Daily Bible Lessons - First 100
By Robert L. (Bob) Craig
With Some by James DeVoll

1. SON OF THE LIVING GOD

The Bible says, concerning Jesus, "Thou shalt call his name Emanuel, which being interpreted means, God with us." (Matthew 1:23) Jesus lived a short life as man. And as man "he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) As such, he was referred to as "the Son of man." But even as man, he was "God with us." Therefore he is often referred to as "the Son of God." That is, he retained his Godhood or his deity.

One of the things in becoming a Christian a person must do is that he must come to the realization that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. The apostle said in John 20:30-31, "Many other signs truly did Jesus in the midst of his Disciples that are not written in this book, but these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and believing, have life in his name." Among the signs in which he demonstrated that he was God's son; he was in control of the elements. To the raging sea he said, "Peace be still." (Mark 4:39) He was in control of the material things of this world and he demonstrated that by multiplying the loaves and fishes. (Matthew 14:19-20) He was in control of spiritual matters so he said, "son, thy sins be forgiven thee." (Matthew 9:5-6) All the people testified that only God (deity) can forgive sins. You can become a child of God by hearing the gospel, believing the gospel and obeying the gospel.

2. THE VIRGIN BIRTH

The Bible says, "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son." (Matthew 1:22-23).

Many people, even theological scholars, who claim to believe the Bible, deny that statement. If a person, will not accept the virgin birth then they simply do not believe the Bible regardless of what they may claim. Others will not accept the statement because they say the virgin birth of Jesus is a Catholic doctrine. It is not. It's a Bible doctrine; it's the doctrine of Christ. The Catholics got it from the Bible.

If we accept the Bible as being God's word, then we accept it all. If we deny that certain parts are not true, we are saying that none of it is true. We believe it or else we don't. The Bible says in 2 John verse 9 "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God:" The one who goes onward is the one who is not willing to accept the teaching of the Bible. If he will not accept it, he has not God.

There are many in the religious world today who know very well what the Bible says but will not accept it. The Bible says, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things that he suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey him." What about you? Do you believe the Bible? If you believe it, obey it.

3. IS IT A CONTRADICTION?

The Bible says "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel." (Matthew 2:6). But in Matthew 2:15 the Bible says, "...Out of Egypt have I called my son."

On the surface these two verses sound contradictory, but when we hear the divine explanation, from the Bible, they become clear. The first, the Bible says, is a fulfillment of scripture concerning the birth of Jesus, while the second prophecy, the Bible says, is a fulfillment of scripture pertaining to the flight of Joseph and Mary to escape the decree of Herod to destroy all Jewish children under the age of two. After the death of Herod, God sent Joseph a revelation concerning a safe return, thus, as the Bible says, the scripture was fulfilled which says "out of Egypt have I called my Son."

The lesson! Be careful when someone begins telling what some prophecy means for which they have no Bible interpretation. We would do well to do that for which Paul commended the people of Berea: ".... they searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). If I fail to give a Bible reference for what I teach, then you are under no obligation to hear what I have to say. There are many false teachers in the religious world today. That's the reason we have so many religions. "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says..." And the Spirit speaks to us today through the written word, the Bible.

4. THE NAME OF GOD'S PEOPLE

The Bible says: "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene" (Matthew 2:23). Jesus was called a Nazarene simply because he lived in Nazareth. We are called Texans because we live in Texas. Sometimes we are called by a particular name because we follow a particular teaching. For instance one is called a Buddhist because he follows the teaching of Buddha. One is called a Mohammedan because he follows Mohammed. So it is if a person is a follower of Christ, he should be called a Christian.

This word is very often abused and misused. It is never used as an adjective in the Bible, that is, to describe something or somebody; it is always used as a noun; that is, to name a peculiar people. They were not referred to as some kind of Christian; they were simply Christians or not Christians. We read in Acts 11:26, "... the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." The Jew and Gentile had been brought together in one body, the body of Christ. Peace had been declared between them and in making peace with one another, they made peace with God. (Please read the second chapter of Ephesians.) Now this one body of people were united under one name, the banner of Prince Emmanuel, the Christ, and that name was "Christian." We should wear with honor and dignity the name Christian.

5. PREPARATION FOR THE KINGDOM

The Bible says, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea" (Matthew 3:1). There seems to be some misunderstanding concerning the mission of John. First, he was called the Baptist simply because he baptized people. He could just as well been called "the baptizer."

His was a ministry of preparation for the kingdom which was soon to come. He cried out for the people to "Repent ye :for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). The phrase, "is at hand" means that it was near. Thus Jesus taught his disciples to pray "thy kingdom come." John was preparing a people for that coming. This preparation was based on repentance. Repentance had to do with a changing of the mind that caused one to turn back to God. He warned them to "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Matthew 3:8). Or, show by their works that they were repenting. In preparing themselves by turning back to God through repentance and baptism they would have the remission of their sins when the Lord made the sacrificial offering of the cross. The Bible says, "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mark 1:4). Jesus said in Matthew 26:28, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." In just 50 days after that he would ascend to his throne and be crowned "King of kings, and Lord of lords."

6. SOME THOUGHTS ON HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM

The Bible quotes John: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire" (Matthew 3:11). There is a misunderstanding concerning Holy Spirit baptism today. John was not extending a promise of Holy Spirit baptism to his listeners nor to anyone today. He was contrasting his power with the power of the one who would come after him. Anyone can baptize with water, but only one had the might, the power to baptize in the Holy Spirit and that one would be Jesus.

Those who later became apostles were likely in this multitude and the only ones of this number who ever received Holy Spirit baptism. In Acts 1:5, the Lord reminded them of John's mission and makes this statement: "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence." They received this baptism 10 days later and through this power of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, they were enabled to reveal heaven's plan for the salvation of mankind.

No one has this power today, and, actually, no one needs this power today. God's perfect will has been revealed and a curse is placed on anyone who adds to it or takes away from it. One of the statements made to these men, these apostles, not to you and me, was: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).

Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, these apostles wrote "all things" down for our benefit and we have them in what is called the New Testament.

7. THE BAPTISM OF JESUS

The Bible says, "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:13-17).

Did Jesus, the perfect man, have anything to repent of and receive the promise of remission of sins? John recognized the fact that Jesus did not need John's baptism and so states. But the Jew, in making preparation for the coming kingdom was commanded to submit to John's baptism. Had Jesus refused that baptism, then he would have sinned like the lawyers and Pharisees who, it is said, "... Rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him" (Luke 7:30). So, he makes the statement already quoted, "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."

People today who will not do what God commands, also reject the counsel of God against themselves. Those who teach that baptism is not essential to salvation (and that is the doctrine of denominationalism and, now, some of my preaching brethren) falls into that category even though they may have been baptized. They reject the purpose of baptism, remission of sins, and in so doing, reject the counsel of God against themselves.

8. JOHN INTRODUCES JESUS

"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16- 17).

Jesus was baptized in Jordan. Not near Jordan, but IN Jordan. All denominational scholars agree that "the ancient mode of baptism was immersion." Immersion is pictured as a burial in Romans 6:4: "We are buried therefore by baptism into death." Man, not God, has changed it. But Jesus was immersed in Jordan.

The Godhead or deity is made up of three persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In these verses we hear the Father acknowledging Jesus as being His Son; we see the Holy Spirit descending "in a bodily form" and joining with the Son. This is indicative of the three persons of the Godhead all working together for the salvation of mankind.

This voice from heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit was witnessed by John so he could later say with all assurance, "I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God" (John 1:34). He could declare with all boldness, "Behold the lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). This taking away of sin is not automatic. God's grace makes it possible for one to have salvation but one must hear what he says, believe what he says and do what he says.

9. "THY HEART IS MY THRONE"

The Bible says, "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4, vs 12 & vs 17). John the Baptist was gone but Jesus preached the same message of repentance, preparing people for the coming of the kingdom wherein there would be eternal salvation.

There are many ideas being advanced concerning the kingdom. The outstanding teaching is that the kingdom is still in the future, but that is a false concept. Let's continue to study our Bibles and believe what we find there and we won't go wrong. We hear John; we hear Jesus; they both testify that the kingdom is near at hand. The question is, how near?

Jesus says to his disciples in Mark 9:1, "... Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." The apostles were among that number and the kingdom would come in the lifetime of most of them. Like many today, they were looking for an earthly kingdom. But Jesus said in John 18:36, "... My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight ..." It would not be like Caesar's kingdom which was established and maintained with carnal weapons; it would instead, be a spiritual kingdom. In fact, the record of Luke 17:20-21 says, "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." The King of kings rules in the hearts of all his people. As the spiritual song says, "Thy heart is my throne."

10. CATEGORIES OF TEMPTATION

The Bible says: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:15- 17). These are the three broad categories into which temptations fall.

In Hebrews 4:15 we read: "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." This high priest, of course, is Jesus. In Matthew 4:1 we read: "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." The three broad categories mentioned by John are seen in these temptations.

First, an appeal to the fleshly appetite. "If thou be the son of God, turn these stones into bread." But Jesus answered, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Second, the pride of life. Satan said, in the way we would put it, "I dare you." But Jesus answered, "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." And the third category, the lust of the eyes: The Bible says, "He showed him." The answer: Matthew 4:10: "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

We are tempted in all these points. But, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (NKJ 1 Corinthians 10:13). These three categories will cover the things in which we will be tempted; nothing new will be added. The way of escape from all temptation -- "It is written." Remember, "he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever"

11. THE POOR IN SPIRIT

The Bible says: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). This is the first of what are commonly called The Beatitudes. These, put together, constitute a condition of supreme happiness.

Here he speaks of one who is "poor in spirit." One of the definitions of spirit is: "the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one." The disposition of the person in this verse seems to be a spirit of arrogance. It could also be a spirit of pride. But the happy individual is one who is poor, poverty stricken, destitute of this spirit of arrogance or pride.

We sometimes forget who is responsible for the good gifts we possess and begin to brag on ourselves. In our moment of self exaltation, we forget God. So, we need to dispossess ourselves of all pride, arrogance or haughtiness and then we can expect, not only supreme happiness, but citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. (NKJ Philippians 3:20) "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." The Lord Jesus, is coming from heaven. (1 Thessalonians 1:7) "... when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels" He will receive unto himself the citizens of his kingdom.

But, remember, this is only one of the attributes a person must have to enjoy supreme happiness both here and hereafter. Read all of The Sermon on The Mount in Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7. Jesus concluded by saying, "He that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them shall be like a wise man."

12. COMFORT FOR THE BROKEN-HEARTED

The Bible says in Matthew 5:4: "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." It has been said that this verse pertains to mourning for lost souls even as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, wept for Israel. The comfort Jeremiah received was God's promise of a redeemer for both Israel and Judah. Their turning back to God and their acceptance of that redeemer, Jesus of Nazareth, through gospel obedience, would give to them, and to all mankind, deliverance from their sins and the promise of a better land than they had had before, a heavenly dwelling place.

We, too, should not only weep for a land filled with darkness but do something to alleviate it. It has been said, "It is better to light only one candle, than to curse the darkness." It would not violate scriptural principles to accept the above explanation of the verse but I believe that this verse is more individual in application. It's not interceding or weeping for someone else. It's you who becomes aware of your own sins and mourn because of these sins, you can have the comfort of having your sins forgiven.

If you're not a child of God, you can have this promise through faith, repentance and baptism for the remission of your sins. If you are a child of God, you can be forgiven for the sins over which you mourn by repentance and prayer.

I think the verse will also include our own personal sorrow. We weep over the death of a loved one. But Paul said, "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." Don't let sorrow eat at your heart until it destroys your life and those round about you.

13. THE WORLD IS MINE

The Bible says in Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." Meekness has been variously defined as shy, backward, retiring or weak. It is none of these. Other words used as synonyms for meek or meekness are kind, gentle, humble and considerate. These better define the word. We can be gentle but aggressive, humble but strong, considerate but honest.

Moses was described like this in Numbers 12:3: "(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)" But we see, in Moses, a man who was not shy, backward nor weak. We see humility as he tries to tell God he is not capable of the great task God has chosen for him. We see a man who is considerate when he listens to the advise of Jethro, his father-in-law. We see a gentle man as he makes provision from God for the needs of his people. We see a strong man as he stands courageously before and against a rebellious group. But, the Bible says, Moses was the very epitome of meekness.

