Thirty-two Trips to the Well
Michael L. Ford, Th.D.
One of the passages I have seen misused concerns God being no respecter of persons. Peter said “Of a truth I perceive God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.” (Acts 10: 34-35) God does make a difference concerning people according to His own will and character. This means His judgment in respect to people is absolutely right.
Would that my own judgment concerning others could always be accurate. There have been many disappointments in people along life’s way. Most of the people I hold in admiration are now awaiting the resurrection. However there are a very few still living I do respect and desire their presence and approval. This highlights the difference between God and man, for it is He that determines upon whom He will bestow His presence, and His approval is always tempered by the knowledge we are but dust.
This is a key to our own relationship with others. We must remember that they, like ourselves, are but dust. The best of us have failings, chinks in our armor, so to speak. It is a measure of spiritual maturity when we recognize that none of us is perfectly conformed to the image of Christ and can differentiate between that and gross character flaws that marks a rebellious spirit.
There is great danger in endorsing a man or a cause, particularly from the pulpit. Certainly great care should be exercised in who should be allowed to stand before the assembly. We demonstrate a respect of persons in whom we allow and recommend and those we do not. It is far safer to speak highly of a dead man than a living one because a dead man cannot embarrass his endorser with future deeds.
God sets His seal upon us already knowing our future deeds and with absolute certainty that somewhere along life’s path we will prove disappointing. But amazingly it does not appear God is embarrassed because of us, we only embarrass ourselves. God is too great to be embarrassed by mere man. Only a man can be personally embarrassed by another person. We can grieve God and we can grieve man. Thus it is important that we exercise care concerning who we set our approval on. Pg 1
It is one thing to recognize the failures of the Children of Israel under the law, and quite another to enjoy those failings. More than once I have seen some Bible teacher emphasize the point of Israel’s shortcomings with a measure of satisfaction inappropriate to reality forgetting that the Law of Moses was given to demonstrate none can live up to the righteousness of God.
When we make comparison between Israel under law and Christianity under grace we should remember a great distinction between the failings of the two. Hebrews failed apart from the Holy Spirit; Christians fail in spite of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that failure under grace with more of the revelation of God in Christ Jesus given is the greater failing.
Thinking about this a passage of Scripture came back to mind:
“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came. We were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3: 21-24
Sometimes we get confused in our thinking. Having experienced the benefits of living under grace we conclude that the same effect was present under law. If this were true, then much of the change wrought in men by the individual working of the Spirit would have been unnecessary. But clearly law cannot do what is freely available to all in the faith under grace.
There was a necessity for a period of time under law so the benefits of grace as opposed to strict law, of faith as opposed to works even those seeking righteousness, could be demonstrated and appreciated. To criticize the failures of people under the former from the standpoint of the latter without recognizing the benefits they labored without is inappropriate. Our debt to the lessons we are the beneficiaries of under grace demands this. Pg 2
A television newsman, talking about a mass murderer, referred to Dante’s Inferno when he was talking about the ultimate sentence a certain mass murderer would receive in the hereafter. This portion of a work known as The Divine Comedy, written by Dante Alighieri between 1306 and 1321, presents an encyclopedic overview of attitudes, beliefs, philosophies, and material aspects of the medieval world. I wondered how much of Dante’s picture of hell the newsman actually believed in? He was apparently familiar with the fact Dante saw the last of hell’s nine levels as a place of ultimate justice with merciless retribution upon the unrepentant.
The Bible says more about hell than it does heaven, but it is not nearly so detailed concerning the place of ultimate torment as was Dante in his imaginings. In Jude verse 6 the depths of hell is pictured as a place of holding for the angels which kept not their first estate, a place of such darkness it makes the absence of light compose the chains that bind. From Scripture we might surmise hell has depths, even levels, but it is all hell, a depository of loss souls and place of eternal separation from God.
There is no doubt that the Bible condones even endorses capital punishment, but the intrepid newsman mourned the fact this mass murderer would not be subject to it. I have to confess that while I can have no objection to the ultimate penalty for evil, I find it unsettling that it should be desired for a human being with such a vengeful spirit. In Ezekiel 33:11 we read “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: …” If God take no pleasure in such things it is inappropriate that we should do so.
In Psalm 9:17 we read, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Now I know that while I am no mass murderer I once had my portion among the wicked, even as all born into this world do. Were it not for the unsearchable riches of God’s grace in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ I would be marked to spend eternity in the place of torment. And, I am persuaded that even mass murderers can have their hearts broken and be saved from their sins if they will but turn to the Savior of the world. We should pray for that. Pg 3
The question of the proper Christian attitude toward riches has been a continuing one during the Church Age. It is a little surprising that this is so because before this tine riches were generally taken as a sign of favor from God, or in the case of pagans, the gods. When you take a look at some of the principle characters in the Bible you find they were people of wealth, or had wealth at the time when God’s call came to them: Abraham started out wealthy and continued to be rich in the wealth of his day throughout; Moses gave up the riches of Pharaoh and married into a fairly well to do pastoral family; Elisha, Isaiah, and Amos appear to be well to do in their origins; Daniel started out wealthy and then was rewarded with wealth and position in Babylon.
In the New Testament the Gospel first appealed to the poorer people and to slaves we are told. But not a few were fairly well situated. One of the inner core of disciples was a wealthy tax collector and then you have converts like Zaccheus, Joseph of Arimathea, the Roman Centurion, and Lazarus and his family. After the Lord’s resurrection a number of converts named in Acts are plainly well off financially. Clearly God can receive unto Himself wealthy people and use them for His purposes. So then where is the dividing line that defines where our proper view of wealth should be?
In Mark 10: 17-30, the Lord Jesus Christ addressed the problem of riches when a “rich young ruler” came to Him. Notice in the account the young man came running, he was under conviction concerning his need for salvation. Notice also that the Scripture proclaims the Lord Jesus loved this young man, but He focused on the young man’s one area of life that he loved more than God, his riches. It was because the young man was unwilling to give up what he loved most that he went away sorrowing, not the money itself.
