Devo: 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

•2021/04/12 • Leave a Comment

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

We have all been through allot these last few months.  What began as a blurb on the news, about a virus on the other side of the world, has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, untold loss of livelihoods, and global suffering that cannot be quantified.  

What began as an encounter between one police officer and one civilian, has resulted in massive public expressions of sorrow, fear, hatred, and revenge.  And has led to a significant challenge to the very concept of Law and Order in the United States of America.  

What began long ago in the Garden, as a simple challenge to the goodness and integrity of God, has resulted in a world full of Sin, Despair, Hopelessness, Pain, and Suffering— a creation in need of a Savior.  

Jesus came to the world, to be that Savior, He came to free us from the bondage of sin and death, and by God’s grace, through faith and trust in Christ, He forgives us of all our sin, and we have the promise of eternal life.  

The sad truth about the events of today, is first, that Rebellion against God is becoming more and more acceptable throughout the world, and second, no matter how many new laws are written, no matter who wins the next election, no matter how many protesters get to see the changes they want to see, the world is not going to be free of suffering.  The Suffering and Death we all experience, are a result of sin, and will continue, until God says “That’s Enough.”  When there is no more Sin in the world, there will be true justice, and there will be no more suffering in the world.   In this passage, Paul is saying that Jesus is coming back— Therefore encourage one another with these words.  

So Paul writes— 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 

  • Paul says here, that sin and death bring grief to all who experience them, both the believer, and unbeliever grieve, and Paul wants us to be informed with Truth, so that we, as believers, will not grieve as those who have no real hope.  
  • For the unbeliever, this life, no matter how good or bad it is, will be the best life they will experience.  For the Believer, the best life is yet to come, and because of that reality, we grieve death, but not as the unbeliever grieves.  
  • He goes on to say that 14 … since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  So by faith in Christ we are saved from the penalty of sin, and just as Jesus was resurrected from the grave, we too will be resurrected.  
  • 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 

In Christ—

  • The promise of eternal life after death
  • Our physical bodies will be resurrected
  • Jesus will return, and with the sound of a trumpet, will call all believers to Himself, those who have already died will be first raised, and then those who are still alive.  
  • All Believers will meet the Lord in the clouds, and will remain with Him forever.

The world can cry out for the end of sickness and disease, for the end of injustice, suffering and fear.  They can cry, and we can answer those cry’s.  Jesus is the only Way, He is the Truth, and He is the Life.  

No one will be saved, no one will be with the Father, except through Him.  

This world is not all there is, and Death is not the end.  As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the gospel, we have the commission to go and make disciples, we have the promise of Christ’s return, of our bodily resurrection, and eternal life with God.

18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

“Conflict in the Church, and How the Church Should Deal with It”

•2021/04/12 • Leave a Comment

Over the last couple of months, I posted a few devotionals on Acts 6:1–8:4.  I don’t plan to repeat what I said there, but there’s an additional point I’d like to make today, from the account of Stephen and the early Church.  

It seems as though lately, we have only been hearing about, thinking about, and talking about Conflict.  Not too many months ago, we were consumed with conflicts surrounding the upcoming November Presidential Election, and then came the Virus, as well as the ensuing Conflict over who to blame for it, and then the conflict over what to do about it.  Should we stay home, should we go to church, should we shut down virtually all human community?   And then, just as Virus conflicts were beginning to resolve, came the Unjust-Death of a man named, George Floyd, a death that opened up old wounds for so many, wounds that have never been healed.  And so, we find ourselves, still, in Conflict. 

So, as Christians, as the Church, where do we fit in?  Whether it’s a personal family conflict that you are dealing with, an internal Church dispute, or that which is gripping our Nation, conflicts over Race and Police, God’s word speaks to our handling of Conflict.   

In this passage, we’ll look at how Stephen and the early Church dealt with these issues, as well as principles that apply to us today.  

How do you deal with conflict?

Normally, I’ll have three points in a message, but today, I have only one.  So, Jumping right in—

It Takes Faith, Wisdom, Grace, and the Holy Spirit, to Reach Christ-like Reconciliation, in Conflict  >(Acts 6:1-7)

Now in this passage, the conflict the Church is dealing with, is an internal congregational problem.  We don’t know if this conflict was caused by intentional prejudice or favoritism, by appeasement of the loudest voices in the congregation, by incompetence of those charged with the ministry of distribution, or perhaps even by oblivious misunderstandings on the side of the Hebrews, and over-sensitivities on the side of the Hellenists.   

Regardless of why and how this Church Conflict began, the spiritual nature of the apostle’s solution, reminds us of the spiritual nature of all Conflict, as well as the spiritual solutions they require.  Acts 6:1, Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.  

Now, the Hebrews, mentioned here, are Christian converts from a Jewish background and Jewish culture, and the Hellenists are Christian converts from a Jewish background and Greek culture.  They are all Jewish converts to Christianity, they are all members of the Church, and the conflict is centered around the complaint that they are being treated differently, and resentments were beginning to emerge.    

Now notice here that the Church was experiencing rapid growth, the gospel was being preached, people were coming to faith, and then the problem of favoritism was exposed and came to a head, threatening the Church’s unity and gospel mission. 

So, what was the problem?  It seems that those responsible for the distribution of the Church’s resources were favoring the Hebrew widows over the Hellenist widows, and it began to cause a division in the Church.  