The meek shall have the world as their inheritance, something to be used now, something we must develop as we live. I think the idea suggested in that statement is summed up nicely in a poem by an unknown author, which is called The World is Mine! There's a lot more to it but I quote the last verse to make my point:

With feet to take me where I'd go,

With eyes to see the sunset's glow,

With ears to hear what I ought to know,

Oh God, forgive me when I whine,

I'm blessed indeed -- the world is mine!

14. SEEKING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS

The Bible says in Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." A person who is really hungry will go to great lengths, even robbery, to satisfy that craving. I am told that one who is really thirsty will kill, if necessary, to fulfil that desire. I wouldn't advocate such dire efforts as those mentioned to obtain righteousness but the Bible does say that we can obtain if the desire is great enough.

Righteousness had been defined as "being right with God," and that will do for our discussion. Do you really want to be right in God's sight? You can be but only if you have the appetite for it. It will come only by an honest, diligent and thoughtful search. Your search must begin and end with the Bible. Peter said in 1 Peter 2:2: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." Jesus said in John 5:39: "Search the scriptures...these are they which testify of me." The apostle Paul said in Acts 17:11, "...They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Don't allow other people to do your searching.

Hear Paul once again. (1 Corinthians 4:6) "And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written ..." I believe that I teach the truth. But don't take my word for it. Search the scriptures to see if what I say harmonizes with Bible teaching. If it does, obey it. If it doesn't, reject it.

15. ARE YOU MERCIFUL?

The Bible says in Matthew 5:7, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." The words "merciful" and "mercy" comes from the same root word from which we get eleemosynary. That word defined means "of, relating to, or dependent on charity, or benevolence." So, one who is merciful or full of mercy, is one who does charitable works or is benevolent.

He is concerned about the welfare of others. He is the blessed one we read about in Matthew 25: "I was hungry, you fed me; I was thirsty, you gave me drink; naked, you clothed me; sick, you visited me." He is the one who Paul exhorts to be concerned about the needy in Ephesians 4:28: "... Let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth."

This is what is being discussed in James 1:27: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." Bear in mind that all these verses pertain to individual action. Personal responsibility such as we find stated in 1 Timothy 5:16: "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed."

These verses are not talking about making a donation; they are talking about personal contact with misery. However, there are times when we hear of a situation about which we can do nothing more than make a donation such as the recent flood and hurricanes disasters. In such cases, be merciful. You may need mercy someday.

16. PURITY OF HEART

The Bible says, in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Purity is an attribute culminated when God, working with ME, purifies my heart.

Two passages need to be considered. One deals with God cleansing our life of all past sin and the other has to do with how this cleansing continues.

No. 1 Listen to the apostle in 1 Peter 1:22-23: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." You are now a member of God's family. Your past sins have been forgiven. You are a new creation. How did it happen? By your hearing of what God said and doing it. That's all in the verse.

I hope to see God. But I must remain pure if I am to see Him. How can we possibly do this? (1 John 3:3) "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." This is a continual process of purification. You, now as one of his children, with His help, can keep yourself pure.

No. 2 How? We have the answer in 1 John 2:1: "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Now look at 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Remember, first part, non-Christian; second part, Christian. (NRS, 1 Timothy 5:22) "... do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure."

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."

17. BLESSED PEACEMAKERS

The Bible says in Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." It's good to have peacemakers in world affairs; much happiness can prevail when one makes peace between warring factions in court room battles; great can be the happiness of one who makes peace between husband and wife, parents and children. But I believe this is a secondary application. Making that kind of peace is good, but hardly a prerequisite for one becoming a child of God. Check that out in Galatians 3:26-27: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

But, back to our verse. I believe that Jesus is talking about the peace that comes between God and man. The greatest happiness or blessing that can come to a person is when he causes another to make peace with God. "Peace on earth, good will toward man" was the message of the angels. Jesus came not for the above reasons except as a by-product of his teaching. But putting people in touch with God through gospel obedience, thus making peace between that person and God would sometimes disrupt households and make enemies of those who had been friends.

So, he says, in Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." He didn't come for the purpose of making domestic or civil peace; he came to make peace between man and God. (Ephesians 2:14) "For he is our peace ..." (vs 17) He "... came and preached peace to you which were afar off, [Gentiles-bc] and to them that were nigh [Jews-bc]." The children of God, those who help man make peace with God, will be happy, blessed people and will be richly rewarded.

18. SERVE ONE MASTER

The Bible says, in Matthew 6:24, "No man can serve two masters ..... You cannot serve God and mammon." Mammon is, literally, material things or desire for material things. Service, in this verse, has to do with what controls your life. The decisions you make are motivated by something or somebody. If one is determined to serve God, then each decision will be made by considering how that action will affect one's service to God. The clothes you wear, the company you keep, the job you are seeking, the pleasures you indulge in, the language you use, the school you attend. Ever aspect of your life will revolve around who or what it is you serve.

So, it's not just mammon you must avoid serving; mammon may be your master or it could be something else. The main lesson is, "You cannot serve two masters!" You must determine where your allegiance is. It isn't necessarily money nor the desire for money that is wrong; it's allowing that concern to control your decision making. There is nothing wrong with moral pleasure; what's wrong is for it to interfere with my life.

Do we choose a lifestyle that will include God as a partner, or does our lifestyle just make provision for God to share an alcove of my life? God just be the senior partner, the primary stockholder in our life or else something else will be. "You cannot serve two masters." Do as Joshua did a way back yonder. "Choose ye this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve God."

19. CONSIDER THE LILIES

In Matthew 6:28-29, Jesus said, "... Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." In some of our present day language Jesus might have been saying, "Slow down; stop, and smell the roses." Yes, consider the lilies!

This statement was made in the midst of a lesson concerning being overly anxious concerning things of which we sometimes feel are of great moment. The clothes we wear, the kind of food we eat and, above all things, what about tomorrow? The Lord wasn't saying we should not be concerned about these things; he was making a contrast between what we consider to be important and what is actually important.

When he said, "take no thought," he wasn't forbidding people from making plans or being concerned but what he was saying was, "don't let these things possess you." Stop awhile. Consider the lilies. Where did they come from? Who clothed them? Who cares for them? In fact, I don't think Jesus was forbidding us to not worry at all, as some teachers would want us to believe. He was telling us that there are more important things to be concerned about, than the trivial things of life.

Actually, it's all summed up in one of these "not, but" situations when the important thing is contrasted with the less important: not-- "take no thought," but, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and these things (food, clothing and shelter) will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

Don't let worry about tomorrow consume you. If it contains a matter we can do something about, make your plans to do it. If it is outside my power to control, worry will not help. Go to sleep considering the lilies of the field.

20. MAY WE JUDGE?

The Bible says in Matthew 7:1, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." This verse of scripture has been quoted and then misused more than any other of which I am aware. If you will read the context you will see immediately that the Lord is speaking of hypocritical judgment. The idea is, not that you can have no judgment concerning another, but before you judge another, look at yourself. Get rid of your sins before you condemn sin in another.

Read the 5th chapter of 1 Corinthians. There they were to judge the fornicator among them and withdraw themselves from him. Jesus said, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). If a person steals, he is a thief. If he murders, he is a murderer. If he commits fornication or adultery, he is a fornicator. Their own works condemn or judge them. Of course, final judgment belongs to the Lord. He will take care of that we can be sure. Notice Acts 17:31: "Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained."

But some immediate judgment has been given to man. Look at 1 Corinthians 6:2: "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" Certainly we need to be careful with our judgments. Judgment must not be based on prejudice, bias or even consensus. Be sure you are judging by facts, not allegement and, above all things, be sure your life is above reproach before you judge another.

(Romans 2:21) "Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?"

21. "LOVE THY NEIGHBOR"

THE BIBLE SAYS in Matthew 7:12, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." This is commonly called the Golden Rule and is probably one of the better known verses of the Bible even though we usually quote it like this: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

It is also one of the least applied in our lives. I suggest two other rules the world in general use. The first, I call the Iron Rule. "Do others before they do you." We feel like other people are out to get to us so let's just get to them first. This is the general rule of the world; dog eat dog. This is the evolutionary rule of "the survival of the fittest."

The second one I call the Silver Rule. It sounds better. "Do unto others as they do unto you." In other words, if people treat me kindly, I will treat them kindly, but if they treat me badly, I'll treat them badly. Actually, we're saying, I'll get on their level. He treats me badly. I hate that but I'll return kind for kind. He's mean to me so I'll be mean to him.

But the application of the Golden Rule applied, would make this a better world in which to live. How do you want to be treated? Well, why don't you start treating people like you'd like to be treated. The girl at the check-out counter; the waitress at the restaurant; the fellow who is trying to get off an entrance ramp onto the freeway; the people who work for you and the people you work for. It's all summed up like this in the Old Testament as well as the New: "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

22. "HE THAT DOETH"

THE BIBLE SAYS in Matthew 7:21, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Many people in the world today are paying lip service to the Lord. They cry out, as these did, "Lord, Lord," or shout loudly, "praise the Lord." On TV we hear them moan and groan out songs like, "Oh, Jesus." These people may be sincere in their cries, however loudly, will not take the place of "doing the will of the Father."

The New Revised Version is even more emphatic than the reliable old King James Version. It says, "... but ONLY the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." Notice the emphasis, "ONLY the one." It sounds a whole lot like the apostle in 1 John 3:18: "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." John wasn't forbidding us to say with the tongue, "I love you." He was critical of the one who said it but never followed up with action to prove this love. So it is with serving the Lord. It's all right to say you are his servant so long as we show our discipleship by action. We'll notice later that that action must be "the will of the Father which is in heaven" or, as stated in another devotional lesson, "by his authority." The so-called Lord's Prayer says, "Thy will be done on earth." His will is made known only the pages of the Bible and, in particular, the New Testament division.

23. "DEPART FROM ME ..."

The Bible says in Matthew 7:22, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Many, many, today fall into the category mentioned. They are making all kinds of claims of doing "worthy works" and always, "in the name of the Lord." Just to make a declaration that a thing is "in the name of the Lord" or by his authority, doesn't make it so. Some of these have been exposed as religious frauds. The word "iniquity" as is used in the quoted verse is translated by the word "lawlessness" in several other translations. That is, these people the Lord was talking about were spiritual "outlaws." They were doing their "wonderful" works outside the realm of Bible authority.

But hear what the Lord says their end will be: "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity [or lawlessness]." They will appeal to you on street corners; they will come knocking on your door; they will overcome you with ranting and raving verbiage on TV and radio. What shall I do? Do as directed by the apostle in 1 John 4:1: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

24. BROTHERLY LOVE - By James DeVoll

"But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another." (1 Thessalonians 4:9) The term love is vastly misunderstood by society today. To many, love means that you accept the actions of a person without question. You dare not criticize anyone for what they do, particularly in regard to moral conduct.

Jesus teaches us that we are to love for our fellow man. As John, the apostle wrote: "...God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16) This divine love, which we learn from God, always seeks the highest good of the other. Thus, we are to put God above self and our fellow man before self. This love cannot be selfish.

When a person learns this love which is from God, a noticeable change will occur in the life of that person. They will speak and act with greater kindness to their wife or husband. They will speak more gently to their children. Speech directed to neighbors and friends will be "seasoned with salt." Learning this divine love will necessitate a change in your conduct toward other folks.

Also, this love will change your view regarding your friends and associates. Because you love them, and have their "highest good" in mind, you will be concerned about sin in their life. Through Paul, Jesus teaches us that the wages of sin is death. (Rom 6:23) Understanding the penalty of sin, you will be concerned about the moral conduct of others and will do what you can to help them overcome sin that will put their souls in jeopardy. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:11 "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men...."

Have you truly learned this divine love?

25. THE WISE MAN

Listen to a passage with which nearly everyone is familiar. Parents teach it to their youngsters; the kids sing a song about it and I've even heard TV weathermen make fun with it on occasions. (Matthew 7:24-27) "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 and the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it." Well, it's not a fun thing. It's a graphic illustration of the power, the authority behind all these things he has been talking about in what we call the Sermon on the Mount. It's what I talk about in nearly every lesson--authority and obedience.

Jesus is contrasting a wise man and a foolish man. A wise man will find out what Jesus says in the New Testament just as a wise man will build his house on a good foundation. He will hear, which means he will understand the teaching and then he will DO what Jesus authorizes. He will obey the Master teacher and not what some man says. He who hears and does not obey, is a fool and none of us want to be in that class. The 7th chapter ends like this: "... the people were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught them as one having authority; and not as the scribes."