Many times people do not understand riches are more than money. Riches are those things people value. Sometimes people put high value on things of small real importance and those are a hindrance to being right with God as much as gold. But then the finest gold here is of less value than heaven’s paving stones. Pg4
The perfectly valid English word, heroine, is not politically correct anymore. Masculine forms of many words are now being used as gender neutral. It amazes me that people, particularly those of the fairer sex, are willing to stand for such foolishness or even play into it by using this kind of politically correct terminology. But we see everywhere this is going on. Not me. I have heroes and heroines in my knowledge, my experience, and my acquaintance and will continue to refer to them properly. One of the reasons I do so, and will continue to do so, is the quality that constitutes the truly heroic is often different for men and women.
There are several women in the Bible whose actions take on heroic dimensions because they were performed by one of their sex. Examples from both the Old and New Testaments would have to include Deborah the prophetess, and Mary, the mother of our Lord. Each had a crisis point of heroism. Deborah was heroic in her actions because of her sex, and Mary could only have been heroic in an out of wedlock pregnancy because she was a woman. This makes them heroines not heroes.
Yesterday I received a letter from one of my modern heroines. She lives, works, and evangelizes in an area where I have only gone with a weapon at hand. She has heeded the call: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:20
She is a heroine every day because she risks not only her own physical safety but the purity of her person in a place where many have given themselves to some of the worst forms of depravity and there are those who would not mind despoiling her. Just to live there as an emissary of Jesus Christ and reach out to those people is a heroic act based on abandonment of self to the Gospel and calling of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Were I to go and live there, doing the things she does would not be heroic. I would simply be on mission for Jesus Christ accepting certain risks. But then I would not be risking nearly as much as she. Here is a woman worthy of admiration as a true heroine for that matter of eternal import.
According to information I received in May 2003, Niger, Mauritania and the Sudan are today considered the main countries in Africa where slavery persists but they are not the only countries where this is going on to this day. Many of the slaves in Niger are held by the Tuaregs, a tribe of people I once had an experience with on the Sahara Desert. Some people ‘s families have been in slavery for generations.
Niger's slaves often refuse to leave their masters despite the terrible conditions in which they live, we are told, because at least "they have a roof over their head and something to eat." From what I learned while living in North Africa in 1968 after the Six Day War this statement has the ring of truth. Some generational slaves are proud of the fact that they know their value.
For me those I met nearly forty years ago who were in willing slavery have stood as a type and shadow of those people who are content to reside in spiritual slavery. Many people in countries where physical slavery is outlawed are content to reside in spiritual slavery. They trade the riches available to them in Christ for the hollow rewards of those carnal things that hold them in spiritual bondage.
The Christian lives in a bit of a contradiction. He has been given freedom from spiritual slavery to the mundane elements of this world in Christ. At the same time he is invited to yield himself the servant of the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. Should he not do so he is in danger of again falling into spiritual slavery to the temptations of this world. The servitude to Christ gives freedom unlike the servitude to be found in this world.
The ideas of the slave who refuses deliverance because as a slave he knows his value, places his person on the same value as a comparison with the price of a mule in this world. God designed man to be of better quality than the animals. Yet on another level, as the servant of Christ we also can know our value. You see the value placed on our purchase was the shed blood of the Perfect Lamb of God, the second Person of the Trinity. That is a price so great all of the wealth of this world could not purchase it.
The Appearance of Evil
In 1Thessalonians 5:22 we are told “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Usually people think of that admonition as an instruction that will keep you from being found in a place where the wrong idea might be construed. Or. It might be seen as being seen doing something from which a wrong assumption might be surmised. For instance, if a Christian is seen in what we used to call a “honky tonk,” a place dedicated to alcoholic haze enhanced entertainment, someone might consider that is what the Christian went there for. The second example would be when a Christian is seen buying a bottle of wine. The conclusion might be reached that the Christian is given to using wine as a beverage, not for medicinal benefit.
People these days have a tendency to act boldly adopting the attitude that you cannot keep from giving ammunition to those who want to find something to criticize. But that is not what the Scripture says. It tells us that we need to consider how our actions might look. Can they honestly be seen to have the appearance of evil? If so we are to abstain from them, not take the attitude that it is impossible to keep from having people think badly of us if they want to so we are going to do as we will.
You might have surmised I intended to show a third example of where a Christian might be in a situation where he might fall into the trap of having an appearance of evil. I do. My example is when a Christian insists upon something, a fact however legitimate, that he cannot prove. Doing so may make the Christian appear a liar. There are some things that are better to let pass than to be put into a position of having the appearance of evil. Two questions are worthwhile to consider in this particular scenario: The first is whether having the fact accepted will make a difference or convey some real benefit? The second is what may be the consequences of having been thought to insist upon an error?
Usually the appearance of evil will hinder a Christian’s testimony and future service to God in some degree. It might be a great degree or small but that is not as important as the fact when people say a negative about a believer they are supposed to have to invent the story; there is no appearance of evil in them. Pg 7
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
Sometimes I think some of my favorite books of the Bible are those commentators through the ages have had the most trouble with. They seem to possess depths that almost rebuke the reader for thinking about them carelessly. So it is with the book of James. The first time I read what pure religion was I was very young and thought to myself is that all? And, immediately I knew that I had not understood the passage.
After a lifetime I approach the subject of pure religion with a whole new perspective. Having struggled so long with the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and having seen that struggle in others I now understand the enormity of what it means for a person to keep themselves unspotted from the world. That is a standard of holiness all believers should aspire and few will attain to. Those who most profess to have attained it will be discovered to be most lacking in it as well.
Then there was the matter of visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction. Did James mean simply to focus on two areas of ministry alone as the sole works of pure religion? Or, were they examples of the works of pure religion? And, if they were examples of the works of pure religion what were we to learn from the examples? You may have guessed that I came to the conclusion they were examples of a certain character of Christian service, and the lesson then was to follow.
What does it mean to visit orphans and widows in their affliction? The answer is simple but practice is demanding. It is to minister to people where there is no practical benefit to one’s self. There are many who minister with an eye to the practical benefit of their service to themselves, but few who give of themselves expecting nothing in return. Even many pastors minister with an eye to the work of keeping their jobs. Christians who practice the pure religion of selfless service have oft confessed immense blessings within their spirit, getting more of that incorruptible treasure in meeting needs momentary in others. Pg 8
And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Matthew 11:1
It is impossible to read the Scripture with discernment and miss the emphasis on teaching it contains. Education was an important part of Jewish life, an emphasis I believe that was implanted by God. Certainly the exiles suffered by the Jews during their long history had served to emphasize the importance of instruction.