After a quick read, this may seem like a pretty simple problem to fix, “All we need to do is to find some people in the Church who can administer the resources equally and fairly to all in need.  It would only require some simple math and basic organizational skills.”  But the apostles realize that this is not that simple. Why?  Because this is not a mere physical problem, but is instead, it’s a spiritual problem.  As a matter of fact, and you should remember this, 

All of our Conflicts are, fundamentally,” Spiritual” in nature, no matter how physical and tangible they may seem to be.  

Remember what Paul said in Ephesians 6:12— We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 

Whether we’re dealing with a conflict involving an evil co-worker, or a godly church-member, whether it’s conflict with an over-reaching government, or regarding racial injustices that began long before our birth, they are spiritual problems, and they require spiritual solutions.  

We Must Apply Faith, Wisdom, and Grace, to Every Conflict, notice how the apostles respond to this congregational conflict—

6:2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples (this is the entirety of the Church) and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 

Notice what’s happening here.  There were already people in place to “Serve Tables,” but they were not rightly equipped.  My guess is that they were the logical people for the job but were spiritually immature.  They were probably great leaders in the secular realms, likely having excellent management skills outside the Church.  So what went wrong?  

We cannot know for sure, but what the Twelve are saying here, is that it is spiritually mature men, like the apostles themselves, who are needed to do this job of “Serving tables.”  

They aren’t making light of the work, in fact, they are elevating it.  The attitude here seems to be that the apostles would do the work of serving tables, themselves, if they only had the time.  You need to remember, they are not serving the tables of just anybody, they are serving the tables of the Body of Christ.  

So, they call a meeting of the Church, and say—

6:3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute (that’s seven men with godly reputations)full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we (the apostles) will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Now it seems to me that they are dividing out a portion of their own responsibilities, which are no less requiring of spiritual maturity.  They’re handing off the serving of tables to a group of godly, spiritually mature, men (who will later be called, Deacons).

And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit… as well as six other godly men.  

So, to deal with this church conflict, notice what it takes to not just stop the complaints, but to fully resolve the issue.  The Church is directed to appoint men of godly reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, full of God’s wisdom, and full of faith, and this is to ensure that this congregational conflict can be dealt with in a Christ-like manner.   And as a result, the apostles and the Church, will no longer be distracted from their God-given purpose of preaching, teaching, praying, and making disciples.  

So why are such spiritual qualities necessary to settle such a seemingly practical conflict?  

Notice how Jesus settles a conflict among His disciples:

> Luke 22:24–27  A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.

Now consider that scene for a moment: We may laugh about that, we may ask, “How ridiculous can these disciples possibly be, with all that they had seen, with all that they had experienced being in the presence of Jesus?”  But from a real-life perspective, we do the same thing?  

Don’t we want proper recognition for what we do, for what we achieve, and for what we sacrifice?  Clearly, from a human perspective, one of the disciples should have been regarded as the greatest. One of them worked harder, one of them sacrificed more in life, then the others.  One of them loved Jesus the most, one of them, from the perspective of Man, was the greatest disciple.  

I don’t know which one, but the fact that they were arguing about it, indicates that at least two of them had reasons to believe that they should be more recognized than the others.  

But notice, Jesus doesn’t deal in the perspectives of Man.  

 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them, are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you.

Now, that’s interesting.  He’s saying that in the economy of Man, of which we all are very familiar, those who rule over people are called benefactors, in other words, they are regarded as being “Good,” having good positions, but that is not the case with you, with disciples of Jesus.  That is not the case with the Church.  Something else is regarded as good.  In the Kingdom of God, there is a different pathway to honor.  

26 … Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For (in the economy of Man) who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

The human solution to the disciples’ argument, would have been for someone to lay out all of the points made as to why one of the disciples should be more honored than the others, and determine who has the most in their favor.  But Jesus enters the conflict, He rejects the terms of the conflict, and addresses the real cause of the conflict, which is the disciples’ pride, their unwillingness to serve one another, their lack of love of God, their lack of love of neighbor.  The resolution to this Conflict would be repentance, humility, love, and the serving of one another. 

Let’s look at another one.  

Luke 12:13–15, Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

This man that came to Jesus, expecting Him to abide by the simple terms of the argument.  Terms that he and his brother had already set, viz., that the inheritance should either be divided amongst them, or it should not be divided.  But instead, Jesus does not want to arbitrate the conflict, He wants to resolve it.  He doesn’t want fairness; he wants reconciliation to God and to each other.  Jesus identifies the spiritual problem causing the conflict, it was Covetousness, which is idolatry.  

It’s likely that neither of these brothers imagined themselves to be idolaters, but this is exactly what Jesus reveals, Idolatry was the source of the conflict, This was the real problem, and it would not be settled by merely arbitrating terms of the inheritance.  The resolution to this Conflict would be repentance, humility, love, and the serving of one another. 

In both of these examples, those involved expected the conflicts to be settled by Jesus weighing the facts and determining which of them were right, and which were wrong.  But Jesus rejects their terms, and addresses the actual cause of their disputes, viz., the depravity of their hearts.  

We must understand that the true resolution to our conflicts, will not be found within the terms that We set, but instead, by obedience to the terms that God has set, the commands that God has commanded.  This is why logic fails when trying to resolve so many conflicts.  Godly Resolution requires Faith, Wisdom, and the Spirit of God working through us, this is spiritual maturity.  And without Repentance, Forgiveness, and Love, Conflicts may simmer down, but will never be fully resolved.  

We can see this very clearly today.  We have so much conflict in our country, so much unrepented sin, so many unresolved grievances, and we may be tempted to pick a side, to try to help settle the conflict by yielding to the terms set by others.  

Clearly there are precious human beings that are painfully wounded, those who have been subjected to terrible injustices.