26. LOVE IN ACTION - By James DeVoll

Our thoughts are centering around the subject of "love," that is, the love that we learn from God. Remember that this love always seeks the highest good of another; it is not turned toward self. The importance of possessing this love is seen in the writings of the apostle Paul. I would like to read for you from 1 Cor 13:1-3. Listen closely to what he says about the necessity of this love.

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing."

We should be impressed with the importance of learning this divine love. Please understand that it goes contrary to what we would naturally do in life. The world basically tells us to love ourselves and do as we please. Don't worry about the other person. Do that which makes you feel good. This will make you happy and content in life.

We learn a different kind of love in scriptures. It is this love that should underlie all that we do. This love does not revolve around self but is directed toward God and others. This is not a "feeling good about yourself" concept, but is rather, an attitude of a caring that become the motivation for all our actions. In 1 John 3:18 it is written: "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."

Our love for others, as well as for God, is shown by what we do. Jesus said, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." We'll have more about this tomorrow.

Do your actions demonstrate a real love for God and for others?

27. LOVE DEMANDS OBEDIENCE - By James DeVoll

Our thoughts are centering around the subject of "love," the love that God teaches us in His word. Remember that this love always seeks the highest good of another; it is not turned inward to self. This is the love spoken of when we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Jesus said, "This is the first and great commandment." [Matt 22:37-38]

Love is active, not passive. Paul states in Romans 5:8 that "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The word commendeth signifies: "to show, prove, establish, exhibit." 1 John 3:18 John wrote: "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."

Since love is seen only in the actions it prompts, how do we manifest our love for God. 1 John 2:5 "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." 1 John 5:2 "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments...21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me...23 Jesus continues by saying: If a man love me, he will keep my words....."

Understanding that our love is manifested or proved by our actions, do you think that obedience to God is necessary? You love God only when you keep his commandments.

28. THE LIMITED COMMISSION

In Matthew the 10th chapter, we read of that which is called the limited commission. Jesus had chosen the men who would later be called apostles. They are named in verses 2, 3, and 4. At this time they were limited in their ministry. We read in Matthew 10:5-6: "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." We have the negative, "go not," which excludes and limits and the positive "go rather," which authorizes and also limits.

The personal ministry of Christ on earth was an extension of John's mission, i.e., preparing the people for the coming of the kingdom. John preached. "Repent ye ,for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Jesus and his disciples preached the same thing. The phrase, "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" meant that it was nearby. Soon. So a people needed to be prepared to receive it when it came and the logical ones were some among those who had been chosen of God to bring forth the Messiah -- the Israelites. Now they would be the first citizens of his kingdom. All things were in readiness for that coming event.

John, the forerunner; "the voice of one crying in the wilderness." Jesus, the Messiah was about to make known his kingship. It was an apt situation. Jesus told these twelve he had, in a particular manner, chosen,"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." (John 4:35) All things were ready. "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

29. A HEART SOVEREIGNTY

In another article I wrote about the coming kingdom. It wasn't the kind of kingdom the Jews had hoped for. They wanted a restoration of the kingdom likened to that of David and Solomon, so most of them rejected the teaching of the Christ and finally crucified him.

He had tried to tell them what it would be like. Look at Luke 17:20-21: "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." The kingdom of God would be a heart situation. When people enthroned him as the sovereign of their hearts and exalted him in their lives, then he would rule as King of kings and Lord of lords. We transfer our allegiance from Satan to Jesus.

Yes, the kingdom did come and people became citizens of it. We read in Colossians 1:13, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:" Not a political kingdom like most people wanted then and many still do; not a kingdom advanced and maintained either by bullets or ballots, but by the mightiest weapon of them all. "The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Jesus answered," in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

30. THE KINGDOM IN REALITY

As you read the parables of Jesus, you will find most of them beginning with a phrase something like this: "the kingdom of God [or kingdom of heaven] is likened unto," and then a lesson on how to conduct ourselves in that kingdom. Remember, the kingdom of God is a spiritual rulership in the heart of man. Jesus said, "the kingdom of God is within you."

Many people today believe that the kingdom of God is out yonder in the future. No, it is here now. People are in it. They have been translated or carried over from the rulership of Satan to the rulership of Christ. In Colossians 1:13 it is stated that "you have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son." The apostle John was in that kingdom. We read in Revelation 1:9, "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." The apostle stated in Hebrews 12:28, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:"

We can see, that is, if we are to be guided by the scriptures we can see, that the kingdom of God is in existence now. John the Immerser and his disciples, Jesus and his disciples, announced that it was at hand, that is, nearby. How near? "There be some of you standing here which shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom come with power." (Mark 9:1). Jesus taught them to pray "thy kingdom come." He taught them in parables, lessons of conduct for citizens of the kingdom. He died on the cross but arose on the third day; ascended to the right hand of the Father and was crowned King of all kings, and Lord of all lords!

31. YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN

Jesus made a simple statement in John 3:3: "Ye must be born again." No explanation of how that was to be accomplished and that's about as far as most read in conjunction with the new birth. So various speculative theories come forth.

In John 3:5, he gives us a little more information: "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Still, we have no specific information about how this is accomplished, but this we know; a person must be born again to enter he kingdom of God.

Jesus had told Peter, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven" (NAB Matthew 16:19). Peter used those keys on the Pentecost of Acts 2. Speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he loosed and bound in his speech. People heard and learned the gospel of Christ. Believing what they had heard, they asked the question, "... Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Peter answered, "... Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). 3000 did what Peter bound upon them. They were added to the church, the kingdom. The Spirit works through the word as we read in Ephesians 6:17: "... take ... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." They were born of the Spirit. They were baptized in water. They were born of the water and of the Spirit.

The new birth is that simple.

32. A NEW CREATURE

Just what does it mean to be born again? Now forget all the answers that you get from the opinions of men. What does the Bible say? To start with, one must undergo a change. But this change is dependent on a decision I make about whether I am going to start serving the Lord. It means a change of faith. I change from putting my trust in material things to putting my trust in the Lord. (Mark 16:16) "He that believeth .. shall be saved."

It means a change of will or a change of mind that results in a change of conduct. That's called repentance. (Acts 17:30) "... but now commandeth all men every where to repent:"

It means a change of your position in life. It means where once you were "... without Christ ... having no hope, and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12), you can now be in Christ. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).

It means you are a new person, a new creation. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: (a new creation) old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

It means that all past sins have been forgiven. You are as innocent as when you were first born into the world. Ir means that you are in his kingdom. As a new creature in Christ Jesus, I submit my will to His. He guides me with the Holy Spirit, but this has nothing to do with miraculous works. Remember, the Spirit works in the lives of men through the medium of the word. "Taking up the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).

Peter summed it up like this in 1 Peter 1:23: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

33. PATIENCE DEMONSTRATES LOVE - By James Devoll

We are instructed in the scriptures that we are to learn the type of love that is from God. This love always seeks the highest good of the other person. And in 1 Cor 13 we find Paul picturing the character or conduct of this divine love. Let's focus on the first trait that Paul gives: love suffers long.

The term suffereth long is defined in this manner: 1) to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart 1a) to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles.

Let's notice a couple of passages which illustrate the meaning of our term.

In Matthew 18:26, the story is given of a master that called his servants into account. One did not have the necessary money to settle his debt to his king. Notice how the king reacts. It says: "The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt." The master had great patience that, coupled with compassion, cause him to dismiss what the servant owed him.

In James 5:7 we find another illustration. "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts...." There are many things that are beyond our ability to control and it does no good to fuss and fret about the situation. We must learn not to lose heart, but to endure whatever is necessary.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:14 there is a commanded of the Lord for us to "be patient toward all men." As we incorporate this characteristic into our daily living, we are developing one expression that divine love.

Are we not negligent some times in this regard, especially to family members. Don't we easily loose patience with our spouses, our children, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, etc. Let us be impressed with Paul's command: we are to be patient toward all. And until we have learned to suffer long with others we do not practice the divine love.

1 John 4:8 "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

34. KINDNESS DEMONSTRATES LOVE

In 1 Cor 13 Paul shows the various elements that make up the divine love that God teaches us. Again, I would remind you that this love always seeks the highest good of the other person. It is not selfish.

In 1 Corinthians 13, the second characteristic of love that Paul addresses is kindness. The word kindness is defined in this way: 1) to show one's self mild, to be kind, use kindness. Let's look briefly at two other passages where a form of this word is used.

Luke 6:35: But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. {As God is kind, so you and I must learn to be kind, even to our enemies.)

Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Please note that it is God's kindness that leads men repent.)

The antithesis or the opposite of kind would be unkind: indicating that one is "lacking kindness; they are inconsiderate or unsympathetic....they are harsh or severe.

Thus, when one practices this divine love their actions toward others will always be considerate, filled good. In the Word of God, when addressing the subject of man's character, we are instructed how to behave ourselves, regardless of what others might do. Such excuses as: "Well, they didn't treat me right and therefore I was justified"; or "Everybody does it," fall by the way when we have truly learned to love the divine way. Just prior to kind, Paul said that love suffers long. When others do not act properly toward you, being longsuffering will help you to be kind, regardless. Their actions will not cause you to loose control and act badly toward them. Love is always kind.

Do you practice this divine love? Learn to always be kind.

35. THE UNLIMITED COMMISSION

"And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:18-19). This statement is a complete contrast with the statement I used in my lesson on "limited commission" where Jesus said, "... Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:5-6). That statement I called the "limited" commission because it specifically forbade the disciples to preach to the nations.

But the new statement, from Matt. 28, I will call the "Unlimited" commission. No boundary, no border, Jew or Gentile, black or white, brown or yellow; all are included. The limited commission was a call for the Jews, who had departed from God, to repent and turn back to God. Prepare themselves for the soon to come kingdom.

The king had appeared. This was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. We hear the prophet in Zechariah 9:9 saying, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt the foal of a donkey." Jesus would soon be crowned as King. Read the second chapter of Acts which reaches a climax at the 37th verse when Peter declares, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36 ). Christ the anointed King of kings and Lord of lords.

36. MAN -- A CREATURE OF CHOICE

God made man to be a creature of choice. He allowed Adam to make his own decision in the garden of Eden, and he made the wrong one. Cain was later faced with a decision and he, too, made the wrong one. And man has been making unwise decisions ever since. But God still allows him to make them. He wants people who will make their own decision to serve him. Sometimes we blame God for our mistakes, but the blame must be placed where it belongs, with man himself. If He should make a decision for us in any way, by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit, or by some better-felt-than-told experience, he would have deserted this principle.

So his Son begs, pleads and gently invites us to make the decision to serve God and shows us the way. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20). "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17). And the whole situation is summed up in a statement made by the apostle in 2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

37. CONFESSING CHRIST

We here Jesus saying in Matthew 10:32-33 "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Jesus was speaking to his immediate disciples, but the lesson taught them becomes a lesson for us as well. He was sending them forth among the enemy. They would be taunted, ridiculed and abused. Their faith, like ours, would be challenged. How would they or we, react?

We can say the words, "I love you," but until that love is made known by our actions, it is an unconfirmed love. The same thing could be said about a confession or denial. We could say words, confessing Christ as our king, but until those words have met the challenge of an hostile world and stood firmly entrenched, it is an unconfirmed confession. The same thing would be true in regard to a denial. We could, with the mouth, deny that we knew him, like Peter did, or we could turn and run, like the other disciples did. Either way, our actions will likely speak as loudly or perhaps more loudly than our mouth. How do we react when Christ or Christianity is maligned in our presence? Do we come to his defense or do we remain the silent majority? Do we let people know where we stand by the good conduct of our lives or do we just go along with the crowd. Our young people often go along with the crowd. Why? Perhaps because that's what they see their parents do.

38. PEACE, PEACE, WHEN THERE IS NO PEACE

We hear the prophet saying, "... his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6). We hear the angels singing of "Peace on earth, good will among men." But we hear Jesus saying in Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

There comes a time in the life of most people when they must make a choice of which road they will take. "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and the two shall be one flesh." Time to cut apron strings and build your own life. Also there comes the time when we must declare allegiance to either God or mammon, Christ or Belial? Family and friends or King Jesus? The decision MUST be made; it cannot be both. So, we cut some strong ties and cleave unto the Lord. And when we do, often warfare is the result.

But Jesus said that that's the way it would have to be. In Matthew 10:37 we hear him saying, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Truth and righteousness and the Cause of Christ have always been, and shall always be, a battleground. When one takes a forthright stand for Christ, he will make enemies and sometimes, they will be his own household. Peace between man and God is what's important of which Christ is the Prince, the author of that kind of peace. You can have that kind of peace through gospel obedience.

