

Christians today are rocked back on their heels. They have lost the ability to engage the culture, because they have nothing different to offer. Many churches, sometimes even consciously, are influenced by the world’s values. They go about their religious routine, all the while taking compromising lessons from the world and peddling the gospel and their programs with slick marketing techniques. Nothing sets them apart, yet they continue to believe they are indispensable merely because they vainly repeat that they are “the church of the Lord, the church of the Lord, the church of the Lord!”

Such churches must repent of surrendering their position as the light of the world. God has no obligation to preserve a congregation or denomination which defiles His Name. If they insist on cozying up to the world, they should not be surprised if they find themselves, like Israel, judged and scattered.
THE DESTINY OF AMERICA: Practical Application

John’s vision recorded in Revelation 6:12-17 doesn’t describe America specifically, but it does speak to any nation that rebels against God.

12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.
13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind.
14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.
15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,
16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!
17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

That day will certainly come for all the nations that forget God.

As I look to America’s future, I fear for this land. There are three great concerns I have:

Bottom line—we’ve rejected God. We mock Him and flaunt His laws. Following the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers on 9/11 there was a dramatic increase in church attendance, but now it is worse then before. It is as though we were roused from slumber, and have rolled back over into a deeper sleep. Even in the church there has come the great falling away. If that light is dimming, how dark is the world becoming!

I don’t know how a financial collapse is avoided. It would take a miracle for us to survive—and God is capable—yet, why should He bail us out? A financial meltdown here will drag down the whole world economy and the ensuing anarchy will pave the way for Antichrist. The Bible is clear—it isn’t a question of if, but only when.

There are enemies abroad to be sure, but the greatest danger is from the enemy within. America is not so much threatened by the woodpeckers on the outside of our borders, as by the termites inside them. A malignant moral cancer is eating away at our soul, draining away our moral life force.

These are the choices: revival or ruin; repentance or retribution.

Old Ben Franklin wasn’t a Christian. He was a deist. Still, he had a moral framework and an understanding of Scripture perhaps greater than that possessed by most pew sitters today. It seemed that America would be a miscarriage—never seeing the light of day as the Continental Congress quibbled and quarreled. Here is the solution Franklin proposed:

“I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men! And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? —We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that, ‘except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe, that without his concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests, our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a by-word down to future ages. I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers, imploring the assistance of heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business; and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”

Pray—pray--pray! God is still on the throne, and He may not be finished with us yet! Jonah came preaching, “Forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed!” But they repented, revival came and a reprieve was granted, as God stayed His wrath for a space. He can do it again, if we will turn to Him with all our hearts!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

THE DOWNFALL OF ROME: Historical Illustration

Daniel prophesied of the rise and fall of four great empires: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. In chapter four, verses twenty through twenty-seven, we read of Babylon’s king Nebuchadnezzar and the judgment that came on him.

20 “The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth,
21 whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home—
22 it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth.
23 “And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him’;
24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High,which has come upon my lord the king:
25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.
26 “And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.
27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogant spirit is representative of all pagan rulers, including the Caesars who governed Rome. As has been well said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” At the pinnacle of earthly power stood Rome. Never was there an empire like Imperial Rome. Now, we can learn from history or we will be doomed to repeat it.


o Strong Families—Rome was founded on high moral standards. Each father was respected as head of the family and saw to it that the principle of authority was inculcated, along with other important principles and character qualities.

o Home Education—Parents were responsible for education. This further strengthened family ties and the transmitting of family values and civic and moral virtues.

o Economic Prosperity—Strong families led to strong finances. It has been said that, “All roads lead to Rome,” and on those roads, you would have found vast wealth flowing its way into the city. Rome’s armies prevailed and gathered the spoils of victory.


o Family Breakdown—As Rome prospered, educated Greeks were hired to teach children and with it they brought their humanistic philosophy, filling a younger generation with false ideas that would unravel the fabric of the family.

o Excessive Taxation, Inflation, Trade Deficit, Socialism—By the first century, authority had moved from the parents to the state, and with big government came all this economic chaos with catastrophic unemployment. The state created a multitude of government jobs. The poisonous flower of the welfare state was in full bloom.

o Pleasure Addiction—Sports, the gladiatorial contest of the Coliseum, the Circus—all these spectacles became a national obsession. The citizens could not get enough and the government was happy to feed the addiction to keep the populace under control.