How should we respond?  In 2 Corinthians 1:3–4, we read,  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in anyaffliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

We may not be able to settle the conflicts of the world today, but we can comfort those who are afflicted, those who desire comfort.

Settling this conflict gripping our country today is not as simple as picking a side and camping out on our preferred moral high ground.  But if we are to try to help those stifled by this, or any, conflict, there are are some questions we must ask, and answers we must discern: 

  1. What are the heart issues on all sides of this division?  
  2. What are God’s terms in settling this conflict?  
  3. What has God said in His word concerning issues involved?
  4. Where is repentance needed?
  5. Where is forgiveness needed?
  6. What is needed for Christ-like reconciliation? 

These questions are not easy to answer.  Likewise, the conflict in the early church was not as simple as deciding how much of the daily distribution should be given to the Hellenist widows verses the Hebrew widows.  For this dispute to be settled in a Christ-like manner, the heart issues would have to be addressed, and for this, the Church would need to appoint godly men, full of the Holy Spirit, full of God’s wisdom, and full of faith.  Anything less would not produce Christ-like reconciliation.  

Now, notice what happens.  There was a conflict that could have caused a permanent division in the Church.  This conflict could have resulted in a Hebrew-Christian church, and a Hellenist-Christian church.  But because godly, spiritually mature, men were appointed to “Serve tables,” the conflict was settled rightly, not merely, fairly.  Christ-like reconciliation was reached, and notice the result—

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. 

When the Church gets conflict right, we honor God, because getting conflict right means getting our hearts right.  And as we can see in vv.1-7, the scene begins with the gospel being faithfully preached, God moving in the hearts of the hearers, and the Church growing.  The Church then falls into conflict, they settle the conflict rightly, and the Church continues to multiply.  

In settling conflicts, we don’t need logic, we don’t even need fairness— we need God’s Grace.  

The most important thing we can do today, to have the greatest impact during this time of conflict, is to pray.  To pray that we, as God’s Church, may be conduits of God’s grace, of God’s comfort, of God’s peace, of God’s wisdom, and that we may faithfully preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, search your own hearts.  Do you harbor hate, resentment, fear, anger?  Do you have things in your heart to repent of, do you have people to forgive?

Jesus came to this world, in order to settle mankind’s greatest Conflict, the conflict of our sin against our Holy Creator God.  Jesus came, not to heal the healthy, but the sick.  Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:31–32

Do you want to help those who are suffering in this world?  Do you want to help settle the Conflict?  The greatest conflict is the one between Man and God, and as believers in Jesus Christ, you are equipped to help settle that.  Be the disciple that God has called you to be, preach the gospel, make disciples.  

Jesus came to this sick and hurting world, a world devastated by the effects of sin, and in desperate need of a Savior.   He lived a perfect righteous life, and then suffered the greatest injustice this world could ever know.  As Holy God become man, He was crucified on a cross in order to redeem mankind from the bondage of sin and death.  

God, the Father accepted His death as the just payment for the sin of the world.  

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Let Christ settle that great Conflict in your life, let Him reconcile you to God the Father, and with a repentant heart, turn from your sin, and receive His grace.  

Trust Jesus today.

Faith is 20/20

•2021/04/12 • Leave a Comment

So, we just celebrated Christmas, the birth of the promised Savior, the Messiah, the Christ.  We look back with praise and thanksgiving, to the only true God.  A God who can make promises and keep them.  A God who loved us so much, that He sent His Son to die for us, and that whosoever believes in Him, will be forgiven of all sin, and receive the promise of eternal life.  Looking back, we have so much for which to be thankful.  

Can you imagine the anticipation of those who were faithfully waiting for the Christ to come?  And can you imagine how they felt when they realized that He was indeed, here?  The sense of worship must have been incredible.  

But still, for us, the incarnation of Christ, the greatest event in the history of the world, is something we can only look back at. 

Now, what about Christ’s return?  Like those who were eagerly awaiting the coming of the Christ in Bethlehem, those who knew what to look for, who knew that it would be soon, those who saw Jesus, and worshipped Him, knowing that He was the Christ, are we eagerly awaiting His return?  Are we looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise of deliverance from the bondage of sin?  

For those awaiting the promised Messiah, everything they believed about God and the human experience revolved around that promise.  This is true for us as well.  Knowing that the Messiah has come, paid for our sin on the Cross, died and was resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us, is central to our entire worldview.  But in considering your view of the world, where does Christ’s return fit in?  How does that promise effect what you believe about your life, about your future, or about your pain and suffering?  

Sometimes people try to find the meaning and purpose of life in their own experiences.  They try to learn all they can from the past.  

You’ve heard it said that “Hindsight is 20/20.”  That’s not really true.  Often times, looking back at certain events in our lives, even many years later, we still don’t see things all that clearly.  We may not want to admit it, but we still don’t see certain things from the past as they really were.  We’ll say, “If I only knew then what I know now, I’d do things differently.”  But, in reality, you may do things differently, knowing then what you know now, but there’s no guarantee that you wouldn’t just make different wrong decisions.  Why is that?  Because Hindsight is NOT 20/20.  We just don’t always see things as they really are, as God sees them.   

No, hindsight cannot be relied upon to give us 20/20 clarity, to give us the whole unvarnished truth.  The first problem is that, regardless of what we may have learned since then, we very likely still have a somewhat shaded perspective, an image of the past that is not 100% accurate.  But the biggest problem with hindsight, is that it only looks back to the past, it can only attempt to get a clear vision of used to be.  