39. HEART RELIGION

The religion of Christ makes its appeal through the intellect of man. By intellect I don't mean that a person has to have a college education. Not even a high school education. I mean that he must have a responsible intellect. "Intellect" is defined like this: "The ability to learn and reason; the capacity for knowledge and understanding."

That would mean that only the person who has mature brainpower is subject to the call of God. That would eliminate the little child or the grown person who has never reached maturity because of some mental disability. They are not responsible for sin therefore have no need of salvation. They are not lost. They are safe in the arms of Jesus, but those who have matured intellectually, that's you and me, we are responsible for our sins and responsible for hearing the gospel, heeding the call of Christ's invitation and obeying the gospel's commands.

The religion of Christ revolves around the mind of man, the intellect of man. Many times the mind of man is referred to as the heart. The word "heart" is used 830 times in the Bible. Three times and, possibly, four times, the word is used in reference to the physical blood pump. The other 826 times it has reference to some action of the mind or intellect. That figurative concept begins like this in Genesis 6:5: "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually," and ends like this in Revelation 18:7: "... for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow."

40. "COME UNTO ME ...."

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus invited all mankind to "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Jesus was not promising rest from one's daily chores but rest from carrying the burden of sin. But no matter how inviting that plea was, he didn't elaborate on just how it was to be done. He told his disciples to "go ye therefore and teach all nations." So now let's tie that "great" or "unlimited" commission to the "great" or "unlimited" invitation.

"Go teach" was the charge; "come unto me" was the plea. So in John 6:44-45 he ties the two together when he says, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." So, we get it altogether; "come," Jesus said. But one cannot come unless the Father draws him. How does he draw people? Now the teaching comes in. "You (disciples) go teach." The Father will draw people. They will be drawn by that teaching; they that will hear and learn are the ones who will come to Jesus; The thing heard and learned is, of course, the gospel. That gospel has power. In fact, it is the only moving power that God uses in bringing men to Christ.

Paul put it this way in Romans 1:16: "...the gospel of Christ ...is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Obedience to the gospel is essential in coming to Christ and thus being relieved of your burden of sin.

41. USE OF THE WORD "HEART"

I mentioned before that the religion of Christ appealed to the intellect of man. In regard to that statement I suggested that the word "heart" was used primarily in the Bible in association with the intellect. I also said that the word "heart" was used 830 times in the Bible. Twice the word is used in a figurative sense to indicate the "depths" of a thing or in the "midst" of a thing such as in Exodus 15:8: "And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea," or as in Matthew 12:40: "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

Perhaps five times it is used to indicate the physical blood pump. I question two of these. One is Exodus 28:29: "And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually." He may be talking about these things being in his mind, his intellect, or he may be discussing the actual placing of a plaque upon the chest area. Another questionable verse is 1 Samuel 25:37-38: "But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died."

Three times when the word "heart" is used, it definitely means the physical heart of man and the other 823 times it has to do with the things of the mind, the intellect. Just some interesting thoughts you might keep in mind as you study your Bible.

42. THE ABUNDANT HEART

In Matthew 12:34, Jesus speaks concerning a principle that had been true, was then true, and shall be true in the future. That principle is: "... out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

The heart of man, as used in this verse, is the mind, the intellect, of man. When a person speaks something evil, he gets it out of an evil mind. Or if he says something good, it comes forth from a clean mind or heart. He says further in verse 35, "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." The mind of man is a storehouse. He uses this storehouse to keep his treasures. He may treasure good things or he may treasure evil things. But you can be sure, whatever kind of language he uses, he gets it out of his storehouse. He put it there some time or another. So the wise man, Solomon, admonishes people to "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" ( Proverbs 4:23).

We are responsible for what is put into our hearts, our minds, our storehouses. We are sometimes told, when something bad is said or done, "The devil made me do it." No, you did it because it was put in your storehouse sometime or another. We can't blame our shortcomings on someone else. "Keep your heart." That is, guard it. You are the only one who can control your thinking or your speaking or your actions. It takes effort and energy to keep your heart pure and clean but whatever effort we put forth in keeping our heart will be most beneficial for, remember, "out of it are the issues of life."

43. NOT THIS -- BUT THIS

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21). In these two verses we have comparative statements. Jesus says, "Not this," but, on the other hand, "this."

In the first verse, verse 19, he wasn't forbidding the people to lay up any treasures at all. He was making a comparison between the more important things and the less important things. In comparison to "treasures on earth" with "treasures in heaven," there should be little doubt in our minds concerning which is more important, but sometimes we forget. We get mixed up on priorities and allow ourselves to expend all of our time and effort on "earthly things," and forget the importance of the other.

So Jesus was reminding the people of his day, along with we of the present, that treasures on earth are necessary, but treasures in heaven are much more necessary. Your heart will be where your treasure is and we are told to "keep your heart with all diligence," for out of it are "the issues of life."

There's nothing wrong with trying to make a little money so long as that pursuit doesn't become the ruling factor in our lives. Don't let material things take priority in your life.

44. THE SOWER PARABLE

Jesus said in Matthew 13:18, "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower." He had used the sower of the seed a little earlier in parabolic form and now he explains what it means. He has had a lot to say about the heart of man and now he likens the sower and the seed to the word of God being planted in various kinds of hearts.

The first was like seed sown by the way side or the hard packed earth through the field used as a pathway. The seed can find no penetration of such soil or that kind of hard heart so it has no depth and the devil has no problem snatching away that which was sown.

Some found lodging on stony ground which is likened to a heart that seemingly is overjoyed at the first hearing of the word, but his interest seems to be all emotional so the seed has no root and when some little something that he might call persecution arises, he falls away.

The next heart is like thorny ground. This heart receives the word but allows the material things of life to choke out heavenly treasures so he becometh unfruitful.

The fourth heart is as good soil; a good and honest heart. The word is received, understood and is fruit bearing. It produces a good harvest because it is good ground; a good heart. It produces more fruit in one place than in others; some a hundred fold, some sixty and some thirty; each person doing what he has the ability to do. This doesn't indicate that some were less diligent than others. But it means that some have more ability than others. All are working hard but some are just not able to produce as abundantly as others. The lesson: give diligent effort, do the best that you can with what talent you have and your reward will be the same as the others. No one can do more than that.

45. SAFE PREACHING?

It's not always safe to be a preacher. That is, a preacher who preaches what people really need. Herod the tetrarch was living in a state of adultery. Some say he was guilty of incest. Maybe a little of both. But he was living with his brother's wife, Herodias, and John said to him, "It is not lawful for thee to have her" (Matthew 14:4).

Some of our present day preachers say, "John shouldn't have judged him." In fact, just down the street from me, a church advertises on their reader board, "Come. We neither judge nor condemn." Well, Herod had judged himself. He's the one who was the adulterer. Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall know them." John taught, "Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance." The fruits he saw here was rebellion to God's law of marriage.

There are so many today that are living in rebellion to God's law of marriage that it is not wise for preachers to say anything about it, so they remain silent and accept anything into their fellowship that comes along.

John had a mission. That was to call people back to God. Preachers today have the same mission; call people back to God. Herod laid hold of John and put him in prison. He would have put him to death but he feared the people. Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced before Herod and pleased him immensely. So much so, that he promised her anything. At the instruction of Herodias, Salome requested the head of John. Her request was granted and John lost his head all because he had enough courage to preach what he knew would please God. He could say with the apostle

Paul, "Woe unto me if I preach not the gospel." I believe he could also say with Paul, "I have fought a good fight .... henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness."

It's not always safe to preach the truth and, sad to say, most present-day preachers have learned that lesson.

46. DEITY OF JESUS

Jesus delegated power to his disciples that enabled them to "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils" (Matthew 10:8). They received power to do almost anything Jesus could do. But there are at least three things the disciples never performed that Jesus did. These three things were reserved for deity.

We read of two of them in Matthew 14. There has been some controversy concerning whether Jesus retained his deity when he was on earth. But the Bible says, "Thou shalt call his name Emmanuel, which, begin interpreted means, God with us," do that ought to settle that.

Jesus demonstrated that he was deity in these three ways. He demonstrated that he had control of material things when he multiplied the five loaves and two fishes to feed 5000 people. The apostles never did this. He demonstrated that he was in charge of the elements when he commanded the wind and the waves to "be still." And in Luke 5:21-23 we read: "And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house." No man then, nor any man today, has the power to forgive sins. That is reserved for deity alone.

47. TRADITION IS NOT AUTHORITY

Nearly all religious groups agree, at least to some extent, that we must have authority for what we do. But they are not agreed on how to establish that authority. I agree that we must have authority for all that we preach and practice in religion. And I further affirm that this authority must be the word of God.

We can establish that authority in three ways: we must have a direct command or statement of fact; or we must have a divinely approved example; or we must have a necessary implication. Some want to add another --- tradition. The Jews of Jesus' day tried to establish authority by their traditions but Jesus rebuked them for it. After they had tried to bind their traditions on the disciples of Christ, he asked them, "Why do you also transgress the commandments by your tradition?" (Matthew 15:3). He continued the rebuke in verse 9 by saying, "But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men." These commandments he speaks of were the traditions he mentions in the 3rd verse.

The conclusion from these statements of the Lord is that anyone establishing authority by binding traditions, may be worshiping but their worship is in vain. The word "vain" means empty or hollow. Tradition, within itself, is not wrong. It's a good tradition that we celebrate a day we call "Thanksgiving." Nothing wrong with that tradition but should we try to bind it as law we would be wrong. There are other traditions that may be right in their proper place, but to use them to establish authority for service to God puts us in the category of the scribes and Pharisees.

48. PRECIOUS PROMISES

The importance of experiencing the new birth or being born again is revealed by the Lord in John 3:5: "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Without the new birth, one cannot be a citizen of the kingdom. And if one is not in the kingdom he has no access to the great and precious promises the Lord has in store for us. Those promises might be summed up as having the forgiveness of our past sins and the hope of an eternity of bliss in the after a while.

Jesus stressed the importance of the kingdom in two parables we find in the 13th chapter of Matthew. The first: Matthew 13:44: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." Here we are told of a man, likely one interested in real estate, who upon investigation has found a piece of property with this buried or hidden treasure. He recognizes it value to such an extent that he gathers together all that he has and invests it in this one portion of land. He now has the kingdom of God, the valuable treasure.

Then he likens the kingdom to a merchant who dabbles in jewelry. He is always looking for the ultimate in gems and now he has found one pearl of great price. (Matthew 13:45) "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." He must have it. Its value exceeds any jewel he has ever seen before. So, like the real estate man, he invests everything he has in this one pearl because, having it, he has everything that can make this life better and give him the hope of joy beyond measure in the hereafter.

49. SAYING AND DOING NOT

Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees and branded them as hypocrites. He reminded them of a principle that was good, not only for people of their day, but had been used by the prophet in days gone by, and is an abiding principle for people of this present day. (Matthew 15:8) "This people draw nigh unto me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." This is the mark of a hypocrite.

Many people today make sounds with their mouths telling people how much they love Jesus and cry out with raised hands, "Praise the Lord," but their lives indicate that they are of those who say and do not. TV and movie stars call on people to join them in prayer while living in adultery or practicing pre-marital sex with a live-in partner, paying no attention to the conditions of prayer. We hear Peter in 1 Peter 3:12: "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." The Lord will only hear the prayers of the righteous. James says, "... The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).

It sounds good to talk about prayer (It is also politically correct.) and how much one loves the Lord, but it means something only when we put the love of the Lord into doing what he says. Hear the apostle John in 1 John 5:3: "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."

50. PURIFY YOUR HEART

Solomon said, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Jesus elaborates on the reason why we should "Keep our hearts," in Matthew 15:18-20: "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man."

Since the heart is the source, the fountain-head of all that we do, that heart must be kept pure. We sometimes think that the only thing conceived in the heart is evil thoughts, but Jesus places all kinds of evil actions as emanating from the heart. Remember, the heart is the mind of man. We develop murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies and all evil works from within our hearts, our minds.

Contrariwise, we develop good things within our hearts. So, a big question would be, "What kind of heart do you have: a good and honest heart out of which comes good things or an evil heart that leads us into all kinds of mischief? John echoes the same admonition that Solomon does but he puts it this way: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3). Combining the two, we can say, "Keep your heart pure, for out of it are the issues of life."

51. HYPOCRISY

Jesus said in Matthew 16:6, "... Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." His disciples misunderstood. They thought he was talking about bread as a physical food. He was talking about the influence of the scribes and Pharisees.