o Extreme Cost of Maintaining Defense, Infrastructure—The Empire was so vast, roads, bridges and buildings so many, that keeping up the army and infrastructure bankrupted them.

o Moral Decline, Crime—Perversion and vice; drunkenness and debauchery flourished. Crime increased exponentially.

o Failure of Immigrants to Assimilate—the borders were not guarded—whether it be the Vandals, Visigoths, Huns or some other barbarian horde, they flooded into the land and they did not assimilate into the Roman culture. There was no common bond to hold them together—not even a common language. These were named barbarians because their speech sounded like, “bar bar” to the Romans.

o Government Corruption, Excess—Time would fail us to list the flaws of the leaders. Good taste would prevent us from detailing their perversions. Let’s just say that some of the vilest rulers who ever held power were found in ancient Rome. Incest, sodomy, and the like were routinely practice in the palace.

By no means is this list exhaustive--there were other contributing factors, but these were primary and most illustrative. Does any of this sound familiar?

So, where are we headed in America?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Israel had a great privilege of being God’s chosen people—yet, with great privilege comes great responsibility. They failed to be faithful to their covenant with a God who was so faithful to Him.

In Deuteronomy 11:26-28, we hear this challenge from God,

26 “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse:
27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today;
28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.

But, despite the warnings from God, Israel turned from Him.

The SINS THAT CAUSED DISCIPLINE were those God had forbidden them to practice in Deuteronomy 27:14-26.

14 “And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say to all the men of Israel:
15 ‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ “And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’
16 ‘Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
17 ‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
18 ‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
19 ‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
20 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s bed.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
21 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
22 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
23 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
24 ‘Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
25 ‘Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
26 ‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ ”

When the Jews entered the Promised Land, the tribes were divided—part to stand on Mt. Gerizim and proclaim blessing and part on Mt. Ebal and pronounce cursing. What sins would bring a curse on the nation?

o Idolatry (v.15)
o Disrespect for Parents (v.16)
o Failure to Honor Property Rights (v.17)
o Abusing the Handicapped (v.18)
o Injustice to Aliens, Orphans and Widows (v.19)
o Sexual Sins (v.20-23)
o Violence (v.24-25)

Do we not see a proliferation of these sins in America today?

The SIGNS THAT CONFIRMED DISCIPLINE are listed in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. When a nation is visited with the judgment of God there is:

o Disease

21 The Lord will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess.
22 The Lord will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish.
35 The Lord will strike you in the knees and on the legs with severe boils which cannot be healed, and from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.
(v.21-22, 27, 35)

o Drought

23 And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron.
24 The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed. (v.23-24)

o Defeat

25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and no one shall frighten them away. (v.25-26)

o Depression: Both emotional & economic.

28 The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of
29 And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you shall not prosper in your ways; you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you.
42 Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land. (v.28-29, 42)

o Destruction

30 “You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her; you shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes.
31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your donkey shall be violently taken away from before you, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have no one to rescue them.
32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand.
33 A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually.
34 So you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see. (v.30-34)

o Decline

36 The Lord will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods—wood and stone.
37 And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the Lord will drive you.
38 “You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it.
39 You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.
40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off.
41 You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity. (v.36-41)

o Debt

43 “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.
44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
45 “Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.
46 And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants
forever. (v.43-46)

After reading this, one must wonder if we are not already experiencing the judgment of God in America!

Monday, July 05, 2010


God judges nations.

Scripture warns, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” ( Ps.33:12). The opposite holds true as well, “The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God.” (Ps.9:17). God told the nation of Israel, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” (Deut.30:19).

As we just celebrated America’s birthday, how many more such birthdays can we expect to see if we continue to defy God?

George Mason, The father of the Bill of Rights, speaking at the Constitutional Convention declared: "As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, so they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities."

Thomas Jefferson understood this and said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” This is the same man who is credited for building the so-called wall of separation of church and state. We have allowed liberals to re-write our history and activist judges to strip away our Christian heritage. Obviously, Jefferson never intended this divorce between God and government as radical secularists promote today in his name.