But what about now, what about the future?   We need 20/20 Clarity Now.  We need something better than Hindsight, we need something from God.  

Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.   I’m going to paraphrase, “Faith is the clear view of God and His promises.”  In other words, “Faith is 20/20.”  Do you see that?  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

Turn in your Bibles to Romans 8:18-39.  In this text, we see Paul encouraging the Church by means of the Second Coming of Christ.  He begins with how we wait for His return.  He moves on to telling us of what God is doing for us behind the scenes, while we wait, and then brings us into the absolute security and confidence we have in Christ.  

I would like us to see, that it is by faith in God and in His word, that we can clearly understand our past, we can clearly see our present, and we can confidently await our future.  

What is the context and backdrop of your life?  What is it that serves as the filter, through which everything in your life is processed?  Is it the sufferings that you have experienced?  Is it the victories?  

In this passage, Paul puts all of creation into the context of anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ.  For Paul, the return of Jesus Christ, is so important to Christian life, that it even informs our suffering.  Let’s look at it, point one—

Awaiting Christ’s Return (vv.18-25)

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 

Notice what he is saying here, he’s speaking of the sufferings that we will experience.  This includes all of it, from light to extreme.  The suffering of persecution, the suffering of poor health, of physical pain, and the death of loved ones.  The suffering of racial injustice, criminal injustice, and the suffering of marital infidelities, and abuses, etc.  Paul is telling us that all of the suffering that sin can and will produce for us, are not (even) worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  God’s glory that is to be revealed to us, is the category of all things promised to us, all things revealed to us by God.  These are the Last Things, beginning with the return of Jesus, and well into eternity. 

It’s important to understand that God does not take our sufferings lightly, we can see as David wrote in Psalm 56:8, You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?  No, God does not make light of our pain.  Even right now as we experience the pains of this life, our suffering is not cheap in the sight of God. 

As we see in Psalm 116:15, Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.  Never believe that God takes our suffering or our deaths lightly.  

However, He wants us to know, that with absolute assurance, that no matter how bad it is, the fulfillment of God’s promises, will so far outweigh this present time of suffering, that it’s not even worth the comparison.

Whenever I think of Romans 8:18, I picture an old-style fulcrum scale.  Where God’s glory side of the scale is completely weighted down, while the suffering side is all the way up to the top.  [Picture] 

This is the suffering that you and I will experience throughout our lives, and for each of us, this is a tremendous amount of accumulated pain.  But the truth of it all, is that it will be so overshadowed as we come into the presence of God, by the return of Christ, and our being with Him for eternity, that Paul says that there’s no comparison.  

It’s hard to imagine that, when we’re going through those hard times, but this is why it is so important that we understand this truth, so we can be better prepared, as those times come.  

So, Paul sets the stage by presenting, two categories, for us to follow here in v.18, viz., all suffering due to sin (in one column), and the glory, grace, and love of God, to be revealed with the second coming of Jesus Christ (in the other column).  

On the suffering due to sin side, Paul reminds us of the cost of sin that creation itself had to bear.  In Genesis 3:17, after the Fall, God said to Adam, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life….”  And in v.19 of Romans 8, we read—

19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  So as creation was cursed for Adam’s sin, it has since been waiting with eager longing for the return of Christ, where at that time, creation will be set free from its decay and will receive freedom.  This freedom seems to indicate that creation will return to its original created state, it’s condition before the Fall, and will begin at Christ’s return, as He rules and reigns for a thousand years (see Revelation 20).  

So, we see that Creation Awaits the return of Christ, and the fulfillment of God’s promises.  And in v.23, we see also that—

We Await.  Paul writes— 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 

So, Paul is saying here, that as we have faith in Christ, the firstfruits of our salvation, is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is not something we are wait for; it was completed upon our having saving faith.  As we put our faith in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit immediately.  Now, having faith, we eagerly await the fulfillment of our adoption as sons of God.  This fulfillment of God’s promise of sonship, takes place at the redemption of our bodies, which is also referred to as our glorification.  This is when God recreates our own physical bodies, perfecting them for the rapture. 

Now in vv.24-25, Paul is saying that saving faith, and the expectation of the fulfillment of Christ’s return, cannot be separated.  They are like two sides of a coin.  He states, 24 For in this hope we were saved.  Then he explains the nature of faith saying, Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?    Now notice this, 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, he says that we wait for it with patience.  In other words, if we have true saving faith in Christ, we will not give up because of the suffering we go through, or we can think of it this way, if we have true faith in Jesus Christ, we will not cease expecting His return, the fulfillment of His word, with patience.  

So, while we await Jesus’ return, we need not be anxious in our weakness, because—

In the Meantime (All Bases Are Covered) (vv.26-34)

First we see that—

God Intercedes for Our Good

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 

Notice that this is the help of the Holy Spirit when we are weak.  We see here that the Holy Spirit, Himself, intercedes for us, going to Father with requests that accord with the Father’s will, for our well being.  The Spirit indwells us and prays for us, and as the Father knows the content of our hearts, and the mind of the Spirit, He answers.  

So, God Intercedes for us, and also—

God Works for Our Good

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

We see in this verse, that nothing in our lives is waisted, not pain and suffering, not trials or disappointments, not the good, and not the bad.  God is sovereign, all knowing, all powerful, and all present.  Nothing that we go through escapes God’s notice, and He has promised to use it, and work it all for our good, according to His plan.

Look at v.29, and notice how this description of God’s sovereign work is all in the past tense.

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ—

He foreknew You

He predestined You to be conformed to the image of Christ 

He called You

He justified You

He glorified You

This is God working for your good.  