The word "leaven" is often used like that. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." Seven times in the 23rd chapter of Matthew Jesus brands the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites. In fact, if you will examine his teaching, Jesus says more about hypocrisy than anything else. Evidently there were quite a few hypocrites then just as there is now.

In the early part of his ministry Jesus warned his disciples: "... That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). Their righteousness consisted of saying many things that were right but never making the correct application to their sayings. This was hypocrisy and Jesus said, in so many words, "You must do better than these scribes and Pharisees do or you shall under no circumstances enter the kingdom of heaven." Paul, in his letter to the Romans put it like this: "Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?" (Romans 2:21). We are forbidden to judge another when we are guilty of the same thing or something just as bad. A wise person is one who hears and does.

52. IS JESUS DEITY?

We read this passage from Matthew 16:13-16: "... Jesus ... asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter could make his answer with all boldness because he had seen him walk on the water and still the stormy sea; he had seen him multiply the loaves and fishes and heard him forgive a man of his sins. All the other eleven had seen these miracles therefore they would qualify as competent witnesses after Jesus had been put to death; after his resurrection from that death; after his ascension into heaven. So, we have their testimony in what we call the New Testament.

In spite of their being competent witnesses, we still have people today who question the deity of Jesus. Some say he was a great man but not deity. Others say he was a great philosopher but his philosophy is to be considered alongside that of other great philosophers. But the testimony of eye-witnesses was and is "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Not all of his great works are recorded but enough has been written that we, too, should and must make the confession that Peter made. Hear the apostle in John 20:31: "... these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

53. LOOSING AND BINDING

We read from Matthew 16:18: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Three things I want to consider briefly: He said, "I will build my church." He did that. He built HIS church. He paid the price of blood for it. Please read Acts 20:28. We hear of it as a reality in Acts 2:47: "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." He told Peter, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Seemingly the word "church" and "kingdom of heaven" are used interchangeably. Keys are symbolic of the power of entrance. Peter used these keys on the Pentecost of Acts 2 when he announced the terms of entrance into the church, the kingdom and again at the house of Cornelius when he opened the door of salvation to the Gentile.

"Whatsoever thou shalt bind ... and whatsoever thou shalt loose." The binding and loosing, of course, was the message of heaven for the salvation of mankind given into the hands, not only of Peter, but of all the apostles. (Please read Matthew 18:18.) Whatever they bound and loosed would not be from their own minds, their own wisdom, but the Holy Spirit would reveal heaven's message. Whatever they bound and loosed would already have been bound and loosed in heaven. So, then, we hear Paul saying in Romans 10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," the heavenly message.

54. GOD'S POWER IN ACTION

We hear the apostle Paul saying in Romans 1:16-17, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:" We can be saved from the guilt of our sins ONLY by the power of God. No one else has that power. No man can forgive our sins. God has devised a source of energy or power that he uses in this salvation and that is the gospel of Christ. Paul says, IT, that is, the gospel, is the power of God unto salvation.

We hear him again in Romans 10: 16-17: "But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." In other words, the word of God is the gospel and all had not obeyed that word. Faith is produced by hearing the gospel. Faith is confidence, trust. So we hear what God has to say in the gospel. We believe it with all our heart. And that kind of trust or confidence leads us to do what he says. People who had that kind of trust, asked Peter and the other apostles, "What shall we do?" A simple answer was given in Acts 2:38: "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." They would then have the two greatest gifts that God can bestow upon mankind: the forgiveness of their past sins and the hope of eternal life after a while. For what more can we ask?

55. THE UNLIMITED COMMISSION

In Matthew 28:18-19, we have what is sometimes called the Great Commission. "Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." It was the charge received by the apostles to be carried out after his resurrection and ascension into heaven.

I prefer to call it the UNLIMITED commission inasmuch as it was to be taken to all men. These same men had been sent out about three years before only to those referred to as "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But this new charge had no boundaries. The teaching referred to would be the gospel in its fullness. People who were obedient to it would be in a relationship or fellowship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this relationship there would be no ethnic limitations.

Read with me from Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." There would be no color barrier nor gender barrier. These Galatians had obeyed that teaching so Paul explains how it all happened in verses 26 and 27 of this same chapter: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." This is the way true gospel obedience always takes place. Hear the gospel, believe the gospel, obey the gospel. If someone preaches it some other way, then he is not preaching the gospel of Christ. Let all the human race hear what the Bible has to say.

56. HEAR, BELIEVE, OBEY

Yesterday I read what I called the unlimited commission from Matthew 28:18-19. Today I want to look at the same commission except as recorded by Mark in Mark 16:15-16: "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." These verses harmonize with the ones read from Matthew. The language used is a little different but the same thing is being said.

"Into all the world" and "to every creature" in this passage is the same as "teach all nations" in the Matthew passage. "All the world" can be summed up rather concisely as "Jew and Gentile." He wasn't saying that their duty was to cover the globe with the gospel, but, rather, they were to draw no lines in their preaching. This was a contrast to the LIMITED commission under which they had labored the first time. (Matthew 10) It was the same as the invitation extended by the Lord when he said, "Come unto me, ALL ye that labor and are heavy laden." ALL were included; none were excluded. The blessing was great; "He shall be saved." The conditions were simple: "He that believeth and is baptized." Salvation, being saved, was placed after obedience, not before.

They were to also remind all people that to neglect to meet the conditions would be disastrous. "He that believeth not, shall be damned" or condemned. Many people of this present day do not believe what I have read. They want it some other way -- but -- this is what the Bible says. Hear it, believe it and obey it and receive the blessing.

57. FELLOWSHIP WITH BLOOD

We have a third record of the unlimited commission in Luke 24:46-47: "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Even though faith and baptism are not mentioned, they are understood as being a part of the preaching.

The Hebrew writer says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him" (Hebrews 11:6). Repentance and any other condition is based upon faith. So when he says "repentance" we understand that the same preaching that produces repentance would first of all produce faith.

"Remission of sins" was to be preached. "... without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). He explains that he is talking about the blood of Christ. But there is only one way to share in the benefits of Christ's blood and Paul shows us the way in Romans 6:3-4:"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." In his death is where he shed his blood and the Bible says that we are baptized into his death. We have fellowship with his blood, his death, by doing as stated in the accounts of the unlimited commission in Matthew 29:19 and Mark 16:15-16.

Peter sums it all up in Acts 2:38: "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

58. CALLING ON HIS NAME

We read in Joel 2:32, "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call." Joel prophesied several hundred years before the Pentecost of Acts 2 but we hear Peter quoting from him and saying that the prophesies of Joel were being fulfilled on that occasion. (Read all the chapter.) His concluding statement from that prophecy was "that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (vs 21)

To "call on the name of the Lord" sounds like calling out in prayer and that's the way that many people look at it. In reality, "to call on his name" means to put one's trust and confidence in all that pertains to the Lord.

Let's look at it from a backward standpoint. Who were the ones saved on Pentecost? Why, the ones who obeyed the preaching of Peter. He had said to the ones who believed his preaching and were smitten in their hearts and said "what shall we do?", "repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." "They that gladly received his word were baptized and there was added unto them in that day about 3000 souls." In other words, 3000 were saved on that occasion. What had they done? Prayed? What had they been told to do? Pray? Peter didn't mention prayer in his answer to their question.

When they completed their obedience they were saved. They had "called on the Lord" when they put their trust in him and did what he said. People today need to "call on the Lord." Hear what he says and do what he says.

59. THE PREACHED EVERYWHERE

We read in Acts 8:4, "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." Christians in the first century were persecuted because of their faith in the crucified Christ. Instead of allowing this persecution to stop them from worshiping in harmony with the Lord's will, they felt an obligation to let others know of Jesus. At this time the scattering abroad included only the regions of Judea and Samaria. So, according to the context, they didn't go everywhere in the known world of their day, but just to a limited area. I think the verse would read better like this: "everywhere they went, they preached the word."

Their zeal for Christ was unlimited even though their territory was limited. This attitude should be the attitude of people today. Peter and John were warned to no longer preach in the name of Jesus. The threat of death hung over them yet they still preached the word. Paul suffered all kinds of hardship, yet he never wavered. In fact, ever since men began to call on the name of the Lord they have been persecuted because of their faith in God.

We, today, have freedom of religion just as we have freedom of speech. How do we use it? Some use that freedom to blaspheme God; some use it to deceive people and to fleece them of their money; others use it in some watered down version of the gospel. We are not commanded to cover the globe with the gospel. But. we must use it like those people of Acts 8:4 did: "Everywhere they went, they preached the word."

60. FOUR GREAT SERMONS

There are, at least, four outstanding sermons recorded in the book of Acts. They are the sermon of Peter on Pentecost of Acts 2, Peter's sermon on Solomon's porch in Acts 3, Stephen's discourse in Acts 7 and Paul's sermon on Mars Hill in Acts 17. The climax of the sermon on Pentecost was Peter's answer to the question, "What must we do?" (Acts 2:38) "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." He told the people basically the same thing in Acts 3:19: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."

In Acts 7, Stephen went back over the history of "the fathers" of these Jews and then made an application that they didn't like. So, "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth." Then, they "cast him out of the city, and stoned him."

In Acts 17, Paul, standing on Mars Hill in Athens, delivered a masterpiece to these scholarly people. He reached a climax in verses 30 and 31. "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." All four sermons were for the benefit of the hearers. Some heard. Some didn't.

61. THE GOOD CONFESSION

We read from Romans 10:9-10: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." This is the only confession required of the person who desires to become a child of God. Man must make a declaration of his allegiance to a resurrected Jesus in becoming a Christian. This allegiance is of the complete person, both inward and outward. The heart bears witness to the sincerity of the mouth.

Paul, in exhorting Timothy concerning the fight that lay before him in obtaining eternal life, reminded him of his confession in 1 Timothy 6:12: "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." Philip preached the word to the Ethiopian eunuch. The eunuch was convinced and asked,"... See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" ( Acts 8:36-37). Upon hearing that good confession, Philip baptized him. This is the confession that Peter made in Matthew 16:16: "... Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Faith, confession and baptism are not all a person must do. He must also repent. But we have read that from other verses.

Remember, the good confession is not just a little cut and dried formula that a person repeats, but a declaration of his allegiance to the Master, the King of kings.

62. THE KINGDOM HAS COME

(Matthew 16:28) "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." There are many groups in the religious world who are anxiously awaiting the coming of Christ into his kingdom. Some have made pronouncements that it will be very soon.

Nearly all the denominational world, in some way, teach that the kingdom has not yet come. But, actually, the Bible is very clear and plainly teaches that the kingdom of Christ has come. The verse you read in the beginning says very plainly that the kingdom would come in the lifetime of some who stood there. John the immerser had said that the kingdom was "at hand," or near by. Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom to Peter. Jesus told Nicodemus that he could be a part of that kingdom by being born again.

Jesus also told his disciples that his kingdom would not be a physical kingdom but a spiritual kingdom. (John 18:36) "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." He explained it further in Luke 17:21: "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." God's sovereignty, his rulership, is in evidence when God sits in the throne room of our hearts. We read in Colossians 1:13 where people had been translated into the kingdom of his dear Son. They were in the kingdom. The kingdom was in them.

63. THE TRANSFIGURATION

In the seventeenth chapter of Matthew we have an event depicted which is called "the transfiguration." We find it recorded in verses 2 through 5: "He was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."

The Bible has numerous places where the phrase "the law and the prophets" is used. In the transfiguration scene, we have Moses as representing the law and Elias or Elijah as representing the prophets. Peter suggested that three worship structures be erected honoring Jesus, Moses and Elijah. But the law and the prophets had fulfilled their course. Jesus said Matthew 5:17, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." And again, Luke 24:44: "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me." Moses and Elijah had done their work and were numbered among the glorified saints.

So, the lesson for us today is: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man."

64. TAKE UP YOUR CROSS

In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said to his disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Some misunderstand this verse and think that Jesus is saying that his disciples are to take up the cross of Jesus, but if you will notice carefully, he is saying "take up your cross." No mortal man is able to take the cross of Jesus. We could carry it physically, as Simon the Cyrenian did, but spiritually, no one can bear the cross of Jesus.