Synagogues were centers of instruction. When the Galileans were referred to as ignorant people it was to speak only in relative terms for wherever there was a synagogue there was instruction. The limitation on instruction in the far flung places of assembly were limited by the necessity to provide for the needs of survival in the world they lived.
The tendency to think of the people in Israel as ignorant or generally uneducated with knowledge confined to the elite is a mistake. A comparison could be made between that false assumption and the belief that the early American colonists were basically illiterate. Modern society in the United States is more illiterate, relatively speaking, than were those ancients.
It is important that the student of the word have a correct view of the understanding of the average son of Abraham in the days of Christ. This knowledge makes some of the responses of the people recorded in Scripture more understandable and our consideration of those days more profitable.
But then we must confront another matter. The example of the Lord Jesus Christ must be our example if we are to call ourselves followers of Christ. He instructed the disciples. As His followers we have a responsibility to both receive instruction and to give it. Honesty requires all of us to admit that we do not know all we should. Therefore, we have a need to seek out instruction, whether it comes from a book or learned teacher. Then we have a duty to instruct. The usual argument that we do not know enough falters when we realize that our responsibility is only to tell what we know. Pg 9
The difficulty of the Christian life is that the lessons of being conformed, sanctified, are unending. As soon as one thinks they have arrived in some spiritual attainment they find there are yet rungs to be climbed to reach that final goal. Such is the case in learning to surrender concerns of this life to our dear Lord. The surrendering of other persons to the capable ministrations of God is fully as difficult as the surrender of any other concern.
Before our radio program is aired on Sunday, I heard a retired colonel, Vietnam POW, talk about how he had to surrender his cares for the future at the same time his wife back home was having to surrender her will for her husband’s return to the will of God for his future. That was surely not easy for either, but the surrender of our will in matters of individuals to God’s will never is.
During the morning services on the same Sunday, I had been overwhelmed with the enormity of how awful the flesh can be when it tries to formulate solutions to the problems of life apart from the will of God. The arm of flesh will not only fail you, it will keep you from being Christlike in your reliance on the Lord.
The Scripture that says: “Casting all your cares upon Him; for He careth for you.” (1Peter 5:17) is preceded by the instruction to “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He might exalt you in due season.” Having once thought I understood all about that, I now understand only that the experiences of life and trusting God in new ways and for new things offer new opportunities to surrender cares and discover that within which has not been humbled.
When it comes to casting our cares upon the Lord I doubt it is possible to ever have fully arrived at that perfect place of surrender in this life. That would be the place where every thing and every purpose is immediately surrendered to the Lord Jesus even before it hardly gains awareness in our being. If we could do so what grief and anguish of spirit we would be spared.
The Sound of Silence
But the Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him. Habakkuk 2:20
When my daughter was stuck for two hours in a car on the Interstate because of a pileup ahead of her she became concerned that I might hear a report on the morning news and begin to worry. She knew I was an early riser, but she forgot it was my habit in the first hours of the morning to enjoy the silence of my house as I studied and prayed.
The quiet time of being alone with the Lord is very refreshing to me. But the best of these times are spent not in my own house but in the peace and solitude of the forests. It had been some time since I have been able to enjoy such a retreat, but that only makes the next time the opportunity shall come the more pleasant to anticipate. After three or four days alone in such an environment the tinnitus that afflicts my hearing goes away, and my ears become more acutely tuned.
Hearing is a wonderful sense that God has given us, but sometimes I think people’s ears become so full of hearing they miss all the best that sense has to offer. People especially so fill their world with sound that they often drown out the still small voice with which God so often speaks. Being silent before God is a blessing often missed without people knowing the cause of loss.
It used to be in the sanctuary before worship people would come to pews and sit quietly getting in tune to adore God and after service would linger inside and out to visit with friends and acquaintances. I have noticed a change over the years where many people visit before service and depart speedily afterwards. My opinion is many miss being in the frame of mind to really worship because they are not silent before God before beginning.
As a pastor I tried to lead people into the practice of being silent before we began to pray as a church. We had some Wednesday night prayer meetings that were real prayer meetings. They began with people being silent before the business of prayer began, and sometimes people would pray in turn for a considerable period of time in which God was touched and prayers answered.
Listening to a psychologist talk about cases of demonic possession can be an interesting experience. One claimed no one in his profession believes in the demonic. I know a psychiatrist who believes in demons because a patient of his under demonic influence tried to throw him out of a third story window. And I know a psychologist who practices deliverance ministry as part of his work with people. So there are least two in the denier’s profession who would not go along with that statement.
In the Bible I counted fifty-three references to spirits that were demonic. Devils are mentioned fifty-five times, and references to a devil occurs sixty times. I think the Bible believes in the demonic. In the absence of any other evidence I would believe in demons if for no other reason that the Word of God says they exist. The Bible even gives certain types of evil or demonic spirits, which does not mean that the Bible is exposing all the different kinds, but merely telling us that demons with various specialties for afflicting men exist.
The idea that a person should not believe in something simply because they personally have not experienced it is not very smart. I believe lightning strikes people at times even though I have never been struck by lightning. I admit to having been tingled by the proximity of lightning in the past. And it seems to me that it is easy to believe in demons simply because of the otherwise unexplainable things that have occurred in relation to people at times. The tingling of proximity.
A liberal rabbi once explained on a television program that he thought Old Testament references to demons were simply a way of explaining some biological abnormalities of the brain in a manner acceptable to ignorant ancient peoples. Clearly he did not believe the Bible God gave to and through his ancestors. There is room enough for brain abnormalities and various types of induced deception to occur and still leave us with a body of events that would go without explanation. I am one of those fundamentalists some people like to disparage. If God revealed it in His word that makes it so whether I know anything more about it or not.
Entering the Kingdom
Listening to some of the t.v. preachers is an experience. So many of them are so full of pride in self I wonder where they ever get into the position with God when they could start out “weeping, bearing precious seed?” Often times I hear them preach about the rights of being a child of God and say little about the duties. In the end I wonder whether they have been studying the same Book that has been the challenge and critic of my life for so many years?