So, God prays for our Good, He works for Our Good, and—

God Providing

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He’s basically saying here, that when you become a follower of Jesus Christ, it makes no sense to fear people or things.  Because, if you are a believer, then God is for you.  And if God is for you, then nobody can succeed in their plans against you.   

And take note of just how much God is for us— He gave up His own Son, to be crucified for our sin, so we can have a relationship with Him now, and for all eternity. 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, with him, graciously give us all things?  By faith, God promised us the forgiveness of sin, sanctification, and eternal life.  He sacrificed Jesus to redeem us, and He will fulfill His promises.  

Notice where Satan’s accusations against us land.  33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

It makes no sense to fear, because God is for us.  It makes no sense to doubt God’s promises, because He send His own Son to die for us.  And it makes no sense to believe the accusations that Satan rails against us, because it is God who has chosen us, God who has justified us, Christ who has died for us, and both the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ who intercedes for us to the Father.  With all the bases covered, We Truly Got It Made!

We Got It Made! (vv. 35-39)

And it gets even better, because nothing can separate us from the love of God!

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 

No, nothing will separate us for from the love of Christ.

36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”   37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

Even as we may be put to death, we will never be abandoned by God, never will we lose the promises of God.  

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Do you have it made?  Do you have this assurance of your salvation?  Do you have confidence in the forgiveness of your sin?  We celebrate Christmas because God’s promised Messiah came as a baby, in order to die on a cross.  By His broken body and shed blood, He paid the sin debt of the world, and it is by faith in Jesus, and the price He paid, that we can be forgiven of our sin, and receive His promise of eternal life.  

Do you believe?  Will you believe?  

Faith gives us clarity to see Truth. We are known by God, we are loved by God, we are justified by God, we are forgiven by God, and best of all, by faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, nothing will ever change that. 

What Will It Take?

•2021/04/12 • Leave a Comment

In Exodus 8, we see that Pharaoh continues to rebel against God, and God’s plaques against Egypt continue.  We read of the—

  1. Waters turned to blood – Exod. 7:20
  2. Overrun by Frogs – Exod. 8:6 
  3. Infested with swarms of Gnats – Exod. 8:17 
  4. Swarm of flies – Exod. 8:24 
  5. The Death of Egypt’s livestock – Exod. 9:3 
  6. They were inflicted with Boils – Exod. 9:10 
  7. Land and beast were battered by Hail – Exod. 9:24 
  8. God sent Locusts to eat up whatever vegetation was left – Exod. 10:13
  9. Complete Darkness for three days – Exod. 10:22    

What would it take for Egypt to repent of their sin, and believe in God?  As we pray for the United States of America, I often wonder, what might it take for our nation to repent of our sin, and believe?  

So, after God turns the waters into blood, God sent the plague of frogs, and in 8:10, we see that Moses speaks to Pharaoh, and says, 10 … “Tomorrow.” …“Be it as you say, (notice the point) so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God11 The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.”

Well that didn’t really do it, so God sent a swarm of Gnats.  Still, no faith and repentance. 

So God Moses back to Pharaoh, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Or else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants and your people, and into your houses. And the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. 22 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, (notice again, God’s point) that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth.

Then in Exodus 9 we see the Plague on the Egyptian’s Livestock, and still no faith and repentance, so God send the plague of Boils, to cover the Egyptians.

13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth.  So God sent the Hail.

This led Pharaoh to relent and beg Moses to stop the hailstorm, and 29 Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the Lord. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, (and once again, Moses says) so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.

In Exodus 10, notice that God reveals a little more on His intensions for lessons to be learned.  We read, 1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, (notice this) that I may show these signs of mine among them2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among themthat you may know that I am the Lord.

7 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lordtheir God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is ruined?”  Well, that doesn’t fully register either, so God sends the plague of Locusts.  

And 21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.

Four times, Pharaoh is told why these plagues are coming against Egypt.

  • so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God
  • that you may know that I am the Lord
  • so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth
  • so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s

And then God said to Moses, for all of Israel—

  •  that you may know that I am the Lord

God sent His word to Pharaoh, and he would not believe, he would not repent, and he would not obey.  

Then we come to Acts 18.  Here we see that God is sending His message of the gospel to all people, and notice how He does that.  In v.4 we read that Paul 4 … reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the wordtestifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Paul reasoned with them, he tried to persuade them, he gave his testimony to them, all to try to convince them that the Christ was Jesus.  

Now beginning in v.12, there is One of my favorite accounts found in the book of Acts.  

12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this. 18 After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria….

I don’t know if that strikes you as funny it strikes me. 

19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he (Paul) himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.

We meet Apollos, and in v.28 we read,  28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

Moses proclaimed God’s word alongside the mighty power of God, and we see in Acts, that we are to use Reason, Persuasion, Testifying to what Christ has done in our lives, and when necessary, Refuting falsehood, by using Scripture, all to show that Jesus is God, the Savior of the World, and that all should believe and repent.  

In Psalm 55-56, David prays, as we pray along—

55:1 Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!

56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

8 You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? 9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. 


From the FBCP Bible Reading #20

Only By The Blood of Christ

•2021/04/12 • Leave a Comment

Exodus 11

God says to Israel, “Get ready to leave, Egypt is not your home.”

11:1 The Lord said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here.

So Moses said (to Pharaoh), “Thus says the Lord: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’  And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger.   Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you (and notice God’s use of Pharaoh’s sin), that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 


God restarts the calendar, saying, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.  And with that God institutes the first Passover, as well as the perpetual memorial to God’s great salvation.  