The cross of Jesus is not a splinter of wood nor a medallion one wears around his neck or exalts in some other way; the cross of Jesus is the redemption of mankind. No person can do that. Bear your own cross. What does it mean? First, let us deny our own self. Such denial means to forget one's self, lose sight of one's self and one's own interests, and then, take up our own cross and follow him. That would mean that we put our own interests second and wrap ourselves in the things that please him and that would include suffering, if necessary. (2 Timothy 2:12) "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him." And as stated in Galatians 3:27, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

Some say that baptism is optional, nor essential. But notice, the Bible says baptism is the consummation of obedience that translates us into Christ and where we clothe ourselves in the clothing of Christ. Looking at the above verse, what would YOU say? Is baptism essential? Is being in Christ essential? Is wearing the clothing of Christ essential? Deny yourself; take up your cross and follow the Lord.

65. WHAT IS THE PRICE OF YOUR SOUL?

In Matthew 16:26, Jesus asked two questions that every person should ponder. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" The whole world can probably be summed up with, all the wealth in the world, all the power in the world and all the pleasure in the world.

No man has ever had all three, but Solomon comes about as close as a person could. He had enough wealth to buy anything he desired; he had as much power as anyone of his time could have; he had ever pleasurable thing that man might enjoy. But after he tried all these in the refinery of life, he could say in all truthfulness, they are "vanity and vexation." Vanity is defined as "vapour, breath," i.e., nothing, while vexation is defined as "longing, striving." Solomon might have said that his life was made up of longing or striving for nothing.

Howard Hughes almost reached the heights of Solomon as one who had enough money to buy anything he wanted, especially the pleasures of life. His demise is well documented as one of misery and debauchery. Adolph Hitler and Mussolini sought after world conquest and where did they end? One hanging upside down on a utility pole aside his mistress while Hitler ended up a suicide in a hole in the ground alongside his mistress. Now Bill Gates has a corner on the wealth of the world. How will he end? We don't know. Saddam Huissian would seemingly like to be a world power. We'll see.

You and I will not have these experiences so Jesus asks us little folk, "What will WE give in exchange for our souls?" And some would give theirs just for a "mess of pottage."

66. THE HELPING PSALM

When you have the Monday blues, you're disgruntled or depressed, downhearted or discouraged or you just need to meditate, or sometimes when you can't go to sleep, it's always good to read or recite, slowly, and from the King James translation, the 23rd Psalm. Commit it to memory. Here it is:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Amen.

67. CONVERSION AS A LITTLE CHILD

We hear Jesus as we read from Matthew 18:3: "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Jesus is not teaching in this passage that the kingdom of heaven is made up of little children. He is using the analogy of a little child to teach grown people a lesson. This was a lesson on humility.

There was some discussion among the disciples concerning who would be greatest in the kingdom. Even his disciples needed the lesson. The word "converted" means to "turn again" or to "turn back." For one to be a part of the kingdom he must empty himself of all arrogance and self-esteem and put himself completely into the hands of the Savior of mankind. The little child epitomizes the character of the one who desires to enter the kingdom. A child is completely innocent, guiltless and has none of the attributes of what he will later possess. So grown people are to divest themselves of pride, put their trust and dependance upon the Lord. Basically, this is accomplished in the act of repentance -- a change of mind, of attitude, of disposition.

Some say the little child is guilty of Adam's sin and therefore stands condemned before God. Not so. We grown people are to become "as a little child." Not doomed and damned as some say a little child is, but humble and obedient, trusting and dependent. If we will not "turn back" from all the ways of a wicked world and "become as a little child," heaven cannot be our eternal abiding place.

68. ADMONITION AND DISCIPLINE AMONG BRETHREN

We read from Matthew 18:15-17: "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." This is a lesson for all of us to hear and use in establishing peace between me and some brother who has wronged me.

The steps are simple and almost impossible to misunderstand. Step one: keep the problem between the two of you. Don't run and tell others: "tell him his fault between thee and him alone." If you two cannot settle your problem, take two or three witnesses so there can be no mistake about what's said. If he will not repent of his misdeed before these witnesses, then it is necessary that others be brought in, so tell it to the assembly. If he will not repent before the assembly, then let it drop, but have no fellowship with that person, until and unless he repents.

If we will follow these divinely inspired instructions, then most difficulties between brethren can be solved. Leave "against thee" out of it as does the Nestle Greek Text and the New American Standard, then the above becomes true with cases where I am not the one sinned against. If I see a brother sin, whether against me or not, my duty is to admonish him. If he will not hear me, then the above procedure prevails. And verse 18 gives the apostles power to approve appropriate acts of discipline as well as maintaining purity of doctrine.

The admonition as stated by Paul is, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all ..." (Romans 12:18).

69. RENEWING YOUR FRIENDSHIP

Yesterday I talked about how to make peace with the brother who has wronged you. Now, suppose you are the one who committed the wrong. What is your obligation? Read with me from Matthew 5:23: "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."

Now you are the transgressor. You are the one who has, in some way, wronged your brother. Don't wait for the brother to come to you with the problem. You know you are wrong. So, go, make the first move in the direction of peace with him. You cannot offer acceptable worship when you have something wrong in your life that stands between you and your brother and, actually, you are the only one who can do anything about it. When you sin against a brother, you have sinned against God. That's the reason your gift is not acceptable.

The word "reconciled" means literally, "making friends again." So, be reconciled to your brother. Make friends with him again. He may reject your efforts for reconciliation at first, but try again. If he continues to reject your advances, then he is at fault. He's the one who has a problem. You have done the best you could, but, remember, it's your first move.

70. FORGIVE, REGARDLESS

A discussion has arisen among the public concerning whether one is obligated to forgive some person who has raped you or murdered and/or raped some member of your family. The preachers nearly all say, "yes," Christians must forgive regardless of the circumstances. Well, what does the Lord say?

In Matthew 18:21-22 Jesus says, "forgive." In Luke 17:3-4 he gives the conditions of forgiveness. Let's read Luke 17:3-4: "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him."

As I mentioned before, the words "against thee" are not in the Nestle's Greek in the Luke reading and have been dropped out of nearly all the more recent translations, the ASV, the NAS, the RSV, the NRSV, thus making the statement a general obligation. But we are not obligated to forgive anyone unless they repent. And true repentance is sometimes hard to distinguish. But if someone genuinely repents, then we must forgive.

In fact, until and unless a person repents of his misdeed, forgiveness CANNOT be complete. Maybe he doesn't care whether he is forgiven or not. But two parties are involved, the sinner and the one sinned against. Actually, three parties, because God has been sinned against also. We are separated by a wall. That wall is the sin or misdeed of the sinner. The sinner must do his part in removing his portion of that wall by repentance and I must remove the other part by forgiving. But until both parties act, that wall remains even if a person says, "I will forgive him whether he wants to be forgiven or not." God doesn't say that. No, forgiveness cannot be consummated until that which separates the sinner and the one sinned against is removed. There must be action on the part of both.

71. PURPOSE IN MARRIAGE

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

There are given three purposes for this relationship: (1) it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18) and (2) for procreation (Genesis 1:28) and (3) to avoid fornication (1 Corinthians 7:2). Many religious people want to stop with No. 2, for procreation, but we must not deny No.3. God made man with a sexual appetite that longs for satisfaction. God provides for this appetite to be satisfied within the boundaries of the marriage relationship. If satisfaction of the sexual appetite was to be confined to procreation then once a wife was impregnated, there could be no more sex for about a year. If that's the case then man might seek for satisfaction outside the marriage relationship but NO!, to avoid fornication he has been given a wife. God didn't intend for one man and one woman to fulfill Genesis 2:18. But some have misunderstood and are seeking to "replenish the earth" all by themselves. There is nothing more beautiful than one man and one woman joining hands and hearts and walking together as husband and wife all the days of their lives. Tomorrow I will read a poem I wrote concerning this perpetual relationship.

72. THINGS WE'VE LEARNED

First anniversary!

We've learned what marriage is all about,

We're ready to testify,

It's huggin' and kissin' and makin' out,

That's what marriage is all about.

Tenth anniversary!

We've learned more than we knew before,

We're experts in our line,

It's kids and bills and maybe a doubt,

That we knew what marriage was all about.

Fortieth anniversary!

We've made it this far and now we're sure

We don't have all the answers to life,

The nest is now empty and we're not sad,

'Cause we've done a fair job with the clay we had.

Sixtieth anniversary!

Here's how it is with sixty years gone,

Love has deepened and each day is a song,

A song of compassion that always forgets

The trivial things of our lives.

 

A gentle kiss that speaks of a love,

That no words could ever convey,

The tender touch of a brown-spotted hand,

That always could find a way.

A morning caress, so delicate now,

That speaks of a time long ago,

Soft-spoken words that barely are heard,

Adds up to tell of our lovely world.

Now we are sure and there is no doubt,

We know what marriage is all about.

73. WHAT GOD HATH JOINED

I mentioned in another lesson that one of the reasons for the marriage relationship is "to avoid fornication" (1 Corinthians 7:2). I also mentioned from Matthew 19:6 that "what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Only God has the power to join together and only God has to power to put asunder.

When a man or woman violates the marital relationship by committing fornication, which is "sexual immorality," God delegates the wronged husband or wife the right to "put away" or "put asunder" that spouse and to marry another. The guilty party, the one who has violated that relationship, has shown disrespect for God's law of marriage and has not been granted the right of remarriage. Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 19:9: "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."

Most churches no longer make any distinction between those who are guilty of fornication and illegal remarriage, than with those who honor his law. Many preachers are forbidden to preach on marriage, divorce and remarriage and they bow to the wishes of the people. We need to be teaching our boys and girls about the sanctity of the marriage relationship and the perpetuity of the relationship instead of seeking ways and means of justifying divorce for every cause. We need to teach our boys to respect and honor girls and girls need to be taught to honor and respect themselves in keeping themselves pure. The disintegration of the family relationship helped in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and will do the same to us.

74. A MAN AND MONEY

Jesus makes this statement in Matthew 19:23: "Verily I say unto you, It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Verse 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Some then, and some now, thought that Jesus was saying that it was impossible for a rich man to go to heaven. In verse 26 he explains that "with God, all things are possible." God can get a camel through the eye of a needle and, with God's help, a rich man can go to heaven. The rich man doesn't have to give up his riches like the man of Matthew 19 was told to do, but he must use these riches wisely and, under no circumstances, put his trust in "uncertain" riches like the rich man of Luke 16. If so, then he would be wise to give it all away in order to enjoy eternity.

But, there's another group that probably includes people like you and me. (1 Timothy 6:9-10) "But they that will BE rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all [kinds of] evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." These are not rich but that's what they are seeking for. Their will is to "be rich." Money, riches, is not the root of all evil, but the "love of money" is the thing under consideration. Desire, covetousness. That's the problem. This love for money detracts us from love for God and things heavenly. Remember, Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

75. CARE OF FAMILY

The fifth of the ten commandment law was, "Honour thy father and thy mother ..." This commandment is carried over into the New Testament. (Ephesians 6:2-3) "Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." This commandment is a part of what we sometimes call the moral law. It has been in existence since the beginning. We do not have a codified statement in regard to it in the Patriarchal dispensation but we have a demonstration of it in the case of Noah and his sons. Read Genesis 9:20-27. Children were warned about cursing their parents.

Children are to love and respect their parents and above all, care for them. We read in 1 Timothy 5: 8, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." Infidelity is bad but not caring for the needs of family is worse. This would include child abuse and neglect of child care assessments.

Paul continues in verse 16 of that same chapter: "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed." A local church has an obligation to those who are labeled "widows indeed," but the first obligation toward a widowed mother or father belongs to the son or daughter and woe unto the man of woman who neglects such an obligation. Visit one of the nursing homes and witness the state of elderly men and women who have been provided physical relief from sons and daughters by paying their bills, but have neglected to provide the love and compassion that goes along with it. A visit, a hug and a kiss would surpass many a dollar's worth of physical relief.

76. THE LORD HATH NEED

We would have you consider a scripture portion of Matthew 21:3: The portion is "The Lord hath need of it." The Lord has no need in His overall supremacy of the universe but, in his plans for mankind, there are certain things needed. At the time of the verse we read, he had need of a place in which to eat the passover feast. It was supplied. But in his plans for the salvation of mankind he also has some needs.

He needed volunteer laborers. He said, "... The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." (Luke 10:2). He needs people such as we read of in Acts 8:4: "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." That is, literally, "every where they went they preached the word." They were busy making known the good news of the gospel everywhere they went. The Lord needs good moral people to show people the reality of serving in the kingdom. These good people would be "the light of the world" which is surrounded with the nefarious works of the prince of darkness, Satan, and light dispels darkness.