When the Lord Jesus Christ was asked who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, He set a little child in the midst of His questioners. He said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 19:3) As I was meditating upon this I thought of the Bishops and church leaders of other titles who have caused so much confusion among Christian denominations. The chief characteristic of these people is pride, not the humility befitting of a person acknowledging they are unworthy for their place of service and wholly dependent upon the grace of Jesus.
It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling lifted up by the honors and accolades of men. As a fundamentalist even the title reverend makes me feel ill at ease, but there are other titles proffered by those with which I have to do that offer pitfalls. For instance, Messianic friends have referred to me as “rabbi,” an ancient title my Lord was often called by. One group I was communicating with in Africa was determined that I was the “Mosr Right Reverend.” I have been wondering about the status that make one “righter” when suddenly the issue was being “most righter.” It is easy to see how people can fall into the trap of honors, even those genuinely given of love and respect. It could easily become hard to keep an eye on the real issue and that is “how are we doing in the eyes of God?”
Lord Jesus said humbling yourself as a little child is the path to greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven. I think we will be surprised at who occupies the chief and lesser positions in eternity. The idea of entering into the eternal part of the Kingdom joyfully because of kept perspective in this world seems to me worthwhile and important. And maybe, just a little hard to do. Pg 13
After years of waiting to become a grandfather both of my children will present me with a heritage within a couple months of each other. This has brought up the question of how soon is it appropriate to start training a child to honor the Lord in their own hearts: “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
Over the years I have thought a great deal about that and read not a little. Finally I have come to the conclusion that the proper time to begin talking to the child about the things of God is when it is still in the womb. We know scientifically that a child responds to a great deal of the external world while they are being carried, and we have a time there when we are able to communicate with the child with less interference from the world.
My son has already begun selecting classical music to expose his child to while his dear wife is carrying their baby. I think it is important to tell the child that it is loved and sing songs to it like “Jesus loves you and so do I.” Why not share with the child your heart and set your affection on it before it is born? Sometimes when my children misbehaved as they were growing up, and all children will, I told them not to act like that. “I prayed for you before you were ever born!”
One of the most important things we can ever give a child is an example. If we honor the Lord in our hearts, and in our rising up and lying down, we give the child an example of how the child ought to consider things. When I was a boy I spent several summers with my grandparents. My grandparents on my mother’s side were Primitive Baptists. We went to meeting in plain little buildings and when we were not at those meetings we were at Sacred Harp singings. I knew that they were believers in Christ without so much as a word being spoken. But today I think it would have been better had they talked more about their faith. I hope my children will do so, and I specially hope they will see that their grandfather thinks the most important thing in the world is the Lord Jesus Christ whom he loves enough to share with them. Pg 14
Living out Christ
While preparing a radio program it came to me that the finest single description of how we would like to see our pastors conduct their lives is contained in one verse of Scripture. We would very much like it if every one of them could say to their congregations: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of Peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:9) What we want very much to see from our pastors is that they are a living example of what they are talking about and more, that what they teach and convey in every way should be how to live out Christ in a life.
Meditating upon that Scripture, one I have revisited many times and never exhausted, I could not shake away the thought that what we very much need from every Christian leader is a life so conducted, not only where they taught all the right things but lived all the right things. So many times the best prove more like the Pharisees whose words were to be followed but their lives were not to be copied. But then sadly, some have gotten into leadership who can neither be followed in life or word and have the life in Christ exhibited.
Then there arose the question of where do we stop desiring to see this Scripture exhibited in the conduct of a Christian life? It has been well said that we all influence someone. Every believer has a great need to be living and teaching how then we ought to live in the conduct of their lives because someone is watching that life. There is someone we could turn to and say those words if our lives were such it were possible.
In the end there may be someone to whom we are saying “those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:” without ever realizing it because they are watching us to get a picture of Christ. So the question becomes are we living out Christ in the conduct of our lives? Living up to the challenge of the Scripture is not easy. But if we do not give the word and example that once followed means the God of Peace shall be with them how can we say that we have lived the life in Christ ourselves?
Can You Remember
My children seemed to have inherited my reading gene, if there is such a thing. Recently my son left me a bag of books he wanted me to read. (We sometimes pass books back and forth.) One that I was especially eager to read is called “The Ezekiel Option.” Written by the son of immigrant Russian Jews, it is a fiction based on prophecies of Scripture.
When I opened the book to read the introduction, a practice I learned only after many years of reading, I discovered an extra bonus. It was a message my son had forgotten and left in the book. It dealt with the things people can and cannot remember. Most of the awards men heap on other men we cannot remember, even when they concern things we have an interest in. That is one reason we are always amazed at those who know statistics by heart.
What we can remember are people who made great differences in our lives. Some of these are negative like the school teacher, who took away my laughter, and the one who told me I could not write. Then there is the man who taught me to love prophecy, and the English professor who gave me a different view of my language that opened a door to words and languages. I could list a host of others, but you can remember key people in your life.
How very different our mind is from God’s. He not only never misses anything that happens, He never forgets anything either. If it were possible for Him to forget, He could not possess the three attributes of omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. Neither could He judge all things perfectly. We often see people express their certainty in God’s ability. When they remark about some evil act that has seemed to escape judgment that “God will get them!” they affirm God remembers.
It is the power of God’s triune Being that allows Him To never forget, yet forgive our sins, remembering them no more. Were it not for the fact He exists in three Persons this would not be possible. His Being and nature are indispensable to the fulfillment of His divine purpose. When someone asks us if we can remember, the answer is uncertain. Were someone able to ask God, the answer would be dependent on His love and grace. Pg 16
So many people today are looking for a “golden parachute.” This is a term used for high paid executives concerning guarantees that might be sought when they are dismissed. It seems such golden parachutes are often offered to them when they are persuaded to allow the companies they lead to be taken over by other businesses. Many times golden parachutes are given at the expense of lesser employees retirement programs, sometimes plans that they thought they were invested in.
Golden parachutes offered by the world have never been part of any plan that I had access to. The only parachutes I know much of anything about usually began with a “T” prefix and was attached to body harness. The average paratrooper in this world learns how to do a combat jump. It takes place from approximately 500-foot altitude. He steps out of an aircraft and reaching the end of a line hooked inside an eighty-pound cord breaks spilling his chute into the air. A few swings later he is on the ground, safely it is hoped.