Each man of a household is to select a young male lamb or goat without blemish, this is a picture of the promised Messiah, the Christ, The perfect and final sacrifice, Jesus.  

6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.  Did you notice that, they were to all kill the lambs together, at the same time.  Like Communion, this is a corporate acknowledgement of the need of a sacrifice, a corporate acceptance of the provision of God.  

 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.  On this first Passover, salvation will come to those families with the blood of lambs on their doorposts.  This is a preview of the gospel.  Salvation comes, only to those covered by the blood of Jesus.  This covering comes only by God’s grace, as we truly believe in Christ as Lord and Savior.    

Notice that on this night, they must eat this meal with an urgency, in haste.  Judgement for Egypt is coming, and then deliverance for Israel.   

God said, 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.  

For Israel on that day, this was not yet a memorial feast.  It was literal salvation.  God said, 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 

Notice that salvation comes through the application of the shed blood.  God says—

13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. 31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!” 33 The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste.

37 And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves. 40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years.

Ch. 13

So, as they were leaving—

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

If you are not a follower of Christ, take special note of the urgency here.  The blood needed to be applied right away, with no delay.  Judgement was coming to them on that very night.  You do not know when it is coming for you.  

Acts 20

We see Paul, meeting with the pastors of the church in Ephesus.  He reminds them of the integrity with which he labored to equip them for the ministry, and how he modeled the priority of the preaching of the gospel.  

Paul knows that he will be arrested in Jerusalem, for the Holy Spirit had revealed that to him on a few occasions, and he tells these pastors, 24  I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 

Paul was confident, that to that point, he had been faithful to God, saying, 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.  Can you and I say that?  

Paul had been faithful to this point in his ministry, but notice he is not resting in that.  In v.24, Paul is saying that the value of his life’s work, is based, not on his accumulated accomplishments for the Lord, but on whether or not he finishes the course that God had set him on.  The same is true for you and me.  What you have done for the Lord, up to this point, is great.  But, unless you are going to die in the next few moments, it is not enough, you have not yet finished the course that God has given you to run.  

So, Paul warns these pastors, with a warning that is just as relevant for us today.  He said, 28 Pay careful attention to yourselvesand to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among younot sparing the flock30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them31 Therefore be alert

Do you see that?  Jesus purchased the Church by shedding His own blood, and twisted men are showing up, trying to steal away disciples of Jesus, wanting to make disciples for themselves.  Paul warns, “Be Alert!”  Did you notice the scariest part?  He’s talking to committed leaders of the Church, pastors of local congregations, and he said, 30  from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.  

We must always be alert.  Alert to the teachings of others, and no less alert to our own thinking about God, the gospel, and His word.  We must make sure that we are rightly aligned with the sound teaching of the Bible.  


Paul arrives in Jerusalem, and because of his teaching of the gospel, he is attacked and beaten by the crowd, he is then arrested by the authorities, and is given permission to address the people, and as we will see in Ch.22, Paul will use the opportunity to again speak of Christ. 

Are you faithful to the calling of God?  Are you running the race, are you determined to finish the course set before you?  Lets pray along with David—

Psalm 57

 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, 

for in you my soul takes refuge; 

       in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, 

till the storms of destruction pass by. 

     I cry out to God Most High, 

to God who fulfills his purpose for me. 

     He will send from heaven and save me; 

he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah 

       God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! 

And as we prepare to sing unto the Lord‑

Psalm 59

16  But I will sing of your strength; 

I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. 

       For you have been to me a fortress 

and a refuge in the day of my distress. 

17    O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, 

for you, O God, are my fortress, 

the God who shows me steadfast love. 

From FBCP Bible Reading #21

Our God, Keeper Of Promises

•2021/04/12 • Leave a Comment

Exodus 14

As God had promised, He brought the Israelites out of Egypt with great power, and almost immediately put them into a position where things would seem to be hopeless.  God told Moses to turn from the direction they were going and go to where they would be cornered against the Red Sea on one side, and defenseless on the other.  This position that God put them in, gave the Egyptians the idea that they could easily attack the Israelites, and it left many of the Israelites believing that there was no hope, being certain that the Egyptians would now kill them all.  However, God had brought them to a place where both the Israelites and the Egyptians could grow in their faith.

God said, 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.

10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

It seems that their still not really getting the picture.  

13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” 15The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.  –  18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning-watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.” 26Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the Lord threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. 


Response: singing songs of praise to the Lord.   

1 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. 2 The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

From there, songs of praise continued, until they all got thirsty, and then they began complaining once again.    

God provided water for them, and said, 26 … “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.


It’s been 15 days since they left Egypt, and they have witnessed the tremendous love and power of God.  They are the generation to live through God’s promise of deliverance, the Salvation of the Lord.  Consider that.  They knew of God’s promise of deliverance, they knew that that one day, God would send a deliverer, and they were the generation to see it.  They were slaves in Egypt, and God freed them.  They were poor, and God gave them wealth.  They were trapped before the enemy, facing certain death, and God delivered them, they were thirsty, and God gave them water.  But now they are hungry, and see how quickly they would turn against God.   Notice how they attribute to God, evil intentions, as they recall such wonderful memories of their lives in Egypt.  

2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

God hears all this complaining against Him, and with love and patience for His people, He promises to send meat and bread to them, from heaven.

8 And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lordhas heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.

So, 13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

To teach the people to trust Him, God limits how they are to gather up the manna, and institutes the Sabbath, a solemn day of rest, a holy day unto the Lord. 