There is much darkness round about: there is the darkness of ignorance. Most people have no idea what the New Testament teaches. There is also the darkness of evil. Jesus said, "Men love darkness because their deeds are evil." There is the darkness of depression, despair and pessimism. The Lord has need of people who hate darkness and are determined to do all that they can to turn on the light of divine truth.

77. HOW TO VOLUNTEER

I made the statement that the Lord needs volunteers to dispel the darkness of the world and we often sing the song that contains "he needs brave volunteers." How do I become such? Where do I volunteer? First, your faith must be made known. This is not a ritualistic confession, but one made from a sincere heart. We read of an Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 who is in a Bible study with an evangelist. After some study he makes the observation and asks a question: "See here is water. What doth hinder me to be baptized?" The evangelist answers, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." The student confesses: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." We, as the apostles were, are authorized to baptize believers. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mark 16:16)

There had been quite a bit of Bible discussion so we assume, and I think it is a necessary assumption, that the man had been instructed concerning repentance. That he must change his will, his thinking, to such an extent that he will turn about and serve God rather than Satan.

Now, here was a believing, penitent man, anxious to volunteer for service in the Master's kingdom. So Philip immersed him and this immersion put him in the condition in which we find the Romans of Romans 6:3-4: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Now his attitude should be in harmony with the principle laid down by the prophet in Isaiah 6:8: "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." As the old song says, "He needs brave volunteers."

78. THE LORD'S BUILDING

We read this little story in Matthew 21:12: "And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." Under the law of Moses the house of God was a building made with hands. Of course, it was built according to a pattern given to Moses by God. It was for a particular purpose and that was a spiritual purpose. A place of worship; a house of prayer. But it had been corrupted by self-serving people and the Lord was displeased.

The law of Moses, which authorized the temple, was taken away and in its place we have the church of the living God. The church of the New Testament if not a building. A building is simply a place where the church meets because the church is people. But just as it was in the long ago, today ministers of darkness have made the church into something that will serve their needs. Remember, we are not talking about a building but the church (the people) has made arrangements for gymnasiums, restaurants, secular teaching, day-care, and have taken his government of elders ruling over one congregation and made them into bishops overseeing at least a part of the work of other congregations.

If Jesus were here personally, he could possibly straighten it all out but he has left it in the hands of men. They are to teach truth but their teaching is to be tried by the scriptures and when they corrupt the church, their mouths are to be stopped (Titus 1:11) and we are to have no fellowship with such. (2 John 10). The Lord's house must be swept clean and scriptural works must take the place of false teaching.

79. A LITTLE MORE ON MATTHEW 24

Questions have been asked concerning the events of Matthew 24. (Please read all the chapter.) In verse two Jesus told his disciples, "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Their questions. "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" His first statement of verse two was literally fulfilled in 70 a.d. when the Roman army invaded Jerusalem and completely destroyed the temple and the city thus bringing to an end the nation of Israel.

So all the things in the chapter, however strange they may sound, (eschatological [s-cat-o- logical] language, I am told by the scholars,) these are the signs the disciples asked about. And all of these things were to take place in the lifetime of those disciples. Verse 34 says, "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place." It is agreed on by most, if not all, competent scholars, that the word "generation" as used here is about 40 years. Jesus was probably 32 years old when he makes the statement so by 72 a.d. these things will have taken place. Keep that in mind in particular.

But keep this in mind also as you study the chapter; Jesus was NOT talking about the end of time nor of a rapture period nor the millennial reign of Christ, as most present day preachers would have you believe. You can understand that if you will carefully consider what is actually being said. Thousands of words have been written and thousands more will be written about Matthew 24. But this little treatise, if followed closely, will bring you to a better understanding of what is actually being said.

80. LONGSUFFERING OF GOD

The apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is

longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." The Lord is very patient toward mankind. He gives man time to repent of his misdeeds.

If you or I died today and happened to die in an impenitent state, it could not be said that God was impatient with us. We have had time up until this present moment to right any wrong that we have committed against God or man. God waited for the people to repent in the days of Noah. Sometimes people accuse God of being unjust in destroying the people of that day. But the Bible says that God waited. Look at 1 Peter 3:20: "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing ..." How long? Some say 120 years. I don't know just exactly how long but the Bible says, "while the ark was a preparing ..." A long time. So God was not impatient nor unjust. Noah preached to the people and, evidently, warned them while God waited. God is now waiting for you -- for me.

Various parables are given by the Lord warning us that he's coming and the urgency of being prepared. There will be no further signs of the times. The time is now. Hear the apostle in Hebrews 3:15: "... Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts ..." Believers --- "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ..." (Acts 2:38).

81. USE WHAT YOU HAVE

We have an outstanding lesson in the parable we read from Matthew 25:14-31. Read it. It might be titled "Use What You Have." I hear so many people, in speaking of serving the Lord, whining because they don't have the ability to do more. In fact, those who whine the most, use their lack of ability for their excuse of doing nothing.

The Lord has never required me to do anything that I was not capable of doing. He never told me personally, anything, just as he has not told anyone else, personally, to do something. But he taught me in the pages of the Book which were given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that if I could preach publicly to do so. He told me in the same Book, if I couldn't do that but I could teach, do that. He told me in the same Book that I would not be required to do anything I could not do. But, the same Book he told me that I would be accountable for whatever I could do. I can't use that which I do not have so I am told to use what I have..

The one talent man of Matthew 25 was condemned, not because he didn't do more, but because he didn't use the little ability he did have. He and I were told, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." I like the old song we so often sing, "Have you lifted a stone from your brother's way, have you walked with a slower tread?" The song is saying, maybe I can't do much, but am I doing it? Take an honest inventory and see what you find.

82. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE?

"Then shall the king say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink ....." (Matthew 25:34-35). They asked, when, Lord? (vs 40) "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." And then, vs 42: "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink ...." When, Lord? "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." Read all of Matthew 25:31-46.

In these verses we see a great judgment scene. People are being judged on the basis of their benevolence. Jesus puts himself in the place of the one in need. Then he talks about people's reaction to his condition. "I was hungry." You fed me or fed me not. "Thirsty." Gave him or didn't give him something to drink. "Stranger." Hospitality or no hospitality. "Naked." Clothed him or clothed him not. "Sick or in prison." Visited or didn't visit. The word "visit" with its synonyms "came unto you" and "ministered" used here and in other places means "to look upon with a view of helping." It indicates that we need to come into personal contact with destitution and suffering; to know what it is like.

Notice also that the things to be done were just little things. Things that nearly every one of us could do. All the ability one needs to accomplish these deeds is "compassion." If we don't have it, we stand condemned. That's actually what the story is all about. As stated, Jesus used himself as the Recipient of these deeds. If you would help some person in need, you would help Jesus. A failure to be benevolent or compassionate carries with it the penalty of a just condemnation. He doesn't require much and all can comply. Some will, some won't. So, the final verse, 46: "And these (those on the left hand, the goats) shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous (those on the right hand, the sheep) into life eternal."

83. THE BETRAYAL OF JESUS

One of the saddest stories of the Bible is the story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot. We read where Jesus predicted that one of his disciples would betray him and then he says, "That thou doest, do quickly."

The story continues in Matthew 26:14-16: "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they contracted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him." This incident was prophesied by Zechariah many years before this occurrence in Zechariah 11:12: "And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver." The enemies of the Lord had unwittingly fulfilled the scripture.

The opportunity for betrayal came when Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane and my Lord was given the kiss of death. The contract of Judas was, "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him" (Matthew 26:48-49). He was taken, tried and put to death. Of course, this is what he said would happen. But the woe of God was upon the one or ones who fulfilled the prophecy.

84. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU!

The Bible says, "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4: vs 12 & vs 17).

John the Baptist was dead but Jesus preached the same message of repentance preparing people for the coming of the kingdom wherein there would be eternal salvation. There are many ideas being advanced concerning the kingdom. The outstanding teaching is that the kingdom is still in the future. But let's continue to study our Bibles and believe what we find there and we won't go wrong. We hear John; we hear Jesus; they both testify that it is near at hand. The question is, how near? Jesus says to his disciples in Mark 9:1, "... Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power."

Like many today, they were looking for an earthly kingdom. But Jesus said in John 18:36, "... My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight ..." It would not be like Caesar's kingdom which was established and maintained with carnal weapons; it would, instead be a spiritual kingdom. In fact, the record of Luke 17:20-21 says, "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

85. NOT ME, LORD, NOT ME!

Upon hearing a story of what someone has done, we often make the remark, "If that had been me I wouldn't have done that." Well, that's what the apostle Peter thought. Jesus had said, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night ..." (Matthew 26:31). Peter was outspoken in his reply. "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended" (vs 33). "Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice" (vs 34).

"Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples" (vs 35). Peter said, not me, Lord. Maybe everyone else, but not me. Judas betrayed him in Gethsemane and they took him away to be tried and crucified. The last page of the story goes like this: "Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest ..... another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:69-75).

Not me, Lord, not me!

86. JEWISH LEADERS CONSENT TO CRUCIFIXION

The Jewish chief priests and elders, along with the Jewish multitude, appeared before the Roman governor, Pilate. Barabbas, a notable prisoner and Jesus were there also. Pilate asked this gathering, "whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified" (Matthew 27:21-22). Pilate said, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children" (vss 24-25).

This same group came to see him crucified. Some of his last words were, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Someone has said, "See, he forgave them and we should forgive whether a person wants to be forgiven or not." The Father heard his prayer and made provisions for them to be forgiven but they were not forgiven on that occasion. How do we know that? They would be forgiven on the same terms that everyone else can be forgiven.

We see them later at the feast of Pentecost in Acts 2 and they are still in their sins.. Peter preaches to them and concludes with these words: (vs 36-38) "Therefore let all the house of Israel know ~ that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Their sins were forgiven (remitted) when they met the conditions.

87. THE EMPTY TOMB

"... The chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day ..." (Matthew 27:62-64). Pilate said, "Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch" (vss 65-66).

This watch was made up of Roman soldiers. (Matthew 28:12) They were under severe penalties if they did not fulfil their duty, their watch. So, the tomb was made as sure as possible. A huge stone was rolled over the entrance, a seal was placed on it and a watch of Roman soldiers was assigned to see that the tomb was in no way violated.

The women came to the tomb on the first day of the week which was the third day after the crucifixion and burial and found an angel and an empty tomb. The angel said, "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." The soldiers had been paid to say, "His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept." (vs 15) "So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day." Anyone, hearing that story, ought to immediately see the fallacy of it.

Who knows what happens while one sleeps? Before the soldiers slept, if they did, the body was in the tomb and it was secure. When they awoke, the tomb was empty. The angel said, "He has arisen." The sleeping soldiers said, "His disciples stole him away." Whose testimony shall we accept? I, for one, will accept the angel's word rather than the sleeping soldiers.

88. THE RESURRECTED SON OF GOD

The angel of Matthew 28 said that the Lord had arisen. The soldiers said that his disciples had stolen the body away while they slept. Who shall we believe? I believe the resurrection story. We have competent witnesses of the resurrected Lord.

He was first seen by the women. (Matthew 28:9) "Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him." Jewish law and, seemingly Roman law also, required two or three witnesses for their testimony to be considered. So, we have two Mary's whose competency as witnesses was never questioned by those of their day.

Then we have inspired testimony from the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time."

The competency of these witnesses was not questioned nor challenged in those days. In fact, Paul was a certified officer of the Jews at one time. No one of our day, 1998, has the right nor the information necessary to question their competency. Even the high priest and the elders of their day did not deny the resurrection. They just used their high offices to try to keep the witnesses from testifying. Why? Because they knew that their testimony was true. As every first day of the week dawns, we should remember "the empty tomb." Thus we bow our knee to the resurrected Son of God, the King of all kings and the Lord of all Lords.

89. DO YOU WANT A MISERABLE LIFE?

I suggest that you read all of 1 Corinthians 15 regarding the resurrection. I'm taking portions of the 15th chapter from verses 12 through 19. "... how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." vs 16 "For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins and they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

Some extremely pertinent questions are asked in this section of scripture and a epochal conclusion is drawn. The first question is one that many are propounding today: "There is no resurrection of the dead." When we die, that is the end of our existence. But to say there is no resurrection is to vilify Christ and his apostles. Their preaching of the resurrection brought about severe persecutions, especially from the Saducees, who, like the Saducees of today, say there is no resurrection.