Some special operations types learn a technique called HALO. The letters stand for “high altitude low opening.” It is a means of putting a very few people into an area clandestinely. They jump out of aircraft higher than any sane person would ever think to do and fall at speed up to 120 miles per hour toward earth, opening their parachute with bare second before impact. Sometimes they are still moving at speeds of 20 to 25 miles per hour when they touch the ground. A good landing could still be like falling off the back of a galloping horse on purpose were it not for other factors involved.
A special program at our church honoring veterans got me to thinking about these things and comparing the Christian life to a HALO jump. You step out on faith and sometimes because of the troubles of this world it seems you are in a freefall. But just before all is lost the golden parachute provided by salvation through Christ and at His expense alone opens and you arrive safely at the final destination.
“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2Corinthians 12:9a) Pg 17
A Free House
There is a simple in Scripture statement regarding the status of David’s family that is often missed. It occurs where David comes up to slay Goliath: “And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel.” (1Samuel 17:25)
Do you see that through killing Goliath a change took place in the status of the house from which David, and later our Lord was to come. How was it that there was a need to make the household of Jesse, the father of David’s house free from a bondage apparently shared with all in Israel? It occurred when the Children of Israel chose to have for themselves a king instead of following the theocracy of God’s rule. You see kings or governments claim ultimate ownership of not only land but of persons and possessions. That is the basis by which they tax people for their possession of things they have earned apart from government..
It was important that David’s house be free of the bondage of another because out of his loins, after the flesh, would come Messiah, who would be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Therefore the governmental system of Israel could not have any claim upon his throne. We do not often think about how great was Israel’s sin when it chose to reject God’s plan in order to have a king as other nations round about them had. But it was not only a rejection of God’s established order, it was a direct interference with His plan for the good of all mankind.
God repeatedly claims both land and souls as His own. He owns the land because He created it, and He can claim all souls because He created them. Not only that he has further claim because of the redemption of the cross. That is why we can say that we are twice bought: once through creation and once through redemption. Refusal to surrender our will to God’s will represents a similar choice to Israel’s when they chose a king of flesh rather than the rule of God. Where He gives us a free house, such refusal means we again choose bondage. Pg 18
In Scripture we see incidences of where God proves people. One preacher pointed out many years ago that God does that not really so that He will know a person is faithful or dedicated but so that they will know. God already knows all things, even the hidden things of men’s hearts. But finding the level of dedication and commitment we have within ourselves wipes away many doubts and fears.
Likewise, we cannot know the level of dedication and faithfulness that resides within others for specific service until they have been proven. The great failure in Christianity is that so very often we entrust jobs, titles, ordinations upon people without first proving them. That is not the counsel Scripture seems to give us. In 1Timothy 3:10 concerning the qualifications for the deacon it says:
“And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.“
Proving someone means that we see how he has conducted his life and Christian service thus far before we trust him with greater position. The truth is that by the time the church gets around to formally acknowledging the qualification of a proved person they are likely to have been performing within the calling for some time. This is not a bad thing. Christian service is not about titles it is about honoring the Lord Jesus Christ with our faithful actions.
In most denominations of Christendom making a mistake about people is a harder thing to undo than it was to perform in the first place. This is another reason we should not be so quick to act in haste. Some groups have gone to the opposite extreme by refusing to set people aside for formal service. This is a mistake, for nowhere does Scripture teach such a thing. Rather it teaches honor to whom honor is due.
Would that we all approached our responsibilities and calling as children of the Most High with the proper attitude and commitment to walk worthy of the calling we are called to. But even so we should not fear being proven either by God or man, for in the proving the “metal” of the servant is made reliable.
“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!
Nathanael saith unto Him, Whence knowest thou me?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.” (John 1: 47-48)
Nathanael immediately recognized the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah when presented with the evidence that the Lord could see him when He was not physically present at the same place. The attribute of omnipresence, that is God is everywhere at once, is an attribute of the One True Deity.
Men try to live their lives so often as if God does not know and does not see. But the truth is there is nothing hidden from the Most High. The words with which our Lord greeted Nathanael, that he was an Israelite in whom there is no guile was high praise indeed. But have we ever given any thought to what words the Lord would use concerning ourselves in greeting?
It seems to me, knowing that we all must appear before the Judgment Seat of God that the soundest decision a person could make would be to reconcile their lives with God before hand. For the unbeliever this would mean first receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, and for the believer this would mean repenting from the dross with which we so often allow our lives to become cluttered.
The Psalmist reflected on the fact there was no place to hide from the presence and sight of God. We too should reflect upon that fact as well. This is why God saw fit that David’s words were preserved for our edification and reflection. So often grown adults are like little children in their relationship with God. A child thinks he can do some forbidden thing in a dark place and the adult will never learn of it. The truth usually comes out, and adults learn what the child has done, but with God it always is known, even while the sin is being performed..
I read about another edited book that has been labeled a “Bible.” It was not the first abbreviated bible that I had ever heard about. I think the first shortened bible I ever saw an article on was called the “Reader’s Digest Condensed Bible.” Each time I learn some publisher has printed a new alteration on the Word of God I get depressed. The Bibles that represent at the very least a discarding of significant portions of the Word of God form their own category of sorrow in all this.
One of my favorite Psalms is the 119th. It begins: “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart. ” It seems to me that a person who depends on an abbreviated book for their information about God’s precepts are going to wind up shortchanged. How can a person walk undefiled if they do not know all of what God has revealed about how to do that?
Another thing that is disturbing is how do you decide what to omit? What part of God’s revelation to man is so unimportant it can be dispensed with? Some of the most wonderful things that I have learned about God’s ways and revelations over the years have been dependent on knowledge that come from such things as “the begets” and other things that the condensed versions have eliminated as unessential. A few years ago I read about a new bible that had eliminated a number of references to “the blood.” They tried to excuse what they had done by citing the places where it had been kept. But if the places where it is omitted is the place I am looking for insight the absence of the blood is a big omission.