Acts 22

Paul, after being arrested, is given the opportunity to address the crowd.  

He began by telling them of his background as a pharisee, persecuting Christians, those of the Way.  And how on the road to Damascus, he was converted after meeting Jesus.

Not too far into the telling of his testimony, they refused to hear more.

22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.”

So Paul was taken away by the Roman tribune to be beaten with whips, and Paul appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen, and asked them,

25 … “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 

29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

The next morning, Paul was brought before the counsel, and 6 when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks. 11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”

God promised to bring Israel out from bondage, and into the promised land, and He did all that would be necessary to accomplish that.  In this passage, God told Paul that he would also testify in Rome, and there will be nothing to prevent that.  God has promised us, that He will never leave us, that He will never forsake us.  He has promised that even through difficult times, He will be with us to the end.  God will fulfill His word, as He has always done, He will always do.  

Psalm 62

1 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. 5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 7 On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah 9 Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. 10 Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. 11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, 12 and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work. 


From FBCP Bible Reading #22

Insufficiency of the Law, Sufficiency of Christ

•2021/04/12 • Leave a Comment

In Ex.26-28, we see that God gives Moses great detail for the building of the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting.  Everything had to be perfect, right down to the smallest utensil.  The Tabernacle would be the place where God would meet with the people of Israel, where animal sacrifices would be made for their sins, and where their sins would be covered.  Even with this great blessing from God, notice the separation between God and the people. God tells Moses, 

30 you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain. 31 “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. 32 And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. 33 And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy. 34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place..

The Most Holy Place was highly restricted, access to the Mercy Seat was allowed only by a single priestly representative.   

In Ex.28, God instructs Moses, on how to make the holy garments to be worn by those of the priesthood, Aaron and his sons.  God said,

9 You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. 11 As a jeweler engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall enclose them in settings of gold filigree. 12 And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord,on his two shoulders, for remembrance.

Notice the picture of Christ here.  Aaron, clothed in a type of holiness, as represented by these holy garments.  In this way, he will be able to stand before God on behalf of the people.  He will be able to present to God, the temporary covering, the blood sacrifice, for their sin.  

29 So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord. 30 And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly.

36 “You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ 37 And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. 38 It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.

Each element of the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, the contents of the Tabernacle, and the priestly garments, all have great meaning.  Each element points to our Holy God, to some aspect of the gospel, and to our need for a perfect Savior.  As such, each element had to be crafted precisely, perfectly, according to God’s intention.  It would seem to be impossible to get it all right, but that God said to Moses, in Ex.28:3, 

Ex. 28:3 You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood.

God often calls us to do the impossible.  For all the works of God are impossible with Man, but all things are possible with God.  

When we get to Matthew 2, we see that Wise Men from the East, follow the Star, in order to pay homage to Jesus, the King of the Jews.  

3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. (Isn’t it interesting that Herod knew that this inquiry was for the birth of the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world). 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.  Herod was the so-called king of the Jews, but he knew that the true King had now been born, to claim what rightfully belonged to God.  Herod was an oppressor of God’s people, but born in Bethlehem was the Christ, who came to be Shepherd of His people.  

The Wise Men found the Savior and brought Him gifts, and being warned by an angel, they left by another route.  Joseph, also being warned by an angel, took Mary and Jesus to Egypt.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”

In Mt.3, we see John, preaching and baptizing in the wilderness, telling all the people to 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 

Then Jesus went to John to be baptized—

16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

God provided for the holiness of Israel in the wilderness.  There was the altar, where the continuous blood sacrifice of animals would point to the once and for all sacrifice of the Christ.  There was the Most Holy place, where intercession for sin would be made, pointing to Jesus, our mediator and intercessor.  There was the Tabernacle, the place where God would dwell, in order to meet with one man, a representative of all of the people, pointing forward to Christ, who would not just meet with us, but dwells in us, never to leave us, never to forsake us.  

Prayer:  Ps.69  29 … let your salvation, O God, set me on high! 30 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. 32When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. 33 For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. 34 Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. 35 For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; 36 the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

From FBCP Bible Reading #26

Oh, How Worthy is Christ!

•2021/04/12 • Leave a Comment

Back in Exodus 28:42–43  – You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh. They shall reach from the hips to the thighs; 43 and they shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they go into the tent of meeting or when they come near the altar to minister in the Holy Place, lest they bear guilt and die. This shall be a statute forever for him and for his offspring after him. 

As we read through the Law, we can see that through each element, God is pointing to His holiness, to Man’s sinfulness, and how Man’s relationship with God can and will be restored.  

The priest would be the representative of the people before God, and he could only do that if he was, himself, counted holy, and he could only be counted holy, if he followed the Law, perfectly.  Following the Law for the priest, included making sacrifice for his own sin, before he could make sacrifice for the sins of others.  

God tells Moses how he will establish the priesthood.  

Ex.29:1 1 “Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. Take one bull of the herd and two rams without blemish2 and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil. You shall make them of fine wheat flour. 3 You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, and bring the bull and the two rams. 4 You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 5 Then you shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the coat and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod. 6 And you shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. 7 You shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him. 8 Then you shall bring his sons and put coats on them, 9 and you shall gird Aaron and his sons with sashes and bind caps on them. And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.

God said that all this was necessary to consecrate them (to make them holy, so that they could be separated for God’s use.  Then notice, God said, 

10 “Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting. Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull. (symbolizing the transfer of sin) 11 Then you shall kill the bull before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting,

15 “Then you shall take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram16 and you shall kill the ram ….

19 “You shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram20 and you shall kill the ram….