Look at what the first Supreme Court justice, John Jay said, “Whether our religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers is a question which merits more consideration than it seems yet to have generally received either from the clergy or the laity. It appears to me that what the prophet said to Jehoshaphat about his attachment to Ahab ["Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord?" 2 Chronicles 19:2] affords a salutary lesson.” A man like this today would be laughed out of Washington, branded a right-wing nut. Look at the caliber of person we’re getting ready to put on our Highest Court today—how far we have fallen! As I watch the questioning of the nominee, by the Senate of Elena Kagan, I am reminded of the bar scene in Star Wars. I wonder what planet these creatures are from!

Let’s hear this solemn warning from another one of our Founding Fathers, “No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders." ~Samuel Adams.

Paul wrote in Romans 11 concerning the judgment of God on the nation of Israel. He also warned the Gentiles that if they chose the same wicked road, they would face the same wrathful result. The Scripture says,

17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,
18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.”
20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.

Friday, July 02, 2010


On the day that God called Abraham out of idolatry and Abraham responded in faith, God entered into a covenant of grace with that man and his descendants. The covenant was renewed with Abraham’s son Isaac and his son Jacob. It was extended and expanded with David beyond just the racial lines to the royal lines. Those covenant promises have not been revoked! They cannot be! Paul emphatically states, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom.11:29). Should God break the covenant, that would make Him either a deliberate deceiver, unreliable to keep His promise, or at the least, an impotent God, incapable of keeping His promise.

God is not through with the Jew! Look at the promise of Romans 10:13, “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’ ” Do you believe God will keep His word? Now, consider the promise of Romans 11:26, “And so all Israel will be saved.” Do you doubt that? You can’t have one without the other.

Early in church history, anti-Semitism came creeping into the church. Where the church had been exclusively Jewish at its start, it became almost exclusively Gentile. Satan saw an opportunity to attack Israel—those he hates. Do you wonder why there is such hatred for Jews? It is because they are God’s chosen—and the devil despises them. Several heresies became entrenched in the church. One of these is that Israel has been replaced by the church—a new spiritual Israel. Augustine was a powerful proponent of this. Later, with the Reformation, and the revival of the church, many key doctrines were recovered, especially justification by faith, yet Luther took a hard turn toward anti-Semitism and most of the Reformers likewise advocated replacement theology—and still many who subscribe to Reformed Theology do today.

Now, a new wave of anti-Semitism is sweeping the world. Pope Benedict recently decried what he calls Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and attacked Bible-believing Christians for supporting Israel. Well, I get my direction from God, not the Pope. The world is turning against the Jews—even our government. This is all part of the end-times events predicted in the Scripture. But, the promise is given of Israel’s future deliverance. There will come a time when they will receive Christ as their Messiah. This will usher in earth’s golden age at Christ’s return. How exciting that will be!

Mediate on the grace of God that not only saves a prodigal person, but a profligate people, as you ponder these truths:

25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”
28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.
29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience,
31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy.
32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
(Romans 11:25-32)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

THE REPROOF OF ISRAEL: Continually Barren

Paul reaches into the realm of agriculture to illustrate a spiritual principle in Romans 11:11-24:

11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.
15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,
18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.”
20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.
22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

Our salvation has Jewish roots—the law that convicts us and serves as our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Gal.3:24) was given through Israel. The Savior who converts us and sacrificed as our substitute to bring us to God was a Jew. The Apostles who communicated the Scripture in testimony of the Gospel were Jews. Thank God for the seed of Abraham!

The best way we can show our gratitude for them is by sharing the Gospel with them. Often you will hear that we shouldn’t share the Gospel with Jews. They call it proselytizing. So what? I’m just returning the favor! The fact is, I was proselytized by the Jews! I’m a Christian today because of the outreach of Jewish missionaries 2000 years ago whose message at last reached my ears as it traveled down through the corridor of time.

The Apostle tells us that Abraham’s family is God’s cultivated olive tree. We Gentiles are branches of a wild olive tree, according to Paul—so, don’t be arrogant. The branches of the unbelieving Jews were broken off and Gentile branches were grafted in. Now that’s grace!

Why was Israel judged? God reproved them for the barrenness of unbelief. He looks for fruit! The Jews of that day professed to be children of God, but there was no fruit. It isn’t enough to declare our faith—we must demonstrate it—or it’s not faith at all—it’s mere fantasy.

That applies to Gentiles, as well as Jews—those within the church as well as those outside it.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’
45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:31-46)