One final point. A reason given for the production of condensed bibles is that people are too busy to spend time reading the Scripture. What can be more important than spending time learning about those things that pertain not only to this life but to all eternity? One day we all must appear before the Judgment Seat and receive the things done in the body, both good and bad. (2Corinthians 5:10) It seems highly unlikely an acceptable excuse, justifying shortcoming, would be ignorance due to a lack of time to learn the will of God contained in His Word. Pg 21
Over the years I have seen many people very concerned about the next life, but not concerned enough about the one they are making their way through. Not all these are people trying to make it into God’s acceptance on a plan of salvation of their own invention. Some are people with a profession of faith in the finished work of Christ, having their names on church rolls. The Bible has much to say about how we then ought to live, but tells us very little about how we shall live in heaven. I think that we should be first concerned about first making our way through this world in a manner pleasing to God. Then secondarily, we can think about how things will be in eternity.
In the eighth chapter of Romans we are told that there is no condemnation to them that walk, in this life, not after the flesh but after the Spirit. After fifty-four years of being a Christian I have found that it is easy to forget to walk after the Spirit when the right sort of temptation comes along. The thing that makes the successful walk lies not in the man, but in the Spirit that inhabits the redeemed man. It is interesting the Romans chapter that deals with the spiritual walk equates the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ with the quickening of our mortal bodies by the Spirit:
“But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Thinking about this it suddenly came back to me Scripture says in various passages that the Lord was raised up by the Father, by the Spirit, and that He raised Himself up. Now that is interesting. We can learn by the study of Scripture that all three Persons of the Triune God were involved in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. In salvation it takes the work of Christ on the cross to make the way of salvation possible; the work of the Holy Spirit to convict, teach, and quicken us to live, as Jesus would have us to, and the Mediation of Recognition of the Son who brings us into the place of acceptance with the Father. In a way you might say our success in this life has the full involvement of God. The Spiritual Resurrection of men is for this life and the next.
Quickening Requires Mortification
There is a real change that takes place at conversion. Where once were dead in trespasses and sin we have been made alive in Christ. It would be wonderful if at the very moment of receiving so great salvation we could immediately go to be with the Lord. But the reality is that we have a plan of God’s will in our lives that we must first fulfill here.
Our original state, spiritually speaking, was of one death. We never thought of ourselves that way until we were first made to see it under the preaching of the Word. We just knew something was wrong that we could not fix. When we come to Christ in salvation, even though we have new life, we often feel the tug of the old way of sin and death. There are few delivered completely of their temptation at conversion, and if they are they soon find a new pull on them away from Jesus. The old song with the words “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to lead the God I love,” expresses the pull of the old man.
Romans chapter eight shows a transference of debt that takes place in the believer: “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live in the flesh.” Our original debt and bondage of sin has been changed to a debt of Spirit “For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (verses 12&13) So here Spirit and man come together for a volitional act. The man must be willing to consider himself dead to the temptation of the flesh and the Spirit gives him the power to accomplish it.
The matter could be likened to the attitude of a soldier on the eve of a great battle against overwhelming odds. He would like to run but there is nowhere to go. If he does not stand all who count on him are lost. But if he should stay it appears inevitable he will be overwhelmed ere the battle is done. How shall he find the strength to be faithful in such circumstance? In the end he must consider himself already dead so he can lose his fear and do what he must so that the day is carried against the formidable foe. In thus he finds the ability to do the impossible and be faithful to his duty. To be made alive again, something must first have been put to death. Pg 23
While reading the results of a recent research study on the subject of spirituality it came to my attention how much differently most people view spirituality from how the Bible presents it. That says something about the true spiritual condition of people I think. Gleaning from Scripture I thought it might be useful to make myself a list that would at least point the way toward true spirituality.
1. The spiritual man judges all things. (1Corinthians 2:15) It is the way of the world to declare that people should not judge. It is spiritual to let nothing go by without applying spiritual eyesight to the consideration of it.
2. The spiritual man feeds upon the meatier matters of the Gospel to good effect. He is not held back by the marks of carnality such as envying, strife, and divisions. (1Corinthians 3:1-3) True spirituality can be seen in the way one conducts their life.
3. Genuine spirituality is marked by a correct view of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1Corinthians 12: 1-3) The spiritual man has forsaken the idolatry offered by the world and has not substituted an idolatry of Christ, but rather genuine faith toward Christ.
4. Spirituality requires a high opinion of the correctness of Scripture. In particular the epistles from Paul are often greatly criticized by those having a form of spirituality, but not the genuine spirituality of the true faith. (1Corinthians 14:37)
5. People do not start out desiring the spiritual for they are in bondage to the carnal. The spiritual nature possible in Christ will be fully realized in eternity. (1Corinthians 15: key verse 46)
6. It is a mark of genuine spirituality to not only be concerned with the restoration of those that stumble but to also be continually aware that it is possible for the spiritual man to also fall into temptation if he lets his guard down. (Galatians 6: 1)
Pursuing spirituality reorders life and the values placed on the things of this world. The spiritual walk is not a pollyannish view toward life, but one that seeks to see all things from God’s point of view. And finally, it does not occur naturally, but must be pursued through faithfulness to the commandments of Christ.
“And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
In some of the Christian addiction recovery programs, where people go off to an isolated farm to work and live up to a year, an interesting thing occurs toward the end of their stay. They have to construct a cross that represents the recovery from their sin. This cross has to go with them everywhere. They have to keep it with them even when they are sleeping. But they cannot be found at their jobs on the farm, or even at their meals without their cross. Not only that, everyone at the place works to try to steal away the cross of these people about to leave the program.
Remember the cross represents their recovery from the sin of addiction they were involved in. One of the things about addictions is that people involved in the addicts’ lives do indeed try to steal away their recovery because they are uncomfortable with the changed relationships. This is more noticeable in addictions but is not uncommon in any situation where a person has sought to hang prevailing sins on the cross of Christ. People try to steal away the victory in Jesus. Not only that, the forces of Satan is actively involved in the same thing.
On one occasion, where one young addict had constructed himself a particularly large cross and proved quite adept at keeping it from would be hijackers, the camp director approached the young man and asked if he could see his cross. When the fellow handed it to him the camp director walked away with it. The young man asked for it back and the director told him to come by his office at noon. When the guy arrived, the director informed him he had hidden the cross somewhere on the 350 acres of the farm.