Why, if there is no resurrection, would these apostles continue preaching it and forfeit their lives? And the big conclusion: if all we have to live for is what we see round about us, then there is no use living because we will have a miserable life and a more miserable death. We hear the politicians pleading for legislation to make life better for our children and the people echo the cry. But this world will get no better. That's been demonstrated in our life and in history. I, myself, want something better than what I now have. Heaven is my goal, and should be yours, so that we and our children can have a better life of peace and joy in eternity.

90. EVOLUTION VS CREATION

I'm reading from John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." The battle between creationism and evolutionism concerning the beginning of things continues to rage. But whenever the beginning was, God, deity, was there.

The Word became flesh (vs 14) and was know as Jesus, but the Word was there in the beginning and the Word was deity. Deity, that which we commonly call the Godhead, collaborated in bringing into existence all things. In Genesis 1:1 it says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." The Hebrew word for God in this verse is "elohim," a plural word. It includes all the Godhead. We understand this better by looking at verse 26 where it says, "Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness ..." So we have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit working together in bringing forth all things. I like to think of the Father as the grand architect of the universe, the Son as the agent through which it is accomplished and the Spirit as the driving force behind it all.

The evolutionist objects saying, "All you have is the Bible." Well, it just so happens that the Bible is all that we need, but we have the results. (Psalm 19:1) "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." Until and unless it is proved false, then it still stands as stated. In the beginning deity brought forth all the beauties of spring, summer, fall and winter. The evolutionist speculates and theorizes that it all began from a bunch of slime. I'll take the Bible.

91. DARKNESS VERSUS LIGHT

They lived in a world of darkness. (Matthew 4:16) "The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." The light that sprang up was Jesus beginning his personal ministry on earth. The apostle in John 1:4-5 describes Him like this: "In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness;and the darkness comprehended it not."

This kingdom of darkness is in the grip of Satan and the fight of Christians is against Satan and his world of darkness. Notice Ephesians 6:12: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood ... but against the rulers of the darkness of this world." (2 Corinthians 10:4) "(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)" The mighty weapons at our disposal are described in Ephesians 6:10-18: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil ... 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

Hostages are released one at a time as the sword of the Spirit penetrates the darkness and touches their hearts. When obedience is completed then it can be said that he "hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Colossians 1:13), the kingdom of light.

92. THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: .." (John 8:12). In John 9:5 he said, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world," but he was going away and in his place there would be some of whom he said, "Ye are the light of the world .."(Matthew 5:14).

The closing part of John 8:12 says, "he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Faithful members of the Lord's church will be those lights and shall bear the light of the gospel to others by teaching and by their conduct. Hear Paul in Philippians 2:15: "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."

Remember, we are completely surrounded by the darkness of the world, but, the apostle said, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." In fact, he asks a rhetorical question in 2 Corinthians 6:14: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" Since God's people are to be lights in the darkness, to have fellowship or have partnership with darkness would be to diminish the force of their light. Light has nothing in common with darkness. Remember, it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

93. THE MISSION OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

In John 1:6 the Bible says, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." This man was called the Baptist. Even though there were many people who baptized others, there was only one of these baptizers that was called the Baptist. He was not called the Baptist because he was a member of the Baptist church. There was no Baptist church until 1605. Remember, the words baptize, baptizer, baptist or baptism all come from the same root and are defined as immerse or dip.

Have you ever thought it strange that only one man was called the Baptist. He was called THE Baptist because of his peculiar mission. Remember, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." Why did God send him? Well, he had a primary and secondary mission. The secondary mission was stated when the Pharisees asked him, "Who art thou?" His answer: "... I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias" (John 1:23).

But his primary mission was stated in verse 31: "... but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water." That's the reason he was called the Baptist. His primary mission was to introduce Jesus to the world as "the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world." The question the Pharisees asked was, "Who art thou?" He stated his mission himself.

His introduction of Jesus was consummated when he baptized him and saw the Spirit descending and abiding on him and when he heard the voice out of heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." John fulfilled his mission had he baptized no other one. So he told the people, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (vs 30). There was just one who was called the Baptist and he would decrease and then there would be none.

94. ANDREW, THE GREAT APOSTLE

We read from John 1:40-42: "One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ, 42 and he brought him to Jesus." We know very little of Andrew. He is mentioned only once in the Book of Acts and that is when all the eleven apostles are listed in Acts 1:13. I am sure that Andrew was just as active as any of the others but we have no record of any of his activities except one: "He findeth his own brother Simon (who was also called Peter) and brought him to Jesus."

Had he never done anything more, this would have been enough to make him great. Even though we don't hear any more of Andrew, this one he brought to Jesus, became a very important part of the ministry of Jesus and in the formulation of the church of the living God.

I have baptized several people in my life span, a few through my own personal contact, most because someone else was concerned about them as Andrew was about his brother. We hear of Pyramid schemes used to sell products. Well, it really works in the spiritual realm. I baptize a person. He becomes a preacher of the gospel. He teaches and baptizes others. One or more of them becomes a preacher and baptizes others. There is just no end to this chain. I baptized a few but there is no way to know how many, perhaps thousands , that can be traced back to those few that I baptized.

But one doesn't have to be a preacher. Andrew wasn't a preacher when he found his brother Peter, and brought him to Christ. Andrew was indirectly responsible for at least 3000 souls who obeyed the gospel of Christ on the Pentecost of Acts 2. It can be the same with you. Obey the gospel of Christ and bring someone along with you.

95. GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE

God chose Abraham to father the progenies through which he would "bless all nations." They would be named for his grandson, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. That blessing was fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ. It culminated in the giving of the unlimited commission to the apostles, "go ye therefore and teach (disciple) all nations, baptizing them ...."That nation of Israel had been preserved, held together, by a covenant given them by God. Now their task had been accomplished; the law had been fulfilled; that law had acted as a supervisor to keep them together until the seed, the Christ and the faith should come. The nation was no longer needed; the nation was no longer needed. "It is finished."

Technically, the law of Moses with its oblations and sacrifices came to an end at the cross when the veil of the temple was rent asunder and the way into the holiest (heaven) was opened to all mankind and the God's chosen nation ceased to be. But the Jews would not have it that way and continued to try to serve God like that law demanded. Jesus foresaw what would happen and told them about it in the closing part of Matthew 23 beginning with verse 29 and on into Matthew 24. We take it up at 23:36 "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

"Jerusalem" stood figuratively for the nation (the house) of Israel. Jesus condemned all Israel for their rejection of Him. So, he says, "your house is left unto you desolate" and in Matthew 24 describes the destruction of their icon, the temple and their city, indeed, their nation. God's nation, Israel, is no more. The United Nations Israel, is what we read about today.

96. A CLOUD OF WITNESSES

(Hebrews 12:1) "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses ....." We, with the Hebrews, are also surrounded by these numerous witnesses. Witnesses are people who bear testimony. This great number of witnesses are the people we read of in chapter eleven. They were not present in New Testament times to personally testify concerning the great things that happened and they cannot personally testify to us. But they all speak even as it is said concerning Abel: "..... he being dead yet speaketh" ( Hebrews 11:4).

The lives and often their deaths tell us the story of faith. Over and over the statement is made that "by faith" they acted and endured. Faith was the motivating factor in their lives. They were intent on serving a God that they could not see or experience personally. Like Abraham, they were searching for an unseen reward; something better, something more permanent. And they, like Isaiah, said, "Here am I Lord, send me!"

Some recognized that they would have no certain resting place here on earth but still they moved on as pilgrims in a strange land. Many of these suffered hardships and were killed for their faithfulness.

Each tells his story, bears testimony, not with words, but by his actions which was always predicated on the premise of faith. They each believed God. We need to read their story and let their testimony be, partially at least, the motivation that will cause us to ready to serve God to the extent of our ability.

Jesus told Thomas, "... because thou hath seen me, ye have believed, but blessed are those who have not seen yet believed." "We walk by faith." Not blind faith. We have the testimony of many witnesses; their lives and their deaths, that tell us, "that there is something better over there."

97. SAVE THAT WHICH WAS LOST

(Luke 19:10) "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

The Lord Jesus had one mission on earth, a positive mission --- that was "to seek and save that which was lost." Many other projects have been attributed to him, but the fact is set before us in positive language --- "to seek and save that which was lost."

He lived at a time when there was corruption in government. Small kings were grasping for more power and the Emperor of Rome position was a political treasure to be gained and retained by the strongest. Even most of the little tax collectors (publicans) were crooked. But Jesus was not derailed from his purpose, to straighten out this governmental mess. He had a more important mission.

His mission was not to heal. The healing of the sick and raising of the dead were merely signs by which the world would know him as Jesus the Christ. He healed only a few of the sick and his power to raise the dead saw limited use.

He didn't come to play games. Even though we find him enjoying the gaiety of a wedding and partaking of the hospitality of various homes, he did not come to entertain nor to be entertained. He said by his Ambassador, "... for bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come" (1 Timothy 4:8 ).

He didn't come to dispel poverty nor to free the slaves. He said, "the poor you have with you always." The principles he taught and which he authorized to be taught would teach mankind how to react toward poverty and conduct toward bond servants but there were more important things to deal with --- "to seek and save the lost."

The mission of the churches and of individual Christians is the same --- to seek and save the lost. But sometimes churches and individuals, some preachers, lose sight of our primary purpose and waste a lot of time dabbling in politics and protest marches, community welfare and bodily exercise and forget about our primary mission.

98. BLESSINGS OF REVELATION 1:3

(Revelation 1:3) "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."

Notice that there are two parties in this verse: "he that readeth" and "they that hear." Not too many people could read so this reader is one who has that ability. John is not pronouncing blessings on one of us today in answer to the exhortation to be "daily Bible readers." This is a public reading of the "words of this prophecy." The word "hear" carries the idea of understanding. And, of course the only way they could "keep those things" which were written, first they would have to be understood. So, it logically follows that someone would do as they were told to do in Old Testament times, "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading" (Nehemiah 8:8).

So, since there are hundreds of explanations for the Revelation today, it would have been the same back there, UNLESS someone, probably the reader, was an inspired person who could not only read but he, by inspiration, could "give the sense" and "cause them to understand." Thus they would be able to "keep those things which were written." My thought is, and this is an assumption, that likely this was the one who was referred to as "the angel of the church." An inspired messenger!

We have many commentaries on Revelation written by scholarly men that are all different. About the only thing we can be absolutely sure of, and this is the one thing that all these commentators agree on, is that the overall message we can gain from the book is, in spite of all the trials, tribulations and persecutions God's people will be called upon to endure, ultimately there will be a compete victory over Satan and death. The King of kings will overcome the enemy and his people will enjoy an eternity of heavenly peace.

99. THE GREAT APOSTASY

The apostle warned the people of his day and the days following of a great apostasy. In Thessalonica and other places, they were concerned about the immediate coming of the Lord. But he satisfied their minds by telling of this great apostasy that must develop before the coming of that great day. (2 Thessalonians 2:3) "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." The word "apostasy" is an anglicizing of the Greek word "apostasia" which is translated, "falling away."

He further warns that "this mystery of iniquity doth already work" (2 Thessalonians 2:7). He warned Timothy that "the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Timothy 4:1). "Latter times" did not refer to the distant future but future from the time in which it was written.

He gave warning to the elders of Ephesus in regard to how it would develop. (Acts 20:28-31) "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."

Well, the falling away came and out of it we have 100's of brands of religion. But the seed of the kingdom (the word of God) has been planted in good hearts down through the years and has brought forth and will bring forth the same harvest; people who are dedicated to serving Him in harmony with that word. Let us all strive to serve God fervently with purity of hearts. "Keep thine heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life."

100. AN EXHORTATION TO YOUNG PREACHERS AND OTHERS

I am sure that those who desire to learn more concerning God's Word can get some valuable information at a Bible seminary. I never went to one operated by my brethren nor by others. I have followed much better instruction from a better source. We have divinely given instruction in regard to obtaining Bible knowledge and I want to mention some Bible exhortation that will help.

Paul told Timothy the most important thing was to "Study (ASV: give diligence) to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (ASV: handling aright) the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). It's not easy. It takes diligent effort on our part but the result is worth any little energy we expend --- the approval of God! Read these further instructions from the same chapter: "Flee also youthful lusts," "foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes," "the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient," "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves." Then more: "continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them," "exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come," "be thou an example of the believers," "give attendance to reading," "Meditate upon these things," "not think of himself more highly than he ought to think," and above all things and in every situation, "preach the word." Don't waste your time and the time of others in pointless illustrations, comedy and showmanship.

If you apply these things, you "will be a good soldier of Christ Jesus." And, remember, you will have God's approval and that's all you need. May God bless and amen!

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