This was not to be a callas and mindless ceremony, the priest was to acknowledge his own sin, as he laid his hands on the live animal.  He was to acknowledge that these animals were going to be killed because of his personal sin. 

God goes on the tell Moses of how to handle the blood and remains of each sacrificial animal.  Keep in mind that all this is just to make the priests worthy of offering sacrifice on behalf of the people.  The priests had to first make sacrifice of their own sin.  

Did you notice the connection to the Passover meal, the manna from God, the statement from Jesus, that His followers must eat of His flesh, and of His Last Supper, when He said, “This is my body, eat of it.”?

31 “You shall take the ram of ordination and boil its flesh in a holy place. 32 And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram and the bread that is in the basket in the entrance of the tent of meeting. 33 They shall eat those things with which atonement was made at their ordination and consecration, but an outsider shall not eat of them, because they are holy. 34And if any of the flesh for the ordination or of the bread remain until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy.

And notice that these sacrifices for the sin of the priests was not a one-time affair—

35 “Thus you shall do to Aaron and to his sons, according to all that I have commanded you. Through seven days shall you ordain them36 and every day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement.

And all this had to be done for the priests before even one sacrifice could be made for the people.  

38 “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. 40 And with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering. 41 The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. 42 It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory.

A daily sacrifice had to be made for the people, so God could dwell among them.  

44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God46 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God. 


1 “You shall make an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood.

10 Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year. With the blood of the sin offering of atonement he shall make atonement for it once in the year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the Lord.”

And in Ex.31, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments—

18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God

So, God gave Moses the Law to give to the people.  The Priestly Law, by which there could be men to represent the people before God, and offer sacrifice for their sin.  The Sacrificial Law, whereby the blood of animals would temporarily satisfy Man’s sin-debt to God.  And the Ten Commandments, to which obedience, alongside sacrifice, would count men righteous, until they sinned once again.  

This was all a great mercy of God to Man, that Man could know God’s Law, that Man could have a way to see his need for a perfect Sacrifice, a worthy Savior that could, once and for all, deliver them from the bondage of sin and death.  

And then, we come to Matthew 4, where we see Jesus is Himself, tempted to sin, and by the word of God, and the truth of Scripture, He casts away the Devil.  

After Jesus calls His disciples to follow Him, and as He is teaching a large crowd how to live in a way that is pleasing to God, a teaching known as the Beatitudes, Jesus reveals an amazing truth about the Law in Ch.5.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

In this chapter, Jesus goes on to teach an understanding of the Law that was not previously understood, a standard of righteousness that could never be attained.  And concludes by stating, in v.48, You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  

God gave Man the Law, in order to point to the holiness of God, the sinfulness of Man, and Man’s need of holy and righteous Savior.  Every inadequacy of the Sacrificial system, every imperfection of priest’s mediation between God and Man, every flaw known to God and unseen by man, was all satisfied by Jesus the Christ, as he did not come to abolish the Law, but came instead, to fulfill it on our behalf.  

Let’s pray with David—


4 May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” 5But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay! 


18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. 19 Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?


From FBCP Bible Reading #27

Two Paths From Which to Choose

•2021/04/12 • Leave a Comment

The people of God commit a great rebellion against Him.  God may have destroyed them all, but Moses interceded for them.  After the rebellion, there were two paths, the people had to make a choice.  

Some chose the Lord, and others chose Egypt.  

Exodus 32  26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’ ” 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell.

In Matthew 7:13–29we that that Jesus tells of the same choice, when He said— 

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. 21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” 28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. 

In Psalm 73, we see Asaph struggling with the question, “Why do the wicked prosper?”  And writes—

16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!

He changed his focus back to the goodness of the Lord, as he states—

23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works

Reading the Bible is more than a history lesson— it’s more than a glimpse into the future— it’s for now, for you and me.  Heaven and hell are real, and every single person will end up in one or the other.  Who is on the Lord’s side?  Who is on the Narrow path?  Who is near God?  

From FBCP Bible Reading #26

Calling Truth-Seekers, Not Thrill-Seekers

•2021/04/12 • Leave a Comment

Jesus was calling those of faith, He was not trying to amass a crowd of thrill-seekers.  


5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” 23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.

Notice that only His disciples followed Jesus.  They saw Jesus, the works of God, and they believed.  They already knew that Jesus had nowhere to lay His head, and they believed in Him anyway. They had already left their dead to bury their own dead, and they followed Jesus. However, their faith and their faithfulness must be tested even more.

  24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” 

When they got to shore, Jesus cast devils out of two men.  34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.


1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7And he rose and went home8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

Jesus has the power to forgive sins— He has the power to forgive your sins.  What is your reaction to that?  Does that make you afraid?  Does that draw you closer to Him?  

14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

The Bridegroom was here among us, He has gone to prepare our home, and He is going to return when all is ready.  Until then, this is the time for fasting.  

In this week’s reading, there were many others healed by Jesus, with many people having different reactions.  Some believed, some were just amazed, and some even accused Jesus of being possessed with a devil, but throughout all this, Jesus is calling people to faith.  

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” 

God is still saving lost souls.

11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jesus died on the Cross to forgive you, and to save you from your sin, what is your answer to Jesus?  

For those of us who follow Jesus, He will soon return, and we need to get busy.  He said—

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” 

God is still calling people to faith, He is still saving people through the witness of the Gospel, may it be YOURS and MY witness to the gospel.  

Ps.74:12 – Yet God my King, is from of old working salvation in the midst of the earth.

Ps.75:1 – We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.