Finding the cross and getting it back was the most important thing then in the young man’s life. He reported that he missed meals but he found his cross before the day was out. All of us have something in life that needs to be hung on the cross and kept there lest we be defeated in life. But are we willing to deny ourselves to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus? It is, after all, the most important thing in our lives.
“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:28)
In the New York Times I read an article about a man who went into a Tattoo Parlor and as the technician did the initial work he pitched forward in a faint breaking a display case, which decapitated him. Tattooing has some very real dangers, dangers if infections including HIV from dirty needles but also dangers if infections during the healing process. But in the case in New York tattooing was hazardous to the deceased’ health in a very immediate fashion.
It brought back memories of events that happened in my own life forty years ago. I was at the Induction Center in Atlanta Georgia processing to enter the Marine Corps. We had to stay overnight in a contract hotel and some of the people suggested we each go together and get a tattoo on our shoulder for the branch of military service we were going into. Because we had been told to not leave the hotel I declined. Later I realized that if I had gotten such a tattoo it would have made getting through basic training the more difficult. Still later I learned that doing something that could affect a person’s ability to perform, made the service man liable for punishment under Military Justice.
Not too many months ago I was talking with a new convert that had gotten some prison tattoos. One had the name of a woman who was not his wife, a not uncommon thing. I pointed out to him that God had forbidden tattooing when He gave the Law through Moses. He asked me if that still applied since he had been told we now lived under grace? I said that while we live under grace we still have in the law God’s will in the matter. What we do as unbelievers we should not repeat once we have been enlightened. Later he slipped and got into more trouble and while he was locked up he got a cross tattoo. The cross in his flesh became a sign of his rebellion.
There are enough things in life that can impact our ability to perform in God’s service that it hardly seems rational to go out and look for limitations. We should focus on what is pleasing to God and pay attention to matters He has spoken about. Pg 26
Looking back in my records I came upon the July 2003 account of one Thorkild Grosboll of Denmark. He was a Lutheran pastor who said "I do not believe in a physical God, in the afterlife, in the resurrection, in the Virgin Mary…And I believe that Jesus was a nice guy, who figured out what man wanted." He was by definition a man apostate concerning the faith.
In Denmark we are told religion is almost never a defining political or personal issue. The Word of God is not exactly treated as irrelevant, just tedious. Church attendance in Denmark is estimated at 6 percent though some say it is even less. In a place where religion seldom penetrates the collective consciousness, removing the apostate from his position got everyone’s attention. Grosboll, caused many to ask why must a minister believe in Christ and the resurrection to be a good pastor? Shouldn’t it be enough to spread Christian values and help people in need? Some expressed the idea that God would be more appealing without all the old fashioned biblical talk. Men prefer a god that conforms to the will of the creature rather than themselves submitting to the Creator.
The interesting thing was his own six member parish knowing his denial of the faith voted to keep him. Since then we have seen any many places people preferring to keep a well liked apostate rather than take a stand for the doctrines of God. For a man of God not to believe in God is, simply, unacceptable. If one does not believe not only in the precepts of God, but God Himself of what value is he? They say the man Grosboll did not preach so much as chat with his parishioners. This makes sense. After all, what would an unbeliever have to preach about?
The Bible tells us that we might expect many people like him with ever increasing frequency as we come to the end of the age. It is said that that Mr. Grosboll and his wife are popular dinner guests as well. But it is not very likely that they will be attending the most important gathering around a table known as the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. One man said that if Grosbell was turned out of his church he would quit coming. The Bible also predicted that people would follow false leaders, apostates, to destruction. Pg 27
Feast of Tabernacles
“Speak unto the Children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord.” Leviticus 23:34
The Hebrew word for booths or tabernacles is “Succot.” Jews, even many Christian or Messianic Jews eat and sometimes sleep in these booths for seven days. It is an important time, and some people believe that this is the actual time of the year our Lord Jesus Christ was born and God began His time of tabernacle with man in the flesh.
Thinking about how so many people would find it very difficult to live in a booth made of palm and willow for seven days my mind went back to a man I met in the days when I was a lawman. He had made himself a booth of sorts in a pine thicket at the outskirts of town. From the trash depository site located on one side of the thicket he had salvaged old shower curtains and coated table clothes to make it waterproof. From the castoffs of others he had made himself comfortable. He got water from a nearby stream and I believe also availed himself of the facilities at the Baptist church a hundred or so yards up the road. Some people wanted us to do something about the guy, and though technically dumpster diving is illegal he neither made a mess of it nor bother anybody, so I could not see bothering him.
What caused this man to abandon “civilized” living to dwell in his booth I do not know, though rumors abounded. But it struck me as I meditated on the Tabernacle week that this man and observant Messianic Jews might realize something living in a “booth” that we often miss in our modern accommodations. That is our security does not lie in what we have but who we know. Our security is in knowing the Lord and being in right relationship with Him. All through the Bible we are told this but it seems to me we are sometimes so busy providing for the transient things of life we might miss this truth. Taking a week to live in a booth might not be such a bad idea for a lot of us.
Balance of Scripture
How I miss being a professor! It was one of the greatest joys of my life to aid people in preparation for future Christian service. One of the things I used to try and impress upon students was the amazing balance or symmetry in the layout of the Scripture. Not one book of the Bible truly stands alone but has its place among its brethren, even Isaiah which has sometimes been called the Bible in miniature finds balance among its brethren. And, they are not displayed chronologically. Can you imagine Job interrupting Genesis or the Torah? But in placement they are given with a balance the wonders of which I am still discovering.
One of the clearest examples of balance is in the placement of two great books of the Bible, Genesis and Revelation. Genesis is the book of beginnings and Revelation is the book of conclusions, or as Lehman Strauss would say “commencement” and “consummation.” Here is a partial list of what I mean:
Genesis – The commencement of heaven and earth. (1:1)
Revelation – The consummation of heaven and earth. (21:1)
Genesis – The entrance of sin and the curse. (3:1-19)
Revelation – The end of sin and the curse. (21:27;22:3)
Genesis – The dawn of Satan and his activities. (3:1-7)
Revelation – The doom of Satan and his activities. (20:10)
Genesis – The tree of life is relinquished. (2:9;3:24)
Revelation – The tree of life is regained. (22:2)
Genesis – Death makes it entrance. (2:17; 5:5)
Revelation – Death makes its exit. (21:4)
Genesis – Sorrow begins. (3:16)
Revelation – Sorrow is banished. (21:4)
Notice every one of the beginnings start in the portion of Genesis liberals do not want us to believe literally true and they end in the book they do not wish us to take literally? I think I will keep believing in God’s balanced presentation of His revealed literal truth. Pg 29
One of the marvelous things about Scripture is how the Holy Spirit can “God breath” the text and still leave the personality of the scribe intact. One of the things theologians discuss is the signatures of Scripture. These give evidence to who wrote what. Needless to say some debates often emerge. One of the interesting things in this study is how Paul, because he had people sending messages to churches pretending to be him, hid within his epistles proof that his letters indeed were his. It was the signature that made the origin undoubtable.
The Book of Revelation is often called “The Revelation of Saint John the Divine,” but it follows the Old Testament plan of naming itself, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” in the first words of the text. John is the scribe and the Lord Jesus Christ the author. And, He put His signature upon it so all believers could know it was His. It is this marvelous “hidden” signature that was an exciting discovery for me. He laid the foundation for recognizing this signature in the Book of Matthew, the Gospel whose theme cries out “Behold the King.”
When you go to the Sermon on the Mount in chapter five you find nine statements of who are the “blessed” in Jesus preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Would you believe that this is the basis of recognizing our Lord’s signature of authorship in the Book of Revelation? There are seven beatitudes, the word “blessed” occurring seven times. Allow me to share this with you:
The Blessed Challenge (Vs 1:3) – To read, hear, and keep.
The Blessed Comfort (Vs 14:13) – To the dead in the Lord.
The Blessed Cautiousness (Vs 16:15) – The prepared watchers.
The Blessed Calling (Vs. 19:9) – To the Marriage Supper.
The Blessed Conquest (Vs 20:6) – In the first resurrection.
The Blessed Cherishing (Vs 22:7) – Keep the sayings of the prophecy of this Book.
The Blessed Conformity (Vs 22: 14) – Blessed are they that do His commandments.
Here is the signature and seven texts which provide for an interesting study and a new approach to the Book for those who have done other studies. Pg 30
“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:” (2Corinthians 2:15)
This passage of Scripture has been a favorite of mine since I heard a preacher deliver on the subject thirty years ago. Since then I have meditated many hours, preached some sermons, and written not a little on the subject.
There is a fundamental truth in the passage that I think is sometimes missed in contemplating the verse that we should acknowledge and make part of our understanding. It is so simple that we might have trouble realizing and applying the truth to our lives. The simple point is that it is more important to God who we are in relationship to God than what we are for God in this world.
A great many people in Christian work lose track that God is more interested in them as individuals than in who they are as servants. It is not that service is not important. It is that relationship is more important. Those who do not see this have missed something very important in their Christian experience.
We sometimes get so caught up trying to be much for Christ, we forget the more important thing to be much with Christ. We are too often so concerned with being conformed to the needs of our church that we forget the issue is really being transformed into the image of Christ.
I have no doubt, from the testimonies of people who came to faith like Martin Luther and the Wesley brothers, there have even been many people who were so interested in serving God that they first forgot to submit to God.
If God is delicately sniffing for an aroma of us in Christ where does He first begin looking for that sweet aroma? Is it in what we do, or is it in with who we are in, His own dear Son? In God’s service all are servants and none greater than another in what they do. The field of service is level for the faithful servants. The difference in people is not in what they do but in their relationship. The main thing is in the passion to know God and be His totally. To God that has a sweet smell.
The Scripture Reader
There are denominations today that employ the use of a Scripture reader. This is an old practice that is even older than Christianity. Its practice comes from the fact that before the invention of the printing press copies of Scripture were in short supply, so the possession of God’s Word in a house of assembly was read to those who came to worship.
In the synagogue Torah portions were read throughout the Jewish year along with selected Scripture from other Old Testament writings. It was not uncommon for someone to be asked to be the Scripture reader, and in the case of a rabbi make some comment upon the text.
When the Lord returned to Nazareth, the scroll delivered to Him was that of the Prophet Isaiah. He chose to turn to what we now call the sixty-first chapter and read, stopping in the middle of verse two. This event is recorded in Luke’s Gospel chapter four verses sixteen thru nineteen. Much has been said about this event and Jesus’ announcement of His mission to people who knew Him.
Today, in my own denomination, the use of a Scripture reader is very uncommon except during plays, cantatas, and other special events. But, I have to admit that with the spread of a multitude of scripts presented as Bibles, there may soon be a need for a Bible reader so every one will know the text to be expounded.
During the late seventies, I was on the road often as an itinerant preacher, I once felt impressed to employ a Bible reader in a service, using a young woman in her last year of High School. She protested she could not stand in front of the people and read, so I set her in a chair in front of the assembly. She still said she was not able to do this thing. I told her of course she could. “You know the text to be read. Read it over now and when you get in front of the church people…you know, you will be prepared.”
I could tell she was really fearful, but I felt that I was being lead to do this by the Spirit of the Lord. When it came time for her to read she performed wonderfully and we had a good service, especially among the young people. I later learned from the pastor that this young woman had never before read out loud without stuttering. Pg 33
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The material in this booklet was produced, for the most part, during the first three years of Jonsquill Ministries publishing the Daily Thought over the internet. It was gratifying during those years to see the growth of interest in people wishing to receive the "thought" and think on the things of God. During these months of forced interruption in the production of this daily study the writer has probably missed it more than the readers. We trust that this gap in our ministry endeavors will shortly be brought to an end.
In the mean time, this little booklet has been produced along with some others to make thoughts on particular subjects available to those who might find them of value. Our interest and purpose in these productions is to make available to Christians material that will not be commonly available from other sources yet could serve to make the Christian life a little richer.
We do not claim to be the sole proprietors of the information within these pages. If the material was solely our own it would likely be false information since the Word of God is not of private interpretation. We do not claim that we are the arbiters of great spiritual wisdom. Whatever we have is the gift of God, and He is worthy of any glory or appreciation that might accrue if merit is indeed found in this work. Such as we have we share. This is a Biblical principle.